This Europe trip itinerary for teens is the perfect way to spend 2 weeks in several different countries. If you only have one week in Europe, discover these 20 Europe Trip Itinerary Ideas.
My friend is taking her teenage daughter on a surprise 2 week Europe trip for her sweet 16 birthday this summer, and I promised to help her plan the itinerary. They are about to take a trip of a lifetime together and they have a big bucket list to get through. It’s an ambitious itinerary, but with just the two of them and the ease of getting around Europe, it’s totally doable and the best way to travel Europe in 2 weeks.
Here are the European countries on their bucket list:
France: Paris & The Loire Valley
Italy: Lake Como & Rome
Europe is such a great place to travel for teens. There are so many iconic sites, beautiful scenery, culture, and history that it is hard to be bored when you visit. Even in this article about travel for teens, the top five destinations are in Europe! Maybe you could even get them to put their phones down and take in the sites, or at least take a good selfie with them.
I personally love traveling with teens. They have so much energy and excitement about the world and they’re so much less needy than my little kids (who I also love traveling with). It’s just a completely different experience and I love seeing the world through their eyes.
Travel can be so good for teens too. It can really help them come out of their shell and help them to realize that the world is bigger than their friends and family and that there are so many different ways to live. Here are just a few benefits of travel for teens:
Benefits of travel for teens
Teaches Organization: Traveling takes a lot of organization to be able to create an itinerary and follow through.
Encourages Budgeting: Travel costs money, and it’s important for teens to learn how to save their money and to learn to spend it on important things, like travel, rather than on things they don’t really need.
Breaks Stereotypes: It can be so easy for people to believe stereotypes about different countries and cultures. If there’s one thing that travel teaches us, it’s that people are essentially all the same, despite our country of origin.
Teaches Problem Solving: It doesn’t matter how much planning goes into your travels, something is bound to go wrong. Traveling as a teenager helps them to practice problem-solving in a safe environment with an adult present. On my last trip to Italy with my teenage niece, our taxi driver drove off with my phone and wallet. She was able to remain calm and help problem solve until we came to a resolution.
Teaches Individualism: Traveling really does help you to discover who you are, and this is true for teens too.
I’ve organized this two-week European itinerary to move smoothly between countries and to have very unique experiences in each destination. It’s a good mix of cultures and active, fun, and educational activities that should keep teenagers engaged and active, ready to make memories with you.
First Stop Day 1-3: London
-Getting to London-
London! Your first stop on your 2 week Europe trip! It’s a great place to start. You can immerse yourself in a new culture without the stress of a language barrier for the first few days.
Fly into London: Getting to Europe is pretty easy. There are so many amazing flight deals year round. Keep an eye on flights until you find the best deals. It can be tricky traveling with teens because of their demanding school and activity schedules. It’s a good idea to find out if they can do any kind of independent study so that you can go to Europe during the offseason, which will be much less crowded, cheaper, and more enjoyable. To find the best flights, check out my guide to finding cheap flights here where I discuss all the tricks and tools I use to find killer deals, especially to Europe! I’m taking my almost teen 12-year-old to London this spring and I found tickets for $300 Round Trip.
-What to do in London-
Spend time in this incredible city full of history and culture for three days. You could honestly spend weeks, months, and even years in this city and still not see everything. With only three days in London, I recommend using my London Itinerary Guide and selecting your 3 favorite days. I suggest following Day 1: London’s Main Sites, Day 4: Ancient History, and Day 6: Harry Potter (if you’re into that, and why wouldn’t you be?!).
You can use this interactive map of my favorite London itinerary to help you plan this part of your Europe trip to London:
The best way to get from London to Paris is to take the Eurostar. Taking the Eurostar from London to Paris is the easiest and quickest way to get from city to city. I love that this train, that goes under the English Channel takes you from one city center to another. Flying is fine, but getting between the airports and the cities can be a huge pain. Even if the Eurostar costs a little bit more, be sure to add the cost of trains or taxis from the airport into your flight costs. You can book your Eurostar tickets through ACP Rail International. I use them all the time and they are trustworthy.
Your next three days will be spent in the city of Light! With so many things to do in Paris, narrowing down where to go and what to do can be challenging. I’ve narrowed down my favorite sites and activities that you can easily see in three days. I recommend, of course, going up the Eiffel Tower, and also seeing it sparkle at night, dining on some delicious French food, visiting all the parks you can, climbing up to Montmartre, visiting Notre Dame, and as many museums as you can fit in.
My favorite way to get from Paris to Rome is to take the overnight train. It’s about a 14-hour train ride with a quick train change in Milan. If you wanted to spend more time in Milan or even a day in Lake Como (one of my favorite places in the world), you could take the overnight and take the train to Rome the following day.
Rome is such a beauty! Another city that deserves more than a few days, but you can definitely make your time here count. You can read my guide to One Day in Rome or my Family Guide to Rome. I highly suggest doing a Vespa Tour and a Food Tour in while you’re in Rome. Airbnb and TripAdvisor have some great tours. Be sure to see the Colosseum, Pantheon, and eat all the gelato, pasta, and pizza you can!
Spend the last few days of your Europe trip relaxing on the beach in Greece. My all-time favorite island in Greece is Kefalonia. It’s got everything to offer for your first taste of Greece. Kefalonia is an easy flight from Rome and an easy flight back to London if you’re flying home through there. Ryanair offers amazing deals within Europe and flies to Kefalonia regularly.
-What to do in Kefalonia-
Kefalonia, Greece has so much to offer including friendly locals, inexpensive lodging, stunning scenery, incredible history, beautiful beaches, fabulous weather, and tasty food. Kefalonia is easily drivable, and I suggest you visit the whole island, taking in all of the sites and trying all the local food you can. There are plenty of great lodging options on the island from resorts to Airbnbs. Read my Guide to Kefalonia, Greece to learn all about this amazing island.
Bear in mind, many of these places are also fantastic in the off season., not only perfect in July, August and September.
As we really, really love the beach…and food…and a cool hostel, we want to start wiiiiiiiiith:
1. Rhodes, Greece
Rhodes and actually all the Greek Islands are famous for being an awesome European summer destination!
You can either join the popular nightlife or just hang out at the beach all day long and go early to bed to repeat it the next day.
Either way, don’t miss out on the food, you would regret it!
Make sure you get out of the city as well. The island has plenty of different corners to explore. Therefore, get a bike, scooter or rent a car and hit the road. Check prices directly with Discover Cars here.
EXPLORE! You can dive into the food culture, the wine, the historic center and history behind and of course so much nature from parks to beaches.
Besides exploring, here is a list of things to do in Rhodes:
2. Santorini, Greece
Everybody will be jealous of your sunset photos from Santorini! This is why we added the instagrammy-glam-factor!
Known as one of the most beautiful islands in Greece, it is much better to stay on the island than doing a single day trip.
Once the tourists from the cruises leave the island, you will feel like in heaven. Make sure you rent a car in Santorini. We always compare car rentals with Discover Cars. But, make it a small one. You will be glad you did, since some streets are narrow. Economy car rental prices start from around 11€ per day.
It’s time to find a nice terrace and watch the magical sunset while delighting some Greek food.
We recommend combining both trips to Rhodes and Santorini. Both islands offer everything you need for your epic European summer. From here you can take as well day trips to smaller islands around.
Where to stay in Santorini?
Experience to sleep in a cave! The 5 Star Hostel Caveland Santorini used to be a winery, and a former luxury hotel.
It was totally refurbished and nowadays it is a unique hostel.
They offer yoga classes on the rooftop terrace, cozy vibes, and… a swimming pool!
The perfect combination to feel relaxed and refreshed after an exploring day.
Interlaken is known as a sports capital, so you will struggle to decide what to do. You can find all the best things to do in Interlaken with Outdoor Interlaken.
They also list all of the activities in Interlaken in Winter. For the relaxed travelers, it is also a great destination, as you will be surrounded by incredibly amazing nature.
4. Ghent, Belgium
Ghent is a real hidden gem in Europe.
The city of Bruges and Brussels are the famous spots in Belgium, and they eclipse Ghent.
In our opinion, Ghent is a more lively city: Its architecture, its canals… and the lively student flair fills up the city.
Let the big tourists crowds go to the nearby Bruges and enjoy a European hidden gem.
Especially at night, Ghent is extremely beautiful. Walk around at night, have dinner, and wander along the canals. Like in many European destinations, the lights of the main sights are turned off at midnight.
BTW: Bruges is really beautiful. It’s worth it to stop by for day trip!
Where to stay in Ghent?
Stay at a cute old Belgian house with cozy rooms just in front of the Castle.
Famous for its nightlife, Rotterdam is also an open air gallery with plenty of things to offer. Visit the impressive masterpiece of market hall and head over the Kinderdijk.
In spring you will find many tulip fields all around. The perfect, cliché Netherlands experience. But seriously, it is beautiful!
We collected more awesome things to do in Rotterdam for you:
7. Fuerteventura, Canary Islands
Surfing! or kite surfing, paddle boarding…
Fuerteventura is a volcanic island in Spain with great food, good weather, and smiley people. Yes, Canary Islands are Spanish even though their location is more South than Morocco.
We like to say: It’s Africa with Europeans living on it.
Super important will be to rent a car. We have lived two months on Fuerteventura. The public transport exists, but it is not very frequent and not easy to get around. We highly recommend to rent a car. This way you can drive to Cofete in the South and explore the area around El Cotillo.
Where to stay in Fuerteventura?
Fuerteventura looks small on the map but distances are tricky and long. You should adjust your location to the activities/ places you want to do and see.
The best option for Fuerteventura is to rent an apartment or to stay at a super cool surf hostel.
Lisbon is easy to move, to find good food and to enjoy your time. No need to rent a car or anything. It is easy to get to the beaches by public transport and get around the city. Even renting a bike is not the best idea, as it can be hilly. Personally, I do not enjoy this when cycling.
My best tip, is enjoy the beautiful trams and take buses around. I always enjoy this in Lisbon. That being said, you can also make a full Portugal trip out of your time. Rent a car in Lisbon and drive up the coast to Porto; you will encounter beautiful, small villages along the way.
Here some information for you:
Also, we collected here the must do things in Lisbon. You can buy your tickets in advance on the following links:
Beaches and day trips
It is still a hidden gem. From Lisbon we move up to the North to Porto. It is cheaper than Lisbon and smaller. And it has different things to do. You can climb the bridge here, taste the world famous port wine and wander the Douro River along to the ocean.
Porto is amazing!
It is also home to the famous Lello library. You know the one J. K. Rowling was writing partially Harry Potter. It is one of the most beautiful book shops in the world.
