From fairytale Czech towns to Budapest, the “Pearl of the Danube,” Eastern Europe is full of unique culture, food, and history. Not only is this region significantly cheaper compared to the rest of the continent, it also has some of the most diverse communities in the world. Of course, there are far too many places to see and explore in one trip – so here are just some of the highlights that Eastern Europe has to offer.
- Plitvice National Parks, Croatia
One of the most beautiful and naturally stunning National parks in the world. The park is famous for it’s 16 terraced lakes, which are all connected by waterfalls before finishing up in a limestone canyon. The colourful lakes and waterfalls can be observed from a host of tiered walkways and paths that wind across the water.
- Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor is located on a beautiful bay on the coast of Montenegro, surrounded by stunning scenic views of limestone cliffs. The old city, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is filled with medieval architecture and historic monuments. The city walls that have protected Kotor for centuries lead up to the fortress of Saint Ivan, and extend over four kilometres.
- Lake Bled, Slovenia
Nestled away in the foothills of the Julian Alps, Lake Bled is a hidden paradise of peace and tranquillity. The calm body of water surrounds a tiny island on which stands a beautiful church which is commonly used for weddings. The medieval castle stands watch over the peaceful village, perched high upon the cliff face. In the summer tourists can lounge by the lake front or kayak across the lake, while in the winter the old town transforms into a ski resort.
- Szechenyi Baths, Hungary
This is by far the most famous and impressive Bath in Budapest. Visitors can enjoy supreme luxury and relaxation at the public bath-house with over 18 baths and pools to choose from, all naturally heated by two thermal springs underground.
- Bran Castle, Romania
Also known as Dracula’s Castle, this iconic fortress is perched high on the hilltops overlooking the town of Bran, near Brasov in Romania. The castle is regarded by many as the setting for Bram Stoker’s iconic character, Dracula.
- The Sedlec Ossuary, Croatia
On the outskirts of Prague in the village of Kutná Hora is possibly the most unique yet chilling church in the world – the church of bones. From the outside, the small unassuming building doesn’t look any different to the thousands of other churches across Europe, but inside tells a very different story. The church is decorated by the remains of over 40,000 human skeletons, and the centrepiece is a large chandelier that contains at least one example of every human bone.
- St. Basil’s Cathedral, Russia
Quite possibly the hallmark building of Russia, St. Basil’s Cathedral is located on the southern end of Moscow’s infamous Red Square. Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible, the building is a colourful mix of towers and pillars resembling a castle you might find in the likes of Disneyland.
- Diocletian Palace, Croatia
Built by the Romans, this towering fortress is one of the most impressive and intact examples of ancient Roman architecture. The palace can be found in the coastal town of Split and will be recognised by many for its appearance in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
- Auschwitz, Poland
Whilst this may not be the most pleasant experience for many, it is a must see for everyone. The concentration camps at Auschwitz were the centre of the most heinous hate crimes in history. Learn all about the haunting history of these camps, from the train ride into the campsites to the barracks and gas chambers. A trip to Auschwitz is incredibly humbling and a sombre reminder of the horrors that took place during the second Word War.
- Belogradchik Fortress, Bulgaria
This impressive fortress looks like it came straight out of the book The Lord of the Rings. Located roughly three hours north of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, the fortress was built on the slopes of the Balkan mountains and uses the natural mountain terrain as an additional fortification for the structure. As well as serving a practical function, the sandstone pillars give a colourful and idyllic backdrop to the historic battlements.
So much more to see
Of course, these are just some of many sights and destinations Eastern Europe has to offer. There are plenty of other unique and fascinating attractions to visit and explore, from historical monuments to beautiful National Parks. Get out there and explore!
Author Bio: Joe Olds
Joe’s unquenchable thirst to see the world has taken him to North & Central America, across Asia, through Europe and around Oceania. Flying his British nest to travel, Joe now resides in Melbourne, Australia, where he’s been for the past five years.