Planning your next holidays in Balkans?
If you’re drawn to rich history, diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and undiscovered gems, the Balkans is a destination that deserves your attention.
In this guide, I’ll take you on a journey through this fascinating region, highlighting 15 must-visit spots that promise to make your Balkans holidays unforgettable.
After traveling through the majority of the Balkans countries, I came up with this comprehensive list of the best places to visit, so be sure to read on to discover everything that this beautiful region has to offer!
HOLIDAYS IN BALKANS – OVERVIEW
Let’s start with the logistics including where are the Balkans, how to get around, the best time to visit Balkans, and much more!
WHERE ARE THE BALKANS?
The Balkans, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic region in southeastern Europe.
It’s bounded by the Adriatic Sea to the west, the Mediterranean Sea (including the Ionian and Aegean seas) and the Marmara Sea to the south, and the Black Sea to the east.
Its northern boundary is often given as the Danube, Sava, and Kupa Rivers.
The Balkans includes many countries which are Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Romania, Croatia, and Slovenia.
HOW TO GET TO THE BALKANS?
The Balkans is easily accessible from many parts of Europe, offering a rich tapestry of cultures, history, and natural beauty.
The best way to get to the Balkans and explore around is to fly to Sofia. Sofia International Airport (SOF) is well-connected with major cities worldwide.
Airlines such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Air France, and Turkish Airlines, among others, operate regular flights to Sofia.
Once you’ve landed in Sofia, consider taking a guided tour with a reputable company like Travel Talk Tours.
They offer various tours that explore different parts of the Balkans, providing deep insights into the region’s history, culture, and natural wonders.
BOOK NOW: 9 DAY BEST OF BALKANS TOUR
If you prefer to enjoy your holidays in the Balkans at your own pace and on your own schedule, renting a car is a good option, and the region’s roads are generally in good condition.
I always recommend booking a rental car online with Discover Cars as they offer the best rates!
Car Rental – Search, Compare & Save!
HOW TO GET AROUND FOR YOUR HOLIDAYS IN BALKANS?
The best way to get around the Balkans is to book a Balkans itinerary with Travel Talk Tours, which is what I personally did on my Balkans holidays.
You’ll get to visit 7 countries in 9 days, see the best spots around the Balkans, meet new friends, and have a ton of fun with a knowledgeable tour guide.
Alternatively, you could fly into any of the Balkans countries, rent a car, and drive around the region on your own.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE BALKANS?
The optimal time to visit the Balkans depends on your personal preferences and planned activities.
Generally, the most pleasant times are during spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is typically mild and the landscapes are at their most vibrant.
Summers (July and August) can be hot and crowded but are perfect for beachgoers.
Winters are cold, especially in mountainous areas, but they’re great for winter sports.
HOW MANY COUNTRIES IN THE BALKANS?
There are about 12 countries considered part of the Balkans.
These are Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Parts of Turkey and Italy are also located within the geographical region of the Balkans.
HOW LONG TO SPEND IN THE BALKANS?
7-10 days is a decent amount of time to get a taste of what they’re all about.
But if you can spare a bit longer, then definitely go for 2 weeks. This will give you enough time to discover some real hidden gems that you might otherwise miss out on.
Plus, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet other travelers, go deeper into each country, and soak in the vibrant energy of the Balkans.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT ON YOUR BALKANS HOLIDAYS
Now that we’ve covered all the logistics, it’s time to walk you through the best places to visit on your holidays in the Balkans.
From the popular Dubrovnik in Croatia and Sofia in Bulgaria to beautiful cities like Shkodër in Albania and Kotor in Montenegro, you’re in for a treat!
As Bulgaria’s capital city with a population of over 1.2 million, Sofia boasts stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and a rich history.
The city is surrounded by mountains, giving it a unique, picturesque backdrop that you won’t find in many European cities.
3 of the must-visit spots in the city are the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Vitosha Mountain, and the National Palace of Culture.
The cathedral is an ornate, awe-inspiring tribute to the Orthodox faith.
Vitosha Mountain offers panoramic views of the city and is perfect for hiking enthusiasts, and the Palace of Culture is an impressive event venue that hosts everything from art exhibits to live music performances.
Sofia’s people are friendly and welcoming, and most natives speak English, making it easy for you to navigate around the town.
Apart from visiting the different attractions, I highly recommend taking a walk around the city at night, with bars and restaurants open until late to enjoy the energy and ambiance.