They have a clock tower in the very city center to climb, the Clerigos Tower. From here you see the whole city. This is especially wonderful during sunset.
We even took a day trip to Costa Nova Beach and Aveiro, called the “Portuguese Venice“. For this you will need to rent a car. There is tolls in Portugal, but they are very cheap, so nothing to worry about.
Costa Nova in Portugal, just a perfect day trip from Porto
In the shadow of the big Barcelona and Madrid, Valencia is yet a beautiful destination who managed to keep it’s authentic vibe and lifestyle.
Come here, enjoy the Spanish lifestyle at its best within Valencia’s old town.
Oh and the beach is not far away from the city center!
Cantagua Hostel comes with a beautiful interior design, super cool dorms, and a chill out vibe you will enjoy.
The staff is on top of the game, and the location is in Eixample, directly at Russafa. If you have read our introduction, we have mentioned Russafa and City Center are the best neighborhoods to stay in Valencia.
Cantagua Hostel is fantastic for its vibes, its cleanliness, location, and design. It has an age limit though.
There are plenty of things to do in Valencia. The most famous is la Tomatina and Las Fallas in March. Not heard about it?
Both are epic festivals!
If you are not in Valencia during the festival, no worries, there are plenty of things to do in the third biggest city in Spain:
As for renting a car, for Valencia itself as a city break, you won’t need a car at all. You can rent a bike and ride it to the beach, I always enjoyed this.
As for day trips, I absolutely recommend visiting the castle in Xativa. You won’t expect this, I promise. Another highlight for me was the tiny town of Bocairent. It is TINY and you can visit a very authentic bullfighting arena and caves.
You will need a car for these day trips. I know I sound like a broken record, but Discover Cars…well, you know!
We know and love Barcelona, it is our hometown. That is why, we can give you plenty of information about it.
Visit Barcelona on a shoe string budget? Then check all the FREE Things to do in Barcelona. Whatever you do, do NOT rent a car in Barcelona. It is a pain to park, seriously.
Of course, for visiting the Costa Brava and such, the car is a very good idea. The train will only bring you to Blanes, the first village at Costa Brava. The bus is also an option as it connects villages like Tossa de Mar, Pals and others.
Please remember that there is tolls in Spain. Yo can calculate your route and total costs for gas and tolls with Viamichelin.com.
As for sights, we collected here the 3 places you should book in advance. You can buy your tickets on the following links:
It is one of the tiniest countries in Europe, surrounded by mountains.
Andorra is a sports country, you can enjoy kayak, mountain bike, skiing, rafting,… or simply admire the scenery. I both enjoy it for hiking in summer as well as winter sports in winter.
Getting to Andorra by public transport from Barcelona is not very easy. Getting to Andorra by car is much easier and more flexible. In fact, all the other travelers at Mountain hostel came by renting a car from Barcelona.
It is a great chance to visit one more country in Europe most people do not even know.
Fun Fact about Andorra: Andorra has no army and an agreement with both France and Spain about their defense. Both countries would defend Andorra with their military in case something happens.
Where to stay in Andorra
Located in an old farmhouse, Mountain Hostel Tarter is the place to be. You will get the vibes and mood to enjoy this tiny country at the best.
Mar, the owner of Mountain Hostel, will help you to design your perfect itinerary.
She knows this country as the back of her hand, and she loves to show it to all the hostel guests. Have a look at the hostel story on the video below.
NOTE: They even have an open air Jacuzzi. One more reason to stay with them.
Kayak, Mountain Bike, skiing (in winter time), rafting… There are plenty of activities to do in this tiny country!
The scenery is very beautiful. If you do not want to practice any sport, you can just relax and enjoy the views.
Andorra is also known for their low taxes.
Many people from the countries nearby come just to buy Alcohol, electronics, and even cheese and sugar products.
14. Venice, Italy
It is incredibly beautiful with its old buildings, romantic flair all along the city, nice sunsets and Italian food.
The floating city of Venice is one of those places everyone wants to see at least once in their life.
The city of Venice is very very touristy. This is no secret. However, to my surprise, you can sneak away from the tourist path really easily. Just go away from the main San Marco Square and the street connecting it with the train station.
It is beautiful, romantic – come here, please.
It is great in summer and winter. Actually, all year long!
Where to stay in Venice
Located in an old form monastery, Combo Hostel is the place to stay during your visit to Venice.
A premium hostel in the main island of Venice with cozy designed rooms and in-house bar offering one of the best spritz in the city.
So many things to do in Venice besides taking 1.000.000 photos for your Instagram feed. Find here our best 6 hidden gems to Venice.
As for transport in Venice, you cannot even drive a bike in the actual center and city. You can take a train to the entrance of the city, and that is it. At some points you can cross the big canal with a public boat, which costs around 2€.
There is no bikes, no cars, no segways and so on in Venice. Do not be that person calling a hotel asking for parking spots in Venice…just, don’t!
If you plan to travel by car around Italy, you will need to park you car in the Mestre area.
Take a trip to Bologna too. It is the birth place of Italian Cuisine. We recommend staying 2 nights in Bologna. Check out WE Bologna, a fun and design hostel we love. The train connection to Bologna and Florence is perfect and very affordable.
Our full article: We_Bologna, the 5 Star Hostel in Bologna
Its nickname is Jewel Box and it is still a hidden gem for many people. Dresden is not very known outside Europe!
Dresden also has one of the most impressive nature landmarks nearby: Elbe Sandstone Mountain.
And is the capital of Saxony, and was the former royal residency.
Where to stay in Dresden
To get the authentic Dresden flair, stay at Lollis Homestay. A creative, laid-back hostel, run by genuine backpackers.
They turned an old DDR car into a cosy bed. They do offer a room where you will feel you shrink yourself, like in the 80s movie „Honey, I shrunk the Kids“.
We highly recommend to visit the Sandstone Mountains. It is about 45km from Dresden, a great day trip. Have a look at the photo below. Wanna go here for a hike?
The Elbe Sandstone Mountain is located in the Czech Republic, just across the border. You can rent a car with Discover Cars and drive there.
16. Ljubljana, Slovenia
It is the perfect bite-size city! The capital of Slovenia is also a cheap, safe destination, and you will find friendly locals.
Ljubljana means “beloved” in a literal translation. And believe us: It won’t take you too long to fall under his charm.
We have visited for 3 nights, this is a great time window to see it all, enjoy the free walking tours and eat at the markets. I absolutely enjoyed the car-free inner city. More cities should follow their example.
If you are coming for 3 days to Ljubljana, you can also throw in a day at the famous Lake Bled. Get a car or take a short bus ride to the lake. Go for a hike here and enjoy the warmer months here.
Did you know that there is actually free-living bears in the mountains of Slovenia? No worries, they actually never come to the cities. But, there is areas where you can go and watch them. Amazing!
Where to stay in Ljubljana
As Ljubljana is a very cheap destination, why don’t treat yourself with a faboulous penthouse with a terrace?
Estonia is still a hidden gem in Europe and most of the travelers will choose Tallin to visit.
But if you want to get to the bottom of what Estonia is really about, go to Tartu.
Tartu is actually the oldest city in Estonia. It dates back to the 11th Century! It is also home to one of Northern Europe’s oldest universities.
Even though is the second largest town in Estonia ,Tartu is very compact. With most sights, restaurants and nightlife nestled across a couple of parallel streets, the best part is that it is a hot bed for creative and scientific culture.
Tartu is full of students. Meaning, there is always something on from theatre performances to concerts and festivals.
Such a hidden gem that no many posts about the city are yet written.
In Leiria, you can visit the castle, one of the many expositions or simply enjoy the lifestyle and Portuguese food.
Just 14 minutes away, you can visit one of the 7 wonders of Portugal, the Batalha Monastery.
Best time to visit Europe on a budget?
As always, Europe is busy in the vacation time of the schools, meaning AUGUST!
This is when you find most places more expensive and crowded.
We especially enjoy traveling in Europe in May, June and September to November. This is when the places are usually a bit cheaper, less people and therefore a bit more to enjoy.
This is especially good to know if you are traveling Europe on a budget.
How to get around Europe?
Getting around Europe is fairly easy. There are many options and it can be really really cheap, if you play your cards right.
The main transportation in Europe are:
The most flexible way to get around.
It is perfect to be independent. You can visit villages, beaches, you name it. There is MANY rental companies out there.
The absolute easiest way to compare car rentals is Discover Car.
Finally we can recommend a car rental site. We have tested this website several times and it is great.
They compare different companies and is no hidden costs etc. It is all very well straight forward. They also offer car insurance with them directly. This makes things much easier and cheaper!
Why? Because the car insurance is usually the most expensive part.
As always, we recommend checking the small letters when renting cars.
Bear in mind: It’s more expensive to rent a car when you cross borders. Renting a car in Spain and giving it back in France can be quite expensive. Plus, not all rental companies allow crossing borders. I recommend renting cars inside one country.
A great tip: Always bring a jacket to the bus when traveling. Some countries like Spain are world championship winners in Air conditioning. At least, that is what it feels like. I once got really sick from an AC in summer, not a great way to spend the warm days, right!?
This is obviously more of the coast lines. You can take ferries from Valencia to Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca. Around Italy you can take ferries, in Croatia, Greece.
There is always a local company running these ferries, so I do not have a generic rule or website about this. If you have any, I would love to add this to the list.
Just to have this list completed, the #vanlife movement in Europe is huge.
France has a big cultural thing going on with vans and caravans, same as Germans, and Dutch. In counties like Portugal you can even rent vans for a day or week.
This is more for the adventurous traveler, but certainly possible.
This one however takes a long time, so not really recommended for a 2 weeks Europe trip. However, Europe is very bike friendly. Especially “flat” countries like the Netherlands are wonderful for cycling.
Personally, I took once a bike trip from Stockholm to Oslo, amazing time!
Predicting how travel will look in 2021 is a fool’s errand. But what’s for sure is that this year has hit the joy industry hard: the passion projects, the mom-and-pop businesses, the people doing things right. So travelling in 2021 won’t just be a chance to reconnect with ourselves and feel the buzz of arriving in a new place and a new headspace, alive to new possibilities. In a way, it will be our chance to vote for the kind of world we want to live in: one of sustainable businesses, ecosystems and communities, rather than of individuals staring into the addictively hollow void of a smartphone screen. It will also be a chance for many of us to remember that we live in a continent that is one of the great patchworks of humanity and geography. Here’s where we’ll be going in Europe in 2021, and it feels increasingly imperative that we all get out and do the same – and make a vote for joy. For more future inspiration, check out our guide to the best holiday destinations for 2021 and the best UK destinations to visit in 2021.
