If you’re looking to escape the crowds and get off the beaten path then you might consider planning a trip to Eastern Europe. The area has a rich and fascinating history, beautiful architecture, nature and an enthralling mixture of European and Slavic culture – all for a very affordable price. Here are some destinations you cannot miss on your next trip.
Nestled on the shores of the Finnish Gulf, Tallinn is a vibrant city. You can find a medieval town, modern buildings as well as an edgy hipster culture and relics from the Soviet Era. The fairytale-like Old Town is full of well-trodden cobbled streets, colourful medieval houses and medieval fairs. Tallinn is also beautiful during the winter when you can visit the picturesque Christmas market, drink mulled wine and watch as the snow falls along the cobbled streets.
Outside of the Old Town, you’ll find a thriving young hipster culture with an array of restaurants, cafés and bars in areas such as Kalamaja and Pelgulinn. It’s also worth paying a visit to the KGB Museum to find out more about life under the communist rule. If you’ve got more time during your stay in Estonia you can also visit one Estonia’s islands such as Hiiumaa, Saaremaa and Muhu and soak up the peaceful nature.
Although not technically in Europe, St. Petersburg is close enough to Eastern Europe for you to visit and it’s definitely worth it. The majestic Russian city has a very imperial feel to it and it’s one of the prettiest cities in Russia. It was even the Russian capital for 200 years. St. Petersburg is home to the world-famous Hermitage, Peterhof and Tsarkoye Selo Palaces, the (Russian Orthodox) Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. St. Petersburg also has numerous canals that have earned its name as the “Venice of the North”.
The best time to visit the city is during the summer when you can experience the “white nights” and see the sunshine at 4am. If you’re visiting during the winter, make sure to bring proper clothing since it can get down to -25ºC.
Budapest is arguably one of the most well known Eastern European cities and with its romantic bridges, beautiful architecture and breathtaking views to the Danube. It’s not hard to understand why this city attracts many people every year. The city boasts a rich history which you can learn more about by visiting the Roman Ruins, the Jewish District and museums dedicated to the recent Soviet history. Despite all of its beauty, it is considerably cheap compared to other destinations in Europe. Don’t forget to visit the thermal baths and to have a drink in the famous ruin bars. The Hungarian countryside and little villages (such as Holloko) are also very charming and worth visiting.
No guide to Eastern Europe would be complete without including Prague in it. The capital of the Czech Republic boasts a rich history, stunning architecture and a young and vibrant atmosphere. Prague is one of the most popular Erasmus destinations and also a popular tourist site. Walk through Charles Bridge, one of the oldest bridges in Europe that’s adorned with thirty statues of saints. Explore the Jewish Quarters and check out Prague’s famous astronomical clock.
And of course, try some of the Czech Republic’s famous beers like Pilsner, Kozel and Budweiser. Prague was also home to several literary giants such as Franz Kafka, Milan Kundera and Rainer Maria Rilke.
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Bucharest offers a fascinating mix of European style architecture and Soviet-era buildings. Although the city is not “beautiful” like other European cities, it still has a lot of eclectic charm. Make sure to head over to the Parliament, which holds the title of being one of the largest buildings in the world. The nature and small towns of Romania are also very charming, especially in the famous Transylvania region, where you can see Gothic castles, rolling hills and visit the cute town of Brasov.
Slovenia is a small country in South Eastern Europe. Despite its small size, it still has a lot to offer. From mountains to caves to beautiful lakes to quaint towns. One of the most famous sites in Slovenia is Lake Bled which lies in the valley of the Julian Alps. Another great place to visit in Slovenia includes Bovec national park with its emerald lagoons, amazing hikes and abundance of outdoor activities. Make sure to also visit the capital Ljubljana and to go wine tasting in the Vipava Valley.
Dubrovnik is located on the Coast of Croatia, on the shores of the Adrian Sea. The city has become an extremely popular tourist destination in recent years and it’s easy to see why with its medieval streets, great climate, beautiful beaches and excellent food. The medieval city is stunning and has even been used to film Star Wars and Game of Thrones.
Fancy laying on a pristine beach without crowds and staying at a beachside hotel without breaking the bank? You might consider the Albanian Riviera. Albania is one of the least explored countries in Europe which makes it an interesting destination for adventurous travellers. The Albanian Riviera starts at a city called Vlore and runs all the way down to the Greek border. Some of the most popular beach towns include Saranda and Ksamil. Besides the beautiful beaches, Albania also boasts great hikes and delicious food.
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Of course, there are still many more destinations for you to visit in Eastern Europe. Let us know in the comments below what are some of your favourite places.