Traveling cheaply means different things to different people. Are you the type that doesn’t mind hitchhiking, staying in a tent at a campsite, or sharing snores and bathrooms with strangers at a youth hostel? Or maybe you are the type that, at the very least, needs a private room and bath, comfortable bed and fresh linens daily. No matter your travel style, there are good deals to be found in Eastern European countries and endless culture and scenery to explore.
Tim Leffel, the author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations and a world-class traveler himself, says travel to Eastern Europe isn’t what it used to be. “When I researched the revised edition of my book The World’s Cheapest Destinations, I found the picture in Eastern Europe to be far different than when I researched the first edition in 2002. Prague is getting as expensive as Western Europe, Budapest is coming on strong, and Romania’s tourism business is increasing by leaps and bounds. Several macroeconomic factors are at play here. The euro is way up against foreign currencies, especially the dollar. As Eastern European countries have aligned with the EU, they have become much pricier in dollar terms. Also, the proliferation of budget flights within Europe has resulted in a huge influx of visitors from the western half of the continent.”
So with the falling value of the U.S. dollar and the surge in popularity, Prague, Budapest and Krakow are now out of the cheap range, so the further east you go the more inexpensive it gets. Places like Slovenia, Estonia, Albania, and Romania offer some of the best travel values in Eastern Europe.
Slovenia, once part of the Roman Empire, is steeped in history. The country offers a wide variety of scenery with the Alpine in the northwest, Mediterranean in the southwest and Dianric in the southeast. The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, offers a look at Baroque and Art Nouveau influences in art and architecture. There is the wine making region in the hills around Maribor to see and Triglav National Park with its mountains, lakes and rivers which flow out the Adriatic and Black Sea.
Estonia is trying to get their fair share of travelers with a very informative website, VisitEstonia.com. The country is in the Schengen area, so their borders are open to the rest of Europe. Americans can enter Estonia visa-free. However, accessible Estonia may be, don’t try to learn the language, visitors say it is a nightmare to get a handle on, but luckily most individuals in tourism speak good English. Tallinn is the medieval capital and the European Capital of Culture. Estonia on the Baltic Sea has over 1500 islands to check out and you can see how Estonians used to live before the modern age. Medieval castles, untouched natural areas and sleepy fishing villages are all waiting to be discovered.
Albania, located in the middle of the Mediterranean, borders the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. A few of the top destinations in the country are Butrint, Gjirokastra, Berati and Antigonea. In many places, throughout the country, cultural and natural heritage abound. Visit the many archeological parks, museums, religious monuments or get out in nature and explore the seashore or hike in the mountain regions.
Snagov, Romania, known for its “vampire” heritage and famous ruler Vlad III the Impaler, offers beautiful mountain scenery, ancient medieval castles and lovely villages, also, hiking opportunities abound. If you are a vampire fan, you can even visit the tomb of Vlad III. Although, prices in some parts of Romania have risen recently, there are some areas such as Snagov that are still reasonably cheap to visit.
Make a point to visit these historical and culturally vibrant countries before the U.S. dollar flips and makes them yet another expensive vacation spot. Right now is the perfect time to see a part of the world you might never have considered, but would add greatly to your love and knowledge of other cultures and countries.
To go along with your inexpensive travel abroad it is advisable that you pick up some cheap travel insurance that will cover you in case something goes wrong. Many types of travel insurance policies and travel insurance packages are available according to your needs and will give you peace of mind when traveling so far from home.