Dreaming of roaming ancient castles from the middle ages? Want to walk down colorful cobbled streets and be engulfed in the history? Looking for cities with old world charm and a story that spans ages?
In this post, we check out the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe. From Gothic cathedrals and Baroque palaces to beautiful seaside castles and Renaissance era trading posts, not only are these some of the most beautiful places in Eastern Europe but many are also some of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The Most Beautiful Cities in Eastern Europe
If you don’t add at least one of these beauties to your travel bucket list, you don’t know what you’re missing, as these are agueably the best eastern European cities to visit!
Prague, Czech Republic
The long history of the Czech capital, Prague, goes back to the Paleolithic age. Romanesque chapels, Baroque palaces, Gothic cathedrals, cubist and Art Nouveau constructions are all provide an eclectic and spectacular setting for your visit.
The city of Prague is also renowned for its beer and its culinary specialties. There are dozens of cozy pubs that serve their own brews, and the roast duck and the fried pork knuckles are said to be unforgettable in Prague.
Beyond food and buildings, there are hundreds of things to do and see in Prague, including visiting the Astronomical Clock, Church of Our Lady before Týn, the Charles Bridge, or even the Sex Machines Museum, Beer museum, or Apple museum.
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Mostar is a gem, even among all of these beautiful Eastern Europe cities. The lovely, clear Neretva River runs through the city, with the rebuilt, 4 centuries old bridge, the Stari Most as the town jewel. Sadly, both the bridge and town were heavily damaged during the Bosnian War, but have been carefully rebuilt since.
Mostar itself is home to narrow, cobbled streets and winding pedestrian friendly pathways. Just 40 km outside of town lies the stunning Kravice Waterfalls, which is worth a day trip in itself, especially during the hot summers.
The Serbian capital, Belgrade, is at the crossroads of old European charm and modern convenience.
Skyscrapers dominate some parts of the city, but Old Town (Stari Grad) is full of stunning 19th century architecture and has some lovely side streets. There’s also the imposingly beautiful Belgrade Fortress flanking the Sava and Danube River as well as the giant Church of Saint Sava which can be found near the center.
Situated on the hilly shores of Lake Ohrid, this small resort city is chock full of picturesque churches, gorgeous houses and enough monuments to keep you wandering for days. Found in the southwest corner of the Republic of Macedonia, cobbled streets lead down to the lake where you’ll find classic restaurants, trendy cafes and a nice beach where you can spend warm summer days swimming in the clear waters.
One of the most beautiful cities in the entire Mediterranean region, Dubrovnik is located in the center of the dramatic, often rugged and always spectacular Dalmatian Coast. Some buildings in the Old Town of Dubrovnik are more than half a millennium old, with the city’s walls being not only among the oldest, but also among the most efficient fortification systems created in Medieval Times – the Walls of Dubrovnik were never breached by enemy attacks during the Middle Ages.
The city’s position on the Adriatic coast adds the possibility to explore the crystal waters and to do some island hopping as well. While you are exploring, you can easily pop into one of the small, family-owned local eateries and try some of the best fish and sea food dishes in the Mediterranean.
Having escaped the worst of the bombings during World War 2, this southern Poland city near the Czech border, contains some of the best preserved medieval buildings and classic Jewish quarters in eastern Europe. Krakow, the former Polish capital, is often regarded as Poland’s prettiest city and contains some amazing sights such as the Wawel Royal Castle and the beautiful 14th century Gothic church, St. Mary’s Basilica.
The 10 acre Rynek Glowny (Main Market Square) is one of the biggest squares in Europe and includes Cloth Hall, a trading post from the Renaissance era. The city itself is packed full of galleries as well as delicious pubs and restaurants.
Divided by the mighty Danube River, the Hungarian capital, Budapest, combines architectural styles from various ages that delight the eye and leave you staring in all directions. With Celtic and then Roman origins, Budapest has maintained its standing as a world class city for centuries and rightfully deserves to be on this list of the best cities to visit in Eastern Europe.
After spending the day wandering the older, beautifully preserved and quite hilly Buda side or exploring the unique vibe and world class museums of the flatter Pest side, you can take a break in one of the city’s many spectacular natural geothermal baths, then replenish your energies in one of the great, yet affordable restaurants that serve world-class dishes. If you like going out after hours, Budapest has an exciting nightlife as well.
The capital city of Ukraine, Kiev is known for its colorful religious architecture as much as it’s amazing history museums. The center of Ukrainian culture, Kiev is full of theaters, ancient ruins, modern buildings and secular monuments.
The 11th century Kiev Monastery of the Caves, or Kiev Pechersk Lavra as it’s rightfully called, is a hugely popular pilgrimage site filled with gold domed churches lined with catacombs filled with the burial chambers of Orthodox monks as well as gold objects from ancient Scythian times. For gorgeous views of the city below, check out the Museum of the Great Patriotic War, which is topped by the massive Motherland Statue and can be seen from most places in the capital.
Want to see more about the Ukraine, check out this post we wrote last year.
The largest city in Slovenia, as well the country’s capital, Ljubljana is known for it’s amazing green spaces and young and energetic university population. The old city area, divided from it’s commercial district via the meandering Ljubljana River, is home to many museums and art exhibits as well as several popular outdoor cafes along the waterfront.
With a blend of Baroque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau buildings, Ljubljana’s old town contains the Tivoli City Park, the largest park in Slovenia and hosts everything from crumbling statues of Stalin to a duck pond, playground and mansions. No matter the reason, it’s worth a visit.
Often called the gem of the Balkans, Brasov, situated in the central part of Romania, fringed by the snow-capped peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, has a spectacular skyline and an even more spectacular urban vibe. The central square, surrounded by impressive Gothic buildings, is lined with cozy cafes and great restaurants where you can enjoy hearty and savory dishes before exploring the many attractions in the city and in the surrounding mountain area.
Intrigued by one of these captivating best cities in Eastern Europe? Plan to add it to your travel bucket list or want to share your love for a particular Eastern Europe city?
Let us know in the comments below. We love to hear your thoughts on places we’ve seen and even more of the best places to visit in Eastern Europe.
Want to learn more?
Check out these awesome books available on Amazon.
Rick Steves Eastern Europe – see it on Amazon
Eastern Europe!: Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does