Have you ever wanted to just leave everything and go on a road trip? Well, I did that last year when I spent 20 days travelling the Balkans. During my trip, I saw all kinds of breathtaking sights, impressive architecture, and natural wonders. From waterfalls in Slovenia to sandy beaches in Greece, the best of Balkans stuns with diversity and pure beauty.
Yet, I believe that experiencing things beats seeing things. Sure, I’ll never forget the gorgeous view of the Lake Bled from the Bled Castle. However, I get goosebumps whenever I remember my parasailing experience in Croatia.
If you’re anything like me and appreciate having an unforgettable experience, let me help you with creating the ultimate Balkan travel itinerary! In this list, I included the things that will make planning a Balkan road trip unique and adventurous.
You’ll never forget how you felt while doing any of these activities. I promise you that!
1. Hike to Savica Waterfalls in Slovenia
Slovenia was a top spot on my Balkan itinerary for many reasons. This country is clean, beautiful, green, and simply stunning. When someone mentions Slovenia, however, everyone instantly thinks of its capital Ljubljana or the picturesque Lake Bled.
Yet, a quick research brought me to the Savica Waterfalls near the lakes Bohinj and Bled. After seeing some pictures on Google, I instantly added it on to my must-see bucket list.
Getting to Savica Waterfall Slovenia is not the easiest task since it requires a 30 to 60-minute (your fitness level dictates this) hike uphill from the parking lot before getting to the waterfalls.
When you finally reach the final point all tired and sweaty, nature will make everything worth it with the stunning view of the A-shaped Savica Waterfall.
2. Try Parasailing in Makarska, Croatia
There are many Makarska Croatia things to do. Swimming and sunbathing are the most obvious options for this coastal riviera. Plus, exploring the charming Makarska village and trying local specialties is always a great idea, too.
However, what made the three days in Makarska and Podgora unforgettable was parasailing. There are all kinds of water sports activities available on the shorelines in Croatia – from inflatable action water parks to jet skis. In my case, I wanted to see the gorgeous Croatian Riviera from above with my travel partner Milena and settled for parasailing. It was a unique Croatian experience I recommend to anyone!
3. Town Hopping on the Croatian Riviera
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Anyone who plans on visiting the Balkans has to experience the Adriatic Sea and its charming coastal towns. Before this road trip, I’ve been to a few spots on different occasions, such as Split, Zadar, and Dubrovnik.
My mom, however, was always telling me how awesome town hopping in the Croatian Riviera is. So, on my Balkan road trip with Milena driving along the Croatian Riviera and the Adriatic Sea was a must and include this adventure our travel itinerary.
How was it? A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Literally, every town we visited was just too beautiful. Plus, when you take the local road, you get stunning views of the Adriatic Sea, and freedom to stop at any beach or place you want to. So, if you can afford to do this, it really is a must-have experience!
4. Kayaking in Canyon Matka, Macedonia
Whoever visits Skopje, Matka Canyon is one of the first attractions they see in North Macedonia. Some of the most popular things at Matka include taking a Matka Canyon boat trip, kayaking, and visiting the Cave Vrelo.
In my experience, however, the best activity is to rent a Matka Canyon kayak and explore this gem of nature on your own. I believe one can rent a kayak during the spring and summer seasons. There are no kayak rentals during the wintertime, but boat rides to cave Vrelo are still available.
If you plan to visit the canyon anytime soon, check out our useful Matka Canyon travel guide here.
5. Take a Swim in Lake Bohinj, Slovenia
We already established that Slovenia is a beautiful country that must be included in your Balkans travel route. It’s especially popular for Lake Bled, which is a top tourist attraction. Go a bit further, however, and you’ll get to the pure beauty of Lake Bohinj in the Triglav National Park.
There are lots of Lake Bohinj things to do really. Located in the Triglav National Park, this area offers hiking, biking and relaxing. During the hot summer days, swimming in Lake Bohinj becomes a must! I must admit that the water was very cold, but that experience remains one of my favorites.
6. Boat Ride in Ohrid Lake, Macedonia
A beauty recognized by UNESCO, the charming Town of Ohrid will melt your heart with stunning sunsets and rich history. Spread alongside the Ohrid Lake, this destination offers lots of activities during the summer season. Swimming, sunbathing and partying attract lots of visitors every year.
