There are dozens of beautiful places to visit in Western Europe, all with a wonderful history and culture to share, but have you ever been a bit more to the east, to the Balkans? You might not realize it, but the Balkans have an incredible amount of history and cultural significance to share with visitors.
These countries have been around for quite a while and a lot of things have happened throughout their history. All of that can easily be seen through their architecture, preserved nature, and even through their food and drinks. So, when planning your next trip to Europe, consider going to one of these 7 places you absolutely must see in the Balkans.
The capital of Serbia, Belgrade is full of wonders and has a lot to offer. First of all, there is the most amazing Belgrade Fortress named Kalemegdan that was built in 535 BC and it can offer you a nice view of the city and some great historic landmarks.
Next take a stroll down Skadarlija, a pedestrian old street that is always brimming with activity. You’ll notice the architecture is a bit eclectic, with plenty of bulky Communist building blocks, while there is the contrast of art nouveau buildings. Stop at cafes, do some people watching, and stay for the nightlife.
Belgrade is famous for its nightlife and is often called the city that never sleeps. The most famous clubs are Freestyler and Mr. Stefan Braun. However the clubs placed at the Sava and Danube rivers are becoming more and more popular. We’ll just mention some of them like Dragstor, Blaywatch and Acapulco.
Serbian is also known for its “kafanas“ – bars where you can enjoy and have fun listening to traditional live music. Skadarlija has some famous kafanas.
This area is also a great place to try delicious Serbian food. Visit the restaurant Tri Šešira (Three Hats) built in 1864. It’s a traditional restaurant that offers as much history as it does great food. Make sure to try some great steaks and unforgettable kaymak.
Perast is only 20 minutes away from Kotor – another city you should definitely explore if you have the time – and Perast is a quaint waterfront town. This place is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.It is quite a small town with less than 400 inhabitants.
Once called “The city of ghosts” now is very popular among foreign tourists. With scenic views over two small islands and with beautiful restored stone villas it’s no wonder that one of the world’s biggest hotel groups Iberostar opened their hotel in a restored 18th century palace.
There are only a few museums, cafes and winding streets, but the food is great! Make sure to try the famous Perast cake made of almonds. Enjoy the scenery and peacefulness of this town.
Lake Bled really looks like something from fairy tales. Bled is a blue lake that is emerging from the Alps that are surrounding it. There is a picturesque church on an island right in the middle of the lake, and because of its beauty, Bled became a true gem of Slovenia and its main tourist destination.
You can rent a rowboat there to get to the island, try some amazing local dishes, like local cheese, stews, Carniolan sausage, “štruklji”, and “ajdovi krapi”, or just simply enjoy the scenery.
There is also a legend about the island in the middle for brides and grooms. According to tradition, if the groom carries the bride up the steps so they can ring the bell on the church together and make a wish, it brings good luck.
Kavarna is a small port town, situated on the Black Sea to the Eastern and Southern sides. There are magnificent cliffs combined with relaxing beaches. Also, there are fissures and caves to be explored as well, but if you’re not up to it, you can simply enjoy the tranquil landscapes.
What is more, Kavarna is an ancient town of Bulgaria, but after a severe earthquake part of it was drawn into the sea. Luckily, in Roman times it was rebuilt 3km inland. Today, Kavarna offers a lot to see and experience.
There are plenty of restaurants with local food and drinks that you should taste, and there is even a Fish Festival during the summer, offering you the best products of the sea.
Plus, if you like golfing, you can easily play and enjoy this sport in one of the world’s best golf courses.
If you like nature, then you shouldn’t miss out on Plitvice in Croatia. This is one of the biggest national parks in the country and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Plitvice is made up of a series of lakes that are interconnected and they beautifully cascade into each other.
The only thing that separates them are natural travertine dams. The scenery is simply mesmerizing with its striking blue and green colors and you get the chance to see some endemic animal species, including lynx.
It’s located in central Croatia, about a 2.5 hour drive from Split, and is both the oldest and largest national park in the country.
The reason this park is so captivating is the chain of 16 crystalline lakes that are interlinked by cascading waterfalls that extend along a limestone canyon. There are walkways and hiking trails that wind around and across the lakes, so you can easily wander among the beauty.
In 1979, Plitvice Lakes became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it quickly became one of the most popular tourist attractions. For this reason, you will experience large crowds during the summer months, so visiting on the shoulder or off season is best.
Besides having some Game of Thrones shot here, Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist places in the Mediterranean because of its mesmerizing beauty. This is another city in Croatia that is protected by UNESCO because of its huge historical prominence.
Besides enjoying the plethora of seafood, you can explore the city as much as you want. You can rent a cable car and go around the city taking the amazing architecture, you can visit some great festivals if you’re there during the summer and you can sail and relax on the variety of beaches.
There’s lots of exploring to do and no better place to start than the old city. Enter at the Pile Gate. You can easily spend the entire day walking around the old city — the main street and all the side streets that shoot out from there, and walking the perimeter of the city on the wall, which is an absolute must do.
The backstreets and alleys go on forever and you may feel like you’re getting lost, but you’ll eventually make it back to the main street, so have fun exploring. Just make sure you’re still around when it gets dark out and the well-buffed streets start to shine.
Novi Sad, Serbia
This city of Serbia is situated a bit more to the North and it is the capital of the province Vojvodina. This is mainly a student city, but it has a lot to offer to the tourists as well.
If you’re a history buff, you can visit Petrovaradin Fortress, right across the Danube river or have a great time in one of the many museums Novi Sad has. Also, you can take a stroll down the Danube river on the quay and simply enjoy watching people and steady flows of the river.
What is more, if you visit Novi Sad during the summer, you can enjoy one of the biggest festivals in Europe – Exit – and witness a truly festive atmosphere.
Europe is simply beautiful and filled with history and culture. However, if you want to see something a bit different, then you should definitely head for the Balkans. The cuisine is great, there is a lot of meat involved, along with some seafood and drinks, including beer and schnapps. Not to mention how beautiful the national parks are on the Balkans.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nina is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she’s up to you can find her on Twitter.