Backpacking in Europe has always been appealing to students and travellers of all kinds. But there’s more to Europe than the well-known, yet superb cities of Paris, London, Rome, Amsterdam, Berlin, etc. The picturesque mountains, the idyllic coastlines, the traces of a eventful history, the mysterious castles and the wonderful people are just a few offers of an underestimated Eastern Europe.
If you want to pay less for food, accommodation and transport, while having the best time of your life, then GO EAST and you will not regret it!
There are so many places that are awaiting to be unveiled by tourists that we cannot even try to make a list of all, but we’ve chosen a few to start with. After all, it’s your trip and you make your own itinerary. Either way, the East will fascinate you so much that you will probably come back for more, for further East.
It is considered one of the best cities in Eastern Europe. With a rich history and culture and many resources, the capital city is a good choice for someone who likes the atmosphere of small cities with preserved architecture, an array of cafes along the Lubljanica River and an active nightlife due to the large student population.
The mixture of Latin culture, Germanic influences and the Slavic style makes the city a perfect attraction for those who have thought bad about those countries part of former Yugoslavia.
Favourite attractions in Ljubljana: walk the cobbled streets of the Old Town, cross the Dragon Bridge, visit the Ljubljana Castle and you must take a trip to the fantastic Lake Bled.
You can find cheap hotels in the city, hostels or spend your night in a converted prison cell at Hostel Celica.
The city can be easily seen as the pearl of the Balkans. It is a small city on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid with picturesque houses and monuments. Ohrid is part of UNESCO’s World Heritage as both Cultural and Natural site.
A city of Byzantine, Slavic churches and Otoman chapels, Ohrid was an important cultural centre and it has become a holy centre of the region.
It is an antic city with a rich history and undiscovered treasures; it is a city where the famous Sts. Clement and Naum founded one of the first universities in Europe, where Isis, the Goddess of destiny, used to have her cult and where you can find peace and harmony by entering a cascade of nature and mysticism.
Words cannot describe the beauty of Ohrid. You have to go there to understand how its churches, frescos, natural beauties and the city itself can bring joy to any soul.
It is one of the oldest cities in Balkans and Europe. With an eventful history, Nis, located in southern Serbia, can fascinate anyone with its numerous monuments that show the locals’ turmoil throughout the ages. The city centre hosts the Nis Fortress, an extant fortification of Turkish origin, which is dating from the first decades of the 18th century.
You can enjoy the cafes and restaurants on the Tinkers Alley, the popular spas – Niška Banja, Spa of Topilo, the archeological sites and the heroic atmosphere embedded in all the city’s memorials.
The Skull Tower, a monument to the Serbian revolutionaries in 1804-1813, is made of skulls from decapitated Serbs by the Ottomans. Near Nis Fortress is Memorial Chapel built in the memory of NATO bombing victims, while on the “12th February Boulevard” there is a rare Nazis concentration camp, Crveni Krst.
4. Mostar, Bosnia
It is the city that hosts the famous Stari Most bridge that links the two parts of Mostar. Even though it was badly affected by the Croation-Bosnian war, Mostar has been reconstructed and turned into a great, turquoise-white city, but with visible reminders of the treacherous conflict.
The Old Bridge is one of the city’s landmarks, while the city excels in art, theatre and a delicious cuisine.
5. Tallinn, Estonia
The city was the 2011 European Capital of Culture, which says a lot about its artistic life. With hot parties, a buzzing nightlife and cobbled, intimate streets, Tallinn has become a great destination for anyone travelling in Eastern Europe.
Tallinn’s Old Town has escaped the Soviet’s marks and remained a truly medieval site where you can walk alongside high walls, stone doorways, cheap cafes and bars that will allure you with their locally made vodka and absinthe.
6. Kotor, Montenegro
This is a destination for those who truly want to have fun with cheap wine, friendly locals, fresh fish in an impressive ancient port town.
It’s a sunny, happy place with white houses looking down to the blue Bay of Kotor, to its Venetian architecture and the river canyon from the Adriatic.
Kotor together with Orjen and Lovcen form a picturesque Mediterranean landscape, being also part of the World Heritage Site.
The city is home to various sights including the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon in the old town, while the ancient walls which stretch for 4.5 km directly above the city create an overwhelming atmosphere.
7. Dalmatia, Croatia
We will stay in the Adriatic zone and recommend you to spend at least one summer in Croatia. From Zadar to Dubrovnik, the country’s most famous destination, the Croatian coast looks and feels like a corner from heaven.
Tasty food, medieval architecture, rich history, natural beauties can easily describe Dalmatia. It is an area of calmness, music and magical sunset with people promenading the cities’ waterfronts, drinking cocktails and enjoying a poetic, yet entertaining scenery.
8. Krakow, Poland
This superb city cannot be missed if you are backpacking Easter Europe. It is a city full of life, with an amazing Old Town and a thick air of history floating above.
The second largest town in Poland has the biggest medieval square in all of Europe where you can taste the great Polish cuisine, or experience various style of architecture developed once with this extraordinary, lively city.
Krakow is the unofficial cultural capital of Poland and boasts with various museums and art galleries, parks and gardens, the Wawel Castle, or the major landmark such as St. Mary’s Basilica.
If you visit the city, you also have to take a trip to the Jewish district of Kazmierz, known for its renaissance buildings and streets.
9. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
We think it is a good idea to explore less popular cities as well. Plovdiv is one of the few cities with two ancient theatres from the Roman Empire. If you are interested in something different than the well-known capitals of the Eastern countries, then you will definitely enjoy this city.
Remains of medieval walls and towers, Ottoman baths and mosques, as well as superb houses, streets and churches can be explored in Plovdiv. Anyone keen on history will surely find spectacular the Roman theatre and the Roman Stadium built in the 2nd century.
Plovdiv, also known as the “City of the Seven Hills“, has great shopping centres, low prices and hosts numerous economic and cultural events such as the International Fair Plovdiv and the international theatrical festival “A stage on a crossroad“.
10. Brasov, Romania
Located in the heart of the country, Brasov has escaped the ugliness of the communism era, becoming one of the most beautiful cities in Romania.
Part of the Transylvania region, the city has one of the best preserved Old Towns in Europe which lays at the feet of Tampa Mountain.
The medieval city of Brasov with its cobbled, tight streets, its impressive walls of the old Roman fortress and its great towers can be breathtaking, especially in the winter. The city boasts with a famous Gothic site – the Black Church which dates from 1477, the First Romanian School, the Rope Street – one of the narrowest streets in Europe, and one of the most popular ski resorts in Eastern Europe, Poiana Brasov.
Brasov’s centre is crowded with cafes, pubs and antique shops, while the outskirts take you in the mountains with bears and unbelievable scenery.
With a mixture of German, Hungarian and Latin culture and architecture, Brasov, also known as Kronstadt, is a destination for those eager to break the clichés about the states of the former Eastern Bloc.