The term Balkan means “mountains” in Turkish and there is no doubt why as the region is carved with beautiful sprawling mountains. This vast region of eastern Europe encompasses Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Turkey and parts of Greece and is a backpacker’s paradise. From wine cellars, to medieval towns, islands and sandy beaches, castles and cobblestone streets, and hundreds of street markets, the Balkans region is full of history and architecture ready to be explored.
- Tour through Bulgaria and explore the old-world charm of Sofia and marvel at the famous gold dome of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
- At the center of the Balkan peninsula in Macedonia is Skopje, an ancient city on the Vardar river that’s crossed by a beautiful stone bridge. You’ll find the memorial house of Mother Teresa, fortresses, monasteries, and vibrant bazaars built during the Ottoman empire. A trip to Macedonia will certainly take you through a culturally and historically rich country.
- Staying one day in Dubrovnik in the south of Croatia is an experience you’ll never forget. This walled city is full of art, cobblestone streets, and a displays a magnificent beach. You can also travel over to the capital, Zagreb, which is a costal city and a wonderful cultural hub. While it has become more popular to go on a tour to Croatia, the country is still relatively cheap compared with other mediterranean countries such as Spain, France and Italy.
- Don’t forget to tour through Bosnia, Albania, Montenegro and Serbia as well in between as each has their own unique style and beauty.
- Bus and train stations in the Balkan region often has outdated times of departure and prices. If this happens, just ask someone at the station for the time and price of departures. While most of the areas you will travel through, they will speak English, if they don’t speak, just write down the location and time you’re looking to travel on a piece of paper and they will understand and correct it for you.
- In terms of safety, the Balkans is a very safe region as they are no longer at war right now. While there are still some ethnic tensions that remain, you’re not likely to encounter any difficulties. As in all countries, keep a close eye on your belongings and stay towards well maintained/lighted areas.
- When you’re looking to decide what time of year to go, it’s best to travel during spring or fall since the summer time is way too hot and crowded with people. This means from March to June and September to October are the best timeframes.