Eastern European countries are often overlooked by tourists for more popular European destinations and they are missing some of the best destinations in Europe and some of its prettiest cities.
Filled with history, culture, and gorgeous sights, Eastern Europe is full of hidden gems. Travel bloggers share their favorite cities to visit during a trip to Europe, from sunny destinations to small towns lost in the mountains and everything in between. Get ready to add to your bucket list and discover epic European cities with our top 20 of the most beautiful cities in eastern Europe.
Travel tip – Before any international travel, make sure you have good travel insurance.
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Split – Croatia
By Jürgen & Martina from Places of Juma
One of the prettiest towns ever is the breathtaking beautiful harbor town Split in Croatia. Why? First of all, Split is rich in cultural and historical heritage, has countless impressive attractions and places to discover. There are lots of opportunities for exciting activities and unforgettable excursions.
One of the highlights here is definitely Split Old Town, which insiders often refer to as one of the most beautiful towns in Croatia. In any case, don`t miss the Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Split’s main attraction. Another must-see in Split is the picturesque harbor promenade, also called the Riva, and the impressive Cathedral of Saint Domnius in the center.
But that’s not all! Split is also one of the sunniest places in Croatia. Perfect for all who love to soak up in the sun, relax on the beach and get some nice tan! Located in the Adriatic Sea, most of them are pebble beaches, with crystal-clear water and surrounded by fragrant pine forests.
If you want to treat yourself, check out Murum Heritage Hotel, one of the top-rated hotels in Split, offering charming rooms in a historic building, right in the heart of the Old Town. For a more affordable option, check out Golden Gate Dream Rooms.
By Lindsey from The Purposely Lost
Located on a small peninsula surrounded by a natural harbor, Šibenik, Croatia, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It’s considered the oldest Croatian city and the third-largest in the country. The city is easily accessible from other major cities using the country’s bus or train system.
With its charming, historic architecture and beautiful scenery, there are many things to do in Šibenik. You’ll find many twisting streets and staircases among the old buildings when you walk through the Old Town. The city center is known as the Square of the Republic of Croatia, and this is where you’ll find many of the historic civic buildings; vehicles are not permitted.
Šibenik also has a beautiful coastline Riva that you can walk along. Once you reach the end, you’ll find the city’s public beach. But the best views of the city are from one of the fortresses. Šibenik has three important fortresses–two above the city on the hillside and one floating out in the harbor. All are open to the public to visit, and you’ll find exceptional landscapes of the city from every angle.
Tbilisi – Georgia
By Megan from Packing Up The Pieces
Tbilisi, Georgia is one of Europe’s prettiest cities with a unique fusion of East meets West. Tbilisi offers a wide range of unique activities for any type of traveler. Get lost along the charming cobblestone streets of Old Town, soak in a traditional sulfur bath, browse a flea market for old Soviet relics, step back in time in an Orthodox Church, or participate in a “supra” by eating incredible authentic dishes and sipping on wine with the locals.
One of the best areas to stay in Tbilisi is across the Mtkvari River in the hip Fabrika Hostel. This building was previously an old sewing factory. Now, this neighborhood houses funky street art, hip eateries, coffeehouses, and lovely river views.
From Tbilisi, there’s a wide range of day trips to go on like visiting the famous Kakheti wine region, or exploring the old capital city of Mtskheta. Head north along the Georgian Military Highway to the mountain town of Kazbegi to gaze upon the iconic Gergeti Trinity Church. There are a handful of worthwhile and eclectic pit-stops along the way.
During any time of the year, there is something to do in the lively city of Tbilisi. Outdoor enthusiasts should plan to visit Tbilisi towards the end of spring into the early fall. The diverse mountains of the Caucasus region are a hiker’s delight and are easy to reach from Tbilisi via public transportation.
Bratislava – Slovakia
By Rachel from Average Lives
Bratislava is the vibrant capital of Slovakia, and although it has a small population and is not as famous as its neighbors, it is full of exciting things to do.
The Old Town is inviting and charming and is the perfect place to begin your exploration of the city. The narrow and cobbled streets, the famous statues, and Roland’s Fountain are the highlights. One thing that you will love about Bratislava is the Blue Church because of the contrast with the Soviet architecture that surrounds it.
