While it’s hard to escape the crowds in West Europe, many countries in Eastern Europe are often overlooked as a travel destination. Although I personally believe Eastern Europe has a lot to offer visitors and it’s also home to some of the most beautiful countries in the world. From the sandy beaches of Bulgaria to the baroque architecture of Dubrovnik, here are my choices for the most beautiful countries to visit in Eastern Europe:
1. Czech Republic
Czech Republic sits in the heart of Europe and it’s a stunning place adorned with culture, history and legends. It also has one of the most beautiful and romantic capitals in Europe. Prague is a popular destination for city breaks and boasts some of the best beer and most beautiful women in the world.
Further afield the entire Czech Republic is sprinkled by castles, from Hluboka Castle – the first Gothic Castle in the world (1250), to Cesky Sternberk Castle – the best preserved Bohemian Palace. The imposing Mikulov Castle is a fine example of Baroque architecture and the Svihov Castle has a distinctive Renaissance feel. You’ll also find great mountain areas, coquette villages, a hectic history and one of the richest cultures on the continent. The intriguing Republic of Czech is undeniably the most attractive country in Eastern Europe and in my view one of the most elegant.
Croatia is a lovely country in South-East Europe. It has a thousand years of history and mixed cultures, diverse landscapes and a stunning coast line. It is home to 1185 islands and a fairytale mainland, making it a perfect holiday destination and the best preserved citadel in the world. If you visit I would recommend you visit the National Park Brijuni Islands, the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park in Lika and the birth place of Marco Polo – Korcula Island. Of course you’ll need to visit Dubrovnik with its beautiful baroque architecture and sea of red roofs. It’s often described as a jewel shining in the Adriatic Sea from the 6th century, protected by walls and by nature.
Split (the second largest city in Croatia) has a unique charm. It’s a place where you can find cozy terraces built on ruins and where you can relax between history and legends, while drinking your coffee at the Diocletian Palace. Zagreb, the capital of Croatia is a beautiful and cultural city filled with open-minded and welcoming people.
Turkey offers much more than just cheap holidays. It’s a treasure of a country overflowing with history, great food and rich culture, all of these being displayed over amazing backgrounds. Spread above two continents, Turkey is a colorful mix of philosophies and traditions. With 5000 miles of coastline laid along three different seas, the country connects Europe with Asia, borrowing their traditions and mixing them together.
One of the most beautiful places in Turkey is Cappadocia region (see above), where the moonscape hills seem to be unreal like a wonder of nature. Istanbul is the memorable city where the East meets the West. It’s famous for its amazing mosques, the Grand Bazaar, rich culture and stunning architecture.
In such a diverse country there is something for everyone, from beautiful beaches to the archeological sites of Anatolia, from the lively holiday favourite Bodrum to Ephesus which was once the trade centre of the ancient world.When at Ephesus make sure you see the remains of The Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
There is no other place so tiny and filled with so many naturally beautiful areas like Montenegro. Called “the hidden pearl of the Mediterranean”, Montenegro is divided into three regions – the coastal region in the west which has the beautiful Riviera (Ulcinj and Budva), the central region with astonishing parks and the high mountainous area.
The first ecological state in the world, Montenegro has the second largest canyon (Tara), the most beautiful beach of the old continent in 1905-The Slavic Beach and “the mosaic-beach” of Becic. It is also home to the biggest bird reservation in Europe and many other gorgeous and unique spots. Blessed with a wild beauty, the state that gained its independence on 3 June 2006 has become a highly regarded travel destination.
The largest country in the world is also home to some very beautiful scenery. Notable areas are the oldest mountains -Urals and the deeper lake-Baikal. Land of the titans of literature, Russia is a country that gave birth to so many artists covering all culture’s fields, Russia holds the most important collections of art, fabulous museums, treasured monuments spread all over the Russian territory. It also has some of the finest examples of religious architecture in the world.
Russia has extraordinary culture and architecture which could be down to the fact it spans 11 time zones across two continents – Europe and Asia.
