Have you heard of Dracula but never wondered where the legend started? Have you already watched Games of Thrones but never questioned where it was filmed? You will find the answer in southeastern Europe - wherein lies some of the most exotic destinations for genuine travelers. Go beyond the touristy Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and Bruges to enjoy the beauty of nature here. The following countries (and their most visited cities) are some of the most recommended places in southeastern Europe and probably the cheapest countries to travel in Europe.
1. Greece - Santorini
With plenty of splendid islands, Greece is a paradise for all sorts of visitors - from adventurous travelers to couples. Several must-see islands are Santorini, Paros, Crete, Mykonos and Corfu. The top must-visit one to put on your bucket list is Santorini. There are dozens of things to do here: try a donkey ride, hike a volcano, dive to the Red Sea, and visit the blue domes and colourful houses lying by the intimidating cliffs. You will never get bored of this beautiful island.
2. Croatia - Dubrovnik
Another sea paradise for people who want to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, or for couples on their honeymoon, is Croatia. The country is most popular for its UNESCO World Heritage Site and historic coastal city - Dubrovnik - where certain scenes of Games of Thrones were filmed. It is both a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Though the city population hardly exceeds 40,000, there are dozens of things to do in this interesting city. For example, you can get lost in the small streets of the Old Town, walk along the city walls, visit many churches and monasteries, hop on a cable car, go swimming at Lapad Beach, Banja Beach or Lokrum Island, and take a boat trip. It’s always possible to keep yourself busy here.
3. Romania - Brasov
Despite being known for the birthplace of Dracula, Romania remains an off-the-beaten-track destination in Europe. Its mysterious beauty can be found at the Bran Castle that is the supposed birthplace of Dracula as well as the old colourful town Sighisoara. Other popular castles are the Peles Castle in Sinaia (near Brasov) and the Corvin Castle in Hunedoara (Transylvania). Also closeby to Brasov, you can visit the Prejmer Fortified Church (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Harman Fortified Church. There are a bunch of different old castles and fortresses to see in Romania, but they are nothing like those famous castles you’ve probably seen or heard of in Germany or Austria.
4. Bulgaria - Sunny Beach
Lying on the western side of the Black Sea, Bulgaria is another exotic European destination among the Balkan countries. Besides Croatia, Bulgaria is also known for its sublime beaches in Sunny Beach (Bulgaria’s largest beach resort along the Black Sea Coast), Sozopol (an ancient town and a UNESCO Heritage Site) and Varna. Here you can also find the Varna Archaeological Museum - one of the most famous archaeological museums in Bulgaria. Many locals and tourists tend to favour staying along the coastline rather than in big cities like the capital Sofia (one of the oldest cities in Europe) or Plovdiv.
5. Bosnia and Herzegovina - Sarajevo
Also located on the Balkan Peninsula, Bosnia and Herzegovina is another off-the-beaten-track destination that every genuine traveler must know, for its various aboveground and underground waters. Come to Sarajevo, a cosmopolitan Eastern European capital with diverse architectural styles, to enjoy the best landscapes and architecture of the country. Visit the City Hall to understand what Austro-Hungarian architecture is all about. Close to the Sarajevo City Hall is the Latin Bridge which holds so much history that it has become the most popular crossing point on the Miljacka River. Take walking tours around the city to discover interesting facts about Sarajevo. This amazing city has so much to offer so make sure to take in as much as you can when you do explore it.
Even more to see
Other exotic destinations to explore in this area are Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Cyprus, etc. If you love old buildings, castles and coastlines, come to southeastern Europe. Though the geography in this area is typically hilly and not ideal to get around without a bit of hiking, there are beautiful places that are worth the extra effort!