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The Balkans - Best Tours & Trips 2019

304 trips to The Balkans tours from 86 tour companies. 673 reviews. 4.7/5 avg rating.

The Balkan Peninsula encompasses most of southeastern Europe and spans 12 countries – including Greece, the nations of former Yugoslavia, as well as Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and European Turkey. It’s a region that has historically been a tinderbox of ethnic and political tensions and violence, but is mostly peaceful today and features some of the most outstanding scenic and cultural sit ... Read More

All The Balkans tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages.
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Travel Style Travel Style Relaxed A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers.
Full on For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included.
Mixed You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included.

Trip Type Trip Type Group Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Tour Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ship Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Guided Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Self Guided / Independent Tour A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ship Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 330 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

Travelers Age

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Rivers & Seas

Cities & Attractions

Activities

Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

Company

Flights & Transport

Continents & Regions

Stride Gives Back Stride Gives Back This trip visits a destination impacted by climate change. When you opt in to the Stride Gives Back program, we will donate 10% of our net revenue to organizations that help mitigate climate change in these destinations and across the globe. Learn more

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Discover the Balkans

G Adventures
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
12 days
$ 258 / day
$ 3,249
From : $ 3,812
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
Highlights
  • Visit the stunning plitvice lakes national park
  • Explore the ancient town of mostar and the stari most (old bridge)
  • Take a tour of the "tunnel of life" in sarajevo
  • Spend a couple days on the bay of kotor
Visits:
Croatia, Dubrovnik, Montenegro, Sarajevo, Split, Zagreb, Dalmatian Coast, Diocletian's Palace, Plitvice Lakes National park, Bosnia and Herzegovina
View Trip

The Balkans Real Food Adventure

Intrepid Travel
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
12 days
$ 193 / day
$ 2,680
From : $ 3,121
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Discover why the Balkans are the next big thing in food – drink boza, rakija and wine, and taste pinjur, makalo, bieno cheese, ckembe corba and more in this adventurous foodie destination
  • Learn how to make the regional specialty of pastries with local village women in Janche
  • Meet a local beekeeper and get the buzz on honey in a bee master class
  • Taste one of the newest players on the world wine scene – sample Macedonia’s finest drops with a celebrated local expert
  • Explore a world hams and cheeses in a centuries-old smokehouse, and olive oil in local farm outside of Kotor
Visits:
Montenegro, Croatia, Dubrovnik, Skopje, Kosovo, Macedonia
View Trip

Peaks of the Balkans Hike

ROW Adventures
Preferred
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
8 days
$ 361 / day
$ 2,890
From : $ 3,902
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Full day hiking or trekking over medium to long distances. Moderate expectation of physical fitness. Strenuous
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Our Peaks of the Balkans trekking and cultural adventure takes us to the border triangle area of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro where a new International Peace Park has been established. 
  • Along our way we meet with various local leaders who join us as special guests to enrich our understanding and appreciation for this part of the world. 
  • At the heart of this grand adventure is a difficult and extremely rewarding trek in the Dinaric Alps. 
  • The trek is bookmarked on each side by visits to fascinating areas in Montenegro (including a day of lake kayaking) and Albania.
Visits:
Albania, Montenegro
View Trip

The Balkans

10 days
$ 248 / day
$ 2,475
From : $ 3,341
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Visit hidden swimming coves, local restaurants and unique towns
  • Work with, the Mine Detection Dog Center
  • Truly see all sides of the Balkans
Visits:
Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro
View Trip

Best of the Balkans

15 days
$ 118 / day
$ 1,669
From : $ 2,384
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
Highlights
  • Matka Canyon Boat Ride
  • Visit to Berat and entrance to Berat Castle
  • Visit Trebinje for wine tour and tasting
  • 24 hour Dubrovnik city card including City Walls and transport pass
  • Visit to Mostar
  • Entry to Blagaj Tekke
Visits:
Sofia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia
View Trip

Best of the Balkans: From Medieval Fortresses to ...

