Eastern Europe is an interesting but overlooked part of the world. The prices are great, there are historic attractions, and the region is very safe in general.
It makes sense to visit multiple destinations while you are in Eastern Europe. For that, you need an Eastern Europe itinerary. Here are three suggestions – hopefully one of them suits your wishes!
Just to make it clear from the start – our definition of Eastern Europe is shown here:
Yes, we know that there are different definitions and that countries such as Poland, Czech Republic and Slovenia usually consider themselves Central European or even Western. That is a reasonable argument in many ways. But to make things simple, we are just going with the old-school definition where the former communist countries are considered as ‘east’. Geographically, this also makes sense if we split Europe into west and east and avoid subcategories such as ‘central’.
Anyway, let’s have a look at the Eastern Europe itineraries!
Mainstream EE Trip
The first itinerary is for Eastern Europe noobs who are going there for the first time. In that case, you should focus on the main touristic cities so that you can cross those of the list first.
Krakow, Prague and Budapest are the most visited cities in Eastern Europe. They are as popular as the best Western European destinations. Krakow is historic, while Prague and Budapest are breathtakingly beautiful (and historic as well).
Prague is the most expensive of the three, while Krakow and Budapest are relatively cheap.
You can visit the three cities in any order you like. There are plenty of cheap flights between them – check Wizz Air and Ryanair. A direct train runs between Prague and Budapest and tickets are highly affordable. If you want something even cheaper, take a look at Flixbus. They have cheap bus routes between most European cities, which includes these three.
The most practical route is probably Prague – Budapest – Krakow. But again, you can do any order you like. We have specific guides to each of these cities, so click the links if you wish to learn more them.
It’s a really good one week Eastern Europe itinerary – to get a basic feel for the region. You can also make it a two or three week itinerary with more time in each city if you’d like.
Extended EE Trip
This is basically an extension of the above, adding Lithuania and Slovakia, plus two extra cities in Poland and Czechia.
This itinerary obviously requires more stops than the former, and that makes either car rental or bus rides useful. However, it is still possible to take trains between many of these cities.
The four destinations of the “mainstream” Eastern European itinerary are included. But we start this one in Vilnius or Kaunas – two cities in Lithuania located near each other. Look for tickets to both Vilnius and Kaunas airports and select the cheapest flight.
From there, go to Warsaw by car or bus. Warsaw is a large city where you can spend several days. Affordable trains can then take you to Krakow, followed by a trip westward to Wroclaw. Almost everyone who has been to Wroclaw tends to praise this city – so it is highly worth a visit. It is not that far from Prague, so that will be our entry into Czechia. Stay in Prague for as long as you like. Then take a train to Olomouc, followed by Brno. Both of these cities can be visited in the span of a few days since they are so close to each other.
From Brno you have several options when it comes to transportation. You can take either the train, the bus or drive a car down to Bratislava. Try to stay for at least 3-4 days in Bratislava. You only need 2 days to see the attractions of the city, but you should also consider a day trip to Vienna since the Austrian capital is less than an hour away from Bratislava. A day trip in the eastern direction, to a lesser known place in Slovakia (could be Nitra) is also an option. You can book a hotel or an Airbnb in Bratislava, and just visit the nearby places on day trips.
Finally, go to from Bratislava to Budapest. This is a relatively quick trip and it can be done by car, bus or train. Buses and trains are very cheap between Bratislava or Budapest, so car rental doesn’t make too much sense – unless you want to make specific stops along the way.
Overall, this works best as a 3 week Eastern Europe itinerary.
Tier 2 Cities
This itinerary is for travelers who have already visited the main tourist cities in the region – Krakow, Prague and Budapest. It also works for those who have no interest in mainstream destinations and prefer something cheaper and more authentic.
However, Budapest is still included since it is such an important junction in Eastern Europe. The other places are mostly “Tier 2” cities or lesser-visited capitals.
It’s a long itinerary, but you don’t have to do the full trip. You can select a certain stretch, such as the first half, the second half, or a part of the middle. The itinerary is only supposed to serve as a guideline.
We consider this Eastern Europe itinerary to be the best one for seasoned travelers – those who are looking to experience some lesser known places that are still certain to impress.
- Novi Sad
We start off in Poland, visiting the vibrant cities of Gdansk, Poznan and Wroclaw. Three cities that are known for their history. They all have large student populations. Opole is a beautiful smaller city near Wroclaw, one of Poland’s oldest. Katowice is then visited – not the most interesting place, but very useful as a traffic junction as it gives easy access to the Czech Republic. Here we will visit the cities of Ostrava, Olomouc and Brno. The trip then continues into Slovakia where Bratislava serves as an interesting (and relatively mainstream) destination for a few days. Go to Budapest and consider a stop in beautiful Esztergom on the way.
From there, you can head south. Szeged is a student city in southern Hungary. It is near the Serbian border, so you might as well continue down to Novi Sad and Belgrade – the two best Serbian cities to visit. From Belgrade, you can take the historic train to Podgorica. Tickets must be bought at the station. You can ride with the day train or the night train – whichever one you prefer. Taking the night train is an experience in itself, and it saves you the money from staying in a hotel on that particular night. But the day train is better if you want to enjoy the spectacular views in Serbia and Montenegro.
Although the train continues all the way to the coastal city Bar, you should probably get off in capital Podgorica. It is by far the most populated place in Montenegro, and from there you can take a bus onwards to Kotor which is a better and prettier coastal city than Bar. Kotor is also near the Croatian city Dubrovnik. You will have to go through border control on the way there, since Croatia is in the EU and Montenegro is not. Dubrovnik is full of tourists in the summer, but it doesn’t hurt to get a few nice days at the beach, and Dubrovnik has an international airport from which you can fly home.
Obviously, this is a very long itinerary and it would be best to have 5-6 weeks for everything. But again, no one says you have to do it all. You can simply do a section of it and travel within a time frame that suits you.
Eastern Europe – some of which is often considered as Central Europe nowadays – is one of the best regions in the world to visit. We highly recommend it to everyone since prices are lower than in Western Europe, while the attractions and lifestyle are pretty much at a similar level.
Which of the three Eastern Europe itineraries did you like the most? Do you have your own itinerary that you recommend to other travelers? Let us know in the comment section!