27 Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

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Discover the best places to visit in the Balkans according to the travel blogger who have visited these marvels.

The Balkans is one of the most gorgeous destinations in the world, but still one of the most underrated and least visited considering its marvels. As you might already know, I have already visited Belgrade and Tirana. I have consistently mentioned the amazing things to do in Tirana and I have already answered it is Belgrade worth visiting. I am sure the Balkans go beyond all those things to do in Belgrade. That is why, I decided to ask fellow travel bloggers which are the best places to visit in the Balkans. Here you can find their answers.

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Lake Ohrid – North Macedonia

[Lowri from Many Other Roads]

Lake Ohrid is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in the Balkans, then look no further than Lake Ohrid. This stunning lake tucked away in Northern Macedonia is a sight to behold. From the tranquil waters to the breathtaking views, this destination has it all!

The Church of Saint John the Theologian is just one example of why visiting Lake Ohrid is such an experience. Its stunning architecture and panoramic views offer unparalleled opportunities for exploration and relaxation. The Ancient Macedonian Theatre of Ohrid also offers a similar level of beauty and culture, with its unique ancient monuments that will keep you mesmerized.

But the best way to truly enjoy this place is to do a boat tour around the lake. As you sail around the lake, you’ll have the chance to see some of its most special features – like the secluded beaches, stunning shoreline, and picturesque fishing villages. Everywhere around Lake Ohrid is stunning so make sure you pack a good camera!

No visit to Lake Ohrid is complete without staying at Vila Bisera. This hotel offers stunning views from every room and a variety of activities to keep you entertained. From the outdoor Jacuzzi and pool to the spa treatments and delicious local dishes, Vila Bisera is a great way to experience Lake Ohrid in its entirety.

Lake Ohrid is a fantastic place to visit all year round, but if you want to experience it in a whole different way, visit in January. You will be able to experience the Vevčani carnival which is one of the oldest events in the Balkans!

Sarajevo – Bosnia & Herzegovina

[Rachel from Average Lives]

Sarajevo is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina! Known as a melting pot of cultures where East meets West, this vibrant city offers a fascinating blend of history, resilience, and positive energy, which makes it one of the best places to visit in the Balkans.

Despite the haunting memories of the Bosnian war and the siege of Sarajevo, the city has risen above its past, offering many attractions to explore. From its bustling streets and diverse neighborhoods to its rich historical sites and cultural experiences, Sarajevo is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans.

There are many exciting things to do in Sarajevo including a walking tour to explore the city and gain insights into its history and personal accounts of the past. Must-visit sites include the Bascarsija Bazaar, Sebiji Fountain, Kovači Memorial Cemetery, and the Latin Bridge, where the assassination took place that sparked World War I.

The Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina provides a deep understanding of the country’s history and the Trebevic cable car that offers stunning views of the city, and is where you can visit the Sarajevo Bobsled Track, a remnant from the 1984 Winter Olympics, showcases both history and graffiti art.

Other notable attractions include the War Childhood Museum, Galerija 11/07/95 memorial, Yellow Fortress for sunset views, City Hall, Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque, the Tunnel of Hope, and Sarajevo Brewery.

The easiest way to reach Sarajevo is by flying into Sarajevo International Airport, which is easy to get to from major European cities.

Don’t miss the Sarajevo Film Festival, held annually in August. This prestigious event attracts filmmakers and film enthusiasts from around the world, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy the energy and creativity of the festival while exploring Sarajevo’s vibrant atmosphere.

For a comfortable stay in Sarajevo consider booking a room at Hotel Lula in the centre. This elegant and historic hotel is a perfect base to explore the city!

Pristina – Kosovo: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Maja from Away with Maja]

Pristina and its Newborn Square in the picture is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Pristina is the capital city of Kosovo and one of the most underrated capitals and best places to visit in the Balkans – and in Europe as a whole. About half of the population is under the age of 25, so the city has a vibrant, cool atmosphere. You can’t miss seeing the Newborn statue, which commemorates Kosovo’s independence but changes themes every so often.

See the Bill Clinton statue (on Bill Clinton Boulevard), and the National Library of Kosovo – which is meant to be one of the ugliest buildings in the city. Head up to the tower of Mother Teresa Cathedral for a bird’s eye view of the city, and learn about Kosovo’s history at the Kosovo Museum. There are so many fun cafes and bars to try here – I recommend Dit e Nat, Half and Half, and Soma Book Station. Head for Nena Tereza Boulevard for an evening stroll; it’s where everyone comes to see and be seen.

If you are already in the Balkans, the easiest way to get to Pristina is by bus. As the capital city, it’s well-connected to cities all around Kosovo. From Skopje (North Macedonia) it’s only 2 hours, and from Tirana (Albania) the bus journey takes 4-6 hours.