Road Scholar
Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
17 days
$ 235 / day
$ 3,999
From : $ 5,399
The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
Travel Style : N/A
Physical Level : N/A
  • N/A
  • Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Discover UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Montenegro, Dubrovnik, Split, Sarajevo, Zagreb and more
    • Enjoy a boat excursion on the captivating Adriatic Sea
    • Discover Lake Bled, a scene right out of a storybook with a tiny island, mountain landscape and romantic hilltop castle
    Visits:
    Alps, Belgrade, Croatia, Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, Sarajevo, Split, Zagreb, Serbia
    View Trip

    Highlights of the Western Balkans

    Peregrine Adventures
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    8 days
    $ 323 / day
    $ 2,326
    From : $ 3,483
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • As well as the long time favourite dubrovnik, you'll experience one of europe's most interesting (and safe) cities of the moment – sarajevo.
    • Under the guidance of knowledgable locals, you'll visit some of the region's most beautiful cathedrals, monasteries, palaces, ottoman mosques and unesco-protected townscapes.
    • The smaller, lesser-known destinations on this trip are some of the best. the crystalline beauty of towns like mostar and blagaj is the stuff of fairytales.
    • Montenegro may be a tiny country, but its charms can hardly be overstated. take a day trip to this land of pristine beaches, mountain peaks and old-world villages.
    • The tunnel museum is an astounding illumination of bosnia and herzegovina's war history, displaying a piece of the very tunnel used during the siege of sarajevo in the 1990s.
    • Visit the srebrenica memorial center. the centre honours the thousands who died in the infamous srebrenica genocide of 1995. the local guide who has lived through the horrors of war will answer any question you might have.
    • Visit the zivanovic family’s honey museum and winery in sremski karlovci. their old house has been converted into museum full of beekeeping memorabilia and the have had a wine cellar here for 300 years. you’ll try bermet dessert wine which is a speciality of the region. reports suggest it was drunk at the emperor's court in vienna and was even served on the titanic. this family are said to have kept the original recipe.
    Visits:
    Belgrade, Croatia, Dubrovnik, Montenegro, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia
    View Trip

    Local Living Croatia – Southern Dalmatia

    G Adventures
    Premier
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    7 days
    $ 257 / day
    $ 1,799
    From : $ 2,429
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Relax at a rustic farm villa with friendly croatian hosts
    • Sample local wines and olive oil
    • Cycle through the rural countryside
    • Cook traditional fare alongside a croatian family
    • Explore the walled city of dubrovnik
    Visits:
    Croatia, Dubrovnik, Kona
    View Trip

    Taste of Croatia

    ROW Adventures
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    9 days
    $ 466 / day
    $ 4,190
    From : $ 5,154
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Begin our journey to the Island of Brac or stay in Split harbor.
    • Visit a quaint and information museum of local history and culture
    • Visit a hidden monastery in the mountains
    • Visit the village of Vrboska.
    • Visit his 16th century home, uniquely built within a Turkish fort
    • Visit one of the two best wineries on the island
    • Visit a small maritime museum
    Visits:
    Anchorage, Croatia, Dubrovnik, Korcula Island, Split
    View Trip

    A Taste of Croatia – An Epicurean Voyage

    ROW Adventures
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    9 days
    $ 466 / day
    $ 4,190
    From : $ 5,154
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
    Highlights
    • Enjoy a guided walking tour to the preserved Palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian
    • Be fully immersed into the local culture and history 
    • Experience wine tasting in the private home of Davor Osjak 
    • Visit the village of Vrboska, a charming town with narrow streets, ancient churches and houses
    • Enjoy a variety of traditional dishes
    • Visit Benedictine Monastery
    • Go on a guided walking history tour of Korcula.
    Visits:
    Croatia, Dubrovnik, Hvar Island, Korcula Island, Split
    View Trip

    Corsica Unbound

    ROW Adventures
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    9 days
    $ 422 / day
    $ 3,795
    From : $ 5,123
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Experience sea kayak in  Isolella Peninsula
    • Enjoy a dip in the warm Mediterranean water
    • Historical visit of Corsica’s impressive megalithic art
    • Experience the most famous hiking trail in all of France, and well-known in Europe
    Visits:
    Croatia, France
    View Trip

