contributed by Elisa of World in Paris
Brasov is a fairy-tale fortified city in the heart of Transylvania, in Romania. It is easy to walk, it has a beautiful architecture with Saxon influences and many nice cafes to stop for a caffeine break. We were lucky to find an apartment facing the main square so it was nice to see how the city wakes up.
If you want to get the most out of Brasov, we recommend doing the free city tour starting every day from the main square. It is a very entertaining tour which introduces visitors to the history of the city, some fun legends and its main sights like the black church and the white and black towers. In addition, guides are always happy to give some recommendations on good restaurants to explore the local cuisine so you are set for the day.
Brasov is also a good base for exploring other parts of Transylvania like the famous Bran castle or the mountains of Piatra Craiului.
contributed by Eric of Penguin and Pia
For the capital of a country, Podgorica, Montenegro doesn’t get too much credit. We think this should change! Podgorica does actually have things to do and this makes the city a place that we think is worth checking out for yourself. From traditional Balkan cuisine at restaurants like Pod Volat to visiting the museums and wandering the historic old town, the city has a rich history that is to be learned about and explored.
If you’re in Podgorica at night, the city centre is buzzing with activity. The bars, pubs, and restaurants open their patios in the warm air and let the night take its course. Whatever kind of fun you’re looking for, you’ll find it out on the town in Podgorica. Oh, and don’t forget about the things you can check out close to the city. Just a short drive away from Podgorica is the “Niagara Falls” of Montenegro – and you won’t want to miss checking out nature at its finest!
contributed by Kirstin of The Tinberry Travels
Lake Ohird is one of the most beautiful spots in the Balkans and sat on the water’s edge in the wonderful Ohrid City, FYROM. The biggest settlement in the region, Ohrid along with its neighbouring lake, is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with ancient history, diverse and intricate architecture and plenty of natural beauty on top. Said to have once held 365 places of worship, one for every day of the year, the many churches or Ohrid are the city’s main drawn but there are plenty of things to do in Ohrid.
From boat trips or swimming in the beautiful clear waters to ancient amphitheatres and fortresses on the hill, Ohrid has a good variety of attractions and is fast becoming the new place to go in the Balkans. To get to Ohrid, a number of low cost airlines fly direct to the small Ohrid airport just outside the city or you can take a three hour drive from the FYROM ‘s capital of Skopje.
contributed by Mary of A Mary Road
Vilnius Lithuania is not only another city in East Europe. If you are looking to explore this part of the world, Vilnius is worth a visit. It’s probably one of the cheapest places you can explore taking into account that it is the capital city. Vilnius is full of historical events and culture, the city is very open-minded and LGBTQA friendly.
Exploring around is very easy, you can either walk through the Old Town or hop on a bicycle (which is very affordable to rent for a day or more), to go further out. Vilnius has also a lot of park around, in Summer, you can sit by the park, watch the locals go through their daily life or simply visit a local market where fresh fruits are being sold. Going to the next city like Kaunas or to the neighbouring country is very easy too, and affordable. There are cheap flights in and out of Vilnius within Europe.
contributed by Stephanie of Sofia Adventures
While Plovdiv in central Bulgaria is an Eastern European city, it does’t feel like it. It’s a beautiful, classic town full of ancient Roman architecture, gorgeous Bulgarian Revival houses, and modern street art. If you’re looking for Red Tourism, head elsewhere, because this is Bulgaria’s elegant cultural center. In fact, it’s been named as the European Capital of Culture for 2019, highlighting it’s place as one of the oldest cities in Europe.
There is eight thousand years of history in this city, but there’s also tons of great modern amenities, like fantastic restaurants and fun cafes. You can spend a weekend or a week here, because there are so many things to see and do in Plovdiv that you won’t have time get bored. After checking out the main highlights of the city (I highly recommend the city’s free walking tour), head out to see some of the beautiful monasteries in the region.
Old Town of Budva in Montenegro
contributed by Michelle of Greedy Gourmet
Located on the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro, is a beautiful town called Budva. Even though some parts of this country are still suffering from the effects of the Cold War, Budva is a thriving tourist destination. Budva is only a 25-minute taxi ride from Tivat Airport, where you can easily hail a cab outside the building or rent a car to get around.
