Travel in Eastern Europe

Photo of a gorgeous statue in UkraineOver the summer, I left the popular European tourist trail and saw three of Europe’s lesser-visited countries: Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine. They’re located on Europe’s far eastern border and see few tourists. While Bulgaria sees a few more tourists because of its proximity to the Balkans and acts as a stop on the overland route from Turkey to Budapest, the farther north I went, the fewer travelers I saw. In Ukraine, I only encountered US Peace Corp volunteers and a handful of Europeans.

A gorgeous view of nature and a beautiful building in BulgariaI don’t understand why—these countries are inexpensive, safe, and lack the overwhelming crowds you find elsewhere in Europe. These countries are half the price of their Western counterparts. In fact, during my 46 days in these three countries, I spent a total of $1, 876.50 USD. And that was even taking into account all the sushi I splurged on! That’s a great deal for 46 days in Europe.

Photo of the old town of Brasov, RomaniaWhile I would normally break down the cost of each country into a single post, I want to put these countries together so you can see all at once how affordable this area of Europe is.

The Cost of Bulgaria

While in Bulgaria, I spent a total of 1, 405.40 LEV in 23 days. That works out to be roughly $1, 000 USD, or $43.47 USD per day at today’s exchange rate. In the 23 days I was there, I visited all the major sightseeing destinations, including the expensive and way overrated, Sunny Beach.

How I spent my money
Food: 475.90 (cheap local meals, a few restaurants, and a lot of sushi.
Accommodation: 445.70 (I stayed in dorm rooms and Couchsurfed for five nights)
Alcohol: 259.40 (I partied pretty heavily, especially along the Black Sea)
Buses: 100
Taxis: 19 (A few intra-city and airport taxis.)
Tours/Sightseeing: 53
Movies: 42.5
Water: 8.9
Chess in the park: 1

All prices are in Bulgarian LEV.

How much can you really do it for?
About the same. Excluding my sushi splurge, my daily average would have been around $38.29 USD. I didn’t spend lavishly in Bulgaria or really do anything beyond what the normal budget traveler would do. I used local transport, ate local meals, stayed in cheap hostels. If you aren’t a sushi fan, budgeting $35–40 USD per day in Bulgaria should be adequate.

The very important landmark: Saint Sophia Church in Kiev, Ukraine

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