My personal favorite, nonetheless, remains going on an Ohrid boat trip. Enjoy the wind in your face as you witness the beauty of the town from a different perspective. Discover hidden churches in the rocks and be amazed by the crystal-clear lake waters.
Traveling to Ohrid this year? Make sure to add these 15 things to do in Ohrid to your bucket list! Bonus tip, when the sun starts going down make sure you take a stroll along Lake Ohrid to see breathtaking sunsets.
7. Relax in Thermal Baths on Snowy Weather in Loutra, Pozar, Greece
If you visit the Balkans in winter, then relaxing in natural hot springs should be on top of your list. Most Balkan countries pride themselves with thermal baths. We had great times in Sandanski, Bulgaria a few years ago as well as in Prolom Banja, Serbia not long ago.
However, no thermal baths have amazed me as much as the Loutra Pozar spa in Greece. These natural thermal pools offer a one-of-a-kind experience. You get to enter small pools filled with hot spring water, surrounded by nothing but pure nature.
If you never heard of the Loutra, Pozar thermal baths before, check out some amazing photos and videos of the place in our Loutra spa review.
8. Ride the Gondola (and ski?) in Bansko, Bulgaria
I am not a particular fan of skiing. However, last summer I had a beautiful ride on the Bansko gondola that took me to the Bansko ski center. This destination is actually popular throughout the year thanks to its spa and golf resorts.
So, even if you don’t want to join the skimania Bansko, you can enjoy this Bulgarian town whatever the season. Don’t miss out on the gondola ride, though. You’ll love the gorgeous view of Bansko as you get higher and higher.
9. Explore Castles throughout Bulgaria
For the ultimate Balkan road trip, make sure to explore the numerous castles in the area. In particular, I want to highlight the Bulgaria castles.
Baba Vida Fortress, Peristera Fortress, Tsarevets Fortress, and Belogradchik will make you feel like a true explorer. Plus, Bulgaria has some cool caves too. So, if that’s your kind of adventure, start planning your trip right away!
10. Snorkel in Crystal-Clear Sea in Greece
I love Greece and its wonderful sandy beaches, clear sea and delicious food. Every Balkan countries tour should include Greece, especially if you’re traveling during the summer season.
In reality, there are countless activities to try on Greece mainland. With ancient temples, archaeological sites, and natural beauty, anyone can have unforgettable times in Greece.
However, I really love swimming and snorkeling, so I kept this activity for this destination. There’s nothing more relaxing than exploring the Aegean Sea from the best beaches in Greece mainland. Collect wonderful stones, pick empty seashells or just watch the fish as they swim carelessly.
Life doesn’t get any better than that!
11. Freeze Your Feet in Neretva River under the Mostar Bridge, Mostar, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
We can’t write about the gems of Balkan without mentioning the unique Mostar Old Town. More precisely, the mesmerizing Mostar Bridge. Explore the cobblestone streets, wander the old bazaar and watch kids diving into the river.
What remains sealed in my memory, however, is the cold waters of Neretva River. In fact, the Neretva River temperature is among the lowest in the world. It gets around 7°C and it can easily freeze your feet, even during the hot summer days.
I wouldn’t advise to swim as I witnessed a woman almost being swept away by the strong current. Putting your feet inside at least for a second, on the other hand, is a must!
Not many people know that countries like Italy, Turkey, and Romania also spread on the Balkan Peninsula. Their presence may be small but it’s surely important. So, here are a few less-known ideas to try for your ultimate Balkan adventure.
- Go shopping in Trieste, Italy
- Go on a Dracula Tour in Romania
- Visit the Nisville Jazz Festival in Nis, Serbia
- Explore the European part of Istanbul, Turkey (Yup, that’s on the Balkan Peninsula too!)
Unfortunately, I still haven’t been to Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. As soon as I go there, I’ll make sure to update this ultimate Balkan travel itinerary. After all, I’ve heard countless amazing stuff for those countries as well.
Do you have any Balkan adventures you want to share with us? Please, feel free to tell us all about them in the comment area below!