Eastern and Central Europe (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

(Ben Green) #1


Communications and Money

Communications in Eastern and Central Europe have

improved vastly over the last two decades, and all coun-
tries in the region now have reliable postal services and
exten sive mobile phone networks. There is also a grow-
ing number of hotels and cafés which offer Internet
services. Of the currencies in use in Eastern and Central
Europe, some, such as the euro, can be purchased from
banks in any country, while others are difficult to obtain
until arrival. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout
the region and ATM cash machines are not hard to find.


Mobile (cell) phone coverage
extends across the region. Not
all mobile phones, however,
work everywhere. Visitors
should check with their ser-
v ice provider before travelling
to ensure that their mobile
phone works abroad. Also,
most US mobile phones do not
work in Europe and vice versa,
but visitors can buy phones
that work in both continents.
Public telephone booths are
becoming less common in
Eastern and Central Europe,
although they can still be
found in the centre of towns
and cities. Some public
telephones are coin-operated,
although most now accept
phone cards, which can be
bought from newspaper
kiosks and post offices.


Mail services are generally
efficient, with letters and
cards typically taking 5 days
to reach Western Europe and
7 days to reach North America
or Australasia. Services do vary
across the region, however,

wireless or cable Internet
access to their guests. Many
have a computer in the
lobby which guests can use.


The majority of countries in
Eastern and Central Europe
have their own currency and,
in most cases, visitors will
need to change money every
time they cross a border.
Money can usually be
changed at banks, post
offices, exchange bureaus
(bureaux de change) and
hotel reception desks. Banks
and post offices are often
open only from Monday to
Friday (sometimes with the
addition of a few hours on
Saturday morning). Exchange
bureaus are more likely to
stay open at evenings and
weekends. Those located
at airports, railway stations
and border crossings gen-
erally offer poor rates, so
it is usually best to change
only a small amount here
and then proceed else where
to change the bulk of the
spending money at a better
rate. Many bureaus only offer
advantageous rates on larger
sums of money and apply
a different rate of exchange
to smaller trans actions.
Reception desks at hotels
usually offer the worst rates
of exchange and should only
be used if other options
are unavailable.
ATM cash machines are
distributed widely throughout
Eastern and Central Europe.
Those visitors with a card
belonging to a global network
(Plus, Visa, Maestro, Cirrus or
MasterCard) can withdraw
cash anywhere, but a small
fee will be charged for each
ATM transaction carried out
abroad. It is always a good
idea to carry more than one
card when travelling, in case
one of them is refused
or retained by an ATM due
to a banking error. Although
traveller’s cheques remain
the safest way to carry
money, they are increasingly
uncommon; trying to cash
them in a bank can be a
tedious and time-consuming
process since cashiers are
often unfamiliar with them.

and in some areas such as
Serbia, Bulgaria and Russia,
they may be slower. If the
visitor’s itinerary involves
moving through countries
rather than staying long-term
at a particular address, they
can still receive mail by using
the Poste Restante system.
This can be set up at main
post offices in large towns.
Travellers should ask for any
mail to be sent “care of” poste
restante to the main post
office in the town in question.
They will need to show their
identity cards or passports to
collect their mail. Mail from
overseas is usually kept for
one month.


Most towns and cities in
Eastern and Central Europe
will have a handful of Internet
cafés offering computer access,
scanning, printing and, fre-
quently, cheap inter national
telephone calls as well. A
small but increasing number
of city-centre cafés offer free
wireless Internet to their
customers. In addition, many
hotels and hostels now offer

  • Lithuania 70

  • Montenegro 82

  • Poland 48

  • Romania 40

  • Russia 7

  • Serbia 81

  • Slovakia 21

  • Slovenia 86

  • Austria 43

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina 387

  • Bulgaria 359

  • Croatia 381

  • Czech Republic 420

  • Estonia 372

  • Hungary 36

  • Latvia 371

The list below gives the international dialling codes for
the countries covered in this guide. When calling from the
US and Canada, prefix all numbers by “011” ; from Australia
by “0011’’ ; from New Zealand by “00’’. When calling from
within Europe, use the “00’’ prefix. If unsure, call interna-
tional directory enquiries.
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