Europe’s unquestionable shining stars are cities like Paris, London and Barcelona. Boisterous and busy, these places are swarmed with tourists almost any time of the year. But if you are a fan of the path less travelled, Europe offers a quietly sophisticated, history laden, culture rich option too - Central Eastern Europe.
With easy access and budget friendly choices, these small countries like Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Austria are packed with exciting revelations that are the perfect mix of heritage and contemporary.
Here are our picks for the top hidden gems of Central Eastern Europe:
1. Český Krumlov, Czech
Image Source: Flickr.com/Debar Shiray
This fairytale town may have been discovered in recent times due to its UNESCO World Heritage tag but its undeniably one of the most gorgeous spots in Eastern Europe. Full of an original old world charm, Český Krumlov is a town filled with beautiful heritage architecture along the meandering Vltava river. The most magical time to visit would be winter season where you can experience the splendid castle enveloped in snow.
Highlights: Castle, St Vitus Church, Fotoatelier Seidel Museum
Discover the Best Museums in Europe
2. Kutná Hora, Czech
Image Source: Flickr.com/Wilhelm Joys Andersen
Once the principal mint for the Czech Republic, Kutná Hora was the silver ore that created the currency that was used for trade in the country. The city may have lost its financial importance but it still holds its medieval treasures that are a real treat to the eyes. A part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, this place is packed with awe inspiring sights that leave an impression on you forever. Don’t miss the St.Barbara church which is one of the country’s most spectacular churches.
Highlights: Czech Museum of Silver, St.Barbara Cathedral, Sedlec Chapel
3. Bardejov, Slovakia
Image Source: Flickr.com/ Arkadiusz R
A medieval wonderland indeed, Bardejov is a step back in time. With a town square that is almost perfectly preserved, this town is one of the best kept secrets of Slovakia. An ideal visit if you want to acquaint yourself with the East European culture, the wooden churches, thermal spas and unique plaster details on UNESCO World Heritage listed houses will simply steal your heart.
Highlights: St Egidius Basilica,Radnicne Namestie
Take a tour of best architecture cities in Europe
4. Spis Castle, Slovakia
Image Source: Flickr.com/ Ronnie Macdonald
Perhaps Slovakia’s finest offering to its tourists, the Spis Castle is an impressive monument standing tall and proud in the history and skyline of Slovakia. Built in the 12th century, this castle has seen much power and politics in its 900 years. Besides being a hierarchical accessory, the castle is also an important archaeological site where interesting discoveries dating back to the Stone and Middle Ages have been made. These can be seen in the museum that has been housed within the castle. A hike up the tower rewards visitors with astounding views of the surroundings.
Highlights: Medieval arms, Collection of Spisske Museum
Check Out : Best theme parks in europe
5. Eger, Hungary
Image Source: Flickr.com/Eli Duke
Perched on the banks of the Eger Stream and surrounded by the Bükk Mountains, Eger is a glorious city that is known for its well preserved baroque buildings and unique character. Probably one of the most charismatic experiences in East Europe, at Eger you can trapeze from a thermal bath to wine tasting with relative ease. Here, there is much to take in and much to experience. Whether its exploring on the back of a horse or enjoying unobstructed views from the hilltop castle, Eger is a paradise in its own right.
Highlights: Eger Castle, Dobo Square, Valley of Beautiful Women
6. Castle Hill, Hungary
Image Source: Flickr.com/ Arian Zwegers
No visit to the enchanting city of Budapest would be complete without a visit to Castle Hill. Amidst the narrow alleys and cobblestoned paths, sits this beautifully restored site that makes for a great walking area and vantage point. Packed with some of Hungary’s finest monuments and museums, this place affords unforgettable panoramas of the historic city of Budapest. Take the funicular up the hill and explore the exciting spots like Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle.
Highlights: Matthias Church, Fisherman's Bastion, Buda Castle
7. Melk, Austria
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
The sleepy but picturesque town of Melk rests under the watchful eye of the gorgeous Benedictine Abbey that contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockreau. Originally a palace, the abbey still retains some of its former royal grandeur. Absolutely resplendent in a golden hue, the baroque architecture of the abbey is stunning. The Abbey is decorated with vivid frescoes and the library houses some fascinating medieval manuscripts. Melk is home to one of the prettiest river valleys in that part of the world and this, alongwith the handsome abbey makes this place a must visit.
Highlights: Melk Abbey
8. Leutasch, Austria
Image Source: Flickr.com/DaN
This sun kissed valley in Austria is the stuff of dreams. Surrounded by lush mountain scenery and serenity , this municipality is home to a string of 24 tiny hamlets that look too pretty to be real. A great lesson in Austrian customs and traditions, this area is an ideal destination for nature lovers and those who like to take it slow. Whether its cross country skiing or world class hiking, Leutasch makes for a memorable holiday.
Highlights: Leutascher Geisterklamm, nature walks
Must experience these Best hikes in Europe
9. Malbork Castle, Poland
Image Source: Flickr.com/Arian Zwegers
Located next to the Nogat River is this show stopper castle that is as huge in size as it is in history. Built by the Teutonic Knights, this castle has seen many battles and kings. Restored lovingly after it was taken into government protection, Malbork Castle’s magnanimous beauty dominates the surroundings. Visitors can experience splendid interiors and remarkable ceilings while taking the tour of the castle. Also noteworthy are the Knights’ loo and kitchen that reveal some interesting stories from the past.
Highlights: Knight's kitchen and Frescoed Ceilings
10. Tatra National Park
Declared a world biosphere reserve, the Tatra National Park is a magnificent area blessed with nature’s best gifts. Home to one of the two Alpine mountain ranges in the world, the scenery here is nothing short of legendary. From sharp edged peaks to glittering glacial lakes, the landscape at this park is dotted with jaw dropping sights. Housing many endangered species of animals and plants, Tatra National Park is a beautiful place to visit. From waterfall rappelling to rewarding hiking trails, this truly is a piece of heaven on earth for nature lovers.
Highlights: Lake Morskie Oko, Wodoqrzmoty Mickiewicza
Central Eastern Europe has it all- exciting urban life, gorgeous countryside and heritage wonders too. Without being boastful, it has quietly been enchanting visitors for years now. And in this modest beauty, lies its endless charm.