Backpacker in East Europe

The under-the-radar eastern European cities you need to visit.  

Foto: Unsplash/Joshua Earle  

With the promise of rich history, great food and thriving nightlife, eastern Europe is ripe for exploring if you get the chance. These are four of the best hidden backpacking destinations on the continent.

If you’re looking for somewhere to go for a long weekend with the lads or if you have something more romantic in mind, eastern Europe is full of brilliant cities with heaps of things to do.

From Dracula’s birthplace to old Roman settlements, here are four of the best places to visit.

And the best part: you need next to nothing to enjoy these destinations. Perfect if you’re on a tight budget! 

  • Sighisoara
  • Plovdiv
  • Ljubljana
  • Kravica Wasserfalls/Mostar

1. Sighisoara, Romania - Dracula’s origin

A trip to Bucharest is essential if you find yourself in Romania, but after a few days in the capital it’s well worth jumping aboard a train to the old Transylvanian city that goes by the virtually unpronounceable name of Sighisoara.

The journey may be long, but it’s well worth it as you’ll get to discover the city Prince Vlad III (aka Count Dracula) haunted during the 15th century.

History stalks you in every corner of this place, which features an imposing citadel that overlooks the city’s old town. The old covered staircase was built to protect children when walking to school and dates back to 1642.

You can even pay a visit Prince Vlad III’s childhood home - just watch out for any bloodthirsty bat-men.

2. Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Roman ruins

The Romans settled in this central Bulgarian city back in the 2nd century, and its perfectly-preserved amphitheatre, which sits among decadent mansions. Plovdiv remains a living, breathing monument to gladiators of yore.

 

You won’t be disappointed if it’s culture you’re after, either. Plovdiv has loads of art galleries, winding cobbled streets and bohemian cafes, as well as a vibrant street art scene to rival anything else in Europe - and yes, that includes Berlin.

The city is hoping to be named European Capital of Culture in 2019, so expect tourists to flock to it in their drones if it wins.

3. Ljubljana, Slovenia - An Austrian outpost 

Built around the banks of the River Ljubljana, the Slovenian capital seems more Austrian than eastern European, which isn’t that surprising given it served as a trading centre for the Austro-Hungarian Empire back in the day.

Nestled between the Adriatic Sea and the Alps, the city has long been targeted by the continent’s most notorious conquerors - including Napoleon and the Romans.

The city is something of a dark horse, ignored by backpackers and overlooked for stag dos, but it boasts a lively night scene and urban flair.

A short trip to Bled promises picturesque mountain views and a turquoise blue lake, making it the perfect place to walk off the excesses of the night before.

4. Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Kravice Waterfalls

If you’re backpacking through Bosnia and Herzegovina you’ll surely end up in Mostar, Herzegovina’s cultural capital and a stone’s throw from the Kravice Waterfalls. Standing 28 metres tall, crystal clear water shoots down into a small lake which visitors are invited to jump in for a paddle.

If you do visit, remember to bring your camera and swimming shorts!

Mostar itself is famous for the Stari Most, which crosses the river of Neretva. The stunning reconstruction of this 16th-century Ottoman bridge is the perfect spot for a photo opportunity. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years until it was destroyed by Croat forces during the Croat-Bosniak War in 1993.

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08 2016 The Red Bulletin

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