The Best of Eastern Europe: Top 10 Cities to Visit

Backpacking in Europe is a rite of passage for most students and travellers. But it’s such a vast place that many end up hopping between the most famous cities (London, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome – sound familiar?) and never delve beneath the surface into what this continent, particularly the Eastern fringes, really has to offer.

If you’re looking for something that’s a little different and – a big bonus for the budget traveller- much more cost-effective, then backpacking in Eastern Europe is the thing to do.

When you think of Eastern Europe, a long troubled history of war and hard-line Communist regimes may well be what spring to mind. What you’ll find, however, is a lush countryside of idyllic coastlines and picturesque mountains and unique architecture, a thrilling art scene and buzzing nightlife. Backpacking Eastern Europe is now a firm favourite on the backpacker itinerary.

In fact, some of the best cities in Eastern Europe such as Prague and Krakow are no longer quite the bargain they once were. But on the flip side, this means that things such as transport, accommodation (don’t forget to check out HostelBookers Awards for Excellence 2013 to find the best hostels in Europe) and entertainment have all improved in recent years and are totally geared up for backpackers.

Getting Around in Eastern Europe

First things first, getting there. Plenty of budget airlines service the capital cities in Eastern Europe. After the flight, you can explore the best of Eastern Europe by train. If you intend to travel extensively, check out our suggested InterRail itineraries in South East Europe then buy InterRail or Eurail passes for your trip. Alternatively, if you only intend to make a few journeys, just pay as you go on the regional trains. For more information on getting the best deal on rail travel, read our handy guide to InterRailing.

Here’s our pick of the 10 best places to visit in Eastern Europe – from waterfalls and monasteries to floating techno clubs and cobbled streets, there’s a whole host of amazing discoveries to be made. Recommended hostels in Eastern Europe are priced per person, per night (€pppn).

1. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. Nestled in an alpine valley and straddling the Ljubljanica River, it is a picture-perfect and very walkable city. The cobbled streets are filled with bicycles, laid-back students (who make up a quarter of the city’s population) and the cafe culture pleasantly spills out onto the pavements in warmer months.

It’s the outdoorsy atmosphere of the Old Town you should be soaking up here, with less emphasis placed on large attractions, although Ljubljana does boast some great galleries and museums. There is a grand mix of bridges, Baroque townhouses and churches in Prešernov trg, but even the modern government complex on the left bank around Kongresni trg compliments the historical cityscape.

To name just a few of the favourite sights, climb to the pretty hilltop Ljubljana Castle, catch a concert at the open-air theatre of Križanke, cross Dragon Bridge and, if you visit in winter, it’s a 30-minute car journey to a Ljubljana ski centre, Krvavec. A trip to the magnificent Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj with the fairy tale castle is also a must. Here you can try a number of water sports, hiking and biking.

Where to stay… Although there are a number of good hostels in Ljubljana, head to Hostel Celica – nothing beats the novelty of sleeping in a converted prison cell for the night. If you are looking for Lake Bled hostels, then the brand new Bled Backpackers Hostel organises adventure sports, bike rental and has an onsite bar.

2. Mostar, Bosnia

On the front line of the Croatian-Bosnian conflict during the Balkan War, Mostar was badly damaged by the fighting. Its famous bridge, from which young men on the cusp of manhood would traditionally dive, was completely destroyed and the town’s residents were unable to cross the river thereby splitting up many families.

Today, however, the Stari Most bridge is back to its former glory – using old photographs, an exact replica of the bridge has been rebuilt. A great time to visit is during the annual diving competition held in July, you can see some of the divers below.

The beauty of Mostar lies in the turquoise river, elegant minarets and shiny white stone but with reminders of the city’s brutal past visible in the bullet hole-laden walls and bombed out buildings nestled among the shops and cafes. Don’t miss the lush nearby Kravice waterfalls for glorious swimming opportunities. You will need a car, or ask your hostel to organise a trip.

Where to stay… Thanks to its fascinating history, there are plenty of Mostar hostels in the city centre. Hostel Majdas is our top-rated property providing shared rooms, but if you prefer to go private, try Guest House “Taso”.

