Are you planning to visit Europe this year? We have a great tip for you. Avoid the most touristy and overcrowded countries such as France, the UK or Italy and head out to Eastern Europe instead. Most of local tourist attractions are completely underrated and you will be surprised how beautiful these places actually are. From the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia to the Tatev Monastery in Armenia, here are 25 Exotic Places In Eastern Europe You Have To Visit.
Dating back to as early as the 7th century, Krakow is one of the oldest and most historically important cities in Poland. Cited as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, as well as one of the most unique destinations in the world, Krakow is famous for extensive cultural heritage and brilliant Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.
Bran Castle, Romania
Cited as one of the scariest castles in the world, the Bran Castle is a medieval castle located in Central Romania. Allegedly, the castle used to be the seat of Vlad III – a cruel Romanian ruler better known as Vlad Dracula or Vlad the Impaler, who was notorious for impaling his enemies. The character of Vlad III inspired the Irish author Bram Stoker to write his famous Gothic horror novel Dracula.
The capital and largest city of Estonia, Tallinn is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe, and its Old Town is even listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Often dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe, Tallinn has the highest number of startups per person in Europe and is a birthplace of many international companies, including Skype. Receiving 4.3 million tourists annually, the city is also an important cruise destination on the Baltic Sea.
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The largest and most popular national park in Croatia, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is known for its stunning natural beauties such as waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, unique karst formations etc. Situated in the mountainous area spanning from central Croatia to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, this national park is a great place to visit in any season.
Khotyn Fortress, Ukraine
Located on the right bank of the Dniester River in the town of Khotyn, Western Ukraine, the Khotyn Fortress is a medieval complex and one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine. This Ukrainian landmark has been featured in many historical adventure movies such as The Viper (1965), Zakhar Berkut (1971), The Arrows of Robin Hood (1975), d’Artagnan and Three Musketeers (1978), The Ballad of the Valiant Knight Ivanhoe (1983) etc.
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Known as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe as well as in the world, Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, boasts a number of interesting tourist attractions such as geothermal springs, the world’s largest thermal water cave system, botanical gardens, parks, numerous architectural jewels including the iconic Parliament Building, and much more.
Uvac Valley, Serbia
The Uvac is an international trans-boundary river flowing from southwestern Serbia to eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Uvac Valley is a beautiful place where the river creates remarkable curves and turns that can be viewed from several lookouts located on the surrounding hills. The area is also rich in wildlife, which makes it popular among nature lovers.
Home to just about 13,500 people, Kotor is a little coastal town in Montenegro. Together with the limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovcen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive Mediterranean landscape. The town’s old port is surrounded by well-preserved fortifications built during the Venetian period (18th century).
The largest and capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia. Dominated by the iconic Bratislava Castle rising above the Danube River in the center of the city, Bratislava is home to several renowned universities, museums, theatres, art galleries, shopping centers and other tourist attractions.
The capital of Bulgaria, Sofia has many good reasons why it should be on your check list. Located in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, Sofia is close to all the Black Sea, the Adriatic Sea, and the Aegean Sea. Full of interesting architecture as well as relaxing green areas, Sofia is an affordable, safe, and enjoyable place to spend a holiday.
Moravian Karst, Czech Republic
Geographically, the Czech Republic belongs to Central Europe, but it is sometimes considered Eastern Europe, so we decided to include this country in our list. Apart from historical cities such as Prague, Olomouc, and Cesky Krumlov, this country also has many natural landmarks such as the Moravian Karst, a protected nature reserve located near the town of Blansko. It encompasses many notable geological features, including over 1100 caverns and gorges.
Home to over 2 million people, Minsk is the largest and capital city of Belarus. Minsk receives a lot fewer international visitors than other European metropolises, but this beautiful historical city has a lot to offer. It hosts a number of theaters, museums, spectacular churches and palaces, recreation areas, parks etc. Minsk is also popular among young travelers as it is famous for its busy nightlife.
Brac Island, Croatia
Separated from the Croatian mainland by the Brac Channel, the Brac Island is one of the largest and most beautiful islands in Croatia. The most famous feature of the island is the Zlatni Rat (translated as the Golden Cape) – a narrow piece of land covered with white pebbles. The Zlatni Rat is regularly listed as one of the top beaches in Europe, and its unique shape can be seen in many travel brochures, which made it a symbol of Croatian tourism.
Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
Situated about 12 km (7,5 mi) north of the city of Siauliai, northern Lithuania, the Hill of Crosses is a unique site because of the sheer numbers of crosses, giant crucifixes, statues of the Virgin Mary, and rosaries brought here by Catholic pilgrims. The precise origin of the practice of leaving crosses on the hill is uncertain, but it is believed the hill is now home to at least 250,000 crosses.
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Former capital of Russia (between 1713–1728 and 1732–1918), Saint Petersburg is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an area with 36 historical architectural complexes and around 4,000 outstanding individual monuments of architecture, history, and culture. The city has 221 museums, 2,000 libraries, more than 80 theaters, 100 concert organizations, 45 galleries and exhibition halls, 62 cinemas, and around 80 other cultural establishments.
