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Holidays in the Balkans

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The Balkans is a geographic region in southeast Europe, home to many historically significant countries. These countries are often overlooked by tourists because they are not as popular or well-known as some of the other European nations and regions. However, if you are looking for an exciting vacation this year, then look no further than the Balkans! In this article, we will take a closer look at each Balkan country and talk about what you should see while visiting there during your holidays. Read about the perfect summer holidays in the Balkans

holiday in the Balkans

The Balkans is also known as the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkans takes the name from the Balkan Mountains located in Bulgaria. Bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the northwest, the Ionian Sea in the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south and the Black Sea in the northeast, The Balkan Peninsula stretches from Slovenia to Greece. The highest point of the Balkans is the Musala peak.

Which countries are creating the Balkans?

The Balkans is made up of the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia (the Former Yugoslav Republic), Montenegro, Serbia, Romania, plus part of Greece and part of Turkey.

Best Holiday destination in the Balkans

Slovenia

Slovenia became an independent country after separating from Yugoslavia in 1991. It is a small country, only slightly larger than the state of New Jersey. Slovenia is one of the most beautiful countries. We did travel and camp in Slovenia for two weeks exploring all the things to do in Slovenia.

Ljubliana

The Capitol of Slovenia – Ljubliana has a well-preserved old town with a medieval centre which is one of only two preserved urban cores in southern Central Europe from this period and a beautiful almost fairytale castle.

Slovenia is small but at the same time, one of the most beautiful countries with amazing sceneries and many tourist attractions, which include lakes – the most famous is Lake Bled located in the Julian Alps. and Castles.

Slovenia has as well many beautiful caves.

Vilenica cave https://www.vilenica.com/en/

Montenegro

Montenegro is another country created after Yugoslavia broke up. It is a small country with amazing coastlines including Kotor Bay (Boka Bay) with its Venetian-style architecture, and the Bay of Kotor with 18th-century forts its one of the most beautiful places in Europe and makes perfect holiday destinations

Montenegro Capital – Podgorica

Podgorica (old Titograd) is the youngest capital in Europe and Montenegro’s political, administrative, economic and cultural centre. Podgorica is not a place of beauty but the rest of Montenegro is truly charming.

Millenium bridge - Podgorica

Budva

Budva is an old capitol is a coastal town with beautiful beaches, the old city is well preserved and you will find plenty of cafes.

Kotor

Kotor is located on the Adriatic Sea and has been called ‘the jewel of Montenegro’ it’s best known for its mediaeval walls which surround the Old City—a UNESCO Heritage Site filled with cobblestoned streets and churches.

Montenegro also has the Tara River Canyon, one of Europe’s deepest canyons with a length of 85km (53 miles), which is perfect for walking tours or rafting trips and when it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. Waterfalls are especially beautiful in summertime!

Besides Kotor Bay, in Montenegro, you should visit other locatons like Stari Bar or Ostrog Monastery

Albania

Albania is one of the most beautiful and natural countries in the Balkans. Unfortunately, Albania is not a very popular tourist destination either because of its lack of exposure or even due to some misconceptions about it being unsafe, which are just generalizations that don’t represent reality. However, this country has many wonderful places to see while on your holidays including scenic mountains like those found at Shala and Dajti, beautiful beaches like those found at Durres and the lively nightlife in Tirana.

– The Llogara National Park is a mountainous natural reserve that includes many different types of vegetation including beech forests to alpine meadows

Albanian Riviera

Albanian Rivera is a coast on the Adriatic sea that is very popular with both locals and travellers. Beautiful beaches, crystal clean water all invites to explore and stay here for longer.

Albanian riviera

– Durres was an important port in ancient times. The city now offers the long sandy beaches along its coastline as well as many other activities for tourists such as plenty of water sports

Tirana

Tirana’s nightlife scene includes many clubs where you can have dance sessions or enjoy some live music. Tirana is as well place where you can learn about the regime of Enver Hoxha in BunkArt Museums

Skanderbeg Square

Belgrade is also home to many historic sites including Kalemegdan Park—which has a fortress that overlooks the confluence of two rivers (the Sava and Danube).

Bosnia Herzegovina

It is a very good idea to visit Bosnia-Herzegovina during the holidays because of its rich history and culture, including Eastern European influences from Ottoman times. Bosnia has an incredible natural beauty with many lakes, mountains and highlands as well élange of cultures and religions. Bosnian Muslims, Orthodox Christians and Catholics all live together in the same country

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is a multiethnic country in southern Europe; it has been under Ottoman or Austro-Hungarian Empires for centuries but gained its independence during the dissolution of Yugoslavia

Sarajevo

Sarajevo is the country’s capital and largest city of Bosnia Herzegovina.

Sarajevo has a rich cultural heritage which is reflected throughout its many national museums, fascinating architecture of old Turkish houses with their beautiful oriental gardens (sadiklar), mosques, churches as well élange of local restaurants featuring exotic foods from around the world.

Due to religious diversity – (mix of Jewish, Muslim, Catholic) Sarajevo is called the “Jerusalem of Europe”.

Mostar

Mostar was rebuilt after a 1992 war that divided the town in half. The Old Bridge of (Stari most) span over the Neretva River is one of Europe’s best-preserved Ottoman bridges from 16th century: it connects two parts (east and west) of the city

Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Blagaj Tekke. It is a complex of Muslim Sufi tekkes and hammams (Turkish baths) located in southern Herzegovina near Mostar. The heart of this sacred space that has been used by pilgrims for centuries consists of two tekkes: one male and one female.

