Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Please Critique My Eastern Europe Itinerary

Please Critique My Eastern Europe Itinerary

Jun 2nd, 2019, 06:02 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 828
Please Critique My Eastern Europe Itinerary

HI everyone. My planned trip for spring 2020 is to Eastern Europe as I need a cultural break from all of the Mediterranean travel I've done over the past 8 years. I've done quite a bit of research on Eastern European destinations and have come up with the following draft itinerary. I have not booked flights yet and probably won't until the summer time period. I am limiting myself to 14-15 night (16-17 days total) since being a solo traveler, I find that longer trips start to become less enjoyable for me after this long of a period. My plan is to go in mid-April to early May 2020. All destinations seem quite doable by air, train or bus from each other, so I am most interested in whether I am missing something spectacular in this region that I should substitute for something below. Here is what I'm thinking a this point:

Day 0: Fly from Minneapolis to Budapest, Hungary
NIghts 1-4: Budapest
Fly to Sarajevo
Nights 5-7: Sarajevo, BiH
Train to Mostar, BiH
Nights 8-9 Mostar (with a 1/2 day trip to either Medugorje or Pocitelj)
Train to Trebinje
Night 10: Trebinje, BiH
Taxi to Dubrovnik
Nights 11-12: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Fly to Prague
NIghts 13-15: Prague, Czech Republic
Fly Home: Prague to Minneapolis

Thank you for all input!


MinnBeef is offline  
Jun 4th, 2019, 12:17 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 11
I would add more Croatia to this itinerary but I might be biased since I live in Croatia I think the islands near Dubrovnik are worth a visit for a few days.
monikaCro is offline  
Jun 4th, 2019, 01:52 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,971
BiH looks fine, though the longer you allow for Sarajevo the more you will learn about it's recent sad bloody history.....

The train between Sarajevo and Mostar is up there with the best. The trip only takes 2.5 hours and is really dreamy. Take the early morning train, leaves Sarajevo @ 0700. Allow plenty of time to get your ticket, as they are individually written out!

Medugorje is a bit wacky, but well worth the trip up there by public bus from Mostar. THe bus takes about 50 minutes. The bus station in Mostar is next to the train station. We're not Roman Catholic or religious, so went there as interested sceptics, and left as interested sceptics. In fact we went up there twice, though mainly for the scenic bus trip on the 2nd occasion. It was amazing to see 1,000s of pilgrims from all over the World.

Last edited by LancasterLad; Jun 4th, 2019 at 01:57 AM.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jun 4th, 2019, 06:26 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,281
That seems like a lot of jumping around. I would start in the south and work north, or vice versa.

I loved Sarajevo and wasn't that impressed with Mostar but agree that the trip between the two is good - I did it by bus.

Any special reason you are going to Trebinje? There is a direct bus from Mostar to Dubrovnik.

I agree that there is a lot more to the area than Dubrovnik, which while super-cute is now an over-hyped and very over-crowded tourist trap. It was so crowded even back in 2011 I had to queue to get into the old town and that was before the GoT publicity. If you do go, see if you can check the cruise ship arrivals (the site I used to use doesn't seem to be working). I would consider dropping Prague (also very crowded) in exchange for more time in the Balkans.

Budapest is one of my favorite cities, I'd recommend staying in one of these apartments: Six Very Special Apartments in the Heart of Budapest

For my 2011 trip including Sarajevo start here (links at the top of the page, Budapest is a bit further on): https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...22/busy-budva/

Last edited by thursdaysd; Jun 4th, 2019 at 06:29 AM.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 4th, 2019, 06:35 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,971
I reckon Trebinje is a really worthwhile stop.....

https://wikitravel.org/en/Trebinje

Quite possibly a hidden gem.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jun 4th, 2019, 06:57 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,281
I had intended to visit Trebinje in 2011, but at least at that time the buses from Kotor only ran on the weekends and I wound up going back to Dubrovnik instead.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 06:22 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 828
Thank you all and please keep the feedback coming.

@monikaCro: I agree about all of the things to see in Croatia. I am thinking I could do Croatia as its own trip in the future. But I couldn’t avoid skipping Dubrovnik on this trip as I will be so close in BiH.

@Lancaster: By “wacky” do you mean “tacky”? I am Catholic and a believer but I’m not looking for tacky souvenir stores, cheesy vendors etc. When it comes to Medugorje.

@thursdaysd: I ageee there is more bouncing around here than I’d usually do. I need to start and end in major cities though for flight purposes which is why I am thinking to go south and then back north. Are you not a Prague fan? I’ve heard that it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, if not the world and he photos look amazing!

thank you also for the apartment recommendations for Budapest.

