Four must-see gems of Central Europe

Mainstream travel destinations not interesting enough for you? Every time you travel you search for something new, fresh and never visited by friends? If the answer is yes, we created this list of hidden gems especially for people like you. If it isn’t, it can still inspire you to visit something different than just the popular tourist destinations everybody’s talking about. Get ready to discover real hidden gems of tourism in Central Europe? Off we go!

Brno, Czech Republic

There’s apparently no other city in the Czech Republic that is developing as fast as Brno. The capital of Moravia has found a unique style in recent years; it’s a young and vibrant city that has a rhythm and incredible drive. The stories that you’ll experience here will be real and unforgettable.

You can best familiarise yourselves with the city’s gastronomy offers by reading an independent guide titled Gourmet Brno. There you’ll find top restaurants (for example, one of the best fusion establishments in the country), distinctive pubs, historic beer houses, fashionable bistros, trendy cafés, original pastry shops and, of course, many wine bars.

In recent years, Brno has witnessed a rapid development of completely unique bars that are becoming more popular every day. For instance, one of the bars is a mysterious gateway to the world of a psychedelic circus with innovative and original cocktails. What does this mean???. While some bars mix premium cocktails with homemade ingredients, in others, you’ll enjoy originally blended drinks or, if you prefer, 250 kinds of rum and a Caribbean atmosphere. Brno bartenders and baristas are world-class professionals. Many of them hold prestigious European awards.

Brno is also a city of modern architecture. One of its latest magnets is the Brno Quartet of Villas, which includes, in addition to the most famous Villa Tugendhat, Villa Löw-Beer, Villa Stiassni and Jurkovič Villa. Villa Tugendhat is one of the most valuable functionalist gems on the planet, created by architect Mies van der Rohe and is protected by UNESCO. This villa, which is said to be the most beautiful in the world, has a genial combination of purpose and ingenuity. Villa Löw-Beer is a perfect example of Art Nouveau aesthetics. Its interior houses an exhibition called The World of Brno Bourgeoisie Between Löw-Beer and Tugendhat. The third is the functionalist Villa Stiassni, built based on the design by architect Ernst Wiesner.

The Jurkovič Villa completes the quartet. It was originally built by architect Dušan Jurkovič for himself. It bears all the features of his peculiar concept of the Art Nouveau style with folklore elements, and is as important to Art Nouveau architecture in Brno as Villa Tugendhat is to Brno’s functionalism.

There are few places in the world with so many functionalist buildings in one location. The Brno Architectural Manual will guide you through 383 local buildings by 211 architects! There are public buildings, churches, villas, cafés and even trade-fair exhibitions grounds – which makes for an extraordinary experience. For example, a visit to functionalist cafés, where the spirit of the 1930s is perfectly preserved in architecturally exquisite interiors, is exceptional – you’ll have a feeling that Toyen is drinking coffee at a nearby table.

Sopron, Hungary

We have to admit that Budapest is at the same time a blessing and a curse for Hungary, hiding all the other wonderful cities and towns in its shadow. It’s time to explore more, though, isn’t it? That’s why you should plan a visit to Sopron. Situated right on the Hungarian border with Austria, the town is easily accessible from Vienna (75 km), Bratislava (95 km) and of course Budapest itself (214 km).

The unique architecture of the town’s old section reflects its very long history of stability and prosperity: you can see the walls and foundations from the Roman empire right next to the picturesque Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque structures.

You will be happy to learn that Sopron is also the capital of a significant wine producing region, one of the few in the country to make both red and white wine, and where Blue Frankish and Pinot Noir are particularly prized. If you’re a fan of classical music, you need to know that Sopron region was the home of Franz Liszt, one of the most famous composers of the romantic era. Perfect place for a glass of delicious wine surrounded by the sounds of music!

Toruń, Poland

Have you ever heard of Nicolaus Copernicus? We bet you have. Did you know that in 16th century Copernicus, who was born in the city of Toruń in northern Poland, completely changed our understanding of the universe, proving that the Sun rather than Earth is at its centre? As its most famous citizen, Copernicus is still – in a way – present in the city: you can visit the house where he was born (now hosting a museum in memory of the scientist) and take a selfie with his monument. The traces of Copernicus are not the only reasons to visit this beautiful city, though. Toruń is often called “the Gothic pearl of Poland” because of its numerous stunning Gothic landmarks, such as the historic St. Jacob’s church or the city hall located in the middle of the Old Town.

A trip to Toruń can also be a very delicious one – mostly because of the yummy traditional gingerbread based on the same centuries-old recipe is still baked here. As an unofficial symbol of the city, it will be offered to you almost everywhere you go and trust me, you can never get enough of it!

Kosice, Slovakia

Honoured as the European Capital of Culture for 2013, Kosice keeps on cultivating the traditions started while preparing for the year-long event it hosted in 2013. The heart of the city – or rather the apple of its eye, since the plans of the city centre resembles an eye – is the monumental Gothic Cathedral of St. Elisabeth. It’s the largest church in Slovakia and at the same time the easternmost located Gothic cathedral in the whole of Europe. The cathedral is surrounded by lovely gardens, and the historical buildings of the Old Town now hosting numerous cafes, bars, clubs… and gourmet restaurants.

Hungry or thirsty? Gastronomy experience seekers will be able to taste not only Slovak traditional dishes, but also fusion cuisine from all over the world.  In Slovakia you will find quality gastronomy at affordable prices. Regional dishes are as colourful as the Slovak countryside itself. You can learn to make Slovak gastronomic specialities with experienced chefs and taste the high-quality wines produced in Slovakia since the Roman era.

If you’re fond of running, we recommend you visit Kosice in October when it hosts the International Peace Marathon. You may be surprised to learn that it’s the oldest marathon in Europe (which started in 1924) and second oldest in the world, just after the Boston Marathon. 

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About the Editor
About the Editor
Bandana Jain
Bandana Jain is a seasoned lifestyle and travel journalist for the past two decades. Also a blogger, she loves pursuing modelling as a hobby. She has also ventured into the realms of anchoring and public speaking. When she is not pursuing any of the above, you can find her chilling by the beach or in park with her favourite cup of masala chai. Travelling is her passion, creativity her morale booster and enriching conversations give her the necessary thrust in life.

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