Southeastern Europe Road-trip Itinerary

valeriandalex

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Also known as Balkan Peninsula, the geographic area in southeastern Europe is truly charming, from uncontaminated landscapes, to archeological sites. It will simply amaze you; impressive amphitheaters of the Roman empire, Venetian fortresses, Greek acropolis and Ottoman cities, it would take years to see everything. We've been on the road for 4 months, and this is our South-East Europe ultimate itinerary!

We mainly focused to explore the beautiful beaches on the coast and sight the main historical destinations only - and it took 3 months to arrive in Turkey from Italy!

HOW TO MOVE

We love to travel as long as we can, and as much as we can. In other words, we got stuck in the travel bug! We always try to find out what's the cheapest way to explore the area in the most efficient way.

After experiencing the freedom of living on the road in Australia, we just decided to affront this travel in the same way, in a road trip!
Why? Well, living in your vehicle could sounds as pure craziness, but for us it means time optimizations and no accommodation cost.

Moreover, we enjoy to visit places without the crowd as we are photography involved, and sleeping in front of your dream site destination turn to be the best choice for us.
Just imagine the struggle to be at sunrise in a place, when the closest accommodation is 100 kilometers far away: you will need to wake at least an hour before, accumulating a lot of stress, that can be simply avoid by sleeping in you vehicle.

We organized the car of Alex's dad, a 20 years old wagon, ready to drive for months towards Cappadocia.

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Why did we choose Cappadocia?

Well, after traveling through south East Asia, we both fell in love with magical vibes of the city of Bagan. Because of this, we absolutely wanted to experience a similar fairy-tail location.

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We planned to start our journey at the end of June, when Alex just finished the Santiago trail (900kms). He was so happy about this upcoming adventure, after one month walking!

Starting in summer was our best choice to travel the coast and enjoy the beach life; the only negative side was the peak season.

We left Torino, more ready than ever, heading to our first country destination: Slovenia.

Why we didn't book a flight?

Our passion for traveling is limitless, and we want to explore the world as much as we can; Alex wanted to explore Greece since very long time and I wanted to see if the beaches in Albania were nice as I heard about.

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OUR ITINERARY

North Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
A journey of 15.861 kilometers spread in exactly 129 days.

In this article you will find: how many days we spent in each country, our main stops with our favorite sights, traveling cost and highlights of each country.
The petrol cost isn't included individually in each country because we always did the full where it was cheaper.
For example in Slovenia we spent 70€ in petrol but we just used a small quantity and used all the rest in Croatia.

NORTH ITALY

Pavia: Ponte coperto
Milano: Duomo Di Milano
Lodi: Cathedral vegetale
Cremona: Bell-tower
Sirmione: Scaligero castle
Verona: Romeo & Juliet
Lago di braies: considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.
Bassano del grappa: Ponte Vecchio
Cittadella: nice little walled town
Venice: did you know there are more than 400 bridges in Venice?
Treviso: Pizza dei Signori
Trieste: Piazza Unita d'Italia

Italy is one of the most expensive countries we visited; in other words, the petrol cost is one of the highest in Europe.
Most of the time we were preparing our meal, and we occasionally got take away pizzas which are almost inexpensive considering the life cost in Italy.

We celebrated Alex's birthday at Gardaland and did a gondola ride in Venice, which has increased considerably on our daily budget.

Days spent: 11

Highlight: Venice: As a couple, it was a dream destination for both of us. Definitely the best part of the road trip in Italy.

Total cost: 561€ - 25.50€ daily budget each, excluding petrol cost.

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SLOVENIA

Bled lake: a breathtaking lake!

We didn't stay in Slovenia as long as in other countries, and we just visited the iconic Bled lake. We stopped a full day only, and did the full of petrol after Italy.

Days spent: 2 days

Total cost: 44€ - 11€ daily budget each.

CROATIA

Lone bay
◦ Pula: Amphitheater
◦ Pag island: popular party island, cheese tasting
Zadar: Sea Organ, Greeting to the sun
Sibenik: St. Nicholas fortress
Trogir: Cathedral
Makarska: Nugal beach (nudist beach)
Split: Diocletian's Palace
Brac island: Zlatni Rat beach
Dubrovnik: city walls

We prepared all our meals and enjoyed beers in bars and pubs watching the football world cup 2018. A drink costs between 2 - 3€, and the food is still a bit expensive but definitely affordable.

We experienced a fantastic situation when the Croats celebrated their well deserved second place!

We didn't go to Plitvice national park, due to the high season and ridiculous overpriced ticket at 250 HRK (33€)! If you aren't planning to get back in Croatia, then go for it, it still remain one of the best national park in Europe.

