Q: I’m on a limited budget, and am flying from the UK. I’m dying to see rural Greece, but I’m not sure how to start planning. Do I just book a plane ticket, land up in a city and take it from there? Or is it better to book hostels beforehand?
You have three great things going for you: first, you’re traveling from the UK which means you’re already in Europe so flights won’t be that expensive. Try airfare websites like easyjet.co.uk skyscanner.co.uk or ryanair.co.uk for the cheapest fares, and start looking now. You can book a series of one-way tickets if you plan to do a few different countries, and oftentimes this can be cheaper so check that out too. Secondly, 1,500 pounds sterling is a perfectly adequate budget. In fact, I think you’ll be traveling quite comfortably as long as you budget well. Thirdly, you’re going in May, which is just the beginning of the travel season. You won’t have a problem finding available hostel beds as you go, so don’t stress about this. Especially since you’re going alone (which is awesome) you should be able to think a few days ahead and book online. One of my favorites is actually the British based company hostelbookers.co.uk They consistently have the best rates and are one of the most reliable bookers I’ve worked with. Plus, you’ll find a variety of types of hostels (budget, female-friendly, more upscale) with them so you can tailor your trip to your needs. I always tell people to make certain they have a hostel booked in the city the night before their flight home. But other than that, you should be fine to book a few days out.
As far as where you want to travel: the Greek islands are great for solo travelers and extremely easy to do. You can fly directly into Santorini, or fly into Athens and take a bus to the Piraeus Port where you catch ferries that run regularly to the islands and cost about 30 euros. If you want to travel for a month, I’d suggest an itinerary like this:
Start in Athens (check out the city for a day, maybe spend one night there). Then head to the Islands where you can rent ATV 4-wheelers and hike. This will give you a taste of adventure and push you outside your comfort zone. Plus many hostels and tour companies have deals in May because starting the season off with a bang. Here’s a sample itinerary I did once of three islands, but I’d say pick 3-4 islands and travel around them for two weeks. Frommer’s guidebooks put out a pretty decent list of their best Greek Islands to visit, so give that some thought when you decide which ones to visit.
Then (for the other half of May) if you’re dying to get to Eastern Europe, either take a ferry or fly to Split, Croatia. From there, you can hike the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia down to Dubrovnik. This is high on my travel to-do list and I’ve met many people who’ve done it. You can mix up hiking with buses too if you get tired. This hike can easily be done over two weeks. Enjoy the smaller seaside towns and scenic views on your way, and plan to spend three days in Dubrovnik before you fly back to the UK. There are plenty of Croatian budget hostels to stay at, and this is an extremely popular coastline so you’ll meet plenty of other travelers like yourself. It’s safe, doable on your own, and affordable.
As far as your budget, just spend wisely: remember that whenever you move, it’ll cost you money. I firmly think that your budget will suffice, especially if you eat cheaply (visit local markets and grocery stores instead of eating out at restaurants). Consider booking one-way airfare because you can cover more ground and it’s cheaper. Stay in budget hostels on your way, and don’t be afraid to spend a little bit if there’s an activity you want to do. All the information out there can be overwhelming, but the best part about travel is figuring it out–everyone’s experiences and trips are different so I say go for it and have a great time. The Adriatic area is beautiful.