MB
MinnBeef is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 06:56 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,281
After visiting Prague I wrote: " Between the heat, the crowds, and a couple of rain storms, Prague was something of a disappointment ... "Now I did visit in August, but also it was 2004, and from what I hear the crowds have gotten a lot worse in the fifteen years since. I also wrote: " My guide said that the crowds had started at Easter ... and would probably last until October. Getting up early helped some. Staying up late did not: the famous Charles Bridge was still a river of tourists at 11:00 p.m. Moving a few blocks away from the center didn't help either - by the time I lost the crowds I had also run out of interesting buildings."

I had looked forward to Prague because I am a big Art Nouveau fan, and the half day tour I had arranged with a private guide was good, but I had already seen most of the exhibits in the Mucha Museum. I thought the castle overrated, and while I found the Jewish quarter both interesting and moving, I was unable to view the exhibition of children's art from the Terezin concentration camp, as it was crammed into a room that could maybe hold a dozen people in comfort.

Of course, the city is well preserved and I'm not necessarily sorry I went, but I have no plans to return, and I wouldn't advise going out of the way to get there on a short trip. There is so much else to see! (I am starting to think that places with a lot of photos on Instagram, or similar sites, are exactly the places to avoid.)
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 06:59 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,971
Originally Posted by MinnBeef View Post
@Lancaster: By “wacky” do you mean “tacky”? I am Catholic and a believer but I’m not looking for tacky souvenir stores, cheesy vendors etc. When it comes to Medugorje.


'Wacky' and ''Tacky' I'm afraid. Tacky souvenir stalls abound, you can buy practically anything with the Virgin Mary's name or image stuck on it.

The whole place, and it's well spread out, had an aura of religious Theme Park about it.

The area where the Apparition was supposed to have been sighted is on very challenging ground for anyone with less than reasonable mobility.....steep, rocky and uneven underfoot.

There were hundred of pilgrims there on the two occasions we visited, most of whom seemed to be enjoying the experience.

Several decent looking places to eat, though probably overpriced.

The surrounding scenery is very easy on the eye, so it's well worth investing a few hours of your time.

Last edited by LancasterLad; Jun 5th, 2019 at 07:02 AM.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jun 5th, 2019, 07:20 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 271
Originally Posted by MinnBeef View Post

@thursdaysd: I ageee there is more bouncing around here than I’d usually do. I need to start and end in major cities though for flight purposes which is why I am thinking to go south and then back north.

MB
I know that your comment was directed at Thursdaysd, however, have you looked into roughly how much it is going to cost you to return to Prague as opposed to flying home out of the smaller city? While I agree that flying out of a larger city does help with the price, it does nothing for your overall budget if you spend the money to get there.... you may find it to be roughly the same overall.

As far as Prague is concerned, I have been twice: January 2003 and July 2010. Of course no one was there in January (burrrr!) and my July trip 9 years ago was unbearable with the crowds. I have heard, and imagine, it has only worsened.

It is worth going, of course, I enjoyed the city but two trips is enough for me.
Travel_Nerd is online now  
Jun 5th, 2019, 09:10 PM
  #11  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,792
Once again, MinnBeef, I can understand why you want to see these placs, but honestly, I think you are setting an unforgiving pace – and I say that as someone who travels hard and fast!

FWIW, I could have managed minimums of
3-4 full days in Budapest;
at least 2.5 days in Sarajevo (I wish I’d given it more);
1 day in Mostar per se, meaning about 24 hours and definitely includng an overnight
1.5 days in Dubrovnik
3 days in Prague (which I’m glad I visited in the 1990s).

I know our interests diverge at points, so take what you know of me into consideration. And enjoy another fascinating part of the world!
kja is offline  
Jun 8th, 2019, 12:29 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 828
@kja: Good to catch up w/ you! The itinerary you noted is almost identical to the one I’m considering. Is that an itinerary you’d recommend? I’m a bit confused bc your original comment thought mine to be unforgiving.
MinnBeef is offline  
Jun 8th, 2019, 01:22 PM
  #13  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,792
Sorry I wasn't clear! As I read your itinerary, you have 3 days in Budapest (during which you will be dealing with jet lag); 2 in Sarajevo; 1 in Mostar, during which you plan a half day trip; 1 in Dubrovnik; and 2 in Prague. I realize that you have bits of days on either side, but not much. So you are close to (maybe a bit shy of) what I consider to be absolute bare minimums if you are planning a trip that involves being up and about pretty much every possible moment. Maybe it will work for you, but I think your plan is ambitious and perhaps overly so.

