Itinerary me, please? Eastern Europe travel.
April 20, 2016 2:06 AM   Subscribe

I have the opportunity to spend 12 days in Europe including travel time, flying from Los Angeles, and am interested in exploring a (small, given my time constraints) swath of Eastern Europe. I would like to meet up with a friend for a night in Paris, but after that my itinerary is open. I don't have a point of departure back to the States yet, but will have to book my tickets in the next day or so. Where should I go?

My style of travel is exactly this, and these are the four countries I've been wanting to visit. Ten days is inadequate time for all four, but my top three 'musts' are Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and/or Split, and Plitvice National Park. If I can fit one other city in, I'd like it to be Ljubljana, Belgrade or even Budapest. I can also dispense with Paris if that will buy me more time.

My budget is small, but I don't want to penny pinch if certain travel options will be more convenient timewise or allow me to visit someplace wonderful. Nightlife and hordes of tourists do not sound appealing, and I'd love to be able to experience some sort of performance in a gorgeous old theater if possible, which I would think would be found in the larger cities.

What type of itinerary can I build around these locations? Is there somewhere I've overlooked? Can anyone recommend in-country tour groups for Croatia? Please tell me if I need to calm down and not rush through this beautiful part of Europe! I'm female, mid-30s, traveling solo.

Thank you MeFites!
posted by Everydayville to Travel & Transportation around Eastern Europe, Russia (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I neglected to mention that I will be traveling the second week of May.
posted by Everydayville at 2:14 AM on April 20, 2016

Maybe something like fly into Belgrade, spend a couple of days there then bus to Sarajevo. (It's only a 55 minute flight, but there's only one flight per day, as far as I can tell from Skyscanner). There are lots of buses, and you pretty much don't need to book - they looked at me strangely when I tried to buy tickets for a bus later that day, rather than the next one to leave.

Couple of days in Sarajevo then bus to Mostar. Again, lots of buses. Go early, see the World Heritage bridge and a few other sites. Maybe spend the night there, or leave in the evening for Croatia (if possible?). I don't know Croatia so won't recommend what to do there, but maybe a couple of days each in Split and Dubrovnik and fly home from there.

I highly recommend both Sarajevo and Belgrade, had a very good time in both of them.

I also loved Budapest, but I don't know if you have time to fit it in on this trip. You could maybe do it first for a few days and fly to Belgrade, but honestly I'd rather spend the whole 10 days in Hungary or visit Serbia, BiH and Croatia. Not try to do both. And remember, you're not in the US - you're not traveling on wide flat motorways but on narrow, twisting roads - it takes longer than you think.
posted by Pink Frost at 3:01 AM on April 20, 2016

Croatia is heaving with tourists, especially in the summer. Although this is more true of the coasts and islands than it is of say Zagreb or other inland destinations.

Split I recall is sort of the big transportation hub. That is many people go through Split to get to Dubrovnik. We started off in Zagreb (flew in), took a bus to Split then drove a car to Dubrovnik.

The islands can be pretty but there are many and getting to them via ferries can be a logistical nightmare.
posted by vacapinta at 4:47 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend you to visit Bulgaria too (my home country). Saying that you're not a fan of nightlife and hordes of tourists, you can visit some of the small villages in Bulgaria. There are wonderful houses there (for example in Koprivshtitsa). I advice you to also visit a pagan ritual that is still done in some parts of the country called nestinarstvo.
Here's a 10-minute video about Bulgaria.

There are a lot of places to visit in Eastern Europe, and I'm sure that you won't be disappointed.
posted by Jo88 at 5:34 AM on April 20, 2016

May is a good time to go to Croatia as tourists really don't start coming in full force until July/August. Zagreb is fine for a day or two but I personally wouldn't spend too much time there as a tourist (I say that as someone who lived in the city for over 2 years).

I second Sarajevo as an amazing place to visit, and if you're looking for a good night out you could do much worse than Belgrade!
posted by lecorbeau at 5:53 AM on April 20, 2016

We did a rather more northerly whirlwind tour of central/eastern Europe last year (a loop from Budapest, Slovakia, Vienna, Slovenia, Croatia, then back to Hungary). We covered a bit more ground than you're proposing in 14 days--it was rushed but I don't know that there was anything I would have wanted to leave out!

Some quick notes you might find relevant: Budapest was an amazing city. Try to find a way to fit it in; you will not be disappointed or regret it. Because we were on a more northerly loop we decided to stay 2 days in Sibenik, which is a bit north of Split and has similar attractions to Split and Dubrovnik but a slightly smaller scale. Plitvice was amazing. THRONGS of tourists, like more tourists per square foot than anywhere else we visited but St Stephen's cathedral in Vienna, but still worth it.

If you have the option of leaving and departing from different cities, my thought would be to fly into Sarajevo, 2 days there, 2 days in Split, do Plitvice as a day trip with a tour company on a route that starts in the morning from Split and ends at night in Zagreb, don't diddle in Zagreb but rather head to Ljubljana the next day with 2 days in Ljubljana including a day trip to Lake Bled, and finally a couple days in Budapest. If I'm doing my math right, that's 9 days of stuff--you can either add in an extra day somewhere along the way, or if you really need to do a loop trip you could burn a day taking the train from Budapest back to Sarajevo.
posted by drlith at 6:17 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe this is too late. I didn't open your post at first because my knowledge of eastern Europe is rudimentary. But please go to Ljubljana, it's a wonderful place, stay there for a couple of days. When I was there, I went to visit the Lipica farm
posted by mumimor at 12:50 PM on April 24, 2016

« Older Vendor "Take-Back" Software Licensing   |   Bird experiments for six-year-olds? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.