While evergreen destinations like Paris and Rome will always be popular, the Eastern European countries are now really coming into their own as some of the most sought-after holiday spots for trend-setting travellers from around the globe. Here is a rundown of 10 countries throughout Eastern Europe that you should definitely consider for that next trip to Europe.
One of the most fortunate aspects of the fall of communism in the late 1980s is that cities like Prague in the Czech Republic once again became accessible to avid adventurers. And what a city it is! If you want to feel the beating heart of Czech culture, this is the place to do so. Walking across the centuries-old Charles bridge that crosses the Vltava, staring up at the ramparts of Prague Castle, you will find yourself rooted in the fascinating history that surrounds you. It’s an experience that astounds.
As the world’s largest country, Russia has a lot going for it. Sweeping, historic cities? Check. A fairytale countryside? Why yes. Epic train rides that traverse the larger part of a continent? Yup. Also, it’s just wonderfully dramatic. Think stoic fortresses, multi-coloured churches, uproarious festivals and effortlessly executed ballets. From the Kremlin and the Red Square in Moscow, to the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, this is a country that doesn’t hold back.
If you have a thing for intriguing architecture, inspiring lakeside scenery and thermal spas, Hungary should be at the top of your Eastern Europe holiday destination list. Short on time? A visit to Budapest offers a microcosm of the country at large. Between the scenic Danube, iconic Széchenyi Chain Bridge, and sweeping Buda Old Town & Castle, you are bound to satisfy any craving you might have for grand encounters. Hungary is also one of the most affordable destinations in Europe.
Poland is a multifaceted country is that offers a lot more than WWII memorials. Although the tragic war left countless scars on its facade, and the Auschwitz memorial makes for a sobering experience, it’s the resilience of its culture and the positivity of its populace that typifies Poland these days. Hit the high notes like St Mary’s Basilica and Wawel Castle in Krakow, and Old Town and Wilanow Palace in Warsaw, but also make time to hang with the locals. Make friends in a pub, book a meal with a local family – get to know these people. The true magic of Poland lies in its unquenchable spirit.
Ah, Estonia. If you ever want to experience a truly singular culture, this is it. Keen on vast forests and the quiet of the countryside? You can get it here in spades. But then there is also the unique charms of Tallinn and its Old Town, which enjoys UNESCO recognition. Not to mention the impressive St Nicholas church, and imposing Kadriorg Palace. From hidden gems to must-see marvels, Estonia has it all.
The Republic of Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered by Romania and Ukraine. The capital of Chișinău is the commercial, cultural, and social center of Moldova. Moldova is perhaps best known for its wonderful wine and the fact that it has the highest percentage of land dedicated to vineyards of any country in the world. Its top wine regions include Nistreana and Codru. The latter is home to some of the worlds largest cellars. Enjoy the arts? Chișinău, Moldova’s capital, offers unrivalled options in theatre, music, opera, and ballet performances. There are also plenty of Soviet-era architecture and engaging museums to enjoy.
Easily accessible from pretty much anywhere in Europe, Slovakia is situated slap bang in the middle of all the splendour the continent has to offer. Picturesque mountains and well-preserved castles abound, and the bigger cities feature plenty of modern-day attractions as well (think excellent shopping and a vibey nightlife). The capital of Bratislava has an electric ambience and also offers a host of historical attractions, such as the medieval old town and hilltop castle. Best of both!
If you like to experience history made tangible, head to the Ukraine. The Ukraine is vast – other than Russia (which isn’t fully situated in Europe alone), it’s the biggest European country. As such, there is a lot to explore and discover. From the the Pechersk Lavra and Soviet-era Motherland Monument in Kiev, to birding along the Danube Delta and watersports on the Black Sea, there is plenty of opportunity to immerse yourself in it’s fascinating history and rub shoulders with its hospitable populace.
The Balkan country that is rich in history, arts and scenic beauty! Romania borders Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Moldova and the Black Sea. Here, at the crossroads between central and eastern Europe, you will find a country that is wonderfully diverse. From the high-energy ambience of vibrant Bucharest, to the quiet splendour of picturesque Transylvanian towns and centuries-old stone churches clinging to rocky mountain sides, there is plenty to see and do for travellers from all walks of life.
As Jewel of the Adriatic Sea, Croatia falls more in the southeastern bracket of Europe. If the globe was a high school, Croatia would be the overachiever who makes everyone look bad. Beautiful, chock full of character and with plenty of historical attractions (think Venetian palazzi and Napoleonic forts rubbing shoulders with Slavic churches), it’s a great place to chill out on the beach or head for the hills to explore river canyons and gorgeous lakes. Must-see destinations include the walled city of Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes National Park and the awe-inspiring Cathedral of St Domnius in Split.
Eastern Europe calling your name? Head here for more Eastern Europe inspiration.