Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe has long been a little off the beaten track for tourists, who prefer the more famous sights of Paris, Rome, Barcelona or Amsterdam. But for anyone willing to look past the glitz and glamor of France, Italy, and Spain in the west, Eastern Europe has a lot to offer. 

Eastern Europe has grand, stylish capital cities with stunning architecture and rich history and culture. Medieval sites and world-class museums and galleries in cities like Prague and Budapest rub shoulders with the stunning natural beauty of the Croatian coast and the Romanian mountains. 

Eastern Europe offers something for everyone. It is the perfect place for backpackers and shoestring travelers, as life tends to be significantly cheaper than in the more well known western destinations, but it has a wealth of fascinating culture, beautiful cities, and luxurious retreats for the more well-heeled tourist as well. For adventurous travelers, the mountains and forests that spread across most of the countries in Eastern Europe offer fantastic hiking, camping and biking opportunities, while taking a cruise to Croatia and exploring the coast is perfect for beach lovers and sailing aficionados. Take a look below at some of the best spots that Eastern Europe has to offer and make sure you pack the essentials!


Hungary’s capital is a magical mixture of Baroque grandeur and edgy, alternative decadence, with elegant Buda contrasting perfectly with more racy, vibrant Pest. 

For culture lovers, Budapest is a paradise, with the elegant sights of Buda including Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion and St Stephen’s Basilica. 

For travelers looking for fun and excitement, the ruin bars of the old town in Pest is a fascinating phenomenon. Following the fall of Communism, many old buildings fell into disrepair, and have been taken over and reimagined as artsy, edgy pubs, bars, and venues. These incredible spots boast an unrivaled atmosphere and are a must for any visitors to Budapest.


Prague is a genuine fairytale city, full of cobbled streets, majestic castles and picture-perfect architecture. Prague has a long and storied past and is full of fascinating history around every corner. 

Prague is overflowing with things to do and see, and it is a city that probably requires several visits to see everything. Prague Castle is a must-visit, and the world-famous Charles Bridge is best viewed at sundown. Strolling along the embankments of the Vltava river on a sunny day is a real treat, and exploring the cobbled streets of the Old Town and Jewish Ghetto brings the city’s history alive.

Bran Castle

Romania is one of the least touristy countries in Eastern Europe. Its deep, dark forests are hard to explore, and many of its towns and cities still bear the marks of the Communist regime. However, this makes it one of the most fascinating places for adventurous travelers to visit.

Perched on a mountain top just outside Brasov in central Romania is Bran Castle, made famous by Bram Stoker in his remarkable novel as the lair of Count Dracula. While there is no historical connection to the real Count Vlad Dracul, it is a chillingly atmospheric place and offers some fascinating insights into the history of Transylvania, the real Vlad Dracul, and vampire myths more generally. Just don’t get caught there after dark...

Lake Bled

Lake Bled is really the place where Slovakia gets its nickname of ‘Little Switzerland’. It is truly gorgeous, with crystal-clear waters and encircled by mountains and forests. The picture-perfect setting is completed by the church spire emerging from the trees on the island in the center, and the castle overlooking the lake from the top of a cliff. 

Just boating around Lake Bled and taking in the beautiful scenery is a great experience, but for thrill-seekers there are loads more to do, including whitewater rafting and bungee jumping. In the summer the clear blue waters are perfect for swimming.

Croatian island-hopping

The Croatian coast is stunningly beautiful, easily the equal of its Italian counterpart just across the Adriatic. Dotted with lovely beaches, delightful little hill towns balancing precariously above the water, and an archipelago of over a thousand of the most beautiful islands in Europe. Combining the best elements of Italy, Greece, and the French Riviera, with a distinctive culture all of its own, Croatia is a wonderful vacation destination. Taking a trip down the coast and visiting as many islands as you can, from Hvar and Brac to Vis and Pag, is a truly magical experience, whether done as a road trip or on a sailing boat.

Zagreb and Plitvice

Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is a charming yet underrated city. It is surprisingly beautiful, with a wealth of architectural leftovers from the era of the Hapsburgs, and boasts an eclectic and energetic arts scene as well. 

It is also the perfect base to plan a trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of Eastern Europe’s natural wonders and an astonishingly beautiful part of the world. A network of charming wooden boardwalks leads you across the pristine blue lakes to discover the sheer cliffs and cascading waterfalls that make up this gorgeous corner of the world. A real treat for nature lovers.


Another underrated destination, Mostar is a staggeringly beautiful town in the heart of Bosnia Herzegovina. Its main attraction is the Stari Most, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but the blend of Ottoman and western architecture makes the town a whole truly wonderful sight.

The Stari Most or Old Bridge joins the two parts of the town across the picturesque Neretva river. It is a remarkable combination of beautiful Islamic architecture and ingenious Ottoman engineering.

Mostar’s beauty does hide a dark, tragic past, and it was at the center of much of the Balkan civil wars during the 1990s. The city does still feel the effects of the atrocities committed, and there are plenty of indications of this sad history dotted about the place. These include an excellent and moving war photography gallery, and the ‘Don’t Forget’ stone which serves as a gentle reminder and commemoration to the lives lost in the conflict.