Destinations

Explore Eastern Europe in Summer: A Tale of Captivating Charm, Tasty Treats and Must-See Hotspots

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Step onto lesser-trodden paths on your next vacay and immerse yourself in Eastern Europe’s captivating charm and vibrant culture. Whether you’re a foodie, an adventurer, or just looking to soak up some stunning scenery, we’ve put together a list of the top destinations for you to stop in at on your way. From ancient castles and stunning landscapes to mouth-watering cuisine and unforgettable experiences, Eastern Europe is a grand adventure just waiting for you to uncover.

1. Prague, Czech Republic

Start your journey in Prague, where history oozes from every cobblestone. Wander through the Old Town, marvel at the astronomical clock, and take a sunset stroll across the Charles Bridge. For a quick snack, grab a trdelník, a sweet pastry rolled in sugar and cinnamon.

Prague is known for its stunning architecture, from Gothic churches to Baroque palaces. Don’t miss the view from Prague Castle, which offers a panoramic vista of the city’s spires and rooftops.  When you’ve had enough walking, the Vltava River, which flows through the city, also offers beautiful riverside views and scenic boat rides. After absorbing the stunning scenery, satisfy your hunger and soul with traditional Czech cuisine, like svíčková, a marinated beef dish served with creamy sauce and dumplings.

2. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is a city of contrasts, split by the Danube River into the historic Buda and bustling Pest. The skyline is dominated by architectural wonders like the Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica, and the views from Fisherman’s Bastion offer a picture-perfect panorama of the city and the Danube.

Explore the labyrinthine Buda Castle and later, relax in one of the famous thermal baths, such as Széchenyi. For a fun night out, experience the unique atmosphere of Budapest’s ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter, where eclectic decor and vibrant culture create a one-of-a-kind social scene.

Feeling peckish? You’re in the right place in Hungary! Fill your belly with a hearty Hungarian goulash, a meat stew seasoned with paprika, and don’t leave without trying chimney cake, a sweet treat perfect for any time of day.

3. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik’s stunning walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Home to some of the best coastal views in Europe with its crystal-clear waters and pristine beaches, Dubrovnik’s dramatic scenery is enhanced by the backdrop of surrounding mountains. Explore the charming old town with its limestone streets, baroque buildings, and the impressive Rector’s Palace.

Walk along the ancient city walls for breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea and savour the fresh seafood Dubrovnik is known for, especially its signature black risotto made with cuttlefish ink. Don’t miss out on sampling peka, a traditional dish of meat and vegetables cooked under a bell-like dome.

4. Kraków, Poland

Kraków is a city steeped in history and culture. The Old Town is a picturesque blend of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, while the nearby Wieliczka Salt Mine offers a unique subterranean adventure with stunning salt-carved chambers and lakes. Visit the Wawel Castle and wander through the historic Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz. The bustling Market Square is perfect for people-watching and soaking up the local atmosphere.

Foodies can indulge in pierogi, Polish dumplings filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables. Or, for a taste of traditional Polish cuisine, try bigos, a hearty stew made with sauerkraut and various meats.

5. Tallinn, Estonia

Step back in time in Tallinn’s medieval old town, one of the best-preserved in Europe. Cobblestone streets, colourful houses and historic towers create a quintessential fairytale setting. Wander the town and try traditional Estonian dishes like black bread with herring or a bowl of hearty elk soup, and for dessert, savour kama, a sweet dish made from a mixture of grains and served with yogurt.

Visit the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, explore the ancient city walls, and enjoy the views from Toompea Hill. The city’s coastline offers beautiful views of the Baltic Sea and nearby islands.

6. Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is a charming city with a relaxed vibe. Its scenic old town is surrounded by lush green hills and the striking Ljubljana Castle, while the nearby Lake Bled, with its iconic island church, offers postcard-perfect views and a serene atmosphere.

Take a leisurely stroll along the Ljubljanica River, explore the hilltop Ljubljana Castle, and enjoy the lively outdoor markets. The city’s car-free center is perfect for walking or cycling.

Be sure to sample authentic Slovenian cuisine on your travels with dishes like žlikrofi, dumplings stuffed with meat or potatoes, and kranjska klobasa, a type of sausage. For a sweet treat, try potica, a sweet roll cake with various fillings.

7. Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia offers a stunning mix of urban and natural landscapes, with its historic architecture set against the backdrop of the Vitosha Mountain. Discover its unique blend of ancient history with a modern flair when you visit the stunning Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, explore the ruins of Serdica, and wander through the vibrant Vitosha Boulevard. Don’t miss the chance to hike in the nearby Vitosha Mountain for spectacular views of the city. The surrounding parks and gardens provide a green escape within the city.

Bulgarian cuisine is rich and flavourful. Try banitsa, a pastry filled with cheese, or a bowl of shopska salad, a refreshing mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese. For the sweet lovers, take the opportunity to enjoy authentic baklava, or a slice of mekitsa, a traditional fried dough.

How to Get Around Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe offers a variety of convenient and affordable transport options for travellers. The region’s well-connected rail network makes train travel a popular choice, with scenic routes and modern trains providing a comfortable journey between major cities. For budget-conscious travellers, buses offer an economical and extensive network, reaching even the more remote areas.

If you’re looking for flexibility, renting a car is a great option, allowing you to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations at your own pace – although you’ll need to be prepared to drive on the right side of the road. For shorter distances within cities, public transport such as trams, buses, and metro systems are efficient and easy to navigate. Cycling is also a growing trend in many cities, offering a healthy and eco-friendly way to see the sights.

For international travel within the region, low-cost airlines provide quick and accessible flights, making it easy to hop between countries. Whatever your preferred mode of transport, Eastern Europe is well-equipped to help you explore its many wonders.

Hot tip: Keep your chose modes of transport in mind when considering travel insurance, so you can choose the cover that best suits your trip.

In summary

Eastern Europe is a summer wonderland brimming with diverse experiences, stunning scenery, and delicious food. Whether you’re exploring medieval towns, relaxing on pristine beaches, or sampling local cuisine, each destination promises a unique adventure. So pack your bags, plan your route, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this enchanting region!

Travel Insurance

We all know that the good times can take a slight detour when travelling. When the going gets tough, Travel Insurance Direct policies aim to do the heavy lifting and may assist with travel insurance cover for Europe to help keep your trip moving in the right direction, so you can refocus on the fun.


Author

TID is an Australian online travel insurance company.

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