Please sign in to post.

Travel from Thessaloniki Greece to Bulgaria or Serbia>Albania>Croatia?

Hello!
My husband and I are backpacking (55 & 65L) around Europe for a year and are trying to decide which route to take in the fall when we're in Greece. We'll be based in Thessaloniki Greece for a month until the end of September, then would like to either travel to Bulgaria/Romania or through the Balkans up to Croatia. We are supposed to see friends in Romania in late November, but nothing g has been confirmed.

We will need to be back on the Iberian Peninsula in December, but are free until then. Wanted to see what the community has done or has Intel on ;). While we are budget travelers, we'd prefer to take either bus or train.

Thank you!
Kristen

Posted by
21302 posts

I haven't been to Albania, and last year's trip included just 3 nights in Serbia (2 in Beograd, 1 in Nis), so I can't give you an informed opinion. However, Croatia's the most Westernized of your potential destinations and the least likely to change a great deal in the next five years. I found Romania and Bulgaria fascinating. You're obviously adventurous travelers, so I'd sugest Bulgaria, Romania and (if you can find enough time) Albania. Just know going in that the trains and buses cover about 30 mph.

Posted by
16883 posts

There is limited cross-border transportation between those countries. Options include the daily 6:50 a.m. train from Thessaloniki to Sofia, the daily 18:30 train from Thessaloniki to Skopje (continuing overnight to Belgrad), and flights from Athens to Dubrovnik (see www.skyscanner.com). Buses run more frequently to Sofia and Skopje and Rome2rio.com can help with locating those. The latest Lonely Planet guidebook for the region should also have bus route info; buy tickets there locally. In my experience, you can't rent a car for this route for any reasonable price.

Posted by
1940 posts

Have you discovered the [Balkanology][1] website? We found it very useful a few years ago, to help plan a trip overland from Croatia through Montenegro to Albania. From Tirana, we got a very inexpensive flight to the Greek island that was our ultimate destination.

Also useful is the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums, where you'll find more travelers who have been to these areas than you'll find here on the Rick Steves forum.

It sounds to me like you are perfect candidates for a trip through the Balkans. You really can't be in a hurry, and you can't expect the normal tourist infrastructure you'll find in Western Europe. But somehow, you'll find your way through and have some great adventures along the way.

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you! The website you have recommended has been very helpful :). How easy was it for you to get across the border fro. Montenegro to Albania? Both look beautiful and we're thinking of taking a bus from Thessaloniki to Albania, then travelling up through Montenegro to Croatia.

Have you discovered the [Balkanology][1] website? We found it very useful a few years ago, to help plan a trip overland from Croatia through Montenegro to Albania. From Tirana, we got a very inexpensive flight to the Greek island that was our ultimate destination.
Also useful is the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forums, where you'll find more travelers who have been to these areas than you'll find here on the Rick Steves forum.
It sounds to me like you are perfect candidates for a trip through the Balkans. You really can't be in a hurry, and you can't expect the normal tourist infrastructure you'll find in Western Europe. But somehow, you'll find your way through and have some great adventures along the way.

Posted by
1940 posts

For us, getting across the border was easy. On the Thorntree forum we learned there was a day-trip tour from Budva, Montenegro to Tirana & back. So we went to Budva, found the travel agency offering that tour, and asked if we could just go one-way to Tirana. They said Ok. So we took this tour bus with a group of Russians. The border crossing itself was a matter of showing passports. We made several stops in Albania & then got off the bus in Tirana and found a hotel.

Had we not been able to take this tour, we would have continued on to Ulcinj and found a furgon (mini-bus) there, to Shkodra & then a train or bus to Tirana.

Not sure how you'd get from Shkodra to Ulcinj traveling from Tirana but I'm sure someone on Thorn Tree could help.