While winter is in full swing for most right now, spring, as they say is “just around the corner!” Here’s 5 awesome Eastern European travel destinations that need to go on every nature lover’s bucket list.
A trip to Latvia, located on the coastline of the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia, is just what the doctor ordered for nature lovers. Though the cities are modern and very distinctive in their own right, the naturescapes are something that needs to go on everyone’s bucket list.
In this writer’s opinion, like so many areas on the eastern edges of the old world; the nature’s what will draw you here. Open areas like Gauja National Park (pictured) and Kemeri National Park offer dense evergreens complete with established hiking trails, and some of the best brook trout fishing in the world.
I’d be remiss not to mention that the mere mention of Romania’s epic Carpathian mountain range didn’t still give me goosebumps to this day. Bram Stoker made them and the entire Romanian region of Transylvania famous to the world, but it’s their beauty that reigns in thousands of travelers every year. Many modern Romanian cities are still rebuilding after emerging from the Eastern Bloc broken and bankrupt.
Find your way to the capital city of Cluj and you’ll just have to visit the sprawling Ethnographic Museum of Transylvania; the oldest and largest museum in Europe with 118 historic structures within — including plenty of interactive fun for guests such as traditional bread making and ice fishing.
Camping and hiking in the Carpathians are a must for energetic types, while Moldova’s historic region has some amazing monasteries and traditional Romanian villages that are well worth spending some time exploring and letting your imagination run wild.
The picture shown above shows a lot the things this wonderful, yet mysterious country has to offer its visitors. There’s plenty of water around offering excellent fishing, white water rafting, great backdrops for kayakers, and mountain ranges galore. What you don’t see in the pictures is the thousands of cavernous caves that sit below her surface, some 8,000 at last count.
The air here is so fresh, you’ll feel like you’ve been dropped into an oxygen-filled heaven, with so many trees and fresh glacial water dotting her landscape. Slovenian architecture is also quite unique.
Tourists love to tour the countryside taking in the early churches which can be found all over here and the rest of Yugoslavia — you’ll fall in love with the blend of cultural influences they showcase including: Slavic, Roman, German, Italian, and Hungarian influences.
Another country with much of its landmass covered in lush trees and come of the cleanest glacial waters on the planet, a fact that many Bulgarians take pride in. The Balkan mountains are a big draw during ski season and hiking season alike. Mountain bikers flock here by the thousands for the 1,200 km springtime endurance race through the mountains.
By the way, because of the way the Mediterranean and Continental air masses converge on this place, winter is not the time for snow-averse folks to visit. They get foot after foot of it each year! The Black Sea is bustling with watersports of all kinds come the summer months. As a nature lover, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Bulgaria’s trees including the 1,300 year old Baikushev’s Pine; a Bosnian pine tree located in Pirin. Then there’s the even older Granit Oak; an English oak thought to be 1637 year old (born in 345 A.D.!) located outside Granit village, Bulgaria.
This ancient part of Old Europe also has possession of many Thracian and Roman-era artifacts that have been found here throughout the years and many museums to show them off in!
Estonia has the smallest landmass of any on the list, but don’t let that fool you as to its tourist appeal. Estonia had more tourists than it does inhabitants back in 2010 (1.6 million visitors to 1.35 million people). There’s so much to see, do and fall in love with here. Yet another, like so many in Eastern Europe with over half its land mass covered in trees pumping out fresh O2 to invigorate despite whatever awaits you when you get home. There’s tons of hiking trails to enjoy and more rivers and lakes than you’ll be able to visit while you’re here.
The coastline is filled with secluded romantic beaches, high limestone cliffs lining the Baltic coastline. There are approximately 1,500 islands off the coast too, several of which are accessible to the public.
Estonia’s also one of the few Eurozone countries to escape the economic crisis that’s been happening as of late. They have one of the highest standards of living, being the most developed of all on this list and the most liberated too!
Main Image Credit: joseph.stuefer/Flickr