Planning a road trip to the Balkan countries? Here is the ultimate photo guide to fuel your sense of adventure and to help you plan the perfect vacation.
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Balkan road trip
A few summers ago we did an unforgettable 2-week road trip through the Balkans. We left our home in Belgium to drive all the way to Montenegro and back again. We crossed no less than 6 countries and chose to discover 3 of them.
Jan and I like to visit places that we have not explored yet. The choice for Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro was quickly made. 3 countries that intrigued us, within an achievable distance to explore in 2 weeks time starting from Belgium.
If you don’t have your own car or a van, you can rent one from Balkan Campers . They are renting 13 legendary old school VW buses and 6 newer ones. Balkan Campers are based in Slovenia but deliver the vans to Croatia too.
Bohinj – Slovenia
After a long drive and a short overnight stay in Nurnberg in Germany we finally arrived in Bohinj. We decided to settle down in Bohinjska Bistrica, a little village close to Bohinj and Bled. This was the perfect base to explore both areas.
Often Lake Bohinj is referred to as the inferior brother of Lake Bled, but nothing is less true. Lake Bohinj is the deepest and largest lake in Slovenia. It is located in the Bohinj Valley, which is partly part of the Triglav National Park. It is surrounded by the Julian Alps. The views there are just stunning and if you haven’t seen these before, you should definitely add it to your bucket list.
Lake Bohinj is perfect for active family vacations. On the lake you can practice all kinds of water sports from swimming to paddle boarding, but there is also a wide variety to all kinds of sports involving the beautiful surroundings such as hiking, mountain biking and rafting.
Bled – Slovenia
Lake Bled world famous for the church island in the middle of the lake, is slightly more touristic than Lake Bohinj. It is beautiful to witness, but personally I found lake Bohinj just a tad more spectacular. A walk around the lake is certainly recommended, but it is also fun to explore this lake with an authentic rowing boat.
If you are in the neighbourhood, don’t forget to hike the trail alongside the Vintgar Gorge! It is quite touristic but the trail is just dazzling. Try to go as early as you can to avoid mass tourism.
Jamnik – Slovenia
In search of a nice location for a picnic on our way to our next destination, we ended up in Jamnik. This idyllic spot is totally worth a short stop. Here you will find a small church at the top of a mountain in an enchanting scenery. The perfect spot for a lunch break!
Big Berry, Bella Krajina – Slovenia
Big Berry invited us to stay with them in Bella Krajina for a few days to get to know their concept of traveling local in Slovenia. We stayed for 3 nights and connected with their local partners. This whole experience was new to us, but truly amazing. We discovered many impressive places, tasted delicious dishes freshly made with local products and learned a lot about this fascinating, but lesser known area in Slovenia. Since the main attractions in Slovenia are very touristic, this area of Bella Krajina is one of the best kept secrets in this county in my opinion.
Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina
From the Big Berry resort that is located just at the border with Croatia, we drove a few hours along the newly constructed highway through Croatia. There was not much to see, but we reached Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina in no time.
Mostar has surprised us the most of all our destinations. We certainly didn’t know what to expect from Bosnia and Herzegovina. This only made our first acquaintance even more special.
We were impressed by this city that still carries wounds of the recent war, but has a magical atmosphere. The Ottoman influences that still prevail in architecture, decoration and local dishes, have really enchanted us.
A must see is of course the famous bridge the Stari Most, but also a morning or evening stoll through the old city centre is highly recommended.
Do you have some spare time to make extra trips? Be sure to visit the old Dervish house in Blagaj.
Or would you rather enjoy a day relaxing and swimming in a beautiful setting? Don’t miss out on the Kravice waterfalls!
Read more what not to miss in Mostar right here.
Kamenari – Montenegro
After our visit to Mostar we decided to chill a few days at the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro. In our search for a hotel, we ended up in Kamenari. This is a small village in the bay of Herceg Novi, not far from Kotor. We especially enjoyed the sun, sea, beach and delicious food.
From Kamenari you can also take the ferry (free form charge as a pedestrian) to the other side of the bay and take a bus to Kotor. So you don’t have to drive your car and you can enjoy a drink without feeling guilty.
Kotor – Montenegro
Kotor is an old port city located in the Bay of Kotor. The old city centre is beautiful. My favourite activity in towns like these is get ‘wanderfully’ lost in the cosy streets and alleys. Here you will find lots of local shops and bars where you can enjoy a refreshing drink or tasty snacks.
A must do is the Castle of Kotor. To enjoy the view you first have to climb 1350 badly constructed stairs. I really loved this sweaty workout, however next time I would pick a cooler moment of the day. The view on top of the castle is breath-taking and really worth the climb.
The road from Kotor to the Durmitor national park is an attraction itself. You drive through the mountains and see the landscape
gradually transform from Mediterranean rocks to a majestic mountain range.
Dumitor – Montenegro
The Dumitor national park is one of the five largest national parks in Montenegro and known for its spectacular nature. We decided to camp at walking distance from Crno Jezero or better known as the black lake. Note that it is clearly cooler than in Kotor. So don’t forget a warm sweater for this destination.
When you enter the national park you have to pay a small entrance fee depending on the amount of days you want to stay. After that, you are able to enter all hiking trails of the Dumitor park. This is a real paradise for adventurous hikers.
One of the most impressive spots was the Tara canyon. From the Tara bridge you have a perfect view over the canyon and this bright blue coloured Tara river. An activity that you should definitely do is zip lining over the Tara. The longest zip line is also the most expensive (20 euros) but really an unforgettable experience.
Driving from the Tara Canyon to Sarajevo was probably the most beautiful, but difficult road. We drove alongside the tiniest villages not knowing if we were heading the right way. Our GPS system didn’t work in Montenegro en Bosnia and Herzegovina. Once in a while we stopped to visit a local restaurant. The meals I had there were the cheapest but most delicious road meals I ever tasted! Finally we almost reached Sarajevo when the police stopped us. A police officer tried to explain that we had exceeded the speed limit and that he wanted us to pay for that. We asked our ticket, but he wouldn’t bother so he let us through. So don’t forget this how- to-get-out-a-speeding-fine tip when driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sarajevo – Bosnia Herzegovina
Once we arrived in Sarajevo we were exhausted from our road trip adventures. The weather was rainy so we decided to indulge in local food such as cevapi and burak. We exlplored the old city centre and went souvenir shopping. We also visited a ton of bars with a mission to find the best ones for you! This resulted in blog post about the top 5 amazing bars in Sarajevo.
Ljubljana – Slovenia
Last but not least, we stayed our second last night in Ljubljana. That this 1-night stay was far too short speaks for itself. Ljubljana is one of the most beautiful, well kept and pleasant cities I have ever visited. We only had a few hours to discover the city and tried to get the maximum out of it.
In the evening we enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere on the market square where a food festival was held. The next morning we started the day with a big stroll within this beautiful city. I am sorry that we couldn’t stay longer, but this is already an excuse for a next city trip.
In the afternoon we returned home and decided to stop for an overnight stay in Nurnberg in Germany. So we would be well rested to drive home for the last couple of hours.
Why we think everyone should do a Balkan road trip?
This Balkan road trip brought us to 3 neighbouring countries that are very close together but still so different. Every country is unique in nature and culture. From the Slovenian Alps to the Ottoman cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the rugged mountains of Montenegro, in every country there is something new to be discovered. This road trip has certainly not disappointed me. It has only made me more curious about the surrounding countries that I still have to explore. So to all you out there who are reading this. Get in your car and go on this road trip!
Which country in the Balkans is your favorite? Let me know below.
Thanks for reading!
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