I know. Believe me, I know. You are probably thinking, Eastern Europe as a tourist destination? Is she for real? Well, I’m here to tell you that yes, Eastern Europe is a globetrotter’s delight and worthy of being on your travel bucket list. Sista to sista, I wouldn’t lead you astray. I am speaking from experience as a self-proclaimed world traveler who has journeyed to over 60 countries and counting, lived in nine, and currently resides in Armenia, one of the countries on this list. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.
The confusion is understood, though. Of all the places to pick up and go to, especially during a global pandemic, this part of Europe might not initially peak one’s interest. But if you are looking to experience distinct types of cultural travel, taste new wines, consume one-of-a-kind culinary delights, take in some stunning landscapes and enjoy something slightly off the beaten path, Eastern Europe provides that.
Check out three of my favorite destinations from this distinct part of the world, what they have to offer Black women with wanderlust, and why they may be the next best travel destinations for you.
Known For: Delicious food, legendary hospitality, ancient (religious) history
What Black Girls Will Love: Breathtaking views, excellent wine, and dollars really stretch here
Armenia, a small nation nestled in the heart of the Caucasus region of Eastern Europe, is a travel destination not to be overlooked. It boasts a rich cultural heritage, ancient sights and ruins, delicious cuisine, and legendary hospitality. As the first country to adopt Christianity, Armenia built the first-ever Christian cathedral known as “Echmiadzin,” which still stands and is an active place of worship today. For those up for a little adventure, you can take a ride on the longest aerial tramway in the world at 5.8 km or 3.6 miles overlooking a beautiful gorge and the Vorotan river valley among other noteworthy sites in Armenia’s southern region. For the foodies, Armenia does not disappoint with a culinary tradition that utilizes a wide array of spices, herbs, and wildflowers, many of which are indigenous to the region. Armenia’s famous “lavash” pita bread can be found on the UNESCO “Intangible Cultural Heritage” list.
Known For: Lush green landscapes, abundant forests, basketball
What Black Girls Will Love: Seascapes, national parks, quaint villages (all perfect for a great photo)
Lithuania, another small nation situated on the Baltic Sea, is a must-visit traveler’s destination as well. Nature lovers will appreciate all that it has to offer with tons of beaches, forests, lakes, and national parks. Aukštaitija National Park is the oldest of Lithuania’s national parks and was established in 1974. More than 70 percent of the park is covered in forest and in some parts, you can find trees over 200 years old. The park is most famous for its rich biodiversity in both plant and animal life. For the history buffs looking for a little “old world” flavor, many of Lithuania’s towns and villages have quaint central squares that immediately transport visitors back to medieval times. The architecture and design in these places feature beautiful and unique facades, windows, and other style details that cannot be found or as easily observed in other parts of the world.
Known For: Global history, beautiful cities, pierogis
What Black Girls Will Love: Grand castles, stunning nature, amber jewelry
Poland is known for many things and among the most appealing to travelers are its gorgeous cities, rich history, and its traditions. Like many places in greater Europe, Poland is very westernized and very modern, but what sets it apart is its continued affinity for the “old ways.” You will see these traditional values reflected in aspects of urban and rural life, the food, culture, and in the people themselves. In a nutshell, Poland is the perfect combination of old-world charm and modernity. There is so much to do, from visiting the famed Christmas markets to enjoying tours of the Malbork Palace, the largest castle in the world. There’s also the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the gripping World War II historical sites, and much more. Poland has a little something for everyone.
What to Know Before You Go – Despite things opening for travel and tourism once again, COVID is still a major consideration when weighing your travel options. For the latest health and travel safety information, please visit the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) before booking international travel. They all share information about travel requirements for entry into specific countries around the world. Being informed in advance can help you prepare for and navigate international travel, and fully enjoy your trip while still being as safe as possible.