Great Cities to Visit in Central Europe

Central Europe is little visited by many North Americans in comparison to Western Europe, but the region is filled with fascinating cities, villages, and vestiges of a much older period of history. Take a stroll through the slideshow here to acquaint yourself with some of the interesting locations Central Europe has to offer.

  • Prague, Czech Republic

    Prague, Czech Republic

    Prague stands in the top ranks of destinations for travelers, and the articulate expression of the region’s history is present in every direction. Prague Castle is a towering presence, a 750,000 sq ft one, that was started in 870 AD. Spanning over the Vltava River is the famous Charles Bridge, a wonderful example of a medieval arched bridge first started in 1357. Old Town Square, located near Charles Bridge, showcases the grand designs of the old world with a massive square surrounded by a Gothic church, the medieval astronomical clock, and much more. With these historical treasures and the art that graces its museums, it’s no wonder that Prague remains a top destination.

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  • Berlin, Germany

    Berlin, Germany

    Berlin’s creative spirit has blossomed in modern times, making it an international trendsetter in fashion, engineering, and financial markets. Located in the northeast region of Germany, one-third of the city's area is forest (750,000 trees). This tells you the priority that Germany has towards keeping this metropolis beautiful and creating a higher quality of life. This quality is also evident in the architecture around Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate stands watch as an old city gate made of stone and topped with a statue atop it and is located around other famous buildings. Then there’s the Reichstag, a building that stands as a wonder of architecture. The Reichstag was the home of the German parliament until 1933 and left to sit abandoned when the period of the Nazi Regime began. Berlin’s nightlife, sometimes active all night, also adds flavor to the trip.

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  • Vienna, Austria

    Vienna, Austria

    Vienna was once the capital of a great monarchy, and it shows in the grandeur of the city. The imperial mixing of styles Baroque and Romanesque is found all over the city, and the city center is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The elegance of this city extends to the art of music as well. Home to one of the most recognizable artists, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, symphony concerts within Vienna are excellent opportunities for music lovers enjoying the style and grace of the city — the Vienna State Opera building being a good example of one of the magnificent city venues. St. Stephen’s Cathedral shines as one of the centerpieces of Vienna’s charm, as it has towered over the city since its consecration in 1147 AD. For further charm, the intimate cafes provide a place to sit and witness the city over a delicious cup of Viennese coffee.

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  • Krakow, Poland

    Krakow, Poland

    Krakow is one of Poland’s oldest cities and was the capital until 1596. Krakow features a simple elegance. This city has changed authority quite a few times in history, showing a melding of styles all across the city. Entertainment and culture are a pastime of Krakow, with attention to arts and music being more than just a passing infatuation. Old Town, the historic central part of Krakow, is where the ancient international market Cloth Hall sits in the middle of the massive Main Market Square. Wawel Royal Castle has a medieval royal castle museum for history buffs.

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  • Budapest, Hungary

    Budapest, Hungary

    Dubbed the Queen of the Danube River, the astounding Hungarian Parliament building is a well-known sight along the river’s edge. The Chain Bridge, a suspension bridge built in 1849, stretches over the Danube with its two large arches — connecting buda and pest, the once separate east and west parts of the city. Buda Castle sits on top of Castle Hill, and this former royal residence is definitely the star of Budapest’s skyline. At night, the castle is lit up like a beacon of pride in the city. Then there are the spas and baths. The thermal baths have long been used for therapeutic methods of maintaining good health — with magnesium, bicarbonate, calcium, and fluoride in these waters. Budapest has been a favorite among travelers for centuries.

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  • Zurich, Switzerland

    Zurich, Switzerland

    Zurich is the largest city in the country of Switzerland. Medieval architecture spreads throughout, with museums and fantastic architecture gracing the streets. It is also a city for extravagant spending at the shops for high-quality items such as chocolate, watches, wines, and jewelry. A primary draw for many travelers is the ski slopes. Slopes cater to everyone from beginners to pros, like Flumserberg; others are more family-friendly, like Sattel-Hochstuckli. No matter the skill level or group dynamic, there’s a slope for any traveler.

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  • Warsaw, Poland

    Warsaw, Poland

    The largest city and capital of Poland, Warsaw was nearly destroyed in WWII. This tumultuous history has passed, and now the city is vibrant. A walk down Royal Way, Warsaw’s most famous street, has small shops and restaurants on one end and gets more colorful as the traveler meanders down it — ending at the city’s Old Town. Respect for history is ingrained. POLIN Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich is a stop into the history of Jews in Poland, with exhibitions such as the Core Exhibition that take the traveler on a journey through 1000 years of Polish Jewish culture. Warsaw is also the home of the iconic musician Chopin, and it shows the appreciation of his music and likeness in statues.

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  • Munich, Germany

    Munich, Germany

    An affluent city with plenty of beer breweries to choose from, Munich is easygoing with style. The look and feel of the city is uniquely German. Palaces like Nymphenburg and the Munich Residenz are available for tours through these fantastic examples of old-world elegance. Asam Church has impressive architecture and frescoes. Munich is home to Oktoberfest and so much more and has a Beer Purity Law that dictates only water, barley, and hops are allowed as key ingredients in brewing beer — creating a legacy of taste.

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  • Bratislava, Slovakia

    Bratislava, Slovakia

    Bratislava is the capital and largest city of Slovakia, which only gained independence from the Czech Republic in 1993. Its medieval and Gothic style is broken up by remnants of block-like communist architecture. Bratislava Castle stands on a hill overlooking the city, rebuilt in Renaissance style after some abandonment. UFO Bridge & Tower, a suspension bridge with a UFO-like structure atop it, stretches over the Danube, connecting the Old Town and another part of the city, and is the 7th largest hanging bridge in the world. Cathedrals, churches, fountains, and museums dot the city.

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  • Lucerne, Switzerland

    Lucerne, Switzerland

    Located in central Switzerland, Lucerne sits on the edge of Lake Lucerne and amid snow-capped mountains. Mount Pilatus, also known as the Dragon Mountain, looms over the city to the south. Lake Lucerne is surrounded by the city and mountains, perfect for a 20th-century paddle steamer ride or simply admiring its peaceful presence. Traversing the wooden Chapel Bridge, the oldest surviving truss bridge dating back to the 14th century, is a walk along history as the images and paintings along it show events throughout Lucerne’s history. Old Town is a scenic, vibrant walk, packed with restaurants and shops.

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