    Albania Discovery by Kayak

    ROW Adventures
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    9 days
    $ 355 / day
    $ 3,195
    From : $ 4,313
    The strike-through price reflects either the high season trip price or the average price a traveler pays for a similar itinerary when the components are booked separately.
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Visit historic fortress and visit two excellent museums
    • Head to the sea for a kayaking orientation talk and to start our paddling journey
    • A scenic drive to the seaside town Saranda on the Ionian sea
    • A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint
    • Visit the Blue Eye, a deep water spring
    • Enjoy a beautiful and remote landscape known as the "Raki Lands"
    Visits:
    Gjirokaster, Kruja, Albania
    View Trip

    Kayaking the Ionian Sea & Exploring Albania

    ROW Sea Kayak Adventures
    Preferred
    Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
    9 days
    $ 355 / day
    $ 3,195
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Three days of kayaking on the Ionian Sea
    • Visits to the classical site of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
    • Easy to intermediate hiking through stunningly beautiful countryside
    • Full immersion in the local culture and customs.
    Visits:
    Berat, Gjirokaster, Kruja, Tirana, Albania
    View Trip

    A Luxury Discovery of Croatia and Slovenia

    12 days
    $ 580 / day
    $ 6,955
    Travel Style : A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
    Physical Level : Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
    Lodging Level : The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
    Highlights
    • Private walking tour of Dubrovnik Old Town with visit to the city walls
    • Lauded by George Bernard Shaw as “Paradise on Earth"
    • Churches, monasteries, and museums ornamented with finely carved stone recall an eventful history and a vibrant artistic tradition
    • Enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear blue Adriatic Sea.
    • Experience cultural-historical sites from a wholly new perspective.
    • Rivalling even France's famed Saint-Tropez in terms of glamour
    • Enjoy the sea or the historic towns, mysterious monasteries, and interior caves of Croatia’s largest island.
    Visits:
    Dubrovnik, Hvar Island, Ljubljana, Split, Croatia
    View Trip

    Creme de la Croatia - 8 days

    8 days
    $ 281 / day
    $ 2,245
    Travel Style : You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
    Physical Level : Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
    Lodging Level : Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
    Highlights
    • Split – historical port & Diocletian Palace
    • Korcula Island - tour of town and a local winery
    • Mljet Island - salt flats of Mljet National Park and boat ride to St Mary Isle
    • Dubrovnik - cruise along old city walls, walking tour of Old Town, and cable car ride to Srd Mountain
    • Trstenik - stop at Elaphiti Islands en route
    • Kuna - local farm for village feast
    • Hvar - tour of town and harbour
    • Island of Scedro and the Pakleni Islands
    • Island of Brac - town of Bol with famous Zlatni Rat beach (also known as the Golden Cape)
    Visits:
    Croatia
    View Trip
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    Top The Balkans Experiences and Attractions

    Top The Balkans Experiences

    Touring the wondrous Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens

    Wandering the “Pearl of the Adriatic” -- Dubrovnik, Croatia -- and walking its medieval walls

    Sailing past the dramatic Iron Gates gorge on a Danube River cruise through Romania and Serbia

    Uncovering the mysteries of tiny Albania, cut off from most of the world for decades in the mid-to-late 20th century.

    Docking in the breathtakingly scenic port of Kotor, Montenegro, on a small ship cruise

    Being dazzled by the Ottoman treasures in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace

    Visiting Bran Castle, famous as an inspiration for the Count Dracula legend in Romania’s Transylvania.