3. Zadar, Croatia

The city’s historic old town is the big draw with glowing white flagstones and the Riva – a picturesque waterfront promenade. In the evening, people gather at the promontory to watch the sunset – which Hitchcock famously claimed to be the most beautiful in the world. To add to the magic, Nikola Basic’s Sea Organ (click to listen!) provides a soundtrack to the setting of the sun. The art installation is operated by the tides which flow in and out of a series of tunnels underfoot to create an eclectic and poetic drone. You will catch people crouching with their ear to the ground in awe of the music.

Cocktails are best enjoyed at the Bedouin-style Garden Grow bar, opened by UB40 drummer James Brown. Once you’ve tasted the city’s heady nightlife, Zadar itself doesn’t need more than a few days. When you’ve had your fill, check out the popular Soundwave Festival or explore the northern Zadar archipelago for a spot of island hopping in Croatia to Pag, Ugljan or Dugi for idyllic beaches.

Where to stay… If you are looking for budget accommodation in Zadar you might want to make the most of the beautiful city by staying in Old Town which has both shared and private rooms from €16pppn and organises excursions. On Pag, Big Yellow House is a great place to meet and party with fellow travellers. It is minutes from Zrce beach, Page nightlife hotspots and offers rooms from €18pppn including breakfast.

4. Belgrade, Serbia

This city is something of an up-and-coming destination, which today means you need to look beyond the city’s rather ugly housing blocks and cast your eyes to the heart of Belgrade – to the leafy squares and ancient churches – to see its true beauty. They are a reminder of this region’s diverse culture and religious history. There is, in fact, something of Paris’s Montmartre in Belgrade’s pretty Skadarska area too.

The real draw of Belgrade, however, is its hedonistic nightlife. During the summer, clubs open up along the Danube River on barges and some 3-storey boats. The city comes alive with the blast of techno rhythms and ravers waving glow sticks at open-air events, although most music tastes are catered for in some club or other, if that’s not your thing.

Where to stay… If you are looking for a hostel in Belgrade then Hostelche Hostel is a firm backpacker favourite offering great interior design. It’s a few minutes from the river and prices start at €14pppn.

5. Kiev, Ukraine

Unfortunately, the Ukraine has found itself embroiled in another all-too-familiar political crisis, an unhappy symptom of its positioning between Russia and Europe. It’s sad, especially for such a beautiful country with such wonderful people. Still, during better times, Kiev is an affordable and lovable choice for backpackers.

In the markets near Independence Square you can pick up original Soviet era paraphernalia – think red-star adorned fur hats – and stuff yourself silly on dumplings all for a handful of coins. It’s worth climbing the bell tower of Kiev’s oldest church, St Sofia Cathedral for views across the rooftops and gilded domes.

To acquaint yourself with darker days, the Chernobyl Museum documents the fatal nuclear event, while the Pecherska Lavra is a monastery complete with catacombs holding centuries’ old mummified monks. Check out our list of cheap things to do in Kiev for more advice and you can check out the nightlife in Kiev too.

Although it is an amazing city, we don’t recommend visiting while there is still trouble in the region. Hopefully there will be a quick and peaceful resolution to the current tensions and you’ll soon be able to see for yourself everything that Ukraine has to offer.

Where to stay… Nowadays Kiev has a great selection budget accommodation and hostels to rival their nearby neighbours. Whether you want something quiet and quaint or a little livelier, you’ll find something to suit your tastes.

6. Tallinn, Estonia

Winner of the European Capital of Culture award in 2011, Tallinn has put itself well and truly on the map with a lengthy list of annual art events, a music week, a rooftop cinema, along with activities like harbour kayaking tours. It boasts a pleasant muddle of cobbled streets and impressive medieval fortifications in the form of city walls. The students of Tallinn University really keep the place ticking, especially in the cavernous cellar bars – try the millimallikas. Have a read of our Tallinn guide for more things to do and highlights in 2011.

Where to stay… Of all the Tallinn hostels the hottest parties can be found at Tallinn Backpackers with organised pub crawls and alternative tours of the city. Beds from €17pppn.

7. Suceava, Romania

Once the capital of Moldovia (an ancient European principality), Suceava is an intriguing place that’s undergone recent regeneration. It lies quite a way off the usual backpacking trail in Europe (as does much of Romania, beyond Bucharest and the Dracula tours) but it’s worth the trek for the seven painted churches of Northern Moldovia located nearby. These unique and beautifully preserved monasteries are adorned with frescoes and are masterpieces of Byzantine art.

