Balkans Backpacking Travel Guide

Information on hostels, transportation, cheap food and drinks, sights to see, activities and more.

Backpacking the Balkans


The Balkans region of south-east Europe rich in natural beauty and full of interesting history and culture. It's an area relatively free of tourists but with a strong backpacking community and a ridiculous number of amazing hostels to choose from. It is also great for travelling on a budget.

At the core of this travel guide are the city guides  I have created and that you can find below. They contain info on hostels, transportation, cheap food and drinks and all key sights to see. You can filter by country to find a specific guide. Or you can use the map in the sidebar to navigate to each guide.

I have spent in total about 12 months backpacking throughout the Balkans over the course of the last 3 years. In that time I have visited every country in the region and have stayed in over 50 hostels in the Balkans. I certainly consider myself an expert on backpacking in the Balkans.

Transport


The primary method of transportation through the Balkans is buses. They are easy, cheap and efficient. If you navigate through to individual city guides, you will find instructions there for catching these buses including directions to the bus stations as well as timetabling links.

There is a rail network through the Balkans linking up some some of the major cities but they are infrequent and slow. The Balkans is a very mountainous area making it expensive to build long distance rail networks. You will find details on the rail routes that do exist in the individual city guides.

Money


Getting access to your savings in the Balkans is dead easy. Just like elsewhere in Europe, rely on your bank cards. Credit cards are accepted in a lot of places and in those that don't, there are always ATM's that will accept foreign bank cards. There are a bunch of different currencies in use in the Balkans and you should try and avoid carrying unused currency across a border, it will be difficult to change once you leave (unless it is Euros).

City Guides


Use these filters to select destinations in a particular country.

Belgrade

Walking along Knez Mihailova, the main pedestrian street in the city center, it is difficult to distinguish Belgrade from any number of other European capitals. Belgrade is famous for its nightlife with venues located on houseboats and rafts on the banks of the Danube [...]

Berat

The town of Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected due to its very well preserved Ottoman style architecture and townscape. The beautiful city of Berat is known as the “town of a thousand windows”.

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik has become an extremely popular destination for tourists. Many travellers travel to Dubrovnik due to the use of the old town as the backdrop for Kings Landing, a fictional city in Game of Thrones. [...]

Jajce

Jajce is a beautiful town in western Bosnia and Herzegovina conveniently located on a route between Sarajevo and Zagreb. There is a fantastic hostel in town and some great day trips available. It is a city that boasts strong historical importance, a beautiful townscape [...]

Kotor

Kotor is a small Town on the Adriatic coast in the south west of Montenegro. The coastline in this region of Montenegro forms a stunning natural harbour and combined with the mountainous surrounds has made for a fantastically [...]

Lake Bled

Bled is a small town in Slovenia that sits on the shores of Lake Bled. It is an extremely picturesque area with castles, lakes, churches, waterfalls and canyons all making the list of things to see in Bled. It is a small town so it doesn't need a long stay, but it will be a beautiful few days [...]

Ljubljana

Ljubljana is a very pleasant, smaller city and a great place to spend a few days. It is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe but comes across as one of the most liveable all of Europe as well. Ljubljana is a great city to explore by bicycle [...]

Mostar

Mostar was formerly one of the most ethnically diverse cities in Bosnia with a mixture of Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs all living together in the one city. Mostar was very heavily damaged during the Bosnian war and some 20 years later [...]

Ohrid

Ohrid is a town situated on the banks of Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest lakes on planet Earth. Lake Ohrid straddles the border between Macedonia and Albania and the town of Ohrid is the largest settlement on the lake. It is believed Lake Ohrid is up to 3 million years old [...]

Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes are a beautiful set of 16 interlinked lakes connected by travertine waterfalls. They are a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the must see places in Croatia [...]

Plovdiv

Plovdiv is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in Europe, with a history traced back to 6000 BC. The city has changed hands and names many times over the millennia and was once called Philippoupolis after Philip, the father of Alexander the Great [...]

Pristina

Pristina is a very young and vibrant city in what is now the 2nd youngest country in the world. Pristina has a very strong cafe culture and the streets of central Pristina seem to be constantly buzzing with young people sipping macchiatos and chatting in between university lectures [...]

Prizren

Prizren is both the second largest city in Kosovo and also a popular destination for backpackers travelling through the area. Prizren feels less cosmopolitan than the capital Pristina and a little more traditional [...]

Sarajevo

Sarajevo, like it’s smaller counterpart Mostar, is a fantastic backpacking destination. The reasons for this are pretty simple, Sarajevo just ticks all the boxes. The perfect combination of history, architecture and friendly locals [...]

Sarandë

Sarandë, is a small town situated on a beautiful horseshoe bay between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. Located opposite the Greek island of Corfu, Saranda is characterized by a Mediterranean climate and warm sea waters and typically has over 300 sunny days a year.

Shkodër

Shkodër is a small city in north west Albania, close to Montenegro. It is often the first stop for travellers entering Albania from the north. Shkodër has a selection of very nice hostels that exhibit that incredible level of hospitality [...]

Skopje

Skopje is without a doubt one of the most interesting cities to visit in Europe. The main reason for this is due to the Skopje 2014 project financed by the Macedonian government [...]

Sofia

Sofia is a city that gets more interesting the longer you stay. The nightlife can be a lot of fun and there are a bunch of interesting museums and art galleries to check out. The food is tasty and cheap and the beer comes in 2L plastic bottles. Sofia is well connected [...]

Split

The city was originally built around the Diocletian palace (a palace/fort built for the retired Roman emperor Diocletian) where the locals sought refuge centuries ago. Wandering the historic centre of Split you can still clearly see the Roman walls, squares, and temples [...]

Tirana

Tirana is a beautiful and charming city, where the laid back small town feeling is intertwined with a lively night life. Where old school Albania meets the modernised version. Unpaved streets full of expensive European cars [...]

Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire during the middle ages when it was captured by the invading Ottoman Empire. The city contains one of the largest universities in Bulgaria which gives the night life in Veliko Tarnovo a youthful kick [...]

Zabljak

Zabljak is the largest town within the Durmitor Mountains of northern Montenegro. Zabljak is the place to stay if you are looking at exploring the Durmitor National Park and are keen to try some of the beautiful hikes in the region.

Zadar

Zadar is a very picturesque, sunny, beachy city on the coast of Croatia. It is one of three very popular backpacking destinations on the Croatian coast along with Split and Dubrovnik [...]

Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia and an under-rated destination. The ‘old city’ area has a very charming medieval feel to it, just as pleasant as any other in central Europe. One of the more interesting and unique museums you will ever visit can be found in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships [...]

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