So, you might think I’m a little biased, but I genuinely believe that the Balkans is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This area of South East Europe includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, and some people even include Greece in that too. If you’ve never been, you’re truly missing out. However, if you’re planning a trip, here are some top tips to ensure your Balkan adventure is the best it can be.
Pick the perfect place
First up, you’re going to need to pick where you want to go. As mentioned, the Balkans area actually includes quite a few countries – although there’s still debate as to whether Greece is part of that, too. If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know that I live in (and adore) Albania, and many of the strange myths you’ve heard are definitely not true. Other places you may want to consider are Ljubljana in Slovenia, Zagreb in Croatia, Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Belgrade in Serbia, to name a few! If you’re planning on going for a while, you may even be able to squeeze in more than one of these destinations.
Set your budget
Generally, the Balkans is a lot cheaper than Western Europe, so you’re going to see your budget stretch further over here. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t budget. There are some really clever sites that will tell you how much things cost in each place you’re visitingso you can get an idea of how much to take with you.
If you’re going to visit a few different places, don’t forget that you’ll need a variety of currencies. Some countries will accept euros, but you’ll get more for your money if you take the local currency. In Albania it’s lek, in Serbia it’s dinar, and in Croatia it’s kuna.
A lot of people visiting the Balkans are backpacking, and trying to see as much of this beautiful part of the world as possible – I don’t blame them! However, even if you’re not backpacking, it’s still a good idea to pack smart.
The Secret Traveller blog at 1Cover has a good packing listthat includes clothing you can mix and match, plus something waterproof. The weather in the Balkans is nice most of the time, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get caught up in a rainstorm every now and then. Especially if you’re visiting in the winter.
Things like toiletries can be purchased over here quite cheaply, so you don’t necessarily need to pack all of your shampoos, conditioners, and shower gels.
Look for the hidden gems
One of the best things about the Balkans is that it’s not super tourist-heavy yet, which means there are still plenty of hidden gems to be found. Make your way off the beaten track to discover some truly magical places to eat, things to see, and bars to spend your evenings in. If you’re not entirely sure where to go, then you can always ask a local… which brings me
Meet the locals
The Balkans’ locals are all a friendly bunch, despite some misconceptions. If you want to thoroughly enjoy your trip and discover hidden gems, you’re going to want to meet some of the locals.
I’d recommend learning a little bit of the local lingo if you can (there are some great apps to learn new languages) as not everyone speaks fluent English like they do in more tourist-centric places. Language barrier aside, however, the locals are a real friendly bunch who will be more than happy to recommend things to do or places to eat and drink.
These tips should help you have the best trip in the Balkans – hopefully you’ll want to keep coming back! Do you have any other advice? Let me know in the comments.Follow The Balkanista!