Bucket list-worthy places in the Balkans
The Balkans region is located in southeastern Europe and comprises several countries. These include Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia. The Balkans is a diverse region, with each country's unique culture, history, and language. The area has various landscapes, from Albania's rugged mountains to Croatia's lush forests.
Generally, the feeling in the Balkans is one of warmth and hospitality, with a mix of excitement and vibrancy. There is a strong sense of history and pride among the people of the Balkans, with a great appreciation for tradition and culture. Additionally, the people of the Balkans are known for their resilience and strength in the face of adversity, making them inspiring places to visit.
It is worth mentioning that we do not tend to cover every country in the Balkans in this list, rather, we would like to present our top-picked to visit in the Balkans.
Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. It lies in the heart of the Slovenian Alps. Its charming Old Town is a maze of cobbled streets, lively squares, and colorful buildings, while the banks of the Ljubljanica River are lined with outdoor cafes and restaurants.
The city center contains numerous galleries, museums, and churches and is also the venue for many popular festivals and events. Ljubljana is also a great place to explore the outdoors, with its many parks, rivers, and forests. Ljubljana is a must-see destination in Slovenia with its convenient central location, easy access to the Alps, and stunning views of the Julian Alps.
What to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia
- Explore the Old Town
- Visit the Ljubljana Castle
- Tour the Jože Plečnik House
- Take a Boat Ride on the Ljubljanica River
- Visit the Farmer's Market
- Relax in Tivoli Park
- Climb Mount Triglav
- Take a bike tour around the city
Bled is a small town in Slovenia known for its beauty and charm. It is located in the Julian Alps, near the Austrian and Italian borders, and is a popular tourist destination. The town is known for the stunning Lake Bled, a glacial lake surrounded by mountains and forests.
The lake has several islands, one of which features a 17th-century church. It is a popular spot for swimming, sailing, and fishing, while the surrounding area is excellent for hiking, cycling, and skiing. Bled is also famous for its culinary specialties, such as the Bled Cream Cake and the "kremšnite," a custard-filled pastry.
What to do in Bled, Slovenia
- Visit Bled Castle
- Take a Boat Trip to Bled Island
- Hike to Vintgar Gorge
- Visit the Bled Cream Cake Shop
- Relax at spas
Dubrovnik is a walled city located in southern Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. The town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and is known for its cultural and historical significance. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, renowned for its unique and well-preserved old town, beautiful beaches, and stunning coastal views.
The old town is surrounded by high city walls and consists of cobblestone streets, red-tiled roofs, and magnificent Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque churches, monasteries, and palaces. It was chosen for the shooting of a signification scene in the famous TV series Game of Thrones. There are many historic sites and museums to explore and numerous cafés, restaurants, and bars to enjoy.
What to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Explore the Old Town
- Visit the City Walls
- Visit the Dubrovnik Cathedral
- Take a Walk Along the Stradun
- Visit Lokrum Monastery
- Take a Cable Car to Mt. Srd
- Visit Banje and Sveti Jakov Beaches
Split is a port city located on Croatia's eastern side of the Adriatic Sea. It is the second-largest city in the country and the largest city in Dalmatia. The city is home to Diocletian's Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 4th century, as well as the Peristyle, a Roman square surrounded by ancient sphinxes and other sculptures.
Split also features a variety of historical churches, museums, shops, restaurants, and bars. The city is a popular tourist destination due to its Mediterranean climate, stunning coastal views, and wide range of activities.
What to do in Split, Croatia
- Visit Diocletian's Palace
- Explore Marjan Hill
- Relax at Bacvice Beach
- Take a Boat Trip
- Visit the Old Town
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Croatia. It is known for its 16 interconnected lakes, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests. It has a variety of wildlife, including brown bears, wolves, eagles, and otters.
Visitors can explore the park on foot or by boat and participate in educational activities such as guided tours and hikes. The park is also home to some of the oldest trees in Europe, estimated to be over 1,000 years old. In addition to its natural beauty, Plitvice Lakes National Park is also known for its cultural significance and is a popular destination for locals and tourists. Do not miss one of the top National Parks in Europe when you are in Croatia.
Kotor is a coastal city in Montenegro in the Bay of Kotor. The town is in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor, surrounded by mountains and hills. It has been an important maritime trade port and center since the Middle Ages.
The city has old churches, cobblestone streets, and charming squares. Kotor is an excellent base for exploring Montenegro's dramatic coastline, islands, and nearby towns. It is also a popular destination for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and sailing.
What to do in Kotor, Montenegro
- Take a Tour of the Old Town
- Visit St. Tryphon Cathedral
- Visit the Cetinje Monastery
- Go Hiking in the Mountains
- Visit the Maritime Museum
Lake Skadar National Park
Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans and one of Europe's most important freshwater reserves. Located in Southern Montenegro and spanning into Northern Albania, the lake is an important part of both countries' histories and cultural identities. Its vastness and natural beauty have made Skadar a popular tourist destination, with plenty of opportunities for fishing, boating, birdwatching, and more.
The lake also has various plant and animal species, such as the endangered Dalmatian pelican and the Montenegrin water frog. Moreover, its numerous bays and marshes provide nesting sites for several migratory bird species, making it one of Europe's most important bird habitats.
Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It lies on the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Belgrade has a rich history and culture. It features many historic buildings, monuments and attractions, including Kalemegdan Fortress, St. Sava Temple, the National Museum, and the Republic Square.
Belgrade also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, with many parks, nature reserves, and cycling routes.
What to do in Belgrade, Serbia
- Explore Kalemegdan Fortress
- Check out Skadarlija
- Visit the Belgrade Zoo
- Visit the Nikola Tesla Museum
- Visit the Saint Sava Cathedral
- Take a stroll through Knez Mihailova Street
- Enjoy a beer at a local brewery
Sarajevo is the capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Located within the Sarajevo Valley of Bosnia, it is surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and along the Miljacka River. It is the economic, cultural, and governmental center of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sarajevo is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and religious heritage. It is home to various architectural styles, including Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and modern buildings. Sarajevo is a popular tourist destination offering a range of activities, including skiing, hiking, and sightseeing.
What to do in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Explore the Old Town
- Visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum
- Climb to Yellow Fortress
- Enjoy the outdoors at the Miljacka River
- Visit the Sarajevo Brewery
- Attend a performance at the National Theater
- Pay your respects at the Sarajevo City Hall