Oh, the places you’ll go in Eastern Europe.
Take a stroll through Moscow’s vast Red Square. Uncover Budapest’s rich artistic heritage. Float down the Danube River. Experience untouched beauty at Triglav National Park in Slovenia. And dive into the avant-garde nightlife in Belgrade.
Cities across the region offer a window into age-old Europe, yet possess quaint and modern features. And when you need fresh air, the scenery delights. How about a swim in North Macedonia’s Lake Ohrid?
No wonder many of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in Europe are in the east. The region has much to offer.
If you want to volunteer in Eastern Europe, you’ve made a good choice. Volunteer programs in Eastern Europe abound, whether you want to volunteer in Russia or teach English in Romania.
In this guide, learn where you can volunteer in Eastern Europe and what you can do. We’ll also highlight reputable volunteer abroad organizations with projects in the region.
Where can I Volunteer in Eastern Europe?
Note: Defining “Eastern Europe” gets complex, considering the region’s history and the geopolitical and socioeconomic angle of the term itself. Perspectives differ. Even scholars don’t agree on a single definition.
For the sake of clarity and fairness, we’ll reference what the United Nations defines as Eastern Europe and also emphasize geography (i.e. those countries on the eastern side of Europe). This way, we can cover all the wonderful volunteer opportunities in the region.
But we’ll first discuss differing opinions of what constitutes Eastern Europe. It’s vital to understanding the region.
As an article in World Atlas notes, many experts think of Eastern Europe as a region where nations have various elements of Greek, Eastern Orthodox, Russian, Byzantine, and Ottoman cultures. However, 20th-century historical events should be noted.
Following World War II and during the Cold War, geopolitical concepts defined Eastern Europe by the East-West division of Europe. As the University of Washington states, Eastern Europe at this time consisted of an alliance of communist states with the Soviet Union (known as the Warsaw Pact). Those European nations were referred to as the Eastern Bloc. Given this history, some people don’t view the term “Eastern Europe” as entirely accurate or modern.
After all, much has changed in Eastern Europe and the region has progressed at an impressive pace. The geographical area encompasses a diverse blend of languages, religions, cultures, ethnicities, cities, and landscapes.
Today, the United Nations offers both broad and narrow scopes for defining Eastern Europe.
The United Nations Statistics Division includes the following countries in Eastern Europe: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. This geographical scheme is narrower.
The United Nations also has regional groups that act as voting blocs. For this, Eastern Europe covers a broader geographical region. The Eastern European Group (EEG) includes 23 countries across Eastern Europe, Central Europe, the Caucasus, the Baltics, and the Balkans. Countries include:
- Albania – Be a childcare volunteer in Albania with Love Volunteers!
- Bosnia and Herzegovina – Volunteer in Bosnia and Herzegovina on community development initiatives.
- Bulgaria – Volunteer in Bulgaria for bear conservation.
- Czechia – Teach English in the Czech Republic and get free lodging and meals.
- Moldova – Teach English in Moldova with Love Volunteers
- North Macedonia
- Romania – Teach English in Romania with Projects Abroad! For a full guide on volunteering in Romania, read this article.
- Russian Federation
What can I do as a Volunteer in Eastern Europe?
Now you know all the places you could potentially volunteer in Eastern Europe. Let’s discuss what you can do. Whether you want to volunteer in Croatia, teach English in Poland, or volunteer in Russia, you can find a suitable program.
As a volunteer in Eastern Europe, put your skills to good use in the following areas:
Education and childcare
Many folks volunteer to teach English in Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Romania, Poland, and other countries. Childcare volunteers are needed for disadvantaged families across the region.
Environmental, Marine, and Wildlife Conservation
Eastern Europe, especially when you include Russia, has incredible biodiversity and covers lots of land. Mass tourism and rapid development present a challenge to conservation efforts. As a conservation volunteer in Eastern Europe, you can improve the region’s sustainability.
Are you a medical or nursing student? Use your expertise as a healthcare volunteer in Eastern Europe. And ensure marginalized communities get access to medical care.
Disadvantaged communities in Eastern Europe need support in a variety of ways. For instance, you could volunteer in Albania at a children’s community center that provides vital support to vulnerable children.
NOGs in Eastern Europe do a lot to address key issues. If you want to volunteer in Romania with an NGO, International Volunteer HQ works with a local non-profit to provide services for the community of Miercurea Ciuc.
Featured Organizations and Programs
Founded in 2007, International Volunteer HQ has sent more than 107,000 volunteers abroad. They’re widely regarded as one of the most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organizations. IVHQ receives exceptional reviews from past volunteers and they’ve earned recognition from National Geographic and the New York Times.
With programs in 40+ destinations, including volunteer opportunities in Eastern Europe, IVHQ is a great choice. For most projects, IVHQ includes airport pickup, orientation, accommodation, meals, and 24/7 support. Check out volunteer programs in Eastern Europe below!
