Best of Eastern & Central Europe Trip Notes
Hop on an unforgettable journey through the lands of myths and legends that still continue to resonate today! Discover the timeless wonders and stories of Dracula as you explore Transylvania inside out, a most fascinating part of Romania. Continue your journey with the vibrant streets of Budapest, where modernity meets history in a harmonious blend. Move through the Baroque wonders of Dresden, where architectural splendor paints a vivid picture of the city’s rich past. As you continue your sojourn, delve into the fairy-tale allure of Prague, where cobblestone streets and medieval marvels transport you to a bygone era. Feel the imperial grandeur in Vienna and be energized by the vibrant pulse of Berlin. Join us on these Central Europe tours, meticulously designed to capture the essence of each city. Embark on a voyage where history, culture, and adventure converge, making this Eastern & Central Europe tour an odyssey of a lifetime.
Duration : 17 Days
Destination : Central Europe / Transylvania, Romania
Start/Ends in : Bucharest / Berlin
Group Size :13-42 People
Age Req. : 18+
Trip Theme : Classic, Overland
Departs : April to December
The group welcome meeting with you guide and other travellers is held around 18:30 at the hotel lobby on Day 1 of your tour, unless otherwise notified.
The meeting point for this tour is:
Hotel Mercure Unirii – Bucharest – 4 Star
Address : 28Th, Bulevardul Mircea Vodă Boulevard, București 030167, Romania
Phone : +40 21 528 1100
Emergency Number: +44 203 14 99 200
To arrange your airport transfer please email us the following information at least 2 weeks before your departure date: [email protected]
Travel Date, Flight Number, Local Arrival Time, Name/s of the Passengers
The finishing point for this tour is:
Emergency Number: +44 203 14 99 200
Budapest: The capital of Hungary is a stunning city straddling the banks of the Danube River, known for its rich history, architectural grandeur, and inviting thermal baths.
Bratislava: The charming capital of Slovakia captivates visitors with its picturesque Old Town, medieval castle, and the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers.
Vienna: Austria’s imperial jewel exudes elegance with its opulent palaces, classical music heritage, and vibrant cultural scene.
Salzburg: The birthplace of Mozart, enchants with its baroque architecture, alpine surroundings, and the iconic Hohensalzburg Fortress.
Munich: The heart of Bavaria in Germany, combines a rich cultural heritage with a lively beer culture, highlighted by the annual Oktoberfest celebration and impressive landmarks like the Marienplatz.
Prague: The Czech Republic’s fairy-tale capital, boasts a skyline of Gothic and Baroque architecture, featuring the iconic Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and the enchanting Old Town Square.
Bucharest: The capital of Romania has everything to keep the traveler satisfied with a cosmopolitan downtown and historic sites.
Sinaia: A town in central Romania’s Bucegi Mountains, the 17th-century Sinaia Monastery was once a royal family Residence.
Brasov: A medieval town set in the heart of Transylvania’s Carpathian Mountains, Brasov is the launchpad for the dazzling castles in the region.
Sighisoara: Sighisoara lies on the Tarnava Mare River in Mures, Romania, right at the historic region of Transylvania. It hosts a spectacular UNESCO-heritage citadel.
Tirana: Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania. It is also the cultural, economical, and political center of the country.
Cluj Napoca: The unofficial capital of Transylvania beckons with its myriad modern facilities scattered across Saxon and Hungarian monuments.
Salina Turda: Salina Turda is a salt mine in the Durgau-Valea Sarata area of Turda, the second-largest city in Cluj Country, northwest Romania.
Sibiu: Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, central Romania. It’s known for Germanic architecture and in its old town, the legacy of the 12th century.
Athens: You will fall in love with the perfect combination of culture, history, and the dynamic contemporary life in one of the oldest cities in the world.
Kalambaka: Kalambaka is a town and the seat of the Municipality of Meteora in the Trikala regional unit, part of Thessaly in Greece.
Please note that the itinerary may be subject to small changes depending on the conditions during the tour. Alternative accommodation of similar standards may be used depending on the group size and hotel availability.