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Fewer travelers head east – that’s why you should.
Head East from Germany, and you’ll find that your Euros are less often accepted. English is not so widely spoken. The streets can appear grittier, with concrete apartment blocks often blocking out the sun. Poland has no Leaning Tower of Pisa, Budapest boasts no colosseum, and the rushing Danube may be less associated with romance than the sedate river Seine. But travel with your eyes open, and you’ll find just as much beauty, history, fun and adventure in the East as others do in the well trodden West.
Average wages behind the historic ‘Iron Curtain’ are still drastically low, which is rough on the locals, but can benefit the intrepid traveler: You’ll find that three course restaurant meal in Sofia, Bulgaria can cost you less than a cocktail in a Parisian bar. So pack a phrase book and dress up warm – we’re heading East!
Eastern Europe: An overview
The definition of Eastern Europe can be a bit contentious. I moved to Poland a few years ago and have used this country as a base on and off ever since. While the folks back in England and Australia would tend to see Poland as ‘Eastern Europe,’ here locals often insist on ‘Central Europe,’ and looking at a map, they may have a point. However for the purposes of this article, Poland makes the cut. We’re also going to look at Czechia and Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, former Yugoslavia, the Baltics and Ukraine.
To varying degrees, all the countries described fell under the influence of the Soviet Union after the second world war. While most have now transformed into Western leaning democracies, the brutal memory of communism still rings in the ears. Poland and Hungary are sliding ominously towards the far right, and Ukraine’s recent attempt to lurch Westward politically was met with Russian tanks crossing the border into Crimea. While ‘history’ may feel like a thing of the past in London and Rome, here it is still an unfolding story.
Eastern Europe highlights: A sample itinerary
Once you spend a bit of time staring at a map, you’ll realize there’s an awful LOT of Eastern Europe. Not just in the number of countries, but in the size. Ukraine alone could comfortably fit in several Western European nations. Below I’ll sketch a rough itinerary that involves heading due south right from the Baltics into Bulgaria. You can either complete this itinerary fully (as pictured above) – requiring 5-6 weeks – or just do sections of it.
A few things to note is that while most of these countries are in both the European Union and the Schengen Visa Free Zone, there are exceptions – notably Serbia and Ukraine. So be sure to check your visa requirements before venturing out. Also, the below is one hell of a trip and designed to give you a sense of what is available, rather than a definitive prescription – you should, of course, pick and choose. If you wanna head straight to Prague to sample the famed (and cheap) Czech beer before braving the winter streets of Vilnius, then I can’t say I blame you!
The Baltics: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania
So-named because of their position on the Baltic sea, these three small nations are often overlooked by Western travelers. But they shouldn’t be. Let’s have a look at each in turn:
Highlight: Tallinn. With a population of just 1.3 million, Estonia rapidly reinvented itself after the collapse of communism in 1989, and now is counted among one of the most technologically developed nations in the world. It offers digital citizenship to locals and expats, and is considered a digital nomad hub. If Eastern Europe in your mind is crumbling buildings and long queues for groceries, then start with Estonia to dispel those misconceptions.
Highlight: Riga. The historic center of Riga is a Unesco world heritage site, and the beautifully preserved/restored town square is a great precursor of what you’re to expect as you explore countries like Poland and Czechia further south.
Highlight: Vilnius. Like Riga, the historic center of Vilnius is a Unesco World Heritage site. Once unified with Poland, Vilnius boasts a proud literary heritage and a rich Jewish history – it was once referred to as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.”
Poland: Gdansk, Warsaw & Krakow
One of the strongest economies to emerge from the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, Poland’s vibrant present mingles with a history that stretches back over 1000 years, through the glory days of the Poland-Lithuania commonwealth right through to the trauma suffered at the hands of the Nazis and Soviets during the 20th century. I came to this country for a week in 2015, and ended up staying on and off for three years!
Spend your final days with the Baltic Sea at Gdansk, formerly the predominantly German free city of Danzig. Walk along the old docks and remember the Solidarity movement that, led by Lech Walesa, resulted in the overthrow of communism first in Poland and then, arguably, across the rest of Europe. One of Poland’s most picturesque cities, a late night stroll through the old town and by the riverside will be a treasured memory.
The sight of unimaginable horror during the Second World War as the Soviet Tanks waited for the Nazis to eliminate all Polish resistance before sweeping in and planting the Hammer and Sickle flag over the ruined city, Warsaw’s revival is the stuff of legend. Under the shadow of the imposing Palace of Culture, the historic old town has been painstakingly restored. Visit the POLNA Jewish Museum, and experience some of the finest dining Eastern Europe has to offer among the cities many chic restaurants (Hint: Try Cafe Kafka for lunch).
Poland’s biggest tourist draw, and for good reason. The medieval old square is haunting under the moonlight, as rows of horses and cart stand to attention, ready to take the next visitor for a ride. Outside the city you can venture deep under the earth to explore the Salt Mines, and make a painful, but necessary visit to the Auschwitz Museum.
Detour: Lviv, Ukraine
Take the night train from Krakow due east to experience something truly off the beaten track. Lviv is a great way to dip your toes into the gargantuan country of Ukraine, and give yourself a thrilling few days. Historically Polish and once known by the Hapsburg name, Lemberg, Lviv boasts one of the most adventurous nightlife scenes you’ll ever encounter. From a bar named Masoch (we’ll let you guess the theme) to multi story clubs, hidden restaurants accessible only with a password, rooftop bars where you sit in broken down cars, a weekend in Lviv will give you enough stories to make your friends jealous for years.
Slovakia: Zdiar, The Tatra Mountains
Hala Gasienicowa, Tatra Mountains, Poland
Back on the road from Poland, we cross into Slovakia. The nation’s capital, Bratislava, is a rougher, smaller version of Prague (covered below) which rewards a fun weekend. But the Tatra mountains that stretch across the Polish border offer one of Slovakia’s most intoxicating delights.
Pro tip: Hit the Polish town of Zakopane just a few clicks from the border for a taste of the local Oscypek mountain cheese, before taking a minibus to the border, walking into Slovakia, and hopping another quick bus to Zdiar, a ski resort town. Stay in the Ginger Monkey Hostel for cosy diggs and to meet fellow travelers.
Detour: Prague, Czechia
It’s a bit out of the way and means a slight tack westward, but Prague, the dynamic capital of Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic, formerly formerly Czechoslovakia) is worth making the trip. Climb the steep hill to Prague Castle, and see the spires and winding streets of the city at your feet. Jostle with buskers on Charles Bridge before settling into one of the cities many cavernous beer halls for a sip (or several) of the unbelievably refreshing locals brews that flow like water and cost half as much!
Hungary’s mighty capital is growing in stature as a major Eastern European destination, rivaling Prague and Krakow. Divided into two halves, hilly historical Buda and flat, gritty Pest, the glory of the Austro-Hungarian empire, the horrors of the Arrow Cross Fascist regime and communist oppression, and the contemporary hipster revival of the city can all be felt after just a few hours in town. Climb up to the exquisite Royal Palace, drink the night away in a ruin bar (start with the gigantic Szimpla), soothe your soul in a thermal bath, and burn your taste buds with spicy paprika filled Goulash. For more tips on activities to do in Budapest, check our other guide here.
From here to Sofia you’ll most likely have to choose one of the below routes, which, like different prongs on a fork, all forge their own path to Bulgaria.
Option #1: Serbia: Belgrade
Step out of the European Union and into a scarier, starker version of history in Belgrade. The winding, cobbled streets are beautiful, the old ladies haggle over the price of cucumbers on the street markets, and the clubs rage until dawn. But as with much of Europe, there’s a darker side to history here. You’ll see at the ancient fortifications, in the city’s museums, and in the bullet holes still visible on some older buildings.
Option #2: Romania: Transfagarasan Highway
Bucharest is a rough and ready capital that will still provide plenty to distract and entertain you. But for me, Romania is a country of rolling green hills, famers on horseback, dark grey clouds and mercifully warm temperatures. Considered one of the best road trips in the world, rent a car and take it carefully over the Transafgarasan Highway for incredible views and, of course, a climb up the steep stairs to Vlad the Impaler’s vertiginous castle (Bran Castle).
Option #3: Croatia: Dubrovnik
Go ahead, be a tourist, give yourself a treat. Famous as the filming location for much of Game of Thrones, this seaside city will be sure to rack up the Instagram likes. Don’t want to get caught up in the tourist crowd? Croatia’s warm and picturesque Mediterranean coast can also be experienced from cities like Split, which also boast fresh seafood and, of course, cheap local beer sold in gigantic plastic bottles. Živjeli!
Congratulations, you’ve traveled 2600 kilometers from Tallinn (more if you took in Prague and Lviv), and you’ve made it Bulgaria! Here you will truly feel yourself in Eastern Europe as the city’s many monuments memorializing communist horrors attest. Sofia is most notable for its clash of influences, the Cyrillic writing system and Orthodox religion from Russia – see the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – merge with an Ottoman infusion from Turkey, just over the border. It’s truly a city on the frontier. And if you choose to push on and take that overnight bus to Istanbul, then the adventure only continues.
How much does a trip to Eastern Europe cost?
The low cost of living in Eastern Europe constantly amazes me. To take a sample at random, I am writing this article from a cafe in Poznan, Poland. A large local craft beer would cost $2 USD, a latte about the same, and a delicious, high quality hot meal about $6-8. This is typical of Eastern Europe, with countries like Ukraine, Serbia and Bulgaria offering even cheaper rates. The major tourist towns like Prague and Budapest can sting you on accomodation if you don’t book in advance, and always be wary of nightclubs and ‘bars of ill repute’ where scams are known.
Traveling Eastern Europe can realistically be done for as little as $30-50 USD / day, including accomodation, food, beer, transport and attractions.
How long do you need to explore Eastern Europe?
The above itinerary – done properly – would require about 5-6 weeks, but you can of course take as long or as little as you like. Distances can be large and outdated transport infrastructure can mean uncomfortable journeys (hold tight to your wallet on the cheap but dusty overnight train from Belgrade to Budapest. When I did this journey in 2015, I paid just 10 Euro for the ticket including sleeper berth!).
While rail passes are highly recommended for travel in Western Europe, in the East they are less necessary. Train travel – even when booked on the day – is outrageously cheap, with $20 being more than enough for almost any internal journey you’re likely to make. For international journeys, consider overnight buses and trains to save on a night’s accommodation. Book in advance if going between major cities – for example, the overnight train from Warsaw to Budapest can get expensive (100 euro +) if booked at the last minute, but if booked in advance, will be a mere fraction of this.
