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Ideas please for off the tourist circuit in the Balkans

Hello, I would love to discover some unspoilt places between Ljubljana and Greece. Thank you for your suggestions!

Posted by
1653 posts

Coastal or inland? If inland, pretty much everywhere beyond Croatia is fairly untouched. Places like the Durmitor mountains of Montenegro and Lake Ohrid of Macedonia spring to mind.

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you balso. I am thinking of small towns and villages, where I can meet people and perhaps find homestays.

Posted by
4962 posts

Prizren in Kosovo is an interesting place, with the ruins of an Ottoman fortress overlooking the city.

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you Stan. What do you mean by interesting, in terms of my request?

Posted by
12091 posts

Hi,

If you're in the area of Belgrade, I heartily suggest Novi Sad, the huge Habsburg fortress over the Danube against the resurgent Turks, the "Gibraltar on the Danube" There is a military history museum in one of the buildings now.

How about Pola, now Pula, the former naval base under Austria-Hungary prior to 1914?

Posted by
10909 posts

I cant offer much from Ljubljana to Dubrovnik; but it does get interesting after that. I also cant help much on transportation because given the desire for home stays I am guessing a pretty tight budget and I will pay out close to $200 a day for private transportation.

But for places that line up pretty well; after Dubrovnik:

Cross the border to Montenegro and head down the coast

Perast a great town for a night
Kotor to be honest, a substandard Dubrovnik. I would skip it.

Via Highway P1 over the mountains
Budva another old walled seaside town. Good fishing off the coast, beaches, sail boards, beautiful setting

Then move up into the mountains for zip lines, nature and some pretty good trout fishng.
Tara Canyon

Now back down to the coast
Stari Bar the old town and the village at its base will stay with you for ever.
Ulcinj after you see this place "where East meets West will have a whole new meaning to you.

Cross the border to Albania
Shkodër on Lake Skadar.

Koman to Fierza Ferry
Kruje
Tirana
Berat
Gjirokaster
Sarandë
Ferry To Corfu
Ferry to Greece

Posted by
95 posts

Thank you all for your suggestions. I will now sit down and sort out the puzzle...

Posted by
1325 posts

The entire Balkans is pretty much off the tourist circuit. To me you have a decision of two routes, the one James mentioned or the one that goes along the Zagreb / Belgrade / Sofia corridor. James' route sounds good to me, though Corfu is a hard skip.

Here's a couple more resources:

You don't say how you will be traveling. Public transport is slow and frustrating through a lot of this region.

Posted by
10909 posts

Kaeleku That's what I would have thought too. But I think the Balkans
is the only place in Europe that's seeing double digit increase is
tourists.

Yes, from 10 to 20 tourists per 1000 square miles.

There's another post going on right now about Chinese/Asian tourist
visiting Europe. From what I understand Chinese, Japanese and Koreans
love the Balkans. I think it's the number one destination in Europe
for them.

I've spent a lot of time in the region and to be honest, I hadnt noticed many if any Asian tourists except maybe in Dubrovnik and to be honest I dont really remember them there either; but there must have been.

It was interesting to see tourist signs in Croatian, English and
Korean. I would have thought Russian or German, but Korean? Just an
indicator of how the world is changing.

Russian tourism was big during that period when the communits turned oligarch. Now that the Russian economy has tanked there are half built and abandoned Russian vacation homes all over the region. Kinda nice to see.

I've done the car trip route from Sofia to Istanbul wich you could redirect and go to Greece. Bulgaria is a stunning country. Food stinks but there is so much there worth the time and effort I am looking forward to trip three very soon.

Posted by
95 posts

More thanks for the latest suggestions.
Sorry I didn't mention my mode of transport. In fact, I have an Interrail Pass, valid for two months, starting September 1st, and allowing me a maximum of 15 days of train travel.

The Interrail map shows a small number of main trainlines through Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro, a few more in Bulgaria, and quite a dense network in Romania. I must work out how these can get me at least close to my chosen destinations, which at this point are far from clear. But the network might not be too useful if I want to go to those out-of-the-way places in the Balkans, and I do. With luck, I will find some bus routes: I'm working on it!

Posted by
1325 posts

Train is probably the worst way to see this region, especially once you are off the Sofia / Novi Sad / Belgrade / Zagreb corridor. Car is by far best, followed remotely by bus, and then even worse is train.

Posted by
1325 posts

Also I'm with James, there are effectively few to no tourists in SE Europe compared to W Europe. Like we are talking an order of magnitude. The exception is a few cruise-accessible areas in Croatia. Also, the vast majority of tourists who do go are cheap package tourists who tend to cluster in places like the "Albanian Riveria" or the Bulgarian seaside. Ohrid is also pretty popular. But places like Berat, Gjirokastra, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, etc ... you'll see tourists but won't feel like any popular sites in Europe ... much less the smaller towns and sites. Also asian tourists are rare, and they tend to be smaller groups 8-12 etc.

Posted by
3 posts

Since you have that rail pass you can use, consider also Romania as an off the beaten path destination. Little villages with guest houses and lots of activities you can join are just few of the reasons why Romania should be on your list as well. Happy travels!

Posted by
1919 posts

In Romania this summer. It's East of Ljubljana, of course. It was very pleasant in Timisoara and Oradea. Both not hugely touristic. Timisoura will be Euro Capital of Culture in 2021. Austria-Hungarian architecture, great house museum of DonauSchwaben village houses. Both cities need a lot of work.