These days it seems like everybody’s doing it. When all your friends are bragging about their experiences, and even uploading photographic evidence to their Facebook timelines, it’s hard not to feel a little bit jealous. Maybe it’s time you had your first time too. This bite-sized city guide from Oh-Prague holiday apartments is designed to ease you into the joys of travelling to Eastern Europe, starting with its key highlights.
Start in the Old Town, the historic centre of Poland’s lively capital. Warsaw was heavily bombed during World War II, and had to be almost completely rebuilt, making it one of the most modern cities in Eastern Europe. Make sure you visit the Royal Castle, and relax on the Old Town Square with a coffee or a beer. Say hi to Syrena, the Mermaid statue who represents the city of Warsaw, before you leave to explore the more modern districts. The Palace of Culture and Science, originally an unwelcome gift from Poland’s ex-overlords Russia, is now a busy and popular complex of museums, theatres and shops. The panoramas of the city from the 30th floor viewing platform will take your breath away.
No maiden-voyage to Eastern Europe would be right without a trip to Prague, the beautiful Czech capital. With its towering spires, stone streets and gorgeous rooftops, visitors to Prague can feel as if they’re in a fairy-tale. The presence of the world’s largest castle, an impressive medieval complex commanding excellent views over the city, does nothing to remove the illusion. Make sure you make it to the intriguing Josefov district, the vibrant Charles Bridge, and the wacky Dancing Building, designed to look like a couple taking to the floor.
Now you’re ready to venture deeper into the East, cross the border to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, a new country that along with the Czech Republic, used to form Czechoslovakia. Bratislava’s ancient medieval centre contrasts with the largest Communist-era housing development across the river. Both are testament to the story of the city. Familiar with Slovakian cuisine? Didn’t think so. Head to a traditional eatery to try halušky, soft dumplings with bacon and sheep’s cheese.
With Budapest you get almost two cities for the price of one. Straddling the River Danube, the capital of Hungary is made up of Buda and Pest, each of which has its own special character. Buda’s Castle Hill area contains the Royal Palace and Matthias Church, both well worth a visit. Of the many impressive bridges crossing the Danube, the Chain Bridge has to be the most famous. Pest is home to both Gresham Palace and the commanding Hungarian Parliament building.
To make your first time truly magical, round it off with a few days in Dubrovnik, the legendary ‘Pearl of the Adriatic.’ This gorgeous Croatian seaside town boasts a stunning harbour and two beaches where you can join the locals in relaxing and enjoying the Mediterranean sunshine.
By Ahmed Ahmed