Best Places in Eastern Europe for Active Travel Experiences

Eastern Europe offers a unique travel experience
Eastern Europe offers a unique travel experience

Travel in Eastern Europe for your next active holiday and you’ll soon discover that it opens up a whole new side to the continent. Cross country borders, walk in rugged gorges and learn more about Eastern European legends & folklore. Places like the Balkans offer fantastic hiking experiences on the high trails of the Accursed Mountains, Bucegi Mountains and Mount Olympus, while the glistening waters of Lake Ohrid and the Bay of Kotor will awe active travellers from around the world.

Slow down on an active holiday in Eastern Europe and let us take you to the best places to go in this article. Get to know a continent you thought you knew already...


Walking along the Chrysochou Bay, Cyprus |  <i>D. Scout</i>

A land of outstanding natural beauty, the eastern European island of Aphrodite is blessed with sunny skies and mild climate year round. If you want to experience the real Cyprus, you have to leave behind the busy cosmopolitan towns and the crowded beach resorts and travel towards the centre of the island. Here you can hike through pine-clad landscapes and gentle orchards and explore Byzantine monasteries and the timeless villages of Cyprus’ biggest mountain range, Troodos.

> More about Walking in the Troodos Mountains and Akamas


Walker in Cappadocia |  <i>Erin Williams</i>

For millions of years the volcanoes of the Central Anatolian Plateau erupted to create unique rock formations and fairy chimneys. Through the centuries, different civilisations carved out houses and churches within these rocky pillars and the eventual underground cities left behind a natural and historical legacy which continues to be a focal point for visitors to the region. This is where our Cappadocia guided walks take place. Interspersed amongst these relics, discover a living culture of traditional villages, spectacular river valleys and rural settlements.

> More about guided walking in Cappadocia 


WWOT Mt Olympus & Crete |  <i>Bella Westaway</i>

A landscape of mighty plateaus, ridges and gorges, Mount Olympus was the country’s first ever National Park, with its lower flanks protected as a World Biosphere Reserve. Expect spectacular vistas as you trek to various peaks – there are 52 in total – and depending on weather conditions you may even make it to Mytikas (‘nose’), the mountain’s highest peak at 2,918 metres. 

> More about Mount Olympus Guided Walk

Little known outside Greece, the traditional complex of the Zagori Villages, in the northwestern corner of the country, covers an unspoilt region of the Pindos mountains. It’s one of those best-kept secret places of Eastern Europe and you can include a traverse of the virtually virgin Vikos Gorge, which has been listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the deepest canyon in the world. > More about hiking in Zagorochoria & the Vikos Gorge 


Balkan Mountains Walk

The Tear, the Eye or the Kidney? Each of the Seven Rila Lakes in Eastern Europe’s Bulgaria is named according to its shape! Surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys, the chain of these glacial lakes is the jewel of the Rila Mountains. Starting at 2,100m, the lakes are found at differing altitudes and appear like large footprints leading up the mountain. The best time to travel here is in the heart of the summer: the lakes freeze around October and rarely melt before June. 

> More about Bulgaria on Foot, or opt for a self guided hiking holiday in Bulgaria and choose the Balkan Mountains Walk

North Macedonia

Europe on two wheels | Taking in the magnificent site of Meteora

Travel across North Macedonia and the region of Macedonia in northern Greece by bike, which can be equally challenging and rewarding. The fantastic (tarmac) roads on this corner of Eastern Europe see little traffic, allowing you to marvel at the unspoiled nature. Highlights in North Macedonia include meeting friendly people, the beautiful crystal clear lakes of Ohrid and Prespa, the foothills of the Pelister National Park, and the historical city of Bitola. Once in Greece there’s Agios Panteleimon, a historic and world-class-wine region. End your cycling tour at the giant pinnacles of Meteora topped with ancient monasteries.

> More about Macedonia to Meteora Self Guided Cycle


Walking into a picturesque Romanian town surrounded by the Bucegi Mountains |  <i>Renee Brown</i>

Transylvania’s legends are an enticing reason to explore Romania’s stunning mountainscapes. The dramatic Piatra Craiului (‘royal stone’) rises sharply from the plains below offering one of the best ridge walks in Europe, while the Bucegi Mountains are home to a diverse range of landscapes, from beech forests to flower-laden meadows and high limestone cliffs. Here you will find Bran Castle, home to the fictitious character of Dracula, immortalised in Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel. 

> More about Transylvania Castles & Mountains hiking holiday


Walking towards the picturesque Church of Theth in Albania

A culturally immersive hike through the ‘accursed’ Prokletije Mountains in Easter Europe. Follow in the footsteps of early British traveller Edith Durham (author of High Albania), visit Montenegro’s old royal capital, and stop at the UNESCO-listed Monastery of Decan in Kosovo. This hiking tour is a full immersion in Eastern Europe.

> More about hiking the High Trails of the Balkans


Cruising down the winding roads towards the Bay of Kotor on the Croatia to Albania Coastal Cycle

Cycling between the eastern European countries of Montenegro and Albania opens up a whole new side of the continent. Explore Lake Shkodra, the largest lake of the Balkans and Shkoder town in Albania. Cycle the downhill 'ladder of Kotor' connecting the National park Lovcen to the old town of Kotor. Kotor Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as is Marubi Museum – dedicated to Albanian photography and photographers and located in the northern city of Shkoder. Of course, munch on the delicious local cuisines on your travels in this part of Eastern Europe. 

> More about cycling along the coast between Montenegro and Albania 



Intrigued? Contact our teams around the world to organise your private or group travel to Eastern Europe, whether you're a walker or cyclist.

Eastern Europe Travel, Balkan Hiking, Southeast Europe Holidays, Eastern Europe Walking Holidays, Eastern Europe Cycling Holidays

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