Countries covered: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia & Poland

Once having partnered with Austria to form one of Europe’s most powerful empires, later loosely a part of the “East” and now gradually transitioning itself while serving as a fully fledged member of the grander European Union, Hungary is home of culturally proud people who are ultimately unique to the region. Outside of the capital, provincial lifestyle characterizes the scene. Unrefined and vibrant Budapest is quite different, a place where the East, West, and Balkans all meet and make their presence felt. Read more

Given its wealth of castles, chateaux, and medieval towns, and otherwise considering the allure of Prague, the Czech Republic is quite fortunate in having avoided most of the physical damage that centuries-long warring left behind in Central Europe. With most Czechs fully aware of their fortunes, the nation seems keen on preserving cultural and architectural heritage while adjusting to the times and its surroundings. Quite popular with Europeans and international travelers alike, for all the Czech Republic has to offer it is surprising just how relatively affordable it still is.

Poland truly is one of Europe’s most rewarding-to-visit destinations. Featuring architecturally stunning and nightlife-filled urban centers and home of a charming countryside dotted with wooden residences and churches, graced with mountains, hills, woodlands, lakes and rivers, and otherwise offering outdoor activities such as kayaking and canoeing, Poland’s attractions are undoubtedly quite diverse.

Continuing to lure the sightseeing type are Krakow, Gdansk, Wroclaw, Torun, Poznan, and Lublin, all of which have either been restored well enough or are in the process of being so. Devoutly Catholic yet also containing a rich Jewish heritage, Poland also draws in crowds intrigued by the country’s religious background. This Central European state also appeals to history buffs who wish to explore the many World War II-related monuments and museums. Not least are the Baltic Sea resorts, which are especially popular with families and the youth. Visit a country that is just as culturally rich and fascinating as anywhere in Western Europe but nowhere near as expensive.

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