Most cities listed above can easily be accessed with cheap Ryanair flights from London and across Western Europe. Check Skyscanner and select “Whole Month” to visualize the cheapest dates. If traveling from afar, cities like Berlin and Munich in Germany can make convenient hubs. I’ve also found Prague to be a surprisingly affordable final destination when flying all the way from Australia / New Zealand. If coming from Scandinavia, Gdansk in Poland can sometimes be reached for as little as 15 euro.
Where to stay
Cities like Krakow and Budapest boast a thriving youth hostel culture, ideal if you want to meet other travelers and find drinking buddies for the evening. In Budapest I give my warmest recommendation to Carpe Noctem – I practically moved in. Elsewhere, Booking.com can offer cheap short term rentals on apartments, while AirBNB is a slightly more expensive, but more comfortable option for doing the same. Although you may not even consider doing such a thing in Paris or London, don’t be afraid to be bold and check TripAdvisor for a nice hotel – I’ve found 4 or 5 star luxury for under $50 a night across Eastern Europe.
When to go
It’s no secret: Eastern Europe gets cold, with subzero temperatures not unheard of from December through to March. This has its compensations – nothing is more beautiful than a medieval town center blanketed in white snow. Christmas means Christmas markets and hot spiced wine served out of large cauldrons, but it’s also when everyone has gone home with their families. My favorite time to travel is September, when it’s still hot, but the main tourist crowds have wrapped up their summer holidays, leaving the streets clear to explore.
Food and drink
Let’s start with drink! Beer is literally cheaper than bottled water in most countries described above. Look for the local brews, but be careful – in this part of the world, beer packs a punch, and 9% alcohol volume brews are not uncommon. Vodka is available in millions of different flavors – try Zubrowka in Poland, and local fruit spirits such as the potent Sliwowica (plum spirit) are easy to find. In Hungary, try sweet and rich Tokaj wine.
Eastern European cuisine tends to be heavy – food to soak up the vodka and prepare you for a long winter. Pierogi (polish dumplings) make for a hearty meal, as does Hungary’s goulash, Prague’s many manifestations of pork, and Lithuania’s rich, dark rye bread. Look out for Milk Bars in Poland for cheap meals shoulder to shoulder with students and vagabonds. Supermarket chains like Lidl and Tesco can provide you cheap groceries basically everywhere you will go.
What to do
Every city you visit will have a museum testifying to ancient glories and more recent horrors. Budapest boasts thermal baths, Poland has its salt mines, Slovakia has mountains and Prague – well, Prague has beer and a lot more besides, and pretty much everywhere has a fair share of castles! But the best thing to do is simply to wander, walk the cobbled streets with your eyes open, look at the people, and try and learn a few snatches of the local languages. Walking tours are available in most major cities – see Viator for what’s available in your destination.
The Thrifty Gist
Eastern Europe can be challenging, but it boasts a wealth of attractions and an unbelievably low cost of living, making it a dream destination for the adventurous budget traveler
Highlights include the Baltic countries, Poland, Lviv, The Tatras Mountains, Prague, Budapest, Romania, Belgrade, Dubrovnik and Sofia
Travel by overnight train or bus to save on a night’s accommodation. With the exception of a few major routes, fares are constantly low
Germany next door can serve as an easy hub to access Eastern Europe, but cheap flights with companies like WizzAir can get you pretty much anywhere
Stay in hostels to meet travelers and for a party vibe, use Booking.com and AirBNB for comfortable private accommodation, and search TripAdvisor for great deals of high quality hotels
December is beautiful, but cold, and with a lot of places likely to be closed. September offers warm weather, but not too many tourists
Drink beer, brave the local flavored vodka, and eat the hearty rich meals with a focus on meat, potatoes and bread. Yes, you’ll likely come home a few kilos heavier!
Eastern Europe is rich in history and has seen the conflicts of several empires. Enjoy the historic old town squares, castles, and museums, but mostly just walk the fascinating streets and listen to the stories of the people you encounter.
While most tourists visiting Europe are heading to the West to see France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and others, I truly believe that the most beautiful countries in Europe are located in the East as well. Traveling off the beaten path is a rewarding experience- you have a chance to see something unique that only a few people have seen before. Want to know what are the best places to visit in Eastern Europe? Keep on reading and get inspired!
It was hard to pick the countries for this list. Some of them are located partly in Eastern and partly in Western Europe. With a little help of Wikipedia, we made a conventional western border on Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania.
The list of the most beautiful Eastern European countries that you can find in this post includes:
Here’s the map of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe that you can find in this post:
Photo + text of Albanian Riviera by Allison from Eternal Arrival Blog
Albanian Riviera is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe I’ve been to. Even better, it’s delightfully under the radar – for now!
The beaches are incredible, with crystal blue and turquoise water. The water is especially salty and calm, so it’s easy to float in the water all day and enjoy the beauty of the scenery. Mountains lead straight to beaches, so you have an incredible view from the water whether you look toward the horizon or back towards the shore.
It can be a bit difficult to get around this part of Albania – hitchhiking or renting a car is a good idea – but in a way, I think that adds to the charm! Many beaches are also a short but steep hike down from the mountainous coast, making that first dip in the warm, clear water so incredibly rewarding. There’s really no better place to spend the summer in Europe. Go soon, before the cruise ships come and change Albania’s coastline forever!
Tirana, Albania’s capital city, can be chaotic but in the past years, it has blossomed into a lively metropolis buzzing with enthusiasm and energy. It is Albania’s political and cultural center offering a lot of interesting and quirky things to do for tourists.
You can, for example, climb the Pyramid, which is a structure from the communist era. There is also a bunker museum called Bunk’Art. It is a massive nuclear bunker from the communist era transformed into a museum and art exhibition. This is something you won’t find anywhere else, be prepared for a rather spooky experience!
In Tirana, you can also enjoy Albanian hospitality. Albanians are sincerely helpful, warm, and welcoming towards foreign visitors. Since tourism hasn’t quite taken off yet, they are also curious about travelers. Tirana is definitely one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe!
Belarus, Minsk: photo + text by Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi Blog
Eastern Europe is slowly becoming more and more discovered. But the capital of Belarus, Minsk? Barely registers a blip on any off the beaten path!
Make the effort though as it’s like a mini Moscow. The transport is cheap and efficient, footpaths are massive and it’s a surprisingly hip city with some cool street art, regular events and .trendy bars about and of course, some very modern buildings mixed in.
There is a language barrier issue but that makes exploring more fun and with maps available offline you can’t go wrong.
You will need a visa most likely which isn’t cheap ($50+) but once you are in the country, it is very cheap to get by. The high-speed subway, less than a $1/ride, beer is a $1 or $2 at some bars, bananas less than $1.50/kg. You get the idea! The initial cost of the visa will be quickly offset by the low expenses in the country.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar: photo + text by Ashwini from Hopping Miles Blog
Named after the bridge keepers (Mostari) who guarded the Old Bridge – Stari Most, built by the Ottomans, is one of the iconic places in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Apart from its majestic structure, Stari Most is known for its history. The entire bridge was wrecked in the 1993 Croat-Bosniak war. Running over the River Neretva, this bridge was brought back to life in 2004 when it was reconstructed.
Being one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe, Mostar is full of life in its cobblestoned by lanes, lined with vendors of all sorts in Čaršija or the Market. The coffee culture in Bosnia is phenomenal. We were served an empty glass, a džezva full of coffee(traditional Bosnian coffee utensil), and a cube of Turkish Delight ‘Lokum’ to finish it off! While sitting by the riverside café and savoring your coffee, watch the crazy men who dive straight off the bridge into the chilling waters of River Neretva – all for 10 Euros!!
Soaked with rich historical background, layered with traditional values, sprinkled with a generous expanse of pristine nature – this former Yugoslavian nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is worth a visit. Squeeze at least a couple of days from your Eastern Europe itinerary to explore this little known gem.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo: photo + text by Gemma from Two Scots Abroad Blog
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, Sarajevo is special. This lesser-known destination is also one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe.
It has good food (try the Cevapi), beautiful sunsets best watched from Yellow Bastion, and stunning scenery. The city is best viewed from Mount Trebevic, a tough but worthwhile hike with a surprise abandoned Olympic bobsled track at the top.
The locals have a razor-sharp, dark sense of humor which aided their survival during the Sarajevo Siege where snipers shot into the valley for three years. Make sure you leave Sarajevo and also witness the aesthetically pleasing bus journey to Mostar.
Croatia, Kravice Waterfalls: photo + text by Stefania from Every Steph Blog
It’s easy to fall in love with Bosnia-Herzegovina, as it’s one of the best countries to visit in Eastern Europe. Its towns and perched villages are beautiful, but its natural wonders are pretty special too. The Kravice Waterfalls, located 40 kilometers south of Mostar and near the Croatian border, are a breathtaking example of the power of nature.
The waterfalls, high up to 28 meters, fall with full force creating a natural pool and a misty atmosphere. There are a few cafès around the waterfalls and you can simply relax and soak up the sun, or you can swim in the natural pool, but you are warned: the water is freezing even in the middle of the summer!
There isn’t an easy way to get to the waterfalls by public transportation, so you will have to rent a car or join an organized tour.
Bulgaria, Plovdiv: photo + text by Sianna from Eostories Blog
With its picturesque old town and an authentic, artistic feeling, Plovdiv is one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe. It is one of the oldest cities, not only in Bulgaria but in the world as well. The famous hills which we call “tepeta” are guarding the city. There you can have an amazing view of Plovdiv from above or enjoy a romantic sunset.
The city was elected as “capital of culture” for 2019. Numerous festivals and fairs are held here throughout the year including the Design Week. The creative center in the heart of the city is called “Kapana” (meaning “trapped”) and it is full of small art and design shops and galleries.
Bulgaria, Sogiahoto + text by Natalie from Love and Road Blog
Travel do Sofia, one of the Eastern European capitals was a last-minute decision, so we didn’t have much time to research about Bulgaria, and what to do there. But lucky us, Sofia was a great surprise! A destination filled with history, ancient architecture, parks, delicious food, and the best yogurt in the world!
There are so many things to do in Sofia that will keep you busy for days, and after a weekend there I can say that Sofia is one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe.
The city has an edge, an artistic feeling, and an interesting mix of Roman heritage and the reminiscences from the Communist recent past. Sofia has a young vibe, quality of life, and entrepreneurship opportunities are attracting people from all around the world to study and work there. An interesting international community that is growing fast.
