I’ve decided to combine all three countries/cities of Eastern Europe for this blog, partly because the cities were quite similar, and partly because we did have a few sneaky lazy days on this leg of the trip where not a lot was achieved. Travelling is tiring.
We travelled to Budapest, Krakow and Prague. All three cities are super old, have interesting history, are beautiful, and all have really really ridiculously difficult languages. Couldn’t tell you how to say a single word in Hungarian, Polish or Chzech. Just no chance. Fortunately for us and all other travellers, the locals spoke fantastic English.
Our first stop was Budapest, which we sadly only had two nights to enjoy because of our weird Rome stopover from Santorini. We wish we had more nights because I could have spent days just wondering the city. It gave us both massive Melbourne vibes, with the trams, the buzzing little bars (ruin bars are v cool and worth a look) and food trucks, and most importantly, the AMAZING selection of cafes offering tasty brunches. If you like smashed avo or eggs benedict, as we do, you’ll find them pretty easily in Budapest.
The afternoon we arrived we visited the thermal baths, they were deeeelightful! I definitely preferred the outdoor ones as the indoor pools were kind of murky and I wasn’t sure if it was because it was a natural spring or if people were too damn comfy in the warm water to get out to visit the bathroom… anyway. After the baths we found a cute little market where we discovered the ‘chimney cones’, which are delicious bready dough things in a big cone shop, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and happened to be all around this part of Europe. SO good people. And roughly $3.
As we only had one full day, we decided to do a free walking tour. I can’t recommend walking tours in any city enough, especially if you’re tight on time and want to smash out all the sights in one go. Such a good way to get a nice little snippet of the city and their history, see the monuments, hear little funny stories and legends, and get tips on what to eat and what to do after the tour was over. This particular tour was super long and covered a lot of ground, so it was some good exercise too.
We walked to Parliament building afterwards which sounds super dull cause politics is dull, but honestly it was worth it cause the building was STUNNING.
OH AND I FORGOT TO MENTION ONE OF THE TRAIN LINES IN BUDAPEST IS SO ADORABLE. It was the first train line in Europe (I think) and they’ve kept the vintage vibes and it was just so cute.
From Budapest we jumped on a bus and arrived seven hours later in Krakow. Krakow is very small and the Old Town is a great time. Again, heaps of bars and restaurants and places to just chill out. We discovered this one place called ‘Rzeznia’, and TRUST ME, if you like ribs, this is the place to go. It was cheap as chips, but just about everything in Eastern Europe is. It’s awesome. Nick also discovered a bar called ‘The House of Beer’ and he was in heaven, so if you’re a craft beer lover, give that a go. The cider was nice too.
We spent a day at Auschwitz concentration camp, which was super confronting and heartbreaking, as you of course can imagine. I definitely recommend booking a tour for this one, transfers to and from the camp, some lunch and audio tour the whole way through made it well worth it.
We also did a walking tour of the Jewish quarter and the history of Jews in Poland. The Jewish quarter now happens to be a buzzing little place with heaps of cheap bars, apparently because all the students live there, so that’s a fun fact! I mean the drinks are cheap anywhere in Krakow, but if you’re reeeaaalllyyy strapped for cash, hit up that part of town.
Our last stop of Eastern Europe was Prague. To be completely honest, by the time we got to Prague we were kind of like ‘oh look.. another building that looks like all the other ones we’ve seen,’ because the cities do all look alike, BUT, Prague had a lot more to offer than some nice architecture. For example, more chimney cone cakes, this time filled with ice cream and Nutella. Yep. The one building I will mention is Prague Castle and the cathedral up there, so impressive and 100% worth the visit. Just look at the window in the third photo.
We had four nights in Prague which was a bit long, three would be just right. We did yet ANOTHER walking tour in Prague, actually we did two, and both were boring as hell. Just walk it on your own. Unless you’re super super interested in knowing all the Kings names from the medieval times and every single invasion that happened even if it lasted two weeks and the name of the person riding the horse into the battles that happened 600 years ago and oh my god I’m getting bored just talking about it so moving right along.
A real highlight of Prague was a place called ‘The Pub’ where you can pour your own beers, which sounds basic but it was genuinely a good time, The Pub also had great food and staff so it was a big tick from us.
Another highlight was finding the best smashed avo I’d had since Melbourne, at a restaurant called ‘La Bottega.’
All of the places we saw are must visits, if you are on a time schedule or keen to just keep moving, I would suggest three nights in Budapest, 2-3 in Krakow (but probably 2,) and 2-3 nights in Prague. Stay way longer if you’re running low on cash though and need to play catch up because main meals are like $7AUD in a lot of places and that’s a win for everyone.