If you’re traveling to Kosovo from further afield, flying into Pristina International Airport might be easier – there are good-budget airline connections to cities around Europe. Note that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, so you need to enter and exit Kosovo via different countries, or enter and exit both via Serbia. Budget travelers will love staying at Oda Hostel – it’s a cozy place and well-located for exploring the city center.

Budva – Montenegro

[Daria from The Discovery Nut]

Budva is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Located about 2,5 hours from Dubrovnik, Budva is one of the most popular destinations in Montenegro and also one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. The town is famous for its beaches along the Adriatic Sea, gorgeous Old Town, and stunning harbor, which can be explored by taking a boat tour.

Budva boasts a well-preserved Old Town, surrounded by ancient city walls that date to the 15th century. The narrow, winding streets are filled with landmarks, including churches, museums, and traditional stone houses. Exploring the Old Town provides a glimpse into Budva’s rich history and cultural heritage.

If you want to explore the beaches in their area, you have plenty of options, including popular spots like Mogren Beach, Jaz Beach, and Sveti Stefan, all of which can be reached on foot from Old Town.

The city also offers many fun water sports and outdoor activities. From jet skiing and parasailing to scuba diving and sailing, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Adriatic Sea. The surrounding mountains provide hiking and biking trails, allowing visitors to appreciate the natural beauty of the region.

One of the most popular festivals is the Budva Theatre City, a summer theater festival that brings together national and international theater companies. The city also celebrates the Budva Carnival and numerous music festivals.

Budva is about 30 minutes from Tivat Airport, making it a perfect vacation spot. Many travelers visit Budva as part of their Balkan road trip since the city is well connected to its neighboring countries and you can take buses to and from many popular destinations in the region like Mostar, Dubrovnik, and Kotor.

If you plan to spend a few days in Budva, book your stay at the Dukley Hotel Resort which boasts a spectacular setting along the coast, delicious breakfast, and friendly service.

Albanian Alps: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Kitti and Jon from Kitti Around the World]

Albanian Alps are some of the best places to visit in the Balkans

One of the best places to visit in the Balkans for outdoor lovers is the Albanian Alps or Accursed Mountains.
The mountain range is the southernmost part of the Dinaric Alps and stretches over 60 km across the northern part of Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

The Albanian Alps have 19 peaks over 2,400 m which means that there are plenty of easier and also more challenging hiking trails you can complete.

In recent years this area has become part of the Peaks of the Balkan Project which aims to increase mountain tourism in these countries. Since starting, the project has created employment for locals and has been promoting sustainable outdoor activities like hiking and cycling.

One of the most popular hiking trails in the Albanian Alps is the Valbona Pass hike which is a 15km long path between two picturesque villages: Valbona and Theth in Albania. The two villages are Valbona Valley National Park and Theth National Park, two of the most beautiful places in the area.

There are many ways you can complete this trail which you can read about in this guide. Both Valbona and Theth are accessible from Shkoder, where you can organize your transport. Alternatively, you can always hire a car and drive to any of these locations.

Along this hike, you can stay in guesthouses, B&Bs, or even camp if you have all the equipment. There are also plenty of things to do in the village of Theth including hikes to Grunas Waterfall and the Blue Eye.
The Albanian Alps are the highlight of any trip to the Balkans.

Kravice Waterfalls – Bosnia & Herzegovina

[Fernanda from Mauka Travels]

Kravice Waterfalls is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Kravice Waterfalls is one of Bosnia’s most special natural sites and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. The waterfall drops from 25 meters high creating a beautiful landscape surrounded by lush greenery and deep blue water pools. It is the perfect place to cool off during the summer heat in Bosnia and diversify your travel itinerary.

Located only 40 km away from Mostar, the complex where the Kravice Waterfall is located is best reached by car or by booking a tour. Even though the distance makes it seem close to Mostar, it is not easy to get there using public transport.

The park has an enormous parking lot in front, which is free for guests, so going by car is the most comfortable option.
Around the falls, there are a few bars where you can buy food and drinks (don’t expect anything fancy though). You can also rent sun loungers or bring your things to spend some time sunbathing by the water.

You also have other options of activities to do there, such as hiking or kayaking to the smaller Kravice Falls located 20min further down, or going for a boat tour around the river. However, the best thing to do in Kravice Waterfalls is to go swimming – you can get fairly close to the waterfall itself, but not entirely inside it as there are protected areas.

The best place to stay for visiting Kravice Waterfalls is in Mostar, and make this visit a day trip. Hotel Sinan Han is a great option for a place to stay within walking distance of Mostar’s Old Town.

Zadar – Croatia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Sara from Mindful Travel]

Zadar is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Zadar, located in Croatia’s Dalmatia region, is an amazing destination for those looking to explore the best places to visit in the Balkans.

From its stunning beaches and rich cultural heritage to its vibrant festivals and delicious seafood dishes, this city has something for everyone. Whether you’re a beach-goer or a culture enthusiast, there’s plenty to enjoy in Zadar.

