Alternative Europe: 5 eastern city breaks you should try

14 March 2018

 

Europe is home to some of the world’s best and most popular tourist destinations including London, Paris and Rome, but there is so much more to the continent than these established cities.

Eastern Europe is a hotbed of safe, lively and fascinating city break destinations which are, largely, unspoilt by tourists. Here are five of the best.

Moscow, Russia

Moscow is one of Europe’s most underrated cities, which is surprising given its size. The Russian capital is home to over 10 million people and there is a wealth of activities to enjoy.

Head to the iconic Red Square, where you can snap a photo in front of the colourful onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, tour the imposing Kremlin or indulge in some high-end shopping inside GUM.

For children, the city is like a giant playground, and they will love the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, experiencing the thrills and green spaces that Gorky Park offers, as well as the storybook-esque Izmailovsky Kremlin with its toy museum, chocolate factory and gingerbread shop.

Tallinn, Estonia

 

A trip to Tallinn is a fairy tale journey. Established in the medieval era, today’s Tallinn is an exciting blend of old and new.

A well-preserved city wall and turrets encase an enchanting Old Town, containing a trove of Gothic spires, winding cobblestone streets and spectacular architecture.

This old-world city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has something for everyone. Ascend St Olaf’s Church, once the world’s tallest building, for panoramic views across the Estonian capital, take in the colourful gardens and décor of the baroque Kadriorg Palace, and visit Town Hall Square where events and performances regularly take place.

Riga, Latvia

The biggest metropolis of the Baltic states, Riga is an eye-catching capital which has plenty to offer its visitors.

The enormous Central Market, Europe’s largest market housed across five old Zeppelin hangars, is a treasure trove of cheap eats and eclectic souvenir opportunities, while the historical facades of Town Hall Square will wow even the most ardent travellers.

A mix of museums including the Riga History and Seafaring Museum, and the Latvian Museum of Natural History are great options for kids, while the famous Riga sign presents the perfect opportunity to snap your next Instagram post.

Kiev, Ukraine

Perched on the Dnipro River, Kiev is Ukraine’s cosmopolitan capital. Gourmet restaurants, lively nightlife, religious architecture, quality theatres and interesting museums are all a part of its cultural make-up and ensures there is plenty for visitors to enjoy.

Saint Sophia’s Cathedral is a fantasy of green and gold domes and was Ukraine’s first UNESCO-inscribed site, while exploring Kiev Perchersk Lavra, an ancient cave monastery, by candlelight is an awe-inspiring experience.

Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade may not have the allure of other big-ticket European cities, but this intriguing Serbian destination should not be overlooked.

Belgrade Fortress serves up fantastic views across the city and River Danube and is one of Europe’s best places to watch the sun set, while Skadarlija is the main bohemian quarter of Belgrade. This is where a collection of fantastic bars and restaurants can be found on cobbled, pedestrianised streets, alongside some of the city’s most beautiful buildings.

Don’t forget to visit the Nikola Tesla Museum, which celebrates Serbia’s favourite son. Its interactive and insightful exhibitions about Tesla’s life and work can be appreciated by adults and children alike.

 

 

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