The city is known for its beaches, nightlife and restaurants but is also rich in history. You can spend the day at the Rustovo Monastery or head up to the Citadel to catch some amazing views. Most tourists come for the beaches and there are plenty to visit, such as Mogren Beach, Royal Beach and Kamenova Beach.
You absolutely need to eat at Casa Mia, a lovely Italian restaurant. Casa Mia has its own farm, raising their own chickens, ducks, turkeys and goats which makes them a rare, sustainable restaurant. In addition, you should check out Dukley Beach Lounge. Located right on the water, the views are enough of a reason to visit this restaurant.
contributed by Suzanne of The Travelbunny
Budapest is the perfect European city to visit for a long weekend or city break. Full of charm, beautiful buildings, good food, coffee shops, art, history and quirk there’s a lot you can pack into a few days. The Danube runs through the centre of the city splitting it into two distinct districts; Buda and Pest. The 19th century Chain Bridge links hilly Buda’s castle district with flatter Pest. A funicular runs up Castle Hill to Old Town Buda where you’ll get fabulous views across the River Danube to the stunning Hungarian Parliament building. Fisherman’s Bastion, the 13th century Matthias Church and the famous Gellert thermal baths are all on the Buda side. Cross the Chain Bridge to explore Pest with its trendy ruin bars, ornate coffee shops, the food market and the grandeur of Heroes Square.
The city is good value for money as it’s not part of the Euro and still uses the Hungarian Forint. You can explore most of the city on foot or by using the metro which is easy to use and the oldest electrified underground railway system in Europe.
contributed by Kamila of My Wanderlust
Even before visiting Kotor I knew I’m gonna love it there. The pictures I’ve seen online looked just amazing and the place seemed too beautiful to be true. But it really does exist and is even more spectacular that I could imagine! By now I’ve been some 5 times there and Kotor for me is the most beautiful place in Europe.
The highlight of every visit is of course the climb to the St. John castle – it is exhausting to walk over a thousand stairs to the top but the view is definitely worth it! But there are so many more things to do there! I love wandering around Kotor Old Town, especially early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s not too crowded, I love walking along Kotor Bay to Dobrota and admire the stunning views and I love visiting small village of Perast that is just the prettiest. If you decided to visit Kotor I can only suggest to do it off season as the summer might be just too busy there!
contributed by Jessica of Longest Bus Rides
There are so many things to do in Wroclaw, Poland that it should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Europe. The historical part of the city is completely walkable, so no need to rent a car. If anything, rent a bicycle. And, it’s very accessible to English speakers, with much of the signage translated to English. It helps that the city was European Union City of the Year in 2014.
Known as the Venice of the North, there are lots of cute bridges (approximately 130, but not all of them are cute) and 12 islands. There is even an island with gardens and historical buildings—visit the Gothic Cathedral at night to see it lit up. St. Mary Magdalene Churchhas Penitent Bridge, a gangway connecting the towers high over the city.The view is fantastic, although its original purpose is sad–
The synagogue has a free museum regarding the Jewish history in the area. On the more humorous side, keep your eyes open for all the gnomes throughout the city. They are small, and it’s always a fun surprise to find one. There’s one right by the entrance to the ancient pub underneath City Hal
contributed by Kylie of Our Overseas Adventures
Ljublijana is the largest city in Slovenia and one of the new cool capital cities of Eastern Europe. It’s a fabulous city to visit for a few days and it has a wonderful funky vibe. The beautiful Ljubljanica river runs through the centre of the old town and wandering along the riverbanks, popping into some of the great cafes lining the route is such a great way to pass the time. The city is often compared to Prague due to its architecture designed by the world famous Jože Plečnik.
Ljublijana is famous for its bridges, with the Dragon Bridge being the most notable landmark in Ljublijana. Choose one of the four iconic dragons positioned at both ends of the bridge to snap a selfie with! Towering over the city is the 900-year-old Ljubljana Castle, a must-see with some of the best views of the city. You can take a funicular railway to reach the castle, or walk up one of the paths if you want some exercise. Afterwards, head back down into the city and pick one of the many hip bars to relax with a drink and soak in the atmosphere of this gorgeous city.
