Destinations By Lizzie / February 2, 2015 Share Tweet Share Looking for a way to explore the charm and beauty of Europe with breaking the bank? I know the perfect place. A lot of solo and first time travelers think that they’ll be better off exploring Western Europe – you know, strolling along the banks of the Seine in Paris or checking out the ancient ruins in Rome. They hop from one major city to the next, not really scratching the surface of this diverse continent. Sure, Western Europe offers a whole load of cool, fun, and interesting things to do, but it’s also pretty pricey and often riddled with tourists. How can I explore Europe without breaking the bank? You ask. Budget travelers who are looking to pinch the pennies without missing out on the vibe of Europe should consider traveling to Eastern Europe instead. You might instantly think of communist buildings and a history wrought with war and conflict, but Eastern Europe is actually a haven of beautiful coastlines, picturesque mountains, rich culture, a thriving art scene, and a vibrant nightlife – and it costs a fraction of the price of visiting, say, Paris, Amsterdam, or London. Basically, it’s perfect for solo and first time travelers. But its popularity is gaining momentum by the day. Prices are beginning to rise and the tourists are beginning to stream in – so make sure you get there soon!Why Should You Travel To Eastern Europe?Budget Price Tags Eastern Europe is as cheap as chips compared to the major tourist hubs in the continent. You might pay upwards of $7 for a pint of beer in the likes of London and Dublin, whereas a cheeky drink in Belgrade, Krakow, or Sarajevo will only set you back around $1.50 – amazing, right? But beer isn’t the only thing that’s less than half the price in Eastern Europe.Everything has a budget price tag, including transport (you’re looking at $2.50 for a metro ticket in Barcelona, but less than $1 for the same ride in Budapest), meals (you can get a decent dinner in Prague for under $10, but you’re likely to spend around $20 for similar fare in Paris), and attractions (around $6 for entrance fees in Belgrade and $20 or more for institutions and monuments in Rome). It’s easy to see that you’ll save a lot of money by choosing to travel in Eastern Europe – one of the reasons it’s so attractive for budget backpackers. Rich history and culture But did you know that Eastern Europe easily rivals its western counterpart for cultural attractions? That’s right. Places like Prague, Budapest, and Belgrade are full to the brim of charming castles, urban art studios, and fascinating museums. Because of its turbulent and tragic past, Eastern Europe’s streets are decorated with war-time relics and grand monuments, and its well-preserved traditions are still a huge part of the lifestyle. Even better still, much of Eastern Europe remains un-Westernized. So many of the small working villages still run as they did hundreds of years ago, and the diverse mixture of cultures make it an exciting region to explore.Not taken over by tourists Sure, Eastern Europe is gaining in popularity, but it is nowhere near as busy as Paris, London, and Berlin. Travelers are only just beginning to notice its raw charm, cheap prices, and the multitude of attractions available. This means it won’t stay quiet forever, but right now there are still parts of Eastern Europe where you can go and not bump into another English speaker – can you imagine that happening in Spain or Italy? No chance. Less tourists mean less queuing, less jostling through the narrow streets of old towns, and fewer faces to photo-bomb you. Where do I book my ticket?! The best places in Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is definitely not a small part of the world, so it’s difficult to know where to begin if you’re a first time traveler to the area. Luckily, you can’t really go wrong. But, if you’re stuck, here are a few great cities that embody the spirit of Eastern Europe.Prague Prague Sunrise Oh, Prague. This beautiful Gothic city is framed with some spectacular architecture – just head to the Old Square and look up at the giant clock for proof. There are castles galore, cathedrals, and a whole network of cheap, underground absinthe bars. Prague is famed for its beer, too, so make sure you take a few brewery tours and, of course, get stuck into the samples. Budapest Budapest Parliament Building The capital of Hungary boasts a mixture of gritty, urban style and a heavy dose of history. Thermal spas are a popular pastime amongst locals and tourists, and there are plenty of ridiculously hot saunas and relaxing bubble pools dotted around the city.Budapest also has a banging nightlife thanks to its Ruin Bars, a new breed of bar that play on shabby chic charm and low, low prices. Don’t forget to fill up on delicious Hungarian goulash before a night out!Krakow Krakow, Poland If you’re looking to step back in time and wander around cobbled streets where horse and carts still take center stage, then Krakow is the city for you. Poland’s capital is a maze of stall-filled squares, nouveau Polish restaurants, local art galleries, and cheap vodka bars – what’s not to like?! Belgrade Belgrade at night Serbia has recovered well from its tragic past and it has evolved into a young, trendy destination with a huge amount of design-led bars, hotels, and restaurants. Take a stroll down Knez Mihajlova to see how far it’s come, but make sure you dip into at least one (or two, or three) of the quirky bars and eateries that line it. Eastern Europe is the cooler younger brother of Western Europe. It’s raw, it’s charming, and it’s slowly beginning to find its way onto traveler’s bucketlists. And there’s good reason, too. Prices are incredibly low compared to the rest of Europe, but the quality doesn’t suffer – there are countless fantastic boutique hostels and trendy, budget bars filled with a young, fun crowd. Plus, there’s still so much culture, history, and breath-taking architecture to see, too - from the castles of Romania to the cathedrals of Prague and the nostalgic houses of Krakow. So what are you waiting for? Put Eastern Europe on your bucket list before it’s too late! Have you been to Eastern Europe? What was the highlight of your trip?