Our Adventure Travel Consultant Ashley shares her reasons why Eastern Europe should be at the top of your bucket list...
Having never been to Eastern Europe, it was obviously on my list, but to be honest, it wasn't at the top....but it should have been, as you only hear people praise about how less touristy and inexpensive it is compared to Western Europe and the hidden charm within its Medieval Cities.
I started my Eastern Adventure with our tour, Krakow to Budapest, which includes highlights of Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. A small taster of what Eastern Europe has to offer, but definitely enough to wet the taste buds.
I'd honestly struggle to list any negatives of the tour, so instead here are 4 reasons why you need
to put Eastern Europe at the top of your bucket list:
The transition Eastern Europe has experienced in the last few decades has not been easy and whilst you'll see the East becoming more modernised, many of its cities are still stepped in tradition, where local customs and festivals are still celebrated. There are over 75 UNESCO world heritage sites in nine countries of Eastern Europe, ranging from churches, to historical centres, to fortresses and rivers. We visited a number of sites on the tour, but my favourite was by far the city of Budapest. Roman, Gothic and Turkish styles make this charm-filled city an architectural dream and left me with a new found appreciation of how this city has survived and miraculously revived through the many wars, invasions and liberations.
Hungary is said to have more than 1,000 hot springs thanks to super-thin earth crust, so make sure you don't miss a trip to one of Budapest’s hot-spring spas.
Eastern Europe encompasses many different cultures, ethnicities and histories and that's reflected in the cuisine offered.
There is such a crossover of regional influences, sometimes it's hard to say which dish originated in which country. But one thing they all have in common is you'll be sure to find heart wholesome food forged with the natural resources of that region. Tasty delights to look out for:
- Perogis: These Polish dumplings come in all sorts of tasty varieties – my favourite was the traditional mash potato and cheese
- Sauerkraut Soup: every Eastern Europe country has their own variation of this soup. Not only are they all delicious, sauerkraut also has a raft of health benefits.
- Poppy Seed and Apply Strudel: Poppy seeds are wildly popular in Eastern Europe and appear in everything from sweet to savory foods. They're traditionally considered a symbol of wealth and figure prominently at Christmastime and New Year's expressing hope for prosperity in the coming year.
3- Natural Beauty
From rolling green hills to hidden waterfalls to rugged mountains and epic beaches, there is a variety of natural beauty in Eastern Europe and the wonderful thing is much of it is not super built up yet. The natural beauty of much of this region has not yet been marred by an abundance of tourist infrastructure. One of the best examples of what the tour involves, is a moderate day hike in the Tatras mountains, the highest range of the Carpathian Mountains. Small in area but grand in stature, the Tatras mountains of Poland and Slovakia boast superb alpine walking in a national park where nature conservation is taken seriously. You find peaks that touch the sky, crystal clear turquoise lakes of glacier origin, waterfalls, unique plants and exceptionally clean air.
4- Less crowded and more cost effective
Whilst the capital cities in Eastern Europe can still have its crowds, majority of the other cities do not and life here still runs as it has for decades, ensuring a more authentic experience of the people and the culture. There’s a bigger sense of community and respect for tradition in the quitter villages and town, but sadly it won’t last like this forever though and soon enough it will be harder to find these hidden gems. Compared to Southern Europe your pennies will stretch a lot further, there are a few exceptions to these rules, like the bigger cities, but it does also depend on where you choose to dine and shop. One thing for sure is with a beer costings between £1-3 and the huge variety of award winnings labels on offer, we definitely made the most of them!