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Travel Guide to the Balkans for the Uninitiated

Travel Guide to the Balkans for the Uninitiated

Tranquil time in the bay

Kotor-Montenegro

Ana Bustruc


Making a complete Balkan guideline would turn into a never-ending task. So, here we have created one of those unofficial and less-touristy Balkan tours by going through 6 amazingly beautiful and intriguing travel destinations. From unexplored gems like Mostar to the crowd favourite Bled, there are so many unique cultural experiences, delectable cuisines, natural wonders, and Balkan heritage to discover. Are you ready to explore the Balkans?


Piran (Slovenia) – Land of the Bays

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Slovenia might not be the first country that comes to mind while considering where to spend your summer vacation, but trust me – visiting Piran bay really pays off! Find a place to stay in the city of Piran, plan a prolonged weekend, rent a bike and enjoy your Piran tour. The best thing is that Piran is pretty well connected with other fantastic travel destinations.

For example, Portorož is an excellent choice if you want some chill vibes, beach fun, and coffee with astonishing views. Perhaps you prefer to sit near the lake surrounded by green lands instead? In that case, Fiesa bay is definitely something you've been looking for! In addition to that, Moon bay is another charming place that will win you over with its lovely beach and amazing vistas. There are definitely more things you can visit in this particular area, but we will leave the rest up to you!


Bled and Bohinj (Slovenia) – Tourist Hub & Secluded Lake

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Do you know what the best way to discover Slovenia's hidden gems in general is? Renting a car, because whichever direction you take, there's genuinely plenty to see! Starting from the northern border, descend and follow an insanely beautiful river named Soča. ''The Emerald Beauty'', how they call it, inspired many known poets for some of their best works. In other words, don't wait for more, hire a local Slovenian guide and set out on your adventure, since it can become your very own source of inspiration as well.

Your road trip might also take you to two magnificent well-known Slovenian lakes. The first one is Bled – a touristy place where you will find a beautiful walking trail, many bars, restaurants, and (unfortunately) crowds of people. On the other hand, if you prefer a peaceful, less crowded oasis to enjoy pristine nature or take a swim in crystal waters, Bohinj should be the target of your intrigue.


Dugi Otok (Croatia) – Coastal Adventures

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Did you know Croatia has more than 1,300 islands? Well, you might not visit all of them, but here's a pretty good idea of where to start – Dugi Otok (or 'Long Island' in English). It is the largest of the Zadarian Islands and a perfect choice for people who enjoy amazingly beautiful nature, non-touristy places, and discovering unique coastal gems with local guides.

Most of the people will race to take their place on Sakarun, a beautiful sandy beach by glistening emerald water. However, pick Brbišćica bay if you are looking for a hidden, isolated, and less-touristy beach where you can relax as well as enjoy some snorkelling.

Let me tell you a little secret – leave a car 5 minutes away from the Brbišćica bay, and start walking on the rocky area. Pretty soon you will come up to a rock where you will be able to see Golubinka. It's a specific cave you can only enter by kayak or swimming; it has a hole in its ceiling. So, during the day when sun rays enter it at a precise angle, this little hidden cove becomes even more amazing and colourful.

P.S. While on any of the Croatian islands, make sure to have a motorcycle or a car, as the best places are always outside of a village where you stay.


Neretva Delta (Croatia) – Overlooked Piece of Heaven

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Dubrovnik – Neretva county is highly underrated and relatively unexplored. Use this as an opportunity by visiting this fascinating area before it catches the world's eye! You can start with Neretva Delta, a hidden spot where you can enjoy sandy beaches, chill vibes in the beach bar, as well as some kite surfing.

Less than 30 minutes away, you can find Baćina lakes where you can try your hand at paddle surfing. It's an excellent opportunity to get to know the local culture, as well as see the rich diversity of flora and fauna around seven lakes.


Mostar & Kravice (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – Vibe with the Local Culture

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When it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina, most people tend to focus on Sarajevo (which is in Bosnia), while at the same time they unfairly leave the rest of it unexplored. If you decide to explore Herzegovina (southern part) further, Mostar is a touristy and cultural center that's definitely worth exploring with a local guide. Wander on its historical streets, bargain for things at local markets, and don't forget to eat ćevapi & burek – traditional dishes Bosnia and Herzegovina is famous for.

P.S. Around an hour-long drive away from Mostar you will find a beautiful waterfall, Kravice, where you can chill, take a swim, and enjoy nature far away from the city noise.


Kotor (Montenegro) – A Walk Through History

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Kotor is definitely one of those places you want to put in your travel bucket-list and cross it as soon as possible. Visiting this lovely coastal town with a Kotor guide truly feels travelling back in time; it has its spot on the UNESCO Heritage List which means houses and buildings are not much different from their original Middle Age versions. Narrow streets, boutiques, stone churches, restaurants...Simply get lost in this magical town and find your perfect rooftop spot to enjoy a beautiful sunset for a mesmerising view over the nearby islands.


Conclusion

The Balkans is a precious gem of Southeast Europe with both fascinating historical background and whimsical nature, and we truly believe no matter which country you choose, you won't regret it. Still, wherever you go, taking a Balkans guided tour is an option that will definitely provide you with plenty of useful information and interesting facts that will bring this unique culture closer to you. Every travel is a process of collecting good stories, but it's even better when you have a good storyteller that will provide you with those.

So, which Balkan destination will be a part of your next travel plans?

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