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This is the itinerary and expenses for my recent trip to Europe and Turkey last May 2022. I spent 8 days in the Schengen area, 11 days in the Balkans, and 7 days in Turkey. My goal for this trip was to explore at least 9 countries to achieve my personal bucket list of visiting 40 countries when I turn 40 and to fulfill my dreams of seeing the Eiffel Tower, the tulips of the Netherlands, The King’s Landing in Croatia, and the hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Related: How to Apply for a Schengen Visa in the Philippines

@escapemanila

This is how much I spent in my recent trip to Europe + Turkey! For more details check out my blog post ag bit.ly/eu22exp #fyp #traveltiktok

♬ WayBackHome – 苏七岁

This itinerary is ideal if you want to squeeze your time and visit as many countries as possible. If you plan to follow this itinerary, I highly suggest you also do it in May or late April. The days are longer during these months and it’s still not the peak season so it’s still not so crowded. The sunset when I was there was around 8-9 pm so I was able to really maximize my time exploring each city I visit.

Tulips in Bratislava, Slovakia
Tulips in Bratislava, Slovakia

Day 0: Davao to Vienna, Austria

I flew from Davao International Airport to Vienna, Austria via Singapore Airlines with a layover in Cebu, Singapore, and Munich. It took me around 24 hours to reach Vienna from Davao. It was quite exhausting but it was fun.

Flight ticket cost: Php45,195 (Roundtrip multi-city ticket Davao-Vienna and Istanbul-Davao).

RELATED: Hostels and Hotels I Stayed in Europe

Day 1: Arrival in Vienna

I thought I’ll have my passport control in Vienna but I was surprised I got stamped in Munich. I learned that if you have a transit flight in the Schengen area, you will have to pass through passport control. Flights within the Schengen area are considered local.

I arrived in Vienna at around 1:00 pm local time. I purchased a one-way airport transfer with 2-day access to local transportation including trams, trains, buses, etc. You can buy the Vienna city card online.

I visited local attractions like St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Belvedere Palace, and many other places. I took a tram to Belvedere and walk around the area back to my accommodation. Must-visit tourist spots in Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace

I stayed at Space Home Hostel – City Hall because I find it convenient and affordable. I booked it online via Booking.com. It is located very close to the metro and tram stations.

Expenses:
Hostel: €36 [Space Home Hostel – City Hall]
Transportation (Airport transfer+city Pass): €11
Meals: €17.2

Day 2: Day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia

I went to Bratislava, Slovakia on my second day in Europe. I left Vienna early in the morning and took a 2-hour train to Bratislava. I explored the old town on a walking tour. I wish I stayed longer. It’s now one of my favorite countries. 10 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Bratislava

Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia

Expenses:
Hostel in Vienna €36
Train ticket (Vienna-Bratislava-Vienna) €16
Local train in Bratislava €1.8
Meals: €15.1

Day 3: Vienna to Munich

I left Vienna in the morning for Munich, Germany. I walked from the train station to my hostel, left my bag, and went out to see the market and the attractions in the old town. 10 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Munich

Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) in the Marienplatz
Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) in the Marienplatz

Expenses:
Hostel: €42 [CVJM Jugendhotel München] – walking distance from Munich Central Station
Train from Vienna to Munich: €36
Grocery: €4
Meals: €25.1

Day 4: Munich to Paris, France

I left Paris at around noon so I decided to explore the English Garden in Munich and see the Eisbach River, one of the filming sites of The Amazing Race Season 3. That episode made an impact to me so I told myself I had to see it up close.

Surfing at Eisbach River in Munich, Germany
Surfing at Eisbach River in Munich, Germany

Expenses:
Train Ticket from Munich to Paris: €79
Hotel: €70.65 [Walled off Hotel Paris] Close to the subway. One train ride to Trocadero
Tourist Tax: €3
One day Local transportation pass: €12
Souvenir: €16
Meals: €25.5

Day 5: Paris

I spent my 40th birthday in Paris and of course, I explored the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, and the Pantheon. I also had my birthday dinner at Terra Nera, one of the filming locations of Emily in Paris Season 1. 10 Must-Visit Tourist Spots in Paris

