Planning to travel through the Balkans someday? Do you have any idea of how much there is to see in Southeastern Europe?! Luckily, I’ve prepared this ultimate Balkans travel bucket list with must-see places, awesome events, and wonderful experiences you simply have to try if you’re coming over.
For keeping it handy, I also made a Balkan infographic at the end. You can save it, pin it, print it, whichever works best for you and your travel style.
The next day, Ana and Tim went to visit Ohrid Town. Simon and I returned to Ohrid, as well. But the two of us went to a station, to wait for a bus to Bitola, in Pelagonia Valley.
on the bus to Bitola
It was a rainy day, but we took our chances.
The bus ride was kind of bumpy, and our bus to Bitola wasn’t that new, but it didn’t really matter. The road was pleasant and the scenery was beautiful, though once it started raining, we couldn’t see that much out the windows.
Luckily, when we arrived in town, the rain had stopped and we could wander on the streets.
When we arrived at Lake Ohrid, we took in the sights and looked for some accommodation. We had nothing planned, we had no idea what was the best place to stay in Lake Ohrid. Therefore, we just looked for signs posted by people outside their homes or yards. And we eventually found something in Lagadin, a very small tranquil village, where people come only during the warm months, according to some locals.
Lagadin – The Best place to stay in Lake Ohrid
Our hosts offered us two double rooms. Ana was staying with Tim, so I had to share with Simon. We had separate entries, but we shared a long balcony on the first floor, with a view of Lake Ohrid. We also had a shaded parking spot and access to the kitchen.
Early in the morning (yes, somehow it’s always early in the morning!), we had breakfast, said goodbye to the local cat, and met up with Simon. We were all heading to Tirana, so he joined our little party. And it’s a good thing he did because he gave us some nice suggestions on the way! One of them was going on a Matka Canyon boat ride.
The road there wasn’t very pleasant (I was sharing the backseat with Simon and one of our backpacks) and we also got a bit lost because we took a wrong turn. However, it was worth it.
The sights were absolutely beautiful! Just look at the video I found:
As mentioned in the previous post, we stopped for lunch in the Old Bazaar, joined by Simon, one of the Germans we met during the Skopje walking tour. We ate some delicious food: Tim and I chose Kebapchinya, Ana decided to get the ubiquitous Shopska salad, while Simon chose the baked beans.
We talked a lot and discovered that we had a lot of things in common. Tim and Simon had actually gone to the same university, though they finished in slightly different years. Simon is a Political Science teacher, and my background is in the same field. Thus, we had really long and captivating conversations on interesting subjects.
Millennium Cross hike or cable car?
Since we were getting along quite well and we had finished eating and drinking, we decided to keep at it during a Millennium Cross hike, on Mount Vodno. Upon reaching the cable car, I chose to grab this opportunity because of an old knee injury that was acting up. They, however, went for the climb with the shortest and hardest route out of the three possible ones.
We planned to go by foot to the village of Gorno Nerezi on the way down, so I got a one-way ticket.
Now join me on a hike or scroll to the end to the quick guide on the Millennium Cross Hike.
Early in the morning, we woke up and had a quick breakfast at Urban Hostel & Apartments. We then went to Skopje‘s centre and split up. Ana and I went to the Memorial House of Mother Teresa, which was the Skopje walking tour starting point. In the meantime, Tim went to walk around in the city on his own.
Skopje Walking Tour
It was the first walking tour I had ever been on. It was interesting that we had a diverse group of Americans, Australians, Germans, plus us two Romanians, among others. However, don’t worry: the group will never be too large. That way, everybody can gather round at certain objectives and be able to hear the guide.
Speaking of the guide, we found him next to a roll-up banner, with the TripAdvisor logo on it. Miha was all smiles, very tanned and dressed all in white. He was friendly and chatty, but he made sure we all left on time, at 10.00, and, as the sun was rising on the sky, he took care to keep us in the shade for as long as possible.
The Skopje walking tour will take you on the capital’s colourful streets, to the main square, inside the Memorial House of Mother Teresa, the old railway station, across the Vadar and back, to the Mustafa Pasha Mosque, to what used to be an inn in the past, then to the Old Bazaar and Kale (Skopje’s fortress), and ends in front of Sveti Spas (Church of the Ascension of Jesus).
At the end of the article, you’ll find a quick guide with more information.
On our first day in Skopje, we were looking for a place to eat, recommended by Lonely Planet. Sadly, it no longer existed, as we soon found out after asking around. But our steps took us to a really nice place nearby, where we heard some good music: Kantina Lounge Bar.
We sat down on the terrace and a very friendly waitress brought us some menus. They were written in their alphabet, though, which I could barely understand due to the limited knowledge I have of the Greek and Bulgarian alphabets.
However, not to worry, while we were having some beer, the waitress translated almost the entire menu for us and recommended us something good to eat, as well.
The atmosphere was perfect for a lazy summer afternoon and the food was delicious.
When you travel through the Balkans, definitely go eat at Kantina Restaurant Skopje!
And this is not the last you’ll be reading on Kantina in relation to our Balkan road trip. 😉
It took us some time to leave the Rila Monastery and head towards Macedonia. Like on our arrival in the Rila National Park, there were works to expand the road, so we had to wait a lot for the machines to get out of the way or to move the recently cut trees out of the road.
Slowly, but surely, we made it, though. And we instantly started to appreciate the Macedonian music. I forgot to mention this, but we only listened to what was on the radio on this road trip. And the music we found, regardless of the radio channels, was like the music from the ’80s!
Arrival in Skopje
Once in Skopje, Tim found Urban Hostel & Apartments, where we stayed for two nights. It was a great deal: we had two rooms, a balcony, a small kitchen and, most important: a washing machine in the bathroom. More information on our hostel is available in the quick guide at the end of the article.