Eastern Europe is having a definite “it” moment. With all the appeal of Western Europe (and more), safe destinations, and with favorable currencies to the rand, Eastern Europe is a great new holiday hotspot for female travelers – whether you’re flying solo or going on a girls’ getaway.
Where is Eastern Europe?
Although the term “Eastern Europe” is contentious, countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and others stretching towards Russia are considered Eastern Europe by many travelers.
Why it’s great for female travelers
“Eastern European countries boast similarly stunning centuries-old architecture and quaint medieval villages, much like Western European destinations – if not even more,” says Teresa Richardson, Managing Director of The Travel Corporation in South Africa. Think rivers winding their way through UNESCO-listed old towns, fairy-tale castles, cobbled streets, and street cafés.
“I joined an Eastern European guided holiday in October with a bunch of friends and it was great,” says Nikki Deponselle, a Somerset West local and frequent traveler. “It was shoulder season, so there weren’t as many tourists as there would have been elsewhere, such as Paris.”
“It’s also very reasonably priced; much more affordable than any of the Western European countries I’ve visited,” says Deponselle, who visited Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest, and said she always felt safe.
“Joining a guided holiday, such as an Insight Vacations one, is good if you want to add peace of mind and it also widened my group of friends on the trip. I’m still in touch with some of the girlfriends I made on the trip.”
English is widely spoken, another plus for the female traveler, especially if you’re traveling solo. Although you may encounter some slight language difficulties outside of the main cities, most of the time you’ll likely be able to find someone who speaks a little English and if not, there’s Google Translate (download it just in case).
A woman traveling by herself also isn’t a strange sight.
“As South African women, I think we are more naturally cautious than women from other countries. Definitely adhere to the usual rules you would at home,” advises Deponselle. “Don’t wander around alone at night, don’t leave your drinks unattended or go home or get into cabs with strangers.”
“Adhering to local customs is very important and keep your wits about you – but this applies no matter where you’re traveling.”
Kiersten Rich, the author of theblondeabroad.com, an award-winning website dedicated to solo and female travel, recommends traveling during the day when possible, researching the destination and trying to blend in with your clothing.
What to pack
As a female traveler, you never want to be without a means of communicating. Keep your phone charged at all times. Don’t forget the appropriate plugs and adaptors, preferably a battery pack or two and perhaps even a data SIM card.
“For Eastern Europe, I would suggest you pack enough toiletries and skincare. In some countries, such as Bratisvala, I didn’t come across many pharmacies and when we did see supermarkets, there wasn’t as wide a selection of toiletries, such as deodorant and body lotion, as at home. Not to mention, they were expensive,” says Deponselle.
Where to go
“There were so many highlights from the trip and each country really had something unique to offer. I loved Budapest for its stunning city architecture. I’d suggest a night cruise on the Danube – seeing Buda Castle and the Parliament Building lit up with hundreds of lights is gorgeous,” suggests Deponselle.
“Prague is great for its red-roofed buildings and cobbled streets and squares. Beer is also often cheaper than water.”
“Berlin is artsy and a bit moody so, if you’re into street art and history, it’s really interesting.
“And Bratislava was like a time warp. We visited the Old Town on a really cold day. There were no other tourists around and hardly any locals either. We walked the deserted alleyways and admired the crumbling, yet grand buildings that looked like they’d been forgotten since the war.”
Ljubljana in Slovenia is another one to add to the list. It’s relatively undiscovered by the tourist crowd, is one of Europe’s greenest cities, and is magical in summer.
Or opt for a sailing trip with your girlfriends around the 1200 islands of Croatia. It makes for a sun-, sea-, and fun-filled girls getaway that will be hard to beat.
If you need more convincing on how hot Eastern Europe really is, have a browse on Pinterest. You’ll be planning your girls’ trip or solo adventure before you can say “bon voyage”.
Need to know
- You can fly to many major Eastern European cities via a stop at your airline’s main hub.
- Visas will likely be needed – check with the relevant embassy. You may be able to get a multiple-entry Schengen visa allowing you access into multiple Schengen countries.