Reasons to visit Eastern Europe over Western Europe

Posted on 8 August 2023 By David Henning

So, you’re itching to explore the continent of Europe, but you’re tired of the same old Western European destinations, the crowds of the Eifel Tower or paying an exorbitant price for a beer? Even more reason to visit Eastern Europe

It’s cheaper, it’s safe, has more nature to offer and the people are friendlier (after a drink or four).

Good Food

Tallinn estoniaUnsplash

A cafe in the old town of Tallinn, Estonia. There are cafe-lined alleys throughout Eastern Europe with fewer crowds that their Western counter parts. Picture: Unplsash

Let’s be honest, when you think of Eastern European cuisine, you’re probably picturing some form of potato-based dish. Well, buckle up because you’re in for a taste bud fiesta! Picture this: hearty Hungarian goulash that’s basically a warm hug from your grandma, Romanian mămăligă (cornmeal mush) that’s so good it’ll make your heart melt, and Polish pierogi that are like little pockets of joy. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Bulgarian banitsa – a flaky pastry filled with cheese and dreams.

In many of these countries, foraging is still widely practised so in the Baltics expect to find the coveted chantarelle mushrooms regularly available. And lets not dismiss potatoes, they know how to cook them.

Read: A hoppy pilgrimage: beers from around the world

Less Crowded: Where’s Everyone? Exactly.

Picture: Unsplash

Charles Bridge, Prague

Ever felt like a sardine squished in a can while trying to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa in Paris? Sick of waiting in line to take a picture outside the Collesuem in Rome?

Imagine wandering through the ancient streets of Prague without being constantly bombarded by tour groups and traders. From the fairy-tale charm of Tallinn to the mysterious allure of Transylvania, you’ll have more elbow room to soak in the beauty, snap some Insta-worthy shots, and maybe even strike up a conversation with a local without causing a traffic jam.

A Complicated but Resilient History: Drama and Triumph

Eastern Europe is like a real-life historical soap opera with twists, turns, and epic battles. From the Byzantine brilliance of Istanbul to the Cold War echoes in Berlin, you’ll find layers upon layers of stories that will make your history textbooks jealous.

Dive into the complex tale of Croatia’s Dubrovnik, where centuries of battles and empires have left their mark, or explore the proud heritage of Vilnius, Lithuania, a city that knows how to rise like a phoenix from the ashes and how the secret lives of the queer community in Riga, Latvia.

Read: Underrated European towns and cities

Cheaper: Your Wallet Will Thank You

Alright, let’s talk moolah. Eastern Europe is the budget traveler’s paradise. Think about it: you could enjoy a luxurious three-course dinner in Budapest for the price of a coffee and a croissant in Paris. Accommodation, transport, and activities – everything’s a little lighter on your wallet.

In Czech Republic, Slovakia and Bosnia Herzegovina you could easily pay less than a £1 for a beer – that’s cheaper than South Africa!

Read: The city of dragons: Things to do in Slovenia’s Ljubljana

People are Friendly: More Smiles, Less Selfies

Picture: Pexels

Tired of the stereotype of grumpy Europeans? Head East, my friend, and prepare for a warm welcome that’ll melt your heart faster than gelato in August. Yes, there is the stereotype of the cold Eastern Bloc, but that impersonal demeanour disappears after you’ve had a few drinks – which you’ll be able to afford.

Whether it’s the chatty locals in Bucharest or the friendly vendors in Belgrade’s bustling markets, you’ll find genuine smiles and helpful hands that’ll make you feel like you’ve stumbled into a long-lost family reunion.

Natural Beauty: Mother Nature’s Masterpieces

Plitvice, Croatia. Picture: Unsplash

Oh, the landscapes you’ll see! Swap those overcrowded postcard-perfect vistas for something a little more offbeat and equally awe-inspiring. Discover the dreamy lakes of Plitvice in Croatia, or the pristine wilderness of Slovakia’s Triglav National Park.

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Also Read: Enchanting Montagu: small town form and function

ALSO READ: Travel the world for free with these 10 virtual travel tours


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