Off the beaten track: it's time to discover Eastern European holidays

Unspoilt destinations for Eastern European holidays at all times of year, from beach to mountains, from Bulgaria and Poland to Macedonia and Croatia.

If you’re reading this, then chances are that you’re yet to discover the delights of Eastern European holidays. Despite the lower prices and accessibility, us northern Europeans tend to flock to central Europe on holiday, and often ignore our neighbours to the east. But once you venture eastwards and start discovering some of these magical countries yourself, you’ll be champing at the bit, eager to see more.

Whether you’re a fan of a cultural city break or want to get back to nature, and whatever time of year you’re travelling at, Eastern Europe travel will delight everyone. We’ll divide this post up into different sections so you can get an idea of the variety of attractions that are on offer. Let’s kick things off with the perfect beach holiday.

Eastern European beach holidays

When you think beach holiday, your thoughts probably turn to somewhere like Spain or Greece. But Bulgaria, Croatia and Montenegro all offer some of Eastern Europe’s best beaches, that can rival anywhere on the Mediterranean and are often far cheaper. Explore beach holiday destinations in Europe on both the Adriatic and the Black Sea until you find your favourite beach resort.

Best East European city breaks

If you love a good city break, then Eastern Europe is the place to be. As well as the classic city break destinations of Budapest in Hungary and Prague in the Czech Republic, Poland offers you both Krakow and Warsaw, and Romania’s Bucharest is drawing increasing numbers of visitors. Tallinn, Riga and Bratislava are all well worth a weekend visit.

If you’re looking to stay away from capital cities, then places like Brno in the Czech Republic and Wroclaw in Poland are fantastic options.

If you’re a fan of all things Christmassy, then make sure you plan your visit for November or December, when all of these cities put on a spectacular festive show. But, they’re also perfect destinations both in late spring and early autumn, avoiding the crowds and heat of high summer.

Why not put together your own Eastern Europe trip and visit a few of these cities in one week in Eastern Europe, stopping in a few smaller towns along the way?

Bulgaria ski trip for your Eastern European holidays

A fabulous beach destination in the summer, winter resorts in Bulgaria are popular with those who find prices in the Alps to be a bit exorbitant. Poland has some great ski resorts too, but there’s more choice in Bulgaria. Rather than taking your yearly ski trip to Italy or France, this year give Bulgaria holidays a go. There are some fantastic package deals for Eastern European holidays in the winter, and you’ll enjoy discovering a new culture and cuisine whilst you’re at it.

Eastern Europe summer holidays by bike

This part of the world is just begging to be seen on two wheels, and there are plenty of companies out there than run both guided and self-guided cycling tours. The south of the Czech Republic, bordering Austria, is a fantastic area for cycling. There are cycle routes linking lots of the big cities in the region, so you could even find yourself cycling from Prague, to Vienna, to Budapest, all whilst following some of the beautiful rivers that criss-cross these countries.

Eastern Europe summer destinations away from the coast

Whilst everyone flocks to the beach, why not head inland and escape the crowds in some idyllic mountainous settings? In Poland, try the stunning Masurian Lakes or the Tatra mountains, and if you’re visiting Albania or Montenegro, explore the Lake Skadar National Park. There’s also the famous Plitvice National Park in northern Croatia, with its legendary lakes, or you could make a beeline for the Julian Alps that lie on Slovenia’s border with Italy for some incredible mountain walking. Oh, and don’t forget to put the Slovak Paradise National Park on your list of some of the best Eastern European holidays for anyone who loves hiking.

Visit Eastern Europe for the spectacular castles

If you’re a fan of dramatic castles, then the countries in this part of Europe won’t let you down. You can hop from one picturesque village with an ancient castle to the next. One of the best travel destinations in Eastern Europe, in our humble opinion, is the lair of Count Dracula, Bran Castle near Brasov, Romania, where you can discover the fascinating history of the region of Transylvania. Vlad the Impaler, who was the inspiration for Count Dracula, was born in the charming nearby town of Sighisoara.

To discover the best destinations in Eastern Europe, follow your nose

If you have the luxury of time, then it’s always best not to plan your Eastern European holidays too strictly. The countries that make up this region are incredibly rich and diverse and when travelling here you continually stumble across amazing spots, so make sure you plan for a bit of spontaneity. Once you’ve had a taste of it, whether in winter or summer, you’ll keep coming back.