We want to go to Sarajevo and then eventually wind up in Thessaloniki.In my research nothing seems straight forward. We are open to different routes -( Belgrade, Sofia, etc)It will all be new and wonderful for us. We enjoy traveling by train. Any suggestions?
Check out the Thorntree forum on the LP website to see if others have done parts of this trip.
Years ago we did Dubrovnik - Kotor - Ulcinj - Skodher - Tirana - Lake Ohrid and then onto Bulgaria and points N. However, there were options to move into Greece and hence Thessaloniki from L. Ohrid.
Another source that I used when planning my trip was Balkanology.com
You don't say how long you have to get from one place. One thing to note is that trains are not very useful in this part of the world unless you are traveling on a main line - for most of the smaller towns and cities you will need to rely on buses or furgons, etc.
When you are in Sarajevo don't miss the chance to visit Mostar. There is a train from Sarajevo to Mostar. It is not much of a train but the part from Jablanica to Mostar goes through the canyon of Neretva river which is amazing.
In Mostar there is much to see besides the famous Old Bridge. Source of Buna river in Blagaj, 10 km from Mostar, waterfall Kravice etc. All mentioned can be seen in this short film:
Once in Mostar, world known Dubrovnik can be visited as a daytrip. Unfortunately no train connection.
Sarajevo has two bus depots, one for Croatia and Hercegovina directions (e.g. Mostar) and it has another bus depot on the Republika Srpska side of town. Last year buses to Belgrade left from there. Belgrade and Thessaloniki used to be connected by the main train line when I used it in the 70s. I did hear that trains run from Zagreb to Belgrade again, maybe even Sarajevo to Belgrade. Train to Mostar may not be running currently as it was never profitable and Bosnia has so little money even the National Museum is closed. Long distance bus lines have sprung up all over Europe, and may be your best bet. Trains or planes from central Europe ( e.g. Frankfurt) to Zagreb are fine. It is also easy to fly to Sarajevo from Zagreb on Croatia Airlines in very short time, or bus up from the coast of Croatia via Mostar (that road is in great shape and a wonderful Neretva gorge experience). At the moment, things in Bosnia are tense and very poor, so be careful how you travel. Planes offer you the most secure trips between two points in the region. You can enjoy Zagreb, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Thessaloniki, etc more if getting there was fun and trouble-free. A zig-zag route on cheap flights may also get you to Athens and then a bus or train up to Thessaloniki cheaper. Weather is still warm on the Balkan coast this October, by the way. They had terrible floods in Bosnia and Croatia in May, remember. Roads in Bosnia, never great, may still be in rough shape in some areas. EU rebuilding funds are not quite reaching their destination… Sretan Vam Put! JS, Croatia.