Inclusions & Exclusions
The tour price covers the following services:
Accomodation : 4 star hotels
Meals : 16 breakfasts
Transportation : Air-conditioned modern non-smoking coach or mini-bus
Guide : Services of experienced Travel Talk local guides licensed by the Ministry of Tourism
Sightseeing: Munich, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Prague, Bucharest, Count Dracula Castle in Bran, Sighisoara, Cluj-Napoca, Salina Turda Salt Mine, Corvin Castle, Sibiu
What is NOT included in the tour price?
- Any flights not mentioned above
- Travel insurance
- Meals not stated above
- Items of a personal nature
- Tips & gestures
- Entrance fees to the sights and museums
- Optional activities
- Other services not stated in the itinerary
Hotels & Accomodation
Solo travellers will be roomed with another solo traveller of the same gender in a twin or triple room, or can upgrade to a solo room by paying the single supplement. You may choose the solo room option when booking online or contact us to arrange a private room. Your tour leader will allocate rooms upon arrival at the starting hotel in accordance with the rooming lists, last minute changes may not be guaranteed.
HOTEL CITY INN – BUDAPEST – 4 Star
A modern-design accommodation, steps away from the city center. The hotel features an on site restaurant & bar and rooms equipped with coffee-tea maker.
Novotel Budapest City – BUDAPEST – 4 Star
The contemporary hotel features an on-site restaurant, sauna, pool, fitness center and a sun terrace. All rooms are equipped with coffee/ tea maker, smart tv, mini bar and safe box.
Eventhotel Pyramide – Vienna – 4 Star
The luxury hotel features an event center with a fancy Pyramid-shaped roof, wellness center, an indoor & outdoor pool and an on-site restaurant.
Holiday Inn Muchend Sud – Munich – 4 Star
Holiday Inn Munchen Sud features an indoor pool, on-site restaurant offering varieties from international cuisines and rooms equipped with flat-screen TV, coffee/ tea maker and a private balcony/ terrace.
Austria Trend Hotel – Salzburg – 4 Star
A modern design hotel situated next to Vardar River in the beautiful capital city of North Macedonia. The hotel features a fitness & SPA center and an on-site restaurant.
Austria Trend Hotel Ananas – Salzburg- 4 Star
A contemporary hotel featuring an on-site restaurant & café offering Viennese delicacies. All rooms are equipped with flat-screen TV, minibar and safe box.
Tulip Inn Munchen Messe – Munich – 4 Star
A contemporary hotel designed for the comfort of its guests featuring an on-site restaurant & bar, rooms equipped with flat-screen TV, hair-dryer, toiletries.
Hotel Mercure Unirii – Bucharest – 4 Star
A modern-design hotel situated in the heart of the lively city of Budapest. Restaurants, cafés and shopping areas are just steps away.
HOTEL AMBIENT – BRASOV – 4 Star
A charming accommodation, located in the heart of Old Town Brasov. The hotel offers its guests rooms equipped with tea/ coffee maker, an on-site restaurant offering delicacies from various cuisines.
HOTEL RIVER PARK – CLUJ NAPOCA – 4 Star
An elegant hotel overlooking the Someșul Mic, offering its guests spectacular views. Guest rooms are equipped with flat-screen tv with cable channels, safe deposit box, tea/ coffee maker and free toiletries.
HOTEL GOLDEN TULIP ANA TOWER – SIBIU – 4 Star
A contemporary accommodation, located only a steps away from the Old Town. The hotel offers spacious rooms equipped with tea-coffee maker, an on-site restaurant & bar and a SPA & wellness center.
Please find below the approximate driving times between the destinations visited in the Balkans. We will always strive to take a short break every few hours to enable passengers to stretch their legs, purchase snacks and use wash facilities during long drives. Please note that crossing borders may take only several minutes or up to a few hours, depending on how busy the border control is. The driving times listed below do not take into account the waiting time to cross the border.
