This summer we got our first taste of travel in Eastern Europe. Although we barely scratched the surface of the region during the eight-week trip, we crammed as much culture, history and delicious food into our adventure as we could. Our journey took us through UNESCO towns and turquoise seas in Croatia to sedate Slovakia and the heaving capital cities of Budapest and Prague. So, how much did our Eastern Europe trip cost us?
Prague. The word conjures up images of spiky gothic buildings, ancient stone bridges, towers, quirky statues and cobbled squares. I remember the cacophony of music that followed us around during our trip to Prague, as well as the screech of trams and the taste of cinnamon chimney cakes. My lasting memory is of the sun setting over the river with Prague’s hilltop castle glowing softly in the distance. How much did I love Prague? Let me count the ways.
Imagine a church decorated with the bones of up to 70,000 people. Picture ivory-coloured towers and artfully arranged skulls, delicate bone necklaces strung across the ceiling and shaped into elaborate coats of arms and chalices. This is what we discovered during an eerie yet beautiful visit to the Bone Church, located in the tiny town of Kutna Hora in the Czech countryside.
Bratislava certainly lives up to its title as the Little Big City. Wandering around the compact centre it feels more like you’re in a small market town rather than Slovakia’s Capital City. Still, we found lots to like while visiting Bratislava, from castles and churches to palaces and clock towers.
Florence in July: crowds, sweltering heat and theme-park-style queues. The best decision we made was to book ourselves onto a night walking tour so we could explore the city’s treasures in the relative cool and quiet of the evening. We also got to learn about the darker side of Florence; the medieval tales of feuds and scandals, deceit and mystery, with a taste of delicious gelato thrown in for good measure.
“Shall we take a short tour of the city?” asked our Airbnb host Tibor, who’d come to pick us up from the bus station in Budapest, Hungary. Agreeing, we soon found ourselves driving alongside the River Danube, which separates the now unified Buda and Pest districts of the city; grand bridges stretched over the murky water and boats trundled along beneath in the gathering darkness. On the riverbank lights began to blink on in the Hogwarts-esque Parliament building and across the brown water on a grassy hillside, the spiky spires and turrets of the castle district rose into the twilight.
Travel in Italy doesn’t come cheap, especially if you’re visiting during peak season in one of the country’s most popular tourist hotspots: Florence. The former Italian capital is filled with architectural and artistic treasures, from the Cathedral of Santa del Fiore to Michelangelo’s famous David statue and everywhere you turn there are intriguing tours on offer, tasty gelato stalls and restaurants selling fresh pasta. It’s definitely all too easy to burn through your hard-earned travel cash in Florence, so how did Andrew and I fare when we were challenged to have a great day out for just £50?
How much did we spend during our five and a half week stay in Croatia? Andrew and I travelled along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia exploring UNESCO protected Old Towns, waterfalls, islands, national parks and beaches. Here’s a detailed breakdown of our Croatia travel costs.
You’ll find some of the best Croatian islands just off the coast of Split, and hopping from one to the next is a perfect way to get a taste of Dalmatia. Brac, Hvar, Vis and Solta are all packed with pebbly beaches, mountains topped by ancient forts, monasteries and seaside towns full of colonial buildings, churches and restaurants serving fresh fish. There are caves and lagoons to discover, mountains, fields of lavender and never-ending views of the Adriatic Sea.
The Split-Dalmatia County has it all: from steep gorges, waterfalls and colourful lakes to seaside towns crafted from local stone and islands surrounded by impossibly calm, blue waters. When we settled in Split, we unwittingly picked the perfect base from which to explore the Croatian coast. With our friend Bonner in tow, we packed the trunk of our rental car with snacks and sun cream and set off to discover the best day trips from Split.