Croatia

Croatia is famous for its beautiful coastline, medieval towns and cultural heritage. Croatia is also known as “the maritime republic” of Yugoslavia because it has a long Dalmatian Coast and many islands like Brač, Krk, Hvar or Cres

The coast of Croatia offers amazing beaches, as well as active nightlife. Inland you can find ancient forests including Plitvice Lakes National Park which contains more than 300 lakes linked by natural waterfalls

Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital and the biggest city in Croatia. Its the cultural and intellectual hub.

Zagreb was built on a plateau between two rivers – Sava and Kaptol. It is a beautiful city with an old town and many parks. Zagreb was history reach Roman times.

Split

Split was founded as a Greek colony in the year 229 BC. The city of Split is also known as the “Diocletian’s Palace” because he was living here and had left his mark on this beautiful town, which has been recognized for its old towns with walls, fortresses and medieval buildings

Dubrovnik

While in Croatia visit historic cities like Dubrovnik or Split for their old towns with walls, fortresses, and medieval buildings. Dubrovnik is a beautiful city paved with marble. It was under siege in 1991 -92 from Croatia and Yugoslavia. Luckily this beautiful town recover from all the damage and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. some are familiar with how it looks even if they haven’t been there as Dubrovnik was a “king’s landing” in the famous serial Game of Thrones

– visit other Croatian cities like Pula or Rijeka to see Roman ruins, medieval churches, and traditional houses.

– visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations and has been called “The Jewel” Of Europe”

– head to Split for its beautiful landscape with rocky cliffs carved by the sea

Serbia

Serbia has a rich history and culture, with many of its spiritual traditions dating back to the medieval era. Serbian people are also very welcoming to visitors.

Belgrade

When you in Serbia you should see the city of Belgrade, one of the largest and most ethnically diverse cities in Eastern Europe.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia, known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia until the beginning of 2019 you could say its newest European country. It achieved independence in 1991, but only now, under a new name, cutting itself off from any misunderstandings with neighbouring countries, it opens up even more to the tourist movement.

With its charming people and perfect climate, Macedonia is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Europe. The country features picturesque nature preserves such as Pelister National Park with over 300 plant varieties that are found only here (including more than 20 endemic species), along with Lake Prespa where you can enjoy water sports, and the impressive Skopje Fortress that was constructed in 16th century to protect this part of Europe from Ottoman invaders.

Skopje

Skopje welcomes its visitors with monumental buildings, eclectic architecture and a warm atmosphere. Alongside the old town, Skopje has plenty to offer you as well…

Matka Canyon

The stunning Matka Gorge offers visitors many lovely walks and hiking routes under its shady trees or on open paths along cliffs with stunning views. Matka Canyon is located only 15 km from Skopje making it the perfect place to escape big town.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid, with its unique natural beauty of a deep cobalt blue and amazingly clear water is the most famous destination for visitors to Macedonia. The whole lake basin was declared as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1979.

Greece

Everyone knows about Greece Landmarks like Parthenon or Olimp and the Greek mythology is part of everyone educations.

athens with kids

Mainland Greece is part of the Balkans and is perfect for a holiday. The country has plenty of great beaches, cuisine on offer that’s not only delicious but healthy too, culture in abundance from ancient ruins to stunning galleries. It’s also one of the most beautiful countries you’ll ever visit! There are some fantastic water activities for kids as well such as ocean sports, diving and kite surfing.

The best beaches are found on the Peloponnese Peninsula with some fantastic choices such as Kalamaki Beach, Sounion Beach – an hour away from Athens – Loutraki in the Arcadia region and Vouliagmeni at 40 minutes from Athens. The most popular beach is found on the island of Mykonos.

Athens is one of the oldest European Capital with many landmarks. We had great fun exploring Athens with kids during our road trip through Greece.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria is the most eastern Balkan country and it is very famous for its sea resorts and Black Sea beaches. Sunny Beach is the most popular destination in Bulgaria, and you can find a lot of bars, clubs, restaurants and casinos around.

Bulgaria is also a perfect destination for winter sports lovers, there are many ski slopes around the country.

Sofia

Whilst Bulgaria is the most easterly Balkan country, Sofia lies in the western part of the region. This capital city has an amazing mix of old and new architecture which makes it one of Europe’s best-preserved cities with a rich past.

The Ottoman occupation brought many beautiful buildings to this city during their stay from 14th century until 18th century. Whilst Bulgaria is the most easterly Balkan country, Sofia lies in the western part of the region. This capital city has an amazing mix of old and new architecture which makes it one of Europe’s best-preserved cities with a rich past.

Bulgaria’s most famous landmark is Alexander Nevski Cathedral which dominates the skyline of Sofia with its sheer size

What is the best time to visit the Balkans?

The best time to visit the Balkans is during the spring when you can enjoy long days of sunshine and mild weather. The food is also at it’s freshest and tastiest at this time as well. Summer brings long hot days that are ideal for beaches in this region. Fall comes as a welcome relief from summer’s heat, but the temperatures will still be warm enough for an active vacation and perfect to go for a hike.

The winter brings freezing temperatures along with strong winds or even heavy snowfall which may affect your travel plans – so be sure to plan accordingly if you’re not equipped with proper winter gear!

Balkans Holiday – Summary

The Balkans are one of Europe’s unsung tourist destinations but could be on their way to becoming one of its when you’re in the Balkans, it would be a shame to miss out on some of its more spectacular natural attractions.

The Macedonian capital city is full of Ottoman treasures and has an extremely rich history. If you want to experience sun-drenched beaches then head for Croatia or Montenegro.

Holidays in the Balkans – Pin it for later

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Ania James

photographer, traveller, mother of twin girls, wife, worldschooler, rulebreaker

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