The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Eastern Europe

europe travel itinerary 1 week

Are you dreaming of embarking on an unforgettable adventure through Eastern Europe but feeling overwhelmed about where to start and how to plan? Whether you have 10 days, 2 weeks, or a whole month to explore this incredible region, fear not! In this ultimate guide, I will take you through the best Eastern Europe itinerary that covers all the must-visit destinations. So, get ready to be inspired and get your bags packed!

The Magic of Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe offers a wide range of captivating cities and towns that will leave you in awe. From the historic streets of Krakow and the vibrant energy of Prague to the picturesque beauty of Budapest and the charm of Bratislava, this part of Europe has something for everyone. Plus, it’s incredibly affordable, making it a perfect destination for budget travelers. And let’s not forget about the fabulous vegan food options you’ll find throughout the region!

Why Choose Eastern Europe?

If the combination of captivating history, stunning architecture, delicious food, and budget-friendly prices isn’t enough to convince you, here are a few more reasons why you should consider backpacking Eastern Europe:

  • Captivating history at every turn: From the remains of the Soviet era to the ancient castles and fortresses, Eastern Europe is like a history lesson come to life.
  • Gorgeous cobblestone roads: Instagram loves a good cobblestone road, and Eastern Europe is full of them. Get ready to up your photography game!
  • Mind-blowingly beautiful cities and towns: From the fairy-tale-like cities of Krakow and Brasov to the majestic charm of Prague and Budapest, you’ll find yourself constantly amazed by the beauty of these destinations.
  • Cheap a beer**: Eastern Europe is known for its incredibly affordable and delicious beer. Get ready to enjoy a pint for as little as $3!
  • Awesome hostels and hotels: Whether you’re a budget traveler or seeking a bit of luxury, Eastern Europe has a wide range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs.
  • Delicious food: Whether you’re a vegan or a meat lover, Eastern Europe has an abundance of tasty culinary delights waiting to be discovered.
  • Super affordable: Did I mention that Eastern Europe is incredibly affordable? With daily expenses under $40, you can explore this part of the world without breaking the bank.

The Best Eastern Europe Itinerary

Now that you’re itching to start planning your Eastern Europe adventure, let’s dive into the best itineraries for 10 days, 2 weeks, and one month. We’ll start our journey in the beautiful capital of Warsaw, Poland, which serves as a convenient hub for exploring the rest of Eastern Europe.

10-Day Eastern Europe Itinerary

If you have limited time but still want to experience the highlights of Eastern Europe, this 10-day itinerary is perfect for you. It focuses on cultural hubs and bustling cities with a rich history and plenty of things to do.

Day 1-2: Warsaw, Poland

While Warsaw may not be everyone’s favorite city, it offers a wealth of attractions and a vibrant atmosphere. Don’t miss exploring the Old Town, walking through Łazienki Park, and visiting the Warsaw Uprising Museum. The vegan food scene in Warsaw is also worth exploring.

Where to stay in Warsaw:

  • Budget: Press Hostel or DREAM Hostel Warsaw
  • Mid-Range: Old Town Bridge Rooms or Old Town Home
  • Higher-End: Pokoje Gościnne Dom Literatury or PURO Warszawa Centrum
  • Luxury: Sofitel Warsaw Victoria or The Westin Warsaw

Day 3-5: Krakow, Poland

Krakow is a must-visit city in Eastern Europe. Spend your days exploring the enchanting Main Square, visiting Wawel Castle, and descending into the Wieliczka Salt Mines. Don’t miss a day trip to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp and a stroll through the historic Jewish Quarter.

Where to stay in Krakow:

  • Budget: Lemon Tree Hostel or Bubble Hostel
  • Mid-Range: Words & Swords Apartments or Apartamenty Marco
  • Higher-End: Aparthotel Stare Miasto or Hotel Wit Stwosz
  • Luxury: Hotel Unicus Palace or Hotel Polski Pod Białym Orłem Hotel

Day 6-8: Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is another must-see city in Eastern Europe. Explore the enchanting Old Town Square, visit Prague Castle, and stroll across the iconic Charles Bridge. Don’t forget to try traditional Czech beer and immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife.

Where to stay in Prague:

  • Budget: Hostel Kaiser or Hostel Franz Kafka
  • Mid-Range: The Republic Garden or Pension Karlova
  • Higher-End: Historic Royal Apartment or Ibis Praha Old Town
  • Luxury: Mordecai Twelve or Hotel Pod Věží

Day 8-10: Budapest, Hungary

End your 10-day adventure in Budapest, a city known for its stunning architecture and vibrant atmosphere. Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, relax in the famous thermal baths, and admire the Hungarian Parliament Building. Don’t miss a stroll along the Danube Promenade and a visit to the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Where to stay in Budapest:

  • Budget: 2B Hostel & Rooms or Activity Hostel
  • Mid-Range: Apartment Ginkgo or Urban Rooms
  • Higher-End: Basilica Friends Apartment or The Loft Budapest
  • Luxury: Prestige Hotel Budapest or Aria Hotel Budapest

2-Week Eastern Europe Itinerary

If you have a bit more time to spare, this two-week itinerary allows for a more relaxed pace and includes a few additional destinations.

