Everybody knows the statement “The world is a book, and those who don't travel read only one page of it”. Aurelius Augustine
We in TravelEmotions changed that axiom for people from Western Europe “Those who go for the 5th time to France or for the 6th time to Spain read the same page for 5-6 times”.
We are here to show you new travel destinations in Europe - Southeast Europe (SEE) which includes Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Georgia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia.
And they are much closer to you than you might think.
Air discounters like Wizzair, Ryaniar, Easyjet have direct flights to the majority of main airports in Southeast European countries. Prices are between 70-150 EUR round trip and from London, the flight duration is only 2-3 hours.
Besides, national air carriers from Western Europe (Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways, etc.) and national companies from Southeast Europe (Air Moldova, Air Serbia, Croatia Airlines, etc.) also have direct flights to this region.
Unfold hidden gems of Southeast Europe
Did you know that only 4 countries (Italy, Spain, France and England) accounted for 55% of the EU travel market in 2019?
Just compare Southern Europe (the most visited region in Europe with 193 million arrivals) followed by Western Europe (171 million) and Northern Europe (66 million) with Central and Eastern Europe receiving only 70 million!
And at the same time, 45% of tourists in the world want to visit “Developing countries” and 27% want to visit “New countries”. Now guess where those “Developing” and “New” countries are? These are Southeast European countries and the Balkans! This is where you will get your 2022 TravelEmotions.
According to a survey in the UK, 56% of people are willing to pay a bit more for a luxury tour. If you’re representative of those 56% and want to spend at least 2 weeks each year for your own pleasure, plan a trip to the Balkans and South-East Europe. There is only 1 reason why you can afford much more in SEE - the low salaries of local people compared to West Europe ones.
So you can get huge benefits from this:
Have a 1-hour professional massage for 25-30 EUR.
Take a taxi for only 1 EUR/km in Serbia. In Moldova, it is 0.6 EUR/km whereas 1-hour taxi driver waiting till you make enough photos in a picturesque place or took 5 glasses of wine included in wine tasting will cost you 10 EUR.
Live in a 2-room apartment with a 9.5+ rating in Moldova’s capital Chisinau right next to central park for only 35-40 EUR per night.
Rest in a restaurant with 4.5+ rating in Moldova, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, Albania, and Ukraine where a dinner with a glass of wine costs 12-15 EUR per person. So you can forget about paying 50 - 75 EUR for a dinner like in Norway:)
Gastronomic Tourism = Organic Food + Authentic Cuisine
During a survey in the UK, 12% of travelers said they are focused on Gastronomical and Cultural tourism.
So when you will be planning your 2022 tours in Southeast Europe be prepared to receive gastronomic orgasm on a daily basis no matter which one of 12 destinations you have chosen.
There are 3 main reasons for that:
It tastes completely different from the one you’re used to because it represents a crazy mix of Turkish, Russian, Ukrainian, Greeks, Jews, Germans, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Mediterranean, etc. cuisines.
Organic products still exist in this part of Europe due to the fact that countries are much poorer and salaries are much lower than in Western Europe and lots of people are involved in agriculture.
You get a full set of dishes inside your trip: first courses (soups), seafood (Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Georgia, Slovenia, Romania), mutton (Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro), poultry meat and fresh fruits and vegetables in any of 12 countries, etc. Read more about local cuisines here.
Cheap Medical Tourism - Wellness, SPA & Medicine
When you plan a trip to the Balkans please bear in mind that this region gives you a unique combination of price and quality of medical services including SPA, massages and dentistry.
The most popular SPA and balneological destinations are:
Sokobanja, Vrnjačka Banja, Vrdnik in Serbia.
Băile Tușnad, Sovata, Băile Herculane, Băile Olanesti in Romania .
Truskavets in Ukraine (you can also visit Kiev and Chernobyl on this trip).
Tapolca Spa, Heviz Spa, Debrecen Spa, Hajduszoboszlo Spa, Eger Spa, Sopron Spa in Hungary.
Tuheljske Toplice, Varazdinske Toplice, Krapinske Toplice in Croatia.
Borjomi Spa Resort in Georgia.
SPA usually includes thermal water, saunas (infrared, finnish sauna, hammam), salt room, massages, mud wrapping, herbal bath, etc.
