Eastern Europe is still one destination that many non-European travelers tend to skip when they come to Europe. This is a real shame, because the countries of Eastern Europe boast some of the most spectacular gems in the continent.
Here you’ll experience stunning landscapes, charming small towns, delicious local food, and some of the world’s most fascinating architecture.
Eastern Europe is not that unsafe as many people believed. As long as you’ve got your wits about you, practice basic common sense, and follow these 10 simple tips, you can’t go wrong!
10 things to keep in mind when traveling in Eastern Europe
1. Bring cash
It’s true that you don’t want to bring tons of cash with you. However, while traveling in Eastern Europe, it’s a good idea to bring at least a little cash, since many places simply don’t take debit or credit cards.
If you go without cash, you’ll have to waste time running around in search of an ATM. However, some bigger hotels or restaurants in more touristy destinations will accept card, but that’s not the whole case.
It’s better to come prepared.
2. Take care of your expensive belongings
Eastern Europe has a reputation for being less safe than the west, but that’s a huge generalization.
As long as you follow common sense, you’ll be quite safe in many places in like, everywhere! Part of it is not flashing your expensive belongings in public. This will make you a target for theft (as it will in most places in the world).
Try to always keep an eye on your belongings, and when out in public, keep them close to your body.
3. Drink alcohol with caution
Some Eastern European spirits have a higher concentration of alcohol than most people think, and you don’t want to unknowingly drink more than you can handle.
Remember to be cautious around alcohol and always read the label carefully before drinking.
This is especially true if you’re a solo traveler.
4. Tap water is not drinkable everywhere
In some countries in Eastern Europe, the tap water isn’t safe to drink, even if you’re told that it is.
When traveling to places like Russia, Ukraine, Moldova or Belarus, it’s a good idea to avoid drinking or brushing your teeth with the tap water, but stick to bottled water instead.
You might also like to bring along a reusable bottle with a water filter. It might seem unnecessary, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
5. Don’t drive unless you know your thing
You have to be pretty confident to drive in Eastern Europe. Honking horns, turning without using blinkers, driving over the lines and in the middle of the road, and passing each other on narrow mountain roads, just to name a few.
It might be better to stick to public transport or call a taxi rather than attempting to rent a car and drive yourself unless you’re qualified and confident.
6. Public transportation may NOT be available
While relying on public transport is preferable to driving yourself while traveling in Eastern Europe, you can’t count on public transport always being available. It tends to be more limited in the east, especially when linking to minor, lesser-known cities and towns.
If you want to avoid getting stuck without transportation, always do your research before you go.
Even if there is public transport between two locations, it might not run daily.
Get as much information as you can about the availability and scheduling of public transport before making your plans.
7. Be aware of political tension
Eastern Europe is packed with history and has served as the setting of several significant events that have shaped the world today.
While the days of the Soviet Union are over, it’s still not wise to blurt out whatever’s on your mind about the current political situation, especially if you’re not well-informed on what’s going on.
Locals may have strong political opinions, and it’s best to be aware of this and sensitive to people’s views.
It’s best to listen to locals and be understanding about their views.
8. Prepare to bargain
There are certain destinations where you’ll have to get used to the art of bargaining, and Eastern Europe is one of them.
If something seems too expensive, don’t be afraid to negotiate a better price. This can be difficult if you don’t speak the local language, but give it a try if the vendor speaks English.
9. Do your visa-research
Some countries in Eastern Europe will require you to apply for a tourist visa before you can enter, for example Russia and Belarus, as well as other locations, depending on where you’re from.
Australian and New Zealander tourists visiting Ukraine will generally require a visa, for example.
Visa regulations tend to frequently change, so always do your research before leaving.
10. Learn some Russian words/phrases
Although it’s impossible to learn every language spoken in Eastern Europe, try to learn some simple Russian words and phrases.
Many people in former Soviet countries speak Russian as well as their official language. In some places, the elderly may even be able to speak Russian only.
It’s also a good idea to get familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet. That way, you’ll be able to read signs and notices in places where there might not be an English translation.
Source: The Travel