Overlooking the city is the grand Bratislava Castle, with its fabulous grounds and gardens. It is also where you will find one of the best views overlooking the city. You can head to the UFO on the SNP Bridge to take in the spectacular views. Other exciting things to do are walking along the Danube, visiting the Grassalkovich Palace, and discovering the 14 war bunkers.
Bratislava is a year-round destination, and you will have a unique experience depending on what time of year you visit. Summer temperatures can reach over 30°C, whereas, in winter, the temperature can go below -5°C. The bonus of winter is that you can experience the Bratislava Christmas Markets. It is a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages and will make your trip to Bratislava memorable.
By Suzanne from Meandering Wild
Kiev, or Kyiv as it is known locally, is the capital of Ukraine and can be reached with direct flights from most European cities. The airport is a short taxi ride from the city center, but once there, the whole city can be explored on foot.
Kiev is best known for its stunning churches and cathedrals which are seen across the city. The most prominent is the green and white St Andrew’s church that is on the hill overlooking the city. Behind this is the UNESCO-listed Saint Sophia Cathedral which has a pretty blue bell tower and the stunning and ornate cathedral behind.
A little further out of the center of the city is the Pechersk Lavra, a monastery that was formed in 1051 in caves dug by the original monks. This beautiful monastery is close to the Motherland Monument, a huge metal structure that is part of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War. From here, there are far-reaching views across the city.
A visit to Kiev would not be complete without taking time to understand the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster that occurred outside the city in 1986. There is a small museum in the city or day trips are possible to visit the exclusion zone and understand the impact on the local people.
The Staro hotel in the historic Podil district is a nice alternative to big chain hotels and is close to local restaurants.
Tallinn – Estonia
By Daniel and Ilona from Top Travel Sights
With its medieval Old Town, Tallinn is one of the prettiest cities you can visit in Eastern Europe. Here, you can easily spend a day or two walking through the city center and exploring the cobble-stone alleys.
St Catherine’s Passage is especially beautiful, with its many arches above the road. Handicraft workshops line the street, and you can go inside to watch the artist at work.
One of the best things to do in Tallinn is to walk up to Toompea Hill. From here, you have an excellent view of the red roofs of the Old Town, and on clear days you can even see the Baltic Sea.
Up on Toompea Hill, you will also find Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in Tallinn.
If you want to visit any of the medieval houses, head to the Great Guild Hall. Inside, you can explore the Estonian History Museum and learn more about the history of both Tallinn and Estonia.
You can visit Tallinn at any time of the year. Summer is lovely, and you will be able to sit outside in one of the many cafes. But Tallinn is also worth a visit in winter when snow covers the red roofs, and you can experience Christmas cheer at the Christmas market.
For visiting Tallinn, you should stay at Romeo Family Uus Apartments. These apartments are comfortable and well-equipped and located right in the Old Town.
Budapest – Hungary
By Or from My Path in the World
It’s no wonder why so many people think that Budapest is one of the prettiest cities in Eastern Europe. It’s not just the landmarks that are impressive but each and every ordinary residential building with its unique architectural features makes you want to stop and admire it.
Not only is this city budget-friendly, but you can visit it throughout the year. In spring and summer, you’ll enjoy some amazing festivals, in fall, the foliage will win you over, and in winter, the magic arrives with all the Christmas markets and decorated streets.
You can easily spend a week (or even more) in this city because it has so much to offer, but if you only have 3-4 days in Budapest, there are quite a few places that you have to visit. These include the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Jewish Quarter, and the Hungarian National Museum.
Other fun things to do in Budapest are taking unique walking tours (like street art or Jewish heritage tours), devouring some delicious Hungarian cakes at the city’s cutest cafes, having a picnic on Margaret Island, watching the sunset from Gellért Hill, relaxing a thermal bath, and taking day trips to the nearby towns of Szentendre and Esztergom.
Piran – Slovenia
From Dean and Laynni at Routinely Nomadic
There are many beautiful coastal cities in Eastern Europe but few are as visually dramatic as lovely little Piran, located on the Mediterranean Gulf of Trieste. Slovenia has just 47 kilometers of coastline but takes full advantage in this classic Venetian city with its photogenic red-roofed architecture, impressive Bell Tower, and wonderful Church of St. George.
Tartini Square is a delight, lined with fabulous restaurants featuring exceptional views of the working fishing vessels in the harbor. You can explore inside both the Bell Tower and church.
