Before the influx of the summer hoards hit us here in Europe, we first get to enjoy Spring.
Springtime is the best time. Spring is when we shed our winter woolies, pack away the snow gear, and the bright sunny days seem to last longer, and the warmer days mean flowers bloom, and we can once again head outdoors.
Summer in Eastern Europe is exceptional; there is no question. But, have you seen those flight prices for heading to Europe in summer? Um, they get a little cray-cray-high. But not in Spring, airlines, hotels, and tourism operators are busting to see Euros flow back into their pockets after the often downturn in Winter tourism. So finding cheap destinations in Europe is possible.
Of course, traveling in Summer can sound more appealing, especially given places in Europe like Croatia -and all those fantastic beaches – but, trust me, Spring and Autumn (and sometimes winter) in Europe is always going to be cheaper. And, you have the added bonus of fewer tourists – which means fewer crowds and less time waiting in lines.
Soon you will see travel lists flood your Facebook newsfeed detailing “the best places to travel in Eastern Europe,” but often they just cover summertime – where mass tourism is big business – as it is in Croatia. With the seasons in Europe just about to change, let’s take a look at what my fellow travel blogger pals suggest as the best of Eastern Europe in Spring.
Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!
Spring in Eastern Europe is the perfect time for hiking, pleasant weather that’s not too hot for challenging yourself up some steep climbs.
The Albanian Alps are a stunning hiking spot and have a lot to offer. Easy access from most of Europe, affordable accommodation prices, and few tourists mean you’ll be able to enjoy the breath-taking views and gorgeous walking trails of Albania in peace.
The most popular track is the one-day hike from the mountain village of Theth into the Valbona National Park. A moderately challenging hike leading to the top of a mountain range and back down the other side. The views are incredible, and there are a couple of cute cafes with gorgeous outlooks to stop off for refreshments along the way.
Rohan from Travels of a Bookpacker
The region of Transylvania in the center of Romania is a beautiful place to explore, full of small and cute towns, castles, and nature.
Transylvania is easily accessible from Romania’s capital Bucharest and offers plenty of attractions and places worth visiting. Make sure to spend some time in picturesque Sibiu and the city of Brasov, home to Dracula’s infamous castle (Bran’s Castle)!
You’ll also find the unique clay castle – Castelul de Lut – just outside of Sibiu.
If you enjoy walking through tiny, colorful cobblestone streets, head further to the small town of Sighișoara – a photographer’s dream!
And don’t forget to put these hearty dishes in your belly while there!
Patrick from German Backpacker
Belgrade architecture isn’t as delicate or elegant as other European capitals, but this city has its very own beauty. An unconventional beauty, the type of beauty that only a city deeply touched by destruction can possess.
Did you know that Belgrade was utterly destroyed 44 times throughout its history?
Just like the mythical phoenix, Belgrade has each time reborn from its ashes. Belgrade is now a creative and artsy city with great parks. It’s a must-see on any Eastern Europe itinerary.
Belgrade is fabulous all-year-round; however, Spring might just be one of the best times to enjoy it (and other nearby cities like Novi Sad) – away from the summer sun and cold winter days. Fill your lungs with fresh Spring air at Kalemegdan Park while you watch the sun fade over the horizon.
It´s easy to fall in love with Belgrade not only because of its beautiful parks, like Kalemegdan or Tašmajdan. But also, for all the alternative places that you can casually find.
One of my favorites is Cetinjska Street 15; from the outside, it looks just like a parking lot, and it is. However, if you take one step more and enter, you´ll discover an oasis of urban art and cool bars. And please, don’t leave Belgrade without a bohemian dinner in Skadarlija street.
Lara from Heart of Everywhere
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Szimpla Kert (Ruins Bar) Budapest, Hungary
A trip to Budapest, Hungary, would not be complete without a stop at one of the famous ruins bars. These bars are located inside of old abandoned buildings or lots. Most of them are found in the Old Jewish Quarter.
The neighborhoods were destroyed during World War II and left to decay, and bar owners have taken over the spaces and converted them to bars and nightclubs.
Most of the bars are hidden behind store or house facades, and you can’t hear the music from the street. The most famous one which opened in 2001 is Szimpla Kert. I purposely went when the bar first opened for the day to check out every level and room without a ton of drunk people in my way.
The bar is covered with antiques, graffiti, and eclectic seating. They serve pizza, cold local beer on tap, and they offer assorted flavors of hookah. During the day, the music is kept to a minimum, so it’s the perfect place to have a conversation with friends.