    Admiring painted monasteries in Bulgaria and Romania and  domed Orthodox churches in Greece

    Exploring newly vibrant cities such as Belgrade, Serbia, and Ljubljana, Slovenia

    view more

    The Balkans Trip Reviews

    673 The Balkans Tour Reviews - Summary 99% Recommend

    4.7 out of 5
    Excellent 480
    Great 163
    Average 22
    Disappointing 3
    Terrible 5
    Value
    4.7
    Guide
    4.7
    Activities
    4.7
    Lodging
    4.7
    Transportation
    4.7
    Meals
    4.7

    Tour Reviews Write a Review

    The trip was amazing and our guide was really good and very friendly

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    My only feedback for the On The Go would be to have a better description of where to meet the ships and the correct check in time. The documents say that it departs at 1pm so there were multiple people who showed up a few minutes before 1 which caused the ship to leave later. They wanted people to check in at 11am which was not seen on the documents anywhere. It was a little stressful not knowing who would be checking us in and which boat we are on as there were many many boats there when we arrived.

    Read more
    Operator On The Go Tours

    Great trail running adventure

    5.0
    • Value 4.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    I had been to Skopje once before, where I looked at Mt Vodno and dreamt of doing a trail run up it. Fortunately, Hiking the Balkans managed to get me in touch with Dean, a fantastic running guide who showed me all types of cool paths on the mountain. Dean’s pace and fitness levels were great: we covered 21km and almost 1000m uphill in under three hours (excluding breaks). The views were great and Dean told me lots of fascinating things about the mountain and about Macedonia itself. I’ll definitely be in touch next time I’m in Macedonia and have time for a trail running expedition

    Read more
    Operator Hiking the Balkans

    A great experience!

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    The best tour on a bike I had experienced in Greece! Very kind, and super service - in general, a great experience! Highly recommended to anyone who wants to see more of Greece and have fun exploring!

    Read more
    Operator TravelnCycle.com

    Amazing Europe Trip

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    There are so many great things to say about my European trip of a lifetime. The people that made it was my fellow topdeckers and of course the Fab Tour guide Matt Stewart. This is a trip that I will never forget, so many lovely memories I will cherish forever. We was very lucky with Matt because he really took time to talk to us and make us all feel relaxed with each other and asked us what we wanted to do. He was so knowledgable about all the places we went to, I remember thinking to myself this guy is pretty cool the fact he knows so well about the history and culture of each place especially the amount of cities we travelled to. Matt made the trip fun, interesting, exciting and I hope that if I was to ever do a top deck again one day he would be the tour guide or I think I would be disappointed. Have recommended top deck to so many people, memories I will have for a lifetime.

    Georgina staines

    Read more
    Operator Topdeck

    Best Trip Ever!

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    Crew and boat unreal!!! Best trip ever!

    Read more
    Operator Travel Talk

    Fantastic tour

    5.0
    • Value 5.0
    • Guide 5.0
    • Activities 5.0
    • Lodging 5.0
    • Transportation 5.0
    • Meals 5.0

    This trip with Smartours through Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Montenegro was one of the best I've experienced.. Our guide, Rok was very informed and and shed light on the complex history of the area. The balance of the guided and the free time was excellent and the hotels and accommodation very nice. I am recommending smarTours to others as well. They are a great value for a very quality trip.

    Read more
    Operator SmarTours

    The Balkans Tours and Travel Guide

    The Balkans Attractions & Landmarks Guide

    The Balkan Peninsula encompasses most of southeastern Europe and spans 12 countries – including Greece, the nations of former Yugoslavia, as well as Albania, Romania, Bulgaria and European Turkey.

    It’s a region that has historically been a tinderbox of ethnic and political tensions and violence, but is mostly peaceful today and features some of the most outstanding scenic and cultural sites in all of Europe. Prices are still lower there than in the rest of Europe, so now is a good time to book a tour to this fast-emerging vacation destination.

    Counting Kosovo – which declared its independence from Serbia in 2011 but is not yet universally recognized as such – and European Turkey, which includes Istanbul, the Balkan Peninsula is made up of a dozen countries that incorporate multiple religions, languages, and cultural traditions.

    While Slavic tongues predominate, the region also features Greek, Turkish, and Romanian. Primary religions include Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Islam (both in Turkey and parts of former Yugoslavia).

    Ottoman and Italian cultural influences are strong along the Adriatic coast, many towns throughout retain a medieval European atmosphere, the glories of ancient Greece and Rome persist in extensive ruins, and shoddy 20th century Stalinist architecture is an unfortunate reminder of the sway the former Soviet Union once held over much of the region.

