Last updated: 01:35 PM ET, Fri April 28 2017
The corner of Rynok Square and view of Latin Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine (photo via phant / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Eastern Europe

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Aerial view of Riga center from St. Peter's Church, Riga, Latvia (photo via f9photos / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Aerial view of Riga center from St. Peter's Church, Riga, Latvia (photo via f9photos / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Now is the time to visit this pristine area of Europe, which is still very affordable and remains unaffected by the impacts of tourism and Westernization. In the past, Eastern Europe – the Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania, have been considered a little bit off the travel map.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and a slow but steady socioeconomic recovery, the tourism industry is beginning to take off. Cities are slowly expanding and rural areas are becoming urbanized. The area thrives with unique native cultural traditions and warm, friendly locals who are very curious about foreigners.

There is so much to do in Eastern Europe beyond the main points of interest. After exploring the walk-able capital cities, go hiking in the national parks, taste butter-slathered pierogies and borscht, buy a Russian Matryushka doll souvenir, try out bird watching in the Altai region of Russia, stay at a Bulgarian monastery, lay on a beach along the Dalmatian Coast or visit Dracula’s Bran Castle in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains. With so much to do throughout Eastern Europe travel, there is sure to be something to satisfy anyone’s desires.