EUROPE. A short word holding endless possibilities. But where do you start? With infinite heart-stirring, hair-raising, spine-tingling and brain-boggling experiences; with countless cities, bars, hostels, clubs, excursions and restaurants, how can you possibly begin to narrow down the range of options open for exploration? Luckily for you, I’ve done just that.
Concentrating predominantly on Eastern European destinations, whether you choose to travel by bus, train, or plane, you can use this guide to help you identify some of the prime traveller hotspots.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Perhaps this proclamation is somewhat inapplicable to travelling. Many people prefer to place their destiny in the hands of spontaneity, especially when it concerns such an accessible continent as Europe. However, if you are new to independent travel, or are touring in a large group, planning ahead is the best way to avoid the stress and wails of ‘I don’t mind… you pick’ in response to ‘Where to now?!’ Establish your route, pack for a range of climates and print your tickets and reservations… twice. But don’t forget to allow for some flexibility, it is supposed to be an adventure too.
Where to stay?
Websites such as Airbnb and HostelWorld are necessities when searching for affordable accommodation. Both pages allow you to filter your price range and offer useful customer reviews, enabling you to tailor your travelling experience to your personal preference. If you are looking for stylish, social and well situated accommodation on a budget, consider Generator Hostels, which provides information about a group of unique hostels in over twelve different European countries. Additionally, Wombats in Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Budapest and London, Cosmopole in Prague and Castle Hostel 1004 in Lake Bled, Slovenia, are first-rate choices.
Sightseeing tours - on a budget!
As students, we would like to see the sights of Europe in a way which we like to do anything else; as cheaply as humanly possible. This is the moment I shock you by declaring that many city tours are in fact, ’FREE!’ Tips are expected, however, the customer is in control of how much they are willing to spend. Walking tours are a fantastic way of swiftly viewing the sights if you’re on a short time frame, or, as a way of gauging your bearings in a new environment. Recommendations include FreeDam Tours in Amsterdam, Free Walking Tour Prague, or simply browse the selection that Trip Advisor offers for any city of your choice. Willing to splash out a little extra? Fat Tire Tours by bike and the beloved Game of Thrones tour in Dubrovnik could be contenders for you.
Despite daytime exploration being a key part of any travelling experience, nightlife is equally as important to many of us. In Europe, the world is your oyster, the options are endless and the drinks are plentiful. However, if I were to name every quality bar and club in the continent this article would never end, you’d be overcome with boredom, and I’d be jobless. Therefore, these few popular recommendations will simply have to suffice; Berlin’s Matrix houses up to five dance floors and caters for those preferring dance music over the famed techno scene; Karlovy Lázně is Prague’s largest and most established; and Central in Split hosts world famous DJs and various theme-based parties. With regards to bars, tours such as Prague’s Drunken Monkey Pub Crawl are the best way to socialise with other travellers whilst simultaneously experiencing the city’s finest.
Dos and don’ts.
From one travel lover to another, say yes to every experience that becomes available to you, it will only enrich your adventure and augment your memories. Exploit the local supermarkets for cheap meals, immerse yourself in the culture and conversation of new acquaintances, and if travelling by train, avoid the tiresome and confining experience of a particularly lengthy sleeper train, they are not worth the few pennies you may save! But most importantly of all, have fun.
-By Gemma Beckingham