11 Tips for travelling in Eastern Europe

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Heading into Russia or an Eastern European city – here are a few hints and tips from our recent few weeks in Saint Petersburg, Minsk, Prague and Vienna that you may find beneficial.

Walking around Saint Petersburg
Walking around Saint Petersburg



  1. Hop On Hop Off bus tours – check Facebook and Trip Advisor reviews before you book. There are usually several companies available, so check things like – a) if one day/two day passes available, b) is a pick up point close, c) how often do they run, d) staff reviews etc – pleasant or rude. Then once on the bus – double check that the English channel works at your seat.
  2. Have a good Data Plan or a fabulous map – especially for cities such as Prague – I guarantee you will get lost in the old centre – meandering around the cobblestone streets can get very confusing. We ended up used the Astronomical Clock in the Old Town Square as a starting point most days.
  3. In both Saint Petersburg and Minsk – be prepared to hand over your passports at Check in, they will register the visa and stamp, then hand them back to you. Hotels in Russia also charge a registration fee – approx. RUR 200 per person for registration of the visa.
  1. I would suggest using an agent for travel in Russia and Belarus. We used ‘Russia & Beyond, Eastern Europe & Beyond, Croatia & Beyond, Waterways & Beyond’, who arranged all transfers, accommodation and tours – we had one point of contact and given the possibility of language issues, they arranged English speaking tours too – certainly meant plain sailing.
  2. Tipping – ‘Beyond Travel’ provided a guide for 2 persons, for tour guides, taxi drivers, porters etc – an indicative price in USD and Euro – so easily to convert. In Minsk and Prague you can always tip in USD if you haven’t managed to exchange currency.
  3. Russian taxies are not metered – negotiate price first – we used Uber when we had to, and that was very easy.

  4. Wrap your bag for the plane legs – we had a fabric style suitcase, so this certainly helped protect it, from damage and weather, as well as security.
  5. Money exchange – we took some currency with us for all countries except Belarus, however at the airport, don’t wait in line – just use the ATM.
  6. Take proper sturdy walking shoes – the cobblestones make walking harder than normal, nice thick soles are a must.

    Peterhof Palace
    Peterhof Palace
  7. Train Prague to Vienna – platform shows on ticket as 4S – don’t go looking for the S on 4 – it means platform 4 on south side – the train just comes to the whole platform – we were very confused again.
  8. Small ‘711’ type shops prefer you to have small notes or coins. They will not be happy when you try to break a large note – even though you wont understand the words, you will understand the tone and gestures.


Cobblestones in Palace Square
Cobblestones in Palace Square
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