At the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
At the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Expenses:
Hotel: €70.65 [Walled off Hotel Paris] Close to the subway. One train ride to Trocadero
Eiffel Tour with access to the top floor: Php3,038 (Booked via Klook)
Louvre Museum Entrance Ticket (Priority Access Entrance Ticket via Klook): Php994
One day Local transportation pass: €12
Meals: €57

A simple birthday dinner at Terra Nera in Paris, France
Simple birthday dinner at Terra Nera

Day 6: Paris to Amsterdam via Antwerp

I could have gone straight to Amsterdam but I always dreamed of visiting Baarle-Nassau (Netherlands) / Baarle-Hertog (Belgium), one of the strangest borders in the world. It was an Amazing Race kind of experience. I missed the bus going back to the town so I knew I would miss my train to Amsterdam. Good thing my ticket was semi-flexible. I was able to change the time but I still paid 20+ Euro. Check out what to do and how to get to Baarle.

Standing in two countries at the same time at Baarle-Nassau (Netherlands) / Baarle-Hertog (Belgium)
Standing in two countries at the same time at Baarle-Nassau (Netherlands) / Baarle-Hertog (Belgium)

Expenses:
Hostel: €33 [ClinkNOORD Hostel] Walking distance from Amsterdam Central Station
Locker fee at Hostel: €7
Train from Paris to Antwerp: €28
Train from Antwerp to Amsterdam: €55 (originally 35 but I knew I’d miss the train so I had to pay extra to move it to a later time.
Bus from Antwerp Central Station to Turnhout and back: €5
Bus from Turnhout to Baarle-Nassau and back: €5
Locker Fee at Antwerp Central Station: €10 (I left my big luggage)
Souvenir: €18
Meals €17.5

Day 7: Amsterdam and Overnight train to Basel, Switzerland

My only purpose in visiting the Netherlands was to experience the Tulip Festival. It’s been on my bucket list for many years and I finally unlocked it. I also visited Zaanse Schans to see the windmills. I initially wanted to fly from Amsterdam to Split, Croatia but the flights were already too expensive so I decided to just take an overnight train to Basel, Switzerland. Flights to Split from there are way cheaper, like 3x less from Amsterdam for my date. 10 Must-Visit Tourist Spots In Amsterdam

Zaanse Schans, Netherlands
Zaanse Schans, Netherlands

Expenses:
Tulip Festival Card with access to regional bus: €50 [Booked via Tiqets.com]
Entrance to Windmill: €5
Meals: €28
Nigh train to Basel: €60

Day 8: Basel to Split, Croatia

I really did not have plans for Split, so I decided to just slow down. After all, I have already done so much in the Schengen area so I was quite tired already.

Basel Minster in Basel, Switzerland
Basel Minster in Basel, Switzerland

Expenses:
One Day Train Pass in Basel: 10 Franc
Locker fee at Basel Central Station: 9 Franc
Grocery + Meals in Basel: 16.7 Franc
Plane fare from Basel to Split: 69 Franc
Bus fare from Airport to Split Center: 45 Kuna
Hostel: €25 [Hostel Dvor]
Tourism Tax: 10 Kuna
Meals + Grocery: 146 Kuna

Day 9: Split to Dubrovnik

I took a bus from Split to Dubrovnik via Flixbus. Here’s another weird border as you have to pass Neum, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina. You will have to pass through passport control, enter Neum, and another passport control on the Croatian side going to Dubrovnik.

Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia
Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia

Expenses:
Bus from Split to Dubrovnik: €21.48 (booked online via Flixbus)
City Tax: 50 Kuna (25 per day)
Hotel: 64.6/2 (shared with a friend) €32.3 [Hotel Dubrovnik] – close to the bus stop and the Sunset Beach
Meals & Grocery: 390 Kuna

Day 10: Dubrovnik

The main reason I wanted to Visit Dubrovnik was because of the Game of Thrones. The filming location of the King’s Landing was in Dubrovnik’s Old Town. I am an avid fan of GOT and it would be a missed opportunity not to visit Dubrovnik when I am already in the Balkans.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia

I met my friend in the Dubrovnik and Kotor leg of this trip so hotel expenses are divided by two.