Days spent: 16

Highlight: we appreciated the Croatian coast with her clear blue water.

Total cost: 448€ - 14€ daily budget each.

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BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

Mostar: the old bridge
Kravice waterfall
Počitelj: castle

Visiting the city of Mostar was a must for us! We heard so much good about it, and with its beautiful pictures we couldn't miss this place.

However, it was really touristic but still worth the visit. The food and drinks are inexpensive, and petrol here is cheaper than in Croatia!

Days spent: 2

Highlight: to visit the stunning Kravice waterfall for 6KM (3€).

Total cost: 42€ - 10.50€ daily budget each.

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MONTENEGRO

Herceg novi: Mamula island
Tivat: Vrmac moutains
Budva: Mogren beach
Sveti stefan
Skadar lake

Montenegro, in our opinion, is not the perfect beach destination.
The country has a small coastline, so the beaches in the summer are overcrowded - hard to find one without deckchairs and sun-umbrellas everywhere!

Moreover, there is a remarkable difference of average cost of food betweeen cities. For example, Budva has at least double prices than Herceg novi.

Days spent: 7

Highlight: Kayaking in Skadar lake will leave you speechless. Hopefully, you won't sink in the lake like it happened to us.

Total cost: 182€ - 13€ daily budget each.

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ALBANIA

Rozafa castle
Durres
Vlore
Drymades beach
Dhermi beach
Gjipe beach
Himara beach
Saranda
The blue Eye

When we planned our stops in Albania, we couldn't believe our eyes that beaches were really looking like the pictures! But it was! The pebble beaches with its crystal clear water were unbelievable.

Camping on the beach is really common for locals and easy going travelers.

In addition, food and drinks are extraordinary cheap - artisan ice cream costs 1€ and a whole sea-bream with sides and drinks costs less than 6€!

Days spent: 12

Highlight: to sleep in front of white beaches and snorkeling in crystal waters.

Total cost: 336€ - 14€ daily budget each, but we've been to eat outside almost every day for lunch and dinner.

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GREECE

Parga: Sarakiniko beach
Olympia: Temple of Zeus
Voidokilia beach
Methoni: fortress
Kalamata
Sparta
Monemvasia
Nafplio
Acrocorinth
Athens: Acropolis
Thebes
Delphi: famous ancient sanctuary
Fakistra beach
Larissa
Meteora: remarkable Greek Orthodox monasteries
Mount olympus: many hikins trails
Thessaloniki: white tower

Most travelers tend to ignore Greece's mainland (Athens apart) and focus on his islands. But here, pebble and sandy beaches are surrounded by turquoise waters, and historical sites are unique worldwide. What a beautiful country to explore by car.

The food is expensive considering the national average salary.

Days spent: 21

Highlight: Voidokilia was a big surprise and we truly think that this paradise has nothing to envy to any other beach in Greece.

Total cost: 672€ - 16€ daily budget each.

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BULGARIA

Rila national park: 7 lakes
Sofia: graffiti around the city
Prohodna cave
Koprivštica
Plovdiv: amphiteather
Eagle's eye: view point
Devil's bridge
Stone mushroom

Bulgaria is probably the perfect country to escape from tourist mass as in other parts of Europe. Amazing landscapes will wrap you in the nature, and due to a mostly mountainous territory, in summer here temperatures are lower.

Street food is surprisingly good and cheap.

Days spent: 8

Highlight: trekking up to the seven lakes in Rila national park was an unexpected as pleasant experience.

Total cost: 192€ - 12€ daily budget each.

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TURKEY

Edirne: Selimiye mosque
Canakkale: Trojan Horse
Pergamon: Acropolis
Izmir: clock tower
Ephesus
Pamukkale: travertine, calcareous mineral rock
Fethiye: butterfly valley
Tlos
Kas
Myra ruins
Antalya: Duden waterfall
Kuyucak Köyü: lavenda field
Tuz lake: shallow salty lake
Cappadocia: hot air balloon
Ankara: mausoleum
Amasra
Istanbul: Sultanahmet Mosque

Turkey is ranked as 4th most vast country in middle east.
95% of Turkey belongs to Asia and 5% to Europe.

Most of Turkey is well linked by buses and tour operators, although some locations could be harder to visit without your own vehicle.

We haven't been further east than Cappadocia, but sites as Nemrut should be seriously considered in your list - as mentioned above, it's a huge country indeed!

The food is incredibly cheap in Turkey; we were eating Pide, a turkish pizza, for an average price of 1,5€, but up to 5€ in Istanbul!

Days spent: 25

Highlight: to wake up at sunrise in Cappadocia with over 80 hot air balloons above your head! It's a lifetime experience, and we stayed 10 days, enjoying 5 sunrises.

