Home to fifty different countries, traveling to Europe means every day can be a new adventure. But what kind of adventure are you looking for? Western and Eastern Europe each have their own draws, experiences, and cultures, and it’s important to consider which will suit you best. Welcome to your guide to choosing between Eastern and Western Europe.
|Western Europe||Eastern Europe|
|Most popular destination||Paris||Prague|
|Natural attraction||Swiss Alps||Plitvice Lakes|
Western Europe is arguably the more popular side of the continent, home to traditional destinations like France and Spain. While Western Europe tends to be more expensive than its eastern counterpart, there’s plenty you can do to save money and enjoy everything this diverse, historic area has to offer!
Most Popular Countries in Western Europe
France is the most popular country for tourists in the entire world – they welcomed 89 million visitors in 2017 – and for good reason. The most popular cities include Paris, Provence and the French Riviera, but no matter where you go, you’ll be surrounded by history, charm, and amazing food. The picturesque scenery, the Mediterranean climate, and, of course, the French wine, makes for a dreamy destination.
Spain’s coastlines, wine valleys, and plentiful food must be to thank for the millions of tourists who flock here every year. Whether you’re relaxing in Madrid’s magical parks, gawking at Barcelona’s surreal architecture, or getting your Flamenco on in Seville, Spain never disappoints.
Steeped in rich history, Italy is a hugely popular Western European destination. Home to iconic landmark after iconic landmark, Rome’s bustling markets and ancient ruins will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. History not your thing? Soak up the sun at one of Italy’s southern beaches, or visit the home of high fashion, Milan.
No matter what you choose to do in Italy, one thing’s for sure: you’ll have no problem finding something incredible to eat!
Often ranked one of the safest countries to visit, Germany offers tourists unique culture, pristine natural beauty, and warm hospitality. Take in Berlin’s famous street art, celebrate Oktoberfest in Munich, or cruise the canals in Hamburg. A mixture of the old and the new, there’s something for everyone in Germany.
Travel to: Western Europe
Why should you visit western Europe?
- Ease of Travel Visiting western Europe is easy, period. Public transport is well-organised, familiar food is everywhere, and there are museums and theatres around every corner. The Schengen area, 26 European states that don’t require passports to travel between, also makes it easy for tourists to visit multiple countries within Western Europe.
- Popular Attractions Cameras out! When it comes to famous landmarks, western Europe takes the cake. Iconic structures such as the Roman Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower and the Leaning Tower of Pisa are all within your reach
- Enticing History Europe has some of the most fascinating buildings and cities in the world. You can walk on the same ground as the Vikings did, and breathe Napoleon’s air. Moreover, UNESCO has recognised a whopping 132 World Heritage Sites in western Europe to date.
Hidden gems in western Europe
Hidden away in Tuscany, Lucca is the perfect city for a day trip from Florence, or for a mountain expedition. The city is filled with quaint public squares, picturesque streets, and breathtaking churches. Within Italy, Lucca is known for its intact Renaissance-era city walls, but outside of Italy, it’s still a well-kept secret.
This city in the French Alsace region prides itself on being the capital of Alsatian wine. The well-preserved Medieval city centre boasts many architectural landmarks and religious buildings. Take a canal cruise in “Little Venice,” snap a picture of the colourful, German-influenced houses, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
Hallstatt is a small town in the centre of Austria mostly known for its ancient salt mine, but it’s so much more than that. Tucked away by a lake at the base of a mountain, Hallstatt looks almost too beautiful to be real. Boasting panoramic views of ancient glaciers from its Skywalk, Hallstatt is perfect for a day trip from Salzburg.
While Eastern Europe might not have as many yearly visitors as its western counterpart, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth a visit. The region, which includes the Balkan and the Baltic states, still has a rich culture and historical significance, and its people are famous for their hospitality.
For most people, the best news is that most of Eastern Europe is cheap to travel to. Transport, accommodation, and food tend to be less expensive than in Western Europe. But these hidden gems can only stay hidden for so long, so read on to see if Eastern Europe is the best place for you to explore next!
Most popular countries in eastern Europe
Located centrally within Europe, The Czech Republic is home to over 2000 castles. Looking for something a little less regal? There’s also a long history of beer brewing, and a 17-day beer festival is held in Prague every year. Do you really need more reasons to visit?
Croatia is influenced both by the Mediterranean and Eastern European cultures, making it a unique, unmissable destination. Made up of over 1000 islands, Coastal cities such as Dubrovnik and Split attract many tourists every year for their island-hopping, party atmospheres. If you’re looking for history and nature, though, Croatia still has you covered: take in Dubrovnik’s 16th-century walls and gothic architecture, or spend a day at the lake in Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Do you love culturally-rich cities? Do you love extraordinary nature? You’ll love Poland. You can breathe the mountain air in a national park, or hike in a forest that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re more of an urban explorer, discover Poland’s nightlife. Try taking a vodka shot the “old-fashioned” way: with a pickle chaser!
Romania is probably best known as the home of the vampire – and there are countless vampire tours available! – but the country’s natural beauty shouldn’t be overlooked. Spend a day at The Black Sea, or go a little more remote and hike in the mountains of Transylvania. Just watch out for bats!
Why should you visit Eastern Europe?
- Friendly people The people of Eastern Europe are known to be some of the friendliest, most welcoming people in the world. If you’re nervous about traveling for the first time, or maybe just want to make sure you’ll be taken care of, you’ll have nothing to worry about in Eastern Europe!
- Cheap travel Eastern Europe can be significantly less expensive than Western Europe. Transport, accommodation and food tend to take a smaller bite out of your wallet, without compromising on history, culture, and experience.
- Breathtaking nature Last, but definitely not least, nature in Eastern Europe is stunning. If hiking along a mountain path or strolling through endless plains sounds like a dream come true, Eastern Europe may be the place for you.
Hidden gems in eastern Europe
Bovec is a small Slovenian village with 1613 inhabitants, located right along the border to Italy. The area around the village is popular among filmmakers and advertisers, which proves that the scenery is more than picturesque enough to be worthy of a visit.
Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Veliko Tarnovo is a city located on the Yantra river that used to be Bulgaria’s capital and is often referred to as the “City of the Tsars”. Tsarevets, one of the three hills upon which the city is built, is the most popular tourist attraction.
This riverside town in Hungary is renowned for its vibrant art scene, with art galleries and museums spread all over. Although the town welcomes tourists, Szentendre isn’t generally as well-known as other parts of Hungary, and it’s ripe for exploration!
Kutná Hora, Czech Republic
Located just outside of Prague, Kutná Hora was founded in the 12th century as a German mining settlement. Today, the UNESCO World Heritage city is home to the Sedlec Ossuary, a chapel decorated with human bones.
Travel to: Eastern Europe
Eastern and Western Europe can be perfect destinations, once you decide where to start! Think about what kind of traveller you are, and determine whether you’d rather sample wines in France, or taste borscht in Lithuania. Of course, we know sometimes it’s too hard to decide, and if you mix and match Eastern and Western Europe in your next tour, we won’t tell.