There are several beaches within easy walking distance of the center of town, some good hiking trails, and endless opportunities to wander among the narrow alleys of the Old Town. And, of course, every visitor to Piran should climb up the Walls of Piran (a true bargain at just €2) to enjoy some spectacular, panoramic views.
Piran is lovely any time of year but really comes alive in summer when families flock to the beaches and everyone enjoys lazy strolls along the scenic promenade. Located just 1.5 hours from Ljubljana by car (and just 40 minutes from Trieste, Italy), Piran is an essential stop on any Slovenian holiday.
Bled – Slovenia
By Tom & Zi from Craving Adventure
Bled is a tiny mountain village hugging an alpine lake, nestled away in the Slovenian Alps, and while you might never have heard of the village before, you’ve definitely seen pictures of the lake. In the middle of this mesmerizingly blue lake sits a tiny island with a shiny white church on top. To complete the fairy-tale picture, there is a castle perched upon the rock high above the lake watching over all of this jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery.
The best things to do in Bled are to take a traditional Pletna boat to the island in the lake, to go for a stroll around the lake, to visit the castle, and to walk up to one of the viewpoints overlooking the valley and the lake.
Bled is a 40-minute drive (50 kilometers) from Slovenia’s capital city Ljubljana, and Bled can also be reached by bus or train. If you’re looking to stay overnight (which you should!) then have a look at Vila Bled. This beautiful villa is located right on the shore of the lake. It used to be former president Tito’s summer residence and it is the epitome of luxury.
Ljubljana – Slovenia
By Tjaša from The Travel Momento
The dragon city is the capital of a small central European country called Slovenia. Its lively atmosphere and charm have placed it among the most popular European destinations year-round.
The most popular months are from April to mid-September, with the peak time during the summer when the temperatures can get over 30°C.
The best way to start exploring the city is at its main square, Prešeren Square. Named after the most famous Slovene poet, it features a monument in his honor and magnificent buildings. Here is where locals meet and enjoy the lively atmosphere alongside the river. Crossing it, you would step into one of the iconic bridges divided into three bridges. Tromostovje, as it’s called, was designed by legendary architect Jože Plenik.
Further into the old town, you can admire the Town Hall, the famous place for concerts Križanke, Kongresni square featuring the Slovenian Philharmonic, the University of Ljubljana, and Ursuline Church.
Everywhere you go, you will be surrounded by the 900-year-old castle on the hill, offering magnificent views over Ljubljana. Climb up or take a cable car to surprise yourself with a combo of coffee, sun, and the views. Once back down, you can explore art in the National Gallery or at the Modern Gallery, watch a performance at SNG opera and ballet or relax in central Tivoli park.
For all shopaholics, the city won’t disappoint you. From big shopping malls to local boutiques, it has you covered.
When visiting Ljubljana for a weekend or longer, you can stay in one of many hotels within walking distance from the old town (luxury: Intercontinental, Antiq Palace Hotel; moderate price: Hotel Slon, Hotel Park, Hotel Cubo; budget: Celica Hostel).
Prague – Czech Republic
By Veronika from Travel Geekery
Prague is just THE most charming city in the world. You’ve surely seen images of the picture-perfect Prague Castle with the magnificent medieval Charles Bridge leading up to it. Prague’s nickname – the city of a hundred spires – only confirms its beauty.
Any first visit to Prague should include plenty of sightseeing. The whole historical center is extremely picturesque and inviting for a stroll any time of day. The Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, the Old Town Square with the Astronomical Clock are only a few of the top sights unique to Prague that shouldn’t be missed.
Prague can be visited any time of the year – it’s beautiful year-round. In summer there’s usually a swarm of tourists. Prague winter can be especially charming, especially leading up to Christmas. If you prefer smaller crowds and don’t mind the weather, November, January or February are great months to visit.
As for hotels, e.g. the Mosaic House is a great place to stay offering a wide range of rooms – from shared hostel-like ones to luxury apartments, one can find anything. Plus, the vibe is always great.
Telč – Czech Republic
By Adriana from Czech the World
Telč is a small fairytale-like town in the Vysočina region. Telč’s main square is part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and it is one of the beautiful places to visit in the Czech Republic. Imagine colorful historic houses with high gables and arcades build in a Renaissance and Baroque style where you can find lovely cafes, galleries, or little shops.