Czechia, Prague: photo + text by Rishabh from Gypsy Couple Blog
We say we lost our heart to Budapest only because we went there earlier. If not, chances are that it would be stolen by this city of spires, mired in history, culture, and beer.
It’s Europe in a nutshell for the lack of a better analogy. Its got Vienna‘s art, a Parisian charm, it’s beer competes with the best in the world and its cobbled pathways lead everywhere and nowhere, from secret cafes to hidden chapels to unexpected gardens.
Charles Bridge, a 14th century stone bridge across the river Vltava offers brilliant views of the city spread on both banks and of the gorgeous hilltop castle. After a walking tour discovering the sights of the city you need not seek the comfort of your mattress. Instead, soak away your aches in a beer spa and end your day at an absinthe bar if you want.
The process of drinking this poison, banned in several countries across the globe, is fascinating, to say the least. Prague is a city with a big heart and one we would love to get lost in again and again.
Rummu Karjäär is an unbelievable sight to behold. Usually uncrowded by tourists, this sunken prison leaves you with a feeling of awe, while wondering who lived between those walls before it was flooded.
The pristine water makes you want to go for a swim, but – if you’re anything like my odd self – the fear of some skeleton arm coming out of the water and grabbing you may make you hold off.
Still, many people go diving around here to explore the sunken prison below. Whether you’re scuba diving or chilling at the shore checking this place out, this place is definitely one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe!
Estonia, Tartu: photo + text by Natalia from My Trip Hack Blog
Tartu is often called an intellectual capital of Estonia as it is home to one of the oldest Estonian Universities. Since the significant part of the population are students, the city has a dynamic vibe. There are numerous activities and events organized throughout the year. Because of the students, there are also many nice budget places to eat and socialize.
It’s easy to fall in love with Tartu for its charm and authenticity. This is a city where are old historical buildings, modern architecture, creative monuments, cool street art, a relaxing lifestyle, people playing live music and dancing outside in summers and many more details that make this city just awesome!
Moreover, Tartu isn’t overcrowded with tourist groups even during the season. Though it’s the second-largest city in Estonia, it’s still relatively small. If you are looking for the best places to visit in Eastern Europe, be sure to add Tartu to your itinerary.
Tallinn is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe. With it’s medieval Old Town complete with cobblestone, winding streets, many towers, churches, and just stunning, colorful buildings, it’s definitely worth visiting.
There are many things to do in Tallinn if you get sick of walking around. It’s worth climbing some of the many towers (warning, they are tough climbs!), visiting the Estonian History Museum, the Maritime Museum, and some of the churches.
Outside the Old Town, there are also many points of interest. For a different part of Tallinn’s history make sure you check out the Hotel Viru KGB Museum Tour where you can learn about Soviet times.
One of the big bonuses of Tallinn is not just that it’s beautiful with a lot to do, but it is also very budget-friendly. It’s definitely worth an addition to your Eastern Europe vacation bucket list.
Soomaa National Park is a destination that wilderness enthusiasts will love to explore while traveling in Estonia. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe. Clip-on your bog shoes and take a hike through the flooded meadows, or perch yourself high on the tower and take advantage of the flocks of different bird species that call the park home.
The landscape and trails of Soomaa National Park lend themselves to some amazing hikes and treks, winding around the lakes and through fields of pine trees and wild mushrooms. Because the park is in a protected zone there is also a lot of wild animal life living in the forests, such as bears, moose, wolves, and wild boars. If you’re quiet enough you just might see some on your next hike.
Staggering, snow-capped peaks topped by ancient monasteries and towers. Sweeping green valleys and blue waters hardly touched by man. Wide smiles and warm hearts welcoming you to their town and their country wherever you go. Kazbegi is not only Georgia’s most iconic destination but also one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe. Once you get there, it’s easy to see why.
The small town is best known for nearby Gergeti Monastery, the most famous monastery in all of Georgia thanks to its definitively epic location. The small stone structure sits atop a plain overlooking Kazbegi, with the soaring Mount Kazbegi, one of the highest mountains in the Caucasus, as its backdrop.
Pack up your hiking boots, charge your camera, and get ready to have your breath taken away.
Georgia, Mestia: photo + text by Alex from Lost With Purpose Blog
Deep in the Great Caucasus Mountains lies a fairly unknown mountain hamlet called Mestia. It’s one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe.
Mestia is located in the historic Svaneti region of Georgia and is arguably the most scenic place of the whole country. A UNESCO world heritage site, the region boasts of some of the tallest mountains of the entire Caucasus range. As you travel up the spiral roads from Zugdidi, which is the closest city, the landscape rises from the plains to a beautiful picturesque nirvana. There is an abundance of greenery, blue skies, white clouds and turquoise lakes here that is so pleasing to the eye.
Tall Svanetian defensive stone towers are spread across this small town. There are some attractive hiking and trekking trails for all travelers looking for an adventure. A four-day trek from here will take you to Ushguli, the highest living settlement in the Caucasus Mountains. Mestia also has some spectacular ski resorts for skiing enthusiasts.
The small Queen Tamar airport connects Mestia to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and to other cities such as Kutaisi and Batumi, offering quick access to the town by air. Direct marshrutkas (minibuses) are available from a lot of cities and the nearest train station is at Zugdidi, which is just 3 hours away.
There are so many guesthouses here to choose from and they offer some exclusive Svan hospitality along with some amazing local food and of course, Georgian wine. Mount Skhara, the highest in Georgia, rises as the backdrop of the small town along with the twin-peaked Mount Ushba. If you are a mountain lover and want to spend a few days in paradise, look no further.
The Republic of Georgia stands to be one of the next great foodie destinations. Although Tbilisi was not my favorite part of my visit the fact remains it is an excellent place to sample the countries delicious food and amazing wines. Georgia actually has the oldest known history of wine production in the world and in that time they’ve certainly perfected it.
Local dishes not to be missed include:
khinkali: huge dumplings filled with soup and meat. You have to bite off a corner and suck the soup out to finish one of these. Easily my favorite dish in Georgia.
khachapuri– cheese-filled bread. Need I say more? There are variations of this dish that include meat and potatoes but the classic cheese and butter-filled version is my favorite.
wine: always ask for a house or draft wine, even if it’s not on the menu. I don’t think I found one restaurant that didn’t offer it. I preferred the red over the white but if you’re feeling adventurous try the orange/yellow version. Local wine aged underground in clay pots!
Athens often gets neglected over the many beautiful islands in Greece, but it’s a destination worth checking out. No other city in Europe combines history and breathtaking monuments with bustling city life the way Athens does.
Hike up to the stunning Acropolis in the morning, shop in Monastiraki in the afternoon. Later, go for a night out in the trendy Gazi neighborhood around the former gas works of Athens.
The city also has many treats in store for foodies. From the famous and meaty gyros and healthy Greek salad to sweet Baklava, Greek cuisine is diverse and has something for everyone.
If you need to escape the city, the Athens Riviera is only a short drive away and makes for a great day trip destination. Laze on a beach, or go kayaking in the crystal clear water.
Athens has it all. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe.
Greece, Chania: photo + text by Adelina from Pack Me To Blog
Chania on the island of Crete, Greece, is easily one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe. From the beautiful Venetian Harbour to the twisting cobblestone streets, there are lots of things to discover and explore.
History lovers will enjoy the numerous architectural sites and museums in the city, but the best way to understand the charm of Chania is by wandering through the streets of the Old Town.
Because of the Venetian influence, at times you feel like you could be in a small Italian city, but with a very distinctly Greek aura. Nearby are fantastic beaches for those desiring to improve their tan.
Greece, Meteora: photo + text by Inma from A World to Travel Blog
About 600 meters above the sea level and barely a 5h ride from Athens, Meteora could be described as a stone forest whose main purpose is to try to get you higher to the skies if you might. Some of the reasons monks have populated the top of these limestone and rock formations since the fourteen century and building impressive constructions called Monasteries.
The best is that big crowds are not frequent. Yet. The place is so special that I have no doubt it will soon suffer a boost in the number of people visiting it yearly.
Anyway, there is hope. Yes! Meteora has been cataloged as a Unesco World Heritage site and many restrictions already apply in order to regulate tourism and preserve its unique character. Be sure to add this amazing place to your Eastern Europe bucket list.
Greece, Santorini: photo + text by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate Blog
Santorini is a beautiful island located in the Aegean Sea in Greece. It is considered one of the most romantic places worldwide and many couples from around the world arrive in Santorini for their wedding or honeymoon. The scenery is very dramatic with the whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches perched on the cliff of the caldera.
Santorini is also a culinary paradise as you can taste many traditional products like fava, caper, and some amazing wines, unique due to the volcanic soil of the island.
Santorini also has some very picturesque villages like Pyrgos, Oia, Emporio with small alleyways, and colorful bougainvilleas. There are some amazing volcanic beaches worth visiting as well with black or red sand and small pebbles.
Other things to do in Santorini include visiting one of the many archaeological sites and admiring the wonderful sunset. At least once in a lifetime, one should visit this amazing island. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe.
Greece, Thessaloniki: photo + text by Vanessa from Turnipseed Travel Blog
If you’re traveling through Eastern Europe, you’ll soon see all roads (and trains, planes, and boats) lead to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city. But few travelers take the time to explore –and that should change!
Thessaloniki was hit hard by the Greek economic crisis but has responded by supporting young, creative entrepreneurs. Handpeak organizes walking tours for visitors to meet the small business owners who are reinvigorating the city. From olive oil vendors to jewelry artists, these inspiring makers represent Thessaloniki’s warm, creative side.
Thessaloniki is also home to Europe’s longest boardwalk, a bustling market, a great food scene influenced by Italian and Balkan heritage, and the largest amount of UNESCO Byzantine ruins in the world. It’s well worth a visit!
Greece, Astypalea: photo + text by Margherita from The Crowded Planet Blog
There are so many islands in Greece, that I wonder why people always head to the same ones. If you’re happy to travel a little further you’ll find Astypalea, a stunning island halfway between the Dodecanese and the Cyclades, 12 hours ferry, and a world away from Athens.
Astypalea is completely off the radar of most tourists – most visitors are locals that moved to mainland Greece traveling back to see their families.
There are plenty of things to see and do in Astypalea – culture, nature, the possibility to go hiking and sailing around the island, and even diving. Locals are super welcoming, and the cuisine is incredible – you’ll spend most of the day eating!
This island should definitely be a part of your Eastern Europe trip.
Budapest is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe. It’s the perfect city to relax as it has many amazing, ornate thermal baths; yet it’s also a great place to party with its super cool ruin bars.