    Why Visit the Balkans on a Tour

    The Balkans are the perfect place to visit on a tour. Covering over 250,000 square miles, there is so much to see and do. Visiting this region on a tour is the best way to experience the highlights of the area with expertly planned itineraries.

    The Balkans have a very special history and cultural makeup which makes visiting on a themed tour ideal. You can plan your trip around hiking the rugged mountains of Montenegro, eating your way through the cities and villages of the region, or learning about the historical influences that make the Balkans special.

    Top Countries in Balkans

    Traditionally, there are 8 main countries that make up the Balkans. The region stretches from Bulgaria in the north to Greece in the south, Turkey to the east and Slovenia to the west. While each of these countries are spectacular in their own right, there are a few that are top destinations included in most Balkan tour itineraries.

    1. Croatia

    One of the top travel destinations in the Balkans, Croatia has become a traveler haven. With romantic old towns, historic coastlines, and a rich food scene, Croatia has everything a traveler could want. A few of the most popular stops in Croatia are Split and Dubrovnik, the main cities on the spectacular Dalmatian Coast.

    2. Bosnia

    Bosnia is arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Much of the country is made up of colossal mountains, deep valleys, and teal rivers. Visitors will love the old town of Mostar and its famous bridge and historians will enjoy the walking tours in Sarajevo learning about the city’s importance in recent conflicts and World War I.  

    3. Montenegro

    Montenegro is no longer a secret anymore. This small Adriatic Coast country is drawing in adventure seekers and beach goers from around the world. Montenegro has some of the best hiking trails in the Balkans and Kotor is a top cruise and tour destination with its mountains and stunning bay.

    4. Bulgaria

    Once a Communist stronghold, Bulgaria has an interesting feel. The capital of Sofia is laid back with busy city parks, sprawling squares, and a thriving cafe scene. The surrounding countryside has rolling hills and history that any traveler will want to visit.

    Off the Beaten Path Balkan Travel Destinations

    While much of the Balkans may be considered off the beaten path, there are few destinations in this region that most travelers may not have heard of.

    1. Mostar, Bosnia

    A must when visiting Bosnia, Mostar is a hidden valley village. This small town is known for its medieval Ottoman old town and Stari Most (old bridge). Visitors will enjoy eating at the restaurants surrounding the water, shopping through the streets of the old bazaar, and catching a glimpse of one of the world-famous bridge jumpers.

    2. Skopje, Macedonia

    The capital of Macedonia is a quirky one. Skopje is popular for its unique architecture and hodge podge of buildings lining the river that runs through the city. However, if you wish to go where most have not, this fun city has a growing cafe scene and historic shopping area that will not disappoint.

    3. Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

    Straddling both Macedonia and Albania, Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest lakes in Europe. This vast lake is an ideal place for boat tours, relaxing on the beach, or visiting the countless churches surrounding the lake.

    4. Prizren, Kosovo

    Kosovo’s second city, Prizren is nestled below the Shar Mountains and is the cultural center for the country. Kosovo’s important location in Europe can best be scene in Prizren where you can see Ottoman architecture, Serbian Orthodox churches, medieval fortresses, and Kosovo’s wine region.

    Balkan Cuisine

    Like its weather, Balkan cuisine depends on which country you are in. However, many of the countries do have some overlap.

    Throughout the region you will see influences from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Russia. Additionally, in Slovenia and parts of Croatia you can find food closely related to Austria.

    Popular dishes in the Balkans range from lamb, goulash, and seafood. Balkan cuisine is very rustic and hearty with stews and soups being a mainstay. One of the most common things you will find are sacs, or lids that cover a dish that hot coals have been poured over to cook the meal. The traditional stews and lamb dishes are cooked in these dishes.

    Additionally, the Balkans are known for stuffing everything. You will find peppers, pastries, and meat stuffed with vegetables, sauces, and more meat throughout all of the area.