To really see the city in full swing, you should time your trip to coincide with the lively Moldavian Furrier Fair in mid-August or for Suceava Days, a giant street party held in late June. The area will be difficult to explore during the hard winters, but it’s hard to pass up the opportunity of a sleigh ride eh?!

Where to stay… There are only a couple of hostels in Suceava and they’re a little way out, but for a good time, check out the Lary Hostel. It’s a lively place with its own bar and nightclub, and it’s a not-too-taxing 15 mins bus ride away from the centre.

8. Krakow, Poland

Krakow in Poland

The best-known city on this list, Krakow has become a firm favourite on the InterRail scene and it’s definitely earned its place on your Eastern Europe itinerary. Highlights include the wonderful architecture from Gothic to Renaissance (amazingly well intact after WWII), the atmospheric Jewish quarter of Kazimieriz, the regal Wawel Castle and excellent nightlife – the Old Town boasts more bars per square metre than anywhere else in the world.

Similarly to Prague, Krakow is cashing in on its newly-found tourist appeal so expect higher prices than the rest of Eastern Europe. Winter or summer? It’s a tough call because Christmas in Krakow is a picturesque affair with glittering markets and a beautiful frosting of snow on the buildings, but as part of a greater Eastern Europe itinerary, the sights are more enjoyable to explore in warmer months.

Where to stay… You are spoilt for choice when it comes to hostels. Some of the best hostels in Europe can be found here. It’s a tough call but Greg & Tom Junior Hostel has spacious dorms, Polish themed nights and a free breakfast included in your room rate from €14pppn.

9. Kotor, Montenegro

Like Romania, Montenegro is often sadly ignored by backpackers in Europe. But with such spectacular vistas in Europe’s deepest fjord, Kotor is not easily forgotten! The friendly people and cheap local wine, mean you really can’t go far wrong here so take a leap of faith and trust us on this one! The idyllic Bay of Kotor and its impressive ancient port town is Montenegro at its best. With its strong Venetian influences (the Republic conquered this area long ago) and unique river canyon from the Adriatic, it’s little wonder that Kotor has been named a cultural and natural World Heritage Centre. The summer carnival always proves to be a big draw, with thousands partying on the streets every year.

Where to stay… Reaching a balmy 28 degrees in summer, hostels in Kotor soon fill up so book your accommodation in advance. Small, comfortable and central, Montenegro Hostel Kotor is the ideal cheap stay equipped with air-conditioning and an onsite restaurant.

10. Budapest, Hungary

Separated by the Danube River, the Buda Hills lie to the west while the relatively flat Pest is on the east bank. Architecture buffs can start salivating at the promise of glorious Baroque, Neoclassical, and Art Nouveau examples across the city. The particularly decadent Turkish-era thermal baths are also worth a look and a try.

Budapest galleries and museums will fill the days, but the city is equally thrilling at night, especially in the summer when kertek – purpose-built entertainment gardens – draw night owls to party until the early hours. There’s also the 7 day long Sziget Festival in August, suitable for lovers of all kinds of music, so long as they possess the stamina.

Although this list of European hotspots is in no particular order, consider leaving Budapest until last to give your bones a well-earned rest in one of the many beautiful Budapest bathhouses. Read about 5 Cultural Things to do in Budapest.

Where to stay… Choosing hostels in Budapest is a doddle and another charm to this city. Basically, there are a lot of them and they’re all pretty fabulous. Home Plus Hostel get wonderful reviews from previous guests and offers both shared and private rooms from €13pppn.

Do you have a favourite place or a hidden gem in Eastern Europe to share with us? Are you planning a backpacking trip this summer? Let us know your plans, or a review your latest experience and share your tips with other travellers below!

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Thanks to Yadis – ArtRosino, jrover, anjči, Björn Söderqvist, dobrych, leafar., chrn, superbez, jsouthorn, scottmliddell and bortescristian for the images off Flickr. Please note, all images were free to use under the Creative Commons license at time of publication.

77 Responses to “The Best of Eastern Europe: Top 10 Cities to Visit”

  1. The cities you have shown are really nice cities, but please do not forget Ohrid, Macedonia, its the pearl of the Balkans, and every year its gettin more beautifull, i think that in summer Ohrid’s nightlife is the best in Balkans.. so please dont forget Ohrid. Thanks..

