Budapest to Bucharest: Castles & Medieval Europe
Know Before You Go
For an epic trip with zero stress and infinite holy s#!t moments, get familiar with the information below. Seeing the world should be fun, not stressful, which is why we’ve written this guide for you and are available 24/7 so all you have to do is travel. Now, it’s time to do a happy dance and make this trip ULTIMATE.
Complete Your Checklist
Before heading to the airport, complete the tasks below and check them off in your Online Account Checklist. If you have any questions, give us a call at 617-619-1411. We’re available 24/7 to make sure you have the Best. Trip. Ever.
- Passport: Your passport must be valid for 6 months after the tour return date.
- Entry Requirements: Travelers are responsible for monitoring and complying with all entry requirements based on their tour itinerary (including countries in transit). You can view the most up to date entry requirements for this tour here.
- Travel Insurance: While travel insurance is not required, we strongly encourage all travelers to obtain coverage before departure. Check out cost-effective Travel Protection, designed to meet the needs of EF travelers, here.
- Health Insurance: You will need to carry your primary insurance card with you while overseas. This is a critical item in the event of a medical emergency.
- Talk with your doctor: It is highly recommended that you talk with your doctor about your travel plans. If you are taking any medications, be certain to bring enough to last throughout your trip.
- Traveling with allergies? Let your Trip Consultant and Tour Director know of any dietary restrictions/allergies and we will do what we can to accommodate for any included meals.
- Request a roommate: Double-check with us and your Tour Director that they have your rooming status on file. We will assign a roommate for you if you do not submit a specific request.
- Get an international data plan: We recommend getting an international data plan for your mobile device so you can stay connected while on the road. Please talk with your phone provider for your best options.
- Wi-Fi will be in some hotels, restaurants, and bars, though charges may apply and it may be slower than in the U.S.
- Wi-Fi is not available on the bus.
- Get the EF Ultimate Break app: Your trip's group will be able to connect on the app before you meet IRL. Don't miss out! Meet other travelers, get updates from your Tour Director, see flights and accommodations, and more. If you're having trouble, give us a call at 617-619-1411.
Check your online account 30 days prior to departure for your flight itinerary and confirmation number. Using your 6-digit reservation code, you can reserve your seat (this is typically available 30 days to 24 hours before departure) and check in to your flight 24 hours prior to departure. If you prefer to check in at the airport, that’s okay, too. Regardless, plan to arrive 2.5 – 3 hours before departure.
All flight information is online (e-ticket) via your account and the airline’s website. You will not receive a physical paper ticket from us.
- If your flight is canceled or delayed: Don’t worry! We design the first day of tour as an arrival day in case of flight delays or cancelations. Work with the airline to get rebooked on the next available flight, then let your Tour Director know your new arrival time.
- If you sleep in and miss your flight: You should still talk to the airline and see if they can get you on the next available option. Tears may help in this case.
Arriving in Budapest
Welcome to Hungary! Once you land, grab your luggage and pass through customs and immigration.
Your Tour Director will communicate through the EF Ultimate Break app, WhatsApp, or email about where to meet them at the airport. This is an important reason to make sure you have the EF Ultimate Break app!
If you have booked your own flight arrangements or have extended your travels before the tour dates, you will need to make your own way to the first hotel.
Getting from A to B
Transfers between cities are via bus, can take anywhere between 2-8 hours. You’ll also receive a public transportation pass in cities where its needed. In any sense, we’ve packed a lot into your tour, so prepare for long bus transfers and lengthy walking (between 4-8 miles per day), especially when sightseeing.
It’s a good idea to download a few movies or shows to watch sans wifi/cellular data, bring a great book with you to read, or listen to music to pass the time.
Staying Healthy While Traveling
Fact: Travel is exhilarating. And FOMO is real. So, we understand why you don’t want to miss a second of the action. But there’s a difference between maximizing your time and spreading yourself too thin. Here are some tips to stay healthy and happy on tour:
- Sleep: Flying across the globe, changing time zones, and being constantly on the move can take a toll on your body. Make sure you get the rest your body needs. If that means missing a night out for some well-earned rest, or having a little afternoon siesta, so be it. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Stay hydrated: It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially after spending all day in the sun!
