The Balkans is one of the most underrated – yet extraordinary – regions in Europe. Named after the Balkan Mountains, the region encompasses Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia. We spoke to Tod Covich, one of our expert Balkans Travel Directors, to find out all the best things to do and see in the Balkans. We also find out why the Balkans is a trending destination and one of the ultimate destinations for 2023 and beyond.
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Why is the Balkans a trending destination to visit in 2023?
It’s off the beaten track. People who have travelled to more popular parts of Southern or Western Europe find it budget-friendly, and safe. Visitors are always surprised by the hidden gems and the famous people and inventions that originate from the Balkans.
The biggest surprise many people experience is diversity. This region has some of Europe’s smallest countries but they have so much to see. You have the Alps, rolling green plains, valleys, mountainous coastlines, islands and the cleanest picturesque sea, lakes and waterways. This is a part of the world that has always been the crossroads of Empires, different cultures, religions and beliefs. It makes for a fascinating destination, rich in historical events that changed the world forever and touched even the homelands of many of its visitors. This also means a great variety of food, drinks and experiences unique to the Balkans.
What are your top things to see and do in the Balkans?
Our Balkans Travel Director Tod reveals some of the very best things to experience in the Balkans.
Explore the old town’s laneways, streets and city walls for breathtaking views of this UNESCO-listed walled medieval seaside town in Croatia.
A picturesque lake of clear blue water and a charming town in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. Explore the island on the lake by rowboat in this magical setting.
Whether you visit the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque, go shopping or eat and drink coffee in the Bascarsija (Bazar), you can’t miss out on beautiful Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
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Plitvice National Park
Enjoy an awe-inspiring walk-through nature in this UNESCO-listed national park in Croatia, famous for its cascades of 16 waterfalls and lakes with amazing colours and views.
Slovenia’s capital has a romantic feel amongst its cobblestone streets lined with unique architecture, bridges and parks.
Diocletian’s Palace, Split
Explore a living Roman ruin, which is the centrepiece to Split, a vibrant historic seaside town. There’s also so much more to see along the Adriatic coastline of Croatia, from Dubrovnik and Split to Trogir and Opatija.
Bay of Boka
You can set eyes on this sparkling UNESCO-listed bay when driving to Kotor, Montenegro.
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In the centre of the capital of Croatia you’ll find an inviting medieval old town of cobbled streets and diverse architecture surrounded by markets, museums and galleries.
This stunning city in Bosnia and Herzegovina is famous for its medieval Stari Most (Old Bridge). But there are so many more wonderful treasures to explore here, from museums and markets, to gorgeous architecture and panoramic views.
Roam across the island of Hvar in Croatia to discover its rich history, food and nature, and relaxed island lifestyle.
You can watch and listen to Klapa music, a traditional Cappella singing group in Dalmatia. Or dance with locals in a Croatian folklore experience with our Be My Guest experiences.
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What are your favourite foods to eat in the Balkans?
Tod shares the ultimate Balkans foods you just can’t miss.
These finger size minced meat sausages are famous in Bosnia and Serbia but served throughout the Balkans. They’re best served with Ajvar, a relish made from roasted peppers, oil and salt.
A slow-cooked veal, lamb or seafood paired with olive oil, herbs, potatoes and vegetables. It’s prepared under a metal bell-shaped lid and covered with coals.
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A thin flaky pastry found filled with either meat, cheese, spinach or potatoes. It’s a great on-the-go food found in bakeries throughout the Balkans.
A fish stew from Croatia that captures the flavours of the Adriatic Sea seafood.
Rolls of dough cooked or baked with a range of fillings. Locally served and made in regional Croatia (Zagorje), Zagreb and Slovenia.
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The famous local salad of octopus, seasoned with olives, parsley, onion and garlic dressed in olive oil and lemon. It’s very popular on the Adriatic coastline.
There are many high-quality ice-cream vendors throughout the Balkans. You’ll enjoy lots of local varieties, especially in Split.
What is your favourite thing about visiting the Balkans?
The diversity. One day you are in a cultural and historic city and the next you are in nature’s wonderland whether it be a national park or coastal region. Along with that comes different foods and no two days are the same when travelling around the Balkans. There is always something to explore, learn and experience in this UNESCO-rich part of the world. I love to showcase this unique part of Europe to guests who want to experience something different.
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Are you dreaming of a Balkans travel adventure? Where would you go first? Let us know in the comments below!