Budapest – Bratislava: 204 km – 2.5 hrs
Bratislava – Vienna: 80 km – 40 min
Vienna – Salzburg: 300 km – 3 hrs
Salzburg – Munich : 215 km – 2.5 hrs
Munich – Prague : 400 km – 4 hrs
Sofia – Belgrade: 400 km – 4.5 hrs
Sofia – Belgrade: 400 km – 4.5 hrs
Belgrade – Sarajevo: 290 km – 5 hrs
Sarajevo – Mostar: 130 km – 2 hrs
Mostar – Trebinje: 120 km – 2 hrs
Trebinje – Dubrovnik: 32 km – 1 hr
Trebinje – Kotor: 80 km – 2 hrs
Kotor – Shkoder: 107 km – 2.5 hrs
Shkoder – Tirana: 100 km – 1.5 hrs
Tirana – Ohrid: 135 km – 2.5 hrs
Ohrid – Skopje: 170 km – 3 hrs
Skopje – Sofia: 240 km – 4 hrs
Please note that entrance fees to sights and optional activities are not included in the tour price. Optional activities are not operated by Travel Talk and may require a certain number of attendees to run. Your guide will be happy to inform you further about the available optional activities at the start of your tour. Optional activities are also listed under each day in your tour itinerary.
Kravice Waterfalls — EUR 30
Dubrovnik Boat Trip — EUR 40
Balkan Night With Dinner — EUR 35
St. Naum Tour — EUR 20
The Balkans region covers Europe’s three great southern peninsulas and is comprised of 12 nations, meaning there’s multiple currencies that you will handle throughout your tour. The main currencies include Serbian Dinar, Bosnian Mark, Kuna (Croatia), Lek (Albania) and Euro (Greece). We recommend carrying extra Euros which are accepted in most larger hotels or shops across the region. Here you will find the average cost for a meal or drink and advice for best practice in tipping.
Lunch at restaurant : US$ 7-10
Dinner at restaurant : US$ 12-15
Ćevapi at a stall : US$ 3-5
Baklava : US$ 1-2
Bottle of water : US$ 0.5
Coffee : US$ 1-3
Tea : US$ 1-2
Bottle of beer : US$ 1-3
In Central Europe, tipping practices vary across countries, but it is generally customary to leave tips in restaurants and other service establishments. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary, tipping around 5-10% in restaurants is common, with rounding up the bill also widely accepted. Slovakia tends to be more lenient regarding tipping. It’s important to check for included service charges, as practices can differ. When in doubt, observing local customs or asking locals for guidance can help ensure appropriate tipping in each specific cultural context.
Tipping is not compulsory in the Balkans region but is appreciated for good service. If satisfied with service, then we suggest leaving a tip of ~10% in restaurants. While at bars or taxis, rounding off the amount is considered sufficient. Your Guide and Driver would also appreciate tipping as a sign of gratitude at the end of your tour.
Shopping in Central Europe offers a diverse and vibrant experience, reflecting the rich cultural tapestry of the region. From bustling markets to modern shopping districts, each country brings its unique flavor to the retail scene. In cities like Vienna, Prague, and Budapest, you can explore historic marketplaces offering traditional crafts, local delicacies, and unique souvenirs. High-end fashion enthusiasts will find luxury boutiques in cities such as Zurich and Vienna, while eclectic shops in Berlin and Warsaw cater to avant-garde tastes. Central Europe is also known for its Christmas markets, where during the holiday season, festively decorated stalls showcase handmade crafts, seasonal treats, and a warm, festive atmosphere. Whether seeking traditional folk art or cutting-edge fashion, shopping in Central Europe is a delightful journey through both the contemporary and the culturally authentic.
Like many other Balkan destinations you will find that there is some great shopping and purchases to be made in Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina. From the standard tourist souvenirs to fine boutique jewellery and clothing shops, souvenirs you are bound to find something to satisfy the shopping itch.
The cosmopolitan city of Belgrade offers quality shopping encounters with a range of luxurious shopping malls and supermarkets, local bakeries and street markets worth exploring. The city centre is packed with boutiques and souvenir shops selling traditional textiles, Serbian pottery and historic memorabilia from the Yugoslavia days. The open-air bazaars of Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra are worthy of a stop to hunt down some uniquely Serbian souvenirs.
