Tourists flock to Western Europe. And, sure, Western Europe is nice. But it’s also overflowing with tourists, and tourists can really take the shine off a place. Below is a list of sights in Eastern Europe that rival those of Western Europe, and – here’s why I prefer them – they come with just a fraction of the tourists.
#1 Eastern Europe Highlight
At 2,100 m elevation Ushguli is the highest inhabited town in Europe. The haunting watchtowers give the settlement an incredible Old World charm. And as yet there’s hardly any tourists.
#2 Eastern Europe Highlight
It’s known as the Town of a Thousand Windows. Berat is full of stunning Ottoman architecture and comes complete with a huge castle and a sprinkling of Illyrian ruins. The town is mostly unrestored, and amazingly un-touristed.
#3 Eastern Europe Highlight
Spiš Castle is an incredible medieval fortress – one of my favourites. And completely empty the day I visited. It’s also where they filmed Dragonheart 🙂
#4 Eastern Europe Highlight
Like rock-cut architecture? Here’s a unique example that might give you visions of Legolas and Gimli. Guess how many people were at this site in Iron Gates National Park the day I visited? Not a single one.
#5 Eastern Europe Highlight
Baku comes with modern flame towers and ancient flame temples. There are also mud volcanos, and a UNESCO-listed petroglyph site. For a bustling capital city, it is surprisingly un-touristed.
#6 Eastern Europe Highlight
The Seastone Hotel, in little-heard-of Nagorno-Karabakh, is proof there’s fun to be had living in this separatist-controlled unrecognised republic.
#7 Eastern Europe Highlight
Like Roman ruins? Well, you don’t need to visit Italy. Plovdiv holds one of the best preserved Roman theatres in the world. There’s also a Roman stadium, a Roman forum, and many other parts of the Roman city of Philippopolis to explore.
#8 Eastern Europe Highlight
Armenians have a thing for building monasteries in gorgeous landscapes. And you can see from my photo below how many tourists you’ll have to share the site with.
#9 Eastern Europe Highlight
Sighișoara has nine remnant guild towers, a medieval clock tower, and it’s the birthplace of Vlad the Impaler (the man who was the inspiration for Dracula). It’s also one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.
#10 Eastern Europe Highlight
The famous Ottoman Bridge, Stari Most, was blown up in 1993 during the Yugoslav Wars. It has since been painstakingly restored. Local daredevils jump from the highest point of the bridge as a demonstration of their courage.