Hitchhiking in Poland Tips

Hitchhiking in Poland Tips

Capital : Warsaw

Population : Around 38 Million

Languages : Polish

 English (Younger people in the cities)

 German (A lot of the male population)

 Russian (Possibly the older folks)

Difficulty : OK for Hitchhiking.

Money : Zloty (Cheaper than Western Europe but dearer than Eastern Europe)

Hitchhiking in Poland is very popular, many backpackers pass through Poland on their eurotrips and use hitchhiking to get from city to city. The trains aren’t cheap in Poland.

Poland has good motorways between all the main cities so hitchhiking needs to be done by the petrol stations outside of the cities for the best results. The cities are highly populated in Poland though so getting outside of cities can be difficult. Ask around about the local public transport or check hitchwiki’s guides to each city.

Poland’s economy has grown a lot in recent years and is a far cry from communism but the older generation still remember them days well. Older men are likely to offer you a lift but spoken English is less likely. Unfortunately Polish is a difficult language to grasp so just say “Auto-Stop” for hitchhiking and they will understand.

Unless you are willing to approach people at the petrol stations and ask for lifts then you could get stuck for hours just trying to leave a city. You have to make the first move.

Krakow is a nice city but a bit expensive to stay more than a night in. Smaller Cities like Poznan have cheaper hostels (about €5) and aren’t a popular stag night destination for Brits. Krakow’s center is full of annoying strip club pr staff because of this.

Since Poland is in the EU and Schengen it has no borders with Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania. It does however have borders with Belarus and Ukraine, most EU citizens don’t need a visa for Ukraine but the border at Medyka is the only one that can be crossed by foot.

Any suggestions for things to do in Poland? Then comment below.

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Hitchhiking in Bulgaria Tips

Hitchhiking in Bulgaria Tips

Capital : Sophia

Population : Around 7 Million

Languages : Bulgarian

 English (Younger people in the cities)

Difficulty : Good for Hitchhiking.

Money : Lev (It’s Cheap, Cheapest in EU maybe)

Hitchhiking in Bulgaria is not hard but can be slow. At times I had long waiting times because of the lack of traffic and only travelled short distances due to the bad roads.

Travelling from East to West and back is faster then North to South and back because of the one motorway. Don’t be deterred from travelling this way though, I went from Turkey up to Veliko-Tarnovo in the North near Romania. It took two days but I meet some great locals travelling South to North.

In Bulgaria I hitchhiked with Gypsies for the first time and had no issues, (I wasn’t robbed like most people said). The countryside is mostly safe even if many villages look extremely run down and lawless.

Most of the men who will offer lifts used to hitchhike themselves back in the days of Communsim. Quite often they speak highly of Communism and the “old days”. They often complain about the modern politicians and Turks, especially the Turkish truck drivers.

If you are going to Turkey then try catch a truck, most will be going to Istanbul and like the cars can be flagged down simply with your thumb on any road.

Camping in Bulgaria is easy in the countryside seen as there are miles of open fields between the villages.

Hitchhiking in Turkey Tips

Hitchhiking in Turkey Tips

Capital : Ankara

Population : Around 78 Million

Languages : Turkish

 English (Common in Istanbul)

 German (Common in Istanbul)

Difficulty : Good for Hitchhiking.

Money : Lira, (Not very Cheap in Istanbul to eat and sleep, Alcohol is expensive too)

chai
Turkish Tea

Visa : Gotten online from here (USA and most EU countries) for about €10. Print the receipt and bring it to the border.

Hitchhiking in Turkey is not as difficult or dangerous as many people assume.

Though I did nearly get arrested here.

Waiting times are quite minimal and truck drivers can be very helpful, often making you Chai (Turkish tea).

The roads in Turkey are far superior to those of Eastern European Countries such as neighbours Bulgaria. The traffic often moves fast and Turkish drivers are unpredictable on the roads.

Its best to find somewhere good to hitchhike at the edge of towns and cities where traffic moves a little slower and a car can pull in. Hitchhiking with your thumb or a sign works. Looking clean will also help a lot hitchhiking in Turkey.

