Budget Europe 2008

by Ralph Martin


If high culture is your game but the $250 orchestra seats at La Scala seem a little steep, then skip over to Eastern Europe. Cultural bargains abound behind the former Iron Curtain, and the institutions—museums, opera houses, symphonic halls—are real centers of national pride and symbols of renewal. Prices aren't in the fire-sale league they were 15 years ago, but Paris- and Milan-style gouging is thankfully absent here. Dresden's rebuilt skyline (pictured), the most voluptuous and baroque around and the subject of an entire school of painting, is free for the viewing. Warsaw's world-class Polish National Opera has $6 day-of seats. The Hungarian National Gallery, another international treasure, and Bratislava's Slovak National Gallery both offer $5 adult admission. It doesn't hurt that most Eastern European countries are outside the euro zone, at least for now. This applies even in the former East Germany, which is in the euro zone but whose attitude, and prices, remains stamped with Socialist patina. And it's not just the cost of culture that's cheap: The whole package, from hotel to eating to taxis, will run a lot less in Warsaw than in Vienna or Munich.

Polish National Opera
Tel: 48 22 692 02 00

Hungarian National Gallery
Tel: 36 20 4397 325

Slovak National Gallery
Tel: 421 2 5443 4587

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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