Albania Gjipe beach
Albania Alps Valbonia Theth2
North Macadonia Lake Ohrid

Contrary to popular opinion, the Balkans is so much more than just the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Surrounded by water, the Balkan peninsula is made up of Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Romania. There’s a lot to explore.

And a lot to see. The Western Balkans are rightly lauded for the beautiful beaches of Croatia and Montenegro, but the region is also worth visiting for the mountains that run down its spine, its mix of historic churches, mosques and monasteries, and for the warm welcome and delicious food of its people.

For while Croatia has hogged the international travel limelight, many of the other Balkan countries are still relatively unvisited. Montenegro is home to beaches just as beautiful; Albania has mountain peaks and Ottoman towns, and Slovenia’s Ljubljana can rival anything Dubrovnik can do. The Balkans are beautiful and ready for visitors.

15 days

Off-the-beaten path in the Balkans

Albania and Kosovo’s hiking trails
Tirana (1 days) Durres (1) Berat (1) Albanian Riviera (1) Butrint National Park (2) Gjirokastra and the Drino Valley (1) Kruja (1) Shkodra (2) The Accursed Mountains (2) Prizren (3)
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8 days

West Balkans in a week

Croatia, Montenegro and Albania highlights
Dubrovnik (1 days) Konavle Valley (1) Bay of Kotor (1) Shkodra (2) Lake Skadar National Park (1) Lovćen National Park (1) Bay of Kotor (1)
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8 days

Istria’s coastlines and hilltop villages

Explore Istria’s walking trails for orchids and architecture
Zagreb (1 days) Pula (1) Rovinj (1) Istria’s hilltop villages (3) Lovran (1) Zagreb (1)
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5 days

Tirana and Albania’s countryside

Exploring Albania’s capital and surroundings
Tirana (2 days) Kruja (1) Durres (1) Tirana (1)
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5 days

Sarajevo and surroundings

Bosnia’s historic cities and mountain villages
Sarajevo (2 days) Mostar (1) Lukomir (1) Sarajevo (1)
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11 days

Mountain walks in Montenegro

Exploring Montenegro’s national parks
Trebinje (2 days) Tara Canyon (1) Durmitor National Park (1) Biogradska Gora National Park (2) Lake Skadar National Park (2) Lovćen National Park (1) Bay of Kotor (1) Dubrovnik (1)
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8 days

Exploring Montenegro’s coastline

National parks, Cetinje and Kotor Bay
Cetinje (1 days) Virpazar (2) Stari Bar (1) Lake Skadar National Park (1) Lovćen National Park (1) Bay of Kotor (2)
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8 days

Cycling Montenegro’s canyons and coastlines

Active adventures in Montenegro
Tara Canyon (2 days) Durmitor National Park (1) Lake Piva (1) Virpazar (1) Lake Skadar National Park (1) Bay of Kotor (2)
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7 days

Montenegro Loop

Montenegro’s best bits in a week
Dubrovnik (1 days) Durmitor National Park (1) Tara Canyon (1) Bay of Kotor (3) Lake Skadar National Park (1)
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8 days

Hiking Montenegro’s national parks

Exploring Montenegro’s hiking trails
Durmitor National Park (2 days) Tara Canyon (1) Biogradska Gora National Park (1) Lovćen National Park (1) Bay of Kotor (3)
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12 days

Via Dinarica way through Bosnia Herzegovina

Walking routes through Bosnia’s national parks
Sutjeska National Park (2 days) Počitelj (1) Hutovo Blato Nature Reserve (1) Mostar (1) Blidinje Nature Park (3) Bjelašnica ski resort (1) Sarajevo (3)
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8 days

West Balkans wine and food

A culinary adventure through the Balkans
Dubrovnik (1 days) Bay of Kotor (1) Konavle Valley (1) Virpazar (1) Shkodra (1) Cetinje (1) Trebinje (1) Dubrovnik (1)
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  • Albania

    Albania

    Europe’s best-kept secret
    Once best known as the final European country to throw off the shackles off Communism (outside the USSR), Albania spent much of the 20th century closed to outsiders...
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Bosnia and Herzegovina

