My World Travel Bucketlist: Eastern Europe

Where can you go to experience charming old-world villages, explore sprawling fairytale castles, bask in the sun along the beach of a seaside town, and bare witness to some of the world's most beautiful art and architecture, all without breaking the bank? Eastern Europe. If you're like me, maybe you've seen the big sights of Rome, London, Paris and Zurich, (and loved every ounce of it) but can't shell out the big bucks anymore-especially on a repeat trip. Eastern Europe has just as much to offer as the big-name destinations, but this less-beaten path won't burden you with the crowds, the price gouging, or tourist traps. Many of the fellow travelers I met in Europe had rave reviews about the cities on this list- spouting tales of low drink prices, friendly locals, a fun young nightlife, and many hidden gems to explore. Sarajevo Did you know that Bosnia and Herzegovina is just a short hop across the Adriatic Sea from Italy? The capital city of Sarajevo is built along the Miljacka River, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps- making it just as picture perfect a destination as Zurich or Bavaria. There are plenty of museums to explore on a rainy day, and on a nice day I hear the old town Bazaar (or Baščaršija) is not to be missed. The Baščaršija is located in the old Turkish quarter of Sarajevo, offering a different flavor from more run-of-the-mill destinations. Mosques frequently have some of the most beautiful architecture around, in my opinion, and Sarajevo's Ali Pasha's Mosque looks to be no exception. Dubrovnik The southern part 0f Croatia is a sliver of land squeezed between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Adriatic Sea- which means beautiful beaches are not in short supply. Game of Thrones fans will recognize Dubrovnik's picturesque orange roofs and turquoise waters as the filming location for the show's fictional capital or King's Landing. The city's famous Old Town is renowned for the huge stone walls encircling the 500 year old settlement. Architecture nerds will love picking beautiful examples of Baroque, Renaissance, and Gothic buildings. Kraków Kraków is Poland's second largest city and was once the royal capital. Legend has it that it was founded after the defeat of a mighty dragon, and you know the Wawel Royal Castle's got some secrets to discover. Kraków's Old Town was a Medieval hub, and today its mote has been filled in to create a walking path called the Planty. Below the Main Square is the Underground Museum which is supposed to be really cool with state-of-the-art multimedia exhibitions. Another big draw for tourists in Kraków is the salt mine, the Wieliczka- I know, that doesn't s0und appealing to me either, but what's interesting is the history of this expansive mine that was started in the 13th century and continued to provide the world with table salt until 2007. Finally, I don't think it would be proper to visit Poland without paying respect to the country's history. I have some weird feeling about visiting concentration camps as a tourist, but within the city limits is the Galicia Jewish Museum. Here, exhibits remembering Holocaust victims are complemented by others celebrating Jewish culture and history in the region. Santorini Okay, who saw/read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and didn't long to visit this beautiful Greek island? Pinterest is full of gorgeous pictures of white washed homes with blue domed roofs overlooking a gorgeous Aegean Sea. The Cyclades islands are also very interesting from an Art History perspective, so I'm sure the Museum or Prehistoric Thera is absolutely fascinating. And if that's not quite your jam, there's always the sun, sand and sea 🙂 Hagia Sophia Istanbul I have been obsessed with visiting Istanbul ever since my college Art History professor put the first slide of Hagia Sophia on the screen- it immediately became my favorite piece of architecture like, ever. It is an absolutely beautiful 1500 year old Mosque that was used as a church during the city's time as Constantinople- the political seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Istanbul is massive and full of amazing history, culture and art- it is the only city to be a part of 2 continents and is frequently thought of as the bridge between Europe and Asia. Aside from spending a day at Hagia Sophia, the other absolute must for this amazing city is to experience an authentic Turkish bath. And in between? I hear the street food is to die for. I am a little obsessed with rose flavored desserts and Turkey is like, the OG in rose sweets. Turkish Delight anyone? It's a yes from me. Budapest What traveler doesn't have Budapest on their bucket list? Especially when you hear that George Ezra song 😉 The city is built on the Danube River and has countless bridges spanning the water, all offering charming, romantic views of the city. Budapest also has some of the most beautiful Thermal Baths around and you know I'm all about that. And if you love Art Nouveau art and architecture like I do, you will not be disappointed. The city's golden age was the end of the 18th century, but examples of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture also abound. The Parliament building is perhaps Budapest's most recognizable landmark, but the Basilica of Saint Stephen and Memento Park are also not to be missed.   So what did I miss? Where are you dying to go next? xx Meghan

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