You’re doing it wrong: Why you should travel to Eastern Europe as well as the West

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Anyone who has ventured off the beaten path into the ‘other’ side of Europe will know first hand just how strong the contrast remains to be between the East and the West. Sure, the likes of Paris, Rome, Amsterdam and Zurich are beautiful…. but they’re only half of the picture.

Over in the East lies some of the most incredible history, culture, traditions, art, castles, architecture, people…… the list is truly endless. Here’s why you should travel to Eastern Europe as well as the West…


Meet the People of the East

 Contrary to popular belief in the West, Eastern Europeans are friendly, warm, and incredibly hospitable. For travellers who have ventured into the East, it is widely known Eastern Europeans are renowned for being some of the most hospitable people in the world – openly welcoming you into their homes to try traditional cuisine, understand their customs, and genuinely wishing to ensure you enjoy your time in their country.

Riding my bike through the streets of Brasov

It’s Cheaper

While it’s not as cheap as it was in the 90’s, it is still very cheap to visit Eastern Europe – especially in comparative terms. Just be aware there are a few exceptions to the rule – particularly Moscow, as it has been named one of the world’s most expensive cities.

eastern europe

This is Europe’s most beautiful castle… but have you ever heard of it?

Find out where here in ‘10 places in Europe you need to visit…


The experience in the East is much more authentic for travellers as there are less crowds and less people coming here (at least for now), meaning it has been subjected to mass tourism as yet. This ensures a more authentic experience in every way possible – from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. This also means a few more challenges along the way – for example don’t expect every sign to be in English – but THAT is what makes it such an amazing, authentic experience.


The Untouched Scenery

The elusive term itself has been used to describe many places around the world – but Eastern Europe is no exception. If you want to see clear open land, rolling hills, impressive (and cheap) ski slopes, head over to the East to pay just a fraction of what you would elsewhere in Europe.

eastern europe

Eastern Europe is still not entirely westernized

 The beauty of Europe is that it is still not westernized in many regards. Indeed, many people don’t even speak English! Yes, there are Mcdonalds and every other fastfood chain imaginable – so it isn’t completely out of the loop – but you will equally find just many (actually more) small hole-in-the-wall cafes, local jaunts, and the craziest excuses for a store. I will never forget noticing how every store in the smaller European towns ‘does it all’ – tripling as a bar, general store, and hotel upstairs.

Bosnia Souvenirs

The History

 Eastern Europe has had an extremely turbulent past – but this shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, but a lesson of history. Countries like Bosnia & Herzegovina were incredibly affected by history – as recent as in the 90’s – but to see the country now is truly amazing. The people will never forget the war, but are very optimistic in their approach to ‘forgive and forget’ – they are hopeful for their future, not tainted by the past.

World of Wanderlust in Moscow

The Souvenirs are ones to keep

 While in the West you can buy a handful of keyrings for a couple of coins, over in the East you can spend barely any more and take home some beautiful handmade garments, hand-knitted scarves, crochet, crafts, textiles…. It’s the kind of things you keep onto for years and pass onto your children. Aint no snowglobes here!

tunnel of love ukraine

It’s now or never: Eastern Europe won’t be this way forever

But it won’t be this way forever. Globalization is changing travel and tourism faster than we realise and it is now harder than ever to find ‘hidden gems’. But trust me, they’re out there. You just have to take a different path and look elsewhere before the crowds come pouring in… and eventually they will! In all honesty, there’s already been a huge influx of tourism in the East over the past decade – but it is still a great time to visit before this picks up anymore speed. It’s just a matter of time!


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    March 28, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Hi Brooke,

    As a solo female traveller planning or visiting part of eastern europe, I would like to know what kind of transport you mainly used in between cities. I don’t have the budget to rent a car.
    Also, have you kept track of your itinerary?

    Thanks so much, love your blog! The pictures are incredible and really convinced me I made the right choice of destination.

    January 19, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I LOVE this post – so inspiring! I just got back from traveling through Eastern Europe and found it incredible! If you want to check out some of the places I visited, here is a link:
    Thanks for the great post!