Don’t forget to visit the 17th-century Renaissance château with an English-style park, one of the gems of Moravian Renaissance architecture. The château‘s façade is decorated with beautiful sgraffito technique, which can be found also on other buildings in town. In general, houses and buildings in Telč are characterized by a diversity of decorative elements.
Besides the romantic walks around the historical center, there are other activities you can do in your free time like cycling, rope courses, nearby steam mill, technical museum, reconstructed Telč underground, and more.
The most popular time to visit Telč is in the summer months when the weather is nice, but Telč can be visited at any time of the year.
You can stay in of the lovely historical houses at the main square, at the Chornitzeruv dum. The easiest way to get to Telč from Prague is by train or bus (you can look up the fastest connection at idos.cz).
Sibiu – Romania
By Jade from Traveling Transylvania
No European city contains quite the same charm as Sibiu, Romania. Sibiu is arguably the prettiest city in the region of Transylvania, boasting cotton candy-hued buildings, green parks, and secret stair passages, all set against the backdrop of the Carpathian Mountains.
Sibiu was the European Capital of Culture in 2007, with good reason. There are beautiful places to explore and many things to do in Sibiu.
The city’s Old Town consists of three main squares, each interconnected by hidden tunnels and cobbled streets. The Old Town is home to museums, boutiques, restaurants, and a large sprinkler system that children can play in during the warmer months. Head to Astra for an amazing outdoor ethnographic museum experience.
If you’re visiting Sibiu in the winter, there are plenty of ski resort options in the vicinity. The spring and summer provide lovely weather for hiking.
The food in Sibiu is exceptional, and reasonably priced. Try sarmale de post (vegan-friendly cabbage rolls, Romania’s national dish). At the year-round outdoor terraces, you can take in the fairytale beauty that is this magical Transylvanian city.
There are a number of hotels and hostels available, the most iconic being the Imparatul Romanilor Hotel, with rooms starting around $35 per night.
Sibiu has an International airport – alternatively, you could take the 5-hour bus or train from Bucharest. Or, set out on a long(ish) rail adventure and embark on the 10-hour train from Budapest.
Brasov – Romania
By Sean from Living Out Lau
No list of the prettiest Eastern European cities would be complete without a mention of Brasov, a historic Transylvanian city, filled with charming cobblestone streets, quaint buildings, and friendly locals.
Its historic center sees some of the most impressive architectural masterpieces such as the Black Church and Centru Vechi. However, what separates Brasov from any ordinary pretty city in Europe is the nature that dots this small idyllic city. In the middle of the city is Mount Tampa, a 960-meter tall peak that offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and offers 360-views of the surrounding landscapes.
Located closely to this Romanian city are many of the country’s best attractions, such as the famous Bran Castle where the tales of Dracula originates from, the Transfagarasan Highway (deemed as the best driving road in the world), and Peles Castle (one of the most extravagant castles in Europe).
The best time to visit Brasov is the summer, but visitors must book everything in advance because of the summer crowds. Autumn and spring are also decent times to visit but might be too cold for some visitors.
Kaunas – Lithuania
By Jakub from Tymrazem
When thinking about traveling to Lithuania, most people will think of Vilnius. The country’s capital offers a lot to tourists, but what about visiting the previous one? Kaunas has lost its status as the capital of the country but hasn’t lost its charm!
Kaunas is a city located near the Nemunas and the Neris river. It’s not a touristic city but it definitely is a destination worth visiting. The city itself has a lot to offer, and its surroundings are also full of beautiful places.
Once you are there, head to the tourist information center – the staff is very nice and useful.
If you are interested in the interwar modernism style, you’ll love the city, with beautiful buildings waiting for you at every step! You can also visit a couple of museums like the Museum of Devils, Pharmacy, or the museum of Folk Instruments. Make sure to visit the market square and take a long promenade there, exploring the stalls and doing some shopping. Sugihara’s House and its amazing history are also worth experiencing.
The city is also known for its colorful street art you’ll find at every corner.
Kaunas is also a perfect place for foodies! You will surely find something for yourself among the huge number of restaurants. Be sure to try the local cuisine! If you like tasting high-proof alcohol, be sure to plan time for a visit to the Stumbras Museum. The company produces many types of vodka which you can try on-site.
