TRAVEL TIPS

Anyone ever done a loop in the Balkans? Trying to decide on a starting point and general route…

I’m looking to fly from the USA into the Balkans somewhere and do a loop in the region for about a month. I’m aware that I’ll have a connecting flight elsewhere in Western or Northern Europe before landing in Balkans.

Trying to figure out a good starting point and route is proving tricky for me though. The somewhat spotty and inconsistent transportation links – bus & train – between the major cities of the region are a bit harder to plan than my previous experiences elsewhere in Europe.

It seems likely that I’ll be landing in Belgrade & also flying out of Belgrade at the end of the trip.

So I was thinking about doing a circle starting in Belgrade, then into Bosnia, Croatia, looping downwards to Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia, then going north into Bulgaria and possibly crossing into Romania (would like to hit up Transylvania if there’s time), and then back to Belgrade.

I’m hoping at least the capital cities are well-linked by buses.

I don’t have to start and end in Belgrade, though. I was hoping to hear if you have insight or suggestions into the logical way to go about looping the Balkans.

Very excited!



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11 Comments

11 Comments

  • Bakerandabackpack

    That’s quite a good plan. I know there’s usually some really cheap flights from Berlin to Romania and so you could start there, then head towards Belgrade. I circled around the Balkans a couple of years ago and highly recommend Sarajevo, Mostar, Split, Ohrid, and Kotor.

    If you want more advice on Romania, I’ve been living here for the past year

  • Scandalchris

    Sounds like a good route already. Done this many times and am absolutely enamored with the balkans. Lots of busses, some trains, plenty of blablacar, and tons of hitchhiking to get you around

  • rohansfinest

    I’ve got quite a similar route to the one your mentioning for this coming up summer trip.

    I’ve got several cities before I hit Belgrade, but once I’m in Belgrade I’ll be going to Sarajevo -> Mostar -> Dubrovnik -> Kotor. I’ll be flying down to Athens and then Mykonos. Then back up to Romania before I head east to Istanbul. You can just loop back to Belgrade. You’ve got a good route.

    Just throwing out a possible route for you: Belgrade -> Sarajevo -> Mostar -> Dubrovnik (you could go up to Split before Dubrovnik if you wanted) -> Kotor -> Tirana -> Skopje -> Prishtina -> Sofia -> Bucharest -> Transylvania region -> Belgrade. I basically just traced mostly capital cities, but insert whatever city you want in each area. It’s just a tentative road map.

  • DushanS94

    I would really recommend visiting Novi Sad in Serbia. It is the second largest city in Serbia and has been voted the European capital of culture for 2021. It has a very rich history and elements from various cultures, having been a part of the Austro-Hungarian empire for a long time. There’s tons of stuff to see and a lot of activities for tourists. You can hit me up here on reddit and I can show you around the city as well.

  • Thrill_Monster

    It would be great if you could specify where in the US you’re flying from and when you’re looking to travel. We can’t help as well if you don’t share those things.

    If you’re in New York or Chicago (and travelling any month) or you live in Miami or LA (and you’re travelling Spring/Summer), why don’t you fly Austrian to Vienna? Fantastic airline with great service, and you won’t have to transfer at LHR/CDG/KEF/FRA/MUC.

    Your route through the region could be Vienna, Austria > Maribor, Slovenia > Zagreb, Croatia > Zadar, Croatia > Split, Croatia > Dubrovnik, Croatia > Budva, Montenegro > Podgorica, Montenegro > Tirana, Albania, > Skopje, Macedonia > Sofia, Bulgaria > Belgrade, Serbia > Budapest, Hungary > Bratislava, Slovakia > Vienna, Austria. That would be a blast. If you pop these cities into Google Maps or something similar, you can see the route. It’s a disformed oval and you would travel counter-clockwise. [https://imgur.com/a/35CndGj](https://imgur.com/a/35CndGj)

    ​

    I’ve done a shorter version of this route before and loved it. I travelled Vienna, Austria > Maribor, Slovenia > Zagreb, Croatia > Zadar, Croatia > Split, Croatia > Dubrovnik, Croatia > Budva, Montenegro > Podgorica, Montenegro > Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina > Vienna, Austria.

    Highlights were Vienna, Split, and Budva. The Croatian coast is beautiful (UberBOAT is fun for island hopping), and Montenegro is a hidden gem. Didn’t visit Budapest on that trip, but I’ve been before and I think it’s the most amazing city in Eastern Europe.

  • LatteTigre

    I think your plan sounds great and while its harder to plan beforehand than it is in the rest of Europe, you’ll find once you get there, the transport links are good and you’ll have plenty of options to get around. And if you’re doing it in a month, I think you’ll have time to be relaxed about it, instead of tightly planning and running on a schedule so you don’t miss anything.

    When are you going? I highly recommend the Guca trumpet festival at the beginning of August, I went in 2012 and 2013 and it was literally the best and second best week of my entire life! Haha! I’m hoping to make it there again this year, since I’ll be living in Italy. In summer there are lots of music festivals, but Guca is very specific to the region and culturally significant too. It’s one of the wildest party experiences you can have. Amazing.

    I also loved Sarajevo and Croatia. I’m have a loose plan this year to travel through Romania and Bulgaria if/when I make it to Guca in August. The Adriatic coast is incredible.

    You’re going to have an amazing time, many, many people who have traveled all over Europe have told me their favourite place is Serbia or somewhere else in the Balkans (Poland comes up as a consistent fave as well, hehe).

  • its_a_me_garri_oh

    Although you haven’t mentioned it, don’t forget if you plan to check out Kosovo that you can’t enter Serbia from Kosovo due to political tensions (they think you’re invading illegally)! But I think you can go the other way.

    This is all from internet research rather than first hand experience so I’m happy to be corrected!

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