Hungry for adventure, but at a budget price? These days, traveling through the Balkans is one of the cheaper options for backpackers.
As a result, ideas of wild, frenetic trips bring many to scramble through Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia, Moldova, bits of Turkey, parts of Greece, and Romania. The aim? Delicious food, gorgeous scenery, and gritty, vibrant cities.
Depending on what you’re looking for, traveling through the Balkans has nearly everything you could want: coastlines and islands, rivers, canyons, and mountains galore. Plus, the Balkans feature Ottoman, Byzantine, Roman, and Yugoslavian influences, making it a marvellous historical destination. You’re bound to learn something along the way.
How To Get to the Balkans
Naturally, the best way to whip over to the Balkan countries is by air. A budget airline (with wicked purple and pink branding) called Wizz Air connects the Balkans with multiple cities in Europe.
Once in the Balkans, traveling via bus or train is the way to go. Unfortunately, as these countries aren’t yet as traveled as other destinations, finding reliable timetables can be tricky. The schedules posted at various bus and train stations might not be up to date, so make sure you leave yourself some breathing room.
A Balkan trip requires a stop-over in Croatia — which features a coastline of 1,104 miles, along with 1,245 islands.
Dubrovnik is a must-stop, with a medieval old town along the water. Croatia’s marvelous beauty is featured in Krka National Park. Further, the city of Pula is located far south — a perfect stop as you move toward Bosnia and Montenegro.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has a strange mix of Ottoman and Hungarian history, with medieval castles, majestic mountains, and glistening waterfalls. Plus, don’t forget to stop in the unforgettable city of Sarajevo, a vibrant city on the Miljacka River.
The teensy country of Montenegro packs a healthy punch of beautiful beaches, frenetic and fun locals, in destinations like Sveti Stefan and Kotor. Don’t miss the Ostrog Monastery for stunning mountain views.
West of the Black Sea, find Bulgaria — a place humming with vibrant cities and artistic people and sweeping mountains. Make sure you check out Plovdiv — a bit off the beaten track. Due to its cheap rents and eclectic culture, it features an interesting, artistic crew of expats and locals.
Greece doesn’t necessarily need a boost in the tourism department — but traveling through the Balkans wouldn’t be complete without it. Thessaloniki, located in the north, is a lesser-traveled city, but no less beautiful, pulsing with friendly humans, delicious foods, and some of the best coffee culture in the world.