Table of contents
Taking its name from the Balkan Mountains, the Balkan region is home to shimmering sea views and alluring history. Rich forests, rocky mountains and soaring cliffs all provide ample natural solitude and wonder. Yet, the Balkan region is also culturally rich with dazzling towns dotted with Roman ruins and Byzantine churches. Whether you're setting off on a culinary adventure or a pampering spa retreat, Balkan holidays are a perfect choice.
This small Adriatic fishing village in Montenegro's Bay of Kotor is reminiscent of Venice. Old churches and glittering palazzi hug the shoreline beneath the soaring Dinaric Alps. It's a wonderful place to unwind in with engaging boat tours to intriguing island monasteries.
Dubrovnik is Croatia's awe-inspiring capital, home to timeless baroque buildings surrounded by medieval walls. The blue Adriatic shimmers along the shoreline against a lively harbour of cutting-edge restaurants and bars. Mount Sr? also looms over the city, providing some of the best panoramic coastal vistas in the Balkans.
Slovenia's capital is a delight of luscious greenery and leafy boulevards. The summertime scenes are particularly spectacular as the streets burst with life and open cafe terraces. The city's crown is Ljubljana Castle, a 16th-century fortification that nestles upon a craggy, forested hill.
This cute riverside city in the heart of Albania has UNESCO World Heritage status. Rugged mountains surround this striking city of old Ottoman-style houses and ancient fortifications. The sight of these hill-hugging whitewashed houses has given Berat the nickname of "the city of a thousand windows".
The Balkans contain countless mountain trails for walkers of all skill sets to enjoy. Routes cut up and down the Balkan Peninsula, from wild shepherd paths to gorge lakes. In winter, the mountains are home to some of Europe's best-kept skiing secrets.
This stunning 18th-century palace in Montenegro's eye-catching Kotor region is a dream. With glitzy interiors and sumptuous spa treatments, it's the perfect romantic retreat. Views of the Bay of Kotor from the delightful dining terraces provide the perfect backdrop to a wonderful evening.
This charming coastal property offers poolside relaxation just moments from Dubrovnik. Guests are treated to welcoming, homely rooms that are impeccably decorated with traditional Croatian fabrics. Outdoor dining terraces provide the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail under the stars.
This delightful boutique hotel is one of Sofia's top overnight options. Art Nouveau designs and quirky, bespoke decor add an element of fun to this centrally placed hotel. The on-site restaurant offers up a mouth-watering menu of Bulgarian and European dishes.
This spectacular Mediterranean resort is located in Albania's sun-soaked Saranda region. Boasting picturesque ocean scenery from its outdoor pools and terraces, it's an ideal seaside retreat. The interiors reflect the sparkling Adriatic outdoors with crisp white furnishings and splashes of aqua blue.
Enjoy a sophisticated experience in Slovenia's tallest hotel. Inside, the InterContinental boasts premium dining, swimming and gym facilities, with commanding vistas across Ljubljana. The bedroom suites are equally luxurious, with marble bathrooms and plush furnishings.
The Balkans is a fine destination year-round with different perks depending on the season. The most popular period to travel is summer, when the weather is balmy, particularly along the coast. While temperatures get cooler inland due to the higher elevation, you're still guaranteed sunshine and sparkling vistas. To avoid the summertime crowds, late spring and early autumn are equally delightful. The weather is warm, and prices drop with the crowds. This is the perfect time to travel if you're considering cross-country trips. As for winter, hotel prices drop, and waters become too chilly for swimming. Mountain ski resorts and glittering cities, however, burst with festive energy.
There are plenty of access points for arrivals in the Balkans. Major international airports are found in Sofia, Belgrade, Zagreb, Split, Tirana and Pristina. Most major Balkan towns are connected by regular domestic and international flights. Still, one of the most scenic ways to travel is by boat. The coastal Balkans along the Adriatic provides sumptuous scenery and easy ferry routes. Once you've arrived in the Balkans, you'll find rental cars essential for travelling at your own pace. Trains are surprisingly slow and limited, making buses among the more comprehensive public transport options.
The Balkans is what you make it. Glittering seaside resorts, lively cities and breathtaking mountain landscapes provide the backdrop for all kinds of visitors. The coastal regions are particularly delightful for family holidays. Idyllic beaches and ancient towns provide a wealth of alluring activities for little ones. Older children will relish kayaking and mountain-biking trips amid dusty ruins and breathtaking scenery. Couples, too, have much to cherish, from a delightful culinary scene to pampering spas. In terms of nightlife, Budva, Belgrade, Sofia and Split are renowned for their lively clubs and bars. Most of all, the Balkans is superb for culture, with modern artistic legacies and old church frescoes.
The Balkans is one of Europe's most versatile and intriguing areas. From glorious mountains to plush sea resorts, you'll find a myriad of features and landscapes to explore. Most of all, this is a place where culture thrives. Its wide and complex history has given the Balkans a melting-pot style from its architecture to its food. All of this makes it a dream for visitors who can traverse centuries-old plazas or simply soak up the sunshine.