Central Europe is not a precisely defined geographical or political entity, but it often includes countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. These countries have different currencies:
- Germany: Euro (EUR)
- Austria: Euro (EUR)
- Switzerland: Swiss Franc (CHF)
- Czech Republic: Czech Koruna (CZK)
- Poland: Polish Złoty (PLN)
- Hungary: Hungarian Forint (HUF)
- Slovakia: Euro (EUR)
Coffee: 5 RON (1 EUR)
Sandwiches: 6 RON Baht (1.20 EUR)
Fresh pastry: 3 RON (0.60 EUR)
Local beer: 6 RON (1.20 EUR)
Water (1.5L): 4 RON (0.80 EUR)
One-way public bus ticket: 2.50 RON (0.50 EUR)
Mid-range restaurant meal: 25 RON (5 EUR)
Essential Information: Balkans & Transylvania
Passport & Visas
Many Central European countries are part of the Schengen Area, allowing for borderless travel within member countries. If you need a visa, obtain a Schengen Visa, which covers multiple countries. Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Check the visa requirements for each specific country you plan to visit, as they may vary based on your nationality and the duration of your stay.The Euro is widely used in some countries, while others, like Hungary and Czech Republic, have their own currencies.You need to have valid and adequate travel insurance before your tour with Travel Talk begins.
If you’re from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, United States or Canada, you can enter the following Balkan countries for a touristic stay of up to 90 days without a visa: Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, BosniaHerzegovina, Bulgaria, Albania, North Macedonia, Greece. Passport validity entry requirements may change per nationality. We generally recommend to have a passport with at least 6 months of remaining validity.
If you are travelling to Romania for 90 days or less and hold the passport of one of the 60 countries listed, including UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada, you are not required to apply for a visa on arrival. Please check the official Romania government website for the list of countries, as it may be updated from time to time. If you intend to stay in Romania for more than 90 days, then you will need to apply for a visa. As Romania is also not included in the Schengen zone, visits to Romania will also not count towards your 90-day visa free limit in the Schengen area.
This information is provided only as a guidance, we strongly advise that you check with the consulate or embassy as this information can change at any time and with little notice. It is your responsibility to make sure that all the required travel documents are ready when travelling.
We are closely monitoring the latest travel updates to Balkans and Transylvania, and following the advice of the UK Foreign Office. For the latest travel advice from UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), please visit: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ and https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/romania
We recommend all travellers to check their Government National Travel Advisory prior to their departure:
Australia – https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
Canada – https://travel.gc.ca/
New Zealand – https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
All passengers travelling with Travel Talk are required to have personal travel insurance before participating in any of our tours. Your guide will collect your travel insurance details on the first day of your trip. It is your responsibility to make sure you have an adequate and suitable travel insurance for you in place, you may read more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/travel-insurance
Health & Safety
The health and safety of our passengers, staff and communities visited is of utmost priority. As we monitor and comply with the official advice from the UK Foreign Office, as well as World Health Organization and government authorities regularly, we have implemented several policies and precautions on our tours for your wellbeing. You may find our Safe Travels Protocols at https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels
Travel Talk Adventures has received the Safe Travels stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which allows travellers to recognise companies around the world that have adopted health and hygiene global standardised protocols – so consumers canexperience ‘Safe Travels’.
Please make sure to regularly check your Government’s travel advice before travelling and be well-informed of any requirements. Your tour guide will also notify you of the regulations and protocols to follow throughout your trip with us.
Please note that if any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary or possess a potential risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to remove them from all or part of a trip.
Please consult with your doctor for the latest medical travel information and any vaccinations you may need. We recommend that you bring any personal medical requirements and medications with you as these may be difficult to obtain while on tour.
Generally, the best time to visit Central European countries like Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Hungary is during the late spring (May to June) and early autumn (September to October). During these months, the weather is generally mild, with pleasant temperatures and blooming landscapes. Tourists can enjoy outdoor activities, cultural events, and explore historic sites without extreme temperatures or overcrowding. Summer (July and August) can also be a good time, but it tends to be busier, and some regions may experience warmer weather. Winter (December to February) is ideal for those interested in festive holiday markets and winter sports, but temperatures can be quite cold.
