26 Things Not To Miss On An Epic Balkans Road Trip

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Post author Adam

Written by our local expert Adam

Adam is an adventure traveler and travel writer who loves to document obscure pockets of the world via overland expeditions.

What Balkan countries should you visit? All of these experiences in my complete guide can be yours in the Balkan Peninsula this year. Our team has tried and tested these 26 ideas for what not to miss on your Balkans road trip.

Balkans Travel Blog_Things Not To Miss On A Balkans Road Trip

Standing atop soaring Romanian peaks in Transylvania, looking down on dark green valleys of lush ecosystems, sailing around the pristine turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea with exotic and vibrant marine life lurking below, sitting on the beach of a luxurious Black Sea resort off the coast of Bulgaria; island hopping around the paradisiacal Greek islands traversing ancient Greek architecture and observing history in the present.

All of these experiences could be yours to keep in the great secret region of Europe known as the Balkans.

The Balkans are a region in eastern Europe comprised of Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey.

These 12 countries, with their majestic mountains, turquoise waters, adventurous water sports, old-fashioned cultures, historic architecture, snowy ski runs, glistening waterfalls and lakes, and excellent food scenes, make for a hell of a vacation.

Even if you can only visit a portion of the region, it is well worth your time. You will find endless surprises that we can’t even begin to cover in one article.

If you are looking for even more information after reading this guide, you will want to visit the rest of our site, which is a one-stop resource for Balkans vacation information.

Things Not To Miss On A Trip Through The Balkans

This list is by no means a comprehensive guide to the greatness of the Balkans. These are just some of the attractions our team picked based on our experiences over the years.

There are plenty of secrets in the Balkans waiting to be discovered. We often find ourselves discovering new things being brought to our attention upon every trip to this euphoric region of the world.


Without wasting any more of your time telling you how awesome the Balkans are, why don’t we present you with the things that make this part of Europe what it is?

Cultural Experiences & Historic Sites

Get Caught In A Love Story At The Museum Of Broken Relationships

museum of broken relationships - #Croatia Chasing the Donkey
Museum of Broken Relationships

There is almost nothing in Croatia more unique than the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb. Let’s face it—we are hopelessly captivated by a good (or tragic) love story—and this museum is filled with them. There are countless stories of love and love lost for all visitors to read and experience.

You have to admit, even if lovey-dovey stuff isn’t your thing, this museum is bound to be unique enough to visit. It isn’t your typical tourist stop; however, it has somehow become that in Croatia. Tourists and locals alike.


Sneak Into Bulgaria’s Headquarter Of Communism

Buzludzha Monument - Day Trips From Sofia

This place is Bulgaria’s Area 51- except it is abandoned, and you are free to explore if you can find a way in! The Buzludzha Monument is atop a mountain in the center of Bulgaria and was the former headquarters of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

It is now just a crumbling remembrance of Bulgaria’s dark past and an oversized concrete building that is pretty creepy to explore.

Until the collapse of Communism in Bulgaria in the 1980s, it was one of the most important buildings in the country, but now it has been officially closed and abandoned ever since.

Tip Toe Around Count Dracula’s Bran Castle In Transylvania

Facts About Romania - Dracula's Castle - Transylvania
Dracula’s Castle – Transylvania

Transylvania is a legendary region of Romania, infamous for being home to the legend of Count Dracula. However, it is much too large to explore fully in a short time, so if you are limited by time on your Balkans road trip, you are best off paying a visit to Bran Castle, the one believed to be the inspiration for Count Dracula’s base.

Though it is said the author of Count Dracula’s tale, Bram Stoker, never actually visited the castle himself, so it is a bit of a mystery.


Climb Skull Tower In Niš

Best Things To Do In Serbia - Skull Tower

You are going to have to see this one to believe it. The Romans, who left ruins of a fortress, and the Ottomans, who created the tower made of real skulls, can take credit for this one as we are sure the residents of Niš don’t want to.

There is so much captivating history in Nis — Serbia’s third-largest city — including a sad, sad reality of World War II, resulting in nearly the entire city population being sent to concentration camps.


Walk The Walls Of Dubrovnik’s Old Town

Dubrovnik old town city walls. Minceta Tower - Game of Thrones

There’s a lot to see and do in Dubrovnik, which is arguably the star attraction in Croatia. One of the best things to do in this beautiful UNESCO-protected coastal town is walking its fortified City Walls.

Between the 13th and 16th centuries, these truly enormous defensive walls were meant to protect the Republic of Ragusa, as Dubrovnik used to be called, from foreign attacks, notably by the Venetians and Ottomans. The entire complex includes five bastions, two round towers, a fortress, and fourteen square towers. The wider defensive system of Dubrovnik encompasses the St. Lawrence Fortress, the Imperial Fortress, and the Walls of Ston, among several other structures in the area.

