Andrea Bomkamp is a student at the University of Kentucky and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Prague, Czech Republic.
Anybody studying in Prague will rave about the architecture, the history, the mastery of Czech goulash, but I’m going to let you in on Eastern Europe’s best kept secret… It’s all so cheap. Cheap by American standards, at least. What better to do with that extra pocketful of cash than buy an affordable bus ticket and head to one of Prague’s neighboring cities?! Here are a few of the nearby cities that I recommend visiting.
Budapest, Hungary: This was one of my favorite weekend trips! If you’re looking for a budget-friendly quick travel, this is the spot for you. It’s easy to see nearly of the city’s most popular attractions on foot. Parliament, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Chain Bridge, and the Fisherman’s Wharf all lay near the water’s edge in this beautiful and conveniently compact city. As you walk, get a cheap lunch of langos (fried dough) from any of the nearby street vendors!
Krakow, Poland: If your wallet has taken a beating after trips to Paris, London, and Rome, but you’re still antsy to travel, look no further than Prague’s Polish neighbor. You can eat well, sleep comfortably (if you consider a hostel comfortable), and see all of the major attractions for $200 or less. I highly recommend seeing the beautiful salt mines as well as taking a trip to Auschwitz. While diving headfirst into the tragic history of Nazi-era Poland may not meet your definition of a relaxing weekend, I can assure you that you will come away with an overwhelming appreciation for this life in which you’re able to see the world safely and freely.
Berlin, Germany: This option is perhaps a bit less budget-friendly, but this nearby city is bursting with enough history to make every cent count. (To be fair, I did spend an absurd amount of money on chocolate during my stay… budget accordingly.) As the former home of the Berlin Wall, the entire city stands as a beautiful and tangible example of the Cold War divide between East and West. Rarely can one so clearly witness the collision of two entirely different philosophies in one city. The west side is all modern shopping malls and upscale apartments, while the east is steeped in history with the memory of an oppressive communist regime. A price-conscious visitor can cut down on the cost of seeing this fascinating city by making currywurst (sausage) and döner (kebab) a part of their daily diet. In fact, I fully encourage eating as much of these as you can! Keep in mind that a trip to Berlin is included in the program cost as an excursion for semester and academic year students.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to cross any borders to go on an adventure! The Czech Republic has more than enough affordable trip options for the dollar-savvy traveler. I spent last weekend in Děčin and the Bohemian Switzerland National Park with my boyfriend, who was visiting from home. Never forget that there are scenic vistas and unforgettable moments waiting for you just around the corner.
The world awaits…discover it.