Putting together a list of the most beautiful roads in Eastern Europe is surprisingly challenging. The whole European continent is full of fairytale scenic routes, but the east has hidden gems that make for amazing road trips. Narrowing all of that down to a single shortlist was hard, but someone had to do it. So here it is, a list filled with the most breathtaking spots in the region.
The term “Eastern Europe” refers to a whole collection of countries, though there’s some disagreement on which ones are included. Nevertheless, the area has something for everyone, from rich culture and architecture to gorgeous landscapes.
A Short PSA Before Getting Started
Going on a once in a lifetime trip like this takes a lot of small details and smart planning. Things like itineraries, budget, local customs, and safety have to be considered. The latter is especially important because it’s something that a lot of people don’t think about the moment they get into vacation-mode. Europe is relatively safe for tourists to travel around in, but crime isn’t non-existent. Physical crimes like muggings and pickpocketing do happen, but cybercrime is also prevalent.
The danger with cybercrime lies in the fact that most people don’t think it will happen to them. Try typing “what is my IP” into a search engine. The string of numbers that appears is the device’s IP address - and it’s public information. Hackers can use that info to target travelers and find their physical location or hack into their device. They can then steal digital information like credit card details, or spy via the microphone or camera.
Take cybersafety into consideration too while traveling, even if most of the trip consists of being in a car.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s get back to the fun part - hitting the road.
The Road from Ioannina to Meteora, Greece
Most people think of quaint towns and sandy beaches when they want to visit Greece, not driving along any roads. But the scenic drive from the lakeside town of Ioannina to the monasteries of Meteora in northern Greece is well worth the trip. The route itself also features over 24 monasteries, precipitously built atop crumbling sandstone. Visitors are welcome to stop and visit six of them, taking in the mix of history and religious scenes. If that doesn’t sound appealing, then simply sticking to the road will offer up astounding scenes of its own.
Transfagarasan Highway, Romania
This feat of engineering marvel is a paved road that stretches the southern part of the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. It’s the handiwork of communist politician Nicolae Ceaușescu, who had wanted an escape route built in case of a Soviet invasion. However, that never happened. Now this prestigious highway stands as an iconic testament to humanity’s capacity for building the impossible. It also offers a stunning look into the unspoiled valleys of the Carpathian mountains.
The Adriatic Highway, Croatia
Also called the ‘Jadranska Magistrala,’ the Adriatic highway in Croatia offers magnificent views of the entire Croatian coastline. It’s not for the novice driver or faint of heart, however, as this road contains thrilling sheer cliffs, dramatic twists, and hairpin turns. Not only that, but Croatian driving can scare anyone into an early grave, so beware of that. It’s best to take this route slow and get in all those amazing views of stunning beaches and crystalline waters.
The Troyan-Karnare Pass, Bulgaria
The Beklemeto Pass, also known as the Troyan pass, stretches between the northern city of Troyan and the southern village of Karnare in Bulgaria. It dissects the Balkan Mountains, or Stara Planina and offers amazing views of the surrounding plains and valleys.
Right near the top of peak Beklemeto, at the highest point of this road, is the Arc of Liberty. This 7-meter sculpture is one of the forgotten monuments of the Bulgarian liberation movement against Ottoman rule. It also stands at the highest point of the peak, offering heart-stirring views of the surrounds. On a clear night, there’s no better place to gaze at the stars.
Serpentine Road, Kotor
The drive from the historical town of Kotor to the Lovćen National Park provides one of the most picturesque road trips in the world. Situated on the coast of Montenegro, this journey is overwhelmingly beautiful from start to end. It’s not to be taken lightly, however, with 25 hairpin turns and mind-numbingly sheer cliffs. The trip can take as little as a couple of hours, or stretch to a few days with long pit stops.
Farewell and Bon Voyage
Sometimes a trip isn’t about the end destination but the journey getting there. These routes across Eastern Europe is sure to delight with jaw-dropping views and inspiring slices of history. Just make sure to slow down, find time to relax, and take in the thrills and beauty of the long road.