There is also a growing dentistry tourism industry in Moldova, Hungary, Ukraine, Croatia and Georgia. Benefits, compared to West European countries are:
Prices 5-7 times lower. And the only reason for that is, again, low salaries in Balkan countries, nothing more. The materials used for your dental treatment are the same which are used in rich countries in Europe.
No need to wait several weeks until the dentist has free time for you.
So choose the right route and spend a cheap holiday in Southeast Europe by which we mean paying only 10 EUR for 3 hours in a wellness centre with 2 saunas, thermal water pool, salt room, big swimming pool, jacuzzi and having a 1-hour massage for just 25 EUR instead of spending for the same massage 70 EUR in the Netherlands.
If you decide to travel in winter 2022 please consider SKI resorts of Southeast Europe among other places to visit.
They will pleasantly surprise you with prices for accommodation, skipass, ski rental, ski schools, etc.
This region has lots of options for fans of Ski & Snowboarding:
Kopaonik in Serbia.
Poiana Brasov (with Dracula Castle in just 30 minutes drive to Transylvania region) and Sinaia in Romania.
Bukovel in Ukraine.
Bakuriani and Gudauri in Georgia.
Jasna in Slovakia.
Bansko in Bulgaria.
Half of the countries we are promoting have access to the sea and a Full range of beauties starting from Croatia islands and Kotor Bay in Montenegro continued by Batumi in Georgia (Las Vegas of the Black Sea) and Albania’s Ksamil beach in Maldivian style.
And for those of you who are used to spending cheap holidays in Europe in Spain/Greece/Turkey, the first tour to Adriatics will be a gift from the universe.
Here’s a list of most popular resorts/beaches in the area.
Albania which already started to become a new popular travel destination in Europe:
Beaches - Himare, Ksamil, Sfageio Beach, Dhermi, Qeparo and Borsh, Gjipe Beach.
Resorts - Himara, Saranda, Dhërmi.
Islands - Brac, Hvar, Mljet, Korcula, Vis.
Beaches - Punta Rata, Zlatni Rat (the Golden Horn), Sakarun Beach, Nugal Beach.
Resorts - Makarska, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Pula, Rijeka and Sibenik.
Resorts - Tivat, Kotor, Kotor Bay (the only fjord in Southeast Europe).
Beaches - Jaz, Plavi Horizonti, Sveti Stefan Beach.
Batumi - the “Las Vegas of the Black Sea” with lots of casinos, bars and nightclubs.
Sunny Beach resort (near Varna) and Golden Sands resort (near Burgas).
There are no words to describe that amazing quality/price ratio of Moldovan, Georgian, Hungarian and Croatian wines.
Here’s statistics from the most popular wine competition decanter.com that you understand the level of wines from these countries in a first approximation.
In 2021 on Decanter competition:
Moldova - 1 Platinum, 3 Gold medals.
Georgia - 2 Platinum, 1 Gold medal.
Croatia - 3 Platinum, 8 Gold medals.
Hungary - 4 Platinum, 15 Gold medals.
Usually those awards are taken by wines made from indigenous grapes and from certain regions:
Moldova has 4 such grapes (Feteasca Alba, Feteasca Regala, Feteasca Neagra, Rara Neagra) grown in wine areas Valul Lui Traian, Stefan Voda, Codry.
Georgia has 437 different native grape vines (Rkasiteli, Saperavi, Chinuri, etc.) in Kakheti, Imereti, Kartli.
Croatia’s most popular local varieties are Graševina and Malvazija Istarska for white grapes and the red Plavac Mali. Major sites - Slavonia&Danube, Croatian Uplands, Istria&Kvarner and Dalmatia.
Hungary holds Furmint, Hárslevelű, Olaszrizling, Juhfark for white grapes and Kékfrankos, Bikavér, Kadarka for red ones. The majority grows in Tokaj, Villány, Eger and Nagy Somló.
So you’d better come to any of these 4 countries, visit local wineries or tasting rooms in Chisinau or Tbilisi and take several bottles back to UK/Poland/Netherlands.
