The following is a suggested vacation itinerary for those wishing to travel in Eastern Europe. The itinerary includes many of the most popular destinations in Eastern Europe as well as other off-the-beaten-path gems.
Have you ever tried to go on vacation and felt like it was too expensive? I know that feeling all too well. That’s why I am going to give you some pointers on how you can vacation in Eastern Europe.
I took a couple of vacations in Eastern Europe recently, when I spent a lot of time on Google.com/maps, researching the best attractions to see in each region. I plan on posting some vacation photos soon, but this isn’t the post for that. This post is about optimizing your travel experience in Eastern Europe via Google Maps and some additional study beforehand so you spend less time doing research before arrival and more time enjoying the attractions. Luckily, there are only a few different languages spoken in the various countries here and most signs are easy to understand, even for those unfamiliar with them.
Eastern Europe has been growing in appeal for over a century, since the time of the Grand Tour. The area is rich in culture, tradition and history — but perhaps more importantly — offers some breathtaking landscapes and pristine countryside unlike anywhere else on the planet. From the beaches of Croatia to the Capital of Bulgaria, we’ve picked out the best destinations you can visit in Eastern Europe.
Vacation In Eastern Europe
If you love history, culture and the great outdoors, then Eastern Europe could be the destination for your next European vacation. The challenge is deciding which country to visit. A trip to Eastern Europe might include going to Budapest in Hungary, Bucharest in Romania, or Cracow in Poland. No matter where you go, though, it is easy to find good places to stay and see sights that appeal to a broad international audience.
Eastern Europe might not be everyone’s number one travel destination. Communist-era buildings, the conflicts in the 1990s and border disputes in recent years have meant much of the region has been overlooked by potential tourists.
But with its patchwork of pretty, pastel-colored old towns, incredible ancient history, exciting nightlife, and nature from sprawling lakes to swooping mountains, Eastern Europe is a surprising delight. History, culture, nature, ethnicity – all of them mix into an intriguing swirl that’s making this part of Europe an increasingly popular vacation destination.
25. Vilnius[SEE MAP]
© Darius Strazdas / Dreamstime
Vilnius is the Lithuanian capital which comes complete with a particularly beautiful old town. This heart of the city boasts Baroque architecture along its cobblestone streets. But you can see more than just Baroque: there’s the Gothic Saint Anne’s Church, the 16th-century Gate of Dawn, and the Neo-Classical Vilnius Cathedral.
Other than being home to Europe’s largest Baroque old town, Vilnius contains an array of bars and cafes hidden down charming alleyways and lining atmospheric courtyards. With a large population of students (over 20,000 of them), after night falls, Vilnius becomes a vibrant destination with flowing beer and live music.
24. Minsk[SEE MAP]
© Ryhor Bruyeu / Dreamstime
Minsk is the Belarusian capital. Completely destroyed during World War II, the city sadly no longer has much in the way of historical monuments or buildings. With that in mind, much of Minsk is actually made up of Stalinist architecture, such as Independence Square, a sprawling former KGB headquarters, and more recent, very impressive churches.
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Nowadays, Minsk is a modern city with cool cafes to chill out in with a coffee, restaurants with international cuisine, and interesting art galleries. It’s a cosmopolitan capital that seems to be moving with the times, with a host of nightclubs and bars to visit in the evenings.
23. High Tatras[SEE MAP]
© Guantana / Dreamstime
This rugged collection of mountains on the border of northern Slovakian is the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains. Mount Krivan is the highest peak and is a symbol of the Slovak pride, luring many of its countrymen to climb to the summit.
Over a hundred emerald lakes, gushing waterfalls, and Alpine meadows characterize this beautiful region, making it a great place to hike around; in the winter skiers flock to the snow-covered slopes of the High Tatras. Luckily, you can stay in this marvel of nature, thanks to accommodation ranging from lakefront lodgings to more rustic mountainside retreats.
22. Sofia[SEE MAP]
© Stoyan Haytov / Dreamstime
The Bulgarian capital of Sofia sits in the west of the country. Being something of a crossroads for Europe, it has attracted invaders and settlers alike for the past 2,000 years. Its architecture and landmarks reflect the history of the region, including Ottoman mosques, Greek temples, Roman ruins, and Soviet monuments.
Despite its age, Sofia is a surprisingly youthful city with a laid-back atmosphere, where its citizens enjoy relaxing in green parks and strolling along the boulevard. There are plenty of museums and galleries for you to delve into, but on the other hand, nightlife abounds, with a plethora of restaurants and nightclubs.
21. Butrint National Park[SEE MAP]
© Todorovic / Dreamstime
Butrint National Park sits in the south of the little-visited Balkan mystery of Albania, just across the sea from Corfu. It’s got just about everything you could want in a national park – lakes, marshes, grassy plains, wetlands, and even archaeological sites. These include the site of Butrint itself; known in Latin as Buthrotum, it’s full of ancient architecture, including a very well preserved Roman-era theatre and a Greek acropolis.
Elsewhere, this park boasts remote, rocky islands; one even features a 15th-century Venetian fortress known as the Ali Pasha Castle. Visitors looking to stay in Butrint should choose one of the few informal, family-run lodgings here.
20. Cesky Krumlov[SEE MAP]
In the South Bohemia region in the Czech Republic lies Cesky Krumlov. This historic city is a supremely picturesque place to visit; think orange-tiled rooftops and the pretty riverside of the Vltava River, all flanked by green, rolling hills.
Made up of Renaissance and Baroque architecture, the town is overlooked by an impressive 13th-century castle, patchworked with a variety of styles through the ages; there’s also an ornate Baroque theatre to marvel at here.
It’s a town that should not be missed because of its sheer charm and beauty. Come in summer and stay till the sun goes down to watch the energetic city come alive with bars and restaurants.
19. Golden Ring[SEE MAP]
This is a vast area northeast of Moscow, Russia, that encompasses a handful of historic Russian cities. The medieval towns form a ‘Golden Ring,’ and due to their significance in the early history of Russia and the Rus tribe who founded it, have been labeled open-air museums.
The main towns are Sergiyev Posad, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Vladimir, Suzdal, Yarislavl, Perislavl-Zalessky, and Rostov Veliky. There are significant religious sites such as the 14th-century monastery of Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, grand buildings like Yarislavl, and other churches telling the story of a millennium of Russian Orthodox history.
18. Warsaw[SEE MAP]
The Polish capital of Warsaw has had a long, complex history, often marked by war and conflict. It was very much damaged during World War II, for instance, with the old town destroyed. However, it has been lovingly rebuilt to its former medieval glory, with brightly colored townhouses making for a pretty – if slightly artificial – place to wander around.
There’s a mixed bag of architecture across the city, including contemporary cafes and bars to discover. There are plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy and, with a lot of restaurants and some culinary brilliance going on, it’s an excellent destination for foodies.