Category Archives: Europe

On a Short Budget Trip To Svalbard: What To Do?

Is it at all possible to visit Svalbard on budget? Well, it is. We did it last year. We went there for just 3 days and spent great time.

How To Get There on Budget

In fact it’s not hard especially if you are already in Europe. The cheapest way to Svalbard is by plane from Oslo. The low cost carrier Norwegian flies there for about $100 – $200 (varies) for a round trip. It’s surprising so many Norwegians have not visited the place thinking that flights are too expensive!

svalbard

You can also fly from Tromso or even from London or Berlin, but honestly the easiest and most affordable route is through Oslo.

Once you land at the airport in Longyearbyen in Svalbard, take the Svalbard bus to the town. The cost at this time is NOK 75. It is possible to walk as well if you are a bit adventurous. We didn’t do it with heavy backpacks as we had enough to walk from the town center to our hostel in Nybyen anyway.

Where to Sleep

The older guides about Svalbard mention just a guesthouse and hotel, but nowadays there are more places to sleep. We stayed in Spitsbergen Guesthouse and it was great. You will be in old miners cabins which are rather comfortable, with free wi-fi and history pictures on the walls. There was excellent all you can eat breakfast too. The main downside of this hostel is that it’s in Nybyen which is about 2-3 km away of the Longyearbyen center. So you’ll have to walk a bit.

There are also hostels and guest houses in Longyearbyen but the prices are a bit higher. Whenever you stay, everything is at a walking distance so don’t worry about location that much.

What To Eat

If you are on budget, restaurants are out of reach. The only reasonable option is to buy food at the supermarket and eat it in your hostel. The supermarket provides good choice of sausages, cheeses, bread, eggs, and even some fruits and vegetables. The prices are… well, good for this part of the world 🙂

If your hostel or guesthouse has cooking facilities you can always get some pasta and eggs and go really really cheap.

I highly recommend you to prepare at least some cash for drinking tea outside. The weather is cold most of the time and you’ll need it.

What To Do and See

The typical guide will tell you to go to Pyramiden and Barentsburg and go on a snowmobile trip. This is all good, but not if you are on budget and for 2-3 days there. Here’s what you can do instead:

  • Just walk around. It’s an amazing place with amazing nature. Enjoy. Spend some time outdoors without hunting for specific attractions.
  • Go to the beach (no, you won’t be able to sunbath or swim).
  • Svalbard Museum is not expensive and well worth a visit
  • Walk up to the church and have a look at the abandoned mining buildings
  • Walk to Nybyen if you are not staying there.
  • If you have the chance to take a cab or time to walk you can go all the way to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (you won’t be able to enter though)

Don’t rush things, you are at one of the most interesting and unique places on Earth. Just experience it. It’s not a disaster if you don’t go to Barentsburg. Lonyearbyen is pretty interesting by itself. You’ll remember this visit forever.

7 Hidden Pearls of East Europe

Are you one of those who think Rome and Paris is all that Europe has to show? I guess no, you wouldn’t be reading this blog. You are interested in the hidden gems, and I am going to tell you about them. These are 7 countries that are generally less popular for tourists. And this is not the only good about them. Let’s see!

Moldova

Moldova is probably the poorest country in Europe. It’s not in the EU, it’s landlocked and small. Nothing interesting, eh? Wrong! This is a country with great preserved nature, friendly people, very low prices of everything, and a lot of this ex-USSR charm that’s quickly being lost in the other East Europe countries. And more – part of Moldova is the autonomic republic of Transnistria which is quite an odd place to visit. Getting to Moldova is easiest from Bucharest because there are very few direct flights to Kishinev.

Lenin monument in Moldova

Lenin monument in Moldova

Photo credit

Bulgaria

Bulgaria is sunny country with interesting nature. A lot of mountains, good food, and interesting culture. When going there make sure to not stay only in the capital Sofia. The real Bulgaria is most interesting to see in the small town and villages. See some interesting places to visit here.

Georgia

People usually don’t think about Georgia when talking about East Europe. The country is at the border of Europe and Asia. It’s a lovely place to visit. Georgia has this great mix of the both continent plus a bit of ex-communist feel and a punch of orient. It’s something that you can’t experience anywhere else. Add to this the delicious cheap food and very beautiful nature.

Armenia

Armenia is near Georgia and is another “hidden” place. How many people you know to have visited it? Armenia is next to Georgia, and if you come by land, Georgia is the only place to enter the country. Or maybe you can enter through Iran too. But not from Turkey or Azerbaidjan. Armenia is the oldest Christian country in the world. Part of it is kind of dessert. The city of Yerevan offers wonderful mix of Asia and monuments from the ex-Soviet era. Definitely a place to visit, especially if you are a westerner!

Romania

Although a bit more popular, Romania is also way off the beaten track. Romania has a lot of preserved nature and wild life. The country is big with a lot to see. Bucharest is well connected by air with the rest of the world. There are even low cost airlines travelling from Bucharest to Western Europe. So if you are for example in London, you can visit it on cheap.

Here are some ideas of what to do in Romania.

Bosnia

Bosnia is small country from the former Yugoslavia. It’s one of the very few Muslim countries in Europe. Combine Islam with ex-communist past and you got incredible mix! This small country also has interesting mountaineous terrain, architecture and good nature.

The best way to reach Bosnia is by land from Serbia.

Hungary

Hungary is the most popular tourist destination from the countries listed here. And even then it can be considered literally unknown for the non-European.

Hungary is also the richest and most Western from these countries. The capital Budapest is a cosmopolitan city. The mix here is between the East Europe and West Europe. The country is rich in history and architecture.

Getting to Budapest is very easy. There are flights from all over the world and many low cost flights from Europe.