The hospitality and all-round welcoming nature of locals in the Balkans is such a genuine warmth so you may find it hard to leave.
You will find something gorgeous and fascinating, whether you’re looking for nature, history, or culture. If you’ve never visited the Balkans or looking for more destinations to discover, these are the places you must visit here. There are still many small towns undiscovered by tourism!
Top Places to Visits in the Balkans
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The Old Bridge in Mostar is one of the many remnants of the long Ottoman control of the Balkans region. The visitors can watch daring locals that jump off Stari Most Bridge, marvel at the beautiful old Turkish houses and enjoy refreshing dips in the nearby Kravice waterfalls. The city suffered damage during the Bosnian war of the 1990s, with the financial help of many countries the city has rebuilt the bridge and its surrounding areas. The entire city is now one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s major cultural attractions.
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Nessebar, also known as the Pearl of the Black Sea is another good example of how nature and culture can come together to create truly wondrous sites. Nessebar is one of the oldest cities in Europe and it has been inhabited for over 3000 years by various cultures and empires – Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, Crusaders, and Ottomans, and their remnants are sprinkled across the city in the form of buildings from different eras and architectural styles, especially a large collection of Eastern Orthodox churches, some of them dating back as far as the 5th century.
The ancient city of Nessebar, located in Bulgaria, is a unique example of a synthesis of the centuries-old human activities in the sphere of culture. The historic town of Nessebar dates back to antiquity when it was founded as a Thracian settlement known as Menebria.
Its position on the coast, on a thin peninsula into the sea, also contributes to its status.
The beautiful town is such an important site it’s recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. There are many stylish and unique accommodation options in the area you can choose from.
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Dubrovnik is renowned for its affordable accommodation and lack of crowds. Enjoy beautiful white sand beaches and crystal blue waters along with vibrant city life and Baroque palaces. You might even take a day trip to one of the sparsely populated islands nearby or take a short drive from the city to enjoy scenic mountain hikes.
It’s famous for its Old Town, the stunning landscapes and beaches, but also recently for being a part in one of the filming sets of Game of Thrones.
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Transylvania is a region in central Romania. It’s known for medieval towns, mountainous borders and castles like Bran Castle, a Gothic fortress associated with the legend of Dracula.
Transylvania is often thought as a land filled with bloodsucking vampires and howling wolves. But in reality, it’s a real destination bordered to the east by the Carpathian Mountains. Transfagarasan Highway is Romania’s most spectacular and best-known road and one of the most impressive drives in the world. Gain huge popularity after its appearance on BBC Top Gear in 2009, now one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. It climbs through the highest peaks of the Transylvania Alps, connecting Transylvania and Walachia, and is home to an abundance of wildlife and miles of scenic hiking trails. This region has also around 150 fortified churches and castles.
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Nestled in an alpine valley along the Ljubljana River, the town of Ljubljana, capital of Slovenia, is famous for its fairy-tale good looks, often ranked as Eastern Europe’s most beautiful city and Slovenia is the World’s Most Sustainable Country. Its accommodation rates are really affordable as well as offering cheap entertainment and delicious low-priced dining options. The city has to offer many art galleries, charming cobblestone streets and interesting museums as well as hip bars and charming cafes that offer lots of fun after dark.
It’s known for its university population and green spaces, including expansive Tivoli Park. The curving Ljubljanica River, lined in outdoor cafes, divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub. Ljubljana has many museums, including the National Museum of Slovenia, displaying historic exhibitions, and the Museum of Modern Art. Another example of a city with numerous visible influences. Many of the buildings throughout the city are the work of noted Slovene architect Jože Plečnik.
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Perast is an old town on the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. Despite having only one main street, this tiny town boasts 16 churches and 17 formerly grand palazzi. As a former sailor center it still shines with marvelous buildings, pretty churches and a romantic waterfront.
Perast is a small town with the spirit of Venice overlooking the beautiful Boka Bay and the main attractions of Perast: 2 pearly beautiful offshore church islands. Perast, as an absolute highlight of the Bay of Kotor, is also one of the most beautiful Baroque towns in Montenegro. Visiting Perast and the islands will pull you into the world of seafarers, love, human impermanence and longevity of memory.
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Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled is a lake in the Julian Alps of the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia, where it adjoins the town of Bled. Lake Bled and its island, Bled Castle and Bled Cream Cake – make your wishes come true by enjoying a perfect experience in the heart of the Alps. Lake Bled is hands down one of Europe’s most romantic destinations and if you ask me, the most beautiful lake in Europe.