- Be Prepared: The most prepared travelers will bring a small first aid kit, including antacids, anti-diarrhea medication, motion sickness medication, and any prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
- Take time for yourself: Group travel is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like exploring a foreign country with a group of like-minded people. That said, it’s okay to take time for yourself to relax and reflect on your experience. Here are a few mindfulness apps you can take with you on the road:
- MindShift: Focused on anxiety management, this app has an array of cognitive behavior therapy features including journaling, goal-setting, calming audio, and a community forum.
- Ten Percent Happier: Filled with videos and guided meditations intended to help with everything ranging from sleep to stress reduction.
Safety While Abroad
With a global presence of more than 46,000 people in over 115 countries and regions, we’re fully committed to your safety. From your first flight all the way through to your farewell dinner, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Tour Director or your Trip Consultant if you need a helping hand. Keep these extra tips in mind so you can #travelsmart:
- Keep your bag/purse in front of you and your phone zipped inside when you’re not using it. Leave your laptop at home, store valuables at the hotel in locked luggage or the safe deposit box. Refrain from carrying large sums of money or wearing valuable jewelry.
- Use the buddy system. Stay in groups and watch out for each other, especially at night—no one gets left behind!
- Be smart about alcohol consumption. Watch your drinks and don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t leave the bar alone with someone you just met.
- Before you go out, grab a business card at your hotel so that you always have the address handy for getting back later.
- At the end of a night out, use trusted transportation and always have cash on hand.
- Avoid using taxis in Budapest, especially at night. Instead, you can use Bolt, a local alternative to Uber.
- Save our 24/7 number in your phone: +1–617–619–1411.
For weight and size restrictions please refer to your airline’s website. Flight information will be available 30 days prior to departure in your online account. Below you'll find some critical packing information and suggestions.
- The most important piece of advice we can give you: Pack light! Your international airline ticket does include a checked bag, but years of customer feedback tells us a carry-on is the way to go. You may need to carry your suitcase where buses and elevators cannot, so make sure you are comfortable carrying everything you bring yourself.
- You've probably heard the hacks about rolling clothes and using packing cubes a million times, but there's a reason for that! It really does help.
- If you choose to pack all of your toiletries, don't bring your regular-sized bottles from home. Offload some of that into travel-sized containers.
- Choose your luggage wisely. We recommend a roller carry-on bag and a backpack as your personal item.
- Choose shoes carefully as well. They're some of the bulkiest items you can pack, so we recommend a good pair of walking shoes and a pair of climate-appropriate shoes (boots or sandals depending on the destination and time of year). We also recommend a pair of closed-toe water shoes if your itinerary has any water activities.
- Make a packing list of must-haves and stick to it. If you have a little extra space in your bags once all your must-haves are packed, then consider adding in a few nice extras.
- Unfortunately, luggage can get lost. It’s a painful situation no matter what, but here are tips to ease some of the hassle:
- DO NOT put important medications in a checked bag. If your luggage is lost, this could become a dangerous issue.
- Even if you put most of your clothes in a checked bag, put a couple outfits in your carry-on along with your toiletries.
- If you are forced to check you carry-on at the gate, be sure to remove essentials and valuables before handing it over.
- Carefully review TSA restrictions when packing. There are a number of items not allowed in your carry-on and liquids have certain restrictions.
- Check out the local weather; we haven't figured out how to control the weather yet so best to be prepared and plan accordingly.
- Don't forget: Outlets overseas can differ from the US, so be sure to pack the right power adapters/converters!
We at EF will help facilitate any testing requirements while on tour, however it is the travelers responsibility to pay for these tests and it is our recommendation that you budget roughly 150 USD total. Please note that non-boosted travelers may be required to do additional testing to enter places such as restaurants, and/or major attractions.
- Hungary: Hungarian Forint
- Serbia: Serbian Dinar
- Romania: Romanian Leu
- When exchanging money for this trip, better rates are usually found overseas, but it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
- You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks, but be wary of fees.
- Let your bank and credit card companies know your travel plans ahead of time to avoid potential complications while abroad.
- Budget around $80-$100 per day for meals, drinks, souvenirs, and tips or extra activities.
- Remember that you know your spending habits best and not everyone’s spending habits are the same. These recommendations are based on a traveler who says yes to any and all activities while on tour.
- Hungarians normally give tips when eating out, having a drink at a bar, or when using a taxi. The tip is usually 10% of the price.
- The amount you tip in Romania will depend on location are and type of services. As a general rule, expect to tip around 10% of the bill (15% for exceptional service).
- Tipping is not obligatory in Serbian restaurants, but if you are satisfied with the service then leave a 10 to 15% tip.
