Don’t Miss the Balkans for Your Next Europe Adventure

Hiking kotor montenegro view things to do bay of kotor

The Balkans are one of our favourite regions in Europe and it is somewhere we think you shouldn’t miss when you visit the continent! The Balkans are usually comprised of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia, while Slovenia, Moldova, and portions of Greece and Turkey are also often included within the Balkans (see below).

Among the many reasons we loved this vibrant and diverse region, we found the friendliness of the locals, the variety of different experiences, the amazing food, and budget-friendly prices all compelling reasons to visit! The diversity ranges from ‘world-best’ beaches in Croatia and Albania to stunning lakeside towns in North Macedonia and Slovenia. The architecture of cities like Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Sofia is impressive, while the day drips and outdoor highlights are prevalent in many regions, including Romania and Montenegro.

We have visited multiple times, spending almost 2 months in the region, and we could easily have spent more! See below for some of our top reasons to visit, along with the best Balkan cities and regions to visit based upon our experience, including links to some great accommodation.

Top reasons you should visit the Balkan region

It is crazy affordable! Seriously! While popular Croatia is increasing in cost over the past 5-10 years, it is still cheaper than many of the western countries like Italy. Additionally, underrated countries like Romania, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Bosnia and others are all crazy cheap! Many of the accommodation options are half or even one third the price of matched places in more popular countries. One such example of this affordability is going out for breakfast in Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia, where a coffee and omelette cost around around $3 AUD (that will set you back about $40 in Switzerland).

The Balkans are still somewhat of a ‘hidden gem’ compared to Western Europe. Alright, not all of these countries are underrated, however many locations like Albania, North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Transylvania are visited significantly less and have so many treasures waiting to be explored. Visiting these countries will have a great sense of ‘exploration’ than heading to many of the more popular destinations. We definitely had a great excitement visiting these locations and feeling a sense of discovery and unknown.

The food is amazing! We had some of our best meals in Europe in these regions. Think amazing schnitzels in Transylvania Romania. Sensational burek and cevapi in Croatia/Bosnia/Montenegro. Wonderful seafood along the coast of Croatia and Albania. Great stews in North Macedonia and Romania. And lots of modern cafes and bars in all these locations.

You will have a variety of different experiences! With a multitude of different religious and cultural influences in the region, these countries offer a wonderfully broad spectrum of experiences. Additionally, due to the history of wars over the years, the region is full of stories and things to learn about what shaped the countries to where they are now. We urge you to experience the culture, food, and meet the locals!

We found the locals so friendly and welcoming! Whether it is the less tourism than crazy busy cities like Rome and Paris, or perhaps the nature of the individuals in these regions. Overall, we found the locals very welcoming.

Many of the Balkan countries are ‘non-schengen’: For those looking to travel beyond the 90days in the popular Schengen countries, many of the ‘non-Schengen’ Balkan countries are a godsend to allow you to prolong you stay in Europe. You can read a little more about the Schengen Zone here.

Our favourite places in the Balkans:

This is only a list of 12 places we loved in the region, and this list could easily have been 20+. We are keen to hear about other locations you enjoyed if you’ve visited the area. We unfortunately missed Serbia and are keen to return and explore this country after some of the positive feedback we have heard from fellow travellers.


This charming small town located inland from the Croatian coastline is the perfect spot for a day trip for a few night stay. We absolutely adored the Ottoman style architecture, the famous Stari Most Old Bridge, the great food, and the overall relaxed feel of the town. There’s also a lot of Balkan War history that is eye opening to see. We strongly suggest you consider a stop in Mostar!

A few top accommodation picks:

Read out guide to Mostar here!


Another small town that has stolen a piece of our heart. This winding streets, Ottoman houses and amazing food of Gjirokaster make it a must visit, especially if you are checking out the stunning Albanian Riviera.

A few top accommodation picks:

Read our guide to Gjirokaster here!


The impressive Kotor is located just south of the popular Dubrovnik. Situated on the vast Bay of Kotor, this town is definitely worth checking out. We found it great value, some amazing hikes (including up to the Kotor Fortress), and a perfect spot to relax.

A few top accommodation picks:

Read our guide to Kotor here!

Croatian Islands:

The Croatian Islands don’t need much of an introduction. Regularly splashed across social media, travel guides and magazines, we are happy to confirm.. they are as beautiful as they look! After visiting a few, we are happy to say our top pick is the island of Vis, located a few hours away from the port city of Split via ferry. All of the islands have stunning beaches, great seafood, and lots to see and explore!

A few top accommodation picks:

See our guide to Vis Island here!

Lake Ohrid:

Lake Ohrid is a true hidden gem. Situated in North Macedonia, this lakeside town is bustling with energy, history, and crazy affordable prices! We stayed for a week and loved every moment of our time there. It’s a wonderful budget friendly and off the radar getaway to consider!

A few top accommodation picks:

See our Lake Ohrid guide here!


The Transylvanian town of Brasov in Romania is so charming. Colourful buildings, lush greenery and mountains, amazing food, a surprisingly good cafe culture, and lots of day trips to do! Brasov was one of the ‘most underrated’ locations we visited in all of Europe! We think it is the perfect base for your Transylvanian adventures.

A few top accommodation picks:

See our Brasov guide here!


The capital of Bulgaria is a city of contrasts with lots to offer. Filled with a range of stunning churches and old buildings, mixed with the remnants of it’s recent communist past. Sofia was a great city to explore. We loved the food, cafe culture, street art, and friendly locals! We think it’s worthy of an addition to your Balkan adventures.

A few top accommodation picks:

See our guide to Sofia here!

Lake Bled:

Lake Bled is one of the most charming locations in Europe! The picturesque lake, mountains, chapel and lake-side town captured our heart when we visited for a few days. We would love to return, and seriously urge you to consider a stay at this gorgeous place!

A few top accommodation picks:

See our Lake Bled guide here!


Himare (and the entire Albanian Riviera) offer some of the best beaches in Europe. The water is crystal clear, warm, and the beaches are stunning. Albania is an up and coming destination, and after visiting the coastline we can easily see why!

A few top accommodation picks:

See our guide to Himare and the Albanian Riviera here!


This Transylvanian town is gorgeous and filled with culture. The highlight is definitely the ‘buildings with eyes’. These colourful buildings have small windows and shutters the are designed to look like eyes looking down on you. Outside of this unique phenomenon, there are great cafes, good food, and it’s close to many other good Transylvanian towns.

A few top accommodation picks:

See our guide to Transylvania here!


No Balkan adventure is complete without visiting one of the most impressive cities in Europe, Dubrovnik. This impressively preserved old town will blow you away! Be prepared for big crowds and high prices, but we think Dubrovnik is worth visiting.

A few top accommodation picks:

See our guide to Dubrovnik here!

Transfagarasan Highway:

The visually impressive Transfagarasan Highway is a marvel located in the Transylvanian region of Romania. We visited on a day trip from Brasov and found it amazingly impressive. Definitely one to consider adding to your list!

See our thoughts on the Transfagarasan Highway here!

Enjoying our posts & advice? Subscribe to our blog!

Jump your email into the list below. We won’t spam you! It’ll just keep you updated whenever we post another travel-related adventure, memory or tid-bid!


WANT TO SEE MORE food recommendations & TRAVEL MEMORIES?

See more posts and content about food from our travels!

Check out further highlights from our time in the Europe! Take a look!

Note: this post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase or book anything using these links, we get a small percentage of the sale, at not extra expense to you. This helps us to run the site.