As you probably know very well I’m a huge enthusiast of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. That’s where you will find me most often (and I’m not even talking about Warsaw where I live) and where I feel the best. I can’t even explain what attracts me the most in this part of the world, it’s just the overall feeling I guess.
My Eastern Europe and the Balkans bucket list is really long and I’m hoping to cross few places of it soon – getting to know Romania or Bosnia and Herzegovina better, visiting cities of Kharkiv or Baku or seeing incredible architecture in Russia.
I’m glad I’m not the only who really likes this part of the world. I asked fellow travel bloggers which places of their Eastern Europe and the Balkans bucket list they would like to cross off this upcoming year – you can see their answers below!
Some places would be completely new to them, others were enjoyed so much they want to return (and I can’t blame them) but altogether it’s a great list of destinations you should consider too! Here’s the travel bloggers Eastern Europe and the Balkans bucket list!
Table of contents
- 1 Eastern Europe bucket list
- 1.1 Bratislava, Slovakia by Megan and Mike Jerrard of Mapping Megan and Waking Up Wild
- 1.2 Budapest by Gabor of Surfing the Planet
- 1.3 Tallinn, Estonia by Barbara of Jet-Settera
- 1.4 Romania by Allison of Eternal Arrival
- 1.5 Moldova by Alice of Teacake Travels
- 1.6 Uzbekistan by Kirsty of Kathmandu and Beyond
- 1.7 Lviv, Ukraine by Mariana of Rucksack Ramblings
- 1.8 Bulgaria by Adelina od Pack Me To
- 1.9 St. Petersburg, Russia by Maria of Maria Abroad
- 1.10 Prague, Czech Republic by Geoff & Katie of WanderTooth
- 1.11 Kazan, Russia by Pedro of Travel with Pedro
- 1.12 Azerbaijan by Trisha of P.S.I’m on my way
- 2 The Balkans bucket list
- 2.1 Croatia by Lina of Divergent Travelers
- 2.2 Herceg Novi by Viktoria of Chronic Wanderlust
- 2.3 Ohrid, Macedonia by Lance and Laura of Travel Addicts
- 2.4 Slovenia by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World
- 2.5 Durmitor National Park by Alesha and Jarryd of Nomadasaurus
- 2.6 Slovenia by Tracy of Tracy’s travels in time
- 2.7 Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Ewa of Daleko Niedaleko
- 2.8 Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Margherita of The Crowded Planet
- 2.9 Stari Grad, Hvar, Croatia by Lotte of Phenomenal Globe
- 2.10 Sveti Stefan, Montenegro by Alexis and Bertaut of World Travel Adventurers
- 2.11 Kotor, Montenegro by Sonja of Migrating Miss
- 2.12 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Evan Kristine of Pretty Wild World
Eastern Europe bucket list
Bratislava, Slovakia by Megan and Mike Jerrard of Mapping Megan and Waking Up Wild
We’re looking forward to returning to Bratislava in 2017; a hidden gem which gets so few tourists compared to the Vienna, Budapest, or Prague, that there is hardly a beaten path at all! Though Slovakia’s tiny capital deserves much more acclaim … between history, architecture, tradition, culture, art, drinks, food and nightlife, the city may be small, but it’s a destination which has it all!
Located on the Danube River, Bratislava is an accessible city, and with its laid back atmosphere it’s a great place to hang out. It’s very safe, friendly, and hassle-free, and there’s always something to do. There are plenty of museums, galleries, parks and beautiful gardens to explore. And a fairytale castle which offer beautiful panoramic views over the Danube.
There are street artists everywhere, dressed up in costumes which adds charm to the small Old Town, and colorful buildings throughout the historic center make every street corner photogenic. There are outdoor markets where you can pick up souvenirs, photographs, ceramics, and traditional food. There is a great nightlife scene, and plenty of places with beautiful panoramic views of the Danube.
Bratislava is an intriguing and charming city, a mix of wild and urban, classic and contemporary. The city is always quite lively, though never has a crowded feel.
Budapest by Gabor of Surfing the Planet
Budapest is one of those cities, where you can return several times and you can still discover faces of the city that you haven’t known yet.