  2. I am happy to see that Romania was included in this list (and Suceava wich is the the town where my parents live) .Everytime I go back to Romania I bring most of my friends from abroad in the area to visit the 7 churches + the mountains and sightseeing are amazing. They even fixed the roads now so it is quite good . The hotels are quite expensive in the area so better try to stay in the village at a peasant’s house. ( i am not sure Hostelbookers reached them yet 😛 . Romanian traditional food is something that you at least have to have once in a life time 🙂 Also to remember are that in the area the winters are “hard” so I suggest visiting in the summer if you are not used to… 🙂 But during winter you can enjoy going with the sleigh pulled by horses ( if you find some nice peasants to help). In that area people are welcoming and nice.
    Hope all of you will enjoy your stay there !

  3. Melih Carter Reply

    Hi Dear Editors

    I am really sorry that you haven’t mentioned about Turkey :(( Turkey is one of the most beautiful countries in East Europe, especially Istanbul, Antalya, Capadoccia, Ephesus, please check out Turkey too

    have a nice day

  4. please do not forget Niš, Serbia.Niš is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans, and has from ancient times been considered a gateway between the East and the West. Niš is also notable as the birthplace of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor and the founder of Constantinople…so please dont forget Niš.

  5. Pretty good list. I highly recommend Kiev, Ukraine and Tallinn, Estonia! I am not sure why Budapest, Hungary is not on the list (if Krakow is considered Eastern Europe than surely Budapest can be). There are plenty of affordable places to stay there and the food/ drinks are of high quality and moderate cost.

  6. Just came back from Krakow. Went there a bit sceptic, BUT…It’s an amazing city!!! Wild night life, beautiful architecture, and awesome girls. Oh yeah, and it is cheap of course 🙂
    Visiting Krakow is a must!

  7. Albnia cities like Vlora .Dhermi,Saranda ,Himara are the most beautiful of east europe.You shoud go and visit them,i was and hd splendit time

  8. James Smith Reply

    Went to Bulgaria with my friends last year and Nessebar was pretty good. Check it out

  9. Nadia | Gap Daemon Reply

    My favourite city in eastern Europe is Olomouc, Czech Republic. There’s a great hostel there called Poet’s Corner, run by two lovely Kiwis. Such a chilled out, historic city – loads to do, lots of nice cafes (a chocolate pie!) and a great bar scene.

  10. All worthy cities….but it only scratches the depth of Eastern Europe. The other cities mentioned by others are all very good as well.

    Just a quick mention, your photo for Mostar is wrong. You seem to have a picture of Kotor from the fort. Just thought you’d like to rectify this.

  11. Traveller anonymous Reply

    I need to implore travelers to Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro not to stay at the Hostel Montenegro. It was the dirtiest hostel I have stayed in 20 years of backpacking. Dried blood on the pillows, filthy carpets, tiles and flooring that haven’t seen a broom or mop in weeks/months, hair in the shower plug hole, 8 piles of dog poo on the balcony, 5 large bags of rubbish also on the balcony, people’s left over food and drink in the fridge and cupboard not cleaned up, dead flies on the bathroom, shall I continue. The manager has the worst disposition of any manager I have ever seen, arrogant, self-centered and unrelenting. He also told me “what do you expect for 12 euros a night?” Please give this place the widest berth possible. If you want to visit Podgorica please spend the extra money and stay in a hotel.
    Safe travels everyone.

  12. Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was seeking this particular information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  13. No one mentioned Sarajevo, if you don’t visit Sarajevo you are missing the best Eastern European town, good food, friendly people and a lot to see. Fortunately it’s not completely destroyed during the war, visit mountains, riveres, restaurants!!

  14. I do agree woth Nasveta, i have been to Sarajevo through India’s leading travel company, the place is already well known by the name of European Jerusalem, it’s the only place in the world where they have, Muslim mosques, Orthodox Churches, Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues in the range of 200 meters.
    Also do not miss the environmental side of Sarajevo beauty.
    Try going for couple of places to Panorama, as well to take a walk or to go for a picnic.
    It was a Joyful Yatra!