One of the best things to do is visit some of the best beaches in Zadar. Petrcane Beach and Beach Borik are two popular spots where travelers can take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic Sea or simply soak up some sun on their stretch of sand.

For those keen on exploring further out at sea, boat trips from both locations offer unique experiences such as dolphin watching and snorkeling around secluded islands offshore.

Zadar also boasts one of Europe’s most unique attractions – The Greeting to the Sun. This incredible light show is powered by solar energy and pays homage to Zadar’s beautiful sunsets and rises.

If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of Zadar, then make sure to explore the city’s walls and gates. It also includes numerous important landmarks such as the Roman Forum, St. Donat Church, and Sea Organ – an impressive installation that creates music using naturally occurring sounds from the sea.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Zadar without trying some delicious local seafood. Try the grilled fish or Scampi Buzara – an iconic Dalmatian dish made with shrimp, tomatoes, and white wine sauce.

The easiest way to get to Zadar is by plane, with plenty of flights available from most major European cities.

Throughout the year, Zadar is home to an array of events and festivals. One of the most popular is the Zadar Summer Theatre Festival which takes place every July. The city also hosts its own Food Festival every April where you can sample some of the best local cuisine from all over Croatia.

For the perfect place to stay in Zadar, I recommend Almayer Art & Heritage Hotel. This stunning boutique hotel offers a unique blend of modern luxury and traditional charm. With its own art gallery and terrace bar, it’s the perfect spot for an unforgettable stay!

Prizren – Kosovo: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Stella Jane from Around the World in 24 Hours]

Prizren is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Prizren is not the largest city in Kosovo, but for many people, it is the most beautiful and interesting place in the country and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. It’s a fairly small city, but there is still plenty to do there because it is full of historic buildings and quirky attractions, some of the best things to do in Kosovo.

Start with the main square, which is a traditionally popular place for making promises. You can also visit the beautiful Emin Pasha Mosque and hear about the stunning calligraphy that decorates the building. Of course, you must get your photo of the Old Stone Bridge, which has appeared on picture postcards all over the world.

When you get hungry, feast on some local kebabs, either meat or veggie. If you are a film fan, you are in luck in Kosovo, where film festivals are quite popular. Check out the DokuFest, which is the biggest film festival in Kosovo. It takes place in Prizren every August. If you are spending the night in Prizren, I recommend staying at the Hotel Tiffany, which has a great staff and a perfectly convenient location.

There are a couple of ways to get to Prizren, depending on how much you want to spend and how much time you have. You can take a bus trip from Skopje, North Macedonia, which takes about two hours and is extremely affordable, or you can take a tour to Prizren from a neighboring city like Skopje. If you are coming to Prizren from an international destination, you will need to fly into Pristina, the largest city in Kosovo, because there is no airport in Prizren.

Theth – Albania: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Ian from TMB

Theth is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

For those interested in exploring the stunning natural beauty of the Balkans then Theth, Albania is a must-visit destination and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. Tucked into a deep valley in the Accursed Mountains near the border with Montenegro, Theth is famous for its world-class hiking and outdoor adventure activities.

The hike between Theth and nearby Valbona is top on most visitors’ lists and is a must-do for those with a sense of adventure. Other popular hikes in Theth include the Blue Eye, a stunning crystal-clear natural pool, and the Grunasi waterfall, a spectacular 30-meter waterfall about 1.5 hours of hiking from the village. Finally, Theth is the most common starting point for the incredible 10-day Peaks of the Balkans trail, which takes trekkers through Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

Getting to Theth is relatively straightforward with minibuses leaving from the larger town of Shkodër, Albania daily and there are plenty of private transfer companies willing to take you as well.

One of the highlights of visiting Theth is also the incredibly welcoming guest houses offering meals and accommodation. Our favorite is Bujtina Tinari, which has incredible views of the surrounding mountains and spotlessly clean rooms.

Drvengrad – Serbia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Luda from Adventures with Luda]

Drvengrad is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

If you’re craving rugged nature, cozy cabins, and fresh air, there’s no better place to visit than Drvengrad in Western Serbia! This is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. Located just 3 hours from Belgrade, Western Serbia is famous for Drvengrad (‘Timber Town’) as well as plenty of opportunities to go hiking, take the retro train, and visit Tara National Park.

The easiest way to get to Drvengrad is by renting a car and going on a weekend trip, but it’s also possible to make your way there by train, bus, or a one-day tour.

While Drvengrad may look like a traditional old village, it was constructed as a film set for the movie Life Is a Miracle. The film became so popular that Drvengrad was turned into a tourist complex shortly after.

Although Drvengrad may seem small at first, there are many things to do, and you can easily spend half a day exploring this cheerful town. Start by making your way around the town, keeping an eye out for colorful cabins, retro cars (which were used in the film), and adorable street art. There are a handful of restaurants and cafes to eat at, but I especially recommend Ćorkan, which makes the best krempite cake.