Expenses:
Hotel: 64.6/2 (shared with a friend) €32.3 [Hotel Dubrovnik] – close to the bus stop and the Sunset Beach
Old City Walls Entrance: 250 Kuna
Uber to Old Town and Back to Hotel: 100 Kuna
Meals + Grocery: 212 Kuna

Day 11: Dubrovnik to Kotor, Montenegro

My friend and I took a bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor, Montenegro. I initially planned of going straight to the capital town of Podgorica but I read something about Kotor and I got interested. We arrived past noon so we had ample time to explore the old town. I hiked to the Fortress and enjoyed a magnificent view of Kotor Bay.

View from the top of Kotor Fortress
View from the top of Kotor Fortress

Expenses:
Uber to Bus Station: 40 Kuna
Bus to Kotor (booked online via Flixbus): €22
Luggage Fee: 10 Kuna
Entrance to the Fortress: €8
Hotel: 60/2 (shared with a friend) €30 [Apartments Wine House Old Town] Located inside the Old Town
Meals & Grocery: Hotel: €19

Day 12: Wine Tour in Montenegro

We’re supposed to go on a full wine tour – winery, degustation, wine tasting, etc. but it was not available. The grapes are still not bearing fruits and the wine company that we visited, the biggest in Montenegro, had an event so they cannot accommodate us for a degustation tour. We settled with wine tasting at one of their cellars. We had four glasses of different types of wines and they were all good. I got drunk because my alcohol tolerance is low.

Tour at Plantaze's Šipčanik Wine Cellar
Tour at Plantaze’s Šipčanik Wine Cellar

Expenses:
Rent a car: €120/2 = €60
Wine tasting: €8.5
Hotel: 60/2 (shared with a friend) €30 [Apartments Wine House Old Town] Located inside the Old Town
Meals: €12

Day 13: Kotor to Tirana

There are only two daily schedules for the Kotor-Tirana route and I took the 10:40 AM trip which took me almost 8 hours to reach Tirana. The earlier trip at 8:00 AM would have been more convenient as it is direct and will only take around 6 hours.

BunkArt Museum in Tirana, Albania
BunkArt Museum in Tirana, Albania

Expenses:
Bus to Kotor (booked online via Flixbus): €29
Lunch: €4
Hotel: €26 [Prime Hotel] walking distance from Skanderbeg Square
Taxi from the bus station to hotel: 800 Leke
Dinner: 1650 Leke

Day 14: Tirana

I initially planned of going to another city but to be honest I was already a bit exhausted so I decided to just explore Tirana and experience the vibrant coffee culture of the city. I also went to the BUnkArt Museum and took a cable car to see an overlooking view of the capital.

Riding the cable car in Tirana, Albania
Riding the cable car in Tirana, Albania

Hotel: €26 [Prime Hotel] walking distance from Skanderbeg Square
BunkArt Museum Entrance: 500 Leke
Cable Car: 1000 Leke
Bus to/from Cable Car: 80 Leke
Meals + Grocery: 1,340 Leke

Day 15: Tirana to Skopje

There’s only one daily trip from Tirana to Skopje and it took me over 8 hours to reach Skopje. The minibus (or big van) had to pass through different cities in Albania and Macedonia before reaching Skopje. It had multiple stops for toilet breaks and for meals.

I was quite nervous about crossing the border. I was afraid that the border police will not allow me to enter with my multiple-entry visa and it would have been very hard to go back to Tirana since the border control is in the mountains and 3 hours away from the capital city. Luckily, I got in.

Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje, Macedonia

Taxi to bus station: 500 Leke
Bus to Skopje: €20 Booked via Flixbus
Taxi from Skopje Bus Station to Hotel: 120 Denar
Hotel: €21.6 [Villa Nina Hotel & Lounge Bar] located in the city center
Meals + Grocery: 762 Denar

Day 16: Day trip to Pristina, Kosovo

I went on an unplanned trip to Pristina since it’s only two hours from Skopje by bus. I was a bit hesitant at first because it’s not included in my travel insurance policy. But I thought, whatever happens, happens so I went to the bus station, bought a ticket and went to Pristina – the youngest capital city in Europe.