Even if you’re not a party person, you don’t want to miss a visit to this bar. You can spend hours just looking at all the weird and silly décor.
Gina from Jet Set and Forget
The city of Kiev (or Kyiv) is a sleepy one in winter, but it comes alive in the spring.
Visiting in April, I found a city full of vibrant flower gardens, blooming trees, and grassy green monasteries. It’s a beautiful place to spend your afternoons walking around, taking in the beautiful scenery, significant historic sites, and vibrant city squares.
A few of my favorite spots include the stunning green-roofed Saint Sophia Cathedral, Saint Michael’s with its golden onion domes, and the Hryshko National Botanical Garden, which is especially great for springtime.
If you’re interested in seeing Soviet-era architecture, make sure to plan a day trip to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (but make sure to book more than a week ahead).
While you’re in the city, enjoy both the local Ukrainian cuisine and sample some of the many fabulous Georgian restaurants that have popped up throughout the city.
Stephanie from History Fangirl
The 7 Lakes Hike of Rila, Bulgaria
Hiking the 7 Lakes of Rila Bulgaria is the perfect springtime activity.
During the winter, the region is used for skiing, but most of the snow and ice has melted during the spring and summer, and it’s one of the most gorgeous hikes I’ve done. Because of the shadows from the mountains overhead, even in the middle of summer, you can still find some snow and ice – it makes for really great photos!
As the name says, there are seven glacial lakes in the area. You can choose to hike to the start or to take a ski lift. I recommend using the ski lift as you’ll be getting plenty of hiking in for the rest of the day!
The hike is a medium difficulty full-day trip if you want to see all seven lakes. At about the halfway point, one of the larger lakes gets a lot of sun, so most people choose to break here and have a picnic lunch and rest before finishing. Once you reach the top, you’re able to get some marvelous shots of the valleys below littered with lakes.
If you’re into nature or hiking, then you should definitely check out the 7 Lakes of Rila- it’s my favorite springtime activity in all of Bulgaria!
Nathan from Foodie Flashpacker
Other Bulgaria Travel Blogs You May Like
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Brasov, Romania, is quickly becoming one of the travel hot spots in Eastern Europe.
With its unique location squished between towering tree-covered mountains, you’ll find a mix of city activities and nature-based excursions. In the Old Town, you can check out pieces of the old fortification by visiting both the White Tower and the Black Tower. The Old Town Square features the Casa Sfatului and many patio cafes with outdoor seating.
A few meters away, you can go inside the Black Church – which received the name due to the Great Fire of the 17th century. It is the largest church in Romania and one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the country.
You can ride the cable car to the top of Tampa, a picturesque lookout at 400m above Brasov. Hopefully, you’re not too claustrophobic if you visit Rope Street – one of the narrowest streets in Europe!
For nature lovers, there is tree-top trekking at Parc Aventura and lots of hiking trails at Poiana Brasov. Don’t forget the many day trips you can take from Brasov – from Peles Castle to Dracula’s home at Bran Castle – Brasov is absolutely worth a spring visit.
Eric from Penguin and Pia
Szecheyi Thermal Baths, Budapest
Budapest is a great city to visit and walk everywhere, and at the end of the day, when your body is tired and sore, there is nothing better than relaxing in one of the medicinal spas or thermal baths.
Szecheyi Thermal baths are the largest in Europe, and you will find people there from morning to night; swimming laps are just soaking in the baths for their healing effect on joints. You can even play chess in hot water if you bring your chess pieces!
The concept was brought to Budapest by the Romans, and there are three huge outdoor pools and 15 indoor pools. You can even get a massage there. This is a place to soak and relax and let the days’ worries go away.
The thermal baths are open daily from 6 am to 10 pm, with the last admission at 6 pm. Spend a relaxing day at this beautiful spa and pool. The ticket costs $8 for visitors and worth every penny.
Nicole from Travelgal Nicole
Many people have never heard of Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Some have heard of it and imagine a run-down, cold, and dreary Soviet-built city. In contrast to its grim reputation, Minsk is an absolutely modern, highly-developed, and clean city.
With the introduction of a free visa on arrival scheme for US and EU citizens in early 2017, visiting this unique part of the world has become much more straightforward. The blooming flowers in the many parks throughout the city make a visit even more memorable.
After being destroyed during WWII, the city was rebuilt as a Soviet city in the 1950s. Take a ride down the 10 miles long Independence Avenue towards the impressive Independence Square to get a good impression of Stalin’s Empire Style architecture. The city is growing and changing rapidly, and new and modern buildings appear everywhere.