- We recommend tipping your Tour Director $40- $60 at the end of the trip.
- For local guides, you should tip $1-$2 at the end of each experience.
While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Here's just a few basic phrases in Hungarian, Serbian, and Romanian to get started:
- Hello: Szia (Hungarian) / Zdravo (Serbian) / Bună (Romanian)
- Goodbye: Viszontlátásra (Hungarian) / Doviđenja (Serbian) / La revedere (Romanian)
- Thank you: Köszönöm (Hungarian) / Hvala (Serbian) / Mulțumesc (Romanian)
- Yes: Igen (Hungarian) / Da (Serbian) / Da (Romanian)
- No: Nem (Hungarian) / Ne (Serbian) / Nu (Romanian)
- Cheers!: Egészségedre! (Hungarian) / Živeli! (Serbian) / Noroc! (Romanian)
Download Duolingo or some language-learning podcasts to practice your skills, and use Google Translate to help you while on the road!
Hungary, Romania and Serbia are dripping with history, innovative art, beautiful scenery, grunge, and more. Prepare to experience an equal mix of medieval and modern culture, and leave with a greater appreciation for all that this region of the world has to offer! Read below for more tips to help you live like a local:
- Romania has some of the fastest internet in the world (when you can find it), while Serbia will have WiFi usually in big cities, in addition to free WiFi at hostels and hotels (and many restaurants).
- The nightlife in Serbia is popular, especially in Belgrade. Serbian locals are friendly and there is little to no dress code when going out to the bars.
- Things open late in Bucharest and the streets can be empty until lunchtime, so if you like to stay out late and sleep in, this is the perfect place for you!
- Public transportation is extensive in Budapest - including the metro, trams, and buses. Budapest is also home to the oldest electric underground metro on continental Europe!
- Avoid jaywalking. Similar to the bike lane, if you jaywalk you can expect to be scolded. Instead, abide by the walk signals and cross-walks.
- Sundays are a day of rest. Expect shops to be closed on Sundays, but you will find cafes, restaurants, and galleries are still open on Sundays
- Many public restrooms require a small fee for use - hold on to your coins!
- When dining out, you may have to ask for the bill since waitstaff doesn’t proactively bring this - they don’t want to interrupt your meal!
- When in Serbia, eating out should be something that’s especially affordable. Purchase smaller meals in local places for €1-2 per person and for larger meals expect to pay €4-5 per person in a restaurant.
The cuisine in Eastern Europe is no joke. Savory, sweet, and hearty, your stomach and your wallet will thank you (yes, it’s cheap too)! Read on for all the tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try:
- Apfelstrudel: This classic sweet treat is a drool-worthy combo of pastry, breadcrumbs, tart apples, and thick cream.
- Palačinky: Similar to pancakes or crepes, try a palačinky savory or sweet. It’s a win-win either way!
- Somlói Galuska: Try this trifle in Hungary - it’s a pile of sponge cake, pastry cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. What more could you want?!
- Cozonac: A popular Romanian dessert filled with a sweet walnut or poppy seed paste.
- Ćevapi: This is the most popular dish to try in Serbia. It is a grilled meat (made of pork, lamb or beef) and served in bread with ajvar sauce (made of red pepper, olive oil and salt) and vegetables.
- Pljeskavica: This is the most popular street food in Serbia, which consists of a burger served inside bread. The best part is adding sauces, additional vegetables.. oh, and the low price!
- Palačinke: A Serbian pancake!
- Ciorbă de burtă: Translated to Beef Tripe Soup. This is one of the most popular soups in Romania and also considered the ultimate hangover remedy.
- Rakija: Usually served as a shot and made with fermented fruit. (40-60% alcohol content)
- Coffee: Morning or afternoon, you will see locals enjoying Turkish coffee in bars or coffee shops as it is an important part of their culture. Turkish coffee is strong and unfiltered, so prepare your tastebuds!
If you did not purchase EF Ultimate Break Optional Excursions before the trip began, you can log into your Online Account and do so on tour. You can also talk to your Tour Director on tour and they can help you get enrolled. If you’d like to plan something else during your free time, connect with your Tour Director before doing so; they sometimes arrange extra activities for the group during free time.
Prices for these optional excursions will increase on tour, so please check your online account for available add-ons.
We’re so glad you chose to travel with us and are now part of the EF Ultimate Break family! We'll look for your post-card in the mail, and your #thisisultimate tags on Instagram. Cheers to the Best. Trip. Ever.