It’s no secret that I’ve been fascinated with Eastern Europe for a long time now, and my desire to explore the area has only increased since my short visit last year.
I spent just over a month exploring Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Ukraine at the start of my travels and I’d naively assumed that a week in each place would be enough.
I then spent three weeks in Croatia.
I apparently had not yet learnt the Art of Not Planning as I had a flight out of Moscow booked for just two weeks time and spent the next fortnight rushing through amazing countries and cursing myself for not having enough time to see every place I wanted to.
And now, one year later, I do!
The awesome people at Interrail have generously offered me a 30 day global pass, which I’ll be using over the next month as I train it up to six new countries and three that I’ve already visited but want to spend more time in.
I am SO excited!
So where am I going on my Interrail adventure?
The madness begins with a train ride from Frankfurt to Prague for my first visit to the Czech Republic. I’ve planned to visit Prague SO many times over the past few years and my plans have always fallen through at the last minute, so I can’t wait to finally get there. While I’m there, I hope to explore the stunning architecture of the Old Town, wander around Prague Castle and drink lots of cheap beer.
Next up, will be Bratislava! From what I’ve read, it seems like Bratislava will be similar to Ljubljana, which I hope is true because, as you know, I adore Ljubljana! In Bratislava, I’ll visit Bratislava Castle, explore the pretty Old Town and I hope to go up to the city observation deck, which looks like a giant UFO!
I really didn’t like Hungary the last time I visited – Lake Balaton was the strangest place I’ve ever been — like a British seaside resort from the 1950’s, full of Hungarians sunbathing on the mud-covered edge of a lake, and I found Budapest to be dull and uninteresting. Part of me wonders if this was due to the Curse of Ljubljana – whenever I visit a place straight after Ljubljana it always feels too big and too soulless. It’s happened with Vienna and Budapest – two cities that it seems everybody loves, except me.
Dave has always wanted to go to Budapest so I’m interested to see if I’ll change my mind about this city the second time around.
As well as Budapest we’ll be spending a day in gorgeous Eger. It looks so pretty!
I began my trip in Croatia and I’m thrilled to be heading back, especially as I’ll get to show Dave around some of my favourite areas! We’ve planned to spend a few days in Zagreb before heading over to the gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Next up will be Bosnia, where we’ll be visiting Sarajevo and Mostar. I took a day trip to Mostar while I was in Dubrovnik last year and loved the city, so I’m looking forward to spending more than a few hours there this time!
I have to admit I know very little about Serbia. I expect we’ll spend a few days in Belgrade, where a friend of mine lives and of course, being a physicist, no visit would be complete without a trip to the Nikola Tesla museum!
In Romania, we plan on exploring Bucharest and the Transylvania region. We’ll be exploring Brasov and Rasnov as well as Sighisoara — a quaint medieval town that looks so colourful!
In Bulgaria, we’ll visit beautiful Veliko Tarnovo in the north before heading down to Plovdiv to check out its incredible amphitheatre.
We finish up our Interrail adventure in Istanbul!
We’ll probably spend around a week in Istanbul as I imagine we’ll be pretty exhausted from our crazy itinerary and in desperate need of some rest and relaxation.
We’ll be getting plenty of that a few weeks later as I’ll be taking a two week vacation from the online world. I’ll be spending these weeks sailing off the coast of Turkey with Dave and, providing I don’t get seasick, it should be amazing!
If you’re going to be in any of these places at the same time or have any tips about anywhere I’m going then drop me a message and let me know!
As I mentioned in the post, this Interrail adventure has been made possible thanks to the lovely people at InterrailNet.com. I can’t wait to share all my Eastern European experiences with you!
Can’t wait to read all about your stint in Eastern Europe. I’m planning on spending 2 months there next summer. Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia are all on my list.
That sounds awesome, Elle! You’ll love ALL of those places :)
Color me officially jealous. This trip looks amazing!
Thanks, Marsha! I’m pretty excited about it :)
this looks so awesome lauren, hope you have an amazing time! :)
Thanks, Johnny! It’s going to be amazing! :)
What a AMAZING trip you have planned! Back in 2005, I traveled through Western Europe & the UK, but on my upcoming RTW I am definitely more interested in spending some time in Eastern Europe… but even so, you’re planning to hit up some places I’ve never dreamed of going. Will be really eager to read all about and possibly add a few new places to my own itinerary!