I found camping easy here too, at one stage I camped for three nights in a row with two friends on a beach without any trouble at all.

camping in turkey
Cooking up a meal in Turkey by the beach.

The country is absolutely immense but moving long distances in a day is possible because of the good roads between most cities. Getting out of Istanbul is a nightmare though because the city is so huge.

To get off on the right foot with your driver just be sure to complinet the nice Mosques and food (lovely kebabs). Don’t ever joke about Turkey or insult Turkish men or women! Some guys are quick tempered and have huge pride in Turkey and the language. That’s why learning a couple words in Turkish is great to help get lifts.

Is it safe for girls to Hitchhike in Turkey?

I’m not being ignorant here, I’m just trying to be honest about the culture in Turkey.

Women definitely are not respected 100% as much here by the men, even if you visit Turkey with your girlfriend and walk around holding her hand clearly stating that you are a couple. She is still likely to get hit-on by at least one idiot virgin.

Not all Turkish men are awkward like this around girls, most are friendly people but there is one every now and then.

That said I did meet girls who have hitchhiked extensively and safely in Turkey with truck drivers and regular traffic, having a great time. So don’t fear it! But I would recommend not hitchhiking alone for girls, because of what has happened in the past.

My friend Lea of L’Spirit Cross from Switzerland hitchhiked in Turkey and told me about her experience.

“To travel in turkey as a woman is a must.

Imagine standing on the road with thumbs up, you well get right away chai and sometimes a chorba (Soup) but mostly you even don’t have time to finish it, because cars stops soon. 

I had a good experience with trucks drivers. I learned the basic turkish.

It’s beautiful. the country and the people and they are very happy if you know some words and they really like to talk to you, try hard to understand English.

No worries they all have smartphones and you also can use translation app. and also they love to take selfies.

About the men, they have a different attitude,but if you travel and understand the history and culture, I feel is not that much different as somewhere else.

Take care , go for what you love and enjoy having no plan. Turkey is a organised chaos and will surprise you. have fun.”

Hitchhiking in Romania Tips

Hitchhiking in Romania Tips

Capital : Bucharest

Population : Around 20 Million

Languages : Romanian

 English (Many but not all younger people)

 Hungarian (Parts of Transylvania)

 Italian (Common amongst the Guys)

Difficulty : Great for Hitch-hiking.

Money : Leu (Cheap)

Hitchhiking in Romania is quite easily done, especially on the countryside roads of Transylvania (see hitchhiking in Transylvania).

People often say that you will need too pay for rides in Romania but that’s simply not true. I hitchhiked over 20 lifts in Romania (cars and trucks) and was only asked for money once in the middle of nowhere near Zarnesti. I just said Nu Bani (no money) and offered a cigarette instead.

Romanian truck drivers are especially helpful and often speak Italian or Spanish.

To flag a car down you can either hold your thumb up or point at the ground while making eye-contact with the driver.

Most male drivers tend to drive a bit more recklessly then in other parts of the world, and two of my drivers managed to get lost too in the countryside.

Complimenting Palinka “the local home-made alcohol” is usually a good way to get off on the right foot with your driver. Speaking highly of your Hungarian friends is not recommended at all. Many Romanians will claim all of their neighbours (especially Bulgaria and Hungary) are not worth a visit and might even try persuade you not to cross the border. There no need to listen though, rivalry between neighbouring countries is common in Eastern Europe.

It’s a good idea to try learn some Romanian too (Multumesc meaning thank-you), since it’s a Latin language it’s not that difficult for anyone who knows Italian, French or Spanish too.

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Van driver I hitchhiked with.
IMGA0206
Scenic roads in Transylvania
IMGA0395
Truck driver I hitchhiked with for two days.

Hitchhiking in Transylvania (Bears and Vampires)

Hitchhiking in Transylvania

Country : Romania

Cities : Brasov, Cluj-Napoca, Sibiu

Languages : Romanian, Hungarian

 English (Many but not all younger people)

 Hungarian and German are common in some areas

Difficulty : Great for Hitchhiking.