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
contributed by Allison of Sofia Adventures
Veliko Tarnovo is one of the most beautiful cities in Bulgaria. As the former capital of Bulgaria, it’s chock full of history, which can be seen in the beautiful Tsaravets fortress, which used to be the seat of power hundreds of years ago. Today, Veliko Tarnovo is full of interesting monuments, delicious restaurants with gorgeous views over the Yantra River, old-fashioned houses built on a hillside, and cafés and bars where you can relax and enjoy a slower pace of life.
You shouldn’t miss Asen’s Monument, the Stambolov bridge, the fortress, the many interesting churches, and a side trip to the nearby village of Arbanasi. Be sure to eat at the original restaurant, Shtastliveca, which is now popular throughout several cities in Bulgaria. Shopska salad can’t be missed when visiting Bulgaria! Veliko Tarnovo is a great addition to Bulgaria itineraries that include larger cities like Plovdiv or Sofia, or as a side trip from Bucharest, or as its own city break!
contributed by Julianna of The Discoveries of
Zagreb was the city I never expected to fall in love with. A striking blend of centuries of history, cosmopolitan culture and a laid-back vibe – it was only ever going to end one way. What’s so special about Zagreb? The small walkable centre is packed with sights, both old and new, for your itinerary. The Neo-Gothic Cathedral dominates the skyline but surprises visitors with its modernist carvings inside. Equally enchanting is the much-talked about Museum of Broken Relationships, which is packed with the sometimes funny, sometimes sad relics of relationships that haven’t quite worked out.
Don’t miss the daily firing of the cannon in Lotrsčak Tower either – at 12pm sharp the warden fires a cannon (stuffed with paper) over the city. It’s not clear where the tradition came from, but it’s happened daily since 1877. Be warned, it is very loud! Lotrsčak Tower also happens to boast stellar views out over Zagreb, so it’s a win-win situation. Some people pass through Zagreb, seeing it as a stop on their way to the Plitvice Lakes, or as they zoom to Split and Dubrovnik further south. What a mistake – spend some time here and you’ll see that Zagreb is a small city with a lot to offer.
Sibiu city, Transylvania
contributed by Raluca of Whisper Wanderlust
Sibiu is one of the most beautiful, largest and most visited cities of Romania. It is located in Transylvania, approximately in the center of the country, making it easily accessible from any point. Being very close to the tallest and most spectacular mountains in the country, I recommend that along with Sibiu, go on a road trip on Transfagarasan, the most scenic road in the country.
Sibiu, thanks to its beauty, became the cultural capital of Europe 10 years ago when countless events took place in the city. Being the largest medieval ensemble in the country, it is a real pleasure to walk through the old center. The cobbled streets, the colorful houses that seem to have eyes on their roofs, the cheerful terraces and the architecture of the most important buildings will instantly conquer you. If you arrive in Sibiu, I recommend you to pass the Liars Bridge, admire the Council Tower, the Lutheran Evangelical cathedral or the Brukenthal Museum and go on a picnic at Dumbrava Sibiului.
contributed by LeAnne of Well Traveled Nebraskan
Medulin, Croatia is no longer just the sleepy fishing village it once was. Today, you can find accommodations to fit all budgets along the incredibly stunning Istrian Coast. Whether you are looking for a glitzy all inclusive resort to get away or to camp right along the beach, we loved Medulin’s various paces of life offered to all kinds of travelers. There was just something about grabbing delicious grilled Croatian food right on the ocean while kicking back with some of the cheapest beer we’ve ever bought that made us fall in love with the area.
However, it was the Kemenjak National Park, just on the outskirts of town that gave us memories to last a lifetime. Purchase a cheap snorkel set from any stand in town and then head to the park where you can swim in crystal clear waters and explore underwater caves. For adventurous souls, join the cliff jumpers leaping from various levels of cliffs into the deep ocean below for an amazingly fun time! And then for any history buffs, geek out at the actual dinosaur tracks, still imprinted in the rocks!
Medulin was the perfect balance of exploration with a touch of relaxation, which makes it a perfect destination for just about any type of traveler!