What do Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, or Montenegro have similar? All of these countries share a unique culture of the Balkans. The trumpeters’ festival, the ritual of walking on glowing coals, cherries in vinegar, or Cyrillic script are some of the many surprises that await us on the Balkan holidays!
From Slovenia, this amazing land is at your fingertips. Just beyond Slovenia’s southern border, the Balkans stretch in all its glory. The Green Country is a kind of vestibule of this land. Even though some people claim Slovenia is not part of the Balkans, its influence can be easily noticed in Ljubljana.
Balkan cuisine deserves special attention. It is a true fusion of local herbs and fresh products and amazing recipes that will delight many gourmets! The most popular delicacies include burek or boza. To learn more about them, you should go on the Balkan Foodie Discovery tour. While still in Slovenia, you can get to know the taste of potica. It is a traditional roll cake. Inside, there is usually cream made from nuts. However, you can taste different combinations of this cake! The inside cream can be from honey, poppy seeds, chocolate, cottage cheese, or even leeks.
Burek is famous in all Balkan countries, but it comes from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a deep-fried puff pastry, usually wrapped in the shape of a snail. It can contain a stuffing of potatoes, spinach, meat, cottage cheese, and even an apple!
Those looking for a refreshing drink for hot Balkan days should reach for boza. It is a drink based on fermented corn, millet, or wheat. The amount of alcohol in it is small, a maximum of 1%. It is most popular in Albania, Macedonia, and Bulgaria.
Many faces of Croatia
If you start in Slovenia, you should definitely visit Croatia next and combine your holiday into a tour of Slovenia & Croatia. The latter is a remarkable country full of astonishing records. Did you know that the tie was invited in Croatia? Also, Croatia has the oldest city in Europe – Vinkovci.
Going to Croatia will remind you how delightful nature can be. You will see the beautiful Plitvice Lakes which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Moving to the Adriatic coast, you will be able to take a breath of fresh air walking on some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe or visit the historic Dalmatian cities of Dubrovnik and Split, located on the Mediterranean coastline. If you are lucky, you may be able to see the endangered Mediterranean seal that lives off the coast of Croatia.
Croatia’s most important city is its capital Zagreb. It is worth going on a ride on the Zagrebačka Railway (Zagrebačka uspinjača), through the Grič Tunnel, standing under the Stone Gate (Kamenita Vrata), tasting the local delicacies at Dolac Market, drinking coffee on the Ban Jelačić square, or admiring the panorama of the city from the Lotrščak Tower.
The best of the Balkans – Bosnia and Herzegovina
If you want to see the best of the Balkans on your trip, be sure to visit the heart-shaped country of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite its shape, this country does not have a gentle history. It gained its independence only in 1992. And over the ages, it was conquered and taken over by newer and newer countries. For this reason, we have here an explosive mix of different cultures.
One of the most interesting cities here is Mostar. It is home to one of the most recognizable structures in the country – the 16th century Ottoman Bridge. It was used for 427 years, until 1993, when it was ruined during the war. Fortunately, the bridge was reconstructed and opened in 2004.
Of course, a must-see is the capital city of Sarajevo. There we can see the whole reflection of Balkan cultural diversity – mosques, churches, orthodox churches, and synagogues stand right next to each other. The capital consists of two cities – one on the surface and the other underground. The bunkers from the war are creating the second city. Visiting Sarajevo is also worth walking through them.
Exciting holidays in Montenegro
Our next stop in the fascinating Balkans will be Montenegro. The country is usually associated with “lazy Olympics”. But don’t let appearances confuse you! The sleeping contest is not the only thing awaiting you in this country. Montenegro is full of adrenaline too. Here, you can experience your big Balkan Adventure.
Hiking in the National Parks is a perfect start to begin your adventure in Montenegro. One of the most phenomenal places is Durmitor, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you prefer flat areas, there are always beaches and wind-surfing. The white water rafting on Tara River will also be an unforgettable experience.
If you prefer to learn more about the culture and history, consider going on the Balkan Explorer trip. One of the must-see cities of Montenegro, that you’re going to see is Kotor. The origins of the city are in Illyrian or Roman times. In the long and complicated history of the city, Kotor was part of the Byzantine and even Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it is a great tourist attraction, and tourists love to visit its fortress or palaces.
Balkan trip to Albania
Everyone knows Mother Teresa, but hardly anyone knows that she came from… Albania. In the country where mountains cover 70% of the country, grapevines were cultivated during the Ice Age, and traffic rules are more of a suggestion. The Grand Balkan Tour awaits us in Albania.
One of the types of tourism Albania is especially famous for is military tourism. One of its crowning examples is the island of Sazan. During the Cold War, a bunker that should withstand a nuclear attack was built on the island. Today, the base is well maintained and still operational. What’s more, it is also a tourist attraction for visitors. On the mainland, military fans will find numerous bunkers. They will even be able to have coffee in some of them. There are so many bunkers that some of them are changed into everyday facilities such as coffee shops. Because there so many, some are changed into everyday facilities like cafes, where you can enjoy a nice cup of coffee.
Albania’s nature can also fill us with awe. Despite its location and climate, Albania is home to glaciers. In 2009, scientists discovered four in the Cursed Mountains of Northern Albania. They are only 2,000 metres above sea level and are the southernmost glaciers in Europe. Despite the presence of glaciers, sun lovers can breathe a sigh of relief – Albania is also known for its untouched, lovely beaches.
Jerusalem of the Balkans – Northern Macedonia
Jerusalem of the Balkans is one of the names of Northern Macedonia. There are almost 1000 churches and monasteries in the country. But a real rarity is the city of Ohrid. There were 365 churches at the same time! That is one church for every day of the year. If you go there, you will admire the diverse religious architecture built on the shores of the most beautiful North-Macedonian lake.
One of the most important places in Northern Macedonia is the capital city, Skopje. You can get to it by passing through the monumental Porta Macedonia triumphal arch. It leads to the city centre – Macedonia square. It is the main square filled with sculptures and fountains and something that definitely can’t be missed! In addition, the capital is a place with numerous parks, monuments, and museums.
Balkan influences in Serbia
Houses made of stone, mud, and natural materials are not only part of ancient times. Despite the passage of years and the development of technology, people still live in these kinds of villages like Gostuša in Serbia. This stone village is not the only place that will surprise you in Serbia!
Nature allows active recreation in Serbia at any time of the year. One of the green attractions of this country is the river called “Rok”. It is exactly 365 meters long. Serbia also has 5 National Parks, and in one of them, there is the largest gorge in Europe – Đerdap.
An interesting city in Serbia is Novi Sad. It is the second-largest city in the country, located right next to the Danube River. It has a sandy beach with easy access to the clean river. When visiting, you can enjoy the scenery of Fruška Gora National Park. In the city, you can see the catholic gothic Church of the Name of Mary, the Novi Sad Synagogue, and the orthodox Bishop’s Palace.
The Balkans spreads before us an amazing mosaic. Catholicism on one side — Islam on the other. War-torn cities — magnificent monuments. Warm sea — glaciers on the peaks. It’s hard to count and list all the diversity. There’s too much of it. If you would like to read more about the region’s wonders, visit The Balkans Tours.
THE Slovenia Lakes
The book is most genuine book about lakes. It is not a tourist guide, more an long poem for the lakes. It is written in Slovene and English language on close to 300 pages.