You can rent a rowboat to get out to the island in the middle, where it’s quite likely that you’ll see a wedding. Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort, drawing everyone from honeymooners lured by the over-the-top romantic setting to backpackers, who come for the hiking, biking.
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Stunningly beautiful lake Ohrid is most important as a nature reserve. As one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, it is home to over 200 endemic species that make up entire food chains and that have remained remarkably undisturbed by the incursion of non-native species. People have inhabited the shores of the lake on all sides since the Bronze Age, and it is now part of both Macedonia and Albania. The combination of the surrounding mountains and the bright color of the lake will truly make you feel connected with nature.
A small city in the southwest of the country, Ohrid is most renowned for the Church of St John at Kaneo. The church sits on a cliff edge overlooking Lake Ohrid.
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Looking for Albania’s prettiest Ottoman-era town? Gjirokaster is it! Known as the ‘City of Stone’, Gjirokastra in Southern Albania is One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, listed because of the Ottoman style houses that you can find throughout the city. Defined by its castle, roads paved with chunky limestone and shale, imposing slate-roofed houses and views out to the Drina Valley, this gorgeous, carefully preserved, peculiar-looking city is built on steep slopes where stone-roofed houses seem to be built on top of one another, the area has been inhabited or over 2500 years, most of the buildings are from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Alongside Albania’s most beautiful traditional houses and the city’s famous limestone and shale paved roads, the city houses the Castle of Gjirokastra, one of the oldest in the Balkans! The “city of stone” offers a number of authentically rich culinary delights and memorable panoramas of the surrounding mountainous.
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Zakynthos is one of the most beautiful islands in Greece, with amazing views and perfect, crystal-clear water. It’s known for its famous view of Shipwreck Beach and also for the crazy nightlife of Laganas, a city on Zakynthos. White beaches, sea turtles and partying around the clock make Zakynthos a favorite holiday destination. The Venetians called this southernmost Ionian island Fiore di Levante, the Flower of the East.
Zakynthos became popular after it went viral on Instagram some years ago showing the dramatic cliffs and the shipwreck on the beach down below.
Photo credit: © Danita Delimont / Alamy
Visoki Dečani, Kosovo
This Orthodox Christian monastery in Kosovo houses the largest Orthodox church in the Balkans and is worth a visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dečani possesses a unique church constructed in a mixture of Romanic, Gothic and Byzantine styles, with more than 1000 preserved original frescoes. They make up the largest surviving collection of Serbian medieval art, and they depict scenes from the Bible, members of noble families, and a plethora of Orthodox saints, among other things.
Built in the early 14th century by Serbian king Stefan Dečanski, this monastery is in a beautiful spot beneath the mountains and surrounded by pine and chestnut trees.
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Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
The Park is located at wide mountain region in the northwestern part of Montenegro, surrounded by rivers Piva and Tara. The landscape of Durmitor National Park looks alternately like New Zealand, Scotland, Iceland, and the Alps. Limestone crags cut by melting glaciers millions of years ago left an otherworldly landscape in this tiny corner of this tiny country.
While much of Montenegro is covered in mountains, Durmitor is the center of mountain tourism in the country. People are coming here for hiking, skiing, or simply to enjoy the views. Numerous lakes dot the landscape, and in the autumn the whole park lights up with the changing colors of the leaves. One part of the park to check out is Tara River Canyon, which is the second biggest in the world after the Grand Canyon. You’ll certainly not run out of scenic outlooks when you’re driving around Durmitor.
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Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitviče Lakes National Park is a 295-sq.-km forest reserve in central Croatia. It’s known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water, and an electric boat links the 12 upper and 4 lower lakes.
Plitvice Lakes National Park has become incredibly popular in the summer months, you can arrive early at opening if you wish to enjoy the park all to yourself.
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Elafonisi beach has been voted several times as one of the most majestic beaches not only in Europe but also in the world. The area features exotic beauty: dunes, cedar trees, white lilies, black rocks, rare species of animals and birds that live there, blue waters and bright white sand. Elafonisi is a magical place that consists of a small islet full of white and pink sandy beaches.
One of the reasons that Elafonisi beach has been included in the protected areas of Natura, is that here lay the turtles Caretta-Caretta.
Photo credit: MPF
Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria
This picturesque Eastern Orthodox monastery in the forested mountains less than two hours south of Sofia is definitely worth a pilgrimage visit. This historic black and white monastery is one of Bulgaria’s architectural jewels. Architectural styles have been preserved on the property as historical monuments of considerable time span (11th-19th c.).
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