My case is special, since I am Hungarian, but I have lived far from my country for more than a decade now, and when I go to Hungary I spend most of my time at my family’s place a couple of hundred kilometers from Budapest. Hence, I haven’t really had too much chance to explore my capital for the last few years.
I decided that this year I would travel to Budapest as a tourist to discover the things that have changed there recently.
I would like to spend some time in the Jewish neighborhood for example, where a lot of ruin bars opened these years, Szimpla Kert being the most famous of them. I have never had the time to visit Memento Park either, where the remaining communist statues of Lenin and others are exhibited.
In addition, I would also like to explore the Hospital on the Rock near Buda Castle, where one can visit the bunker, which served as a hospital during World War II. Apart from exploring these and other new sites, I will definitely enjoy a walk around the classic landmarks of Budapest.
Tallinn, Estonia by Barbara of Jet-Settera
The Estonian capital, Tallinn in a small, but very charming city. It is my absolute favorite capital in Eastern Europe. Tallinn is situated right by the Baltic Sea and it has served as an important trade hub ever since the middle ages.
The city was founded in 1248 and today it is one of the oldest cities of Northern Europe. Tallinn’s old town is one of the best preserved medieval cities of Europe and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today.
As Tallinn is situated between Russia and Finland, tourists can see a massive Russian influence as well as the Finnish influence in this city. The Russian Orthodox Church in the center of the city is a very beautiful site to visit.
Today Tallinn serves as the Silicon Valley of Europe. Many tech start-ups are headquartered in this Baltic capital.
Romania by Allison of Eternal Arrival
Romania is my travel dream destination. It checks all the boxes: relatively untouristy, fascinating history, gorgeous landscapes, and friendly people. I keep finding myself staring at pictures of surprisingly colorful Transylvanian towns, like Sibiu and Sighisoara, aching to be there.
I’d love to drive the Transfăgărășan highway and take in the epic mountain views. I’m lusting after the Painted Monasteries of northeastern Romania and hiking the Maramureș mountains. And of course, I want to visit the beautiful coastline of the Black Sea, where cute towns like Constanța sit atop beautiful blue waters.
Oh, Romania, I really hope to visit you in 2017!
Moldova by Alice of Teacake Travels
Oh Moldova! This is one of Europe’s least visited destinations and if it wasn’t for me driving back through here after the Mongol Rally, I’m not sure if I would have come here too. Thing is, Moldova has some absolutely awesome perks that you’re probably unaware of, one of them being wine!
Did you know that Moldova has the one of the world’s largest wine collections in the world? The cellars at Mileştii Mici stretch to nearly 200km. That is a hell of a lot of wine! Ridiculous. If you’re really up for it, there’s a National Wine Day in Chişinău the first weekend in October every year. But there are many more great things to do in Chisinau!
Uzbekistan by Kirsty of Kathmandu and Beyond
Uzbekistan is high up on my list of 2017 travel destinations. We were so close to visiting a few months ago, but were forced to abandon our plans due to red tape and visa restrictions. Fables from the Silk Road have always fascinated me and Uzbekistan is home to some of the routes most significant cities. I am also enamoured with images of the turquoise, jade and ochre mosaic decorated mosques and can’t wait to see them for myself.
Uzbekistan is one of only three countries of the former USSR that I have yet to visit and a fascination for Soviet-era architecture is another reason I’m itching to get there. Thankfully, visa restrictions for travellers from the UK (and many other nationalities) are going to be lifted in April 2017 so I am one step closer to getting to my dream destination.
Lviv, Ukraine by Mariana of Rucksack Ramblings
Do you like a little light BDSM with your beer? Or maybe some shooting practice to make the rakija shots go down faster? Then you should drop by Lviv and check out some of Ukraine’s weirdest nightlife. You see, Lviv has something quite unusual to offer.
When the sun sets, all sorts of quirky theme bars open their doors for a night of fun like you’ve never had it before. At Masoch Cafe, you can get spanked by your waitress or get hot wax poured on your naked chest while sitting blindfolded on a chair in the middle of the bar. Suffice to say this is not for the fainthearted.