Full Blog Post: Best Things To Do In Sofia
Belgrade, Serbia is one of the most vibrant cities in the Balkans and is not to be missed on your Balkans holiday itinerary.
With a population of over 1.5 million, it’s the largest city in Serbia and offers an exciting mix of history, culture, and nightlife.
There are several attractions worth checking out, but three of the best things to do in Belgrade include exploring the Historic District of Stari Grad, visiting the Kalemegdan Fortress, and experiencing the Skadarlija Bohemian Quarter.
The area has a dynamic energy that is palpable, and its people are famously friendly and welcoming to visitors, which is definitely an added bonus.
Whether you enjoy sipping coffee in trendy cafes or exploring the dynamic nightlife, Belgrade has an exciting atmosphere, and it’s no wonder why it’s one of the best places for your holidays in Balkans.
Ljubljana, Slovenia is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered on your Balkans holidays.
This charming city, known for its sustainability and cleanliness, is the perfect destination for all types of travelers.
With a population of only 300,000, Ljubljana is small enough to explore on foot, yet big enough to offer a range of activities and experiences.
Don’t miss out on visiting the iconic Tromostovje Triple Bridge, a picturesque spot to snap some photos and take in the local culture.
Ljubljana Castle, situated atop a hill overlooking the city, is another must-visit destination for panoramic views and historic architecture.
Finally, take a stroll or bike ride down the Ljubljanica River, which winds its way through the heart of this charming city.
When it comes to the locals, Slovenians are known for their friendly and welcoming nature. You’ll feel right at home as you explore all that Ljubljana has to offer.
Overall, it’s the perfect destination for those looking for a blend of historical charm, outdoor activities, and a warm welcome from the locals.
LAKE BLED, SLOVENIA
Lake Bled in Slovenia used to be a hidden gem not overly crowded with tourists, however, given how special and unique it is, it’s without wonder why it became so popular.
Lake Bled is a stunning glacial lake located in the northwestern part of Slovenia, surrounded by impressive mountains, adding to its already beauty.
It is further characterized by its small island, where the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary sits at the center.
Don’t forget to visit the iconic castle perched atop the cliffs of Bled Island, accessible only by traditional Pletna boats.
And when hunger strikes, a meal at Bled Castle Restaurant is a must! This spot offers visitors a panoramic view of the Julian Alps and the city of Bled.
What to say, Lake Bled is just one place you shouldn’t skip when planning holidays in the Balkans!
SARAJEVO, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Sarajevo is a city like no other, steeped in rich culture, history, and natural beauty. It’s the perfect place to visit on your holidays in Balkans.
The local people are known for their hospitality and warmth, and you’ll be greeted with open arms wherever you go.
Sarajevo boasts a wealth of historical landmarks, such as the old town and the Latin Bridge where World War I began. Apart from that, a visit to the Sarajevo War Tunnel is a must.
Other than the historical spots in town, you can also indulge in the city’s delectable cuisine, with influences from the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires.
The best dishes you can have are Cevapi (grilled meat patties), Burek (stuffed pie), and Dolma and Sarma (stuffed vine leaves).
All in all, Sarajevo is a must-visit destination for those seeking a unique and unforgettable experience in the Balkans.
MOSTAR, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Mostar, located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a destination that should definitely be on your radar. This city has a rich history and is home to the iconic Stari Most Bridge.
A fun fact about the bridge is that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can even jump from it if you’re feeling brave enough!
The locals are friendly and always eager to welcome visitors with open arms, which, despite their history, is so heartwarming to see.
For curious travelers, take a stroll through the city’s old town and indulge in the local cuisine. The cevapi, a grilled dish of minced meat, is a must-try delicacy and pairs well with a cold locally brewed beer.
You can also visit the Kravice Waterfalls which are a short 1-hour drive away from Mostar.
Overall, a trip to Mostar is an experience in itself – a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
TREBINJE, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA
Trebinje, which is nestled about 2 hours from Mostar on the way to Montenegro and Albania, is a hidden gem, a not-so-popular destination that I couldn’t recommend enough.
I traveled there as part of the Travel Talk itinerary and wow, was it worth it!
Tucked away in a valley surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards, this town boasts an old-world charm that will enchant any traveler looking to get off the beaten path.
Explore the historic sites, sample the local wines, and relax in the warm Mediterranean climate.
As you wander through the winding streets, be sure to stop at the town’s iconic clock tower where you can take in panoramic views of bustling cafes and terracotta rooftops.
