Since their inclusion in the European Community, many Eastern European countries have developed a solid tourist infrastructure and are slowly becoming key holiday destinations in their own right. The rich historical past of the region makes this area stand out from other European destinations, as the architecture, cuisine, and culture of Eastern Europe are markedly different from those of other parts of the continent.
Eastern Europe is made up of several large countries, so to appreciate better everything that the region has to offer, it is often a good idea to plan a driving holiday across several countries. In this article we have put together an itinerary through Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary.
Outside a couple of seaside resorts in the Black Sea, Bulgaria remains a little-known destination, despite its numerous tourist attractions. You can arrange for car hire upon arrival at Sofia International airport thanks to the presence of established vehicle rental companies like Alamo. The country’s capital tends to be overlooked by tourists, but it is worth taking a couple of days to explore the city’s museums, classical buildings, Byzantine churches, art galleries, and outdoor cafes. To gain a bird’s eye view of the city and to enjoy fine mountain scenery, drive to Vithosa mountain.
Veliko Tarnovo is a charming town in the mountains of northern Bulgaria, approximately 3.5 hours away from Sofia. The Old Town restaurants are a good place to sample Bulgarian specialities, like mushroom soup or stuffed peppers. If you continue driving east you will reach the Black Sea coast. Here it is worth stopping at Bourgas, Nesebar, and Varna, as your drive north towards Romania.
The city of Constanta has a very active cultural scene and a vibrant nightlife. Take a walk around the old town and the marina. During the summer, go for a swim in the local beaches. You can then drive following the course of the Danube until you reach Moldavia, a virtually unknown but fascinating region. It is worth stopping at Bicaz to explore the nearby lake and canyon.
If you drive to the west you will enter the Transylvania region, which is dotted with castles, fortresses, and impressive mountain ranges. The UNESCO town of Sighisoara is a good base to explore the region, as it is well connected with other must-see destinations, such as Sibiu or Brasov.
After crossing the mountainous Romanian region of Crisana, visitors will reach Hungary. It is highly recommended to stop at the towns of Szeged and Kecskemet while enroute towards Budapest. There you can sample the local speciality, plum wine, and rest after the long drive from Romania. Spending a few days in Budapest is the best way to end a driving holiday around Eastern Europe. And if you visit during the summer, make the most of the theatre and arts festivals that take place all over the Hungarian capital.