The Balkans is a geographically diverse region spanning over multiple countries and 500,000km2, hosting various climates. However, it is fair to expect a somewhat continental climate with hot summers and cool winters, and a milder Mediterranean climate on the coastline.
The Summer months of July and August are considered Europe’s busiest with high temperatures attracting flocks of locals and travellers to the breath-taking coastal regions. The shoulder seasons of April to June and September to October are also considered a great time to visit the Balkans. During these months, the weather tends to be milder, with the major tourist cities less populated. The Winter months between December and March are quite colder with occasional snow. Meanwhile, the coastal regions of Croatia, Montenegro and Albania are known for their significantly warmer winters than the Central Balkans.
Check out our weather guide for the best time to visit the Balkans.
The best time to visit Transylvania depends on what kind of experience you’re after. If you’re looking for nice weather, you’re best to go either side of summer from April to June, where you’ll find pleasant weather and wild-flower filled meadows in spring with average temperatures from 16-20°C. Or head to Transylvania from the end of August to October, where you’ll also find comfortable temperatures and beautiful autumnal colours as you enter the colder months. July and August are peak summer months, however it can get uncomfortably hot, especially in cities like Brasov and Sibiu, so you’re best to visit either side of the peak summer months for decent weather in more comfortable temperatures.
Autumn is a great time to visit, especially as the mountains and forests begin to change colour from all the foliage. Plus, Transylvania is the birthplace of Dracula after all, so there really is no better place to celebrate Halloween and get into the spirit of it! The winter months in Transylvania from December to February can be quite magical, with snow covering the fairy tale-like villages, horse drawn carriages, and snowy alpine trails. In December you’ll be in for a treat with plenty of Christmas markets and festivities, making for the classic Christmas scenes.
For more, check out our Romania weather guide.
The Balkans region covers Europe’s three great southern peninsulas and is comprised of 12 nations, meaning there’s multiple currencies that you will handle throughout your tour. The main currencies include Serbian Dinar, Bosnia Herzegovina Mark, Croatian Kuna, Albanian Lek, Macedonian Denar and Euro (Montenegro, Greece). Euro is easily convertible to the local currencies and may be accepted at certain locations, however it is always more advantageous to pay in the local currency
The Romanian Leu (RON) is the official local currency in Romania. You can get Leu from ATM’s using your debit card or travel card — withdrawing cash on credit card is less favourable. Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted except in some small vendors.
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist sites across the Balkans and Transylvania. However, if you are travelling off the beaten track, come prepared with a small stash of cash on hand for inexpensive purchases at small shops and vendors, entrance fees or small meals. ATMs can be easily found in many places across the cities.
We recommend you do not exchange bulk sums of money at the airport, as the exchange rates are usually more favourable in the major cities. Your tour leader will be happy to help if you need any assistance.
Please remember that everyone has different spending habits, some prefer to spend more on souvenirs, some on experiences and others on a night out! Make sure to budget your trip to your spending habits for shopping, drinking, and tipping.
Tipping is not compulsory in the Balkans region but is appreciated for good service. If satisfied with the service, then we suggest leaving a tip of ~10% in restaurants. While at bars or taxis, rounding off the amount is considered sufficient. Your Tour Leader and Driver would also appreciate tipping as a sign of gratitude at the end of your tour.
Eating & Drinking
Central European cuisine is a flavorful journey through a diverse range of culinary traditions, blending influences from Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Hearty and comforting, the cuisine reflects the region’s agricultural abundance and historical influences.Germany is renowned for its sausages, pretzels, and savory dishes like sauerkraut and schnitzel. In Austria, the culinary scene is marked by the elegance of Viennese coffeehouses and iconic pastries like Sachertorte, while hearty stews and dumplings showcase the country’s Alpine influences. The Czech Republic offers a mix of rich and comforting dishes like svíčková (marinated sirloin) and trdelník, a sweet pastry delight. Hungary, known for its bold flavors, introduces the world to goulash, a hearty meat stew spiced with paprika, and lángos, a popular fried dough snack.
