Central Europe

Central Europe forms the heart of the continent, and is home to some of Europe’s most prosperous economies and cities. The Alps acts a transition zone between the Latin, Germanic and Slavic cultures, which all call the region home.

While ethnically distinct, the countries of Central Europe share important historical and cultural connections, especially through the German and Austro-Hungarian empires that pre-date WW1. All but Switzerland and tiny Liechtenstein are member states of the European Union.

Because of its rich heritage of nationalities, it is home a number of distinct languages. German has the largest number of native speakers in the region and acts as the single “official” language of Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, and roughly 2/3 of Switzerland.

Some countries are predominantly Roman Catholic (Austria, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia), while others are mixed Catholic and Protestant (Germany, Hungary and Switzerland).

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Europe (Central) (photo by Wikimedia Commons)

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Countries in this region:

Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Austria

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September

 AustriaAustria is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Today's Austria is what was once the German speaking core and center of power for the large multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire with its imperial capital in Vienna. Austria's terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps. This has made Austria, along with neighboring Switzerland, the winter sports capital of Europe. The mountain scenery is also popular with summer travelers, who visit its historic cities and villages.
 
A Cultural Atmosphere includes both the historic (eg, landmark town centers) and the contemporary (music, nightlife, etc).

Cultural Interests tend to be:
(a) indoors-oriented, and therefore not as linked to weather conditions for enjoyment
(b) relatively physically accessible, while also not being physically demanding.

Czech Republic

Atmosphere: Culture    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September, October

 Czech RepublicThe Czech Republic, a landlocked country in Central Europe, has long been a cultural mix of Czechs, Germans, and Slovaks, and other peoples. This has resulted in unusual social interactions and synergies that are represented in the country’s hundreds of ancient castles, monasteries and stately mansions, and landmark historic towns. Geographically, the country is divided into Bohemia, containing mostly low mountains, and Moravia, in the eastern part of the country, and also quite hilly.
 
 
A Cultural Atmosphere includes both the historic (eg, landmark town centers) and the contemporary (music, nightlife, etc).

Cultural Interests tend to be:
(a) indoors-oriented, and therefore not as linked to weather conditions for enjoyment
(b) relatively physically accessible, while also not being physically demanding.

Germany

Atmosphere: Culture    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September, October

 GermanyGermany is the most populous member state in the European Union. Known for its rich cultural history, Germany has been home to a diversity of influential artists, philosophers, musicians, entrepreneurs, scientists and inventors. Geographically, Germany is traversed by several major rivers interspersed with quaint towns and villages. Elevation ranges from the mountains of the Alps in the south to the shores of the North Sea in the northwest and the Baltic Sea in the northeast.
 
A Cultural Atmosphere includes both the historic (eg, landmark town centers) and the contemporary (music, nightlife, etc).

Cultural Interests tend to be:
(a) indoors-oriented, and therefore not as linked to weather conditions for enjoyment
(b) relatively physically accessible, while also not being physically demanding.

Hungary

Atmosphere: Culture    
Best Weather: May, June, September, October

 HungaryHungary is a landlocked country located in Central Europe. Hungarians, or Magyars, are the descendants of several tribes from Central Asia, who were believed to be nomadic horsemen that came to Central Europe in the 9th century. Hungary's geography is defined by its two main waterways, the Danube and Tisza rivers. Among Hungary’s unusual geographic features are the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest natural grassland in Europe (Hortobágy).
 
 
A Cultural Atmosphere includes both the historic (eg, landmark town centers) and the contemporary (music, nightlife, etc).

Cultural Interests tend to be:
(a) indoors-oriented, and therefore not as linked to weather conditions for enjoyment
(b) relatively physically accessible, while also not being physically demanding.

Poland

Atmosphere: Culture    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September

 PolandPoland, which experienced vast destruction experienced during World War II, managed to preserve much of its cultural wealth, as shown in its 14 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It contains diverse landscapes, interwoven with small-scale traditional farms, castle ruins, and quaint old villages. Geographically it varies from the long Baltic seacoast in the northwest, marked by spits, coastal lakes and dunes, to a hilly central area, and continuing south to the Tatra Mountains.
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Slovakia

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September

 SlovakiaSlovakia, a landlocked country in Central Europe, is well-known for its many castles and chateaus, ranging from simple ruins to well-preserved habitable castles with furnishings. There are also numerous gothic and baroque cities and towns, and well-preserved examples of wooden folk architecture, including churches made entirely out of wood. Much of Slovakia’s terrain is rugged and mountainous, especially in the middle and northern areas. The lowlands are in the south, dominated by the Danube and its tributaries.
 
 
Combination Atmosphere destinations combine elements of both cultural and natural destinations, where this combination is itself essential to the travel experience. Common examples are Archaeological Sites (where culture is usually experienced outdoors), Scenic Local Markets (where indigenous cultures interact outdoors), Hotsprings and Vineyard Areas (where nature provides the raw materials but humans create the surroundings), and Unique Cultural Landscapes (where humans and nature interact in innovative ways, as in the elaborate rice terracing systems of Asia).

Combination Interests typically fall somewhere in the middle of the three types of primary interests in terms of
(a) how climate-dependent they are
(b) how accessible and physically demanding they are.

Switzerland

Atmosphere: Combination    
Best Weather: May, June, July, August, September

 SwitzerlandSwitzerland is a landlocked country in Central Europe. While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, it also has a central plateau area of rolling hills, plains, and large lakes. The southern half of the country is more mountainous than the northern half, and far more sparsely populated, but it includes some of Switzerland’s most spectacular alpine scenery. Switzerland is officially a multilingual country, with German, French, and Italian both official languages and widely spoken in various Swiss regions.