Money : Leu (Cheap)

Up for Sunrise in Transylvania
Up for Sunrise in Transylvania

Hitchhiking in Transylvania can be like travelling back to the Medieval times or travelling through Middle Earth.

transfargasan
The Transfagarasan Highway is a stunning route to hitchhike.

The roads meander through beautiful mountain routes. Many villages still have very traditional living with little electricity and Gypsy-carts for transport. Wild animals such as bears, wolves and boar populate the forests and great castles and forts are scattered around the province.

IMGA0395
Romanian truck drivers are great! Get talking to them at petrol stations at the borders. Most speak Italian or Spanish too.

Hitchhiking around is relatively easy (see hitchhiking in Romania), payment might be expecting on a rare occasion since the locals do it, just say nu bani (no money) and the driver will understand.

It’s possible to hitchhike the gypsy horse-carts too but they are very slow.

Language

Some villages are Hungarian speaking but most speak Romanian and often these villages are but a mile or two from each other.

The Hungarians usually speak Romanian too but the Romanians rarely speak Hungarian.

German is a little common too as some villages are of Germanic origin.

Hiking

Going hiking in the Piatra Craiului Mountains National Park is the highlight of Transylvania. The best access point I found to be Zarnesti which is easy to hitchhike from Brasov. 

There are small metal huts scattered along the mountain trails for trapped hikers and shepherds to rest in but I recommend packing a tent and definitely a sleeping bag, plenty of water too. It get’s very cold on the ridge and there’s also no water sources up there, make sure to print-out a map and don’t get lost.

Bears

Bear’s do roam wild here and the local Romanians will tell you stories about spotting them rummaging through bins and crossing the roads. Your chances of seeing one aren’t that high unless you might go tracking them and sneak up on one.

bear paws
Visible Bear tracks on a hiking path in Transylvania

If you do meet one then don’t panic, try making noise or running downhill (I heard they don’t chase down hills).

At the end of the day a bear dosen’t want to meet humans, (they dislike our meat) so making noise as you walk around should suffice to keep them away.

If you do want to meet them then I heard of a professional tracker in Zarnesti who takes tourists out tracking bears and wolves. There is also a sanctuary near Zarnesti for the Bears.

piatra climbing
Selfie on a mountain ridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Castles and Forts

bran castle hitchhike
Bran Castle

Transylvania has a scattering of Castles and Forts all over the countryside and in most towns.

The most famous of them being Dracula’s Castle in Bran.

I hitchhiked there one day and wasn’t overly impressed.

Bran Castle is really quite small and packed full of eegits with selfie sticks.

If you do go however then make sure to check out the nearby Fort and cave in Rasnov.

Sleep

The bigger towns like Brasov and Cluj have hostels for around 7 or 8 euro a night and couch-surfing is definitely possible.

When the smaller villages then camping is probably your best option but be wary of stray dogs. It’s a good idea to ask for permission to camp by someone’s land if your not in the woods, I doubt anyone would refuse you permission, Romanians like camping themselves. I guess a small B&B wouldn’t cost more then 15 euro though anyway.

Hitchhiking in Serbia Tips

Hitchhiking in Serbia Tips

Capital : Belgrade

Population : Around 7 Million

Languages : Serbian

 English (Most Younger People in Belgrade and Novi Sad)

Difficulty : Great for Hitchhiking.

Money : Dinar (Very Cheap Country)

Hitch-hiking in Serbia is relatively easy and fun, be a little cautious however if you are Arab, Turkish, Albanian, Black or Gay. The country is a bit more Soviet the the other Balkan countries but the chances of any trouble is slim.

The Cyrillic alphabet is used on road signs.

The two main bag-packer destinations being the capital city of Belgrade (great night-life) and Novi Sad (home of the Exit Festival).

Hitch-hiking at night isn’t recommended though because outside the cities there is very little street light and a high possibility of drunk drivers.

The roads are of a much higher standard then neighbours like Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria. Hitch-hiking on motorways is possible but using the toll stations is recommended.

Serbians are extremely proud to be Serbian and of their history. They generally don’t like Albanians and a debate about Kosovo will quickly become heated. This applies to all Serbians, if you meet the border police with a Kosovo stamp then be prepared to do some explaining or get refused entry.

