Top 3 Destinations for Your Gap Year

Are you still wondering if you should go traveling in your gap year? Wonder no more, start wandering. Times might be hard, but traveling is always worth the money and effort you put into it. After all, when we grow old, what stories will we tell our grandchildren? What memories will we cherish? Everyone needs a story to tell, a place to miss, and a dream to chase. Travelling can provide you with these three essentials that turn a mediocre life into an adventure.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime,” wrote the inimitable and brilliant Mark Twain. Travel will not distract you from life –  travel is life. It will teach you so many things that you can apply to college and work. You will become more independent and self-sufficient, but you will also learn to ask for help, to talk to strangers, and, more importantly, to listen to them. You will discover that you are a tiny part of the vast and wondrous universe, but that every tiny part of the universe is important and contributes to the general harmony. And, finally, if you keep your mind open, you will have a chance of getting to know your own self. “Travel far enough, you meet yourself,” wrote David Mitchell in his legendary novel “Cloud Atlas.”

We are offering you three best travel destinations for your gap year. We have taken into account the current situation in the world as well as the pros and cons of visiting every particular location. These countries are not the most obvious gap year choices, but they all share three key qualities: beautiful scenery, rich culture, and hospitality. And, last but not least, they are all suitable for a trip on a budget. Finally, these countries are not too far from each other, so you can conveniently visit them all in your gap year. We have tried to be helpful, but most of all we want to inspire you to start your journey, wherever you are now.

1. Turkey


Turkey is a unique country, a bridge between the East and the West, uniting them but also letting each of them shine in their differences. Turkey is colorful, diverse, and full of opportunities. Splendid architecture and breath-taking ruins, spectacular landscapes, charismatic culture, and delicious cuisine – Turkey has it all.

If you are not planning to spend much time in Turkey, the country’s capital, Istanbul, also called Constantinople, would be an optimal choice. It is a rare jewel rich in historical sites from different epochs. The Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) will leave you speechless. And do not forget to visit the famous markets, such as Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar) and Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Bazaar), where haggling is an absolute must.

If you have a little bit more time, potential travel destinations would be a charming, quaint town of Izmir on the Aegean coast and the ancient town of Göreme situated at the heart of Cappadocia. The Cappadocia region is famous for the otherworldly Fairy Chimney rock formations and hot-air ballooning.

In Turkey, the food is delicious and not too expensive. In addition, there are plenty of affordable accommodation options. Turkey has a secular government, but it is a Muslim country, so it would be wise to dress sensibly when you are not on the hotel premises.

Turkish culture is incredibly rich, and even after a year spent here, you will have the feeling you have only just started exploring the country’s historical heritage and cultural treasures. While you will not manage to try every single thing that Turkey has to offer, you should definitely taste the famous honey baklava, halva, and Çay (Turkish black tea). If you are a little more daring, play a game of backgammon with the locals and go to see the Sufi whirling Dervishes dance in Konya.

2. Greece


Traveling to Greece for your gap year is a personal odyssey you will definitely never forget. Greece is famous for its unique historical heritage, stunning natural beauty, mild and sunny weather, and spectacular island beaches. In a word, it is a true paradise.

The cost of living is lower in comparison to many other European countries. The Greeks are hospitable and friendly people whose way of life is known to be relaxed and unhurried. Finally, the food is delicious and healthy. The Greek cuisine is built around vegetables, olive oil, fish, and feta cheese. On the run, you can always grab finger-licking gyros or a piece of the savory Greek pie spanakopita.

The capital of Greece, the ancient city of Athens, is a must-see treasure trove full of iconic ruins, which include the legendary Acropolis and Parthenon. But if you have slightly more time, visit at least one of the truly amazing Greek islands where you can enjoy sailing and scuba-diving activities. But such islands as Crete, Mykonos, and Skyros, are not only perfect tourist destinations but also mysterious and magnetic sites veiled in myths and legends. After all, Greece is the cradle of Western civilization, so every single part of it holds endless possibilities for exploration, adventure, and discovery.

3. Czech Republic


The Czech Republic has become a hot destination only recently, but it is steadily growing in popularity. No wonder! This Central European country has so many things to offer. If Turkey is the bridge between Europe and Asia, the Czech Republic is a link that binds together the eastern and western parts of Europe.

On the one hand, its old-world atmosphere, fairy-tale feel, castles, cathedrals, and cobblestoned streets remind the traveler of the Medieval romances and chivalric ideals. On the other hand, in the streets of Prague, you can see people coming from all the different Western, Central, and Eastern European countries strolling along, shopping, and drinking the unique Czech beer in the cozy pubs and restaurants. Here the gothic architecture and sinister statues are perfectly balanced by the multicultural, vibrant community and dynamic, cosmopolitan vibes. The Czech Republic has even been called the melting pot of Europe.

Prague, with its vast and diverse literature, art, film, and historical heritage, will most likely be your first point of destination. But such cities as Cesky Krumlov in South Bohemia with its medieval center proclaimed a Unesco World Heritage Site and Brno – the regional capital of South Moravia and a buzzing student ‘capital’ – are worth a (long) visit. In conclusion, one should say that The Czech Republic is a perfect gap year destination. Not only because of its romantic appeal and medieval charisma but also because it is an extremely traveler-friendly country that welcomes tourists, students, English teachers, and has simple and sensible work visa regulations.


There are many opportunities to make your gap year more structured. For example, you could opt for teaching English, learning the local language, becoming an au pair, or volunteering. You can also combine traveling with distance learning and get your degree online. Today such services as  can help you easily balance work, education, and travel. Whichever you choose, your gap year in these countries is bound to be unforgettable.

Wherever you may go, do not forget that you are a traveler rather than a tourist. “The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see,” wrote G.K. Chesterton. Talk to the locals, ask for their opinion, and listen attentively. Leave the familiar and convenient stereotypes at home and be open to new impressions. Fall in love with unknown places, court them, admire them, and promise to come back (even if you think you will never come back). Your gap year will be worth a lifetime.

About Jeanette Iglesias