No matter what era of history you are interested in, pretty much each part has made its mark here in some way or other.
Budapest has been invaded a lot over the centuries, from Turks to Nazis to Soviets. Walk along streets and notice bullet-holes from world war two, through parks that have been renamed several times depending on who was ‘in charge’.
Budapest is a unique city that mustn’t be missed off anyone’s bucket list!
Hungary, Pecs: photo + text by Adelina from Pack Me To Blog
Located in the south-west part of Hungary, Pécs is the fifth-largest city in the country.
Just a short 2.5-hour train ride away from Budapest, it is a great spot to visit if you’re looking for other places to explore beyond the capital. The city is rich in history and culture due to being settled by the Romans and later the Turks. Today, you can still see many of their influences in the architecture and most notably at The Necropolis of Sopianae, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city is clean and dotted with beautifully colored buildings and intricate facades. A university town, it has great nightlife during the school year. During the day, walk along Király Street and pop into restaurants and cafes for a bite to eat.
Kosovo is one of the youngest countries in the world and certainly, the least visited of the Balkan region. A misconception about its safety keeps most travelers away from Kosovo and the country remains largely unexplored despite offering plenty of things to see and do for such a small territory.
Boasting a very young and dynamic population, Kosovo is going through a major transformation since becoming independent less than a decade ago and is slowing starting to appear on the tourism radar.
With interesting places such as Pristina, the capital, Prizren, a historical city and now the country’s cultural capital, the 4 medieval Orthodox monuments that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Rugova mountains, European national park with plenty of outdoors opportunities,
Kosovo is well worth visiting. It definitely one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe.
Lithuania, Trakai: photo + text by Ruben from Gamin Traveler Blog
I have been traveling around almost all the countries in Europe. I love visiting The Baltic Countries and Trakai is the main reason (3 times already). Trakai is located in Lithuania just an hour by public transportation from the capital, Vilnius. The city of Trakai is built over the water.
Visiting the castle in Trakai is a must, no matter if it’s full of visitors. I really loved the castle inside as historical places are wildly interesting. But my favorite part was taking pictures before crossing the bridge and getting the view from the castle.
After the visit to the castle, you can visit the lakes around. It´s perfect for spending a day outdoors in the lakes. Another great plan that you can do is going for local restaurants and bars. Lithuanian beer is great!
Vilnius is one of those places where you can simply enjoy yourself and take all the surroundings. Being the capital city it has this modern flair that makes you think everything is possible here. Many green areas are just waiting for you to relax and read a good book.
Make sure to also visit the „Republic Užupis“ in the middle of the city – you’ll find some cool artworks and you can even have your passport stamped here. Try also some of their typical dishes like Cepelinai (grounded potatoes filled with cheese or meat) and Saltibarscai (pink, cold soup). I’d recommend visiting in Spring or Fall when the trees come to live or give the city a colorful touch.
Vilnius is your city if you want to mix traveling with great food in a relaxing yet ambitious atmosphere. It’s one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe.
The vibrant capital of Macedonia is one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe. There are many awesome things to do there, both during the day and night. Go sightseeing in daylight, as the rich history of Skopje has lots to offer even for the most demanding travelers.
When the sun goes down, experience one of the best nightlife cities in Europe.
Macedonia, Ohrid: photo + text by Natasha & Cameron from The World Pursuit Blog
Ohrid, Macedonia holds a special place in my heart. The small city that is just three hours away from the capital may just be one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe.
The town centers around Lake Ohrid. The lake is between Albania and Macedonia and is actually one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe. The lake is calm and surrounded by beautiful mountains making it a picture-perfect destination. There are plenty of cafes situated right on the water to enjoy a cocktail at. For the more adventurous there are a plethora of activities centered around the lake.
Paragliding and hiking are very popular in the summer months. While just strolling the harbor after an evening meal is perfect in the winter. I wish that more people made their way this part of the world instead of being surrounded by tourists in the “popular” western European destinations.
Durmitor National Park
Montenegro, Durmitor National Park: photo + text by Alesha from Nomadasaurus Blog
Located in Northern Montenegro, Durmitor National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe. With the Adriatic Sea only a few hours to the south, this unique spot allows one to go swimming in the morning and trekking through snowfields in the afternoon.
Home to Montenegro’s tallest mountain, Bobotov Kuk, as well as the largest canyon in Europe, Tara’s Canyon, Durmitor National Park is a real adventurer’s playground.
Whether you are into hiking, canyoning, white-water rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, or skiing, Durmitor National Park has you covered. Or if you’re not into the high-intensity activities, you can just relax by any one of the gorgeous and easily accessible lakes that scatter around the park.
It’s easy to get there from most of the parts of Montenegro. If you are staying in Montenegro’s capital, just book a taxi or rent a car. Durmitor National Park is worth it! Definitely not to be missed when traveling around Eastern Europe!
Zakopane Poland is a picturesque town well known for winter sports. It is not just about winter and snow. In summer, Zakopane turns on the sun and fun in the mountains. Adventure for hikers, mountain bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Zakopane is located in southern Poland in the Tatra mountains close to the border with Slovakia. This amazing mountain getaway picture perfect with its snow-capped peaks, Horse and cart rides, and the amazing wooden houses of the region.
Jump on the cable car for a trip to the top of Gubalowka for amazing views of Zakopane and surrounding areas. No trip to Zakopane is complete without strolling Krupowki street for some shopping, eating, and drinking.
Accessible from Krakow in around 2 hours by public transport, you won’t be disappointed.
Poland, Krakow: photo + text by Alison from Cheese Web Blog
Where else on earth can you take a horse-drawn carriage ride through narrow cobbled streets, lined with candy-colored houses, shop for amber jewelry in a stunning covered marketplace, listen to classical organ music in a Baroque church, discover a castle protected by a dragon, AND eat your body weight in pierogis?
Krakow, Poland is one of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe.
Not only is Krakow safe, friendly, and affordable, with plenty to do within the city limits, but it also serves as a great jumping-off point to discover southern Poland. Buses make frequent trips from Krakow to the UNESCO-listed Wieliczka Salt Mine, a wonderland carved out of salt deep beneath the earth.
You can also make a day-trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum or the stunningly beautiful villages of the Silesian Beskids Mountains. But with its relaxed atmosphere and wealth of cultural attractions, you’d be forgiven if you don’t want to leave Krakow. Have a pierogi for me!
Poland, Wroclaw: photo + text by Shara from SKJ Travel Blog
My husband and I decided to drive to Krakow from Prague through Wroclaw, Poland, and what a gem it turned out to be. Frankly, I liked it far better than Krakow.
The University of Wroclaw has educated an amazing line-up of very famous historical figures, and its lecture room is particularly beautiful to visit with its richly painted ceiling and alcoves. Wroclaw lies on the Oder River; the oldest part of the city dates to the 10th century on what used to be an island in the river, accessible by the picturesque Tumski Bridge lined with lover’s locks.
The city was heavily bombed in WWII and rebuilt its cathedrals using different materials so that you can plainly see what is original and what is rebuilt.
The town hall has lovely interior gothic architecture; the main town square is brightly colorful and refreshingly void of tourists. Playful gnome statues populate the market area, and we enjoyed some utterly delicious restaurants there.
We spent three days and nights and were never bored, never crowded, and perpetually delighted in this city. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe.
Romania, Brasov: photo + text by Kiara from Gallop Around The Globe Blog
While you might struggle to immediately find beauty in Romania‘s capital Bucharest, Brasov is the true fairytale Romanian city you envisaged.
It’s home to some beautiful, colorful Baroque and Gothic architecture, including the greatest Gothic church in Transylvania, The Black Church. There are also wide pedestrianized boulevards and spacious plazas flanked with a wide variety of quality restaurants with delicious Romanian food, cozy cafes, and quirky bars.
What makes Brasov even more awesome is its location at the foothills of the picturesque South Carpathian Mountains, surrounded by numerous viewpoints and hiking trails. And if you’re into castles, three of the country’s best – Peles, Bran (Dracula’s Castle), and Corvin – are also easily accessible from here.
In short, Brasov offers history, culture, good food, beautiful architecture, and amazing landscapes, which, as far as I’m concerned, makes it a pretty damn near perfect place to visit. The fact that it’s not overrun with tourists is a definite bonus too.
A city I hadn’t put on the map before my little brother decided to spend there a semester, turned out to be one of the top Eastern European cities to visit.
And, although in the beginning, I wanted to make it my base to explore Sibiu, Sighișoara, Brașov, Târgu Mureș, Bistriţa, Salina Turda, Bâlea Lake and the curvy Transfăgărășan road, that crosses the South part of the Carpathian Mountains, soon I realized that Transylvania roads take you places slowly.
No matter if you are traveling to Cluj Napoca with kids, solo, or as a couple, you won’t be disappointed.
Can’t wait to go back to Cluj Napoca and make it my base for a while again to continue uncovering this unique region!
With its pastel-colored buildings, fantastical towers, and ornate churches, Sighisoara will instantly leave you in awe with its beautiful architecture. This medieval town in Romania is one of Transylvania’s most picturesque towns with winding cobblestone streets and large open squares.
While the old citadel remains fairly quiet, it has many attractions to offer which include the clock tower, a dominating masterpiece which overlooks the red-tiled roofs of the houses in the old town and the church on the hill, a gothic-style church with the remarkable interior.
Whether you visit as a day trip from Brasov or stay a few nights, you’ll find interesting sights in this fairy tale town, including the house where Vlad the Impaler was born. Simply wander along the streets of Sighisoara and discover places beyond the guide book.
Romania, Vamp Veche: photo + text by Safia from Nomad Junkies Blog
Just a stone throw away from the Bulgarian border and on the coast of the Black Sea, you will find Vama Veche, a little hippie beach town that has all the charm needed to suck you in for a few days (or weeks). Hitchhike from Bucharest and join the locals for their beach BBQs or their nightly bonfires!
This is how nice and welcoming the Romanians are. Be prepared to be dragged to the craziest beach parties until the sun peaks out from the horizons for the most beautiful sunrise.
From the very small local food market to the fish shack on the beach to the weekend parties attended by the city folks…There is something for everyone! Or just rent a bike and hop over to Bulgaria and get lost in the quiet little countryside villages.
I’m a great fan of St Petersburg since my very first visit over 10 years ago. Russia’s second-largest city is one of the best places to travel in Eastern Europe. The more I go back there, the more I realize how much the city has to offer.
At first, it was the city’s grandeur that caught my attention. St Petersburg was the capital of Russia for about two hundred years and it has a number of grand palaces and great buildings to prove its imperial past. Many of them are open to visitors and are home to museums and operas.
