The Balkan coastline is home to several culturally vibrant countries that have immense natural beauty. Their breathtaking beaches have turquoise waters, rocky coves, and rugged mountain backdrops. A rich history and nearby ancient ruins add a dose of adventure once you’ve had your fill of rest and relaxation on the pebble and sand beaches. From Croatia to Greece, here is a collection of my favorite beaches in the Balkans!
Santorini (officially Thira) is one of the Cyclades islands in the southern Aegean Sea about 120 miles southeast of Greece’s mainland. An enormous volcanic eruption destroyed a formally single island and created a giant caldera containing several smaller islands including Santorini. The island offers massive steep cliffs, diverse volcanic rock beaches, and stunning white-washed architecture. Follow these do’s and don’ts to get the most out of your holiday in paradise.
Greece is a country that is rich in history, turmoil, and culture. Beginning with the Neolithic Age in 7000 BC to Modern Greece covering a period from 1821 to present, the scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied throughout the ages. Traces of human civilization can be found in all corners and there are over 100 impressive archaeological sites portraying a history that exceeds 5000 years. If you don’t have time to explore them all, these 4 sites won’t give you a comprehensive picture of life in ancient Greece but they’re a great start!
Montenegro is small, full of culture and history, and fairly easy to cover with a car and Google Maps. We loved the freedom of driving around, stopping for photos at sunset, and exploring little towns that we would otherwise never visit if we were relying on public transportation. But driving in Montenegro is also pretty horrifying so prepare to be aggressively passed no matter how fast you are going and how winding the road is and get over your fear of heights if you want to visit the more popular landmarks. It’s easy to travel in Montenegro, it’s cheap, great food, good people, great experience!
To sum up our 12-day Croatian experience… Croatia seems to be everything you think it will be… lovely old cities that are rich in history; wonderful and helpful people; a place where you feel safe and generally welcome; fantastic cuisine; generally reasonable prices in most cities; and most people speak English so it is easy enough to communicate and to get around. BUT I mentioned at the beginning of this post that my draw to Croatia was because I assumed it hadn’t gotten all crazy touristy yet, and that is most definitely not the case. We visited at the very beginning of their peak season and I cannot even imagine what the old city of Dubrovnik will look like in a month or two. I’m fairly certain I’ll want to be as far away from there as possible…
We actually really enjoyed Macedonia, even though it wasn’t nearly as cheap as we’d been led to believe. However, we have a lot of time and it was easy to get to. Would I take a plane trip halfway around the world and use my allotted 2 weeks per year to vacation there? Probably not. So if you’re in the Balkans and have some extra time, definitely stop off and most definitely see Skopje. That city will likely change drastically in the next 10 years. But don’t make an entire vacation out of it…
We LOVED Mostar. It was everything you want a city to be; friendly people, fantastic shopping, delicious food, inexpensive prices, pedestrian-friendly, decent public transportation, loads of things to do, etc. It was kind of what I expected Dubrovnik to be. We originally booked 3 nights and then added one more and probably should’ve stayed longer. In hindsight, we should’ve gone to Sarajevo. We did hear one negative review as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but we also heard a ton of glowing reviews about the city.