Considering a holiday in Europe this year? Have you set your plans on visiting Amsterdam, Paris, or Rome? Certainly you won’t be disappointed because you’ve heard how enjoyable these destinations are. Many of your family members and friends have already taken vacations in Amsterdam, Paris, and Rome. As part of their sightseeing reports, they may have also mentioned the long lines at the museums; the expensive hotels and meals; and the feeling that they were getting lost in the crowds.

Why not go somewhere different? Consider going to off-the-beaten travel destinations that are not as frequently explored by Western tourists. Have you ever thought about traveling to Eastern Europe? You’ll be pleased to hear that in the East the lines are shorter and the prices more affordable. Even more exciting is the chance to experience spectacular natural beauty, picturesque villages and towns, tasty local cuisine, and a friendly welcome offered by the locals.

There’s something else to be said for traveling eastward – vacations are quite affordable! You don’t have to be a member of the nouveau riche or to win the EuroMillions lottery to be able to afford a holiday in Eastern Europe. Don’t know where to go? No problem – take a long at our list of 5 cities in Eastern Europe you really should visit this year.

Belgrade – you may not have known that the capital of Serbia sits on the banks of the Danube River. Take in the panoramic views from atop Kalemegdan Park and the Belgrade Fortress in its grounds. Dating from the days of the Romans, and serving many ruling powers over the centuries, the fortress stands guard over both the city and the river. The fortress and the surrounding park are the place to go for culture, sports, and arts events, and even for a visit to the Belgrade Good Hope garden zoo.

Bucharest – walking down the streets of Romanian’s capital you might get confused and think you are in Paris. Bucharest earned the nickname “Paris of the East” because of its Arcul de Triumf, an exact replica of the French Arc de Triomphe. In addition, the impressive Calea Victoriei is the local version of the Champs-Élysées. Worth seeing is the massive Palace of the Parliament – the largest building in Europe. Take a tour inside and you’ll get a glance at the home of the Romanian Parliament as well as huge caverns of vacant space.

Dubrovnik – known as the Pearl of the Adriatic Sea, the attractive city of Dubrovnik sits at the southern tip of Croatia. Dubrovnik’s stunning Old Town has well preserved buildings with colourful baroque facades and renaissance architecture. You can walk atop the city walls for the best views. Don’t be surprised by the crowded narrow lanes as many mega cruise ships dock in the city’s harbour.

Sarajevo – the capital of Bosnia suffered a prolonged siege by Serbian forces during the Bosnian War in the 1990s. Sarajevo’s citizens survived during the siege thanks to the Sarajevo Tunnel, which provided an underground passageway for the transport of food, weapons, humanitarian aid, and even people, in and out of the city. When you visit Sarajevo you can walk down a small length of that tunnel and visit a museum housed above a cellar that once served as the tunnel’s entrance.

Sofia – most of the main attractions in the Bulgarian capital are located within walking distance of the centre. Visit the city’s iconic landmark, the gold-domed Aleksandar Nevsky Cathedral, and the ancient Rotunda of St. George, dating to the days when the city, then known as Serdica, was a favourite destination of Roman emperors.

Of course these short descriptions of the five destinations only give you a small taste of what you will see if you holiday in Eastern Europe. Order your tickets, pack your bags, and make your trip happen this year!