Day 1-2: Warsaw, Poland

Follow the same itinerary as the 10-day plan.

Day 3-5: Krakow, Poland

Follow the same itinerary as the 10-day plan.

Day 5-6: Wroclaw, Poland

Don’t miss the chance to visit Wroclaw, an enchanting fairytale town. Take a stroll through the colorful streets, discover the adorable gnomes scattered around the city, and indulge in delicious food and drinks.

Where to stay in Wroclaw:

  • Budget: Wild Elephants Hostel
  • Mid-Range: Zeitlos boutique hostel or Downtown Apartment Nicole
  • Higher-End: Apartman Sv. Urban or VIP Apartments

Day 6-9: Prague, Czech Republic

Follow the same itinerary as the 10-day plan.

Day 10-11: Bratislava, Slovakia

Explore the charming capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. Visit Bratislava Castle, wander through the historic city center, and savor the delicious vegan food options. Take a free walking tour to make the most of your time in this underrated city.

Where to stay in Bratislava:

  • Budget: Wild Elephants Hostel or DREAM Hostel Bratislava
  • Mid-Range: Zeitlos boutique hostel or Downtown Apartment Nicole
  • Higher-End: Apartman Sv. Urban or VIP Apartments

Day 11-14: Budapest, Hungary

Follow the same itinerary as the 10-day plan.

1-Month Eastern Europe Itinerary

If you have the luxury of spending a month in Eastern Europe, you can truly immerse yourself in the culture, history, and beauty of the region. This itinerary allows for a slower pace and includes additional destinations to explore.

Day 1-3: Warsaw, Poland

Follow the same itinerary as the previous plans.

Day 4-7: Krakow, Poland

Follow the same itinerary as the previous plans.

Day 7-9: Wroclaw, Poland

Follow the same itinerary as the previous plans.

Day 9-14: Prague, Czech Republic

Follow the same itinerary as the previous plans.

Day 14-16: Vienna, Austria

Spend a couple of days exploring the beautiful city of Vienna. Marvel at Schönbrunn Palace, visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of this Austrian gem.

Where to stay in Vienna:

  • Budget: CH-Hostel or Pension Dr. Geissler
  • Mid-Range: CH-Wellnessapartments or Hotel Josefshof am Rathaus
  • Higher-End: City Pension Stephansplatz or Boutique Hotel Das Tigra
  • Luxury: Steigenberger Hotel Herrenhof or Park Hyatt Vienna

Day 16-18: Bratislava, Slovakia

Follow the same itinerary as the previous plans.

Day 18-21: Budapest, Hungary

Follow the same itinerary as the previous plans.

Day 21-23: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Visit Cluj-Napoca, a vibrant city known for its university and exciting city life. Explore the art museum, visit the botanical garden, and discover the many churches and cathedrals.

Where to stay in Cluj-Napoca:

  • Budget: Zen Hostel by Pura Vida or Retro Hostel
  • Mid-Range: Modern Central-Near Unirii Square or Old Central Apartment
  • Higher-End: Camino Home or Neo Apartment Eroilor
  • Luxury: Luxury Nook or Cluj Lux Apartment Central

Day 23-25: Brasov, Romania

Head to the fairytale town of Brasov and immerse yourself in its charm. Explore the main square, visit the Black Church, and hike up Tampa Mountain for a stunning view of the city.

Where to stay in Brasov:

  • Budget: Old Downtown Hostel or Boemia Hostel
  • Mid-Range: Studio Brasov or All Season Studios
  • Higher-End: Casa Veche or Hotel Bella Muzica
  • Luxury: Superb Historical Center Brașov or Vila Katharina

Day 25-28: Bucharest, Romania

End your epic journey in Bucharest, the glorious capital of Romania. Marvel at the Palace of Parliament, stroll through the Old Town, and take in the stunning architecture of Victoriei Avenue.

Where to stay in Bucharest:

  • Budget: Antique Hostel or Hostel Bauhaus Bucharest
  • Mid-Range: Vila Ana or Anathea Apartment
  • Higher-End: Filitti Boutique Hotel or Concorde Old Bucharest Hotel
  • Luxury: Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest or Hotel Cismigiu

Exploring Eastern Europe: Getting Around

As you navigate through Eastern Europe, two of the best ways to travel between destinations are trains and buses. The Flixbus offers affordable and convenient bus routes throughout Europe, making it accessible to reach almost every city in Eastern Europe. For train travel, The Trainline is an excellent resource to find the best and cheapest tickets.

Conclusion

Embarking on a backpacking adventure through Eastern Europe is an experience you’ll never forget. Whether you have 10 days, 2 weeks, or a whole month, this ultimate guide provides you with the best itineraries to explore the captivating cities and towns of the region. So, get ready to immerse yourself in the rich history, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine that Eastern Europe has to offer. Happy travels!

Sophie xx

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