(Also, I am with you on Vienna – maybe it’s because my visit there followed Prague which was dirt cheap at the time and Vienna was anything but, however I just really never connected with the city at all. Other places in Austria, like Salzburg, are amazing, but Vienna I can do without!)
Glad to hear I’m not the only one who wasn’t keen on Vienna :)
Hope you enjoy reading along with my Eastern Europe adventures :) Hopefully I’ll be able to find some awesome places for you to add to your itinerary :)
I’m thinking I need an interrail pass.
Yup, TRUTH. I do. Is it coming in the mail? :)
I’m thinking you do too! :) They’re so badass!
Awesome trip. So jealous! Can’t wait to read about your blog :)
Lauren, that’s great!! Eastern Europe is on my list too. So I am looking forward to your updates! More pics and stories, please :)
Thank you! I can promise you a ton of stories :)
You should add Montenegro, small but breathtaking country. It is packed with beauty.
I must to apologize in advance for the poor state of Serbian Railways. You could add up to 2 hours for every trip.
So, for Serbia, must see are: Subotica with Palić lake; Novi Sad with Petrovaradin Fortress; Fruška Gora with monasteries and vineyards; Belgrade with Avala mt, Zoo, chilling on riverside, nightlife (with trad., rock, swanky or turbo flavor); Uvac canyon; Kopaonik, Zlatibor and Tara mt; Djavolja Varoš site; Roman archeological sites; Niš with Mediana, Ćele kula and food; countryside, spas, caves…
I really want to add Montenegro – but it might be tough because of our time restrictions.
Awesome tips, thanks so much! Hope to see you in Belgrade? :)
I’m heading for Montenegro on 20th of August and will stay for 3 weeks. It would be great if you made before it.
While in Ulcinj, take a trip to Skadar Lake or Ada Bojana.
You’re still trying to pack an awful lot into 30 days… but at least Dave’s there this time round.
Yep, but I’m not into sightseeing in European cities too much so it doesn’t feel rushed and stressful as I have more relaxation time than running around time!
that’s an awesome itinerary! I can’t wait to read your story :D
Thanks, Debbie! :)
That is some itinerary. I will be interested in what you think about Bratislava. I’m off there and Prague in September.
Thanks, Steve! I’ll be sure to let you know :)
Yay! Istanbul is one of my FAVOURITE cities in the whole wide world. Make sure you check out the Asian side – fried mussel sandwiches, muddy coffee and lots of ice cream!
I’m looking forward to reading what you make of Serbia and Romania. I hear a lot of mixed things about Belgrade (although the consensus seems to be that it has amazing nightlife) and I would love, love, love to go to Romania.
Um, fried mussel sandwiches sound terrifying! Do you know me at all?! Hahaha.
Yeah, I’m pretty unsure about Serbia at the moment so it’ll be interesting to see how I find it.
Please, visit the mountains of Bulgaria instead of the coast (which is ruined now). There are numerous villages in the Rila and Pirin mountains which are amazing. If you prefer history, go to Veliko Turnovo, Koprivshtitza.
I have not been to Ljubljana, but Bratislava is not a “beautiful” place. It has a charm, but different.
Tesla museum is indeed great, but not sure it will have enough for a physicist to explore. Beograd is worth it though.
Ok, enough, I just wanted to warn you mainly about the Bulgarian coast. Have a good trip!
Hi Geri, yep, I’ve heard that most of the Bulgarian beaches are pretty dire, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to find somewhere a little more quiet and secluded if we look hard enough :)
Sounds absolutely amazing. Would especially love to hear your thoughts on Istanbul and the rest of Turkey as I’m also (tentatively) planning to visit there in 2013.
I’m curious, the Interail ticket is only for transport, right? Or do you also sleep on the train? It would be awesome if, like a cruise ship, you could sleep on the train and wake up in a different city each day, do some exploration and get back on the train again in the evening.
Thanks, Sunee! I’m so excited to be spending 6 weeks in Turkey.