And then there’s Kryvijka, oh boy! If you say the right password (Slava Ukraini, glory to Ukraine!) and make it past the scary doorman, you get to shoot at a picture of Mr. Putin himself in an indoor shooting range and leave him a personal greeting on the Putin-faced toilet paper. In other words, if you like surprises and have a high pain threshold, Lviv is your spot in 2017!
Bulgaria by Adelina od Pack Me To
A destination that I would love to visit in 2017 is Bulgaria. A friend of mine is Bulgarian and recently moved back home to Sofia, its capital. For as long as I can remember, she has been inviting me to visit, but because I didn’t know much about the country, I’ve been putting it off. Now that she is back, the photos and adventures she has shared from the country has made me want to visit sooner rather than later.
From the intricate frescos of the Rila Monastery to the beauty of the Seven Rila Lakes area to the history and Roman influence found in the city of Plovdiv, there is much to discover in Bulgaria which makes it one of the top places that I would like to visit.
St. Petersburg, Russia by Maria of Maria Abroad
St Petersburg is often called the Venice of the North. The blue veins of water connect and divide the city at the same time. St Petersburg is a bustling city of over 5 Million, the largest Northern city with a population over 1 million.
I have been dreaming about visiting St Petersburg ever since I’ve seen a documentary about this city. To me, St Petersburg has always been Russia’s golden jewel – a place where the grey dust of war and communism didn’t cover the beauty and glamour of better times.
Russia is an intriguing place and I can’t wait to see the Hermitage, the Winter Palace, and the Peterhof Gardens and all its splendor with my own eyes.
Prague, Czech Republic by Geoff & Katie of WanderTooth
After leaving Prague in 2015 following 15 months in the city, I hope 2017 is the year we return once again to the Czech Republic’s lovely capital. With a magical castle, winding river that runs under the world-famous Charles Bridge, and picture-perfect Old Town, Prague is recognized around the world for the sheer force of its beauty. And while its looks are a draw for all travelers, Prague is also an incredibly young, fun city to spend some time in, with plenty of things to do.
When we return, one of our first stops will be the riverfront area of Naplavka, where hole-in-the-wall bars burst to life each summer, serving cheap Czech beer in plastic cups to residents dangling their legs over the edge of the river walk. From there, we’ll visit Letna Park, which offers spectacular views over the Old Town, and catch the sunrise over Charles Bridge at least once.
Kazan, Russia by Pedro of Travel with Pedro
While in 2016, Russia was one of the countries I visited the most number of times, I only spent time in Moscow and St Petersburg. Being such a massive country and a lot more diverse than people think, there’s no doubt I’ll be back in there in 2017. This time, however, I will be visiting some other places.
The city I’m most eager to visit is Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. What makes Kazan a more special place is its multicultural background. The city’s population is roughly half Russian and half Tatars. Tatars came from Central Asia, speak their own language and are Muslims, while Russians are Orthodox Christians.
The city’s architecture shows a good blend of both influences and, top of the list for any visitor, is the local Kremlin, a World Heritage site. There, we will find the oldest church in Kazan, as well as the opulent Kul Sharif mosque, built to celebrate the 1000 anniversary of the city’s foundation.
Azerbaijan by Trisha of P.S.I’m on my way
I am currently on a 3-month trip in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan when I decided to withdraw my visit to Az because of the very strict visa policies. I’ve been really dreaming of visiting Baku. I don’t know anything about it as I don’t research places before going. I love surprising myself. The need to visit is out of curiosity — I want to know what Azerbaijan is like.
Not many people visit this country and I want to be one of the many people to tell a good story about it. Additionally, I have friends in Baku whom I met while traveling South America last year! I would love to witness how my Latin friends exist in such a country as Azerbaijan.
The Balkans bucket list
Croatia by Lina of Divergent Travelers
Croatia is a country that has eluded us for many years, yet a place that remains on the forefront of our minds when we are looking for new places to visit. In 2017 we’d love to tackle one of our Top 100 Travel Adventures that involves a kayaking expedition along the coastal edge of Croatia.