If I had to recommend only one place to visit in St Petersburg, it would be the Hermitage Museum. One of the largest museums in the world is so vast that it occupies six different buildings. The Winter Palace, once the official residence of Russian Tsars, is one of them. In summer it’s packed with tourists, so I recommend visiting the museum – and the city – during the low season.
On my last trip, I discovered a different museum experience. It was a modern and quirky gallery called Erarta, which shows displays the works of young, avant-garde Russian artists. To me, it proves the city is evolving and open to current and future tendencies.
Sadly, St Petersburg is one of the cheapest places to visit in Eastern Europe. But with Russia’s current economic situation, the city is extremely affordable. So my recommendation is for you to pack your bags and explore the city’s museums, amazing churches, and diverse food scenes.
Serbia, Novi Sad: photo + text by Adelina from Pack Me To Blog
Novi Sad, which sits on the banks of the Danube river, is the second-largest city in Serbia. The city is a good place to visit if you just need to chill out and relax. Its main square, Trg Slobode or Liberty Square, is lined with beautiful buildings full of intricate details and great colors.
Along Zmaj Jovina street, the city’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, there are lots of restaurants, cafes, and bars with patios to relax on.
Head up to the Petrovaradin Fortress to explore its grounds and you’ll also be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Danube. Go there close to sundown and you’ll be able to take in the sunset with the city as its backdrop. If you’re a music fan, a stop at the annual Exit Festival which is hosted at the fortress is a must.
Turkey, Istanbul: photo + text by Siddhartha from Sid the Wanderer Blog
Located at the junction of Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a perfect melting point of cultures from East and West. One of the oldest cities in the region, it has changed names from Byzantium to Constantinople and finally to Istanbul, yet one thing that’s remained consistent is its importance as a major city in the region.
With such an old history, Istanbul is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe. The most famous tourist attractions in the city are: Hagia Sofia, closely followed by the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Galata Tower, and the Bosphorus strait.
It’s a city easy to fall in love with, and you will never be satisfied no matter how many days you spend here. The city is also a gateway to the rest of the country, so don’t just stop here and go see more places in Turkey from here.
Turkey, Izmir: photo + text by Kelly from A Pair of Passports Blog
Visiting Izmir is one of the best Eastern Europe trip ideas. This city is much more western than other Turkish cities. Walking around, you feel extremely safe and comfortable like you could actually be in an American city! There are incredible local markets with fresh food and handmade goods, busy streets filled with people sitting outside at restaurants, and gorgeous harbor views.
When visiting, you must spend some time in the Urla wine region, whose wineries produce some incredible wines and offer stunning views.
There aren’t many international food options in Izmir, but you are visiting Turkey after all – enjoy their local cuisine and you won’t regret it!
Kabak Beach in Turkey is a little tricky to get to but, as you descend the cliff and catch your first glimpse of the almost unbelievable blue water you realize it was all worth it. This beach is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe. It is small but the white rocks slowly turn into incredible golden sand, which descends rapidly into this beautiful warm blue water.
Kabak Beach is also completely surrounded by amazing mountains, which fall straight into the sea. Not to mention there are sea caves you can dive through if you are daring enough.
The vibe on the beach is pretty alternative and really friendly with everyone down to talk or have a drink or fill you in on the hikes in the area. The hikes include one to an incredible little waterfall with emerald green water that if you get to at the right time you can have completely to yourself.
The other is a hike that lasts a few hours to the next bay over called Paradise Beach, which completely lives up to its name. We camped there on the sand and watched the sunset over the water from our tent completely undisturbed by another human for the entire time we were there.
It is such a beautiful part of Turkey and I could not say enough good things about it, if you are visiting it really should be on your list of things to do.
If you like vibrant city life, street art, festivals, and most of all, good coffee, then you should put Lviv on your list! It’s one of the most beautiful Eastern European cities.
Located in the western part of Ukraine, Lviv attracts lots of visitors not only because of its historical architecture, but also because of cool vibes of contemporary art, rooftop views, and hidden squares filled with the authentic bohemian atmosphere.
Make sure you visit Lviv in the summertime when most of the art festivals take part in the town. Get ready for the city center full of live music, dancing, and street performers. And last, but not least, make sure to visit their chocolate factory and a few of the original cafes.
With cobblestone streets, baroque style churches, street-side art galleries, open-air markets, green squares, busy shopping streets, fancy cars, and a well-developed transportation system – Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, has all the elements of a beautiful European capital. Strolling through the touristy parts of the city, you’ll feel like you are in the heart of Europe.
Kyiv is slowly but surely making strides towards becoming more modern, more developed, and offering better opportunities to those that call it home. It is one of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe and an awesome destination for budget travelers.
If you want to get off the beaten path in Europe and explore a city that isn’t teeming with tourists (yet!), that’s your place to go. It’s cheap, it’s beautiful, it’s fascinating, it’s rich in culture, and is a great spot for those looking for a crazy party!
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Do you know any other destinations that should be on the list of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe? Remember, sharing is caring! Share your thoughts in comments!
Best Places To Visit On Your European Family Holidays
So you want to visit Europe with kids? But where on earth do you go-with such a huge continent and hundreds of interesting cities to travel to? Well look no further-choose from these 10 best places for your European family holidays.
Europe is quite easy to explore. There are budget airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair that offer heavily discounted flights between cities. You can also travel by Eurorail and get multi city passes with discounts for children.
Top 10 Places To Visit In Europe With Children
Barcelona is one of the best places to visit in Europe with kids. This city has whimsical architecture from the famous Spanish artist Gaudi. Kids can play in Guell Park and see the mosaic lizard! Football fans will have a great time touring Camp Nou stadium (home to FC Barcelona). Toddlers will be entertained by the Magic Fountain.
Crete is one of the beautiful Greek islands. With gorgeous bright blue waters and sandy beaches this is a great place to travel to on your Europe family holidays. Teenagers will enjoy a cooking class to learn to make tasty Greek food! Visiting an olive oil farm, a glass bottom boat ride and riding a horse through the olive groves are some of the fun family friendly activities.
Rome is a must do on your Europe family travel. This city has great food, a fascinating history and great boutique shopping. Babies and toddlers will love the yummy gelato (Italian ice cream), children will enjoy riding an electric bike in Borghese park and teenagers will like exploring the Colosseum, a Wonder of the World!
Istanbul is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world and a great place to visit in Europe with kids. East meets West here as the city straddles both Asia and Europe. Your teenagers will love exploring the exotic Grand Bazaar and children will like the eerie Basilica Cistern. You can have a family hamam (Turkish bath).
London, United Kingdom
London is a great city to visit on your Europe family trip. Babies and toddlers will love seeing the changing of the guard, children will enjoy the scary London Dungeons and your teenagers will have a blast riding the London Eye. Don’t forget to stop at a sweet shop for some yummy chocolate and candy!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a historic town with fairytale castles. Babies and toddlers will have fun chasing the peacocks in the royal gardens, children will be enchanted by a horse and carriage ride through the cobblestone streets. Teenagers will have a great time riding a bobsleigh down the hill! Don’t miss out on Prague on your family travels to Europe
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Tenerife is one of the sunny Canary Islands. Enjoy a beach family holiday in Europe with a Spanish twist. Your teenagers can learn to surf, babies and toddlers will adore the animal parks and children will have a great time at the water parks! Finish your day with some tasty tapas!
Amsterdam is a great city to visit in Europe with kids. There are lots of quirky museums and you can explore the canals on a pedal boat. Teenagers will be fascinated by Anne Frank’s house after reading her diary in school. Children will like the treasure hunt at the Van Gogh museum. Babies and toddlers will enjoy the flower market.
Paris is one of the most popular places to visit in Europe with kids. Kids love seeing the gargoyles on the Notre Dame church, climbing the Eiffel tower and riding a carousel in one of the beautiful Paris parks. Stop by a bakery to pick out one of the yummy mini cakes or chocolate croissant.
Venice is a unique town with canals instead of streets! Children will love a gondola ride. You can stay on nearby Lido island and enjoy the beaches and bike rides through the villages. Don’t miss the tour of the Murano glass factory and feeding pigeons in the square. Great place to travel to in Europe with kids.
Enjoy your European family vacation! Be sure to come back and share your photos and memories!
A growing number of exotic destination seeking travelers are stealing away to Eastern Europe. Packed with all of the Allure of the UK, France or Italy Eastern Europe arguably offers cities rich in culture and medieval architecture with just as much grandeur as Western European destinations. Tourism is definitely starting to build in this corner of the world. Here are 25 amazing places you should visit in Eastern Europe.
Bucharest, the capital of Romania is a dynamic modern city with a wildly sensational history. Nicknamed “little Paris” in the early 1900’s Bucharest really plays the part with hip cafes, impressive tree lined boulevards and dramatic modern and historic architecture. Home to many attractions, the most remarkable landmark in this vibrant city is the monstrous Parliament Palace. Being equally enormous and ostentatious, it is a mind-blowing architectural feat trumped only in size by the Pentagon.
Where there are many examples of Bucharest’s cultural and architectural splendor the highlights include the Romanian Athenaeum, an elaborately domed circular building that is the cities main concert hall, Bucharest University and the National History Museum.
Sibiu is a city in Transylvania, Romania that has a cultural magic all its own. It will have you instantly spellbound with its striking medieval charm, breathtaking views of surrounding landscapes and delicious food. It’s historical center was built into two very pedestrian levels filled with most of Sibiu’s historical sites, colorful houses and cobble stone streets.
An artsy yet traditional vibe exists in the city that appealingly permeates the litany of cafes, festivals and exhibitions that thrive there. Some great things to experience in Sibiu are the Brukenthal Museum, andthe Crama Sibiu Vechi restaurant, a great place to enjoy authentic Romanian fare and the view of the historical center from the top of the Council Tower.
The truly charming city of Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. Its tiny old town is packed with medieval grandeur, all over looked by the cities majestic hilltop Castle. The narrow streets are lined with restaurants and bars beckoning for you to eat, drink and appreciate the culture.
Be sure to check out the Bratislava Castle and the Slavin Memorial for the best city views. Visit at Christmas and check out the traditional Market on the main square in the center of the city. It offers genuine local holiday specialties including delicious mulled wine that shouldn’t be missed.
Exquisite Nida is the primary settlement on Lithuania’s side of the Curonian Spit. This spit is a curved sand dune in between the Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by Russia and Lithuania. Nida is the tourist destination on spit. The relics of yesteryear tell a story of a bygone fishing village. Colorful wooden cottages and bright boats in the harbor add to natural beauty that dominates here.
