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Planning the Perfect Trip to the Balkans


Are you thinking of visiting the Balkan states? Well, so are we! One of our summer adventures this year will take us back to Hungary and then on to Romania, Serbia and possibly Bulgaria or Bosnia & Herzegovina (nagyon szepen köszönöm -Thank You for all your votes and recommendations by the way – results on the way). 

In this post we wanted to share our planning tips with fellow travel enthusiasts, here is how we are planning the perfect trip to the Balkans: 

How to get to the Central Balkan States 
Tourism is only just starting up in lots of Balkan States, which means that getting to some of the Balkan states may prove to be a bit tricky, with some of them not having convenient airport connections.

If it’s not easy to find direct flights to the city you are planning to discover, search for flight deals to a nearby city or even a neighbouring country. For example, you could grab a flight to Budapest (our fave) and then make your way through Hungary to Romania and then via Serbia on to Bosnia Herzegovina. Or, check for cheap flights to the coastal town of Split in Croatia and adjust your journey time accordingly (add or reduce things to do on the way). 

A return flight from London to Budapest in June, for example, can be quite affordable costing you as little as £50/ $65/ €70! Prices can vary greatly based on your destination or the season, of course. Keep an eye out for offers on popular holiday destinations like Budapest, Split, Dubrovnik, Sofia and Varna, which you can use as a starting point. Some airlines only run a seasonal service, so double-check the dates you want to travel on. 

Plan how you want to move around once you get to your destination, too. Be careful - just because two Balkan cities look like they are easy to get between doesn't mean that they are - you may find yourself on a 24 hour journey, detoring through three different countries. Rome2Rio is your new best friend. 

We will be exploring the Balkans this year with Interrail - we can't wait to have a rail adventure!

For those wishing to experience the Balkans on their own terms, a rental car might be a better option You can hire one at the airport or in any of the larger Balkan cities. 

Quick tip
When booking your flights don’t neglect to book any other services you may need at the same time, like your airport parking, to avoid stress and save on the final cost. Use a search tool like  www.looking4parking.com to discover offers on secure airport parking spots and book the one that’s right for you.

Things to do in the Balkans
Make a list of activities and destinations before you leave (but make sure you’ve still allowed yourself time to be spontaneous!). To get ideas we like to activate our network of other bloggers, the community and friends to get some inspiration. Tap into local knowledge, too, as there is a wealth of information that can be discovered this way.  Tourist information sites can also help you get an initial idea on what to expect from a country and whether it’s right for you. 

Here are some quick sightseeing ideas for the Balkan states of Romania, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Romania

You would need a long time to travel around Romania, as it is about the size of Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina combined! Therefore, especially if it’s the first time you’re visiting, we’d recommend limiting your visit to Transylvania and Bucharest. 

Transylvania is much more than just Dracula and eerie castles, like the Balea Lake in the mountains close to Sibiu. For social media addicts, the area won’t disappoint you - don’t miss the chance to post a selfie in front of buildings like Corvin’s Castle in Hunedoara. 

During your stay in Bucharest don’t miss the impressive Palace of Parliament and its opulent inner rooms. For more traditional architecture head over to the vast outdoor Muzeul Satului (Village Museum), where you can get up close to Romanian village life now and then.

Serbia

Serbia’s capital Belgrade is an up-and-coming tourist destination, so there are quite a few things to do around the city. Discover the picturesque churches like the Svetog Marka or St Michael’s Cathedral, the beautiful sunset over the Danube from the Belgrade Fortress and the glorious local food, which is a perfect mix between oriental, traditional Balkan and Central European cuisine. (We are particularly looking forward to the local vegetable stew “škembići” and the sweet “baklava”!) 

Bosnia and Herzegovina
The capital, Sarajevo, boasts a lovely old town district (Stari Grad) with pretty cobble-stone lanes, which dates back to the 15th century. We’ll take our time to explore historic religious buildings like the Sarajevo Cathedral and the Gazi Husrev-beg’s Mosque. 

South-West of Sarajevo you can visit the city of Mostar to enjoy the view on the old bridge Stari Most over the river Neretva (UNESCO World Heritage!) and enjoy the strange mix of Mediterranean and oriental architecture. And for some stunning hiking shots with rugged mountain lines and far-stretching meadows we are looking into the Maglić Mountains, just South of Sarajevo, on the border with Montenegro.

Why visit the Balkans?
We’ve been really impressed by the neighbouring states of Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary – our favourite (have a look at our previous posts to get inspired). Naturally, there are more things to discover in each of these beautiful countries, but we are also curious to get to the heart of the Balkans. Serbia, Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina are still considered unchartered territories when it comes to tourism, which makes them even more fascinating to us.

What we expect: Breath-taking nature, memorable encounters with super-friendly locals and loads of interesting information on Balkan history. We are looking forward to Romania’s stunning rural castles, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s mountain hikes and Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, where you can taste some sophisticated food with an oriental touch.


CONCLUSION

There is loads to explore in the Balkans so if you’re planning on travelling to one (or more) of the Balkan states, spend some time researching on blogs, communities and official websites and make sure you plan everything in advance. With everything planned for, all that’s left to do is to enjoy the hidden gems of the Balkans. We are very much looking forward to it. 

Photo credits: pixabay. 

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ABOUTME

We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.

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