Among the best sights in town are the Hercegovacka Gracanica Monastery, the incredible Old Town, and the Hercegovina Museum, which are excellent spots to learn about the local history and make the most of your time here.
Ditch Your Backpack, Get a Suitcase!
Dubrovnik is the next stop on this list of places to visit on your holidays in Balkans, and it’s a paradise for all travelers, from backpackers to luxury vagabonds and everyone in between.
With its stunning historical architecture and crystal-clear waters, this city will leave you speechless.
Known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik boasts an impressive old town that is surrounded by ancient walls that date back to the 10th century.
Take a stroll along the Stradun, the city’s main street, and immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of Croatia.
There’s more – if you’re a Game Of Thrones lover, you’ll have a great time here exploring the filming locations and recreating the scenes.
Just be prepared to fall in love with this enchanting city and its warm and friendly people.
View All: Best Game Of Thrones Tours In Dubrovnik
Let me tell you, Zagreb City in Croatia is the ultimate destination for any Balkans holiday.
Not only is it the most populated city in Croatia, but it’s also the cultural hub of the country.
The city boasts countless museums, galleries, and theaters, making it the perfect spot for art lovers.
And if you’re a foodie, you won’t be disappointed either. Zagreb offers a plethora of traditional Croatian dishes that will leave your taste buds begging for more.
Traveling for parties? Don’t miss a night out at the famous Mint Club, and epic spot with excellent drinks and delicious food.
All in all, while the other places to visit in Balkans are worth it, Zagreb takes it to a whole new level, and you will easily fall in love with the city!
READ MORE: Where To Stay In Zagreb
Another place to include in your Balkans trip is Split in Croatia.
The city is built around the palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian and it’s seriously one of the best places to visit.
Not to mention the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea that you can soak up while lounging on some of the most stunning beaches in the world.
And let’s not forget about the food – fresh seafood, homemade pasta, and local wine. After the trip, you’ll get hungry just thinking about it.
The history, the scenery, the culture – it’s all there waiting for you in Split. Don’t miss out on this epic travel destination.
READ MORE: 25 Best Split Tours To Join
Ready to experience one of the most unique places on your holidays in Balkans? Kotor, Montenegro is hard to beat for multiple reasons.
This well-preserved medieval town located on the Bay of Kotor will sweep you off your feet with its rugged mountains and narrow alleyways packed with history.
For those who prefer to stay on more level ground, Kotor’s old town is full of winding, narrow streets, charming squares, and small cafes, perfect for getting lost in and soaking up the atmosphere.
As well as its natural beauty, Kotor is famous for its architecture. Many of the buildings here have stood for hundreds of years, each with its own story to tell.
The town is also home to a host of historic sites, including the ancient Fortifications and St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, both of which are definitely worth a visit.
In addition, Kotor has so much to offer for everyone, from hiking up to the beautiful Kotor Fortress to exploring the old town and its labyrinthine streets, there’s always something to do.
In summary, Kotor is a fantastic addition to any Balkans vacation.
Albania is not nearly as popular as Croatia or Slovenia, but Shkodër is one of the spots you surely don’t want to skip.
You see, there’s so much to see and do in Shkodër, from exploring the ancient Rozafa Castle to taking a walk around the picturesque Lake Skadar.
This city is also home to the Marubi National Museum of Photography, which boasts an extensive collection of over 500,000 photos.
But the best part about Shkodër is its affordable prices that offer an array of budget-friendly accommodation and dining options.
You should also consider taking a day trip to nearby Kotor, which I mentioned above, and Tirana, which is 100km away which I’ll elaborate further in the next section.
As the capital of Albania, Tirana offers the perfect mix of modernity and tradition. You’ll find that Tirana has endless attractions for entertainment, gastronomy, and history.
The city boasts a variety of museums, including the National Museum and Bunk’Art Museum.
In terms of architecture, the Skanderbeg Square provides a stunning example of Albanian style.
Also, the city’s vibrant nightlife is an unforgettable experience, so make sure to check out Venue Dance Club for a night on the town.
Besides the historical sites and popular bars, Tirana is also home to multiple parks and recreational areas like the Grand Park, the Botanic Garden, and the National Park of Dajti Mountain.
Just like the rest of Albania, Tirana is a budget-friendly travel destination, where you can enjoy delicious cuisine and comfortable accommodations without breaking the bank.
The trip to Tirana will introduce you to a unique Balkan culture that you won’t find anywhere else and I highly recommend adding it to your Balkans holidays itinerary.