  15. Some really nice places you got there.. Been to Suceava and was awesome.. but people this article is for EASTERN europe.. NOT balkans.. if it was balkans Greece is the number one when it comes to sightseeing, architecture, museums, beaches, and the list goes on.. But it is about Eastern Europe. Also macedonia is NOT a country, for the 1st comment here. Your country is Fyrom..

  16. Ok, but were is my town, Split in Croatia? No serious list can be without it. No Dubrovnik to? …
    Also, for my opinion, in Balkans, top places to visit are: Ohrid in Macedonia, Sv. Scepan in Montenegro, Rovinj and Trogir in Croatia, must see complete Albania becouse it is like India – not Europe, Sarajevo in Bosnia (also my devided Mostar is alredy there)…

  17. One city that is off the beaten track yet is worth a visit is Minsk, Belarus. OK, Minsk is not as modern as Budapest or as beautiful as Mostar and the government is terrible. However, Minsk is a clean, cheap, safe – far safer than Kiev – and Belarussian people are friendly. Minsk has not been spoiled by too much tourism. What is more, Minsk has one foot in the iPhone age and the other still in the Soviet Union. Very unique!

  18. More amazing cities I’ll have to visit! I’m sad to say that the only one I’ve been to is Budapest, but I may have to take another inter-railing trip next summer to see the rest.

  19. Veronica Daniels Reply

    Interesting list. I’m a bit disappointed that the Czech Rep was not mentioned. Apart from picture perfect Prague, it has quite a few small gems worth mentioning on such a list! Happy that one person mentioned Olomouc, though. My personal favourite is Cesky Krumlov: stunning little old town!

  20. Where is LITHUANIA in this list? There are lakes better than in Finland, historical sites like oldest capital Kernave, beautiful old towns in many cities, Hill of Crosses, Curorian spit (UNESCO heritage), a lot of castles alongside river Nemunas, huge forests to go camping and lots of other places to visit. I feel sad not to see anything from Lithuania…

  21. Anna at TopBudapestOrg Reply

    What makes Budapest particularly cool for hostel bookers are not only the ruin pubs, but also the amazing bath parties in Budapest. I think it would be worth mentioning as it is really special and absolutely awesome:
    this one is the upcoming pre NYE party
    these are the winter bath parties at Lukacs Bath
    and the summer Szechenyi Bath parties called sparties (spa + parties)

  22. Not a bad list, but you forgot another country that is DEFFINITLEY worth travelling to: Macedonia. Whether it’s the capital, Skopje, or cities such as Ohrid, Bitola, etc, the country is alive with culture, tadition, and fun & welcoming people.

  23. Also, I would like it if others, mainly being “ioannis,” wouldn’t downgrade other countries, such as Macedonia. This is an article about reccomendations on where to travel, not a place to comment about their POINT OF VIEW and thoughts – even if they are wrong.

  24. cesky krumlov, bratislava, budapest, olomouc, prague, kracow and of course wroclaw are my favorites! been there last year for a healing pilgrimage.

  25. My last days of being single I spent at Stag Party in ROYAL NIGHT CLUB in SOPOT (POLAND). Amazing atmosphere, tasteful design, beautiful dancers made me and my friends have a great time during the whole night. I encourage everyone to visit this club, especially if you want to experience something unforgettable. I give you my strong recommendation

  26. Great list, great places! Why not to create the new article: about little cities, and towns worth to see in eastern europe?
    Krakow, Budapest, Belgrade are – some may think it’s a joke – eastern european metropolies. There is so many little but beautiful places.
    My list (in the random order):
    Uherske Hradiste, Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic)
    Tokai (hungary)
    Sighisoara (romania)
    Nis (serbia)
    Ulcinj (Montenegro)
    Cieszyn, Sanok (poland)
    Kranj (slovenia)
    Saranda (albania)
    …and much much more!

  27. I’m surprised Lithuania wasn’t mentioned! Palanga, Trakai, Vilnius- just to name a a few beautiful cities with amazing sites… IMO, one of Europe’s “hidden gems”….

