Rick Steves moves the Czech Republic from Eastern to Central Europe

The popular writer will rebrand the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and other countries to Central Europe when his new guides come out later this year.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 30.04.2023 15:25:00 (updated on 01.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

While Prague is geographically in the heart of Europe, the Czech Republic has long suffered after 40 years behind the Iron Curtain as part of Czechoslovakia. Despite the protest of locals, many still consider the country to be part of Eastern Europe. But perhaps it's time for that designation to be officially dropped.

"Culturally, economically, and socially, we’re closer to the West," Czech President Petr Pavel told Expats.cz last December.

"We were part of the 'East' for only 40 years, but the rest of our history is much more closely linked to the West [...] I see the position of the Czech Republic as part of the world to which it traditionally belonged."

American travel writer Rick Steves, who has been producing popular guide books since the 1970s, finally agrees. The Czech Republic was still a part of Rick Steves' Eastern Europe when the 2023 edition came out late last year, but the 2024 version will place the country and many of its neighbors in a new publication: Rick Steves' Central Europe.

“From a marketing, publishing, and tourism point of view, we call Central Europe ‘Eastern Europe’ and that’s a hangover from the Cold War,” Steves told Travel + Leisure last week. “That was a 50-year anomaly. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic got filed away in our minds as Eastern Europe, but that’s really Central Europe.”

In a Facebook post, Rick Steves' Eastern Europe co-author Cameron Hewitt explains the reasons for the change. The Eastern Europe designation is an outdated Soviet-era relic, he argues, and it's time to set things right.

"For years, anytime I traveled around Prague, Budapest, or Poland to update our Rick Steves “Eastern Europe” guidebook, locals would chuckle and say, 'I think you have the wrong book.'" Hewitt writes.


"So what, exactly, are we supposed to call that beautiful, fascinating, and underappreciated hunk of Europe that lies between Germany and the former USSR? Locals call it 'Central Europe.' And if you really scrutinize a map of Europe — all of Europe, from Iberia to the Urals — the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, and their neighbors are, unmistakably, in the dead-center of Europe."

"Prague, the showcase city of 'Eastern' Europe, lies to the west of Vienna, Stockholm, and most of Italy."

The first edition of Rick Steves' Central Europe, which will include the Czech Republic and its neighbors (save for Germany, which has its own dedicated guide), will be available from November 2023. Until then, you can find the Czech Republic within the previous edition of Rick Steves' Eastern Europe.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more