Why a trip to Central and Eastern Europe feels like you're stepping back in time

Recently updated on July 11th, 2023 at 12:44 pm

From ancient buildings to age-old traditions, here’s why a Trafalgar tour to Central and Eastern Europe will leave you feeling as if you’ve been transported to centuries past.

Historic buildings that tell a story

Central and Eastern Europe is filled with medieval castles, ancient monasteries and grand palaces that are incredibly well-preserved. Stepping into these old structures, built hundreds – sometimes thousands – of years ago, offers a unique glimpse into the past.

Monasteries and Cathedrals

In Georgia and Armenia, you can find stunning monasteries and cathedrals that date back to the Early Middle Ages. In Georgia, explore Jvari Monastery, a stunningly well-preserved building from the 6th century, and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, an 11th century masterpiece. They are twin UNESCO World Heritage sites located in Mtskheta, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world (since 5th century BC!)

 In Armenia, you can take the longest aerial tramway in the world to reach 9th century Tatev monastery, also known as the ‘monastery on the edge of nothing’. Overlooking a deep gorge by the Vorotan River, it’s such a cinematic place, sparking images of humble monks, slowly pacing through the same halls over 1000 years ago.

Discover these historical gems on the Georgia and Armenia uncovered tour

Castles and Palaces of past kingdoms

As well as exquisitely preserved monasteries, this region of Europe is filled with fortresses and palaces that inspire awe. A must-visit is the infamous 14th Century Bran Castle in Transylvania. On the Balkan Adventure tour, a Local Specialist will guide you through its imposing walls, soaring spires, and concealed passageways. You’ll also wander the medieval streets of Braşov, the former cultural crossroads of the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe. As you stroll through the Town Hall Square, walking along historical trade routes, you can almost hear the echoes of Saxon-era horse hoofs bouncing off the historic buildings.

Prefer architectural grandeur to somber Gothic atmosphere? On the Bohemian highlights tour you’ll find plenty of baroque beauty to gaze at. We’ll visit Poland’s Wilanow Palace for stunning frescoes, intricate craftsmanship and picturesque gardens, and a stop by Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens will make sure you unlock the pinnacle of dramatic Rococo architecture.

Echoes of the past

As well as impressive castles and cathedrals, whole towns have kept their Old-World charm. On your Balkan Adventure, you can get lost in the charming Old Town districts of major cities like Prague, Sarajevo, Veliko Târnovo in Bulgaria, and Budva in Montenegro. These living fossils are rich with fairytale façades, old stone houses, labyrinthine streets and charming squares. Even better, you’ll have a Local Specialist alongside you, guiding you through the ancient streets, sharing unique stories about each location.

Unique cultures and traditions

Central and Eastern Europe is not only filled with beautifully preserved buildings and towns, but also with unique cultural traditions and customs. With Trafalgar, one of the best places to experience this is in Georgia and Armenia.

In Tbilisi, the brick-domed underground sulphur baths have been an essential landmark since the days of the Old Silk Road. You can experience a relaxing soak as well as the old, dying tradition of a Georgian massage. It really is one of the best things to do in Eastern Europe if you’re looking for an authentic cultural experience.

Armenia is filled with local customs that are still preserved today. Where else can you step into an old tavern and enjoy folk songs and dance? These include the moving Armenian spirit songs, or sharakans, performed by a live quintet. With Trafalgar, you’ll also visit Verishen village, where the local community has sustained the heritage of crafting traditional wool carpets for generations.

Festivals and fêtes  

You’ll also find a bounty of unique festivals and traditions that have a long history going back centuries.

Time your visit to Prague to catch the Easter Markets in the Old Town Square. Established around the end of the Middle Ages, here you can taste traditional Czech food and drink, admire handmade crafts, and watch longstanding folk performances, like Easter egg painting workshops.

If considering a tour of central Europe, then we highly recommend catching the Christmas Markets of Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, where you can experience old-world traditions in charming market stalls. In Vienna, you’ll find the iconic Krippenmarkt, which started back in 1296! Here you’ll find loads of local traditions like lighting advent wreaths, charming gingerbread treats, and tasty cups of Glühwein, a spiced hot wine that is a traditional winter drink in the region. All of this comes together to give you a fairytale European experience that’ll feel like something out of an old storybook.

Central and Eastern Europe boasts rich history, culture, and traditions that have been meticulously preserved over the centuries. Exploring this region is like taking a journey through the ages, filled with one-off experiences . From ancient buildings to age-old customs, Trafalgar offers the opportunity to have the most immersive experience in Central and Eastern Europe to have a taste of what life was like before.

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