What’s so exceptional about Dubrovnik’s old City Walls today is that, besides being perfectly preserved, you can walk their entire length. The walls are about two kilometers (1.5 miles) long, forming a rough circle around the whole Old Town and offering truly phenomenal views of the beautiful city and the coast.

It’s recommended that you walk the City Walls in the morning, especially in the summer months, because there’s hardly any shade up there, and temperatures can be pretty high.

Visit Liberland: The World’s Newest Nation

Balkans Road Trip - Liberland

So, we have never actually been to Liberland. It is pretty hard to find, but that is what puts it off the beaten path for tourists. It is said to be somewhere between Croatia and Serbia in a heavily wooded area. It is the Balkan’s newest, most unofficial addition.

It is a tiny self-declared nation worth trying to find, if only to say you are one of the few who have found it. We suggest backpacking around the Balkans for a while as we have heard the whispers from fellow travelers about it. Locals in the area might know a little something about it as well.

Check out the ‘Roman Well’ of the Belgrade Fortress

Tucked away in the southwestern part of Upper Town within Kalemegdan Fortress, this well sits rarely visited by tourists with a dark past — and the Romans did not even build it.

Probably built in the 18th Century, though its origins can’t be traced precisely, the well is likely created by the Austrians and named to plead their case as the heirs to the Roman Empire.

It is assumed that the well was initially built to provide drinkable water to all Austrian constructionists who were restoring the Belgrade Fortress. However, once the well went dry, it was used as a dungeon for prisoners of the Empire. 

Though calling it a ‘dungeon’ sheds a favorable light on the dumping ground it was for prisoners. Most were thrown down the well and left to die. Many tales surround the well, which you may hear upon a visit.

Jump Off Mostar’s Beautiful Stari Grad Bridge

Backpacking The Balkans - Mostar

Mostar’s Stari Grad (Old Bridge) is the most popular site in the entire city, and you will undoubtedly come across it if you visit this gorgeous Bosnian and Herzegovinian city. It connects the two sides of the city and was reconstructed after being pretty much destroyed in the Yugoslav Wars.

You will see locals doing their dive off the 60-foot bridge into the river below if you are lucky. It is a sort of tradition, and you can even join in if you are daring enough.

Visit Split’s Secret Sister City: Omis!

Things to do in Omis Travel Blog | Chasing the Donkey Travel Blog | Beach

By now, all Balkan vacationers have heard about Croatia’s popular tourist destination along the Adriatic Sea, Split. However, only a thirty-minute drive will take you away from the mass tourism to a quaint medieval town that resembles what you can find in Split at half the cost, and without the same crowds, you have to fight around in Split.

It is well worth the trip if you are tired of the cobblestone streets in Split. Make sure to bring your camera and be ready for adventures such as zip-lining, canyoneering, and whitewater rafting, not to mention the black sand beach just in town.


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Natural Wonders & Outdoor Activities

Fill Your Instagram With Photos Of Lake Bled In Slovenia


There is a chance you have seen this beautiful lake on social media before without ever knowing where it is or what it is called. The fact that Lake Bled is so quiet most of the year still baffles us as it is a great alternative to some of the other famous picturesque lakes around Europe.

A lake set in the middle of the Alps with beautiful traditional Slovenian homes and churches surrounding the grand Assumption of Mary Church front and center on Bled Island (which is the fantastic view you have no doubt seen photos of) — what is not to love?

Though it receives the most tourists of all the amazing places in Slovenia and is a bit overpriced compared to the rest of the country, it is still a great excursion.

Road Trip The Dalmatian Coast

Split or Zadar - Zadar Greeting to the sun

The Dalmatian Coast is one of the Balkan’s most prized road trips, especially the section of Dalmatia. Either road trip down the coast or take boat trips up or down the Adriatic Coast and be treated to stunning views of rocky coastlines, beautiful beaches, pristine turquoise waters, exotic marine life, ever-changing sunsets, and a luxurious experience unlike you would ever believe.

The Dalmatian Coast has quickly become the most toured spot in the Balkans, and for good reason.

Go Hiking In Prokletije National Park

Are you looking for a handsome hiking experience in the Balkans? Montenegro has your answer. Prokletije National Park along the Accursed Mountains of the Dinaric Alps is the place to go.

For the best experience in this area, head to Grebaje Valley. From there, there are several trails, each leading to beautiful nature scenes and serenity like you can’t imagine.

Hike The Abandoned Bobsleigh Track In Sarajevo

Before the conflict tore Bosnia apart during the collapse of Yugoslavia, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics of 1984. During the war-torn years, the bobsleigh track used in the Olympics became a barrier wall used in fighting.

