Please sign in to post.

Planning a trip to former Yugoslavia countries

I and my wife are considering a road trip around former Yugoslavia countries this summer if situations with COVID-19 allow us.
Croatia and Slovenia are already on the list and we are thinking of Bosnia, Serbia, and Kosovo. Are these countries safe for travel and what about cross country borders by car, do you need to stop and show passports/documents?
Also, how is it with the different currencies? Do restaurants/shops in each country accept other countries’ currency or strictly only accept their own? We are also still considering the possibility of buying some organized tour package (which we expect to be more expensive but also much easier and relaxed) or just car rental and traveling on our own. All suggestions and itineraries are welcome. Thank you 😊

Posted by
185 posts

Bus service is very good in these countries. We used them connecting Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia, Croatia, and lastly Slovenia. Took a cab from airport in capital of Montenegro to the city bus station and a shuttle from Slovenia to Venice to catch a plane home. The shuttle will drop you off in Venice, at the airport and in our case the hotel outside of the airport that had a shuttle to the airport the next morning. We used our feet, the occasional taxi and for fun 3 boat tours. The historical centers that you will be visiting are difficult to park in or near. We liked the bus because you can look at the mountains and sea side without worrying about safe driving. My sister and I took the RS Eastern Europe tour and it was very good. Liked the trip we planned and saw more of the countries you are interested in. It is much cheaper to plan your own trip but more work. I do both tours and individual travel. Highly recommend traveling in this part of Europe especially if you have enjoyed the more “known” countries of Western Europe. Hard to believe that world travels have been closed down for a year, except for those who have figured out the regulations to travel(eg. James E). I’m jealous😀😀😀.

Posted by
724 posts

We had no problems driving in Slovenia and Croatia back in 2017 - other than about an hour's wait to cross the border between the two for passport check. Croatia had it's own currency and Slovenia used the Euro.

Posted by
4422 posts

Of the countries that you are considering, I have only visited Croatia. Car rental there is about double the rate that I pay when I go to Portugal.

You may have to pay a premium if you take the car out of Croatia and many hire companies don’t allow you to take the car out of the EU or on ferries, which invalidates the insurance. There can be a delay of several hours at the border posts in the summer and particularly at weekends.

I hope that your trip is around a month long if you are visiting 5 countries, otherwise it will be rushed.

Posted by
2 posts

@info Thank you for the information. Do you have any recommendations for car rental services in these countries?
@racquet588 I think I'm afraid to take a bus because of the COVID.

Posted by
18102 posts

Check on the situation in Kosovo; I'm not sure about the safety there. I haven't been to Kosovo but can highly recommend Montenegro. It has some very interesting towns (Kotor, Budva, Cetinje, Ulcinj, Nerceg-Novi being the ones I visited) and lovely scenery. I couldn't get to the national parks without a car, but that would not be an issue for you. I don't recommend the capital, Podgorica, which just doesn't seem as interesting as many other possibilities.

You'll need to tell your car-rental company which countries you plan to visit and may face some limitations.

Posted by
4422 posts

Sorry, but if you aren’t prepared to take a bus because of the Covid risk, then you may wish to consider postponing the trip for a year, as you will be at risk in shops, museums, accommodation etc.

Most of Europe is way behind the States and the U.K. in terms of Covid vaccinations and many unvaccinated people could be holidaying in Croatia etc. Even if you are vaccinated, you could still catch or pass on the virus.

Posted by
12120 posts

People, I suspect that Akur Shankar’s post was a set up for info’s response and marketing. But, okay, decent topic about travel so I will go with it anyway.

So, for Yugoslavia we are speaking of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Kosovo. I have visited Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo; and am returning to the region in the Spring.

You are from India and so you will have to do your own research on which country you can enter and under what circumstances. Currently, with reasonable restrictions the countries that are open for tourism from the U.S. are: Bosnia & Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. I believe all but Kosovo will require the PCR test when arriving from the US; from India I have no idea. There is a bit of uncertainty in my mind as to the PCR test requirements when crossing these borders. For instance, a PCR test is required when arriving in Bosnia & Herzegovina from the US, but their own publications say one is not required when crossing from Montenegro to Bosnia & Herzegovina. “Word is” that includes Americans crossing the border. Don’t bet on it. So, plan on PCR tests when crossing borders.

Currently the restrictions in the open countries (above) are fairly mild. The usual mask requirement and curfews from 10 or 11 pm until 5 or 6 am. Otherwise, life as normal. These countries seem pretty set on staying open, but anything can change. Still, I think they are the safest bet for Spring travel.

Montenegro, while not in the EU, uses the Euro. I believe it is the only country that has made this arrangement with the EU. All the others have their own currency. Its always most cost effective to use the local currency. Like most countries not on the Euro, the Euro and a bit less often the Dollar will be accepted at whatever exchange rate the local business decides to give you. Bosnia & Herzegovina uses something called the Convertible Mark (BAM) which is fixed to the Euro at 1 EUR = 1.935583 BAM, but you will do good to get 1.85 on the street. Be happy to pay for the convenience or convert your money.

Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) is sort of a messed up political entity. Unlike a statement above Herzegovina isn’t a part of Bosnia, they are two separate entities that form the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina (FBiH); but that isn’t the same as the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH). It gets complicated because the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH), is comprised of the Federation of Bosnia & Herzegovina (FBiH) and the Republika Srpska (RS); and the Brčko District (BD). This becomes most apparent when crossing the border from FBiH to RS and the street signs change from Latin to Cyrillic.

Is Kosovo safe? Probably safer than my home town
Car rental? Can’t help, these countries are affordable enough that I hire a car and driver (60 to 90 euro a day)

Posted by
12120 posts

Christina, beautiful destinations, aren't they.

AND, today is the Independence Day in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Posted by
12120 posts

If you are traveling to Montenegro for Kotor and Budva then I would wait until March 10th to make your plans. While the country is open and welcoming US tourists, there are still a number of restrictions in Kotor and Budva which expire or get renewed on March 10. I am going for the fishing, so I imagine I will be fine where I am going either way.

Posted by
24837 posts

James E., remember that Akur Shankar isn't coming from the US.

Posted by
2076 posts

My wife and I love this part of Europe (SE Europe, the Balkans) more than any other place.

Currency: There are multiple currencies - Kuna in Croatia, Convertible Mark in BiH, Euro in Montenegro/greece, leu in Romania, dinar in Serbia, forint in Hungary. Each has a conversion factor. You can sometimes get those in 1 country to take the neighboring currency, but it's best to not count on that.

Safety: I have no concerns in any country save possibly Albania or Kosovo. There are parts of Turkey which are dicey at this time. Parts of Ukraine are also not good to visit right now.

Since you are of Indian origin, some may consider you to be Roma, which may have some effect on treatment.

I agree with acraven's comment about bus service. It's good. Trains are less available, as the Balkans are a mountainous region. Some very beautiful train lines exist, however.

Posted by
12120 posts

Safety: I have no concerns in any country save possibly Albania or Kosovo. There are parts of Turkey which are dicey at this time. Parts of Ukraine are also not good to visit right now.

Yea, I wouldn't just be stupid, but with just a tad of common sense, I have been to both (in the last 6 months) and Albania and Kosovo are safe enough. I don't know how Ukraine got into the discussion but its a frequent destination for me. Yes, there are places you don't want to go, but none are of interest to tourists and you will never encounter them.

Currency? Use the local.

Paul of the Frozen .... Paul, You mentioned the rail system in the Balkans. This guy is my favorite travel writer and here are a few of his posts on the subject. This guy is really amazing. One of his most beautiful posts (Dubrovnik)

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/you-must-remember-this-dubrovnik-the-architecture-of-survival/

I would read all the “Balkan Affair” posts if you are going that way, but here are some that deal with trains and busses.

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/08/25/making-connections-kotor-to-bar-by-bus-the-exceptional-in-the-unexceptional-a-balkan-affair-17/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/08/31/tunnel-vision-the-bar-to-belgrade-railway-yugoslavias-greatest-achievement-a-balkan-affair-19/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/09/03/titotecture-the-bar-to-belgrade-railway-mountains-monstrosities-a-balkan-affair-20/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/09/06/beyond-natures-limits-podgorica-everything-after-the-bar-to-belgrade-railway-a-balkan-affair-21/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/09/09/the-good-the-dramatic-the-ugly-in-the-mountains-of-montenegro-the-bar-to-belgrade-railway-a-balkan-affair-22/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/09/12/an-ascent-into-darkness-bordering-on-bosnia-the-bar-to-belgrade-railway-a-balkan-affair-23/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/09/15/the-people-that-you-meet-inside-serbia-the-bar-to-belgrade-railway-a-balkan-affair-24/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/09/18/off-the-grid-a-balkan-back-of-beyond-the-bar-to-belgrade-railway-a-balkan-affair-25/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/09/22/a-walk-in-the-dark-the-end-of-the-line-bedtime-in-belgrade-a-balkan-affair-26/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/10/09/europe-between-north-south-the-novi-sad-train-station-an-invisible-border-a-balkan-affair-32/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/10/12/going-nowhere-slow-novi-sad-to-subotica-mystery-train-a-balkan-affair-33/

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2020/10/15/the-train-to-subotica-dying-in-your-life-dying-in-your-sleep-a-balkan-affair-34/

And one other train … .

https://europebetweeneastandwest.wordpress.com/2021/03/07/blighted-charm-splits-railway-station-an-unforgettable-wake-up-call-rendezvous-with-an-obscure-destiny-4/