Adventure awaits: The amazing Balkan road trip!

A Balkan road trip is a popular way to explore the countries of the Balkans, which are located in southeastern Europe. The Balkans are known for their stunning natural beauty, rich history and culture, and friendly people.

A road trip through the Balkans is a great way to experience the region’s many attractions and attractions, including:

  • The stunning natural beauty of the region, including the rugged mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and beautiful beaches
  • The rich history and culture of the Balkans, with its many ancient ruins, historic cities, and traditional villages
  • The delicious and diverse Balkan cuisine, with its many local specialties and traditional dishes
  • The friendly and welcoming people of the Balkan Peninsula are well known for their hospitality and warm personalities.

Wait, wait…

balkans 3 week itinerary
Balkans 3 week itinerary

What are the Balkans?

The Balkans are the wide Southeastern peninsula of Europe. Some would say that they include the countries from the former Yugoslavia, plus Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Moldova, and even the European side of Turkey.

(Although I am Romanian and can see how our tourism industry benefits from travelers who include us in their Balkan road trip… I tend to disagree. We are too far North to be part of the Balkans. And so is Moldova. But please pay us a visit during your Balkan road trip!)

The region is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history and culture, and diverse population. The Balkans have a long and complex history, with a mix of influences from the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Byzantine Empire, among others. Today, the Balkans are a fascinating and diverse region, with a unique blend of traditions, customs, and cultures.

Did you know that the word Balkan means a chain of wooden mountains in Turkish?

balkan road trip 3 weeks
Balkan road trip 3 weeks

How do you travel around the Balkans?

There are several ways to travel around the Balkans, depending on your preferences and budget. Some of the most popular options include:

Going on a Balkan road trip by car

If you want to explore the Balkans at your own pace and see as much of the region as possible, renting a car is a great option. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can also use your own car to visit everything on your Balkan road trip itinerary.

The region has a well-developed network of roads and highways, so you can easily drive from one destination to another. However, it’s important to remember that traffic laws and driving habits can vary from country to country, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the local rules before you go on a Balkan road trip.

Touring the Balkans by bus

Bus travel is a popular and affordable way to get around the Balkans. Most cities and towns in the region have regular bus connections to other destinations, so you can easily hop on a bus to explore a new place. The buses in the Balkans are generally comfortable and reliable, and they offer a great way to see the local scenery and meet the locals.

Traveling by train in the Balkan Peninsula

If you don’t drive or you simply want to travel around the Balkans in style, taking the train is a great option. The region has a well-developed network of train lines, so you can easily hop on a train to explore a new destination from your Balkans train itinerary. The trains in the Balkans are generally comfortable and reliable, and they offer a great way to see the local scenery and relax during your trip.

Overall, there are many different ways to travel around the Balkans, so you can choose the option that best suits your preferences and budget. Whether you’re interested in exploring the region at your own pace, taking in the local scenery, or meeting the locals, there’s a travel option that’s right for you.

Is it easy to drive through the Balkans?

Driving in the Balkans is relatively easy, as the region has a well-developed network of roads and highways. However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning on driving through the Balkans.

First, traffic laws and driving habits can vary from country to country, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local rules and regulations before you hit the road.

Second, some of the roads in the Balkans can be in poor condition, especially in rural areas, so it’s important to drive carefully and be prepared for potential hazards.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the road signs in the Balkans are often in the local language, so it’s a good idea to have a map or GPS device with you to help you navigate.

Overall, while driving in the Balkans can be a great way to explore the region at your own pace, it’s important to be prepared and take the necessary precautions.

Is it safe to drive in the Balkans?

Yes, it is very safe to drive in the Balkans. People living in the Balkans are no crazier behind the wheel than those you’ve seen in almost any city. Plus, everything’s taking place on the right side of the road, so it’s easier.

The only difficulty/weirdness you might notice is if you are a female driver in Tirana. Everyone was staring, at least in our case. But otherwise, they respected the law and drove as usual, so it wasn’t really a risk. Just a bit uncomfortable for Ana, the driver on our Balkan road trip.

travel planning balkan road trip
Balkans travel blog: Plan Roadtrip Balkans

When is the best time to visit Balkans?

The best time to visit the Balkans depends on what you want to see and do while you’re there. In general, the most popular time to visit the Balkans is during the summer months, from June to August, when the weather is warm and sunny and the beaches are at their best.

However, the region is also beautiful during the spring and autumn months, when the weather is mild and the landscapes are lush and green.

If you’re planning a trip to the Balkans, it’s important to consider what you want to see and do, then choose a time of year that will allow you to experience the region at its best.

Is it cheap to travel in the Balkans?

Travel in the Balkans is quite affordable compared to many other European destinations. The cost of food, accommodation, and transportation in the Balkans is generally lower than in Western European countries, so you can save money on your trip.

Additionally, many of the region’s top attractions, such as museums and historical sites, are either free or have very affordable admission fees. This means that you can enjoy a great trip to the Balkans without breaking the bank.