Crooked Forest, Poland
Located near the town of Nowe Czarnowo in north-western Poland, the Crooked Forest is a grove of bizarrely bent pine trees. The forest consists of hundreds of pines planted around 1930, but the reason why the trees are crooked as well the technique used for the bending remains unknown. One of the theories suggests the trees were bent for the purpose of furniture timber.
The territory of Skopje has been inhabited since at least 4,000 BC, making it one of the oldest permanent settlements in Europe. Although the city has been destroyed many times through its rich history, it still has many remarkable historical landmarks that attract tourists from all over the world. An eclectic blend of Christian and Islamic cultures, Skopje is also known for its diverse nightlife.
Tatev Monastery, Armenia
Located on a large basalt plateau near the Tatev village in southeastern Armenia, the Tatev Monastery is a striking 9th-century Armenian Apostolic monastery. It played a significant role in the history of the region as a center of economic, political, spiritual, educational, and cultural activity. At the beginning of the 11th century, the monastery hosted around 1,000 monks and a large number of artisans.
The largest and capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a culturally rich city famous for fine museums, galleries, hotels, and restaurants. The city’s architecture is a unique mix of styles. Despite the appearance of large modern buildings, especially at the city’s edge, Ljubljana’s historic center remains intact. Although the oldest architecture has been preserved from the Roman period, Ljubljana’s downtown got its outline in the Middle Ages.
Also known formerly as Kishinev, Chisinau is the capital and largest city of Moldova. Located in the middle of the country, Chisinau is the industrial, cultural, political, and commercial center of Moldova. With a population of approximately 736,000 people, the city is home to 23 universities, several well-known museums, theaters, festivals, and other cultural events.
Maly Semyachik, Russia
Russia is known for its extreme coldness and freezing temperatures but even in one of its northernmost parts, on the Kamchatka Peninsula, there is an a very charming place with hot water. Maly Semyachik is a stratovolcano whose crater is filled with a hot acidic lake. Since 1952 when the volcano erupted for the last time, it has been dormant, decorating the surrounding harsh and rugged landscape.
With its central location within Romania, Brasov is a great base to explore the country as well as some other tourist destinations (including the Black Sea resorts, the monasteries in northern Moldova, and the wooden churches of Maramures). Due to its close proximity to the Southern Carpathians, Brasov also serves as a popular ski resort.
Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Established in 1981, the Triglav National Park is the only national park of Slovenia. However, what it lacks in quantity, it certainly makes up for in quality with this park that is famous for astonishing landscapes, monumental mountains, and diverse wildlife. Located in the northwestern part of the country, the park has many well-maintained hiking trails and tourist facilities.
Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia
Situated on the right bank of the river Chkheri at an elevation of 2,170 m (7,120 ft) under Mount Kazbegi, the Gergeti Trinity Church is a 14th-century Holy Trinity Church in Georgia. Its isolated location on top of a steep mountain surrounded by a large area of untouched nature has made it a symbol of Georgia. The church is a popular resting point for trekkers in the area and can be reached by a steep 3-hour climb up the mountain.
Translated as “the White City,” Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. Home to 1.34 million people, the city has numerous historical buildings that are among its premier tourist attractions. Belgrade is also popular among young travelers as it has a reputation for offering a vibrant nightlife as well as many extreme sports such as bungee jumping and water skiing.
Photos: 25. Pko, Krakow rynek 01, CC BY-SA 3.0, 24. www.bdmundo.com via flickr, CC BY SA-2.0, 23. Steve Jurvetson via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 22. Bfoto.ru, Plitvice Lakes National park, CC BY-SA 3.0, 21. Tatyana, Ukraine. Khotyn Fortress. 1, CC BY 2.0, 20. Moyan Brenn from Anzio, Italy, Hungarian Parliament Building from across the Danube from Gellért Hill. Budapest sunset (8130437015), CC BY 2.0, 19. Sasapokimica, Uvac River and Eagle, CC BY-SA 4.0, 18. User:Ggia, 20090719 Crkva Gospa od Zdravlja Kotor Bay Montenegro, CC BY-SA 3.0, 16. Max Pixel, 15. I, Prazak, Punkevní jeskyně39, CC BY-SA 3.0, 14. FreeUsername1313, Minsk 1, CC BY-SA 4.0, 13. Szabolcs Emich (cropped by DIREKTOR), Golden Cape, CC BY 2.0, 12. Diego Delso, Colina de las Cruces, Lituania, 2012-08-09, DD 12, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. Alex ‘Florstein’ Fedorov, Trinity Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, CC BY-SA 4.0, 10. Artur Strzelczyk, Nowe czarnowo-krzywy las, CC BY-SA 3.0, 9. Nikolovskii via flickr, CC BY SA-2.0, 8. Alexander Naumov, Tatev Monastery from a distance, CC BY 3.0, 7. Husond, Ljubljana from the Castle, CC BY-SA 4.0, 4. Alessio Damato, Brasov piata sfatului, CC BY-SA 3.0, 3. Se90, Nationalpark Triglav (Triglavski narodni park), CC BY-SA 3.0, 2. Levan Gokadze, Khevi, Georgia — View of Gergeti Trinity Church, CC BY-SA 2.0, 1. Dani Lavi 0007, Belgrade at night, CC BY-SA 4.0