Afterward, take a walk to the train station and take a ride on the Sargan Eight train, which is a 15-kilometer journey through West Serbia’s beautiful mountains and villages. If you’re staying overnight, you can also visit the nearby Tara National Park and Zlatibor Village. Every January, Drvengrad also hosts the Küstendorf Film and Music Festival, where local and international artists show off their short films.

The best place to stay in Drvengrad is none other than the town’s hotel complex. Mecavnik Resort features a variety of different options, including single, twin, and double rooms, as well as your very own wooden cabin!

Rila Mountains – Bulgaria: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Roshni from The Wanderlust Within]

Rila Mountains is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

One of the best places to visit in the Balkans has to be its highest mountain range, Rila. Located in Bulgaria, the Rila Mountains are only 70km from the capital, Sofia, making them super accessible even though they are one of Europe’s best-hidden gems.

The mountain range extends over 2400 square km and is home to the area’s highest peaks, Mount Musala (2,925m) and Mount Vihren (2,914m).

There are plenty of things to do in the area, from mountain hiking to visiting the natural hot springs, swimming in one of the 200 glacial lakes, biking, paragliding, and skiing in the winter.

However, one of the most unique things to do in the Rila mountains is to visit the 10th-century Orthodox Church that is nestled deep in the alpine forests. Rila Monastery is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans and is famous for its colorful facades and design.

There are plenty of places to stay but Borovets ski resort is a great idea in both summer and winter. In summer you will benefit from the cheaper prices and fewer crowds, and in winter, the area is like a snowy wonderland with plenty of winter activities. Rila Hotel Borovets stands out as a favorite as there are plenty of ski lifts between 50-200 meters away from this 4-star hotel.

Plovdiv – Bulgaria: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Lara from The Best Travel Gifts]

Plovdiv is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Plovdiv is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans, especially in Bulgaria for those who love a gorgeous old city center, mixed with a hipster and laid-back urban vibe.
The city of Plovdiv has been inhabited for over 8000 years (though its name has changed many times since) and you can still many aspects of its fascinating history throughout the city from the Thracians to the Romans and more.

The most spectacular of them all (in my humble opinion) is the intact ancient Roman theatre. You can visit it during the day for only 5BGN. But the best way to experience the true Roman times is by attending a life show or concert that is hosted in spring and summer.

The best thing about Plovdiv is that it’s a walkable city, so you can visit all the highlights on foot. Besides the theatre, make sure to also visit the old center of Plovdiv with its iconic historical houses, and adorable shops to score Bulgarian souvenirs.

Here you will also find The Ethnographic Museum. Even if you’re not planning on going inside, you do want to check out this architectural masterpiece. Then head back to Kapana, a lively neighborhood with cool bars and restaurants for a delicious dinner with local wine.

Plovdiv is located about 150 km away from Sofia, and you can easily reach it from there by bus and train which run a couple of times throughout the day. Many people visit the city on a day trip from Bulgaria’s capital, but I would advise you to stay at least one night. You can either find boutique hotels and hostels in the Old Town, such as the Hotel Gallery 37 or Old Town Hostel. Alternatively, you could stay around the Kapana area.

Bucharest – Romania: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Jenifer from The Evolista]

Bucharest is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

When visiting Bucharest as part of your Balkan trip, there are several fantastic things to do and see. Start with a walking tour of the city. You’ll have a chance to learn about the communist history and see the architecturally interesting buildings including their own Arc de Triomphe and the Romanian Athenaeum, which is a stunning concert hall known for its terrific acoustics and iconic dome.

One of the most impressive places to see in Bucharest is the Palace of the Parliament, known as the People’s House. It’s the second-largest administrative building in the world, built during the communist era, and it’s massive. You can take a guided tour to see its grandeur up close and learn about its history.

If you love a city with good nightlife, Bucharest should be on your Europe Bucket List. Stroll through the historic Old Town of Bucharest filled with trendy cafes, lively bars, and nightclubs. Stay at the Moxy Bucharest, perfectly located in Old Town. You know you’re about to have a fun visit when they welcome you with a free shot.

Spring is one of the best times to visit with blooms showing up all over the city. The Spotlight Festival takes place in April when the landmarks of Bucharest are lit up in beautiful artistic displays.

The easiest way to get to Bucharest is to fly into one of the 2 airports. There are many low-priced flights throughout Europe. If you are visiting from a nearby country like Bulgaria, you can also take a train or visit by car. Bucharest is one of the most exciting and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans.

Split – Croatia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Madison from Madison’s Footsteps]

Split is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

No trip to the Balkans is complete without a stop in scenic Split, Croatia. With its stunning coastline and fascinating history, Split embodies a unique blend of culture that you won’t experience anywhere else in the world. From the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s former stomping grounds in Old Town to the oceanside cafes and stunning views along the Riva – there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Split.