Everyone smokes here, indoors and outdoors and Rakia is the drink of choice for many locals with a beer. Belgrade has some cool boat clubs with cheap shots along the Danube river too which are definitely worth checking out in the summer months. Serbian girls are among the most beautiful in the world too and very friendly.

Hitchhiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina Tips

Hitchhiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina Tips

Capital : Sarajevo

Population : Around 4 Million

Languages : Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian (all similar)

 English (A lot of Younger People in Mostar and Sarajevo)

Difficulty : Great for hitchhiking.

Money : BAM, Very Cheap for alcohol and cigarettes. Hostels for around 5 euro per night.

Hitchhiking in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a great and often the fastest mode of transport. The locals are friendly and the lack of motorways makes hitchhiking possible just about everywhere.

The most popular destinations for bag-packers are Sarajevo and Mostar.

Sarajevo the capital is a very historic city. This is where Franz Ferdinand was shot, sparking World War 1. The Muslim call to prayer echoes through the cobbled streets with old buildings which are riddled with bullet holes.

Mostar is a smaller town yet no less charming in its own right, its pride and joy is a curved bridge which locals can be seen jumping off.

Bosnia really offers a lot when it comes to eating out or clubbing on a budget too.

The recent Yugoslav Wars have left the population understandably scarred and split however into Catholic Croatians, Muslim Bosnians and Orthodox Serbians. It’s a topic best not approached seen as you can never be sure who you are speaking to, given how recent it is your likely to be talking to some who lost a close friend or relative.

Some people may like to educate you though on their pasts so just listen respectfully. You will not meet a single local who will speak positively of the current government.

Most of the towns and villages have very large graveyards, bullet-holes in buildings and certain areas of the countryside still have mines. In Mostar the sniper’s building is definitely worth a visit, it has an eerie atmosphere of despair from the battle in Mostar.

hitchhike bosnia

Don’t let the history deter you from visiting however, Bosnia is still one of my favourite destinations and there is little to no chance of encountering trouble on the road. The people here have seen enough trouble and are trying to move on with there lives peacefully, and are very open to tourists in my opinion.

I hitchhiked with many locals who spoke no English on my way from Sarajevo to Belgrade and had a great time.

Hitchhiking in Slovenia Tips

Hitchhiking in Slovenia Tips

Capital : Ljubljana 

Population : Around 2 Million

Languages : Slovenian (Similar to other Baltic Languages)

 English (Many People in Ljubljana, Especially Students)

Difficulty : Small Country that’s easy to Hitchhike, people are friendly.

Money : Euro, cheaper than Western Europe but nowhere near as cheap as other former Yugoslavian states like Serbia.

Hitchhiking in Slovenia isn’t difficult. Slovenia is a small EU country home to around 2 million people and a language of around 2.5 million native speakers.

Not many people can find it on a map if we are honest. The Slovenian people are very proud of their culture however and Ljubljana is a real charming and welcoming town.

It is often confused with Slovakia. The story goes that once the Slovenians and Slovakians were one people however they became divided and since then their languages have separated.

The first country to gain independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it can be considered the most modern of the former Yugoslavian nations due to its strong connections with Western Countries. Don’t expect to be collected when hitchhiking here in a gypsy kart or old Lada.

To get off on the right foot with Slovenians its advisable to compliment the beauty of Slovenia’s countryside and hills. Ask questions about France Preseren a Slovenian poet to get the conversation flowing. I found Slovenians very welcoming, they will invite you for a drink later or they might offer to share some weed.

Besides the picturesque city of Ljubljana with it’s decent night-life, Slovenia boasts a coastline, caves and mountain hiking for a backpacker to enjoy hitchhiking in Slovenia.

Hitchhiking out of Ljubjana to Zagreb.

hitchhike slovenia

The route I took when hitchhiking through Slovenia.

