The question of whether the Three Seas States* belong to Central or Eastern Europe deserves a more thorough explanation, which goes far beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that the region offers lots of fascinating central Europe tourist destinations. We gathered just a few to spark your imagination and inspire you to search for your perfect European holiday. But then, who knows? Maybe our propositions will already sound perfect enough. Care to take a look?
*The Three Seas States are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Holidays in Central Europe: For the adrenaline junkie
Let’s start with the active form of relaxation. The countries of the region are basically bursting with ideas for outdoor activities.
The Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia) feature a cycling route across all three borders that takes about a week to complete. Starting at the most northern Estonia and ending in Lithuania (or the other way round), the route will take you across the forests, by the sea edge, and up the hills. The wild, unspoiled nature of the Baltic States provides breathtaking scenery to cycle past, learning about the similarities and differences between the three cultures, languages, and customs. Definitely a must for those who enjoy resting on their two-wheeled vehicles.
Not far away, Poland proudly calls itself a paradise for kayakers. The kayaking routes down rivers can be a nice one-day out activity or span over 200 km. The choice is entirely up to you! The rivers seem to understand the need for adrenaline. They offer rougher spots, but in general – swimming down with the current is a pleasurable, relaxing experience with plenty of facilities situated across the most popular routes.
Then there are the mountains. Here you could also complete a cross-country endeavor in the Carpathian Mountains. And what an endeavor that would be since you’d have to hike in six out of twelve Three Seas States!
Starting in Austria, the chain goes through Czechia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and, via Ukraine, arrives at Romania! Many national parks established in this region could serve as a great checklist. You may want to visit one national park in every state. There are many routes to cater to every taste and level of fitness. Some trails are only available to skilled mountaineers, so make sure to check what you need at the planning stage.
Impossible not to mention that if we are talking about mountains, we are also thinking of skiing. Central Europe offers some fantastic skiing resorts, of which the best known are those located in Austria. However, countries like Hungary, Slovakia, and Slovenia are extremely underrated skiing destinations just waiting to be discovered. Probably needless to say that they can also offer some fantastic value for money. That is until more people realize you have the same fun skiing in Hungary as in Italy.
Holidays in Central Europe: For those who want to get pampered
Are you sweating at the sheer thought of exerting your body, trying to reach the highest peaks? You can only think of a nice, cozy robe and a delicious beverage. No worries, we get that. Not everyone feels nature’s call, or at least is not prepared to go to extremes.
For those who want a relaxing holiday, we suggest hitting the Country of Spas – Hungary. Many facilities offer spa treatments using the country’s medicinal and thermal springs. The best part is that this is a trip for just about any time of year! For example, in the winter, the water in the largest European thermal lake, Hévíz, does not fall below 23 degrees Celcius; in the summer, it climbs as high as 38 degrees.
Also, relaxing beach days on the Adriatic coast of Croatia might be of interest to those preferring a stationary mode of holidaying. The Dalmatian coast, apart from wonderful beaches and turquoise water, offers a multitude of historical sites that take your breath away once you stroll down busy streets in search of the best seafood restaurant. In fact, beach holidays on the Baltic coast in Central Europe, and more precisely – Three Seas states – are varied in nature and temperature.
The northern countries of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia will offer lower temperatures. However, many luxurious spa resorts will compensate if the weather turns bad. On warm days, the beautiful sandy beaches invite you to dream away by the hum of the Baltic sea. The more southern destinations, where apart from Croatia you could travel to Romania or Bulgaria for a warmer, offer a Mediterranean style of relaxing at the seaside. The weather there is more likely to be sunny with no (or very little) rain.
More of an urban enthusiast? Central Europe has hundreds of cities fantastic for a city-break getaway. As it is literally impossible to enumerate them all, let us point you to the most prominent destinations such as Vienna in Austria, Kraków, and Poznań in Poland, Prague in Czechia, Bratislava in Slovakia, Pecs, and Budapest in Hungary, Zadar and Dubrovnik in Croatia, or Vilnius in Lithuania. All these destinations are located near airports and offer activities to engage in within the cities. Still, they also are surrounded by areas of interest, so you may stay just a tad longer than you initially planned.
‘Tis the season for…
… being jolly! It is also a great idea to plan your trip around some cyclical events. Rituals and seasons have, for centuries, shaped human behavior. The people of Central Europe were no exception.
Apart from the summertime, the countries welcome tourists for more regional events. A lot is said about the lavender fields in Provence or pumpkin picking season in Germany, but how about the wine-tasting season in less obvious locations, such as Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czechia, Romania, and Bulgaria? Quite a mouthful, I know. However, these locations can be proud of their longstanding tradition of winemaking. Each year, around the 11th of November, you can join the locals in the celebrations of fresh wine tasting, also known as the Saint Martin’s Fair.
Or how about a charming Christmas market? Those organized in Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Craiova (Romania), Tallinn (Estonia), Prague (Czechia), and Zagreb (Croatia) are constantly winning the attention as the best European advent Christmas markets. In fact, the latter city won the European Best Christmas Market title in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Then there are events unique to the countries, like the Sauna Marathon in Estonia, which takes place annually around the coldest winter nights (February). Or famous fairs with hundreds of years of tradition, such as St Casimir’s Fair in Vilnius, Lithuania (first Sunday after the 4th of March) and St Dominic’s Fair in Gdańsk, Poland (starting towards the end of July and lasting until mid-August). Trust us, name a time in the year when you are planning to take your holidays, and there is bound to be something interesting taking place in our Central European countries.
Get off the beaten track – visit Central Europe!
Famous tourist destinations are great, as their fame is always well-founded. However, the complicated history of the central and eastern parts of Europe leaves these states underrated when it comes to the central Europe tourist attractions they offer. We, Central Europeans, are aware of that and are more likely to choose destinations not so far away from our homes. And we also like to have fun and relax in the sun, tasting some delicious seasonal and local treats.
If you are interested in learning more about our region, please, feel free to roam through our database of articles. You will be amazed at what you can find in our countries!