Thanks to its international airport, SPU, Split is easy to get to from anywhere in the world. During your visit, take advantage of the beauty of this ancient city and book your accommodation in one of Split’s most historic hotels – The Judita Palace Heritage Hotel. Dating back to the 16th century, this hotel is parked smack dab in the middle of Old Town Split.

Split is so full of Croatian culture…you’ll be tempted to extend your stay! At the top of most tourists’ bucket lists is a visit to the city’s most prominent landmark – Diocletian’s Palace. Built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian as his retirement home in the 4th century AD, it’s widely known as one of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world.

During your visit, you may also enjoy a stroll down the Riva – Split’s scenic seafront promenade. Feast on the freshest seafood and locally-made Croatian wine while enjoying a sunset over the Dalmatian Coast. If you visit in the summer, you’d be remiss not to partake in a boat cruise around the islands. And, for the art buffs in the audience, don’t miss out on a visit to the famous Mestrovic Gallery. Game of Thrones fans will find plenty of walking tours to book in Split, and a day trip to the beautiful Krka National Park is never a bad idea.

So pack your bags, book that flight, and see why Split has been called one of Europe’s best-kept secrets and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans!

Skopje – North Macedonia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Sinead from Map Made Memories]

Spokje is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

The capital of North Macedonia, Skopje, is a diverse city to visit. It is a walkable city with a reliable and cheap public bus system so getting around is easy. One of the best places to visit in the Balkans.

Take a walking tour with a local guide after which you can visit the ornate Church of St. Clement of Ohrid and intricate mosques such as Sultan Murad Mosque. Explore Skopje City Museum and the Memorial House of Mother Teresa or, for an elevated view of Skopje, visit the city walls of the ruined Skopje Fortress.

Skopje is known as the city of statues (there are an estimated 600 statues in the city center) ranging from the small statues on Art Bridge to the enormous 22-meter-high ‘Great Warrior’ in Skopje’s central square Plostad Makedonija.

The city is home to the Old Bazaar, the largest Turkish bazaar outside Istanbul. You can spend hours happily getting lost in the maze of pedestrianized streets lined with cafes and tiny shops selling gold, silver filigree, and textiles. The Old Bazaar is the best place in Skopje to try traditional North Macedonian food such as cheesy Borek and the tasty Tavce Gravce.

Catch a bus from the city center to the cable car station for a scenic ride to the Millenium Cross on top of Mount Vodno. There is a fantastic view of Skopje from the top of the 1066-meter-high mountain. Alternatively, catch a public bus to the drop-off point for Matka Canyon, 17 kilometers from the city center. The picturesque artificial lake and natural canyon offer walking trails, kayak hire, and boat trips. It is an ideal spot to cool off and escape the busy city center.

Many travelers may be wondering is North Macedonia worth visiting but a visit to Skopje will prove that it is – and will leave you wanting to explore more of this enchanting country.

Saranda – Albania: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Tamara from My Elated Oddysey]

Saranda is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Located in the southern tip of Albania, Saranda is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. Saranda is best known for its beautiful beaches, variety of attractions, and proximity to great day trips.

Regarding things to do, one must-do is to visit one of the beaches! Some of the most popular beaches are Mango Beach, Saranda Beach, and Plazhi Era. Get ready for a relaxing day while listening to music, taking refreshments, and appreciating the picturesque views.

In addition, Saranda’s main promenade is full of things for anyone to enjoy. The promenade has many delicious restaurants, cafes, party boats, and family-friendly activities like the Ferris wheel. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the best place to watch the sunset, it will be at the historic Lekuresi Castle.

Equally important, one of the best parts about visiting Saranda is the day trip options. Some noteworthy sites include Ksamil, The Blue Eye, and Butrint National Park. These destinations can be reached by public buses and taxis if you are not renting a car.

If you’re into nightlife, then you’re in luck! This coastal city has some of the best nightlife among locals. Popular places to visit include Orange Club and Escape Resto Lounge. Saranda also has several festivals, including Saranda Summer Vibes.

To reach Saranda, the only way by public transportation is the buses (furgons) from the capital of Tirana and other cities. While the buses are unreliable for staying on schedule, it’s the most economical way. Additionally, you can rent a car or take a taxi; however, the taxis will most likely overcharge.

On the other hand, if you’re coming from Corfu, Greece, a ferry directly connects to Saranda. There are three leading ferry operators, and they all have journeys no longer than an hour and a half.

Lastly, a great place to stay in Saranda is Hotel Aloha. This beachfront property is close to Saranda’s center, has a private beach, and offers a buffet breakfast.

Kruja – Albania: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Emma from Travel on a Time Budget]

Kruja is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Kruja, around 30 km north of Albania’s capital, Tirana, is a fabulous place for a short trip and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. It’s only a small place but there’s plenty to see and do.

