Eastern Europe might not be everyone’s numberone travel destination.
Communist-era buildings, the conflicts inthe 1990s and border disputes in recent years have meant much of the region has been overlookedby potential tourists.
But with its patchwork of pretty, pastel-coloredold towns, incredible ancient history, exciting nightlife, and nature from sprawling lakesto swooping mountains, Eastern Europe is a surprising delight.
Here’s a look at the best places to visitin Eastern Europe: Number 25.
Vilnius is the Lithuanian capital which comescomplete with a particularly beautiful old town.
This heart of the city boasts Baroque architecturealong its cobblestone streets.
But you can see more than just Baroque: there’sthe Gothic Saint Anne’s Church, the 16th-century Gate of Dawn, and the Neo-Classical VilniusCathedral.
Vilnius also contains an array of bars andcafes hidden down charming alleyways and lining atmospheric courtyards.
With a large population of students, afternight falls, Vilnius becomes a vibrant destination with flowing beer and live music.
Minsk Minsk is the Belarusian capital.
Completely destroyed during World War II, the Belarusian capital sadly no longer has much in the way of historical monuments orbuildings.
With that in mind, much of Minsk is actuallymade up of Stalinist architecture, such as Independence Square, a sprawling former KGBheadquarters, and more recent, very impressive churches.
Nowadays, Minsk is a modern city with coolcafes to chill out in with a coffee, restaurants with international cuisine, and interestingart galleries.
High Tatras This rugged collection of mountains on theborder of northern Slovakian is the tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains.
Mount Krivan is the highest peak and is asymbol 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-coveredslopes of the High Tatras.
Sofia The Bulgarian capital of Sofia sits in thewest 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 thehistory of the region, including Ottoman mosques, Greek temples, Roman ruins, and Soviet monuments.
Despite its age, Sofia is a surprisingly youthfulcity with a laid-back atmosphere, where its citizens enjoy relaxing in green parks andstrolling along the boulevard.
There are plenty of museums for you to delveinto, but on the other hand, nightlife abounds, with a plethora of restaurants and nightclubs.
Butrint National Park Butrint National Park sits in the south ofthe little-visited Balkan mystery of Albania, just across the sea from Corfu.
It’s got just about everything you couldwant in a national park – lakes, marshes, grassy plains, wetlands, and even archaeologicalsites.
These include the site of Butrint itself, full of ancient architecture, including a very well preserved Roman-era theatre anda Greek acropolis.
Elsewhere, this park boasts remote, rockyislands; one even features a 15th-century Venetian fortress.
Cesky Krumlov In the South Bohemia region in the Czech Republiclies Cesky Krumlov.
This historic city is a supremely picturesqueplace 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.
It’s a town that should not be missed becauseof its sheer charm and beauty.
Come in summer and stay till the sun goesdown to watch the energetic city come alive with bars and restaurants.
Golden Ring 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 foundedit, have been labeled open-air museums.
Picturesque countrysides filled with cherryorchards, quaint cottages, onion-shaped domes and iconic churches that contain the country’soldest art make this region a special place to visit.
The Polish capital of Warsaw has had a long, complex history, often marked by war and conflict.
It was very much damaged during World WarII.
However, it has been lovingly rebuilt to itsformer medieval glory, with brightly colored townhouses making for a pretty – if slightlyartificial – place to wander around.
There’s a mixed bag of architecture acrossthe city, including contemporary cafes and bars to discover.
There are plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoyand, with a lot of restaurants, it’s an excellent destination for foodies.
Set in western Hungary, the holiday destinationof Lake Balaton is awash with beautiful beaches along its shores, as well as resort towns.
Flanked by volcanic hills, it’s the largestlake in Eastern Europe, and is thought of as the ‘Hungarian Inner Sea.
’ On the northern shores, you’ll find a medievalfortress, and the oldest medieval town in the area.
If you like wine, you’ll be happy to knowthat Lake Balaton is famous for its vineyards, which dot the surrounding hills.
Windsurfing and sailing are popular duringthe summer months.
Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is famousfor its Old Bridge over the Neretva River; in fact, the name Mostar derives from mostari, meaning ‘bridge keeper.
’ The bridge was built in 1556 under the ordersof the occupying Ottomans, but was destroyed 427 years later in 1993 by Croat forces duringthe Balkan Wars.
Though it’s easily reachable on a day tripfrom neighboring Croatia, to get the most out of your visit to Mostar, the best thingto do is stay overnight.
The crowds of daytrippers trickle away, andthe restaurants high above the river along cobbled streets light up.
Situated on the Baltic Sea, Latvia’s capitalis a mix of traditional and contemporary lifestyles.
It’s an energetic place, where culture combineswith the cobblestone streets for an exciting city atmosphere.
You can expect intricate Art Nouveau architectureintermingling with Gothic spires in the city’s beautiful old town, as well as a buzzing centralmarket where you can dive into the city’s gastronomic delights.
Sip a cool cocktail or a local beer in oneof the many pubs when night falls and the fun begins.
Straddling the borders of Macedonia and Albania, Lake Ohrid wins not one but two accolades of the natural world: it’s one of the deepest, and also one of the oldest lakes in Europe.
Most of the lake falls within Macedonia, makingthis the best place to base yourself to see the spectacle.
The old town of Ohrid itself, for example, is home to old architecture and a maze of narrow, cobblestone lanes to get lost in.
Further south around the lake, Sveti NaumMonastery dates back to 905 AD and is a beautiful building to behold, with views of the surroundingmountains and lake equally stunning.
Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Huddled in central Croatia, Plitvice LakesNational Park is famous for its 16 terraced lakes, all conjoined by waterfalls that spillinto a limestone canyon.
This lovely area is a playground for peoplewith a sense of adventure, who enjoy hiking amongst fantastic scenery.
You can expect boardwalks and hiking trailsthat wind through limestone rock formations and cliffs, and around the variegated watersof the lakes.
That color change is down to the differentmineral content of each lake.
It’s no wonder that this sublime area waschosen to be Croatia’s first national park.
The capital of Serbia, Belgrade has a longhistory which involves not only Romans and Slavic tribes, but also Ottomans and Habsburgroyals.
In more recent times, it was the capital ofYugoslavia.
A proud, bold city, Belgrade has an eclecticenergy all of its own, with Soviet blocks next to golden age Art Nouveau buildings.
It’s also a lively place to be and one ofthe most hip capitals of Eastern Europe.
Spend time sipping coffee in quirky cafes, stroll along the pedestrianized boulevard and hit up one of the packed bars in the riversidequarter.
The Ukranian capital is an intriguing place– it’s vibrant, it’s historic and it’s atmospheric.
Founded in the 5th century AD, Kiev is oneof Eastern Europe’s oldest cities, and was the center of the federation of Kievan Rus’.
There are plenty of places to soak up thehistory, like at the Pechersk Lavra complex – an important Orthodox Christian church– as well as the Saint Sophia Cathedral, with its breathtaking interiors and goldendomes.
Elsewhere, the Motherland Monument is a dizzyingSoviet marvel in concrete.
Lake Bled Slovenia’s spectacular Lake Bled sits inthe Julian Alps in the northwest of the country.
This dazzling, mirror-like body of water isbacked by tree-covered hills and snow-peaked mountains, for one of the most awe-inspiringnatural wonders in Eastern Europe.
There’s Bled Castle sitting high on a cliffabove the lake, and Bled Island in the center of the lake, reached by traditional woodenboats called pletna.
There are a range of hiking paths around thelake, meandering in and out of woodlands and villages.
The town of Bled is a popular place to baseyourself to explore the lake.
Budapest Straddling the Danube that runs through it, Hungary’s vibrant capital is an increasingly popular destination and really has everythingyou could want from a city.
Budapest has some wonderful architecture onshow that ranges from baroque and neoclassical to art nouveau, with the elegant Fisherman’sBastion and enormous Parliament building being just two of its many highlights.
Around the city, enjoy the much-loved thermalbaths, spend an evening at the opera, pedal around Margaret Island, and hop around theemblematic ruin bars.