Hitchhiking in Hungary Tips

Hitchhiking in Hungary Tips

Capital : Budapest (The Paris of the East, A popular bag-packer destination for culture and night clubs on the cheap)

Population : Around 10 Million

Languages : Hungarian (Unique, spoken in parts of Transylvania also)

 English (Mostly Students and Younger People),

 German (Older People and especially near the Austria Border)

Difficulty : Great for Hitchhiking. Petrol Stations recommended for fastest travelling by the motorways.

Money : Hungarian Forint (300 to 1 Euro), Much cheaper then Western Europe however inflation is high here since joining the EU. Don’t exchange money at the airport or train stations but in the little exchange shops around the city.

I particularly enjoy hitchhiking in Hungary because it’s the first country other than Ireland I ever hitch-hiked in. I moved to Budapest in January 2013 to study engineering for six months on Erasmus (A European student exchange programme) and it’s where I found a new passion for travelling.

Up until then I always appreciated the idea of travelling but never saw it as something to base my life around, but the enchantingly beautiful and cheap city of Budapest could turn any “couch potato” into a “Wandering Aengus”.

hitccchhiking hungaryMap showing the routes I hitchhiked in Hungary.

 You will improve your chances of getting around Hungary tenfold by learning basic phrases such as “cheers” (egészségedre), “thanks” (köszönöm) and “good day” (jo napot).

Hungarians have great pride in their strangely unique language and love to hear tourists have a try at the pronunciation. Just by learning “egészségedre” you go from dumb tourist to centre of the party. When in the car with male drivers it is useful to compliment Hungarian women’s looks (they are indeed beautiful and Hungarian men are proud of this.)

To really get the conversation flowing mention that delicious Goulash Soup you ate earlier. Don’t praise Romania or mention it at all unless you want to kill the conversation. Hungarians are extremely proud and still feel an emotional connection with the part Hungarian speaking area of Romania called Transylvania.

There isn’t any hatred towards Germans following WW2 but Russians aren’t very popular, or Turks for that matter but violence is completely unlikely.

Overall hitchhiking in Hungary is straight forward, the country can be considered as part of Central Europe and the roads share more in common with Austria and the Czech Republic then more eastern neighbours such as Ukraine or Romania. It still maintains a bit of the Eastern comrade tradition though so don’t be surprised to be offered the local alcohol Palinka around 40 -60% when hitchhiking on countryside roads.

Hitchhiking in Croatia Tips

Hitchhiking in Croatia Tips

Capital : Zagreb

Population : Around 4.5 Million

Languages : Croatian (Similar to rbBalkan Languages)

 English (Most Younger People, Especially Students),

 Italian (Widely Spoken)

Difficulty : Good country for hitchhiking, the coastal road has a lot of useful tourist traffic but Zagreb can be difficult to leave.

Money : Kuna, cheaper than Western Europe but nowhere near as cheap as other former Yugoslavian states like Serbia. Tourist towns like Dubrovnik are noticeably more expensive.

Hitchhiking in Croatia is a great way to get around a country which is home to a beautiful coastline, two world famous national parks, and many barely inhabited islands. In other words it offers something for the sun-bather, party animal, hiker and adventurer. 

When hitchhiking to Dubrovnik it’s important to remember that you will enter and leave Bosnia and Herzegovina in doing so. The border is a bit strange as it cuts Dubrovnik off from the rest of Croatia. Be prepared as when I crossed this border hitchhiking from Split the car I was in got searched and we were delayed an hour or two.

Zagreb is a nice city with a very unique museum, “The Museum of Broken Relationships“. Most of the tourists in Croatia head for the coastal towns like Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar. The hostels in these towns are full of drunken tourists from Western Europe visiting for the beaches and cheap alcohol.

Usually these young tourists make up the majority of the summer coastal traffic with over-packed cars, however hitchhiking a ride is definitely possible. When travelling with locals it is best not to bring up the Yugoslav Wars. Most Croatians have lived through the war and it’s a touchy subject. If you just came from Serbia then don’t talk about it.

When travelling away from the coast I highly recommend Krka Park because you can swim in the waterfall at this park. The nature is quite stunning. When camping however be wary of land mines leftover from the war, they aren’t common. If you see a warning sign however do not go any further off the beaten track.

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The route I hitchhiked in Croatia.