    For travelers who are vegan or vegetarian, you will find eating in the Balkans a bit difficult. Traditional Balkan food is very meat heavy, but there are options in the major cities for vegan restaurants and vegetarian options.

    What to Expect from Balkan Tours

    One of the best parts about Balkan tours is the combination of scenery and cities. This area of Europe has stunning landscape and some of the most historic and unique cities. You can expect to be awed by both the natural environment and the man made wonders of the Balkans.

    There will be plenty of opportunities to learn about the storied history of this region and how the combination of cultures has molded these countries. You will also be able to learn more about how the countries are growing and developing after the recent conflicts that have occurred.

    While some Balkan tours will have a low activity level, it should be noted that the Balkans are very mountainous. Some of the cities were built next to mountains or on the coast and you will encounter steep inclines and many stairs. Also, if you are taking a more active tour, you can expect to be doing some extreme hiking.

    Are the Balkans Safe to Visit?

    Overall yes, the Balkans are safe to visit. The people of the Balkans are known for their kind hospitality and generosity. However, in the busier areas, pickpocketers are common so make sure to secure your belongings.

    Much of the conflicts that occurred after the dissolution of Yugoslavia and Communism have ended. However, there are some areas, like the Albania and Kosovo border, that you should avoid. Double check your country’s safety recommendations before visiting and pay attention to your trip itineraries for where the destinations are.

    Which Balkan Tour is Right for Me?

    In choosing the Balkan tour that’s right for you, it helps to break down the region into three main parts: Greece, Albania, and European Turkey; the former Yugoslav republics; and Romania and Bulgaria. (Alternatively, if you’re interested in seeing them via small-ship sea cruise, you could separate them by the major seas that frame their coastlines: the Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean, and Black.)

    1. Traveling through Greece, Albania, and European Turkey

    Greece is the best known and most popular tourist destination in the Balkans, and easily warrants a trip by itself, especially if you include the Greek Islands. Athens, Olympia, Mt. Olympus and Delphi are among the mainland highlights, while the Cycladic islands – such as Mykonos and Santorini – are among the most popular in the Aegean. Greece also borders the Ionian Sea to its west.  

    Little Albania, just a short ferry hop from the Greek island of Corfu, is sandwiched between Greece to the south and Montenegro to the north, with a coastline along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.

    Just now being discovered after a long period of isolation and subsequent years of developing facilities for tourists, Albania is a land of castles, monasteries, mountains, beaches, and parks.

    European Turkey stars Istanbul, one of the world’s great cities, whose sights include the Topkapi Palace museum, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, and ferry trips across the Bosporus between European and Asian Turkey. Recently plagued by terrorism, Istanbul travel currently poses some risk.

    2. Traveling through the former Yugoslav Republics

    Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia comprise this grouping (the country of Macedonia is not to be confused with the Greek region of the same name). Held together for decades by the dictator Tito, Yugoslavia disbanded following the collapse of Communism and initially set off a series of post-civil wars among Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Bosnia, ignited by long-simmering ethnic, religious and national rivalries.

    The region is now peaceful and Croatia has become one of the stars of European tourism, with outstanding attractions such as medieval Dubrovnik, classical Split (the city walls are built right into the remains of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s palace), a series of jewel-like islands along the Adriatic coast, and inland natural wonders such as Plitvice Lakes National Park.

    Little Slovenia, heavily influenced by nearby Italy, is a land of mountains, lakes, and castles, while Montenegro is almost entirely mountainous – except for a slender strip along its lovely Adriatic coast. That strip harbors Kotor, one of Europe’s most pristine medieval walled towns, framed by a steep mountain backdrop and reached via southern Europe’s only fjord.

    Serbia is anchored by the region’s largest city, Belgrade, gaining fans for its newly minted nightlife, but the country is also known for its mountains, monasteries, and medieval fortresses. One way to see parts of Serbia is via Danube river cruises. Its small offshoot country, Kosovo, is largely undiscovered, as is Macedonia to the south.

