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Eastern Europe Travel: What to Do in Winter

Winter Attractions in Eastern Europe

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Many travelers avoid Eastern Europe during the winter months. It's true that the cold weather makes travel less convenient. However, just because there may be a brisk wind and snow on the ground doesn't mean you can't enjoy a fun-filled trip to Eastern Europe during the winter.

Eastern European Winter Travel - Enjoy Wintertime Festivals

Christmas Tree in Rotuse Square, Vilnius.
Lars Bryne © 2005
Winter festivals in Eastern Europe - either focusing on holiday celebrations or ancient traditions - are glimpses into Eastern European culture that few travelers take advantage of. You may have to bundle up to enjoy the festivities, but you'll be able to partake in wintertime food and drink, music, and dance.

Eastern European Winter Travel - Shopping

Winter Market and Carriage in Prague
Heiko Bennewitz © 2006
You can always escape the cold by popping into a shop, but if you're in Eastern Europe during the month of December, you may be able to take advantage of Christmas markets that spring up in many cities in the region. Cultural performances, seasonal cuisine, and locally made Christmas decorations make the experience memorable.

Eastern Europe Christmas Markets

Eastern European Winter Travel - Operas, Ballets, Theater

Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater, Russia
Serg Zastavkin © 2007
Eastern European capital cities that place emphasis on performing arts will have wonderful opera, ballet, and theater seasons that will take full advantage of winter traditions and holiday celebrations. Book tickets in advance to make sure you get prime seating for The Nutcracker or other winter-themed productions.

Eastern European Winter Travel - Stay in an Eastern European Castle

Palace hotel in Poland - Czarny Las
Krzysztof Slusarczyk © 2007
Many castle and palace hotels in Eastern Europe offer wintertime or holiday specials. You can enjoy cozy afternoons sipping tea by a fireplace, enjoy local, hand-prepared cuisine, or even take a sleigh-ride through castle grounds. If you intend to spend the winter holidays in a castle hotel in Eastern Europe, it is best to book well ahead of time. Some establishments will be fully booked a year or two in advance, so plan your trip carefully.

Eastern European Winter Travel - Clubs, Pubs, and Bars

Drinks by the Hearth
Kurt Holter © 2007
If you've decided to enjoy the less expensive plane fare to Eastern Europe during the off-season, or if you're stuck in Eastern Europe on business, certainly take advantage of the Eastern European nightlife. You may want to seek out cozy corners for relaxation or conversation, or you may want to warm yourself up on a dance floor. Eastern European clubs, pubs, and bars are hotspots during the winter - and hotspots are what you'll want to seek out to combat the cold.

Eastern European Winter Travel - Museums and Galleries

Historical Museum on Red Square in Moscow
eeX © 2004
Eastern European museums and galleries are welcome retreats for winter travelers. While parks, open-air museums, and outdoor art stalls will be closed, you can still enjoy seeing national treasures, cultural exhibits, local curiosities, and artistic masterpieces if you make a point to visit museums and exhibit venues.

Eastern European Winter Travel - Winter Sports

Ice Fishing in Eastern Europe
Ints Vikmanis © 2006
Winter sports, like skiing, sledding, ice fishing, and ice skating, are prime components of travel in Eastern Europe. If you're serious about winter sports, you may want to plan a trip around them. If they are just a casual interest, you may be able to work them in on a free afternoon.

Eastern European Winter Travel - Traditional Cuisine at Local Restaurants

Ukrainian Traditional Restaurant
Artemenko Aleksey © 2007
Eastern European food is often hearty, hot, and nutritious. Enjoy traditional Eastern European cuisine at restaurants specializing in local foods. Some of these eateries are decorated according to local style as well, and typical wood-beamed ceilings, fireplaces, and richly embroidered linens will have as much warming effect as will the food and drink.
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