In addition to incredible architecture, beautiful parks that are best visited in spring, and several museums, Minsk also offers a remarkable culinary scene that ranges from delicious cafés to renowned restaurants and nightclubs.
Thanks to the low prices and the low crime rates in Minsk, you can just enjoy your time with nothing to worry about.
Mike from 197travelstamps
Debrecen is a charming town in Eastern Hungary. Like most other places in Hungary, it lives in the shadow of Budapest, but it’s well worth spending at least a day there, especially in spring.
Debrecen is fabulously located near one of Hungary’s major forests, and some of the mains sights are found in the woods, which is simply called The Big Forest.
In spring, it’s especially to walk there when trees start to bloom. Also, Debrecen is an important cultural center of the whole region. It’s often referred to as the Calvinist Rome due to the various important landmarks related to Protestant Religion you can visit there from the Big Church at the main square, the main symbol of Debrecen, to the Protestant College nearby.
Debrecen is also an important university town center with one of the largest campuses of the country located there. The public transport for tourists is perfect since two nicely maintained tram lines in Debrecen connect all the major sites.
Gábor from Surfing the Planet
Zadar, and indeed all of Croatia, in Spring is perhaps the best time to visit.
The sun is out to play, the weather is warmer but not blazing, and my favorite reasons are fewer crowds to deal with lower prices!
Zadar, while quaint and relatively small, is a pretty popular destination. The Sveta Stošija’s bell tower offers up some incredible 360 views of Zadar and was my favorite part of Old Town, but there’s definitely a whole lot more to see as you wander around the Old Town.
Considering its central yet coastal location, you can easily hop over to nearby islands or rent a car a checkout Plitvice Waterfalls for the day. End your evening to the sounds of the Sea Organ and gorge yourself on all the fresh seafood!
Nina from Where in the World is Nina
Local Tip: Get a taste of local cuisine on this food and wine tour + cooking class if you have a few days to enjoy the city. We loved it!
The historic center of Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, is not so large that you would easily get lost.
But, after centuries of invasions and occupations, there are so many different influences that you can spend days exploring it.
What I love so much about Vilnius is just how hip it all feels. The young generation is energized, and it comes across in the cafes and bars that have opened up.
The prices are meager, so there’s no excuse not to try a good range of them. There are easy day trips into the countryside around Vilnius, or you can spend your time looking at street art or historical sites.
Michael from Time Travel Turtle
Thousands of locals participate in this festival as they harvest the fully bloomed roses (Rosa Damascena) in a vivacious and colorful way. Tourists can also pick roses as much as they can for less than 20 levas.
Aside from that, you can easily find flower crowns, flower necklaces, and other products made of roses all over the place. The festival lasts for several weeks, starting in May until the first week of June so if you happen to be around the region during these times, be sure to take a peek at the Rose Festival in Kazanlak, Bulgaria.
Eloise from Ms. Meeting Adventures
Spring is a special time in Riga because on May 4, 1990, after five decades of occupation by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Latvia became an independent nation again. They celebrate the holiday with festivities around the grounds of the Freedom Monument.
Riga is also known for its beautiful Old Town, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spring is an exceptional time to walk around and appreciate the lovely Art Nouveau architecture. You will want to see the House of the Blackheads, the Three Brothers, and the Cat House. St. Peter’s Church offers excellent views of the Old Town from its 8th-floor outdoor observation deck.
Of course, you will also need to visit some of Riga’s other popular attractions like the Riga Central Market, Latvian National Museum of Art, and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia.
Anisa from Two Traveling Texans
Sigulda is less than an hour’s drive from Riga, the Latvian capital, and well connected by public transport.
It’s an attractive springboard into Latvia’s heavily wooded countryside, and you can take your pick from the walking and cycling trails in the area.
This is Latvia’s adventure sports capital. If being on a bicycle isn’t enough of an adrenalin kick, why not ride a zip line or hurtle down the track on Sigulda’s bobsleigh track? It’s open for rides by members of the public. The accessible soft bob reaches speeds of up to 85 km/h.
If you enjoy history, you have the option to visit three castles in one day. The fortifications are a legacy of German expansion eastwards during the 13th century and were once manned by Teutonic Knights. A Krimulda Manor, near the location of one of the castles, you can also taste fruit wines and liqueurs made at the Cremon Winery.
If you’re into photography, don’t miss the opportunity to climb the tower of Sigulda Castle for panoramas of the surrounding landscape.
Stuart from Go Eat Do
Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Visiting Kravice Falls in Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the highlights of my Balkans trip last spring.