    August 3, 2015 at 2:56 am

    When mentioning the sbuse and torture of animals…one must recognize that millions of Eastern European (humans) have been sold into sex trafficking. Moldova’s number one export is humans.

    top itineraries
    June 13, 2015 at 1:56 am

    I totally agree with you and I really wish I could be there now…. In the meantime, I am just pinning the pictures and keep on dreaming about my next European trip, to the East this time !

    March 24, 2015 at 4:25 am

    Yes, it’s beautiful, but just beware: if you are an avid animal lover, be prepared that quite a number of these eastern European countries will leave you heartbroken. Some of the abuse you will see out in the open and some you will not. However, the stray animal torture in these countries is well-known and documented, for anyone that chooses to undermine it. A simple Google search will give you many links to follow for more info on the issue and how you can help. I’m not saying boycott the countries and will not be debating this topic (again), but these countries really need to step out of the Dark Ages with its treatment of animals. Pure sadistic torture. And not to just crucify Eastern European countries, but in Denmark and a few Western European countries, animal brothels are even legal this day and age. Actually, Denmark only recently made it illegal after many times legislation was brought up to make it a crime…..the lawmakers would never criminalize it. Denmark has had a booming animal sex tourism industry for decades. Nice, eh? Well, finally, the government gave in and criminalized it. Does it mean the abusive animal sex trade is gone? No, it’s just underground now. And yes, there are issues all over the world. I do know this. The US has its own issues, too. But my thing is “do what you can to help in any small way you can while traveling there.” I plan on doing that soon in Bosnia…fwiw.

    • Brooke Saward
      March 24, 2015 at 7:47 am

      Hi Emily – that is heartbreaking! 🙁 I agree though, everywhere has its problems and the best we can do is shed light on the situation and educate others. Thank you for sharing this information with me and readers, definitely something to consider before visiting a country.

    Shao Hui
    March 23, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Hey Brooke, so happy to once again see another of your posts encouraging others to make the trip to the east. My sister (Shaomin) and I met you at the Singapore reader’s meet up and shared with you our experiences on our central/ eastern europe travel – loved it so much and once and thanks for inspiring us! We have now started a blog to document those eastern europe adventures!

    Trevor Barre
    March 23, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    looks great, thanks for that

    Adelaide Haynes
    March 23, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I can’t wait to go back! I’d especially love to go to Ukraine and some of the Baltic countries!

    Samantha Elisabeth
    March 23, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    AHH!! This is on my list of close-to-future travels. I’d love to do an Eastern European tour around the same time I do a South African tour to visit friends.

    Kelly | Endlessly Exploring
    March 23, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I’m planning on heading to Eastern Europe at the end of the year! I can’t wait! 😀 x

    Ariana Kajic | The Bosnian Aussie
    March 23, 2015 at 9:18 am

    i cant wait to explore other eastern European towns. While im in Bosnia this summer i want to venture out to places like Montenegro, Romania, Czech republic, Bulgaria. They all seem so magical!

    February 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Amazing post about my beautiful country, Brooke!

    We try hard to convince tourists to visit it more, it has a lot of fascinating places that not even Romanian know about them. I always recommend the “wild” side of it, the mountains, the caves, the bear sanctuary, the UNESCO sites and many other unique sports in Europe.

    Did you get to The Merry Cemetery? It’s definitely one of my favorites places here.

    October 6, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I totally agree! & I wish I’d written this post! :p I spent 7 months in Budapest and can honestly say I prefer East to West!

    August 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Eastern europe is casual, people are friendly , food is amazing, services are a bit poor, the scenery is always breathless, bars are open mostly all night long and cheap, and museums and castels are always a treat! You visited more than Romania in eastern Europe?

    August 19, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I adore Eastern Europe! I just hope it doesn’t change too much in the coming years.

