Expedia Coupons Can Only Do So Much.
Promo codes can make European train travel more affordable, but sometimes even then, taking the train in Europe can be prohibitively expensive. If you dream of traveling around Europe by train but can’t afford the high cost of InterRail passes and not-so-budget-friendly hotel locations like Paris and Rome, then you might want to look for a train adventure further east, around the Balkans to be precise.
When people think about this region, images of conflict and war-torn ex-Yugoslavia tend to come to mind. But those times are long gone. The Balkans are now a very safe, multicultural and traveler-friendly region, full of experiences to be had that would please even the pickiest of travelers: from natural wonders such as mountains covered in luscious forests and white sand beaches, to night-long clubbing in cosmopolitan cities and a plethora of international music festivals that attract world-renowned artists.
The region has been reborn. Like a phoenix that rose from the ashes of a tragic war, it is now young and vibrant, having made peace with its past and moving on to become an exciting, fun-loving place that is still – lucky for you – affordable for anyone on a student budget.
If your idea of fun is to spend some time traveling around Bosnia, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Turkey, then by all means, hop on! I personally love travelling by train as it gives you a chance to take in the scenery and relax. I always bring a good pair of headphones for listening to music, such as these ones in the $300 range.
You have two options:
The Balkan FlexiPass. You can get it either online or once you land there. You can pick a pass that suits your needs: either 5, 10 or 15 days of travel within a one-month period. Best of all? If you are under 26 years old, you automatically get a discount.
Freestyle It. It’s the Balkan way. Train schedules are not very reliable in the region, but train travel is very cheap. Even internationally! All you have to do is go with the flow and show up at the train station whenever you’re ready to move on to your next destination.
Here’s a little traveler’s tip:
If you want to see it all – and more – the best idea would be to start in Venice, Italy. From there, head on to Ljubljana, Slovenia and then down to Zagreb, Croatia. Then it’s up to Budapest, Hungary and off to Bucharest, Romania. Next, go to Belgrade, Serbia, perhaps down to Greece, and stop in Sofia, Bulgaria on your way to your ultimate destination: Istanbul, Turkey. This way you will take in all the major sights between Italy and Turkey! You will have literally spent weeks traveling from Europe to Asia, for about the same cost as a week in Ibiza.
Ready to pack? Don’t forget your passport, and a lot of patience. The Balkan Express always comes by, but not always on time.