Not to be mistaken as a country in itself, Europe is a continent and a very large one at that. Divided into 50 countries, travellers are spoilt for choice in deciding on where they would like to visit. The most obvious division would be between the Western and Eastern region. Both are spectacular for different reasons and some countries would suit people more than others. I’m going to outline some differences and similarities between the two, in order to help you pick which region you should go and explore (although, it is fairly easy to cross between the two if you ever feel like it!).
Western Europe is often seen as the place to visit if this is your first time. Here you will find your creature comforts, including food that you are used to eating (and can read on the menu), reliable transport and having most locals and tourists speak English. The nightlife is great, there are cafes everywhere you go and tourist attractions on every corner. This also means that there are large crowds, security checkpoints and price mark-ups that can easily blow any budget. If you are travelling in high tourist locations, try to avoid eating at any cafe that is located near a tourist hotspot. It may look popular but that could just be because there are so many people in the area, it does not mean that the food is better. The cost of your bill will nearly double, compared to what you would pay if you were a few streets away. Also be aware of any extra tax or service charge that could be added to the menu.
Western Europe can be viewed as being the predictable option, where you know what you are getting in for, but what if you wish to leave the well travelled path and find something different? If exploring the unknown is something that you wish to do, Eastern Europe is the place to be. It can turn into a journey of discovery and you will visit places that you have never heard of or even seen pictures of before. Eastern Europe can be more visually impressive as well, especially if it’s nature that you are after. Croatia has some incredible National Parks and waterfalls, including Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Churches, museums, galleries and cathedrals. That is what comes to mind when you think of Western Europe. Tours will take you through the popular spots, where you spend hours in a line being shuffled through an old building with a hundred other people. Yes, they are popular for a reason and incredible to see but after your 10th church in one week, they do all start to look the same. In the East, although you definitely will have your popular locations and tours, it’s easier to find historical monuments and buildings that are still pretty untouched from the public. But a little more planning and research needs to be conducted beforehand, especially due to the lack of spoken English or regular transport. Public transport is easier to navigate in the Western region purely because most people speak English. I’ve caught multiple buses in Eastern countries and have been the only person that speaks English - this is not helpful when you have no idea where you are going. Despite this, people are friendly usually are very welcoming towards tourists.
If you want to get a lot of bang for your buck, Eastern Europe may be for you. The countries in this region could easily be about 40% cheaper than those in the West, so when it comes to having to buy gifts or even groceries, you definitely are saving a lot of money. If you are travelling between the two, I recommend stocking up on as much as possible when in the East. One negative to the East in regards to money, is the currency. Each country has their own money, whereas the West uses just the one, being the Euro. This avoids any confusion over learning new notes and coins and also removes the dreaded wallet at the end of the trip when you are left with an abundance of small change from multiple countries.
When it comes down to it, Western Europe is great if you are after familiarity and ticking off big attractions from your list, like the Eiffel Tower or the Colosseum. Whereas the East is perfect if you wish to find hidden gems or literally follow the path less travelled. Either way, you won’t be disappointed and even if you find yourself a little sick of one region, just swap over to the other!
Jessica Ward is a commercial travel photographer and writer based in Newcastle, Australia. She has spent many months exploring the world and is always eager to embark on overseas trips. Jessica documents all of her adventures on Instagram @jesswardphoto and on her website Jessica Ward Photography.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.