    August 19, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I was planning my first Euro trip to be in the west, but circumstances led me to Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Medjugorje. I’m so glad it turned out that way. It was a fairy tale trip and it’s still dreamlike when I reminisce. Am definitely doing the rest of eastern Europe!
    As for people’s temperament, I respect that some people are aloof and some are friendly.Both types exist in any country, I think. But what made the trip more memorable was Ivan, our Croatian tour bus driver for almost two weeks, a kind, mild-mannered, patient, professional superb driver. The driving was so smooth and safe. He even provided us with bottled water at half the price of that in cafes and restos, we wondered if he was making a profit. He even gave us some goodbye honks as we were about to sail for Venice in a water taxi. Great guy, great countries…

    August 19, 2014 at 12:04 am

    I am from Romania, living in Germany now, and I agree with your post. Even if not all the things are in order and you can see differences between east and west, for sure there are many beautiful places to visit, good food to taste and nice people to meet. You will not find more welcoming people as here 🙂

    The Dame International
    August 18, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks for this great post but do you have any recommendations of where to visit for first timers to E-EU?

    Charlotte Francis
    August 18, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Great reading your blog. Makes me happy that I’ve just booked a trip to Krakow! So glad there are no snowglobes…

    August 18, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    My favorite post from WOW!
    Totally want to visit Eastern Europe! xx

    Ps. Brooke you are writing more and more awesome articles! Keep it up! 🙂

    August 18, 2014 at 5:53 am

    I have been to that castle in Romania (the top picture). Beautiful place.

    August 18, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Our next big travel will be to eastern Europe. I can’t wait!

    Anna International
    August 17, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    I love Eastern Europe too. I’ve spent two months in Sofia and in the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria working, six weeks in Budapest in Hungary studying, and travelled extensively in Croatia and Macedonia, as well as visiting Slovakia, Greece and Slovenia. I find the friendliness to be no different to in Western Europe – it’s generally those in smaller towns less used to being inundated by tourists who are the most pleased to see you! This was certainly also my experience living in Italy for three years.
    Budapest is now one of my top three favourite cities, if you fancy a visit you can check out my guide here:

    August 17, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I spent two months in the Balkans last year for most of the reasons you mentioned. It was an incredible experience. I spent three weeks in Serbia being asked “why are you here?” because so few tourists explore beyond Belgrade.
    It won’t stay that way forever. I think even returning to Albania in a year or so I’d be travelling in a very different country than I did 12 months ago.

    August 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Come to beautiful Belgrade

    Maria Shy
    August 17, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I’m going here for my next summer vacation.. it is so beautiful.
    I already had it on my mind for a while but now I know for sure!
    Thanks for the information 🙂

    CPO Experts Ltd.
    August 17, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Lovely post with really a great valuable post about Europe.
    I like the untouched Scenery.

    August 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Eastern Europe is truly beautiful, especially the small cities and breathtaking nature sights. I live in Latvia and I recommend a lot of people to come here, but not for the capital city Riga(although it does have some interesting historical buildings), but for the nature, it’s truly beautiful. Although Latvia is a very small country, we latvians still tend to travel our own small cities in the summer for fun, the beauty of them never diminishes.

    As for not speaking english? I think latvians at least up to age 40 speak very good english.

    August 17, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I LOVE Eastern Europe..I have more memorable experiences travelling around there than I do in the West!

    August 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I agree that Eastern Europe is a great place to visit, however I wouldn’t generalize about the friendliness of people in Eastern Europe. I’m an expat living in Lithuania for work and though I’ve been here for over a year I find it very challenging to even get a smile out of anyone. People in Lithuania are often closed off and not welcoming to outsiders.

    August 17, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    I so love Eastern Europe too. My boyfriend went to Slovakia a few years back and said it was beautiful x

    Betty J. Ogburn
    August 17, 2014 at 11:38 am

    …It’s sad how people still have this stigma surrounding the “danger” that lurks in Eastern Europe, when it really is no more dangerous than any other place on Earth (so I assume)!!…

    Danielle @ Chits and Chats and Chocolate
    August 17, 2014 at 11:25 am

    You’re right! Everyone always talks about western Europe, but never eastern! In my opinion, eastern is even more beautiful…. love the Urals!