While most people hop into boats and cruise this route, we’re looking to make it a good paddle accompanied with camping and communing with nature along the way. When we’ve finished with that, we want to head inland for some rafting and hiking before paying a visit to the stunning Plitvice. All that said, we’ll probably end up back in the water as we hear the diving is decent as well. With its natural beauty and variety of adventure options, it’s no secret why we have Croatia on our places to visit in 2017.
Herceg Novi by Viktoria of Chronic Wanderlust
Montenegro was on my list for 2015, yet it took me a year to get there, and now I’m feeling that I should go back in 2017 again. There’s many wonderful places to be explored, but Herceg Novi was one of the unexpected surprises.
The city overlooks the sea, the food is incredibly well – try some octopus near the harbour, and the centre of the town which is located a bit above the harbour is simply stunning. The old buildings are well maintained and invite to a wonderful stroll around. Most visitors skip Herceg Novi, which I’m very glad and happy about – because then it will stay our little secret. Let’s try to keep it that way ;)
Ohrid, Macedonia by Lance and Laura of Travel Addicts
The Balkans is where it’s at in 2017! And there’s no place better than Macedonia. The former Yugoslav Republic has amazing mountains, beautiful lakes, delicious food and a quirky capital. The Lake Ohrid region of Macedonia is one of our new favorite places in the world. Beautiful mountains tower above the crystal blue freshwater lake. Lake Ohrid is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Further to the east, the valleys of central Macedonia produce stunning wines that rival anything in southern Europe…for less than half the price. Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, is a quirky collection of buildings built in various European styles. Skopje is also the childhood home of Mother Teresa, where she lived for 18 years. Macedonia is a cheap and fun travel destination for 2017!
Slovenia by Claudia of My Adventures Across the World
I visited Slovenia for the first time in September 2016, and I can’t wait to go back. Although it borders Italy, I had never really thought of going. It just didn’t attract my attention, for whatever reason. Then I had the opportunity to go and, as soon as I arrived, I fell in love with it.
What I loved about Slovenia is its untouched nature – imagine mountain peaks that called to be hiked and forests that want to be explored. But I also liked the many castles scattered around the country; the picturesque villages. I truly enjoyed the relaxed and welcoming vibe of the capital Ljubljana and I appreciated the still undiscovered beauty of Bela Krajina, which is yet untouched by mass tourism.
Slovenia is definitely one of the most interesting and beautiful countries in Europe, that we should all visit at least once in life.
Durmitor National Park by Alesha and Jarryd of Nomadasaurus
The tiny Eastern European nation of Montenegro is best known for its idyllic seaside town Kotor, but few know that if they head into the north of the country there are some spectacular mountains just waiting to be explored.
Durmitor National Park is a gorgeous nature reserve that is home to picturesque lakes, jagged peaks, the deepest canyon in Europe and the highest mountain in the nation, Bobotov Kuk. It’s a perfect place for anyone that likes being out in nature, with gentle walks in the forest right through to white water rafting, canyoning, mountaineering and even ice climbing in the winter. It’s should definitely be on your list for places to visit in 2017!
Slovenia by Tracy of Tracy’s travels in time
I have visited Lake Bled in Slovenia once before – in summer. The area is simply stunning The beautiful lake is surrounded by hills and mountains and there is a magnificent castle perched on a hillside. It is like something from a fairy tale. And there in the middle of the lake is an island with a church on it. A boat ride to the island is an experience as a traditional pletna boat is rowed out by the owner (for a small fee) and you are free to walk the island for 360 degree views of the lake and surrounding countryside.
To visit in winter would be my choice next time – to see the snow covered peaks and sit at the castle admiring the views below whilst sipping a hot chocolate and sampling the local cream cake. That would be simply amazing!
Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Ewa of Daleko Niedaleko
Thinking about the Balkans and Eastern Europe I could name many places worth visiting but one is especially stuck in my mind. I have already visited Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia many years ago, but the details of that visit have already faded in my childhood memory.
What stayed is the overall impression of a marvellously picturesque place in all shades of green, full of crystal clear water in lakes and ponds as well as the soothing sound of waterfalls. I can recall lush forest growing on whiteish limestone rock. I can picture in my mind the wooden boardwalks allowing to stroll between the trees, ponds and waterfalls. That is why I would love to go back there, see it again, spot the details of this wonder of nature and save them on my photographs.
Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Margherita of The Crowded Planet
I’ve been around the Balkans a fair bit, but until last October I had never been to Herzegovina. As a lover of nature and adventure, I completely fell in love – there are so many things to do in Herzegovina involving the outdoors! Hiking, cycling, picking wild herbs, kayaking… it truly is an adventurer’s paradise, and the southern Herzegovina region is still quite undiscovered.
A place I am planning to visit again is Trebinje, a town that despite being one of the largest still retains a village atmosphere. There’s a river where it’s possible to kayak and a cool historic centre surrounded by mountains that looks a little like Sarajevo’s Baščaršija. On top of that, the area around Trebinje offers great hiking opportunities and there are also some ruined Austro-Hungarian forts. I want to visit again because the weather was so bad while we were in Trebinje that we couldn’t hike at all. Locals are really cool and we made some friends, so I’m looking forward to seeing them again!
Stari Grad, Hvar, Croatia by Lotte of Phenomenal Globe
The east part of Europe is an area where I have not traveled much (yet;-). But I am planning to change that, because the villages I visited during my 1 week sailing trip in the Central Dalmatian Archipelago were absolutely gorgeous. And really old too!
The prettiest village I came across on my sailing trip is Stari Grad on the island Hvar. This ancient town is an UNESCO Heritage site and rightfully so, it’s one of the prettiest towns (perhaps even the prettiest town) I have ever seen… I was amazed when I found out Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe, it was founded 400 years BC!
I couldn’t stop taking pictures, every corner I turned there was another cobbled street. I could have walked around the old town of Stari Grad forever and not be bored. Add this little village in Croatia to you ‘Places to Visit’ list now! This cute as a button town has been nominated for Best European destination 2017 and rightfully so!
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro by Alexis and Bertaut of World Travel Adventurers
We visited Sveti Stefan in Montenegro this year and definitely want to go back! We stayed at the incredible Aman resort, which is the only way to set foot on the tiny island, and it was a romantic, magical, one-of-a-kind experience.
The fortified village on the charming island dates back to the 15th century, and the resort has seamlessly fused understated luxury with historic stone buildings to create a unique experience that only Aman can deliver. The views of the Adriatic Sea are breathtaking, whether from the outdoor dining terrace, cliff pool, piazza, or cottage. The cobblestone pathways lined by ivy glow by candles at night, and you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
Montenegro is nicknamed the “pearl of the Mediterranean” and delivers some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, one of the best being at Sveti Stefan and reserved for Aman guests only. We felt like royalty relaxing on the exquisite Queen’s beach, once the favorite beach of the Queen of Montenegro. The sea is such a vivid stunning blue that photos need no filters. We could lay there all day and take in that view.
Kotor, Montenegro by Sonja of Migrating Miss
Kotor is one of the most spectacularly scenic places I’ve ever been. This fortified old town is secluded away in the Gulf of Kotor, where the water is surrounded by towering mountains. It’s winding cobblestone streets are full of cafes, cats, museums and churches stretching back to Venetian times. During the day climb the fortress behind the city for an amazing view across the whole bay, and at night go out for dinner and relax in the romantic ambience of this historical city.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina by Evan Kristine of Pretty Wild World
I was in Sarajevo just last September, and though I must admit I was not expecting much, my visit to this underrated city in Europe was indeed the one that left a lot of emotions to me. I only spend few days in the town because it was my first destination in my two weeks visit through the Balkans and my initial plan was just to chill around and maybe see few sites which the backpackers would recommend – that I did but I ended up doing more than I thought I would.
Sarajevo interest me so much that few days was not enough! I wanted to explore the city and the whole country more than ever and to leave it undiscovered made me want to visit once more and see what else it can offer. There’s something about Sarajevo that bewildered me and I can’t put my finger on it and since my visit, I did not stop thinking about what it could be.
And what’s on your bucket list? Any of these places?
Are you planning a trip to Eastern Europe or the Balkans? Do you like these regions as much as I do? I’ve created a Facebook group where you can look for advise or inspiration and share your travel stories and pictures from Eastern Europe, the Balkans and beyond. Join now!
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