This stunning series of about 20 waterfalls are located on the Trebizat River, approximately 28km from Mostar. If you were looking for a fun day trip from Dubrovnik, Croatia, you could easily visit both Mostar and Kravice on the same day – especially if you use a private transfer for the journey.
Due to the hidden nature of the falls, however, I recommend visiting by tour bus or taxi if you are not using a private driver, as I’ve heard it’s tough to find on your own.
Once you arrive, you can reach the falls by a 15 minute downhill hike from the parking area, where you will feel the cool mist from the waterfalls before even seeing them. When you do finally see them, prepare to be awestruck at the beauty of the roaring falls.
The rapids at the base are most active in the springtime and welcome visitors to get up close and personal by swimming in its natural waters. If swimming isn’t your forte (or it’s too cold in Spring for you!), you can still get close as close to the waterfalls as you’d like by climbing up the many rocks, or you could choose to admire its beauty from alongside the lake.
As an added bonus, there is even a bar at the base of the waterfalls where the beer flows as smoothly as the water. Cheers to a perfect European spring day!
Rachael from Bee Anything But Boring
St. Petersburg And Moscow, Russia
Russia – this colossal country spanning across Eastern Europe and Asia – is a great destination to visit in spring, when days get longer and temperatures get warmer.
St. Petersburg is a beautiful, very European city with world-class sights and museums, such as the famous Hermitage. There’s a good tourist infrastructure, and many people speak English. Therefore it’s a natural place to start your trip to Russia.
St. Petersburg is connected with Russia’s capital Moscow by a high-speed train, making the journey possible in only a few hours. Moscow is huge and might seem to be a little bit intimidating at the beginning since it’s way less touristy than St. Petersburg; however, it’s worth a visit thanks to famous sights such as the Red Square and the St. Basil’s Cathedral. You can even visit the Kremlin with its own helicopter landing platform! For great views on Moscow, walk across the Bolshoy Kamenny Bridge and head to the Central Children’s Store terrace.
Accommodation in Moscow has also become more friendly to all travel budgets.
Patrick from German Backpacker
An ancient outpost on the crossroads of the East and West, the city of Tbilisi has been influenced by the incredible mix of cultures that have come through this region over the ages.
Today, Tbilisi continues to welcome visitors with world-famous Georgian hospitality. If you’re lucky enough to make friends with some locals, you might just find yourself invited to a supra, a traditional gathering involving copious amounts of wine and khachapuri, a traditional cheese bread that’s difficult to describe but hard to put down once you’ve tried it.
Spring is an excellent time to visit Tbilisi’s Old Town, as the streets come alive with the warming weather. Be sure to take the cable car ride up the hillside to view the giant statue of Mother Georgia, where you’ll also be treated to some of the best views of the city.
Best yet, Tbilisi is a remarkably affordable budget destination – in fact, it is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe. Hostel beds can be had for as cheap as a few euros, while even quality hotel rooms are on offer for 40 euros per night.
But, no matter your budget, you’re sure to enjoy taking in the spring air in this remarkable city.
Nate from Travel Lemming
Timisoara is the second-largest city in Romania and the economic and cultural center of Banat. Moreover, it is undoubtedly one of the oldest and most picturesque cities in the country.
Timisoara is called ‘Little Vienna’ for a reason. There is a large number of old baroque buildings throughout the city.
For centuries, Temeswar belonged to Habsburg-Austria, until the 20th century, the majority of the people were German. The city was actually one of the first in Europe to receive electricity, a center of industrialization.
Today, you can spend days discovering the city: the old cobbled streets, the baroque art, many pretty cafés, and a lively restaurant scene. Worth seeing is the beautiful cathedral square with an impressive Catholic cathedral, the opera square, and the beautiful rose gardens. But also a walk along the river Bega should not be missed. But that’s just the beginning because Timisoara is not only worth a visit, but several more.
Clemens from Travellers Archive
Spring is a fabulous time to visit the postcard-perfect town of Bled in Slovenia.
Although it’s stunningly beautiful year-round, a Springtime visit means you’ll be sharing the views with far fewer people as the summer crowds are yet to arrive.
There’ll still be a chill in the air as snow on the nearby Julian Alps melts, but temperatures are ideal for an invigorating stroll around the lake. Breathe in the fresh alpine air as you enjoy a pletna (traditional Slovenian boat) ride to Bled island, where you can explore the Assumption of Mary Church.
On your return from the island, gaze in wonder at Bled Castle, which towers over the lake. You won’t want to miss a visit to the 12th-century castle, which houses a museum, a blacksmith, and its own cellar.