  28. I read the whole article, but I am very surprised that there is not even a word about BULGARIA. You think we do not exist or our cities are ugly? We are in Eastern Europe more than Poland and Slovenia, which are more Central.. of course it depends on how you understand the geography..!We have a lot of beautiful cities with amazing culture and very nice people, who will always make you feel like you are at home. You can check Nessebar, Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Sofia if you wish. We also have a lot of beautiful resorts on the Black sea coast and in the mountains. I also noticed you didn’t mentioned nothing about Turkey, Macedonia, Albania, Greece? They are in Eastern Europe too and these countries have a lot of amazing cities and villages too….Maybe we – Bulgarians and our neighbours are not enough European for you ??

  29. An ex-Sinophile Reply

    Riga and St. Petersburg by far.

    Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro… especially Slovenia are not “Eastern Europe” but Southern Europe.

  30. Zadar is awesome! Not the cheapest by far but great place and like all of Croatia I felt very safe. I would love to visit Romania and Bulgaria but I keep hearing foreigners are constantly targetted almost like a sport.

  31. Yes, all of those place are beautiful but you forgot to mention Slovakia.. Try cities like Banska Stiavnica, Nitra, Kosice or the traditional villages in Slovakia – Terchova, Vlkolinec.. You won’t regret visiting these place as they are not spoiled by tourism yet.

  32. Hi,

    I am a 26 year old guy from Delhi. Planning a solo backpacking trip across Eastern Europe during Mid of June 2014 for approx. 30 days and could use all the help / information for this.

    My date of travel starts from 14th June and the rough itinerary is below:

    Start – London – 14th June – 4 Nights
    Czech Republic (Prague) – 3 Nights
    Slovakia (Bratislava) – 2 Nights
    Hungary (Budapest) – 3 Nights
    Slovenia (cities to be decided) +
    Croatia (Zadar, Drubovnik, Split) +
    Montenegro (cities / beaches to be decided) +
    Albania (Ksamil, Dhermi) – The above four countries I plan to cover in 12-13 Nights (still uncertain how much time to allocate to which country / city..plz suggest)
    Romania (Bucharest, Mamaria) – 2/3 Nights
    Ukraine (Kiev, Lviv) – 3 Nights
    Back to London from Ukraine

    The above is a rough plan.

    Plz suggest if that is being too ambitious. I am more interested in seeing a place, walking around and exploring the cities, history, meeting locals / fellow backpackers, beaches, relaxing, a little partying.

    I have a few questions and would be happy if anyone can answer them:

    Are the number of days enough or more or less for the countries? I have researched and found that these days should be enough, but if you have any other suggestions, I shall be happy to know / replan.

    Since all countries are close to each other and Euro Rail pass is very expensive, would it be better to travel by bus between countries? And do you suggest booking them beforehand or are they easily available?

    Any other must see cities in these countries? Also, i want to see more beaches. Any suggestions?

    Any hostel recommendations?

    I wanted to keep my travelling very flexible and wanted to know can I walk into a hostel and get a dorm / room / place to sleep immediately, so that I am not bound by timelines to make it to my hostel / room bookings, except for entering from Prague and leaving from Ukraine. How much in advance do you suggest should I book a hostel to ensure a place to sleep? Same with the travelling between cities as well and the bus / train tickets reservations, i.e. If I can get on the spot reservations?

    I know the above is a lot of information / details / requests, but I wanted to be as planned as possible, while try to keep my travel as flexible as possible, without any surprises.

    Also, if anyone would like to join me, please feel free, wouldn’t mind any good like minded company.

    Look forward to your expert advises.


    • Daniel Crudge Reply

      Hi Jai,

      I managed to fit an InterRail trip from Eastern Europe (Budapest) all the way back to Dover into a little over 30 days. We managed about 18 different towns/cities over all so I think what you have planned should fit in fine. We never managed to make it to Montenegro or Albania, but we did do Slovenia. When you get to Slovenia, make sure you go to Lake Bled – it is perfect.

      For transport, buses are a hell of a lot slower than trains. You might be cutting it a little fine if you do it that way. You could try booking all your train tickets individually on the day of travel, which works out cheaper than an InterRail pass, but that can be a bit of a ball ache. We got the InterRail pass for convenience if nothing else. It means that you can simply hop on any train you want without having to deal with ticket staff – and you’ll find a fair amount of station staff speak little or no English in some Eastern European cities (or that was the case when I did the trip 5 years ago).

