You've done London, Paris, and Rome. You've been to "up-and-coming" Prague and Budapest. Think you've seen the best of Europe? Think again.
While even Prague is pricey and crowded these days, there remain many affordable European cities rarely visited by American tourists. Here are our picks for the 10 cities that should make your "must-visit" list.
"One-third Moscow, one-third Helsinki, and one-third Minas Tirith," says Harvard Law student Mike Bern of Tallinn, an "up-and-coming city with a beautiful history." Estonia's capital, Tallinn, is less than two decades removed from Communist rule. Yet the casual visitor touring the city's old town would be hard-pressed to find evidence of that era. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city center is one of the few remaining fully walled and intact cities in Europe. Winding cobblestone streets, stone churches, and private residences from the 13th to 15th centuries are among the many architectural highlights—not the ubiquitous gray block housing found in other former Soviet cities.
Tallinn also reflects its Tsarist and Soviet past in other ways. Peter the Great captured the city in 1710 and it remained under Tsarist Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. You can visit Peter the Great's cottage, where he stayed before he built his palace, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which was built in 1900 and features icons and mosaics from this time period. Soviet times are not remembered with fondness in Estonia, but some fascinating relics remain, including the city's infamous KGB headquarters and the Soviet Soldier Monument. Those interested in learning more about Tallinn's Soviet history should also check out the recently opened Museum of Occupation and Fight for Freedom.
Tallinn is not quite a dirt-cheap destination, but it remains more affordable than most other European cities. To put it in perspective, Bern says "it's less expensive than London or Paris, but more expensive than Poland or the Czech Republic." Accommodations range in price from affordable ($18) to expensive ($185 or more). A comprehensive listing of accredited accommodations can be found on the city's official tourism website.
Getting to Tallinn from New York costs about $400 to $1,000, before taxes and fees, depending on the time of year. Generally, flying in the summer is most expensive while the colder months bring lower prices. For more information about visiting Tallinn, go to the city's tourism portal.
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