Coolest towns in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe has a hell of a lot more to offer than talented No 9’s, questionable spirits and locations for John Le Carre novels. Here are a few of the coolest towns and cities in Eastern Europe.
The one and only place to start is Budapest, the Paris of the East. The city is one of the most beautiful on the continent with spectacular views from the castle, but it is also one of the coolest cities on the planet. Following the fall of Communism, a number of young entrepreneurs converted disused spaces into bars and clubs and now the city boasts dozens of them. Highlights include Szimpla, which is an institution these days, and Instant. Where else can you drink a pint of beer while sitting in a dentist’s chair surrounded by neon lights?
Coming in at a close second is Prague, the Czech capital. Although not quite as unique as Budapest’s vast underground clubs and bars, it boasts a great nightlife as well, including former abattoir Meet Factory (now a music space), Cross Club (which looks like the inside of a clock) and a number of other interesting hotspots. During the summertime, head down to the Vltava (the key river running through the city) and enjoy a beer by the water or even volleyball at one of the cities bespoke ‘beaches’. The more adventurous among you can even rent a pedalow or one of the cities Grill Donuts, where your captain will both steer you around the river and cook your lunch.
Sometimes overlooked by tourists due to the popularity of Budapest and Prague, Bucharest is well worth a visit. With a rich (and somewhat dark) history, it has a number of museums detailing the past before, during and after the communist era. However, it also has a burgeoning night time scene, with a number of great bars and clubs from the established (Hard Rock Cafe) to the more quirky, such as Bicicleta
Oddly, Warsaw is often overlooked as well, partly because other cities in Poland have enjoyed a stronger reputation when it comes to aesthetic beauty and nightlife. But there is a lot to enjoy in Warsaw, including the uber-hip Miłość Kredytow as well as legendary venue Centrum Artystyczne Fabryka Trzciny, a converted factory and one of the city’s most revered music venues.
Very few people would put Ostrava on a list of cool eastern European cities, but the Czech Republic’s 3rd city warrants a place on this list. Much maligned (particularly by people in Prague and Brno), the industrial city certainly has its rough spots and has not enjoyed itself much since the fall of communism, but one of the results has been a thriving art and graffiti scene, making it one of the coolest cities in Europe for art and music. A number of underground Czech artists have come from the city, which also boasts the wonderful Colours of Ostrava festival in July, which takes place in a once disused factory.