If you want to travel beyond Slovenia and see something extraordinary, the Balkans are a travel destination you shouldn't miss!
Published: May 3, 2022
Updated: June 14, 2022
What countries are part of the Balkans
There are many different theories as to which states belong to the Balkans. Those who look at history say they include the former states of Yugoslavia. If looking geographically, they are those that are on the Balkan Peninsula. However, you can also look at the cultural aspect. In this case, you can say that Slovenia and even Romania are part of the Balkans.
Where is the best place to start exploring the Balkans?
The best country for exploring the Balkans is Slovenia, where the Balkans start. When you enter Slovenia, you begin to discover the culture of the Balkan region. So it's a good start, especially since leaving Slovenia you can make a round trip through the entire Balkans in such a way as not to miss a single country!
As Epicurus said a long time ago "The pleasure of the belly is the basis and root of all good". The Balkans inhabitants have taken Epicurus' words to heart - the cuisine here is delicious, and the people are considered the kindest and most hospitable in the whole world. The most popular delicacies are ajvar, baklava, sarma, or rakija.
Ideal for vegans and vegetarians will be ajvar. It is a vegetable paste that is based on sweet peppers, garlic, and spices. In recent years, it has become so popular that it can even be found on the shelves of northern European stores.
The sweet bomb for us will be baklava. This is a delicacy particularly associated with Turkey, but you can find it also in another part of the Balkan. The sweet is prepared by layering layers of filo pastry with walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or pistachios mixed with sugar syrup or honey.
If we feel like having a filling dinner, it will be worth reaching for sarma. This dish consists of large sauerkraut envelopes. The stuffing is rice mixed with spices and meat (there is also a vegetarian version). Sarma is covered with... sauerkraut leaves. They are edible too!
A drink you should pay attention to is Rakija. It is the Balkan national drink. It is made by distilling fruits such as plums, grapes, apples, quince, figs, and peaches. It is perfect for hot days. But be careful! Rakija is an alcoholic drink.
A country that is a destination for many tourists - Croatia. A paradise for both active and passive tourists. There are hiking on mountains and sunbathing on wide beaches. But are there any more reasons why you should go on a trip from Slovenia to Croatia?
An attraction that should convince you to visit Croatia is the city of Dubrovnik. Especially noteworthy is that the old town was completed in the 13th century and has remained virtually unchanged since then! Two centuries later, a 25- meter high wall was built around the city. It makes quite an impression on you. Since 1979 Dubrovnik has been on the UNESCO list.
Balkan holidays in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Not one, but two great lands make up Bosnia and Herzegovina. This country offers us countless natural riches. This is already indicated by the name itself. "Bosana" is the Indo-European word for "water", while "Herceg" is from the German "herzog", the equivalent of "prince". Herzegovina means "land of the prince". This is where we can see the Best of the Balkans!
A place deserving special attention is the capital Sarajevo. It is here that you will be able to enter the Svrzo House. You will see how a typical Muslim family lived during the time of the Ottoman Empire. An interesting history lesson will also be visiting the war tunnels located under the city.
Adventure in Montenegro
The country takes its name from the dark mountain forests. The name is a connection of two words: "monte" and "negro" (black, mountain). Montenegro is a green country full of unspoiled nature. It is a perfect place for the Balkan Adventure trip.
Mountain hiking fans will be delighted - Biogradska Gora National Park is ideal for this. That is one of the first National Parks established in the country. On its territory, there are picturesque glacial lakes. If you dream of kayaking, Lake Crno is already waiting for you. For fans of adrenaline, Montenegro is preparing an attraction - white water rafting on Tara River. The water in the river is so clean that you can drink it!
For those who would like to explore Montenegro from the historical and cultural side, we recommend the Balkan Explorer tour. One of the key places in this country is the ancient city of Kotor. Its name is many associated with cats, although historically, it has no connection with them. However, this has not stopped the locals from creating the Cats Museum. The streets are also full of kitties. They are walking with tourists and admiring this beautiful city with them.
Balkan tour in Albania
When going on the Grand Balkan Tour you cannot miss Albania. It is a country full of contradictions. You have to remember that when you try to communicate on the street. For Albanians, nodding your head means "no" and shaking it means "yes".
Albania stands out for its unusual military tourism. There is a mass of bunkers built on the territory of the country. On average, there are 5.7 bunkers per square kilometre. Albania has over 750,000 bunkers throughout the country. Most of the bunkers are empty, abandoned, and off-limits. But there are a few exceptions. Some bunkers are now homes, museums, and even... cafes.
Albania is as rich in nature as all the other Balkan countries. It boasts the oldest lake in Europe - Ohrid and one of the oldest in the world. On the shores of this lake on the border with Northern Macedonia are many unique plants, animals, and fossils. Due to its unique beauty, the lake is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
A country whose cities are vibrant with life, but after 7 pm. Only when the day's heat passes do people come out onto the streets to enjoy the atmosphere of North Macedonia. The most crowded places are bakeries, where much of the social life takes place. North Macedonians prefer to meet with friends over “burek” and yogurt than eat a meal alone at home.
If you are a coffee drinker, then North Macedonia is the perfect place for you. Many observers say that there is an unwritten tradition of Saturday coffee in this country. Between 11 am and 2 pm, all the tables in the cafes are full. Everywhere you look, there are people quietly sipping coffee. No wonder some of the best coffees are in Macedonia.
One of the most interesting cities in North Macedonia is the capital Skopje. There you can buy local food at the historic 12th-century market. Climb the Skopje Fortress to see the city from above. Walk on the stone bridge, which is a landmark of the city. Visit a mosque, or learn about the history of Macedonia in one of the countless museums.
Balkan travel Serbia
As statistics show, Serbs are known as the most hospitable nation all over the world. Probably it is because the inhabitants are used to diversity. Serbian, Turkish, and Hungarian cultures mix in this country.
Fruška Gora National Park offers beautiful views and numerous hiking and biking trails. The mountain peak - the centre of the park - is surrounded by plains. That creates an amazing contrast and makes the views from the top unearthly. In addition, there is also the largest gorge in Europe, which for many is the highlight of the trip.
While Albania is the champion of coffee drinking, Serbia is the originator of coffee meetings. The first coffee house was opened in 1522 in Belgrade. Of course, it is no longer open, but the "?" café has been inviting passers-by for coffee since 1823. However, Belgrade doesn’t just have a long coffee-drinking tradition. It is also one of the oldest cities in all of Europe. Excavations have shown that the first settlement existed here more than 7,000 years ago, and people have been appearing in the area since Paleolithic times. Visitors are drawn to the capital city by the breathtaking Bajrakli Mosque or the Palace Albania, the first skyscraper in Southeast Europe.
Is this the whole Balkans?
I’ve only managed to give you a glimpse of the grandeur of the Balkans here. A huge number of sights, holidays, food and natural wonders remain a mystery. Will you be the one to discover the Balkans?