The main draw is its fortress. This is set high on a hill with an ancient tower, temple, hammam, and well-preserved medieval walls. Some of the highest points on the complex have amazing views and on a clear day, you can see over to the coastline in the distance.

There are two museums within the fortress walls – the National Ethnographic Museum and the National Museum. The latter covers the Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, and medieval periods, as well as Albania’s national hero, Skanderbeg (you’ll also see a monument to Skanderbeg in the center of the town).

Besides the castle grounds, there is the town center which, although tiny, is worth pottering around. The highlight is unquestionably the colorful and historic Ottoman bazaar. This dates back to the early 17th century and although it has been restored since, retains its charm with its wood-built shops and cobbled streets. It’s the place to pick up some traditional handmade souvenirs.

There is also the Merat Beut mosque’s chalk-white minaret to see. This 16th-century structure stands next to the market. The minaret, set alongside the market with its mountain range backdrop, offers a perfect opportunity to take photos and is particularly beautiful at sunset.

Kruja has several excellent eateries to try out. One such place is the restaurant in the Hotel Panorama where you can sample a wide range of Albanian food. If you stay here you can then retire to your room and look out on the stunning views across Kruja and over to the castle and mountains beyond. At sunset, the views are particularly special and memorable.

You can reach Kruja from Tirana by car, minibus, or taxi in 45 to 60 minutes. The town is even closer to Tirana International Airport and so it’s also an ideal place to visit before an onward flight.

Kotor – Montenegro: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans


Kotor is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Montenegro is one of the most diverse countries and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans, it has everything from a stunning Adriatic coastline, high mountain ranges, and thick forests filled with magical treehouses.

However one of its most beautiful spots is the coastal town of Kotor and the bay that surrounds it. It houses the old town of Kotor which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is surrounded by 5km of city walls built by the Venetians.

There are plenty of things to do in Kotor but some of the most popular include hiking the Ladder of Kotor from the bay to The Castle of San Giovanni, where you can get a panoramic view of the coast. Or visit the beautiful St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, or visiting the quirky cat museum!

The easiest way to reach Kotor is by cruise ship, or by flying into Tivat airport which is just a few miles away, and can be reached directly from dozens of European cities.

Throughout the year there are plenty of festivals going on in Kotor from the Summer and Winter Carnivals to the International Festival KotorArt, but the liveliest is probably “Boka Night”. Taking place each summer, it begins with boats sailing along the Kotor waterfront and continues with a huge open-air concert near the old town, with thousands of people partying until the sun rises.

Ksamil – Albania: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Mal from Raw Mal Roams]

Ksamil is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans
Nestled in the south of Albania near the border with Greece, Ksamil is a must-visit destination for any beach lover. It’s crystal-clear turquoise water and white sandy beaches of Ksamil have earned it the title of the “Maldives of Albania”.

Ksamil is a small town, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in natural beauty and a vibrant atmosphere during the summer season months of July and August. Here, you can spend summer days relaxing on a sun lounger or exploring the picturesque Ksamil lagoon on a pedal or kayak.

Apart from its incredible beaches, Ksamil is also a perfect base to explore nearby attractions such as Butrin National Park, a 12th-century well-preserved settlement with stunning views over the surrounding lake, or the Blue Eye, a natural spring with a remarkable depth of 50 meters.

You can also take a day trip to Gjirokaster, a picturesque Byzantine stone town nestled in the mountains and famous for its vibrant bazaar and delicious local cuisine.

The nearest international airport is situated on the Greek island of Corfu, from where you can take a quick ferry ride across to Albania, and Ksamil is only an hour on the bus from the ferry port. Alternatively, you can fly to Tirana and take a bus to Ksamil.

Stay at Hotel Artur, which boasts a beachfront location and a range of double and family-friendly rooms.

Berat – Albania: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Ann from The Road Is Life]

Berat is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans
The picturesque town of Berat is set within a river valley surrounded by mountains and spectacular natural scenery. The UNESCO-listed town is located in the south of Albania, around 2 hours of driving time from the capital city of Tirana.

Berat is characterized by its white Ottoman houses built into both sides of the valley that lead down to the Osum River. The most popular thing to do is to climb up to the 13th-century Berat Castle. Perched on the top of a large hill, the views from this castle are truly breathtaking.

Another must-do in Berat is exploring the narrow cobbled streets of the Mangalem quarter. This part of town is home to well-preserved medieval buildings including several important mosques. Be sure to take a stroll across the iconic Gorica Bridge to get a different perspective of the Mangalem neighborhood with a backdrop of towering mountains.

For a unique cultural experience and outstanding views, staying at Guest House Iljesa will certainly not disappoint. This lovely guest house is located on a hilltop, near Berat Castle and features rooms with mountain views and a restaurant serving fresh local cuisine.

The best way to visit Berat is to include it as a stop on your Albania road trip itinerary. Spending 2-3 days in Berat is the ideal length of time to tick off all of the town’s highlights.