Balkan cuisine is vast and diverse in itself while also carrying hints of Greek, Persian and Turkish cuisines. While some popular regional recipes have shaped according to the tastes of each country, there are plentiful unique dishes to each area. Balkans food is typically known to be a hearty, meat-heavy cuisine with a large sharing aspect involved. So, if you are eager to dive straight into the Balkan culture through its food, be sure to try these iconic dishes. For more, check out our Balkan food guide.
Ćevapčići: Small finger-sized skinless sausages made from beef, lamb, pork or veal and served inside a flatbread.
Ajvar: Like pesto is to Italy, Ajvar is to the Balkans. The sauce is served with almost any meaty order and consists of mainly roasted red peppers and garlic.
Dolma: The most eaten Dolma dish consists of rice wrapped in leaves. The filling and wrap can vary widely, but in the Balkans region dolma’s made of onion, zucchini, cabbage, meat and stuff tomatoes are common.
Pljeskavica: A round patty made of beef, lamb, pork or veal, depending on where you are visiting in the Balkans. It is common to eat these patties plain or on a bun with ajvar spread, like a Balkan-style burger!
Čobanac: This hearty meat stew, originally from Croatia, is cooked in a cauldron hung over an open fire pit.
Banitsa: This Bulgarian inspired dish is made of eggs and cheese baked into a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth pastry. Other varieties of the dish include yoghurt, honey, pumpkin or spinach.
Stuffed Pepper: A common Balkan food, stuffed peppers are usually filled to the brim with simple ingredients including meat, rice, paprika, tomato sauce, onions and garlic.
Baklava: Baklava is a sweet syrupy layered pastry with honey and nuts, quite popular in Greece, Albania and Turkey.
Gozleme: Thin savoury pancakes filled with cheese, mushroom, spinach, or potato
When it comes to drinking – Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bulgaria all offer unexpected delights for wine-lovers! The Balkans region is known for its diverse range of affordable drops. Along with the classic beer destinations, a number of young brewers from the Balkans have managed to put their name on the ‘beer map’ with Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece home to fantastic micro-breweries. Finally, ‘Rakija’, ‘Raki’ or ‘Rakia’ is by far the most famous spirit of the Balkans, which can be made of almost any fruit!
Essentials to Bring & Internet
-Face mask/cover and hand sanitiser enough for your personal use throughout the trip – See more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels/
-Travel Documents: Passport, Visa (if required), flight or transport ticket (and photocopies)
-Travel Talk Tour Voucher (printed or digital)Travel Insurance Policy (and photocopy)
-Personal medical kit and medicine
-Money (cash, credit card, travellers’ cheques)
-Reusable water bottle
-Ear plugs and eye mask
-Sun protection – hat, sunglasses, sunscreen
-Comfortable, closed walking shoes
-Wind/water proof jacket
-Warm clothes, hat, and gloves for cold weather
-Sandals, swimwear, shorts for warm weather
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, some cafes, and restaurants visited during Travel Talk tours. If you come from another EU Country, you may be able to use your phone without any additional roaming charges, please consult with your mobile provider. Make sure to enable data roaming on your mobile if you
wish to use 3G/4G abroad, although the connection may be unreliable in smaller towns and rural areas. Purchasing a European SIM card for the duration of your tour may be a cost-effective option. Your guide will be happy to advise on this.
Culture and Traditions
Central Europe boasts a culturally diverse tapestry shaped by centuries of historical, artistic, and intellectual influences. This region, comprising countries like Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, reflects a unique blend of traditions stemming from its rich history.From the grandeur of imperial Vienna to the medieval charm of Prague, Central Europe’s architecture stands as a testament to its multifaceted past. The cultural scene is vibrant, with renowned classical music heritage, literature, and world-class museums. Central Europeans take pride in their festivals, often rooted in age-old traditions, and their appreciation for the arts, making the region a fascinating mosaic of cultural expressions, both traditional and contemporary.