Interrail is just for transport, although I will be taking a few overnight trains over the next month. It’ll definitely be interesting!
Yaaaaay Eastern Europe! I’m in love with it. Seriously. Bummed that we aren’t crossing paths at all, though!
I’m so glad you guys are adding Eger to your itinerary. I hope you like it! It’s the perfect place to go and just chill out (and drink lots of wine – be sure to go to cellar #2!).
If you need some tips on Romania and/or Bulgaria, let me know – there are a ton of hidden gems to explore there. You should add Sighisoara, Romania and Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria to your list right now! And, if you can find a way to get to some of the villages, definitely do it.
I know, I can’t believe we’re so close and not getting to meet each other!
I’ll definitely be asking you for Romania and Bulgaria tips when we get over that way :)
I haven’t been to any of those places (Yet!) but my grandparents are both from Hungary and I’ve grown up with the culture and the food. All i can say is, if you haven’t had a palcsinta…. have one! They’re absolutely delicious and a very common Hungarian dessert. I also recommend nokedli (probably in a goulash or other type of stew/soup). It’s a little dumpling-noodle that my brother and sister and I can never get enough of when we go to my Nagymama and Nagypapa’s house (that’s grandma and grandpa in Hungarian). I really hope you change your mind about Budapest! I’m going to be studying abroad there this spring and I’m soo excited to get immersed in the culture and learn the language. It’s a beautiful place… all I can say is be open to it this second time and I’m sure it’ll sweep you off your feet :) have fun Lauren!
Awesome, thanks for the recommendations! I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel about Budapest the second time around!
What a fabulous itinerary!!!
Thanks so much! :)
Sounds like such a great trip! I haven’t seen much of eastern Europe yet but I really want to. Looking forward to hearing how your trip is going.
Thanks, Ali! :) I’m so excited to explore this area, as I know very little about it.
Brings back wonderful memories of when I went inter-railing around Europe in 2005. I especially liked Croatia and in particular the islands like Brac and Hvar.
Hi Spencer, I went to Brac last year and LOVED it! It’s a shame I won’t be able to hit up some of the Croatian islands this time around as they’re pretty amazing.
Hey you, out there on your own…
Welcome again. About Nikola Tesla: there’s very interesting Memorial Center at his birthplace Smiljan in Croatia, only 70 kilometers from Plitvice Lakes.
Must see if you have opportunity. Btw, if you need any tips or help of any kind during your stay in Croatia do not hesitate to contact me. Enjoy yourselves…
Awesome, thanks Mimo! I’ll check it out if I have enough time! :)
I came across this blog via StumbleUpon and was ecstatic to find that you’re visiting Turkey!! I’m Turkish-American, but my whole family lives in Turkey with the exception of my mother and her brother.
I’ve been visiting Turkey almost every other year, since I was 3 and I absolutely love it. The people are wonderful, there is an infinite amount of things to do, beautiful sights, unbelievable amounts of history and ruins, and the food is DELICIOUS!!
Here are some of my recommendations for you for Istanbul:
Topkapı Sarayı (Palace)
Kapalı Çarşı (Covered Bazaar)
And I would recommend researching the food online, so you can see what’s what. It will make eating there much easier.
Have a wonderful trip! :)
Wow, thanks so much for all the tips, Sera! I haven’t had much time to research everywhere I’m going yet, so this definitely helps for my time in Istanbul :)
Well if those pictures are any indication of the trip I’m definitely jealous. They look amazing!
Thanks, Janella! Hopefully it’ll be as amazing as I’m hoping it will! :D
Awesome! I love eastern europe as well! looking forward to your posts
This looks like a fabulous itinerary – have fun!
That is a supremely awesome looking adventure you’ve got coming up! Have fun.. and stay out of trouble ;)
Always wanted to go to Serbia. now that i know it has a Tesla museum… it is a definite stop now. I’m doing most of eastern Europe in January with Australia day in Prague, its going to be so cold but so awesome.
Hello, I want to travel around eastern europe with Interrail Pass but I can’t find information about train timetables or prices in that region. How did you plan your travels?
I think we used bahn.de to find schedules and prices. You can’t book with them, but they’re great for getting an idea of where you want to go and when.