Europe is home to some of the world’s best and most popular tourist destinations. London, Paris and Rome are such examples, but there is so much more to the continent than these established cities.
Eastern Europe is a hotbed of safe, lively and fascinating city break destinations which are, largely, unspoilt by tourists. Here are five of the best.
Moscow is one of Europe’s most underrated cities, surprising given its size. The Russian capital is home to over 10 million people and, unsurprisingly, there is a wealth of things to do.
Head to the iconic Red Square, where you can get a photo in front of the colourful onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral, tour the imposing Kremlin or indulge in some high-end shopping inside GUM.
The city is also like a giant playground for children, who will love the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, experiencing the thrills and green spaces that Gorky Park offers, as well as the storybook-esque Izmailovsky Kremlin with its toy museum, chocolate factory and gingerbread shop.
A trip to Tallinn is a fairy tale journey. Established in the medieval era, today’s Tallinn is an exciting blend of old and new.
A well-preserved city wall and turrets encase an enchanting Old Town, containing a trove of Gothic spires, winding cobblestone streets and spectacular architecture.
This old-world city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has something for everyone. Ascend St Olaf’s Church, once the world’s tallest building, for panoramic views across the Estonian capital, take in the colourful gardens and décor of the baroque Kadriorg Palace and visit Town Hall Square where events and performances regularly take place.
The biggest metropolis of the Baltic states, Riga is an eye-catching capital which has plenty to offer its visitors.
The enormous Central Market, Europe’s largest market housed across five old Zeppelin hangars, is a treasure trove of cheap eats and eclectic souvenir opportunities, while the fantastic facades of Town Hall Square will wow even the most ardent travellers.
A mix of museums including the Riga History and Seafaring Museum and the Latvian Museum of Natural History are great options for kids, while the famous Riga sign presents the perfect opportunity to snap your next Instagram post.
Perched on the Dnipro River, Kiev is Ukraine’s cosmopolitan capital. Gourmet restaurants, lively nightlife, religious architecture, quality theatres and interesting museums are all a part of its cultural makeup and make sure there is plenty for visitors to enjoy.
Saint Sophia Cathedral is a fantasy of green and gold domes and was Ukraine’s first UNESCO-inscribed site, while exploring Kiev Perchersk Lavra, an ancient cave monastery, by candlelight is an awe-inspiring experience.
Belgrade may not have the allure of other big-ticket European cities have, but this intriguing Serbian destination should not be overlooked.
Belgrade Fortress serves up fantastic views across the city and River Danube and is one of Europe’s best places to watch the sun set, while Skadarlija is the main bohemian quarter of Belgrade. This is where with a collection of fantastic bars and restaurants can be found on cobbled, pedestrianised streets, alongside some of the city’s most beautiful buildings.
And don’t forget to visit the Nikola Tesla Museum, which celebrates Serbia’s favourite son. Its interactive and insightful exhibitions about Tesla’s life and work can be appreciated by both adults and children alike.