Pristina, Kosovo
Pristina, Kosovo

Hotel: €21.6 [Villa Nina Hotel & Lounge Bar] located in the city center
Taxi to bus station: 120 Denar
Bus to Pristina: €450 Denar
Cathedral Tower Access: €1.5
Lunch: €23
Coffee/Snacks: €4.5
Bus from Pristina to Skopje: €7.5
Taxi from border to hotel: €20
Dinner: 200 Denar

Day 17: Skopje to Sofia, Bulgaria

I planned on staying in Skopje for three nights but because of what happened at the Macedonia-Kosovo border the night before, I just wanted to leave the city ASAP. I got held by the border police because they had a different interpretation of the visa policy concerning Schengen. I had no problem entering at the Albania-Macedonia border so I was confident that entering Macedonia again from Kosovo would be a breeze. I was wrong.

One of the many bridges in Skopje, Macedonia
One of the many bridges in Skopje, Macedonia

Taxi to Bus Station: 100 Denar
Bus ticket to Sofia: 1,650 Denar
Breakfast: 150 Denar
Laundry: 800 Denar
Lunch: 280 Denar
Taxi to Bus Station: 120 Denar
Hostel: 20 Lev [Smart Hostel Sofia]
Dinner: 5 Lev

Day 18: Sofia

I still did not recover from the stress I encountered at the Macedonia border control. It honestly drained my energy. So, some of the plans in Sofia were canceled. I woke up late and started exploring the city in the afternoon. I just wanted to gain some energy since I still have a week to go before heading home.

Sofia, Bulgaria
Sofia, Bulgaria

Hotel: 60 Lev [Generaator Sofia] Within walking distance from the Sofia Central Station
Meals: 25 Lev

Day 19: Sofia to Istanbul

I was supposed to take an overnight train from Sofia to Istanbul for a more comfortable journey but I had to buy at least two tickets to get in. Because of the pandemic, they stopped selling single tickets. You have to travel by two or by four.

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria

I took the afternoon bus and left Sofia past 1:00 PM. I arrived at Istanbul Main Bus Station around 10:30 PM.

Breakfast: 5 Lev
Lunch: 10 Lev
Bus to Istanbul: 45 Lev
Dinner: 100 Lira
Uber Taxi from the bus station to the hotel: 100 Lira
Hotel: €67 [Orient Express & Spa by Orka Hotels] – located in the old town (city center)

Day 20: Istanbul

My friend joined me for this trip so again, the hotel cost is divided by two. We stayed in a hotel in the Old Town and the major tourist attractions like the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are only a few minutes away by foot.

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

Hotel: €67/2 (Shared with a friend) €33.5 [Orient Express & Spa by Orka Hotels] – located in the old town (city center)
Meals + Grocery: 745 Lira

Day 21: Istanbul

My friend and I were both tired so we just spent most of our day at the hotel. We went to the Turkish Grand Bazaar in the afternoon and I accompanied him to buy some pasalubong since he is already going home the following day.

Istanbul Grand Bazaar
Istanbul Grand Bazaar

Hotel: €67/2 (Shared with a friend) €33.5 [Orient Express & Spa by Orka Hotels] – located in the old town (city center)
Meals: 715 Lira

Day 22: Istanbul to Cappadocia

My flight from Istanbul was delayed for over an hour so I arrived late in Cappadocia. I did not book my hot air balloon tour in advance because I thought I would be able to do that when I arrive. I was disappointed, all balloons were fully-booked. I contacted more than 10 travel agencies to no avail. Maybe next time.

Waiting for the sunset in Cappadocia
Waiting for the sunset in Cappadocia

By the way, instead of carrying my heavy luggage, I left it at the airport and paid 195 lira for three days.

Taxi to Airport: 350 Lira
Left Luggage: 195 Lira (3 days)
Plane fare to Cappadocia: 802 Lira
Airport to Hotel Shuttle: €7
Meals: 290 Lira
Entrance to Sunset Point: 5 Lira
Hotel: €27 [Royal Stone Houses – Goreme]

Day 23: Cappadocia

I woke up early to go to Sunset Point to get a nice view of the hot air balloons. Looking at the balloons, I thought it would have been great if I was riding one of them. Piece of advice: Book your hot air balloon tours in advance!!!

