TWO MONTH BACKPACKING TRIP
We found a super cheap flight to Corfu, which gave us the idea for the start of our route. We then checked on Skyscanner what the cheapest flight back was after 6 weeks and it turned out to be Budapest. We had our starting and ending point and 6 weeks to get there...
Read about our awesome adventure through Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Hungary, backpacking with the kids
LONELY PLANET EASTERN EUROPE
Backpacking for 6 weeks through 5 countries, 4 people; a 3-year-old, 2 adults and a 1 year old.
Countries visited: Greece (Corfu only on this particular trip, however we have done Athens at a different time so check out our blog on Athens), Albania, Montenegro, Croatia and Hungary. We did not have a rental car, we used only public transport as we were on a super strict budget. Obviously, we missed out lots of gems, you can be sure, but we got to see some amazing highlights too. We had to make our way from one side to the other and so we did our best to see what we could in our time frame. We basically had just found the cheapest flight out of the U.K which was to Corfu and the cheapest flight back to our home in Cyprus which was out of Budapest. Then we made up our own itinerary. We share our own itinerary below and how we could improve upon it to make your own travels even better. We always like finding off the beaten track places so feel free to browse some favourite spots which are organic and natural. For the sake of getting to the point, I’ve arranged our trip in a table so you don’t have to scroll for ages to get to the useful information.
We actually love Corfu, but only really came here because we found a super cheap flight there, so used it as our launching point. Some of our highlights were;
Corfu Town – Orange Bio, Bio shop selling beautiful Greek Organic Olive Oils and other organic items.
Bioporos (Organic Farm is an ecotoursim accommodation in Corfu, near Korission Lake). We had a lovely organic meal here and they also let us borrow a boat to row over to the beach. They were a very friendly family and let our kids see the and feed the animals. They also have accommodation.
Vlachrna Monastary and watching the planes touch down and take off. This is where we stayed and the planes flew right past our window.
It served as a useful link from Corfu – Saranda. Saranda not being our kind of place. Ksamil had pretty turquoise waters but busy beaches, I would stretch my time in either Lukove, Hilmare, Dhermi or Shkoder next time instead. Butrint National Park was a pretty good day trip with some enjoyable ruins.
From Ksamil we took the furgon north. An interesting experience with 2 kids and 2 rucksacks.
Gate to Horizon Bio Camp. One of the most amazing locations for camping EVER. Also, they do a delicious café macchiato. I don’t really want too many people to know about this spot as it truly is magnificent due to it not having a lot of people coming to it so enjoy it while it remains an unspoilt beach location set in lush olive groves. Bring food and the ability to cook.
Himare was the destination of one of our funniest and most bizarre moments. Having bussed to our location and hiked up a massive hill, we arrived at our accommodation only to be ushered out by the manager, who didn't speak a word of English, nor us Albanian, and who was shouting "Vagabonds", at us, with us having no idea what has happening. We'd only just met, but the mention of Airbnb flew her into a rage. Needless to say we left and hiked into town and came across Pine Side Camping. You have to see this place to understand. The tents are nestled under the pine trees right in front of the sea. This place is magical. We fell on our feet here.
We were not big fans of Vlore even though we had a decent Airbnb. We really gave it our best too and splurged buying a private car to take us to all these famed destinations in the area. Feel free to skip Vlore by all means. Instead spend time in Dhermi or Shkoder which both looked amazing as we drove by via the bus).
Train to Montenegro Vlore to Shkoder, bus Shkoder to Budhva.
Natura Shop-Bio Shop selling groceries and herbal remedies.
The Stari-Grad (old town) is picture perfect
Must see Przno (11 minutes away) Sveti Stefan (15 minutes away) and Petrovac (25 minutes away).
Some of our highlights were;
Winding through the Stari Grad and eating vegan sugar free gelato!
The bay of Kotor is majestic. I loved paddle boarding in the fjord.
