Balkans Travel Guide: Where to Travel in the Balkans
With soothing scenes of beauty, beautiful beaches, snow-capped mountains, links to ancient history, pristine lakes, buildings of medieval architecture, well known and small unspoiled islands as well as idyllic villages, the Balkans is one of the most wonderful places in the world I love to visit.
Popularly known as The Balkan Peninsula, it is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and the Marmara Sea to the south, the Adriatic Sea to the west and the Black Sea to the east. The rivers Danube, Sava, and Kupa are usually referred to as its northern boundary. It is endowed with natural beauty and has umpteen numbers of pristine beaches, mountains, and historic settlements. In short, it is a traveler’s paradise and has much to offer in terms of exquisite holiday memories.
Did you know: One of the most famous personalities to have come out of the Balkans is Mother Teresa, now referred to as Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She was actually born in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia before she moved to India.
Here is a list of where to travel in the Balkans.
1. Bar, Montenegro
If you love to walk along beautiful, long stoney or sandy beaches, then consider heading to Bar, a picturesque, historic town situated on the Adriatic coast. And there is no better way to get there than hopping on to trainThe Balkan Express and then taking the ride from Belgrade to Bar.
This route is considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful train routes passing through idyllic villages, mountains, and valleys that are so soothing to the eye. When in Bar, don’t miss the 2000-year-old Old Olive Tree of Mirovica, King Nikola’s Palace or anyone of the many fortresses or simply take a stroll through the old town of Bar.
2. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Apart from great beaches and breathtaking landscapes, Dubrovnik in Croatia boasts of many old buildings and is protected by UNESCO.The oldest arboretum in the world, Arboretum Trsteno, is situated here and dates back to before 1492. It has many Renaissance buildings that are considered architectural heritage. Apart from this the city also has walls around it and is dotted with towers and turrets, but don’t worry there are also loads of places to sleep close by.
While in Dubrovnik, do not miss a chance to sample some of the local delicacies served in the city’s exotic restaurants and in case summer finds you here, you will surely fall in love with some of the enchanting beaches (head to Orebic) in the world as you savor sunrise and sunset in the most ethereal manner. Beaches such as Copacabana Beach, Lapad Beach and Cava Beach are just a few that will not make you forget this city. After a day of exploring, maybe you’d like to stay in nature and go glamping here or one of these Croatian unique hotels here.
3. Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
If you are one of those who like to just put up your feet and look out on vast expanses of water, then Sveti Stefan is just the place for you. A beautiful island resort on the Adriatic, Sveti Stefan boasts of pink soft sandy beaches, historic villages and crystal clear water.
Ever wondered why this region is one of the most advertised tourist destinations in the world? It is because of the serene environment and the majestic landscapes as those found in here.
4. Lake Bled, Slovenia
A medieval Bled Castle overlooking a serene lake in the backdrop of snow capped mountains offers you a great panoramic view of the Julian Alps and the entire surrounding area.
5. Maramures, Romania
If you would like to take a walk back in time, then you should think of spending a few days in Maramures – or any place in Romania. This area offers you absolutely picturesque sceneries and is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still followed.
The rural culture and crafts of the Romanian Dacian ancestors has been preserved to a great extent by the intimate villages. Simply put, it is here that you’ll get the closest to uncovering the true heritage of Romania.
6. Rugova Mountains, Kosovo
Known as the Albanian Alps, the Rugova Mountains are a proclaimed National Park and are very popular among winter sports enthusiasts. The abundance of waterfalls, canyons, lakes, valleys, caves and tall peaks offer amazing views to the hikers, climbers, and backpackers.
Whether you are the hiking or hunting kind, Rugova in Kosovo has got you covered. The cool ambiance is enough to help you make some unforgettable memories.
7. Ani Ghost City, Turkey
A magnificent medieval city that was abandoned and forgotten and is now in ruins. Known as the City of Thousand Gates and City of Forty Gates, Ani has much to offer in terms of beautiful churches and minarets dating back to 961.
Local volcanic basalt, a sort of tufa stone is what was used in the construction of all the structures that you find in this city. Apart from the fact that it is easily carved, it also comes in a variety of vibrant colors, from creamy yellow to rose-red, to jet black that makes the structures look beautiful.
8. Ohrid, the Republic of Macedonia
What makes this place a captivating site is that Ohrid is one of only 28 sites that are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage that are Cultural as well as Natural sites.
Ohrid is interestingly referred to as the Jerusalem of the Balkans and once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year! Situated on the crystal clear emerald lake called Ohrid, this town also boasts several ancient monasteries.
9. Dhërmi, Albania
Dhermi is a relatively small, nondescript village with an amazing turquoise coastline and is built on a slope of the Ceraunian Mountains. You could stroll through the magnificent beaches or look up on one of the churches. Apart from the tranquility, this village now also offers some exciting night clubs to keep you entertained.
10. Meteora, Greece
The name Metéora literally translates to “middle of the sky” or “in the heavens above.” Huge monolithic pillars and rock formations abound here. Want to experience a slice of heaven in the Balkans? Meteora is your best bet.
One of the most visited sites around Greece is the six monasteries that are built on natural conglomerate pillars, at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios River and the Pindus Mountains. The view of the mountains from these monasteries certainly makes it a must-see destination.
This list just mentions only a few of the best places to stay and explore in the Balkans. TheBalkans offers any tourist an amazingly wide variety of choices to pick from. If you are planning your next holiday, do consider the Balkans and you will realize that it is indeed one of the most diverse parts of the world.
So tell us, where are you going to go first?