Bay of Kotor A sweeping bay in the eastern Adriatic Sea, the Bay of Kotor is situated in southwestern Montenegro.
It’s a beautiful spot ringed by jagged greenhills and medieval towns, with red-roofed houses spilling down to the coastline.
Best explored by car along its winding roads, the region is packed full with incredible sights – from old citadels to islands toppedwith monasteries.
There’s plenty of chances for seafood anddelicious dinners by the sea to complement the scenery.
Kotor old town is a Venetian wonder, surroundedby walls with a mountain backdrop that’s well worth using as a base.
The capital of Estonia, Tallinn entices.
With its 14-century old town, built as a defensesystem, when you walk through the impressive medieval Viru Gates, you can feel the historyright away.
Parts of Tallinn’s city wall are still walkable, complete with windows where you can glimpse the charming city below.
There are also historic churches such as SaintOlaf’s Church, dating back to the 1200s.
Tallinn has a hipster side too, which canbe found at a reclaimed factory area where former warehouses now contain trendy restaurants, bars, and shops.
The central Romanian region of Transylvaniais synonymous with stories of Dracula and bloodthirsty vampires.
Whilst not entirely true, the area is mythicalin terms of its natural beauty; bordered by the Carpathian Mountains, visiting Transylvaniais like being transported into a slow-paced, medieval world.
The countryside abounds quaint villages andlocal life between pastures and swathes of hills blanketed by trees.
There are many historic fortresses built bymedieval German settlers, including the famous Bran Castle: these daunting spires make upwhat is popularly known as Dracula’s Castle.
The old capital of Imperial Russia, St.
Petersburgis the cultural center of the country.
It was founded in 1703 by Peter the Greatand is home to lavish imperial buildings.
Other sights include the Mariinsky Theatrefor a world class ballet and opera, the lavish 1880s Church of Spilled Blood, as well asthe State Russian Museum.
The Hermitage Museum, spread over six buildingsincluding the beautiful Winter Palace, has an incredible collection of antiques to marvelat.
Petersburg is also a canal city with aBaltic coastline to boot.
This southern Polish city, close to the CzechRepublic, is a former royal capital.
There is a beguiling mix of medieval buildingsand modern-day, youthful nightlife to soak up here.
Krakow is known not only for its old town– complete with the 13th-century market square, which is where you’ll find the iconicCloth Hall, the grandiose centerpiece of the square.
The former Jewish quarter with all its synagoguesis somber to walk around, and many tourists visit Krakow to take a trip to Auschwitz – ahaunting yet important experience.
Set in the south of Croatia on the AdriaticSea, Dubrovnik is famous for its old town.
This walled, medieval part of town was shelledin 1991 during the Balkan Wars, but has been restored to its former glory.
Take a walk along the old city walls and bebeguiled by the Baroque buildings or enjoy a lazy afternoon at streetside restaurantssoaking up the splendor of the city.
The Old Town has also gained popularity forbeing the filming location of Game of Thrones and Star Wars, which just goes to show whatan iconic place the old, walled city is.
Moscow The Russian capital is a must-visit destination.
It’s home of the Kremlin – the historiccastle-turned-presidential complex – Red Square – a symbol of Russia’s power, andLenin’s Mausoleum, where you can see the former Communist leader lying in situ.
Of course, the captivating and colorful oniondomes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral are not to be missed, either.
Museums, such as Pushkin State Museum andthe State Tretyakov Gallery, allow you to learn more about Moscow, too.
Iconic ballet can be seen at the equally iconicBolshoi Theatre.
Prague was given the nickname ‘City of 100Spires, ’ and it’s not wholly incorrect: the old town of Prague is bristling with Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture, boasting soaring spires that make the skyline likesomething from another time.
Now the capital of the Czech Republic, Praguewas once capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia.
Prague has a lot of sights pointing to itshistory, like the 9th century AD Prague Castle.
There’s the 14th-century Charles Bridgeboasting its stunningly ornate Gothic towers, and the old town square where you’ll findPrague Astronomical Clock – the oldest still functioning in the world.