      As for hostels, we used to book the next city’s accommodation the night before or just before we hopped on the train. We did rock up to a couple of cities without bookings, but it was always kind of a panic. We got lucky once in Austria and found the most amazing little hostel by chance. But then we also found the worst hostel I’ve ever stayed in in Krakow, and ended up having to leave a couple of cities on the first evening to sleep on the train. So yes, book ahead, but no need to book too far ahead. HostelBookers and Hostelworld will both be very, very useful! Try getting the phone app to make things easier.

      Oh yeah, when you’re in the Czech Republic, check out Czesky Krumlov if you get the chance!


  33. Hi Jai,

    Planning a similar route, how much would you be budgeting for your trip?


  34. Moscow must be included. Culturally, historically, and architecturally one of the finest in the world

  35. you had missed the latvian capital, is really very awesome.having grand churches,beautiful old town,the skyline of the city is just soooo awesome

  36. Brașov Romania is a beautiful city. Don’t pass it by as you head south. I spent a month there at the KISMET DAO HOSTEL. Close to hiking, skiing, castles, paragliding, sailpane flying,the Brasov Philharmonic… Lots of people are happy to speak English.

  37. Kosice,Slovakia is a gem.I have been to hundreds of cities in Europe in my life,Kosice is near and dear to me.Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world.

  38. Budapest Nr. 10?
    No Sofia or one of the sea-side cities of Bulgaria?
    No Greek cities?
    This chart totally sucks, do not trust it at all.

  39. My ultimate favourite place we visited in Eastern Europe was Brasov, Romania. It has such a charming atmosphere, and there is so much more to see than the drive to Bran (Dracula) Castle. The people there are fantastic too! We arrived at 11PM local time, and were unsure how to get to our hostel; while we were figuring it out, a local police officer paid for our bus fare, and walked us to our hostel without asking for any money, and walked us just close enough so we wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with him walking us to the door. Such an amazing place!!

  40. Hi guys,

    My trip starts from 1st week of April 2015 for 20days.

    I will be travelling alone starting from Germany – 2-3 Days
    Prague – 3 Days
    Poland -2 days
    Belarus – 2Days
    Ukraine – 3 days
    Slovakia and Hungary -5 days

    Requesting to all the travellers if they can guide me cities to visit in these countries and also hostels/hotels to stay.

    For me budget is not an issue but I don’t want to stay in hotel alone and want to meet and hangout with fellow travellers.

    Email me if anybody is keen to travel during the same time and I am also open to changes in my iternary..

    Waiting for ur feedbacks..

  41. ROMANIA is not only Bucharest , Dracula 🙂 or Suceava .I strongly recomended the south east of Romania , Dobrogea county , Constanta city which is the main harbour of BLACK SEA and also Tulcea with the marvellous Danube Delta.If you are looking for an wild unique experience , visit Tulcea and Danube Delta . A place where the time is going slowly and the people is warm and friendly . I will not guarantee you a 5 stars hotels or anything like that but i do promise you a extraordinary experience in a place where more then one nationality or religion are living in pace for centuries. In Constanta you may be surprised to find along to the same street , a muslim moscheea , a catholic church , an ortodox catedral and right next corner, a jewish sinagoga.:) It is not Paris , London or Berlin its true but if you are not very poshy you may find the place very interesting .Oh and one more thing , i so some comments below saying that east european people are speaking little or nothing in english . Wrong. Maybe my generation not so much because we had to study more russian then other languages , but i assure you that the youngs they all do speak english and not only . Thank you .

  42. I have a question, i only speak English, do people in these countries welcome you if you don’t speak their language? or you should at least learn some before you go?

  43. Out of the list my favourites are Krakow and Mostar. Living near the Polish border, I travelled all across the country and it’s definately worth it! If you visit Krakow go at least for one day to Wroclaw (incredible that two such beautiful cities are so close to each other!) and for some real backpacking go to Beskidy mountains and head towards Slovakian border. Note: I didn’t mentioned Tatry mountains, as most turist guides would tell you, in Beskidy you sleep for merely 4 euros and the home-made food – too good [and cheap!] to describe.

  44. Wonderful list, thanks so much for providing! However, I must say to the people who keep harping on about how you missed out Turkey from the list, that Turkey is actually in the Asia Minor, not eastern Europe. Geography aside, it’s very culturally “un-European” as well. That said, it’s a very beautiful country and well worth a visit.

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