Price: $360 for 1 week; $900 for 4 weeks
Length: 1-24 weeks (prices lower per week the longer you stay)
Want to volunteer in Romania? Then journey to Miercurea Ciuc, an ethnocultural region situated in the Olt River Valley. There, you can uplift disadvantaged children by:
- Teaching English at a Romanian school
- Assisting at English-themed summer camps
- Providing after-school support
Want to volunteer in Romania in another field? Join a sustainable agriculture project, and use traditional Romanian agricultural practices on an organic farm. Or, volunteer in animal care, and ensure dogs at a local shelter get the care they need.
You could also volunteer with special needs children. Due to a lack of government support and social stigma, families can’t properly care for special needs children. As a volunteer, you can enrich the lives of children and young adults living with disabilities. Former volunteers, like Olivia, give this project high praise:
“I stayed in Romania for two months with the special needs program. It’s hard to put my experience into words, but to start it was incredible, enlightening, and life-changing.”
Interested? You’ll stay in a volunteer apartment and have time to explore the region, which features stunning landscapes.
Price: $549 for 1 week; $1,299 for 4 weeks
Length: 1-12 weeks (prices lower per week the longer you stay)
Hope to volunteer in Croatia? IVHQ has opportunities in the coastal hub of Split.
If you want to jumpstart a career in education, teach English or another language in which you have fluency. Or, you could join a youth support project at an after-school center, and teach key skills to underprivileged children and teens. By volunteering these roles, you’ll increase access to education for those who need it most.
If environmental conservation interests you, IVHQ has a wonderful marine conservation project in Croatia. Gain diving certification, participate in ocean cleanups, collect data, identify fish, and more. And do your part to protect the natural ecosystem.
Looking for volunteer programs in Croatia that involve technology? On the creative technologies project, you can utilize your digital skills to raise awareness of social and environmental issues. You’ll work with an NGO, and can do everything from web design and videography to digital marketing and communications.
Intrigued? When you’re not volunteering, explore Split. See the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, hang out at Bacvice Beach, and more.
Love Volunteers began in 2009 with the goal of improving the transparency, affordability, and quality of volunteer abroad programs. Love Volunteers has a strong commitment to doing good in local communities, and aims to connect international volunteers to life-changing intercultural experiences. They have a 96% rating with past volunteers—proof that they’re doing good work.
If you want to volunteer in Eastern Europe, few organizations have the breadth of programs that Love Volunteers does. Most projects include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, and 24/7 support.
Price: $519 for 2 weeks; $1,239 for 8 weeks
Length: 2-12 weeks (prices lower per week the longer you stay)
Head to Causeni, a district in central Moldova. As a community development volunteer in Moldova, you can make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged youth. Host workshops to promote social inclusion, teach classes on living a healthy lifestyle, lead discussions on human rights, and more. Your guidance and mentorship can inspire Moldova’s most impoverished youth.
For this program, you’ll stay with a local host family. Try local dishes, like Mititei (ground meat roll) and Mamaliga (a porridge), immerse yourself in the culture of Moldova, and more.
Price: $279 for 2 weeks; $609 for 8 weeks
Length: 2-12 weeks (prices lower per week the longer you stay)
Want to volunteer in Albania for animals? Then join this wonderful program just outside Tirana, the capital city. As an animal rescue volunteer in Tirana, you’ll care for endangered animals in the region as well as sick and injured domestic animals. Many of the dogs and cats that arrive have endured abuse and horrific accidents, or have fallen ill. You’ll feed the animals, clean enclosures, and do maintenance work. You’ll also get to play with them (which is super fun!).
During free time, check out Tirana, a town known for colorful architecture and surrounding scenery. Visit Mount Dajti, Skanderbeg Square, and more. Sound exciting?
Price: $339 for 3 weeks; $669 for 9 weeks
Length: 3-12 weeks (prices lower per week the longer you stay)
Make your way to Cërrik, a town about one hour away from the capital, Tirana. As a childcare volunteer in Albania, you’ll work with an NGO to provide essential educational and social support to minority children. The children’s community center welcomes mainly Roma minority children. These children’s parents have migrated to the region in search of a better life, but face discrimination, economic obstacles, and other challenges. As a volunteer, you can empower the children by:
- teaching life skills and basic English
- providing nutritious meals
- arranging art and music activities
- playing sports with the youngsters
- being a friend
This is a program where you can truly have a powerful impact. Your companionship will give them a greater sense of hope and self-worth. And it will go a long way in ensuring they don’t get left behind.
Price: $569 for 4 weeks; $1,129 for 8 weeks; $1,689 for 12 weeks
Length: 4, 8, or 12 weeks
Wish to volunteer in Bosnia and Herzegovina? This inspiring community development program aims to heal the lingering wounds of the Bosnian War of 1992-95. As a volunteer, you’ll participate in a multi-ethnic anti-segregation project that builds connections between the youth of historically conflicting ethnic groups. Your duties will include hosting team-building activities, leading discussions to increase cross-cultural understanding, organizing fun social activities, and teaching art, music, sports, and language.