If you wish to take a short trip from Tirana, you can easily catch the bus which departs frequently throughout the day from Tirana’s South bus station.

Korcula – Croatia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Lisi from]

Korcula is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Korcula is a rather bigger Croatian island, in the very south in the region of Dalmatia, and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans. It is known for its agricultural products such as grapes and olives. On the island, you can also find many beautiful beaches, such as sand beaches located in small hidden bays.

The Lumbarada sand beach is located in the southeast and is a popular destination at the opposite side is the Vela Przina beach. There you can enjoy the rare sandy beaches of Croatia.

For a city tour, you can check out Korcula City, Blato, and/or Vela Luka. The old town of Korcula City is also called Little Dubrovnik. Its winding alleys and the promenade next to the crystal-clear water, with small unique shops, are absolutely lovely.

Blato is different, the town is in the middle of the island and covers a lot of history, seen by the old empty stone houses. Two viewpoints give you an overview of the greenery of the island.

Of course, you can also enjoy the viniculture of Korcula. Wine events are held in July and August. Those events take place in Korcula City, Cara, Smokvica, and Blato.

The easiest way to get there is by ferry from Split or Dubrovnik. If you are traveling by car/campervan you can catch the car ferry from Orebic. Due to Korcula’s location and the ferry connection, it is an ideal stop if you travel from North to South or vice versa.

If you stay in Croatia, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to stay in a traditional stone house. At Korcula, you can accommodate one of AKorcula’s rental apartments. Enjoy the views of the sea and the walks through the landscape!

Zagreb – Croatia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Nina from Nina Out and About]

Zagreb is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Zagreb, Croatia is the capital city of one of the most beautiful countries in Europe: Croatia. Most tourists skip it in favor of the more popular Dubrovnik or Split, but they’re missing out!

Zagreb is home to some breathtaking sights, including historic buildings like St. Mark’s Church, while still offering a modern vibe with its many cafes and bars.

There’s an amazing farmer’s market in the town square every morning from 7 am to 1 pm. Check out the fish that were caught in the Adriatic that morning – they’re so good!

Take a stroll down the main street, Ilica, for some great shopping. Or visit one of Zagreb’s many museums for some cultural education. The Museum of Broken Relationships is particularly popular – you’ll hear stories that will make you laugh and cry!

It’s also a great central place for day trips like Plitvice Lakes, Lake Bled, or Ljubljana. There are tours on offer or you can rent a car and make the drive yourself.

Getting to Zagreb is easy, as it’s connected to the rest of Europe by multiple flights. You can also get there by train or bus from Serbia, Bulgaria, and more. The easiest way to get into the city center is by train and then getting a cab to your hotel or hostel.

Every summer, Zagreb hosts INMUSIC Festival, with some of the biggest names in music performing. It’s an amazing event to attend!

Stay at the City Lodge Boutique Apartments in Lower Town for easy walking access to stores, cafes, and museums – and have access to a small kitchen to make use of the produce you get from the market.

You’ll love visiting Zagreb for its affordability and plethora of fun activities. One of the best places to visit in the Balkans.

Piran – Slovenia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Erin from Wanderlust with Kids]

Piran is one of the best places to visiti in the Balkans

Piran is a gem of a town situated in the southwestern part of Slovenia along the Adriatic coast, making it one the best places to visit in the Balkans. This charming coastal town boasts a rich history that dates back to the Roman era, evident through its beautiful architecture and well-preserved medieval old town.

Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets, soak in the views of the Adriatic Sea, and admire the views from the city walls.

There are plenty of interesting things to do in Piran, from exploring Tartini Square and the quaint streets surrounding it, walking along the waterfront, or climbing to the top of the clock tower for views of Piran from above. Sample some delicious fresh seafood at any one of the many cafes and restaurants in the Old Town, before watching one of the best sunsets in Slovenia.

Piran is easily reached from the capital city of Ljubljana or elsewhere throughout Slovenia. With its location on the Istrian peninsula, it’s also easily accessible from Pula, Croatia as well as Trieste and Venice, Italy.

While Piran is an easy day trip from Ljubljana, it’s best to spend two to three days to fully experience the town. Hotel Piran is an excellent choice for accommodations, with its waterfront location and easy access to Tartini Square and all that Piran has to offer.

Brasov – Romania: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Melanie from Postcard & Places]

Brasov is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Brașov is located in the Transylvania region of central Romania. It’s accessible by train from the capital of Bucharest; the journey takes about two-and-a-half hours.

The small city developed at an intersection of trade routes between the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe, which allowed it to grow in economic wealth and political power. Visitors today are charmed by its colorful Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance architecture.

It’s a popular place in Romania to visit, thanks to a horror novel written in 1897. Dracula’s Castle, as it’s commonly known, is located about 25 kilometers southwest of Brasov in the town of Bran, and it is a common day trip from the city. Bran Castle was the summer residence of Queen Maria of Romania but is most commonly associated with the legendary vampire.

