The summer is already here and if you still haven’t planned your holiday here are some alternative ways on how to make unforgettable memories this very August. I know there are plenty of lucrative destinations such as Italy and Spain but why don’t you go for something completely unexpected – like the Balkans for example. It may sound strange at first but how many of your friends have been to Montenegro, Bulgaria or Serbia? Grab the opportunity and hit those picturesque roads, try the local cuisine, climb the highest mountains, walk those endless beaches, find yourself a small island and settle there for a day. You get the idea, there are so many things to do on the Balkans that you would like to go back again and again. For best experience, I suggest you rent a camper van and visit more than one country. For worst experience, discuss politics and history. No, seriously, don’t do that or you will start World War 3.
Beaches and yachts
Since the majority of people associate summer with hot days, sunny beaches, cocktails, nightlife and wild parties we kick off with Greece and Croatia. Both countries offer an outstanding seaside experience – from golden sands to rocky cliffs, to breathtaking views, to yachts for rent. In fact, renting a yacht is a great idea. You can book it for a day or a whole week, and trust me, you will have the time of your life. The captain knows exactly where those hidden treasures are across the coastline.
Prepare for crystal clear water, small islands, seafood and a lot of fun. Going on a cruise for a couple of days will allow you to explore the local culture as every day you will visit different villages and towns, each of which is totally unique. Plus, you will enjoy tens if not thousands of historical sites (just remember to keep your mouth shut 🙂 ). If you are more into larger locations Dubrovnik, Rijeka, Thessaloniki, and Athens should satisfy your hunger for summer joy. Islands worth visiting are…Well, all of them!
In case you made the right decision and indeed rented a camper van then I suggest you get lost in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro. These two are quite hilly and I should warn you that you will drive mainly across mountain regions but hey, that’s the fun part.
It is just magical to pass through those heavenly beautiful landscapes of Lovcen National Park (Montenegro) as well as the towns of Višegrad and Mostar (both in Bosnia and Herzegovina). Since both countries were part of the Ottoman Empire (as all Balkan states) you will enjoy an outstanding mixture of cultures that feels just right.
Since you are a traveler in your guts and camping is what you crave for I got good news for you – Macedonia and Albania are just what you are looking for. Both countries offer endless roads crossing mountain ranges, valleys, and riverbeds. Furthermore, the Ohrid Lake is a must-see destination along with the nearby Prespa Lake.
Guess what, Macedonia and Albania will become your favorite destinations for camping not only because they have hundreds of campsites but because wild camping is completely OK even if the law says otherwise (which it doesn’t, though finding reliable info on the topic on the internet is quite hard). Just have common sense, respect the locals, and don’t camp in National Parks and you won’t have a problem. As a general rule Balkan nations don’t care much about laws so wild camping is perfectly fine practically in any country in the region.
I know some of you have quite a different idea of spending their summer holidays. If cycling is among your top priorities this summer then Serbia is the place for you. Not because it has perfect roads (no Balkan country has them anyway) but it has three major European cycling routes passing through it – EuroVelo 6, EuroVelo 11, and EuroVelo 13.
Of course, you can hit virtually every road that looks appealing, and boy they are so many. From my own experience, I can tell that the EuroVelo 6 route is very well supplied with signs but I tried to follow other roads and I don’t regret it because for the better part they were quiet and nice.
If wondering in the woods and trekking is your cup of tea then you should definitely visit Bulgaria and Slovenia. Bulgaria may not be the largest European country but when it comes to hiking it has a lot to offer. Consider this, the Kom – Emine trail starts from the Serbian border on the West and finishes on the Black Sea shore on the East. With a total of 650 km Kom – Emine is one of the longest hiking trails on the Balkans. It is also part of the European E3 hiking route, which the locals consider the “other point of view to Santiago”. Did you know that the highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula is in Bulgaria, too? It goes by the name Musala and its part of the Rila Mountain. Other mountain ranges that you would definitely want to hike are Pirin and Rhodope.
Slovenians are proud to have a portion of the mighty Alps situated in their homeland and I have to tell that the natural beauty of Slovenia is unmatched. And the best part is that the Slovenians are crazy about hiking. I mean, there are 10,000 km of marked hiking trails backed by 175 cozy mountain huts made just for you. The Triglav National Park is something definitely worth visiting as well as the Bled Lake. In fact, the hiking trails in Slovenia are so many that it’s impossible to cover all of them in this article.
What are you waiting for? This is summer is just the perfect time for you to explore the Balkans.