Magazine article Newsweek

Travel: When East Joins West

Magazine article Newsweek

Travel: When East Joins West

Article excerpt

Byline: Michelle Jana Chan

Eastern Europe has never attracted as many tourists as the West. But that could change after May 1, when eight former Soviet-bloc countries join the European Union. When is the best time to go? TIP SHEET rates the capitals (1 = go now; 2 = wait a year; 3 = needs more time; 4 = too late).

1 Tallinn, Estonia: This fairy-tale town of red-roofed houses and cobblestone streets is one of the world leaders in wireless technology. Stay at the Three Sisters (from $295; ). Feast on wild boar and brown bear washed down with honey beer at Olde Hansa (011-372-627-9020). Pick up a woolen hat from the old ladies knitting under the arches on Muurivahe ($11).

3 Riga, Latvia: Stay at the contemporaryHotel Bergs (from $95; ). Explore the famed art nouveau district, where gargoyles watch over crumbling apartment buildings. Stop by the Laima shop at 16 Smilsu Street for some creamy chocolate. There's not a big social scene, however.

1 Vilnius, Lithuania: With its vibrant student life, Vilnius feels more like a campus than a capital. Check into the Stikliai Hotel (from $195; ). Make sure to catch a basketball game--Lithuania is the European champ (schedules at ).

2 Warsaw, Poland: Visit the Jewish Historical Society in the Old Ghetto and stop by the Warsaw Historical Museum to watch original footage of Warsaw turned to rubble--and then rebuilt. Stay at the art deco Hotel Rialto (from $210; hotelrialto. …

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