Be sure to dine at the castle restaurant, which has what is undoubtedly the best view in Bled – and fantastic food. Speaking of food, no visit to Bled is complete without trying Bled Cream Cake.
You’ll see it on just about every menu in town. Bled is also a fabulous base for day trips to nearby Triglav National Park, Lake Bohinj, Vintgar Gorge, and it’s just 45 minutes from the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.
Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
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The majority of tourists going to Hungary will never make it past Budapest, which is a shame because the country has 22 wine regions, including Eger, where the famous Bulls blood is made.
Eger is historically important to Hungary, too; here, the army fought off the Ottoman military, regardless of being outnumbered in 1552. Eger Castle still stands as a museum, with a Michelin star chef catering at the restaurant.
Nature is close to Eger too, Fátyol Waterfall is worth the trip. Another appeal of Eger is the prices; visitors can find a pint for 75p, it pays to go off the tourist trail!
Gemma from Two Scots Abroad
Perched on a rocky ridge, the St. John Fortress has overlooked the city of Kotor, Montenegro, for centuries.
The steel-grey fortifications were a collaborative effort, built by everyone from the Byzantines to the Austro-Hungarians and the Venetians. The views from the fortress are incredible: Kotor’s red-roofed buildings look like a medieval toy town, and the Bay of Kotor sparkles below the area’s rugged mountains.
Because of its natural and cultural significance, the area is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Unsurprisingly, you must work to get to the top. In total, there are about 1,350 stairs. Since the climb is unshaded, the cooler spring season is an incredible time to visit.
You’ll pass by trees wearing yellow blooms, and the hillsides are carpeted in a blend of wildflowers. You might even encounter a friendly cat or two. Tickets are 3 euro. Be sure to pack water and wear comfortable footwear.
Although Dubrovnik will likely always retain status as the #1 destination in Croatia, Split is right on its heels in terms of popularity.
However, with this growing appeal comes the complex issue of over-tourism, making it more and more desirable to travel outside of peak season. Luckily, Split is a beautiful place to visit in the spring, which tends to be much quieter than the busy summer months.
Temperatures in spring are pleasant, often allowing for sleeveless days and light jackets in the evening. Rainfall averages just seven days per month, so lots of sunshine is to be expected.
Sights like Diocletian’s Palace and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius will be less crowded, boats to Hvar and Brac won’t need to be booked in advance, and you’ll be able to get a photo of Krka Falls without a dozen heads in it. Also, you can enjoy the fabulous cafe culture along the Riva without having to wait for a table.
Traveling to Split any time of year is easy as it is so centrally located and quickly becoming the hub city of Croatia. You can get to and from Split by almost any means, including car, bus, train, plane, and boat.
The only people that may not enjoy the pleasures of springtime in Split are those looking for a hot beach vacation. For that, you will have to wait until July and August and be prepared for crowds.
Sarah from Live Dream Discover
Local Tip: Catch the ferry from Split to Hvar if you want to experience Easter events and celebrations.
In spring, Greece offers travelers lower costs and wildflowers as Hellas awakes in winter. The majestic landscape across Greece’s two scenic railways that follow the Vouraikos gorge and Moutzouris will take you through the beautiful spring landscape.
The Aegean islands are a bouquet of thousands of wildflowers in spring. The valleys in the mountains and on Crete are white almond blossoms making the meadows and hillsides a pleasure to watch for all nature lovers and mountaineers worldwide.
The weather in Greece is perfect for outdoor sports and activities in nature. Greece has all the ingredients that urge travelers across the world to plan a voyage during spring.
Somnath from Travel Crusade
Cheap Accommodation in Europe
Is there such a thing? Yes, in Spring, there is! I booked a trip to London for the first spring weekend – and the accommodation was 1/3 cheaper!
You can also find specials for Eastern Europe city breaks with hotel aggregators like Booking.com – who I prefer because they have a no-questions-asked cancellations policy.
Search for ‘Eastern Europe holiday packages’ in March and April to score last minutes deals to the best of Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe Weather
The weather in Eastern Europe in May is, for me, ideal. Okay, so you can’t swim in many places (unless you like it chilly!), but the cooler weather means you can wander the streets all day and (and night) without having to take respite from the summer sun. And, if you are in a beachside town, the cafes are open – and often have blankets and or heaters going for those chillier days so you can still lay gaze across the water. Just be sure to throw on your comfy travel boots, bring a light coat in your day bag for when days get chilly (and they will).
Now that you know the best Eastern European cities to visit this Spring – which will you see first?
Main photo: Surfing the Planet