Romania is a country crossed by Carpathian Mountains and bordered by the Black Sea. It’s also one of the most beautiful countries in Eastern Europe. The most beautiful part of Romania is undeniably the center where Transylvania resides surrounded by mountains. Also known as the home of Dracula, it’s a amazing place and where you can easily see how it would have inspired Bram Stoker to create the most famous vampire of all time.
Other interesting places to visit in this lovely country are, Sibiu which is the European capital of Culture, Sighisoara- the best preserved inhabited citadel and Brasov which is the cosmopolitan city in the foothills. Bucovina is a very special place where time has stopped. Here you’ll find the most beautiful monasteries in Europe.
Romanian seaside destinations have also evolved in the last few years probably mostly because of the famous beach parties which take place every summer. Well known DJs play here drawing in crowds from all over the globe.
Slovenia has a population of around two million people. It has beautiful landscapes where entire hills are covered with vineyards and many hectares are covered with thick ancient forest. With Julian Alps in the north, the country is a great winter destination but it also makes an excellent budget holiday destination. The Slovenian coast is a slice of unspoilt Mediterranean, full of colourful Italian-style fishing villages, olive groves and clean, transparent water.
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and the largest city in the country, still retains a Roman touch besides many architectural styles that can be found here. UNESCO chose this city to be the 2011 World Book Capital and Maribor will be European Capital of Culture in 2012.
Some of Slovenia’s most beautiful places to visit are the Rogaska Slatina which is a magical territory known for its thermal water and its relaxing surrounding and Bled, a stylish mountain resort. Portoroz is the most popular seaside destination and the Postojna cave is an outstanding 20km cave and one of the most amazing sights of natural beauty.
Estonia has many beautiful areas and is an increasingly popular tourist destination. Tallinn (the capital) is especially very popular for weekend breaks. It has a special charm with lovely cobbled streets and pretty buildings. The capital is also bounded by 35 defense towers, with an amazing Town Hall. It’s a gothic beauty that amazed the historians who have labelled it as an exceptional construction, comparing it with Palazzo Vechio in Florence.
Estonia countryside is also a paradise for bird watchers. It actually held a record in 1999 for the highest number of bird’s species seen in a single day (189). With a very interesting traditional culture and exciting architecture, Estonia is a beautiful country and a great travel destination.
Ukraine is the second largest country on the European continent. A good place to start is the Western Ukraine city Lviv. It’s a cultural municipality with a rich history and a beautiful combination of architectural styles. With an impressive historical center, Lviv is a great destination for tourists all over the world, especially history and culture fans.
Kiev, the capital and the largest city in Ukraine is a really beautiful place enlightened by its marvelous golden domes, covered by elegant parks and filled with some great restaurants. The rest of the Ukraine is rich in natural resources and beautiful landscapes like Crimea, the Carpathians, the Danube Delta and the animated Odessa. Thanks to its temperate climate, diverse landforms and its geographical position, Ukraine is a perfect and very affordable travel destination for both winter and summer.
Bulgaria was a country that spent a lot of time in anonymity but in recent years, it has become a popular tourist destination. Bulgaria is filled with sandy beaches on the Black Sea coast, ski mountain resorts, solid forests, intriguing architecture, great food and lively nightlife. Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is one of the oldest cities of Europe and an important cultural center. The most popular destinations in the country are; Sunny Beach – the largest beach resort with more than 800 hotels along the Black Sea Coast and Varna the lively summer destination, famous for its nightlife. Rousse is known as “The small Vienna,” Pamporovo is a modern ski resort and Bansko is the best destination for winter holidays.
I hope you have enjoyed my list, I have spent many years living in Eastern Europe so I know the area very well. Of course there are many other very beautiful countries in Eastern Europe and you should also try the healing thermal springs of Hungary, the alluring cites of Poland and Latvia’s new hot tourist destination Riga. Have fun visiting these beautiful countries for yourself!
Written by travel writer Miruna Corneanu. She is a freelance writer living in Romania. Her area of expertise includes: travel writing, fashion writing, creative writing and poetry. I like to create and to transpose my personality into my work. For me writing is a form of art, the only one I could develop, is also the way I express myself , it is what makes me happy, it is what lifts me up, revealing my passion for life.