You’ll stay in a volunteer apartment and have time to share your experiences. If you want to make a lasting impact as a volunteer in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this program is a great opportunity.
As one of the largest volunteer abroad program providers, Projects Abroad has placed more than 115,000 people on projects around the globe. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has been featured in famous publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle, BBC, and Time. They now send more than 10,000 volunteers abroad each year.
If you want to volunteer in Romania, Projects Abroad has numerous service initiatives and internships. For example, if you’d like to do good and enhance your CV, Projects Abroad runs many professional programs, including:
- A journalism internship that gives you practical experience in online and print media (there’s also a journalism internship for teenagers).
- A medical internship that trains pre-med, nursing, and medical school students for a career in healthcare.
- A veterinary internship where aspiring vets can work at a local clinic and shadow a professional veterinarian.
Projects Abroad has plenty of other great volunteer opportunities in Romania, even some specifically for teens and high school students. Known for their excellent support, volunteers get airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals, in-country assistance, and more with each program.
Price: $3,365 for 2 weeks; $5,735 for 8 weeks
Length: 1-52 weeks (prices lower per week the longer you stay)
This project takes you to Alba Iulia, a city and region with Roman, Medieval, and contemporary features. As an archaeology volunteer in Romania, you’ll travel through the mighty Roman empire as you dig at excavation sites. Your work preserves historically and culturally significant sites. And you may just be a part of an exciting discovery. Past volunteers found artifacts such as a blade, iron sword, and silver coins when completing a dig at the Alba Iulia Citadel.
Are you ready to get hands-on with history? If so, click the link below!
If you still attend high school but want to volunteer in Romania, Projects Abroad has you covered. They manage volunteer projects in Romania for teens, including an archaeology volunteer program.
You can also volunteer with children in Romania. Head to BraÈ™ov, a city in the Transylvania region. See the Gothic-style Black Church while there (it’s stunning!). As a childcare volunteer, you’ll work at a kindergarten or childcare center in a disadvantaged area. Teach English, play games, and arrange activities for the children. And ensure they get the attention and education they need.
Wish to learn more? Click the link below!
Founded in 2006, GoEco carefully vets all their volunteer abroad projects to ensure high standards of quality and safety. Known for their ecotourism initiatives, GoEco operates more than 160 community, wildlife, and environmental programs across the world. They’ve placed more than 17,000 volunteers to date and have become a top name in the industry. GoAbroad recognized GoEco as the 2018 Top Volunteer Abroad Organization.
If you want to volunteer in Eastern Europe, GoEco has a wonderful project in Croatia. Read the details below!
Price: $1,350 for 11 days
Length: 11 days
Love dolphins? Then volunteer for bottlenose dolphin conservation off the coast of Zambratija, a gorgeous seaside village. In the northeastern Adriatic Sea, you’ll take part in data collection and analysis through observation, cataloging, species identification, and other tasks. As you contribute to vital research, you’ll see bottlenose dolphins up close (which is amazing!). You’ll also participate in educational outreach campaigns.
Ready for life at sea? Then help bottlenose dolphins thrive! You’ll stay in a research base apartment with other volunteers (and get three meals per day!).
Fronteering aims to preserve unspoiled nature and uplift indigenous communities. They operate volunteer abroad projects in beautiful, remote locations across more than 15 countries. If you seek an affordable, unique experience, look no further than Fronteering.
For volunteer programs in Eastern Europe, Fronteering has service opportunities in Russia. See the details below!
Price: $995 for 3 days; $1,495 for 10 days; $1,995 for 14 days
Length: 3,10, or 14 days
If you want to volunteer in Russia, definitely consider this program. You’ll make the trek to Lake Baikal, a gorgeous body of water in the mountainous region of Siberia. Lake Baikal is not only the largest freshwater lake by volume, but it’s also the deepest and oldest lake in the world. Yes, the beauty here will sweep you off your feet.
As a conservation volunteer in Russia, you’ll take part in a crucial ecotourism project: Building an environmentally-sensitive trail. It’s hard but rewarding work. You’ll also assist with educational outreach and raise awareness about environmental conservation efforts.
Volunteer in Eastern Europe and Have the Time of Your Life
That concludes our guide on volunteering in Eastern Europe. Whether you want to teach English in Romania or serve as a conservation volunteer in Croatia, you have lots of great options. Select a program based on your interests, skills, budget, and goalsâ —and you’ll have the volunteer abroad trip of a lifetime.
To make your volunteer adventure more affordable and enjoyable, take advantage of our other resources:
Abroadly: A one-stop shop to search for volunteer programs in Eastern Europe.
Volunteer Abroad for Free: Learn how to lower costs.
Volunteer Abroad in the Mediterranean: Discover programs in this popular destination, which includes parts of Eastern Europe.
Volunteer in Romania: Get all you need to know about service opportunities here.
Ready to volunteer in Eastern Europe? Choose a program, pack your bags, and go!