But those who spend time in Brasov will have plenty to do. The attractive central Council Square is decorated with black cobblestones and refreshing water fountains and is surrounded by pastel-colored historic buildings.

Nearby, the Black Church is a striking landmark. Built between 1385 and 1477, it got its name after the fire of 1689 that darkened its walls and nearly leveled the whole town. Visitors can also hike or take a cable car up to the top of Mount Tampa, an elevation of 960 meters (3151 feet), and be rewarded with fantastic views of Brasov.

For a place to stay, SECRET Boutique Hostel, located between Council Square and the foot of Mount Tampa, has received excellent reviews.

Dubrovnik – Croatia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Kristin from Global Travel Escapades]

Dubrovnik is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

For those looking for a relaxing coastal escape, one of the best places to visit in the Balkans is Dubrovnik, Croatia. This city is renowned for its miles and miles of beautiful coastline as well as allowing visitors to take a step back in time through its historic Old Town.

For example, you can spend hours walking along the city walls of Dubrovnik. You’ll be able to marvel at famous landmarks, see the iconic red rooftops in Old Town, and enjoy the view of the coastline as it stretches out for miles. Afterward, guests can cool off by spending some time swimming and exploring the beautiful waters that surround Dubrovnik. Around the city, you’ll find different designated areas that visitors can safely swim in or simply head to one of the beaches.

And if you’re there during the summer, you can attend the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. This is a nearly 7-week event where concerts, theatrical performances, and films are played around the city!

So, if you’re interested in visiting, you can fly directly to Dubrovnik International Airport and take a taxi into the city. And for places to stay, consider Hotel Excelsior, which is a luxury waterfront hotel located not far from Dubrovnik’s Old Town!

Lake Bled – Slovenia: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Stephanie from The Unknown Enthusiast]

Lake Bled is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Lake Bled is one of the most gorgeous and enchanting destinations in the Balkans. This lake, located in northwest Slovenia, has deep blue turquoise waters, an iconic little island with a church and steeple on it in the middle of the lake, and rolling hills and mountains surrounding the water.

Some of the best things to do at Lake Bled include renting a rowboat and going out on the water – this is an incredibly charming and quaint activity. Visitors can visit Bled Island and the Church of the Assumption of Mary which sits right in the middle. You can also visit the Bled Castle, which sits on a rocky cliff overlooking the lake.

A particular personal favorite is to hike up to the Ojstrica and Mala Osojnica viewpoints. These require a 15-30 minute, rather steep hike up, but the views at the top are breathtaking. Of course, you can’t visit Lake Bled without trying some Bled Cream cake, which has a top and bottom flaky crust, and then layers of whipped cream and custard in the middle.

You can easily reach Lake Bled by car from anywhere in Slovenia, or you can take the bus up from Ljubljana – it’s only about 1 hour away from the Slovenian capital.

There are a few fun festivals in Bled. In June, there is the Bled Rowing Regatta (professional rowers are always out practicing at Lake Bled). In July, the lake celebrates Bled Days, with concerts, arts and crafts fairs, and 15,000 lights that are set out on the lake.

Hotel Starkl is a great place to stay, right in the middle of Bled and right along the lakeshore.

Mostar – Bosnia & Herzegovina: Best Places to Visit in the Balkans

[Tina from Veganderlust]

Mostar is one of the best places to visit in the Balkans

Mostar is the centre of the Herzegovina region in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s one of the most visited cities in the country and one of the best places to visit in the Balkans because of its beautiful and historic city centre.
Mostar is located 2 hours southwest of the Bosnia and Herzegovina capital, Sarajevo, near the Croatian border. You can visit Mostar on a day trip from Sarajevo, or even on a day trip from Dubrovnik in Croatia.

The main attraction in Mostar is the iconic old bridge, Stari Most. The bridge was first constructed in the 16th century and reconstructed in 2004 after it was destroyed during the Croat-Bosniak War in 1993. For the reconstruction, they used the original materials and design. Today, the bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the reason why many people visit the city.

In summer, you can see professional bridge jumpers jumping from Stari Most into the Neretva River below. This impressive jump is also a stop on the annual Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
You can get a great view of the old bridge and the town centre of Mostar from the top of the minaret at the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, which is another great attraction in Mostar.

There are not many big hotels in Mostar, but there are lots of affordable and cute apartments and B&Bs. An excellent option is the guesthouse Villa Floris, which has a terrace with great views.

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Brenda: + 34 years old + Puerto Rican + Viajera Boricua + Master in Cultural Tourism + Foreign Language Major + Hispanic Studies Minor + Portuguese + Italian + Russian + Literature Freak + ♥’s Indie Music + Volleyball Enthusiast + Tricolor do Morumbi(SPFC) + San Antonio Spurs +

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