Europe is an amazing place to go travelling. There is a fantastic array of destinations in such close proximity compared to other continents like South America where a 12 hour bus journey is the norm. Do that in Europe and you’ll have sailed across about 4 countries! With so many places so close together its tempting to try and pack in as much as possible during your travel time. I prefer to spend a bit longer in a few choice places and really get to know them and if you do too, then the following 3 places should be parked at the top of your list of must visit destinations:
Lake Bled, Slovenia:
A stunning lake set in beautiful surroundings, Lake Bled is the perfect getaway when you have been stopping off at the wide range of Eastern European cities on your trip. The backpacker’s journey in this part of the world is often quite city-orientated, moving from capital to capital by train and taking on life in the fast lane. After countless nights on the town, days of pavement-pounding and stunning (if slightly repetitive) architecture, Bled is the perfect escape.
Life slows down here, the quiet streets only see a car from time to time and it is nature that takes over. Surrounded by lush green mountains the lake sits beautifully hidden away from the pressure of city life and allows travellers to sit back, have a breather and contemplate their journey so far. Hiring a boat and rowing out to the island is a must, where a small church sits, majestically overlooking the lake in all its splendour. If your journey has taken you from Prague to Bratislava to Budapest, then it’s time you took some time out and enjoyed this hidden, rural gem.
Here i am harping on about Kazbegi again, and with good reason. This place is a true diamond and likely to explode on the backpacking scene as people continue to venture further east on their journeys. Start off in the village of Stepantsminda and then the region is your oyster. Treks around the area offer surprises around every turn, whether it’s another glacier or a small mountain village where the locals invite you to join them for tea. Watch your step though, because you might come across Darial Gorge which is soon to house the 2nd largest monastery in Georgia and there’ll be some steep drops!
Whatever you choose to take in, Kazbegi will blow your mind and is worth continuing the journey east a little further!
Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Many people visit the Czech Republic to see its capital, Prague. But if you leave Prague and head straight across the border then you’re missing a trick. Cesky Krumlov is a truly breathtaking place that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best. The town itself is stunning; bohemian architecture, red tiled rooftops and cascading mountains. The picture postcard surroundings are reason enough to make the trip and spend a few days taking in the country air. But there’s more to it than that. This is a mecca for the adventure sports traveller. Most of it is water based, with white water rafting top of many people’s list as they endeavour to meander through the Sumava National Park, getting their adrenaline pumping along the way.
Whatever you’re looking for from your Eastern European experience, Cesky Krumlov will deliver it in spades. Adventure, architecture and stunning surroundings; one not to be missed!