Of course, the cost of your trip will depend on your personal travel style and budget, but in general, the Balkans offer great value for money.

balkans itinerary 3 weeks
Balkans itinerary 3 weeks

Which Balkan country is the cheapest?

It is difficult to say which Balkan country is the cheapest, as the cost of travel can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the time of year, the exchange rate, and the cost of local goods and services.

However, some of the most affordable countries in the Balkans include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. These countries tend to have lower costs for accommodation, food, and transportation, which can help you save money on your trip.

Of course, the best way to find out which country is the cheapest for you is to research and compare the costs of different destinations before you travel.

balkan itinerary 3 weeks
Balkan itinerary 3 weeks

How MY Balkan road trip 3 weeks started

It was 2016 and I was getting over a bad breakup. Summer was knocking at my door, but I found it difficult to make any traveling plans. Then along came Ana, one of my best friends, with this amazing, crazy idea of going on a Balkan road trip with her and her boyfriend, Tim.

It would last several weeks, we’d be traveling in an old Cielo, and it would be just me and a couple every day, sometimes even sharing the same room. But what else was I going to do?

Planning the Balkans itinerary 3 weeks

Did I mention Tim was German? This came with some advantages, one of them being that he was very well organized. He handled all the planning of the Balkan itinerary 3 weeks, and it was one of the few times I could just relax and enjoy myself.

He used Ana’s Lonely Planet Southeastern Europe guide, selected the best Balkan highlights, and we ended up with a very interesting list of places to see. Our Balkan route roadtrip passed through the following countries: Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, bringing us back to the starting point – Romania. Here’s how our 3 week Balkan itinerary went:

  • Bulgaria: Veliko Tarnovo, Devetashka Cave, Sofia (capital city), Rila Monastery
  • North Macedonia: Skopje (capital city), Matka Canyon, Lake Ohrid, Ohrid town, Bitola
  • Albania: Tirana (capital city), Shkoder, a day trip with the ferry on Koman Lake
  • Montenegro: Buljarica, Budva, Lovcen National Park, Kotor town, Perast, and the beautiful bay of Kotor
  • Croatia: Dubrovnik
  • Bosnia Herzegovina: Sarajevo (Bosnia’s capital city), Mostar
  • Serbia: Belgrade (capital city)

Unfortunately, I only had three weeks of annual leave to fit this Balkan tour auto adventure. This got me only as far as Croatia, where I took a flight back, with a stop in Belgrade, Serbia.

If I ever have the chance to go again on a Balkans road trip, I’d love to spend some more time in Montenegro and get to beautiful Mostar Bosnia. I would also be very happy if my road trip Balkans adventure could take me through more national parks and as far as Lake Bled in Slovenia.

balkan road trip poppies
Road trip βαλκανια: Poppy field spotted during the fantastic Balkan road trip

On the road during the best of Balkans trip

Ana was our driver and despite a bumpy start, she did an amazing job.
(I slept peacefully for many hours in the back seat and not once did I get carsick!)

The backpacking Balkans trip itself was amazing. It combined adventures in crowded cities with hikes to admire nature’s beauty. And the people we’ve met along the way have brought us many smiles. They also left us with lots of great memories.

This is why I’ve decided this ultimate road trip in the Balkans was going to be the best thing to start the blog with!

Balkan tours for a Europe itinerary 3 weeks

As awesome as a Balkan trip can be, not everybody can travel by car. But that doesn’t mean that you should be missing out on all the wonders of the Balkan Peninsula. There are lots of tours out there that can help you discover the Balkans, but here are some I personally recommend.

Of course, you can also rent a car for your Balkan road trip. While getting a rental car for your Balkan tour can be an alternative, it’s a much more expensive one. This is because you’ll be crossing borders not only from one country to the next but also outside the EU while backpacking the Balkans.

A road trip through the Balkans is a great way to explore the region at your own pace and discover its many hidden gems. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, or just soaking up the beauty of the region, a Balkan road trip is an unforgettable experience.

Who is sharing this Balkan road trip

Mirela Letailleur The Travel Bunny

Mirela Letailleur, coming from the vibrant landscapes of Romania, now resides in the picturesque South of France. As the mastermind behind The Travel Bunny blog, she delves deep into the heart of Europe, offering invaluable insights on affordable journeys. With a keen focus on the Balkans, Mirela stands out as the internet’s foremost authority on a three-week Balkan road trip and the quintessential best of Balkans adventure.

Not just a travel enthusiast, Mirela is a creator of bespoke travel guides that resonate with the soul of every wanderer. Her expertise as a local travel connoisseur is unparalleled, making her the go-to guide for those eager to tread the Balkan trails. Beyond her travel prowess, she’s also a seasoned problem solver and an aspiring coffee aficionado, ensuring her readers are always in good hands.

Read more about Mirela Letailleur

More articles to help you plan your Europe itinerary 3 weeks
The ultimate Balkans itinerary bucket list
Three of the best road trips in Europe
How to prepare for your first backpacking trip to Europe