The MadHouse Guide to Getting Off The Beaten Path
We’ve all said it at one point or another – “I wanna get off the beaten path/do something different/get away from the tourist trail/etc. etc.” But of course the thing with lesser known places are that they are, well, lesser known. But we’ve got you! Here are 4 seriously amazing hostels in severely underrated locations to satisfy your wanderlust.
The Ginger Monkey, Zdiar, Slovakia
The Village: Zdiar is a super small village (re: population of 1300) nestled in the High Tatra Mountains close to the Polish border. If you want a glimpse of country life in central Europe, this is it. It’s quiet and beautiful, with striking views of the mountains wherever you look. Outdoor activities are abundant from hiking and biking in the summer to skiing in the winter.
The Hostel: Essentially a rustic wooden cabin that can house up to 21 guests in a combination of dorms and private rooms. There’s a super comfy lounge with an abundance of movies and a large kitchen where everyone sits around the table to have meals or plan their days. Last, but certainly not least, is Wally who is quite possibly the loveliest, friendliest dog of all time. He loves to get pats and go for walks and cannot fail to bring a smile to your face.
Getting There: Easily accessible from Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Krakow. You can get hop a bus from Krakow, or get a train to Poprad, Slovakia from the other locations and then take a local city bus that will drop you off close to the hostel.
Why Go: You’re tired of big/capital cities and could do with a big dose of nature. And puppy cuddles.
More Info: here
2. Poet’s Corner, Olomouc, Czech Republic
The City: Olomouc is a city in Moravia, which is the Eastern part of the Czech Republic. It is located about 250km (or a 2.5 hour train journey) away from Prague. It’s a big University town with approx. 25 500 students on top of its normal 100 000 population. As such, it has a young, student vibe with lots of nice cafes, bars and restaurants catering to them. It’s kinda like a smaller, more quaint version of Prague: you still get the beautiful architecture, monuments and squares without having to battle through all the tourists.
The Hostel: Poet’s Corner feels like going home: it’s a lovely space filled with lovely people that attracts lovely guests. See a pattern? It’s got an antique, homey decor so that you can’t help but feel completely at ease in from you moment you step through the door. The hosts are wonderful and will do whatever they can to help make your stay a great one, including keeping up a social and relaxed atmosphere.
Getting There: Easy trains (Leo Express/RegioJet) or busses (RegioJet) from neighbouring countries offering free water and hot drinks. Stopping off in Olomouc for a few days is a nice way to break up the trip from Prague to Budapest/Krakow or vice versa.
Why Go: You’ve finally mastered “jedno pivo prosim” and want to put your newfound Czech language skills to use before you leave the country and that knowledge becomes significantly less useful…
3. The Grove, Stary Bar, Montenegro
The Town: Stary Bar is a tiny (tiny) town in southern Montenegro and about 4km from Bar (and the beach!) Montenegro is finally, and deservedly, becoming a more popular destination for backpackers, but people still often skip over the small towns and head straight to the more popular Kotor. Despite being small, Bar/Stary Bar still manages to offer a lot: beautiful walks and hikes, old fortress ruins, beaches and watering holes, and a cute little Old Town (well, more like an Old Street, but still.)
The Hostel: Words cannot express what a cool hostel this is: it’s a passion project by people who very obviously live and love hostels. Over the span of a few years they converted an old olive mill into a magical place complete with double-bed dorms and privates, a fully equipped open-concept kitchen/lounge, and a huge backyard with a fire pit, hammocks and even a pizza oven. If you can believe it, the best thing about The Grove isn’t the facilities (which are gorgeous), but the people who will have you extending and returning again and again.
Getting There: It’s an easy stop over if you’re heading North-South between Albania and Croatia or Bosnia, or if you’re heading East into Kosovo or Macedonia. There are busses to and through all neighbouring countries.
Why Go: You want to experience hostelling at its very best in a place well off the tourist trail.
More info: here
4. 5 Terre Backpackers, Corvara, Italy
The Village: Corvara is a quiet village located up the road a ways from Monterosso, one of the five main towns of Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is known for its beautiful cliffside towns full of brightly painted buildings as well as the popular hiking trails that connect them. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can also catch trains between the towns. Since Corvara is outside the hustle and bustle of the popular towns, it offers the perfect chance to rest and relax after a day of exploring the main towns.
The Hostel: Wowza. The hostel is in a super old stone building that was recently renovated to include modern comforts (yes, we’re talking hot showers and WIFI), but retains a beautiful, rustic feel. It’s on a huge property with a spacious patio, garden and outdoor area where you can hang out and soak in the spectacular mountain views. Francesco, the host, is an amazing chef who cooks up authentic and absolutely delicious Italian dinners each night for everyone. The vibe is definitely chilled and relaxed, but still social with everyone enjoying dinner together.
Getting There: Seeing as Corvara is so remote, it can be difficult to get to by yourself. However, Francesco offers free shuttles twice in the morning and twice in the evening from the hostel to Monterosso, so being far away isn’t an issue at all. From Monterosso you can catch a train to the rest of Cinque Terre or other Italian cities.
Why Go: You want to unwind and relax. And eat delicious homemade Italian food.
More info: here.