Austria: Austria boasts a rich cultural heritage that has greatly influenced the world. Known for its classical music traditions, the country was home to composers like Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. Vienna, the capital, is synonymous with opulent palaces, classical concerts, and elegant coffeehouses. Austrian culture places a strong emphasis on the arts, from impressive museums to the Vienna State Opera. The country also takes pride in its culinary delights, with a culinary scene that blends traditional Austrian cuisine with modern twists.
Germany: Germany’s culture is a captivating mix of history, innovation, and artistic expression. Renowned for its contributions to classical music, philosophy, and literature, Germany has been home to figures like Bach, Goethe, and Beethoven. Modern Germany is a hub of technological innovation and design, and its cities seamlessly blend historic architecture with contemporary flair. The country’s love for beer and festivals, such as Oktoberfest, reflects its vibrant and sociable character. Germany’s cultural diversity is also evident in regional traditions, dialects, and culinary specialties.
Czech Republic: The Czech Republic, with its capital Prague, is steeped in history and architectural splendor. Its medieval towns and castles transport visitors back in time. Czech culture is deeply connected to its literature, with figures like Kafka leaving a lasting impact. The love for beer is a notable cultural trait, with the country having the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. The Czechs also celebrate a range of folk traditions and festivals, emphasizing a strong connection to their roots and heritage.
Hungary: Hungary, with Budapest as its capital, offers a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences. The country is known for its thermal baths, a testament to its rich spa culture. Hungarian cuisine, with dishes like goulash and chimney cake, reflects a hearty and flavorful culinary tradition. Hungarian folk music and dance play a significant role in cultural celebrations, and the language, unlike its neighbors, is not of Indo-European origin, adding to the country’s distinct identity. Hungary’s history, from the Magyar tribes to the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, has left an indelible mark on its culture.
The Balkans region of Europe is particularly rich in folklore and traditions. Ethnic diversity is one of the Balkans’ most characteristic social and political features. It has been said that the Balkans have produced more history than they can consume. The region has not been controlled by only one government since the Roman Empire, and it continues to compete with the East-West divide since the Empire’s split in the 4th century. Your Tour Leader will provide immense detail of such events throughout your tour, but here is a light preview to get you started!
Albania: Religious practice in Albania is diverse with several religions including Islam, Christianity and Judaism all co-existing peacefully. Until fairly recently, the beautiful landscapes, fortress towns and dazzling beaches of Albania were merely a rumour for most travellers. But, with the end of communism in 1991, Albania opened its gates to tourists.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Boasting a unique East-meets-West atmosphere that blends Ottoman and AustroHungarian histories, Bosnia the former-Yugoslavian nation is a treasure-trove of natural beauty, culture and history. The country still holds scars from its heart-breaking civil war of the 1990s which finished only 20 years ago. In Bosnia, coffee is not only traditional, but a way of life. Bosnian coffee is strong, thick and served from a metal pot into a handle-less tumbler. In terms of religious beliefs, Bosnia is and always has been a melting pot. The Ottomans brought Islam, Catholicism came from the west, and Orthodox Christianity from the east. All of which have added to the vast history and charm of this marvellous country.
Croatia: A land steeped in history, captivating traditions, and cultural heritage. The colourful Croatian culture is deeply rooted in its vast history and reflected in its wonderful architecture and monuments. The country holds its cultural richness with a mixture between European, Mediterranean and Balkan traditions. The Slavic heritage of Croatian people is especially evident throughout the display of charming festivals and national holidays, where cities and villages come to life in traditional costume, folk music and feasts. The bulk of Croatia’s cultural and traditional festivals take place in the country’s capital, Zagreb, in the Spring and Autumn. Although, Dubrovnik and Split also offer a lot in the way of heavyweight music, culture, and drama.
Bulgaria: The culture of Bulgaria is based on an interesting blend of Thracian, Slavic and Bulgar traditions, along with the influence of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Many ancient customs remain, such as Thracian fire dancing, which is recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage! Even today, Bulgaria still has a strong folkloric tradition that pervades many aspects of art, literature, music, celebrations, and daily life.