LAKE OHRID, NORTH MACEDONIA
Another not-so-famous travel destination that will amaze you is Ohrid in North Macedonia.
With its spectacular scenery and rich history, this city is the perfect place for all those who want to explore the Balkans a little more.
Ohrid is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which means it offers all the beauty and culture you can ask for.
From the stunning architecture to the picturesque view of Lake Ohrid, you won’t be able to find anything like it anywhere else.
In addition to its cultural attractions, Ohrid offers lots of activities to keep everyone entertained. If you’re in the mood for some adventure, you can go hiking, cycling, or boating around the lake.
There are also plenty of beaches where you can soak up the sun and relax.
And once you’re tired of all that activity, the city’s nightlife is packed with bars and cafes where you can meet new people and enjoy a good drink.
During my trip around the Balkans with Travel Talk, this was easily one of the best places we went to, and I just can’t recommend it enough.
SKOPJE, NORTH MACEDONIA
Last but not least on this list of places to visit on your Balkans holidays is Skopje in North Macedonia.
Skopje has been on the rise as a popular travel destination, and for good reason.
With an incredible mix of Eastern and Western influences, the city is home to stunning architecture, unique bazaars, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
Skopje also has a rich history dating back over 2,000 years, with the old town and Ottoman-style bazaar still standing proudly today.
Take a stroll through the cobblestone streets and marvel at the towering Stone Bridge that spans the peaceful Vardar River.
On top of that, you can explore the impressive Kale Fortress and the ancient Roman settlement of Scupi just a short drive away.
And for those searching for an adventure, the nearby Matka Canyon offers hiking, kayaking and even cave exploring options.
With so much to see and do, it’s hard not to fall in love with Skopje and the perfect place to end your holidays in the Balkans.
HOLIDAYS IN THE BALKANS – FAQ
Below you’ll find some answers to the most frequently asked questions by first-time visitors.
COST OF A BALKANS TOUR?
If you’re considering a tour of the Balkans, it’s essential to budget accordingly.
On average, for an organized tour with a company like Travel Talk, you can expect to pay around $1050 per person.
This typically includes accommodation, transportation between destinations, local tour guides, and some meals.
For optional tours, activities, additional meals, and souvenirs, it’s wise to budget an extra $50 per person per day.
This allows you to enjoy local experiences, taste regional cuisine, and bring home some souvenirs.
If you’re planning to do this Balkans tour independently, you should budget around $100-$200 per person per day.
This covers accommodation, meals, transportation, and entrance fees to attractions.
BOOK NOW: 9 DAY BEST OF BALKANS TOUR
DO I NEED DIFFERENT CURRENCIES & SIM CARDS?
In the diverse Balkans region, different countries use different currencies and sim cards.
For instance, Montenegro, Kosovo, Croatia, and Greece use the Euro, while nations like Bulgaria and Albania have their own currencies.
Therefore, it’s wise to have some local currency on hand for each country you visit.
To stay connected, consider purchasing prepaid SIM cards from local telecom providers in each country.
When traveling in multiple countries, like on this Balkans tour, I recommend getting an e-sim card, so you won’t need to buy a local sim in each country.
That said, remember that WiFi is always available at hotels on tour with Travel Talk!
Forget plastic SIM Cards… Get an eSIM!
Say hello to eSIM – a virtual SIM card pre-loaded with mobile data so you can get online and stay connected around the world.
OneSimCard is the best eSIM for travel, with low-cost data packages available in 150+ countries.
Simply buy online, install it on your smartphone, and you’re good to go!
DO I NEED A VISA FOR THE BALKANS?
Visa requirements for the Balkans vary depending on your nationality and the countries you plan to visit.
Most Western tourists, including those from the EU, UK, USA, Canada, and Australia, can enter many Balkan countries without a visa for stays up to 90 days.
These countries include Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and North Macedonia, Albania, and Bulgaria.
However, some countries like Kosovo might have specific entry requirements.
For other nationalities, a visa may be required. It’s always recommended to check online for each country you plan to visit for the most up-to-date visa information.
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR HOLIDAYS IN THE BALKANS
When visiting the Balkans, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:
Must-Have Travel Essentials
Keep your cash and other valuables safe with this anti-theft hidden money wallet!
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best reusable bottle that allows you to purify water from anywhere!
SUMMARY – HOLIDAYS IN THE BALKANS
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about your future holidays in Balkans, please leave me a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!
THANKS FOR READING
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