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Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

The countries of Eastern Europe are often overlooked in favor of popular western European destinations – but they really shouldn't be. With rich history, gorgeous architecture and a variety of individual cultures, Eastern Europe offers a wealth of destinations to explore, and at a much lower price point. U.S. News considered attractions, amenities and more to determine the Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe. Don't forget to vote for your favorite to help influence next year's list.

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#1 Prague

#1 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

From the Prague Castle across the famous Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square, the Czech capital has history and architecture that rivals any European city. Visit top sights like St. Vitus Cathedral and the Prague Astronomical Clock and wander through the Josefov (Jewish Quarter) to see the historic synagogues and the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery of its kind. Prague is also the birthplace of the pilsner-style beer so you'll find pints in bars on every corner. Read More »

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#2 Budapest

#2 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

The magic of Budapest lies in is its stunning historical architecture. You'll find fairy-tale-like structures, such as the neo-Gothic Fisherman's Bastion, the medieval Buda Castle, the neo-Renaissance St. Stephen's Basilica and the second largest synagogue in the world, the Moorish Revival Dohány Street Synagogue. Plus, prices for flights and lodging are a fraction of what it costs to visit cities like Rome and Paris. Read More »

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#3 Dubrovnik

#3 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

This coastal Croatian city has gained popularity with travelers in recent years thanks to its picturesque location on the Adriatic Sea, its UNESCO-sanctioned Old City and its seafood-centric cuisine. For amazing photo ops, take a cable car up to Mount Srd for a bird's-eye view of the city and the nearby island of Lokrum. Read More »

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#4 Montenegro

#4 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

Montenegro is only about 5,300 square miles (slightly smaller than the size of Connecticut), but what this destination lacks in size it more than makes up for in charm. Medieval towns, magnificent mountains, breathtaking beaches and charismatic locals await you in this Balkan country. Visit the startlingly blue Mediterranean waters in Sveti Stefan or wander past the stone churches and romantic squares in Kotor.

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#5 Ljubljana

#5 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

You might be surprised to learn that of all the destinations in Europe, the capital of Slovenia has earned the title of Green Capital of Europe. But once you get an eyeful of its expansive green spaces and car-free city center, it's easy to see why. Stroll through the charming Old Town, snap photos of sights like Ljubljana Castle and grab a bite at a one of the many picturesque cafes that line the Ljubljanica River.

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#6 Zagreb

#6 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

Croatia's coastline is fairly well-known to travelers, but the country's capital, which lies in central Croatia, is worth exploring, too. Zagreb is home to a wide array of museums, including the unconventional Museum of Broken Relationships, as well as an established arts community. The city also serves as a good jumping off point to Jarun Lake in the summer and skiing at Mount Medvednica in the winter.

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#7 Bucharest

#7 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

Many of Bucharest's tourist attractions offer insight into the communist history of the city, including the Palace of Parliament, which features 1,100 rooms and is billed as the second largest administrative building in the world. Visit the Museum of the Romanian Peasant and the Village Museums to gain insight into the history of the diverse Romanian people. Plus, Bucharest's gastronomic offerings have surpassed expectations in recent years.

Dome of the Atheneum at Night
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#8 Warsaw

#8 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

History buffs in particular will appreciate Warsaw and all its cultural offerings. Visit the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, the Warsaw Uprising Museum, the Museum of King Jan III's Palace at Wilanów and the sprawling 188-acre Lazienki Królewskie Museum before wandering around the Old Town's galleries, shops and cafes. Read More »

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#9 Rovinj

#9 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

A true fishing port as well as a popular summer retreat, Rovinj is located on west coast of the Istria peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The town and its surrounding 14 islands, including the popular St. Catherine and Red islands, are scattered with picturesque sandy and pebbly beaches throughout. But with Rovinj's small size and big appeal, it gets crowded (and quickly) during peak travel season in the late spring and summer. 

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#10 Krakow

#10 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

Kraków is often regarded as the cultural capital of Poland. You could easily spend most of your vacation time in the Main Market Square, the city's center and the largest medieval market square in the world, but don't miss unique attractions like The Stained Glass Museum and the Sukiennice shopping center. Traveling about an hour outside the city to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum is a must-do for first-time visitors. Read More »

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#11 Moldova

#11 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

With its seemingly untouched countryside and popular wine region, the landlocked Moldova is a hidden gem in Eastern Europe. Travelers should experience the stretch of country that surrounds Orheiul Vechi, a cliffside complex on the R?ut River that dates back thousands of years and is home to a monastery, baths and more. Wine lovers should head to Nistreana, known for its delectable red varietals, and Codru, where you'll find impressively large cellars.

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#12 Riga

#12 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

Located in northern Latvia on the gulf with the same name, Riga offers colorful, art nouveau architecture and a pedestrian-friendly Old Town. For a unique take on history, head to the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, an outdoor museum that's home to 118 historic buildings that reflect Latvian culture through the ages.

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#13 Vilnius

#13 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

This Lithuanian city wows with its baroque architecture, but it doesn't stay stuck in the past. The Old Town offers an interesting mix of the old and the new, with cobblestone streets that lead to boutiques and trendy restaurants. Be sure to take in the beautiful architecture of the Gate of Dawn shrine and Church of St. Anne, and for panoramic photo ops, head to the top of the Vilnius TV Tower.

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#14 Minsk

#14 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

While the destination's architecture may not be as grand as other cities on this list, Minsk offers a more contemporary take on Eastern Europe. This Belarusian city is packed with chic eateries, booming nightclubs and modern art galleries. For a look into its past, visit Independence Square where you'll find the KGB headquarters, the Lenin Monument and the neo-romanesque Red Church.

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#15 Tallinn

#15 in Best Places to Visit in Eastern Europe

Estonia might not fit your typical idea of a vacation destination, but dig a little deeper and you'll be delighted by the beautiful Russian Orthodox architecture found at Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the pink Toompea Castle (now home to parliament) and the regal Kadriorg Palace. Other can't-miss sights include the Old Town and Lahemaa National Park. For the best weather and even lower prices than usual, head here in September.

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