    The lesser-visited, more-beautiful Balkans
    Bosnia and Herzegovina often lags behind Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia when it comes to Balkan breaks, but that makes this under-rated and under-visited country all the more appealing...
  • Croatia

    Croatia

    Dazzling coastlines
    There’s no hiding it — Croatia’s spectacular coastline is one of the best in the world...
  • Kosovo

    Kosovo

    A new dawn in the Balkans
    Europe’s newest country is also one of its most talked about...
  • Montenegro

    Montenegro

    Ancient towns cut into majestic mountains
    Tiny Montenegro has long been touted as the hot, new travel destination – and it’s easy to see why...

Where to go in Balkans

Our recommended places

Albania

Albania

Once best known as the final European country to throw off the shackles off Communism (outside the USSR), Albania spent much of the 20th century closed to outsiders. However, the 30-odd years since the end of isolationism has seen Albania grow as a tourist destination – and with good reason.

This is a country blessed with both beaches and mountains; a trendy capital in buzzing Tirana and historical villages like Berat and Gjirokastra, and excellent hiking trails complete with the chance of seeing bears, wolves and wild boar.

But come quick – such is the generous welcome, delicious food and comparatively cheap travel, that the trickle of visitors might soon become a flood.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bosnia and Herzegovina often lags behind Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia when it comes to Balkan breaks, but that makes this under-rated and under-visited country all the more appealing. For a start, it’s adventure activity heaven. There’s plenty of white-water rafting, rock climbing and canyoning to be done in its national parks, with mountain peaks and deep gorges everywhere.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s cities are dazzling too. Once ravaged by war, cities like Sarajevo and Mostar have recovered and repaired, with grand architecture, cobbled streets and coffee shops selling strong Bosnian coffee and plenty of cake.

That’s Bosnia and Herzegovina for you. Its natural beauty, whether tumbling waterfalls, medieval castles or turquoise rivers stand out at every corner. Don’t miss out.

Croatia

Croatia

There’s no hiding it — Croatia’s spectacular coastline is one of the best in the world. The water dazzles in shades of azure blue and emerald green, pebbly beaches provide a sharp contrast to the silky water, and islands stretch out into the sea waiting to be explored. It’s a beach holiday that dreams are made of.

But there’s much more to Croatia than that. Its strategic location between the rest of the Balkans and the central Europe of Italy has meant Croatia has often been in the crossfire of battle, leaving it both scarred and uplifted by its past invaders. You’ll see Roman ruins, Slavic churches and huge Venetian palaces all mixed in together.

What hasn’t changed is the welcome from the locals — while some beach destinations are getting over-crowded, much of Croatia is delightfully under-visited, particularly on its interior of rolling farmland and limestone mountains.

Kosovo

Kosovo

Europe’s newest country is also one of its most talked about. Kosovo self-declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognised by more than 100 countries as a nation — but not Serbia, with whom animosity still lingers.

Despite the signs of conflict that still haunt the region, Kosovo is a safe place to travel to. Visitors come for hiking in the Sharr Gorge and Rugova Canyon, to see 13-century monasteries and enjoy mountain villages, but the biggest draw is the welcome of Kosovans who want you to enjoy their fledgling state.

If you’re after off-the-beaten-path Europe, it doesn’t get much more unspoilt than Kosovo.

Montenegro

Montenegro

Tiny Montenegro has long been touted as the hot, new travel destination – and it’s easy to see why. The scenery is spectacular, with almost 300km of coastline, rugged, snow-capped mountains and pretty towns cut into the rock all waiting to be explored.

While it’s worth spending time on Montenegro’s excellent beaches, the real adventure comes inland. Head into the Durmitor and Prokletije mountain range and you’ll be able to hike, bike and kayak in forests and national parks that are still home to bears and wolves – it’s like stepping back into a fairytale.

This is also a place to explore some fascinating European history, as a dividing line between the east and west – and also the place that sealed the end of Yugoslavia, with a successful independence referendum in 2006. Look for frescoed monasteries, elegant mosques and imposing Catholic churches, as well as a number of hilltop fortresses.

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