Howdy. We love Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Thus far we have been to St. Petersburg, Prague, Budapest, and Riga.
We had plans to go to Moscow, but have decided to hold off until things mellow out there (will they ever?). So, we are looking for an alternative and are thinking of:
Any ideas or feedback would be greatly appreciated!
5 good countries there, all with lots of different things going for them. Where i'd suggest depends more on the sort of person you are, what sort of things you are looking for from your trip and how long your going for.
Very briefly, Ukraine is probably the hardest. Visa regualations are similar to Russia and can be a pain in the arse. Particularly away from the Crimea/Black Sea resorts it is undeveloped (from a tourist point of view), and especially outside of Kiev and one or two other cities, it's not unusal for you to be the only Westerner within a 100km radius. If you don't speak Russian/Ukrainian at all, it can be tough. Very rewarding country though.
Hungary is the most developed and forward of the countries, and now in the EU. Budapest is a really cool city, the "Daunbe bend" area north is beautiful. Lake balaton can be very relaxing but overrun with Germans/Austrians in the summer months. The East of the country is more rewarding as most tourists only stick to Budapest plus routes Nth/sth/West from there to the borders.
Poland has lots of different things going for it. Krakow is wonderful, on a par with Prague. It's also close to Auschwitz (very moving despite the tourists), and the Tatra mountains which are a great area to escape from things and just relax/walk. Gdansk/Gdinya is very underrated area and worth a visit. Waszawa is not the most eyecatching of cities and often bypased for Krakow, but i find it strangely alluring.
Romania is possibly my favourite Eastern country (couldn't tell you why), although Bucharest can be an eye opener. The people are wonderful, it's cheap to travel/live, there's some wonderful scenery and parts of Transylvania are fantastic. Brasov (plus nearby castles of Peles ?sp? and Bran - Dracula's) is good, Sibiu worth a look, and Sighisoara Suffers from a poor reputation in general life (not amongst travellers), which means they are always happy to see Westerners, more or less.
In Bulgaria, Sofia is good without being desperately special (like Prague is) but worth a few days. I think Plovdiv is great, but also the smaller old towns/cities such as Veliko Tarnovo (in particular), Nesebar, Melnik, Ruse etc are good. The Rila Monastary is good, but better if you stay locally for a night instead of doing it as a day trip from Sofia. It's the sort of country (to my mind) where there are lots of places worth a daytrip or an overnight stay, but not that many that are worth more than maybe 2 or 3 nights unless you are doing trekking/cycling etc
Thanks so much for your feedback. It is very helpful and I will let you know what I decide.
Hey Big Up Eastern Europe.
in Poland now - Krakow nice town. Also Torun - small town in central poland - u gotta go!
But Romania is the best! Sighisoara and Brasov . must see
Great to hear good feedback about Romania...its a beautiful country, with beautiful people but I was born there so I would be a bit biased in saying that, so its good to read that other people see it as a great place as well!
Just came back from Romania a couple of days ago. Had ten days off so I was thinking of going to Hungary for 5 days and Romania for the other 5. But I ended up spending 9 days in Romania and only a day (to fly out) in Budapest. I'm sure Hungary has its charms as well, which I didn't have time to see, but Romania is a fantastic place! It's a beautiful country with beautiful people. Don't listen to people who tell you not to go there because it's not a safe country. Well I was there on my own and I didn't have any problems at all. Everyone there was ever willing to help. They're the friendliest people I've ever met and I strongly encourage anyone out there to go give Romania a try. But you have to be a bit wary of pick pockets, though. There's heaps of them. But if you can overlook this minor problem, you'll definitely enjoy your time there, just as I did.
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I can vouch for Krakow, what a fantastic town filled with the friendliest people (the ladies are stunning too), and really welcoming nightlife. Everyone should visit Aushwitz if they get the chance, as a reminder of how real the atrocities were, a reminder of how recently it all happened and a warning that the people of the world should never offer power to anyone who employs a political strategy of manipulation and wholesale blame.
These conties have a special flavour.
Time seem to stop there and often things are still the way they were 100 years ago.
The attractions are preserved, in almost unchanged medieval towns, in lively folk, culture, and in landscapes that seem to spring from the past.
Check www.AdventureTransylvania.com for some great pictures and stories