View of hot air balloons from Sunset Point
View of hot air balloons from Sunset Point

Hotel: €27 [Royal Stone Houses – Goreme]
Sunset Point 2x (morning and afternoon): 10 Lira
Meals: 285 Lira

Day 24: Cappadocia to Istanbul

I was supposed to take the evening flight but it was already fully booked, even the afternoon flight. I had to take the 8 AM flight and since the airport is about 45 minutes away from Goreme, the shuttle driver had to pick me up at around 6:10 AM. There was no time to go back to Sunset Point.

Shuttle to Nevsehir Airport: €7
Plane fare to Istanbul: 802 Lira
Uber from Istanbul Airport to Hotel 330 Lira
Hotel: €42.5 [All Seasons Hotel] Less than 5 mins walk from the Tram Station
Meals + Grocery: 175 Lira
Local transpo: 169 Lira
Pasalubong: 2,065 Lira

Day 25: Istanbul

I spent my morning at the hotel and went out to buy pasalubong in the afternoon. I went to the Grand Bazaar but unfortunately, it is closed on Sundays. The Turkish delight shops near the bazaar were also closed so I decided to walk to the city center and bought boxes of Baklava from there.

Turkish Baklava at Hafiz Mustafa
Turkish Baklava at Hafiz Mustafa

Hotel: €42.5 [All Seasons Hotel] Less than 5 mins walk from the Tram Station
Local transport: 30 Lira
Meals: 170 Lira
Pasalubong: 1,400 Lira

Day 26: Istanbul to Davao

My flight back to Davao from Istanbul was on May 30. It was the first day of the implementation of the NO-RTPCR policy for fully vaccinated travelers with at least one booster shot. The lady at the check-in counter still asked me for RT-PCR since the document that she was holding was still not updated. Good thing, the Singapore Airlines website was already updated. I showed it to her and she called her supervisor and she checked me in.

PS: I always buy perfume at the airport duty-free. It’s relatively cheaper compared to buying here in the Philippines.

Uber from hotel to airport: 430 Lira
Perfume: €100

Day 27: Layover in Singapore

Breakfast: 10 SGD

TOTAL EXPENSES

  • Multi-city airfare (Davao-Vienna and Istanbul-Davao): Php45,195
  • Hotels, meals, buses, trains, etc.: Php146,330
  • Visa cost + processing fee (VFS): Php5,208
  • Pasalubong: Php19,895
  • TOTAL: Php216,628

PS: I forgot to add the travel insurance cost and ticket reservation fee for visa application.

  • Travel insurance with COVID coverage (31 days): Php3,490
  • Dummy ticket (reservation): Php800
  • TOTAL: Php220,918

NOTES AND TIPS:

  • As you have noticed, this itinerary is jampacked – most of my meals were to go, I ate on trains, buses, and at the hotel.
  • You can still reduce your expenses if you exclusively stay in hostels. I stayed in hostels in the Schengen area (except in France) and stayed mostly in hotels in the Balkans and Turkey.
  • The Balkan countries are relatively cheap.
  • Book your trains and flights within Europe in advance. Ideally, once you get your Schengen visa, start booking. The fare is way cheaper if you book at least 1 month or more in advance.
  • Airfare is cheaper if you book a return flight from the same city. When I checked the Davao-Milan-Davao flight it was only around 35k. I would have saved 10k but my planned itinerary ends in Istanbul. It would have been a hassle to go to Milan.
  • Download the maps.me app, it will help you a lot in navigating without the internet.
  • Book a hotel away from the city center but close to a subway/train/tram/bus station. Hotels are usually cheaper when they’re quite far from the center. Big cities like Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, etc., have transportation passes for unlimited bus/train/tram rides within a specific period of time so you can still save a lot.



This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. JC

    Thank for sharing very detailed information. I hope to follow your itin. May I know which country did you apply the Schengen visa?

    1. escapemanila

      You’re welcome po. Applied at the Austrian Embassy tjrough VFS po. 🙂

  2. Joy

    Hi, did you use your Schengen Visa for Croatia? Thanks

    1. escapemanila

      Hello! Yes po. 🙂

  3. dhoy

    Hi, did you use your schengen visa for turkey?

    1. escapemanila

      Yes po but you still need to secure an e-visa

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