The Balkans Peninsula is located in the south-east of Europe stretching down from Romania to the tip of Greece and is one of the few relatively unexplored and unspoilt corners of Europe.
Its history has been troubled at times, but now in peace it’s left behind a wealth of cultural attractions and a vast array of tantalising cuisine. Here Europe Product Manager Clare Collins shares her thoughts on some of the lesser known, but must see sights which this diverse region has to offer.
"On our Europe's Last Frontier trip we’ll get under the skin of Albania from its colourful capital of Tirana to the beautiful mountain scenery around Benja where we’ll sample a traditional lamb barbeque and drink raki with the locals. We’ll also walk through Llogara National Park, which is one of the most unspoilt areas in the Adriatic and discover Butrint, which has the esteemed accolade as being one of the great archaeological sites in the Balkans.
Lake Ohrid forms the border between Albania and Macedonia and on our Ancient Macedonia trip we’ll get to spend time relaxing and exploring the area around one of the oldest lakes in the world. On this holiday we’ll journey through Bulgaria, Greece and of course Macedonia to uncover the lost empire of Alexander the Great including visiting the ancient capital city of Macedonian Kings at Vergina. We’ll discover the brightly coloured frescoes of the Rila Monastery, experience the natural wonder of the Matka Gorge and take a boat along the coastline of ‘the holy mountain’ of Mount Athos.
On our Undiscovered Balkans holiday you can experience the capital cities and more rural areas of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. The beautiful UNESCO listed Decani Monastery is well worth visiting and the picture perfect town of Prizren is ideal for wandering along its cobbled streets. Whilst in Kosovo we’ll sample the lovely local wines in Rahovec.
Croatia is probably the Balkans best known country, but few visitors venture further out than behind the old city walls of the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik. On our Old Dubrovnik and Dalmatia holiday we’ll also discover the 4th century Diocletian's Palace in Split and wander through the narrow streets in the charming old town of Trogir. One of the highlights of the holiday however, must be Plitvice Lakes National Park with its glistening lakes and rambling waterfalls.
If you want to see Croatia from a different angle then why not enjoy a relaxing cruise aboard our chartered Oldtimer wooden motor cruiser on our Dalmatian Island Cruise to the islands of Korcula, Hvar, Vis and Brac. Or you can combine these two Croatian trips and for a longer holiday option.
The best known sight in Slovenia is the attractive Lake Bled with the Church of the Assumption on an island in its centre. On our Alpine Lakes of Slovenia trip you’ll get to see this, as well as walking in the tranquil Julian Alps, exploring the baroque capital city of Ljubljana and marvelling at the Venetian Gothic architecture of Piran. We’ll also take one of the most scenic train journeys in Slovenia from Bohinjska Bistrica to Nova Gorcia and go underground in the UNESCO listed Skocjan Caves.
Serbia is now rising from its turbulent past and is quickly becoming one of the must see places in the Balkans. Its capital Belgrade was the former capital of Yugoslavia and has a mixture of historic buildings reflecting its Ottoman, Roman and more recent Communist history. On our Highlights of Serbia holiday we’ll see how the traditional fruit brandy rakia is made, explore the country’s most wild and beautiful national park – Tara, ride the rail on the narrow-gauge Sargan 8 Railway and attempt to spot Griffon vultures as they soar above the Uvac Canyon.
If you’re short on time but want to see as much of the Balkans as possible then there are two great holiday opportunities for you:
Our Journey Through the Balkans visits Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in just 12 days. You’ll discover the cultural gems of Kotor, Mostar and Trebinj, visit Sirogojno's famous open air museum, see the UNESCO listed Bridge Over the Drina, enjoy the cultural highlights of lesser visited Sarajevo and stroll the streets of one of the finest Medieval cities in the world, Dubrovnik.
Our Former Yugoslavia Rail Adventure visits Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo on a 16-day journey of discovery. We’ll stop off in seven diverse capital cities, admire the natural beauty of the Plitvice National Park and Lake Ohrid, and ride on a variety of different trains including a journey along one of the most stunning routes in Europe on the Bar to Belgrade line. We’ll try traditional food along the way and take in the wealth of historical and cultural sights that the region has to offer the unexpected traveller."
Experience these adventures on our Balkan trips.