​​​​​​​Affordable and up-and-coming, Eastern Europe is the ideal destination for the student holiday-maker. Here are some places of interest to inspire you to get your bags packed and head over to these Eastern gems!

1. Sofia

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria, and with both a booming nightlife and a rich history, this city has something for everyone. Places of interest include the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Ancient Serdica Complex, and an incredible collection of Ancient Roman gold found when extending the metro line. The nightlife is one of the most exciting aspects of the city. If you are looking for a big night out, check out Yalta Club, known to be one of the best nights out in Sofia.

Alongside the unique fusion of Communist architecture and grandiose Orthodox churches, Sofia is also nestled at the foot of Vitosha Mountain, providing a nearby escape to mineral baths and stunning mountain walks with panoramic views. Bulgarians are renown for being hospitable, open, and laid back, so expect a very warm welcome.

2. Ljubljana

Quaint and picturesque, Slovenia’s breath-taking capital, Ljubljana, has much to offer in terms of culture. Follow the Ljubljanica river through to the Old Town to visit the medieval Ljubljana Castle, or take in the sights and smells of the Central Market, where local farmers sell goods ranging from foraged wild mushrooms to homemade cheeses.

During the summer evenings, cafes lining the river set out terrace seating, making every evening in Ljubljana feel like a city-wide street party, providing vibrant evening entertainment for all.

Don’t forget to visit Slovenia’s breath-taking natural jewel, Lake Bled, a natural wonder which is made easily accessible by regular bus rides from the city.

Source: Slovenia Info

3. St Petersburg

Built by Viennese architects, St Petersburg has a European feel, setting it apart from all other Russian cities. Any season is stunning here, whether you choose to wrap up and see the frozen river Neva during Winter or take a stroll in the beautiful parks in the baking heat in summer. The Hermitage Museum is a must-visit, with its awe-inspiring architecture and rich collections of art and historical artefacts. The Peter and Paul Fortress provides a profound insight into the hardships of life under the Bolshevik government.

Again, night time in the city leaves little to be desired. Whether its jazz bars, classical concerts or underground techno clubs you are after, St Petersburg has it all. The people of St Petersburg are also known to be very friendly, speak excellent English and are always happy to help, and service is generally of high-standard.

4. Gdansk

Situated on the Baltic coast of Poland, Gdansk provides a wealth of coastal hot-spots, museums, and nightlife. Stroll through the Old Town to marvel at the Golden Gate and the statues on the top buildings and wonder into the modern part to check out the street art in the Gdansk Zaspa district.

The ‘Eat Polska’ food tour is also highly acclaimed. Describing themselves as ‘food lovers, vodka experts, beer geeks and guides in one’ – what’s not to love about that? Don’t forget to try traditional dishes such as pierogi, a type of filled dumpling which is homely, hearty and filling.

5. Vilnius

The capital of Lithuania sports a rich history, is affordable and easy to navigate and is therefore the perfect small city for a weekend getaway. Make sure to venture to the top of Gendiminas Tower in order to get a stunning view of the medieval Old Town, and stroll along the cobbled streets of the town below. If you're seeking an understanding of the brutality of the treatment of the country by both the Nazis and the Soviets, The Museum of Genocide Victims provides a horrific but nevertheless important experience.

For those who prefer the lighter things in life, beer lovers out there will rejoice to find that Vilnius has a wealth of hip bars serving a variety of local craft beers. If this sounds up your street, check out places like Bar Bukowski and Bambalyne.

6. Tallinn

The stunning capital of the Baltic country Estonia is one of the most beautiful locations in Europe. Voted Lonely Planet’s best value destination of 2018 means that in Tallinn, little money can go very far. Like many of the Baltic capitals, Tallinn provides many unique ways to explore the country’s Soviet past. One of the most exciting things to do in Tallinn includes snorkelling around Lake Rummu, Estonia’s former Soviet prison, which is now underwater.

7. Dubrovnik

Of course, this list would not be complete without a mention of unforgettable Croatia. Located on the Adriatic sea, make sure you set aside time for chilling on the beach with a cocktail during your time in Dubrovnik. If you fancy an even more romantic getaway, hop on the taxi-boat which departs from old harbour to Lokrum island, where you can climb up to the highest point of the 19th century Fort Royal for an amazing panorama of the Adriatic, and explore an exotic botanical garden which surrounds the Benedictine Monastery located there.

For those sea-life lovers, make sure to explore the Aquarium located on the ground floor of the Maritime Museum, where you can see underwater creatures such as eels, octopuses and turtles.

8. Moscow

With a population of 12.5 million, Moscow is one of the absolute must-see cities of the Eastern world, and, as the 2018 World Cup host, is attracting ever more attention. Due to its epic size, there are many less conventional touristic attractions aside from the main ones such as St Basil’s and the Kremlin. Venture beneath the streets of Moscow on the underground tour, which gives a view of Stalin’s Bunker, and a graffiti tour of the suburbs.

In terms of evening entertainment, a visit to the Bolshoi theatre is an absolute must, although be sure to get tickets online well in advance as the most popular shows sell out quickly and prices may soar. For those looking for a more casual night, Moscow’s club scene is huge. Try your luck with getting into places such as ARMA17 and Propaganda, but beware – face control means that often, only a select few get let in. If all else fails, head to Strelka rooftop bar for a relaxing drink and awe-inspiring view of the river.

 

10. Sarajevo

The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovia is a beautiful Balkan city, often described as the place where East meets West, making it one of the most important places on our whistle-stop tour of Eastern Europe. Get informed about the country’s dark history at Srebrenica Gallery 11/07/95, which works to unveil the atrocities of the Bosnian war. This may lead you on to the Sarajevo Tunnel of Hope, an underground tunnel dug by citizens to link the city with the United Nations ‘safe place’ at the airport, a truly moving and enlightening experience.

11. Riga

Last but not least is the highly photogenic and picturesque Baltic city of Riga, in Latvia. A city which is truly proud of its recently gained independence, Riga’s Freedom Monument and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia are important ways of uncovering the story behind the city’s troubled past.

A short train ride away is the seaside resort Jurmala, the perfect place for a day away from the city, and a hot spot for a wealth of beautiful national parks.

The food and drink scene in Latvia is also highly eclectic. Make sure to try the enigmatic Riga Black Balsam, a spirit which is said to be a cure of many ailments.

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