Slovenia

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Eastern Europe’s attractions are diverse – ancient monuments, stunning religious sites, and fairytale castles share space with great museums and memorials to the Holocaust and the Soviet Occupation. Meals are washed down with some of the world’s best beers and wines.

Things to do in Slovenia

Bansko

Skiers will find great runs with passes that cost a fraction of those in Western Europe. Bulgaria’s Bansko has some of the best slopes, accessed by swift, efficient lifts. The medieval old town is great for après-ski.

, www.bulgariaski.com/bansko
Tags: family | skiing | things to do | outdoors

Biking the Danube from Bratislava

One of the best ways to experience a new destination is by peddling along on your own two wheels. Exploration of the scenic Danube River is custom-tailored just for this means of exploration, with convenient cycling routes (marked with big “C” signs) to keep cyclers on track and protected from vehicular traffic. From Bratislava, Slovakia, pedal west for Austria (just a few miles from the city), south for Hungary (a 10-mile ride), or opt to venture away from the river into nature and take a trail through the Small Carpathian Mountains. Minimum full-day bike rentals are available at Bratislava Hotels, and come with a tool kit (including pump, spare tire, and lock) in case you run into a bump on the road.

, 011-421-911-468-367, www.bratislavahotels.com/bike-rental
Tags: biking | things to do | outdoors | jim's pick

Children's Railway

Little ones love riding into the Buda Hills on the Children’s Railway, a narrow-gauge railway operated by Hungarian school children (don’t worry – they’re overseen by adults). The trip takes passengers through lush bird- and wildlife-filled forests.

, 011-36-1-397-5392, www.gyermekvasut.com/english.html
Tags: family | things to do | outdoors | tour | wildlife

Czartoryski Museum

Czartoryski Museum was founded in 1794 to preserve Polish heritage. In 1940, the museum's collection was looted by Nazis. Some pieces, most notably Leonardo da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine, were recovered.

ul. Św. Jana 19, 011-12-422-5566, www.muzeum-czartoryskich.krakow.pl
Tags: family | art | things to do | culture | history | museum

Gellert Baths

In Budapest, the hot, mineral-filled, spring-fed Gellert Baths are located in a cathedral-like setting graced with colorful mosaic tiles and marble columns.

The Gellert Bath and Hotel, Kelenhegyi út 4, 011-361-466-6166, www.gellertbath.com
Tags: things to do | architecture | history | jim's pick

Golf and Country Club Bled

Europe’s most beautiful golf course is ringed by alpine mountains. Frequented by royals and diplomats when it was founded in 1937, it was abandoned during WWII, and then rebuilt in 1972.

Kidriceva 10c, 011-386-4-537-77-11, www.golf.bled.si
Tags: golf | things to do | outdoors

High Tatras

Serious trekkers should explore the alpine peaks of Slovakia's High Tatras mountains. Wilderness Travel runs sensational hiking trips there as well as in the Caucasus mountains and along the Dalmatian Coast's rugged limestone cliffs.

Wilderness Travel, 800-368-2794, www.wildernesstravel.com
Tags: hiking | things to do | outdoors

Holland America

For those who would rather ease their way into small-ship cruising, Holland America's mid-size fleet offers spacious cabins and a truly intimate experience while retaining some of the hallmarks (and ease) of big-ship cruising. 2009 Smart Luxury Award winner

, 877-932-4259, www.hollandamerica.com
Tags: cruise | smart luxury winner | great value | things to do | river cruise | boats and cruise

Monastery of the Caves

A Kiev visit must include a trip to the Monastery of the Caves, a pillar of the Orthodox Christian church that attracts pilgrims and sightseers alike. Above ground sprawls a complex of churches and museums – of these, don’t miss the Museum of Micro Miniatures, where one peers at the exhibits through microscopes. Visitors don headscarves and use flickering candles to explore the underground portion of the monastery, an intricate web of tunnels, dates from 1051. For centuries monks sequestered themselves in the nooks and crannies, and today the shadowy maze is lined with their mummified bodies inside glass coffins, black-robed monks, and clusters of praying women. The effect is wonderfully haunting. 2010 Smart Luxury Award winner

25 Sichnevogo Povstannya,
Tags: smart luxury winner | things to do

Na Parkene Beer Pub

Go to the Na Parkene Beer Pub at the Plzen Brewery Museum, the only place you can try the sublime, unfiltered Pilsner Urquell.

Plzen Brewery Museum, U Prazdroje 7, 011-420-377-062-888, www.pilsner-urquell.cz (Czech only)
Tags: things to do | brewery

State Opera House

Budapest’s Opera House is a Neo-Renaissance masterpiece. Home to both the State Opera and the State Ballet, it’s lavishly decorated with marble columns, ornate sculptures, vibrant frescoes, and four tiers of gold-gilded boxes.

Andrassy ut. 22, 011-36-1-353-0171, www.opera.hu
Tags: things to do | architecture | history

Warsaw Rising Museum

One of the best museums in Poland, Warsaw Rising documents the years of the Nazi occupation from 1939 to 1945. Exhibitions include replicas of German bunkers and printing machines from the 1940s.

ul. Grzybowska 79, 011-48-22-539-79-05, www.1944.pl
Tags: family | things to do | history

Wawel Cathedral

Before assuming the papacy, Pope John Paul II was the archbishop at Krakow’s lavish Wawel Cathedral. Wawel Castle, the medieval residence of Polish royalty, is adjacent to the cathedral.

, 011-12- 422 51 55 ext. 219, www.wawel.krakow.pl/en
Tags: family | things to do | architecture | history | religious

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