One of the best ways to tell the story of Eastern Europe is through its many changes. Today the region is one of the most diverse (and dreamed-of) travel destinations because of its fascinating past. Here, learn a bit about a few of the incredible, up-and-coming locations you can visit on a tour of Europe.
Did you know: Seven different countries border Hungary, the most of any in Eastern Europe. Its neighbors are Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Ukraine.
Why you should go: Three words—Budapest’s hot springs. The formerly split city (Buda and Pest united in 1873) has a fascinating history and is filled with plenty of architectural eye-candy, from Buda Castle to the Hungarian Parliament building. After a day of taking it all in on tour, there’s no better way to unwind than with a dip in one of the city’s 100 natural thermal baths.
Did you know: There are 32 letters in the Polish alphabet, including nine vowels. The letters Q, V, and X are only used in non-native words.
Why you should go: Kraków and Warsaw are two cities with tumultuous pasts, but the story of post-war, post-Communist Poland has been one of rejuvenation. History buffs will love exploring Kraków’s medieval neighborhoods and squares, while the trendspotting set can enjoy uncovering Warsaw’s budding art and restaurant scenes.
The Czech Republic
Did you know: The Czechs drink the most beer out of anyone else in the world, averaging 142.6 liters per person. Na zdraví is how you say “cheers” here!
Why you should go: Prague is knowns as the “City of One Hundred Spires,” but the Czech capital is also famous for its beautiful bridges, castles, and of course, beer. Brews are better here than almost anywhere else—and you can even take a dip in a tub of it if you’re up for the ultimate beer-lovers’ experience.
Did you know: Dubrovnik, Croatia appears on screen as the setting of King’s Landing in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones.
Why you should go: When Copywriter Courtney set out to explore Croatia on tour, one thing stood out: the incredible colors. From the Adriatic Sea sparkling off the shores of Dubrovnik to the pink-and-orange sunsets in Split, Croatia stuns at every turn.
Did you know: The country’s flag is one of the oldest in the world—the simple red-and-white stripe design dates back to 1279, when it was first used by ancient tribes in battle.
Why you should go: Riga, the Latvian capital city, is bursting with some of the world’s best Art Nouveau architecture. On a guided sightseeing tour, you’ll have the chance to check out the UNESCO-recognized Central District, where more than a third of the buildings show off the style.
Did you know: Tallinn, the capital, was once a fortified medieval city. Much of its ancient ramparts are still standing, and are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Why you should go: Recognized as a European Capital of Culture in 2011, Tallinn is still riding the wave of its cultural renaissance. Exploring the city is like stepping into the past, from the medieval Old Town to its Baroque palaces, but Tallinn boasts all the best of our modern age—including hip restaurants and bars, art museums, and even free city-wide Wi-Fi.
Did you know: Ljubljana Castle has exchanged many hands, and served many purposes, in its 1,000-year history. Today, it’s a museum and you can reach it by funicular.
Why you should go: Lovers of leafy green parks, quiet strolls, and lounging at outdoor cafes will never run out of things to enjoy about Ljubljana. Cars aren’t allowed to drive in the city center, which means Ljubljana’s old world charm shines through—and that the city is one of the Balkans’ eco-friendliest spots.
Did you know: Bran Castle is well-known for being the home of the legendary vampire, Dracula—though it’s not the castle Bram Stoker had in mind when writing his novel.
Why you should go: Like many former Soviet satellites, Romania has blossomed since the fall of the USSR. While you can trace the country’s Communist past in still-standing monuments, you’ll see its rebirth in everything from the bustling squares of Bucharest to Sibiu’s cultured atmosphere.