You know what they say. “When in Rome, you’re on the same vacation as a million other people.”
Okay, that may not be the saying, but the truth remains. Places like Rome and Paris are on everyone’s bucket lists. If you’re looking for a more out-of-the-way destination, you have to look elsewhere.
That’s why we humbly submit Eastern Europe for your travel consideration.
Some of the most popular associations with Eastern Europe are dreary weather and communism. But this is a whole half of a continent we’re talking about, and we happen to know this reputation is undeserved.
Read on as show you why we think Eastern Europe is underrated and why you should seriously think about booking your next vacation there.
An Eastern Europe Trip Is Wallet-Friendly
One of the benefits that comes with searching out a less-traveled destination is the price break that comes with it. Just steer clear of Moscow if value is your highest priority, as that city is the rare exception to the rule.
According to Post Office Money’s City Costs Barometer 2018, Krakow, Poland is the cheapest city to visit on the continent. It’s closely followed by Krakow as well as Vilnius, Lithuania, and Riga, Latvia. Even some of the better-known cities like Warsaw and Budapest are still great deals.
It’s Great Fodder for the ‘Gram
Whether you like it or not, posting on social media is a fact of vacation life these days. And if you like that, you’ll love the opportunities for great pics that Eastern Europe provides.
What makes these places so beautiful to behold is their mix of architectural styles, from medieval castles to cutting-edge skyscrapers. Many of these cities look like anachronistic fairy tales.
There are also plenty of alleys tucked away that provide great frames for all the hidden spots you find.
People don’t typically think of great food when they think of Eastern Europe. That’s usually the territory of the French and the Italians. But don’t sleep on the native cuisine in this part of the world.
Cities throughout Eastern Europe are full of fresh produce, for starters. That’s because these countries contain some of the most fertile lands in all of Europe. That fresh produce comes through in must-try meals that are as flavorful as they are hearty.
You may already know about the dark breads you can find in Russia or the pierogi in Poland. What may be under your radar is the influence of Mediterranean cooking you can find in the Balkans. And if your travels include Hungary, the Czech Republic, or Slovakia, you’d be a fool not to taste the local goulash.
Both Beaches and Mountains!
You’ll need to burn off all those calories somehow, and Eastern Europe offers plenty of different ways to do so.
The beaches in the Balkans flip the Eastern European stereotype completely on its head. They offer the beauty of the beach you’ll see in other parts of the Mediterranean but at a fraction of the price. And the Adriatic Coast boasts a diversity of attractions in addition to the beach, including clear water, forest, and mountains.
Speaking of mountains, Eastern Europe has them in spades. Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is a popular destination, though prices dip in winter when the weather gets colder. Sometimes it gets quite a bit colder, so make sure to check the weather before you book your hiking excursion.
Some of the other hiking trails that let you experience the natural beauty of Eastern Europe include Slovakian spots like Krivan Peak and Vazecka Valley. These are challenging trails but well worth the views if you’re up for them.
Vibrant and Haunting Art
You could target the big museums. Eastern Europe certainly has plenty of them, like the Hungarian National Gallery with its focus on local art and Prague’s National Gallery, which give an insight into art across centuries.
But there are hidden gems here too in the form of elaborate street murals and public sculptures. We’ll point to the proliferation of graffiti art in the Savamala neighborhood of Belgrade as one such gem. Lodz, Poland is another, thanks to the industrial heritage of the city that always seems to accompany great art locales.
Some Top Spots
Have we convinced you yet of the value of Eastern Europe as a tourist destination? If so, we’ll go even further and suggest a few specific locations to start your search for the perfect Eastern European vacation. Take a look.
Montenegro is a tiny country on the order of a Luxembourg. It combines beautiful crescent-shaped beaches with breathtaking rock faces above in cities like Kotor. The way the cities in Montenegro appear like barnacles on the rocks is a sight to behold.
Known as the “Jerusalem of Europe,” Sarajevo features a rich combination of cultures and religions, with Islam, Orthodox Christianity, and Catholicism all boasting ties to the city. Fittingly, this is a place where people of all cultures rub shoulders, from Balkans and Turks to Central Europeans.
This natural space on the border of Poland and Belarus is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the last remaining temperate primeval forest on the continent.
There are 800 European bison that live in the forest, so if you visit, you can see them in the wild.
Your Next Vacation Is Hiding in Plain Sight
There are few things more satisfying than going on vacation to a place that is as unique as it is beautiful, interesting, and full of good food. Eastern Europe is chock full of just such places.
We hope you’ve gotten a start on vacation planning with this guide. If you need additional help, we have plenty more travel guides to peruse.