Nowadays, the track is abandoned with a lot of history and stories to tell — as long as you are cautious of undetonated minefields! At the top is a phenomenal view.

See The Beautiful Bay Of Kotor

Port In Kotor Montenegro - Things To Do In Montenegro

A UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Montenegro, the glorious Bay of Kotor is undoubtedly one of the top attractions in the Balkan region. The bay is sometimes described as the only fjord in the Mediterranean. While that is technically not true, it does effectively explain the landscape. A visit to this unique bay is one of the best things to do in Montenegro and the Balkan region in general.

The Bay of Kotor, also known as Boka Kotorska Montenegro, begins seemingly like any other Mediterranean bay. It’s simple and rocky, not really invoking any awe or causing any jaws to drop.

But as you continue further into the bay, swinging around bends and meandering along its many folds, the landscape becomes increasingly spectacular. The coastal mountains get steeper, and the scenery more rugged.

There are several villages and towns in the Bay of Kotor to explore, yet two stand head and shoulders above the rest. Especially if you have limited time, you should focus on these: Perast and the Old Town of Kotor. Both towns feature stunning historic architecture and churches, some beaches, and walking and hiking paths.

Soak Up The Albanian Riviera Sunshine

Things To Do In Himare, Albania - Sunbathers on the beach in Himare resort, Albania.

A stretch of shoreline along the Albania coast from Vlorë (Vlora) and Palasë (Palasa) in the north to Sarandë (Saranda) and Ksamil in the south, the Albanian Riviera features the best-hidden beaches in the Balkans.

Albania’s southern coast is the perfect place for a holiday with history, natural beauty, and friendly faces. The region is home to UNESCO sites such as the Butrint Archaeological Site and National Park, dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans’ times. Beautiful Drymades and Jale Beaches are where you’ll get the suntan to show your friends back home.

The incredible nightlife in the cities contrasts with the days in the quaint villages, allowing you to enjoy both sides of Albanian life. This is easily one of the Balkans’ best destinations for a beach holiday, while cultural and historical sites offer fun day trips.


Check Out Tara National Park’s “House On The Drina”

Balkans Road Trip - House On The Drina

The House on the Drina is more of a photographer’s experience than a touring site. You can’t access the house, but it is sure mystical to look at. It is a house on a rock in the middle of the river, which sounds simple but is quite mindblowing to see—especially in person! It is located right near Bajina Bašta, where it was built in 1969 and has been abandoned ever since. It is a miracle it still stands and hasn’t collapsed into the water.

Trek Between Two Albanian National Parks

Theth To Valbona Hike In The Albanian Alps

Albania is not widely known to most visitors, but the country actually has numerous spectacular national parks. Two such Albanian national parks are Theth National Park and Valbona Valley National Park, both located in northern Albania.

These two parks preserve breathtaking mountain landscapes, fauna, and flora. Located in the heart of the Albanian Alps, the parks are an outdoor lover’s paradise. You can explore gorgeous alpine meadows, beautiful valleys, waterfalls, forests, and rugged mountains. Additionally, this is one of the most wildlife-rich areas in the western Balkans, home to golden eagles, lynx, wild goats, gray wolves, and brown bears.

For the ultimate national park adventure in Albania, consider hiking the trail that connects both parks. This distance of the Valbona-Theth trail is only 13 kilometers, but the rugged and remote terrain does make it a 6-to-8-hour trek. It’s one of the most extraordinary hiking experiences in the Balkans!

Jump Into Bulgaria’s Photogenic Pink Lake

Burgas is a beautiful coastal city on the edge of the Black Sea. It is one of the more popular Bulgarian cities in terms of tourism; however, most people visit resorts along the Black Sea and not the Pink Lakes near the city.

Because of its high salt content, Atanasovsko Lake is actually pink—this is no joke. It is amazingly photogenic; you will hardly believe your eyes. Plus, it is free to the public to visit, and you can cover yourself in mud, which is believed to be healing.

Explore The Great Waterfalls Of Croatia, Krka & Plitvice

Krka_How to get from Split to Krka

Croatia is known for its extraordinary coast. Not enough people head inland where there are still unbelievable national parks and nature, which is sure to awe your social media following.

For starters, you can go chasing waterfalls — namely Krka and Plitvice, which are both reachable via public bus. You will be enthralled by these two gems — especially Plitvice, in our opinion. After visiting, make sure you research where else nearby to visit — Croatia is full of beauty beyond its crowded coastal cities.

Take A Train Through Postojna Cave

Lockdown in Croatia 2
Postojna Caves, Slovenoa

There are impressive caves all over the Balkans, but Postojna Cave in Slovenia is one of the more impressive ones. Stretching just over 15,000 miles long, the entire system is one of the longest in the world, and you can actually take an underground train across it. There is also a park that includes an active Concert Hall inside. You must check it!