White sand beaches are a short hike through pine forest from Nida. Parnidis Dune, the massive and most impressive dune is just South of the village. It has steps up to its lofty summit where you can enjoy sweeping views of pristine, rippling dunes. Eat at Nidos Seklycia and take a tour to explore Curonian National Park. Both of these experiences will show you everything that draws visitors to this precious place.
Skopje is amid Europe’s most diverse and compelling capital cities. It is an eclectic blend of Christian and Islamic cultures. This blend has given birth to a spirited and colorful society. A social vibe pervades the city, locals play chess in the parks and the city comes alive at night as people flock to cafes and bars to enjoy music and conversation. Visit the Carsija neibourhood to enjoy Skopje’s best historic structures and museums. Complete with a Triumphal Arch, the Plostad Makedonija Square is dedicated to national heroes.
Dubrovnik, nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, is the shining star of Croatia. With its awe inspiring old town highlighted by the sparkle of the sea, Dubrovnik is arguably one of the most beautiful towns in all of Eastern Europe. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, it is loaded with spectacular architecture, boasting brilliant churches, museums and sculptures. No visit to Dubrovnik would be complete without a walk along the city wall. The view over the city and the Adriatic is breath taking from this vantage point. For a more sweeping view take a cable car from town to the top of nearby Mt, Srd.
Split is the second largest city in Croatia. It lies on the Eastern shores of the Adriatic centering on Diocletian’s Palace, an impressive Roman monument that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Coastal mountains serve as Splits backdrop adding drama to the cities gorgeous cityscape. The palace is the heart of the city, It is a lively maze of streets filled with people, restaurants, bars and shops. A walking tour of the palace is the best way to see all of the highlights. Split has a flourishing beach scene in the summer. Visit the popular Bacvice Beach to enjoy the sea and games galore.
Considered one of the most beautiful Croatian Islands, Mljet is by far the greenest. The island, covered mostly in dense Mediterranean forest, sprinkled with vineyards, farms and tiny villages is the epitome of tranquility. The north half is Mljet National Park. With its pristine salt-water lakes and staggering density of vegetation, it is truly an unspoiled oasis. Visit Polace to check out the impressive Roman Palace that still remains dating from the first to the fifth century. Eat by the sea at Konoba Ankora, the best restaurants in Polace.
Moldova’s most extraordinary and scenic vista is the Oreil Vechi Monastery. It is a cave monastery sculpted into an imposing limestone cliff making it arguably Moldova’s most haunting place. Supporting attractions include an ethnographic museum in nearby Butuncei, newly opened caves just across the valley and chilling views from the monasteries headquarters.
Belgrade is the red hot, happening capital of Serbia. Its passionate resurgence toward a better future has resulted in a chaotic mix of nouveau masterpieces and old world relics.The Kalemegden Citadel is an excellent example of this. The formidable and impressive citadel has a bloody history that is still recognizable today despite the cheerful cafes and funfairs that inhabit it. To experience more of Belgrade’s intrigue take an underground tour and explore more of the cities tumultuous past.
The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a culturally rich city filled with some of the best museums, restaurants and hotels in the country. The centerpiece of this arguably beautiful city is Presernov Trg, a lovely square that is the city’s favorite place to meet. Car traffic is restricted in this area making the banks of the Ljubljana River, which runs right through the center, free for a stroll or a bike ride. Cafes set up terraces along the river creating an endless street party kind of vibe. To appreciate the baroque beauty of the city visit the Ljubljana Castle and the National and University Library. Both are examples of stunning architecture.
Warsaw is a city of complex character and gritty appeal. The capital was obliterated in WWII and has fought tirelessly to rebuild and replace what was lost ever since. Today the city hums with electric energy and fierce optimism. That remarkable tenacity extends to the city’s edgy art openings and booming club and music industries.
To experience some of the past in Warsaw tour the Old Town, filled with the loveliest historical buildings in the city or visit the epic Warsaw Rising Museum. For a taste of the present check out Warszawa Powisle Station Bar. Described as a kiosk of culture this hip spot is a cultural institution featuring an eclectic variety of food, drink and great music among other things.
Krakow is one of the oldest cities in Poland. Legend says it was founded on a conquest of a dragon. A former Royal capital, Krakow is steeped in a long and dramatic history. The Historic Center of Krakow is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boasting Europe’s largest market square, the Old Town is comprised of historic homes, palaces and spectacular churches. A walking tour of this area is a great way to see and learn about the area. The best of Krakow includes Wawel Royal Castle and the stone Adalbert Church. The new Schindler’s Museum tells an emotional story about the Nazi occupation in Krakow. It is located in the former factory of Oscar Schindler and is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.
The city of Moscow, the center of Soviet mystique, is a stunning representation of Russia of yesterday and Russia of today. A truly inspiring city, Moscow is home to important Museum of Russian art and some of the best performing arts in the world. To appreciate the best of Moscow you must visit the Kremlin and Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral is the true icon of Russia and the Tretyakov Museum holds the world’s most important collection of Russian art. The world renowned Gorky Park and Bolshoi Theater are two more reasons to visit the most majestic city in Eastern Europe.
Riga, the capital of Latvia is the cosmopolitan cornerstone of the Baltic. It has the biggest and most magnificent showing of Art Nouveau architecture in all of Europe. The Old Town is like something straight out of a fairy tale complete with gingerbread trim houses and nightmarish gargoyles. Highlights in Riga are the very old and equally huge Central Market, The Riga Art Nouveau Center to explain the imagination that lies beyond the stunning facades, and the imposing Riga Castle.
16. Sofia, Bulgaria
Sophia is the capital of Bulgaria. Distinguished by its special combination of European and Communist style architecture Sophia is home to many ornate Orthodox churches and Soviet looking stone civic buildings. The city boasts vast manicured parks and with such closes proximity to mighty Mt. Vitosh for skiing or a hike, it is easy to enjoy a break from the busy city streets. Some of the best things to see and experience in Sophia are The Nevski Church, the most beautiful park in Sophia, Park Borisova Gradina and Manastirska Manernitsa restaurant to sample delicious Bulgarian cuisine
Tallinn’s two-tiered historic center is one of Europe’s most bewitching walled cities. Right out of a fairy tale with its cobbled streets and medieval architecture historic Tallinn is astonishingly well preserved. Visit the oldest Gothic town hall in North Eastern Europe, and Tallinn’s chief landmark, the Oleviste Church. The best view of Old Town is from this church’s observation deck. Check out the Gloria Wine Cellar to add to the fairy tale allure. With its flickering candles and subterranean nooks and crannies this place is way more than a wine store.
Vilnius is the beguiling Baroque beauty of Lithuania. A chaotic mix of Baroque and Gothic architecture, Vilnius is both strange and stunning at the same time. The Gate of Dawn, the cities resounding landmark is a testament to the city forging a new identity. In Vilnius, the past and present combine to offer you worldly cuisine, lively nightlife and warmth so welcoming it will captivate you. Take a walking tour of historic Vilnius to see all of the highlights. Vilnius, steeped in a tumultuous history, has endured much tragedy; visit the Museum of Genocide to appreciate the marvel that Vilnius is today.
Kotor Bay boasts the deepest bay depths (bordering on fjord proportions) in the Mediterranean Sea. The surrounding landscape includes staggeringly steep mountains that plunge right to the water’s edge. The scene is truly spectacular. Adventure and intrigue pervade old Kotor. The old city is a maze built for protection that is so effective, even locals get lost navigating the narrow streets. Take a city tour to get your bearings and see all of the beauty that is Kotor. Highlights include St.Tryphones Cathedral and Konoba Catovic Mlini restaurant.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Sarajevo has transformed from the ruin in the 1990 conflicts to become one of Eastern Europe’s sparkling jewels. Rich in cultural and religious diversity both influences bolster Sarajevo’s appeal. To appreciate Sarajevo’s culture visit Biban and enjoy epic city views and delicious local specialties. Not to be missed, The Tunnel Museum offers a look back on the hope and horrors that the hand dug tunnel inspired during the conflict
21. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a vast labyrinth of cobble stone streets, historic architecture and secret courtyards that ignites the wanderlust in everyone who visits this magical city. The city’s skyline is spectacular, boasting almost a thousand spires, domes and towers. With magnificent parks and gardens, a cosmopolitan café culture and excellent theaters and museums there is about as many reasons to make Prague your next vacation destination. Some of the best places to visit in Prague are The Prague Castle, Veletrzni Palac Museum and the Letna Beer Garden. With so much to see and do in this great city taking a tour will help you hit all of the highlights.
Olomouc is the undiscovered gem of the Czech Republic. Legend has it the city was founded by Julius Cesar and the Roman influence is prolific in its culture and historic architecture. Olomouc quietly combines rich historical beauty with youthful verve to create an exciting destination that rivals Prague for allure but undoubtedly wins top prize for best value. Some of the best things to see and experience in Olomouc are Horni Namesti, Olomouc’s main square boasts two of the cities six ornate Baroque fountains, Premysl Palace and the Archdiocesan Museum.
23. Berat, Albania
Berat, “The city of a thousand windows”, is one of Albania’s most beautiful highlights. Ottoman houses stack like stairs up Mt. Tomorri to the castle. The unique mountain town exudes a friendly, laid-back vibe. Nowhere is this more evident than the town’s sunset stroll. Every night, before sunset, hundreds of locals take to the main street to walk and talk or grab a drink at a cafe. Visit the Kalasa neighborhood, beyond the castle walls. The views from the castle are the best. To learn more about art and culture in the area visit Onufri Museum or take an expert guided tour of the city.
24. Ionian Coast, Albania
Along the Ionian Coast, rugged mountains plunge into the clear blue sea. This stretch of coast in Albania is truly spectacular. Many historic sites exist in towns and cities in this area. The ancient ruins of Butrint and the Castle of Lekuresit are two of the highlights in this area. Visit Vlora to enjoy historic buildings and museums. If you long for the beach hold out for smaller villages further south. Outdoor adventures abound in this breath taking setting. Take a sea kayaking tour to appreciate the grandeur of this coastline.
Beautiful Budapest. Divided by the long, meandering Danube River it is an alluring tale of two distinctly different cities. Buda on the west bank is hills and historical sites. Pest on the East bank is flat plains pulsating with modern cafes and clubs.The list of things to see in Budapest is long. Highlights are The Great Synagogue, Memento Park and The Royal Palace. Take a night river cruise to appreciate the impressive Parliament Building and the Szechenyi Chain Bridge. Both are breathtaking lit at night.