Serbia: Still considered well-off the tourist trail, Serbia is located in the heart of the Balkans and is considered diverse, welcoming and full of culture. The capital city, Belgrade is particularly famous for its nightlife, and this has more to do with an inherent desire to celebrate at any occasion. The Serbian people are a proud nation and closely tied to the Serbian Orthodox Church. The church plays such an important role in the history of the Serbian people that it is difficult to separate them entirely, and religion still plays a vital role in the lives of many ordinary people.
Montenegro: Montenegro is a country of diverse cultures, influenced by its location and junction between Eastern and Western Europe, drawing influences from Ancient Rome, Byzantines and the Ottomans. Generally, Montenegrins are immensely proud of their culture and traditions with art, music, and food major composites of culture in Montenegro. Eastern Orthodoxy is the predominant religion and play a crucial role in daily life, while groups of Catholic Christians and Muslims also coexist peacefully.
North Macedonia: Even by Balkan standards, North Macedonia’s history is characterised by complexity and controversy. It was not until 1991 that the country officially attained its status as an independent nation, having been previously incorporated into the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia at the conclusion of World War II. With the collapse of European communism came Macedonian independence. Ethnic North Macedonians – who make up the majority of the population and are largely Orthodox Christians, and the country’s notable Albanian Muslim population tend to share certain common values despite their differences.
Romania: As the land of mythic legends and dark tales, Romania’s customs and traditions are still to this day a key part of Romanian culture. Romanian traditions tend to be passed down from generation to generation, and are a way to further connect with their rich folk culture. Although much of Romania has been influenced by modern Western Europe, ancient traditions and an orthodox-Christian religion still remains strong, with a great importance placed on family networks and values. Romanian costumes and ornaments are colourful and intricate, used traditionally in their dances and festivals. Although Romanian people may seem reserved when first meeting, they are known to be hospitable and warm, with a great sense of humour. You’ll find yourself charmed by the fairy tale-like villages, mythic legends, majestic mountains, and rich culture and traditions of Romania.
How to Dress
Dressing in Central and Eastern Europe involves adapting to diverse climates, local customs, and urban-rural variations. Casual wear like jeans and T-shirts is generally acceptable for everyday activities, while smart casual attire may be appropriate for formal occasions and nicer restaurants. Consider the season and pack accordingly, with warm clothing for cold winters and lightweight options for warm summers. Modesty is advised in religious or traditional settings. Comfortable walking shoes are essential, especially in urban areas with cobblestone streets. Pay attention to local fashion trends but prioritize practicality, and be mindful of the specific norms in the country and city you are visiting.
We have many solo travellers joining our tours. Solo travellers will be roomed with another traveller of the same gender. If you would like a private solo room, subject to availability and a single supplement, please contact us.
Rules to Follow
We are committed to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. We do not tolerate any form of violence (physical or verbal), bullying or harassment involving customers, partners, Travel Talk staff or locals. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a passenger are forbidden.
We will not tolerate any illegal activity, including but not limited to: use and possession of illegal drugs, trespassing, and disrupting public order. If you consume alcohol, please ensure that you drink responsibly and follow the local laws and regulations.
If someone is acting inappropriately regarding these matters, please notify your tour leader immediately or contact us on the emergency contact number provided below.
You must follow the advice of your tour leader and local officials regarding health and safety measures. We operate all tours under Safe Travels protocols for the wellbeing of our passengers, staff and communities visited. Please ensure that you have read the https://www.traveltalktours.com/safe-travels/ and are fully prepared for your trip.
Your tour leader has the right to remove from the group anyone not abiding by these rules, with no right of compensation or refund. See more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/booking-terms/
Please remember that our travellers come from different parts of the world and will have various needs and preferences. Be understanding and patient with your fellow travellers, and always strive to be on time.
We believe that travel is a force for good and show our support through various initiatives and charity organizations, as well as keeping the principals of responsible and sustainable travel at the core of our ethos. These values are engrained in our business culture and the design of our trips just the same. Together with you, we strive to make a positive impact on local people and economies, respecting the local culture, environment, social fabric and customs; encouraging respectful and meaningful cross-cultural exchange. Read more at https://www.traveltalktours.com/responsible-travel/