    Bosnia-Hercegovina played a huge role in world history – its capital, Sarajevo, was the site of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in 1914, which ignited World War I. Bosnia today is a center of Islamic culture in the Balkans, a remnant of the days when the Ottomans ruled much of this region. But most of Bosnia’s Moslems are native Slavs, not Turks. Mosques, mountains and medieval villages are among the highlights.

    3. Romania and Bulgaria

    These two major Balkan countries have outlets both to the Black Sea and the Danube River, so may be partially toured via small ship and river cruises. Romania, the land of both notorious Vlad the Impaler and Transylvania’s fictional Count Dracula – whose Bran castle, along with Vlad, were two of the inspirations for Drac – is also known for its painted churches and monasteries, medieval villages, and the Carpathian Mountains. Bulgaria is an ancient land of mountains, monasteries, castles, and a vibrant traditional culture.

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    Things to Know Before You Go

    What Countries are Included in the Balkans

    There is some disagreement over the exact countries that are included in the Balkans, but traditionally this region of Europe includes Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Slovenia. Additionally, parts of northern Greece and southern Turkey are also typically included as part of the Balkans.

    What is Balkan Weather Like?

    It honestly depends on the country. The Balkans cover over 250,000 square miles of Southeastern Europe with each of the countries having their own distinct landscape that dictates the weather.

    However, the countries on the Adriatic Sea coast (Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania) have a typical Mediterranean climate on the coast and a cooler climate in the mountains. These countries are warmer throughout the year than Slovenia or Bulgaria which are landlocked and have more temperate climates.

    An important thing to remember is that the Balkans have some of the roughest terrain in all of Europe. The Dinaric Alps, Carpathian Mountains, Balkan Mountains and other ridges stretch across this region causing the central Balkan countries to have a four-season climate. These mountains are also why the Balkans are a perfect time to visit during winter since many of the mountains receive heavy snowfall.

    Who Will Enjoy the Balkans

    Those wishing to get off the beaten path in Europe will enjoy visiting the Balkans. Since much of this region was under Communist rule and going through rebuilding, most of these countries are new to travelers. However, lesser known cities such as Skopje and Mostar are growing in popularity because of their uniqueness and smaller tourist scene than Western Europe.

    History lovers will enjoy visiting the Balkans because of the unique cultural makeup of this region. The Venetian, Roman, Ottoman, and Hungarian Empires have all left their distinct influences on this region’s food, architecture, and cultural makeup. There are plenty of castles and old towns for any history enthusiast to get lost in.

    Professional and amateur photographers will not be able to get enough of the Balkans. With towering mountains, aquamarine waters, and stunning cliff sides, the Balkans have some of the best untouched landscapes just waiting to be photographed.

    The Balkans are also the ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts. There are many Balkan tour itineraries specializing in hiking and biking through the mountains of the Balkans. Also, there are tours that combine both the landscape of the Balkans with the metropolitan areas, allowing you to see all sides of the Balkans.

    Do I Need Different Currencies when Traveling the Balkans?

    Yes, you will need different currencies for the Balkans. Each of the Balkan countries have their own national currency, except Montenegro and Slovenia who both use the Euro.

    You can exchange money before you leave for each of the countries. However, all of the countries have ATMs that you can use, but be forewarned, your bank may charge an international fee. There are also offices in the major cities, train stations, and airports where you can exchange your money.

    If you are looking to exchange money from countries that are not near each other, like Bulgaria and Croatia, you will not be able to change the currencies. Also there are a few currencies, like Albanian Lek, you won’t be able to exchange outside of the country.

    What Languages are Spoken in the Balkans?

    The people of the Balkans speak a few different languages. You will hear Greek, a version of the Romance languages, a combination of Russian and Polish, and Albanian. But, some of the countries do have a similar language.

    If you are traveling through Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Croatia you will find a common language. While some of the words may be different, the general language is very similar.

    Balkan Tour Lengths

    Most Balkan tours last between 8-18 days. The length of the tour depends on the theme and region of the Balkans you are visiting.

    If you are focusing on just the food of the Balkans or the Western Balkans, than the tour will be around 10 days. If you wish to see all of the Balkans, you will need at least 15 days because the area is so large.

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