Eastern Europe in Summer - Music festivals, rich history and traditions, mountain scenery and riverscapes, lakeside camping and exotic food!
Long days and average temperatures between 17 – 27C mean that the tourist season is in full swing in summer. Music festivals, rich history and traditions, mountain scenery and riverscapes, lakeside camping and exotic food combine to offer you a summer experience quite different to anywhere else in the world.
The massive Exit Festival is held in the picturesque medieval Petrovaradin Fortress grounds, on the banks of the beautiful Danube River in Serbia. With over 16 stages linked by hidden catacombs and walkways, spectacular light shows, fireworks, and electrifying music, this festival is one of the most famous in the world. Camping is permitted, and you can stay on afterwards for the Sea Dance Festival on the banks of the Adriatic.
For a different experience, Krakow's Summer Jazz Festival features some 300 Polish and international jazz musicians playing over 60 venues in this historic city, and is usually held each July. Or if theatre is more to your taste, the Krakow International Street Theatre Festival takes place around the same time.
Poland is emerging from its tragic past and offers an unspoiled authentic experience for travellers interested in history and culture. The picture-book prettiness of Krakow, with its many spires and turrets, cobbled streets and ornate buildings could have inspired scenes from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty – there’s even a castle on the hill.
You can enjoy people-watching while dining al fresco at any café on the main square, or visit one of the city’s many beautiful cathedrals.
The UNESCO World Heritage listed Buda Castle in Budapest gives the city its nickname as ‘the Paris of the East’ with a building to rival the palace of Versailles.
Kosovo has many reminders of its rich and heart-rending past, including the World Heritage listed Medieval Monuments. The site consists of four Serbian Orthodox Christian Monasteries, the largest and richest being the Studenica Monastery, established by Stevan Nemanja in the late 12th century shortly after he abdicated. For the most part the sites are built of white
stone, with intricate frescos depicting medieval religious scenes, reflecting the Byzantine and Turkish heritage of the time.
Trail walking through Hungary is an unforgettable experience of spectacular mountains and lakes, beautiful river outlooks and lushly forested valleys. Follow the winding Danube through the Visegrád Mountains close to Budapest, through heavily wooded slopes and past fields of nodding wildflowers.
Hiking around the nature reserve of Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, is one of the most delightful outdoor experiences in the region. The northern shore has rugged views of the Badacsony mountains reflected in the clear lake, while to the south there are sandy beaches perfect for swimming. The southern waters are warmed by the sun to around 27C, perfect for a sunset dip in the last light of the day. The area is closed to traffic and the trail is well marked. If hiking isn’t for you, there’s golf, sailing, horse riding or wine tasting during the day, plus a lively night life scene in the many resort towns around the lake (Tihany is one of the most popular).
Paradise beach, Croatia is shallow and safe, perfect for families. As well as white sands and crystal clear water, there are playgrounds, bike paths and water sports, and plenty of bars and restaurants for evening fun.
Still in Croatia, Golden Cape is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic. Cold blue-green water, mountain scenery, gentle waves lapping the white pebbles, warm clear air scented with fragrant pine trees – something quite different to anything experienced at home.
The thought of Eastern European food conjures up images of heavy soups, stews and potatoes, but the reality is a lot more inspiring, as the inhabitants’ long and productive relationship with the land and their small-plot farms offers a range of seasonal vegetables, salads and fruit dishes, as well as meats.
In Poland you’ll find cucumber salad with sour cream, many types of pickles, red cabbage, stuffed meats, fish dishes and sticky poppyseed pastries to enjoy.
In Hungary, traditional goulash spiced with paprika is always on the menu, but there are also lighter options like fish soup, stuffed peppers, roast potatoes with paprika, or sausage.
Fresh salads and spicy meatballs feature in Bulgarian menus, while in Romania the traditional dishes are seasoned with many herbs, and you can enjoy salty fish stew, vegetable soup, crepes, and Danish pastries.
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