Total cost: 675€ - 13.50€ daily budget each.
We bought clothes, presents and often ate outside, rising up the daily budget; it's one of the cheapest country where we traveled to, with a petrol costs of only 0.90€/l in 2018.

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ROMANIA

Constanta: old casino
Bucharest: parliament
Peles castle
Bran castle: known as dracula's castle
Sighisoara
Sibiu
Transfagaran
Nerei - Beușnița Ravine National Park
Hunedoara: castle

Romania is probably not on the top of most people’s travel wish list. Perfect for those that dislike mainstream tourist destinations.

We really loved the beautiful architecture of Peles castle, and could be considered as stunning as the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany.

Days spent: 12

Highlight: Driving up the Transfagarasan, labeled as “The Best Road in the World” by BBC show Top Gear.

Total cost: 312€ - 13€ daily budget each.

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HUNGARY

Budapest

In our opinion, Budapest is one of the best European capitals: it's full of history, architecture, nightlife and you will fall in love with the place at first sight.

The food and drinks in the capital are cheap; don't forget to try the famous Kürtőskalács, a typical hungarian cake.

Days spent: 4

Highlight: to be at the Fisherman's bastion early in the morning to enjoy the sunrise

Total cost: 112€ - 14€ daily budget each.

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AUSTRIA

Vienna: palace of justice
Hallstatt: little village
Fuschl am See
Salzburg
Zell am See
Plansee: lake
Olpererhütte: hanged bridge

Tourism in Austria increase every year and it's not a surprise. This country has so much to offer and is the ideal travel destination for nature lovers.
Austrians loves outdoors activities and has really amazed me how they respect speed limits literally in every situation.

The parking system in Vienna is a real mess, and "trap" for tourist, consequently, we have been fined.
If you are driving, we really suggest you to have a look on how the parking system works in Austria overall - in city like Vienna, it works by area, and illogically, the parking signs are marked only at some area points. You might find a street without any sign and think the parking is free, but it isn't!
You can buy parking tickets in some tobacco shop and tickets office, but we read about insane stories about people who got fined while purchasing their tickets, so be aware!

Days spent: 9

Highlight: to hike the Zillertal Alps up to Olperer hütte.

Total cost: 432€ - 24€ daily budget each.

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THE LIFESTYLE

Living on the road can be tough sometimes, but it's the best choice to enjoy your freedom and maintain a low budget.
Yes, the freedom to go where you go whenever you want ; to appreciate every sunrise and sunset , falling asleep counting stars, you can't simply do it in a regular hotel room.

Moreover, we don't eat meat, and Alex really pays attention about his diet, so it's often easier to prepare our meals instead to spent precious time to find the right place where to eat - and trust me, you will not always find it.

COSTS

General travel cost: 3.896€ (petrol, fines, accommodation and extras excluded)

Accommodation cost: one night in Cappadocia (Turkey) 45€ and one in Sibiu (Romania) 25€.

Petrol cost: 1121€
With diesel or gpl you could considerably decrease this expense.

Extra costs: we both broken our smartphone in Turkey so we decided to buy one to share. 225€

Fines: We well managed to don't accumulate any fines for exceeding speed limit; only a parking fine 46€, a fine for a vignette which wasn't displayed properly on the windscreen 110€.
Both fines were in Austria - make sure to get the vignette, it costs only 9€ for 10 days.

TOTAL COST: 5.362€ spread on a total of 129 days, meaning a daily budget cost of 20.80€ each.

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TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS

◦ Traveling by car let you more storage than any suitcase or backpack.

Sleeping in your car is faster than pitching a tent.

Hitchhiking is cheaper and is a good way to connect with locals, but you need to pack light - bring photography equipment would have been uncomfortable. To explore all the areas we did, it would have require more time.

◦ If you are planning to stay a long time on the road, simply buy your own car. Our car's value was no more than 2.000€, and if we would have rent it, the cost would have been at least the double amount - and don't forget that you will sell it back!

◦ Check if a vignette is required in the considered country.

◦ Use free showers at beaches, and solar shower.

Always ask for a menu before to order in any restaurants to avoid unpleasant surprises. Even for a simple cup of tea, ask for the price!

◦ Do the full in cheapest petrol station and use apps to check where is the closest to you. Don't forget to consider the difference petrol cost by countries.

◦ Bring hammock so you can rest in the hottest hours and sleep outdoor.

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We are Valerie & Alex, a couple with a passion for photography lifestyle, and traveling. Here, we are going to share our adventures, and hopefully inspire you to make your dream come true. You'll also find some tips and tricks about places we have explored, our travel gear, good deals and much more! instagram.com/valeriandalex

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