Kaunas is a good place for a weekend trip, you can plan to spend two days there and expect to see all the sights. Hotel Kaunas is a nice hotel to stay at, right in the city center.
St Petersburg – Russia
By Anna de Nord from Travel Cultura
St Petersburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Russia. Millions of tourists from all over the world come to St Petersburg each year. So why is the city so attractive?
St Petersburg is famous for its historical heritage and multiple cultural events. You might want to visit palaces where Russian emperors lived. Do not miss the Winter Palace (which is now the Hermitage Museum), Catherine Palace with the world-famous Amber Room, and the palace and the parks in Peterhof.
If you come to St Petersburg in summer, you will surely be fascinated by the White nights. It is the period when the night lasts only for a few hours. You can go outside at 9 p.m and see the sun shining.
The White nights are great for romantic walks along the embankments of the Neva River. There is also another option to discover St Petersburg — a boat tour on rivers and canals. It is so pleasant to explore the city while relaxing on a comfortable boat and sipping coffee!
Summer is the best time to visit St Petersburg for all those who love outdoor activities. However, you won’t be disappointed if you come to celebrate New Year in the city. Besides, the city’s attractions, theatres, and museums are less crowded in winter.
While in St Petersburg, do not skip local restaurants and cafés. There are plenty of them on Nevsky Prospect, the main street of the city.
Ohrid – Macedonia
By Kami from My Wanderlust
Ohrid, North Macedonia, is one of the most charming and beautiful towns you will find not only in the Balkans but in Europe. Located on the shore of Lake Ohrid, this is a perfect place to visit whether you are looking for a cultural, relaxing, or active holiday.
With its history dating back to ancient times, you can expect to find numerous centuries-old monuments in the town. Ohrid is known for its numerous churches and it is said that there used to be 365 churches in the town, one for each day of the year. Today the most popular one is the Church of Saint John at Kaneo, standing at the edge of the high cliff above the lake – you can’t leave Ohrid without taking picture of this iconic spot.
But there are more things to do in Ohrid! Wander around the charming old town and admire the typical architecture of the region, shop at the bazaar, go for a boat cruise on the lake or simply relax in the beautiful surrounding.
If you get hungry there are many restaurants serving local food – Macedonia has some great vegetarian dishes to try, like tavce gravce (baked beans).
Gdansk – Poland
By Linn Haglund of Brainy Backpackers
One of the most underrated and stunning cities in Europe is the Polish city of Gdansk. But its beauty doesn’t come without a dark and dramatic history. The city was ground zero for the second World War and most of the old town has been rebuilt from scratch to resemble the original city. And they did an amazing job! The charming pastel houses line up the streets hiding historical museums with important artifacts.
For the best views of Gdansk, climb the tower of the Town Hall. One of the most memorable things to do in Gdansk is to take a pirate ship aka tall ship through the Motlawa River to Westerplatte where the first shots were shot during the war. Visit the Museum of the Second World War and if you haven’t visited a concentration camp, you should take the trip to Stutthof Concentration Camp. An extremely strong experience, but it also gives an understanding of the horrors that the Second World War actually was.
Gdansk is easy to get to by plane from other European countries but is also easily accessible by train and bus as one of the bigger cities in Poland. Craft Beer Central Hotel is a great place to stay in the heart of the city for a mid-range budget.
Warsaw – Poland
By Charu from Travel With CG
Warsaw, the capital and the largest city of Poland, is easily one of the prettiest places to see in Eastern Europe. Home to Instagrammable buildings, royal palaces, expanding public gardens, and chic cafes; there is a lot that you can see and do when visiting this Eastern European gem.
One of the must-do things to do while traveling to Warsaw is to take part in a free walking tour of the city’s historic Old Town. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is an area that has seen a lot through history and risen above it. You can find museums of different kinds, charming cafes, and a beautiful market square situated on the cobbled streets here.
Not to forget, the entire Old Town of Warsaw is one of the most colorful places in the city. You can wander around its photogenic alleyways to discover charming sights or even go up the viewing terrace of St. Anne’s church for an incredible bird’s eye perspective.
The best time to discover this underrated destination in Europe is summer. The period between June to August experiences beautiful weather with infrequent rainfall. But if you are looking to avoid peak tourist season in Warsaw, then the months of September and October are also great, with beautiful autumn colors appearing all around.
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