Food, Drink, & Entertainment

Party At Serbia’s Renowned Clubs On The River

OK, we will admit that we have done our fair share of partying throughout Europe. And before visiting Serbia, we had heard whispers about Belgrade’s party scene, but not nearly enough hype for the experience it was.

Put simply, the Serbian capital city is quickly transforming into a party hotspot in Europe. There are plenty of enticing experiences for drinking your vacation silly, but by far, the best is the floating clubs alongside the Sava River. And the price of beer in Serbia is very budget-friendly as well, which makes your Balkan road trip experience all that much more enticing.


Sample Regional Delicacies In Istria

Istrian Food Seaood in Istria Croatia Travel Blog - 1

Croatia’s most northwestern region, Istria, is a triangle-shaped peninsula near the Slovenian border. It is a historically and culturally distinct region with close historical links with Italy (specifically the former Venetian Empire). To this day, many street and road signs are in both Croatian and Italian.

So, it probably comes as no surprise that Istria is one of Croatia’s culinary hotspots. It’s literally the meeting point of northern Italian cuisine and Dalmatian and inland Croatian food.

The rolling hills of the Istrian interior are home to wineries, olive farms, and truffle forests, while its beautiful coastal towns are famous for their excellent fish and seafood dishes.

Consider spending enough time in picturesque towns like Rovinj and Porec on the coast and the hilltop town of Motovun in rural Istria.

Rakija, Rakija, Rakija!


Rakija is by far the most popular drink in the Balkans. It is a brandy-type spirit originally made of plums but now caters to all kinds of fruitful or savory flavors. It can be found throughout the Balkans, and you are bound to have a night of your own, probably having one too many Rakija drinks. Be careful—the hangovers are real!

Attend Romania’s Electric Castle Music Festival

Imagine the craziest festival you have ever attended, with some of today’s top names in electronic music, light shows that will amaze your eyes, alternative arts on display around the grounds, and — oh yeah—the entire production happening inside the historic Bánffy Castle of Transylvania.

You are sure never to experience another festival quite like Electric Castle, which is becoming the Balkan’s top show- if it hasn’t already reached that achievement. The festival goes on annually each summer.

Enjoy The Urban Charm Of Ljubljana

Things to do in Ljubljanica River | Slovenia Travel Blog

While Ljubljana may lack the major tourist attractions that other European capitals do have, it makes up for that by being amazingly charming and atmospheric. Sure, there are no Eiffel Towers, huge Parliament buildings, or Colosseums, but there are a cobbled historic center, pastel-colored architecture, and lush riverbanks.

The Ljubljanica River winds its way scenically across the heart of the Old Town, its banks lined with greenery and, in summer, countless patios of restaurants and cafés. Ljubljana is also a city of festivals. Even when there’s no festival going on, the riverside terraces give the impression of a continuous street party.

So, with a beautiful river running through its core and dotted with beautiful buildings and cozy eateries, Ljubljana sometimes feels too good to be true. This is a place where you can go on a Sunday stroll every day of the week. There are some major landmarks in Ljubljana, though. Don’t miss Ljubljana Castle, the Triple Bridge, Ljubljana Cathedral, the artsy neighborhood of Metelkova, and busy Prešeren Square.

Try Wine From The Oldest Grapevine In The World In Maribor

Things To Do In Slavonia _ Kutjevo Winery

Maribor, in the northeast of Slovenia, is known as the gateway to the Balkans. It is Slovenia’s second-largest city; however, it doesn’t get a lot of visitors because most people flock to Lake Bled and Ljubljana.

Those who come to Maribor will be treated to beautiful scenes of nature and history, including the Old Vine—the longest-living grapevine in the world. That has to be some good wine!

Map Of Of The Balkans

Balkans Map Of The Balkans_Blue

Adventure Awaits Your Balkans Adventure!

As you can see, the Balkans offer a wide array of adventures, from calm, therapeutic lakes and mountain peaks to electrifying music festivals inside actual castles and wild floating river clubs known throughout Europe.

Your Balkans itinerary will depend heavily on your travel style. Luckily, we have put together many itineraries that match every traveler’s vacation needs. On other parts of our site, we offer a look at several different lengths of travel and modes of travel through the Balkans, which we encourage you to check out before your trip to the east of Europe.

Exciting stories and memories that will last a lifetime await, and there’s no better time to start planning your Balkans vacation than today! If you have questions, we are always just a message on social media or an email away!

Now, you have more than one good idea for your Balkan road trip itinerary. From the narrow streets to Ottoman architecture, you’re set with plenty of things to complete your epic road trip.

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