Wild untouched nature
Southeast Europe in general and the Balkans, in particular, are mostly mountaneous regions with dense forests covering 30 percent of the countries’ territory, lots of rivers from small ones to the enormous Danube, real wildlife with bears/wolves and they should definitely be in your short-list of places to visit.
National Parks in Romania:
Danube Delta - the biggest wetland in Europe covering 580,000 hectares.
Iron Gates - an astonishing gorge on the Danube river between Romania and Serbia.
Parcul Național Domogled-Valea Cernei - a real bearish corner in south-east part of Romania.
Maramures Mountains Natural Park - part of Bucovina region.
Other parks: Călimani, Ceahlău, Munții Rodnei, Cheile Nerei – Beușnița, Cheile Bicazului – Hășmaș.
National Parks in Croatia:
Kornati National Park - a necklace of 89 islands ideal for diving & sailing.
Plitvice Lakes National Park - a cascade of 16 lakes surrounded by forests in central Croatia.
Krka National Park - a real treasure with Krka river, several waterfalls and wild nature around.
Other: Mljet National Park, Paklenica National Park, Sjeverni Velebit National Park, Brijuni National Park, Risnjak National Park Croatia.
National Parks in Albania:
Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park - the only marine park in Albania on the Peninsula of Karaburun and the Island of Sazan.
Butrint National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage site representing a mix of history (Greeks and Romans had their colonies here), wild nature (including wolves) and the beauty of the Ksamil Islands.
The National Park - part of the Albanian Alps near the Montenegro border, includes Shala valley, lots of waterfalls and rocks that remind you that only mountains can be better than mountains.
Vjosë-Nartë Delta Protected Area - The Vjosë river basin is one of the last intact ecosystems in Europe.
Other: Rrezoma Reserve, Llogara National Park, Dajti National Park.
National Parks in Serbia:
Djerdap National Park - is a mountainous region covered with dense forests along the Danube river.
Tara National Park - a 22000 hectares park in east part of Serbia with Zaovine lake, reservoir on Drina river, Drina river itself flowing through a gorge and all on average altitude of 1000 above sea level.
Fruška Gora National Park - a stunning park located near Novi-Sad with lots of monasteries.
Other: Kopaonik National Park, Uvac Special Nature Reserve.
National Parks in Montenegro:
Skadar Lake National Park - a unique water ecosystem on the biggest lake in the Balkans surrounded by green mountains.
Durmitor National Park - a mountain range, part of the Dinaric Alps with several clear rivers on its borders (Tara, Piva, Komarnica).
What is the most important thing when you choose where to make your next trip? The number 1 answer is “Activities I will be doing”.
Before the pandemic started in 2020 adventure travel (nature + culture + activities) were growing by 21% per year.
When you plan a trip to the Balkans and Southeast Europe you can have almost any of the activities you know: from Paragliding and Air Ballooning to Diving and Windsurfing.
Here’s a short list of what kind of new experience you can get inside your tours to Southeast Europe:
Water related activities: Rafting, Kayaking, Canoe, Sailing, Wakeboard, Surfing, Fishing, Diving, Water skiing, Water Ski, Jetski, Parasailing.
Extreme activities: Paragliding, Air Ballooning, Parachuting.
Winter season activities: SKI, Snowboard, Snowmobiling, Husky ride, Toboggan, Heli-skiing.
Other activities: Paintball, Horse riding, Zip Line, Rock climbing, Indoor Skydiving, ATV/ Quad, Karting, Cycling, Cooking Classes.
WOW effect is waiting for you in Southeast Europe
Marketologists made a formula of WOW effect: WOW effect = Reality - Expectations.
So your expectations from the countries of South-Eastern Europe mostly likely are like this:
These are former Communist countries used to being controlled by the Soviet Union with bad touristic infrastructure.
Locals don’t know English and have a completely different mentality.
There is nothing special to see in those countries.
The reality will positively shock you:
Touristic infrastructure is modern as Tourism plays an important part in the economies of these countries and half of them are EU members 10+ years.
People do speak English (it is not China).
We only offer you accommodation with rating 9.5+ from booking.com, restaurants with rating 4.5+ from tripadvisor.com, local beauties with rating 4.5+ from google.
Nice and welcoming people, because the poorer the country, the more friendly local people are.