Much as I love Dubrovnik, you might consider deferring it until you can include a bit more of Croatia. Or wait until another trip to see either Budapest or Prague. Just some ideas to consider.

You'll have some wonderful experiences no matter what you choose!
kja is offline  
Jun 8th, 2019, 02:10 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
Dubrovnik is now said to be like Venice - overflowing with tour boats and other tourists - takes away its romance - agree with kja why.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 8th, 2019, 03:04 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,196
We just returned from a 5 week trip to the Balkans. Dubrovnik now limits the # of cruise ships allowed to 2 per day and the number of people on the ships. I imagine that has helped to some degree. It was crowded, but not any worse or less crowded than Prague some 15 years ago. It's an adorable little city, almost Disneylandish. We walked the walls late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. We stopped in Mostar only for a few hours and it was also heaving with tourists. As someone posted the train ride between Mostar and Sarajevo is spectacular. Sarajevo left an impression with me that will be with me for a long time. I suggest a tour on the war sites to get a better understanding. We did this tour and were the only 2 people. Guide/driver was in the war. He had fascinating stories and info. https://meetbosnia.com/tour/fall-yug...vo-siege-tour/
yestravel is offline  
Jun 9th, 2019, 01:53 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 828
yestravel Thanks for the Sarajevo war tour tip-sounds very interesting. When you say Dubrovnik was almost “Disneylandish”, I know you mean that in a good way but one could also take it to mean that it become a caraciture of itself. I can handle crowds but I don’t want cheesy or sickeningly touristy. What did you enjoy about Dubrovnik?

All-if I were to skip Dubrovnik (just an If at this point) and add one night to either Budapest or Sarajevo and the other night to Prague, would that make my itinerary considerably more manageable?
MinnBeef is offline  
Jun 9th, 2019, 02:36 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 10,196
[QUOTE=MinnBeef;16933794]
yestravel Thanks for the Sarajevo war tour tip-sounds very interesting. When you say Dubrovnik was almost “Disneylandish”, I know you mean that in a good way but one could also take it to mean that it become a caraciture of itself. I can handle crowds but I don’t want cheesy or sickeningly touristy. What did you enjoy about Dubrovnik?
Dubrovnik is striking. I couldn’t decide whether to go or not given all I had read about how insanely crowded it had become. I’m glad I went and we managed the crowds as best we could. As I mentioned walking the walls, late afternoon when it wasn’t wall to wall people was wonderful. Two museums I thoroughly enjoyed were The War Photo Limited-absolutely one of the most moving photo exhibits I have ever seen & the Red History Museum near the port. It was very interesting and well done. I have never seen Game of Thrones so I have no appreciation of the locales filmed in Dubrovnik. To escape the crowds we went to Cavtat on our 2nd full day. It’s less than an hour by ferry and a pretty boat ride. Cavtat was blissfully peaceful. By Disneylandish I mean too perfect and I meant touristy—there are many tourist shops, restaurants and cafes and all the umbrellas leading tours is comical. But early am and late evening or night it’s beautiful. And the scenery is quite attractive.

if you drop Dubrovnik I think it will make your plan more manageable, in the past I spent 5 days in Budapest and loved it. We were in Sarajevo 5 nights. I had planned to go into the villages one day, but the weather didn’t cooperate and then we ran into a holiday so I didn’t go. But if you don’t do that I think 3 days would work for Sarajevo. With the exception of the tunnels, it’s pretty compact.



Last edited by yestravel; Jun 9th, 2019 at 02:40 PM.
yestravel is offline  
Jun 9th, 2019, 03:02 PM
  #18  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,792
IMO, dropping Dubrovnik would make your trip much more manageable.

If you include Dubrovnik on this trip, definitely check the cruise schedule, plan your time around the assumption that there will be daytrippers (walk the walls as late in the day as possible), and don't skip the Buza Bar.

I don't know if it's still true, but the main tourist information office in Sarajevo used to offer an excellent tour that included the Tunel and various other places involved in or affected by the war, always led by one or two people who had lived there during the war. My two guides included a soldier who moved through the tunnel almost nightly and a man who had been a boy during the siege and ultimately escaped through the tunnel. Very moving, very informative.
kja is offline  
Jun 9th, 2019, 04:12 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,175
KJA and Yestravel, when you suggest walking the walls in the late afternoon, do you mean, for example, around 4PM?
Thank you!
KarenWoo is offline  
Jun 9th, 2019, 04:26 PM
  #20  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,792
@ KarenWoo: I'm not sure it matters that much -- just go late enough that most day trippers will have to leave soon, if they haven't already left. I went 2 hours before they closed, leaving me plenty of time to stop for photos and to admire.
kja is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:13 PM.