Just enjoy the views for several days! Hike up to get even better views up any roads that take your interest.
MOLUNAT , CROATIA
We came here as a stop off point after busing from Vlore. We had to get out at the border then wait an age for an expensive taxi. Not really worth it, just take the bus to Dubrovnik, which is what we ended up doing after one night!
Quaint little beach side town kind of away from it all so you’re restricted for accommodation and restaurants.
We think it’s kind of lost its charm due to mass tourism unfortunately. The Stari Grad is just full of tacky tourist shops and unauthentic and expensive eateries.
We did like drinking Croatian brandies whilst the kids were asleep in their buggies. We watched the sea and the evening colours over the Stari Grad.
We loved this place. You could just go here and have an amazing time in Croatia. This is an idyllic little island with a totally hip and happening Stari Grad.
Eko Skoj, A highlight of our backpacking trip for me as it was just beautiful and delicious and so natural. Foraged and organically grown food made into preserves, jams, elixirs, alcohols, wines…etc. So much fun tasting everything.
Konoba Mate Restaurant, Homemade organic food, so yummy and set in a quaint idyllic village.
HVAR, JELSA, CROATIA
Family friendly town with a nice waterfront area. Hvar is more upscale and less family feeling. We never saw Prince Harry.
Zadar was really a launching point for us to get to the islands.
The Stari Grad was less interesting than others, albeit bigger with a range of museums inside.
We really loved the Garden Lounge, delicious raw food overlooking Zadar on comfy lounge decking which my kids even enjoyed playing up there enjoying a fresh juice.
We also enjoyed the sea organ with its mystical sounds and we waited around for the solar powered dance floor but it was fenced off and so busy, we left.
Camping at Mali Iz. This is a very laid-back island to catch up on just R&R after a busy travelling. Really experiencing another side of Croatian life as it’s slow paced, fishing island. There's no real beaches so difficult with our babe. It was also fairly difficult to get around as the buses are infrequent. However, it was a great spot, and cheap camping.
PLITVICE LAKES, CROATIA
Plitvice Lakes is a major splurge when it comes to the ticket costs. It is absolutely stunning and worth seeing. We found out you should definitely go to the Entrance 2 to get tickets and go early. The main entrance was rammed and ran out of tickets before we got to the front. It actually worked out better as Entrance 2 was fairly empty and we had the lakes to ourselves at that end for most of the morning.
Some of our highlights;
There’s a lot of Vegan fair if you’re into that and delicious coffee.
The architecture in the Upper town is so beautiful. It’s less busy up there so the kids can walk more freely.
Lots of parks to picnic in and enjoy the with kids. Makismir Park, Zrinjevac, Park Josipa, Art Park.
Zagreb zoo was surprising. Although I hear Budapest Zoo is as well so maybe investigate which one floats your boat more if you fancy a zoo. I don’t like supporting zoos in general. It’s a tricky one which I don’t want to debate here.
LAKE BALATON, HUNGARY
The lake itself was so different from being at the sea, it’s very pretty in its own way. Find areas that are not touristy as this can be less appealing.
We liked staying in Keszthely and taking the bus around the lake until we found quiet nooks. We also walked in the country sides and visited family wineries. This was by far our favourite Airbnb, staying with a lovely Hungarian lady and her husband, who really made us welcome.
Hungarian food is rich, but they do use a lot of organic and local products.
The wine, or at least the grapes. We fell in love with Blue Frankish which produces a wine called Egri Bikavér (lit. Bull's Bood)
Some of our highlights were;
Ruin bars…well we didn’t get to see them at night but we visited them during a Sunday oranganic farmers market which was very happening.
Gellert Hill Slide park for the kids!
Loads of organic shops and Veggie food!
The Central Market was ok, and the zoo is meant to be great, but we didn’t do it, as we had been to the one in Zagreb.
Go on a river cruise down the Danube - we also did not do this as we were pretty broke by this point of our trip. But we think it is probably a great thing to do!