In the summer of 2017, we went on a 5-6 week trip through some Balkan countries. Right after graduation and before starting adult life with a full-time job, it was time to use our time off with a long holiday. After considering where to go, we decided to stay in Europe and explore the Balkan countries. This led us through Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and Macedonia. It took a lot of work to plan our perfect Balkan Itinerary for 5-6 weeks, as the travel time we had was not that usual. Hopefully, this can help you out. Different parts of the itinerary can also be done separately to also make up for the perfect 4-week Balkan Itinerary or example the 2-week Albania Itinerary.
We started with a very early morning flight from Amsterdam to Ljubljana, to catch a minivan straight from the airport onto Lake Bled, from where we also visited Vintgar Gorge. Lake Bled is picture-perfect and you can easily enjoy yourself for 2 days or even more. What we didn’t do, but what I would recommend is to also visit Lake Bohinj. Read everything about what to see, do and eat in this travel guide!
The next stop was Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. We took a shared taxi from the Bled Bus station to Ljubljana. There are also busses going every hour. I did love Ljubljana more than I expected. Ljubljana is a very charming city with beautiful buildings. On top of that, there are also many great bars and restaurants to explore. There is so much to do and discover in Lubjana, so this city guide might help you!
Stay: The best places to stay are Intercontinental Ljubljana (€250), Ibis Styles Ljubljana Center Hotel (€90), or OH Apartments and Rooms (€50)
Getting from Lake Bled to Ljubljana: €10 for a shared taxi or €6 for the bus
We took a night bus to Sarajevo, as we decided to skip most of Croatia during this trip. This trip brought us to the first destination where we had to exchange our euros for a foreign currency: KM or BAM (Bosnia-Herzegovina Convertible Mark). Read everything about the quirky city of Sarajevo in this city guide.
A scenic train ride, which we reserved two days before departure, brought us to the little city of Mostar, famous for its bridge and the impressive remains of the Yugoslavian war. We also did a private tour to discover more of the south Mostar’s surroundings, which we could reserve with the nephew of the complex we stayed at. Read more about what to do in and around Mostar in this complete guide.
Stay: The best places to stay are Hotel-Restaurant Kriva Ćuprija (~€90), Hotel Sinan Han (~€60), Villa AYA (~€65) or Central Located Guest House (~€25)
Getting from Sarajevo to Mostar: €5 for a train ride
A 4-hour bus ride got us to the famous Game of Thrones city: Dubrovnik. Very beautiful, but very busy and touristic. Also, bars and restaurants are more expensive than other places in the Balkan. Therefore, we tried to make more use of the local supermarket for food. If you have less time for this itinerary, you could also visit Mostar on a day trip.
Stay: The best places to stay are coming soon. Check out all places to stay in Dubrovnik here.
Getting from Mostar to Dubrovnik: €25 for a bus from the bus station
As we are almost halfway through our holiday and this perfect Balkan itinerary for 5-6 weeks, we decided to settle down a bit and stay at the same accommodation for almost a week. As Montenegro is a rather small country, we did a day excursion to the North of Montenegro and visited nearby places such as Tivat (during the Vrmac Ridge hike!) and Budva. If you want to learn all about Kotor, read my Kotor Travel Guide here.
Stay: The best places to stay are Hotel Vardar (€200), Apartments Casa Delone (€60), or Apartments Vila Marija (starting at €20). With the latter, you are already on the right side of the pay to start your hike.
Getting from Dubrovnik to Kotor: Bus ride for around €20
At 8:00 AM we were able to catch a direct bus to Shkoder, to prepare for the part of our trip we were most looking forward to. We were planning on leaving part of our luggage in Shkoder and going to Valbona, from where we would do a day hike to Theth to discover the beautiful scenery of Albania. Do you want to know more about this round? Read the full hike report here and I also have a full Lake Koman Ferry Ride Guide available.
We were already aware travelling by public transport and busses in Albania would be a challenge. From Shkodêr we took a bus to Tirana, where we were friendly and thrown out on a crowded road. That is where we had to be. After asking around, we figured the bus station was 200 meters away. From there, we could catch our next and final bus to Berat, the city of a thousand windows.
Well-deserved beach time is around the corner! The bus ride from Berat to Saranda was estimated at around 4 hours. At 8 in the morning, after a quick breakfast, we went to the bus station to find a minibus to Saranda. The ride was far from comfortable, as you would be surprised how many people you could fit into a mini-bus. We counted 24! Well, that is what makes travelling interesting.
Time to cross another border and head to Macedonia. This journey was slightly more complicated. We took a bus to Korca, where we could, fortunately, change buses easily to go to Pogradec. Since busses are not allowed to cross the border to Macedonia, you have 2 options: walk or take a taxi. We choose the latter and arranged a taxi from Pogradec to Ohrid for around 20 euros.
Stay: We stayed at the best place in Ohrid called Villa Dudanov (9.9 on booking!) (€50), check out all hotels in Ohrid here.
Getting from Saranda to Ohrid: We took different busses and taxis to cross the border and head to Ohrid
From Ohrid, it only took a 3-hour bus ride to the capital of Skopje. Skopje has been fully redesigned in 2014 and where you see statues everywhere. We had the feeling we were walking around in Disneyland as the city felt unreal. From Skopje, it is also possible to do a tour to discover some of the surrounding nature.
Stay: Check out the best hotels in Skopje here.
Getting from Ohrid to Skopje: We took a direct bus for €10
The last destination of our Balkan itinerary for 5-6 weeks. Another great distance to overcome means another night bus to catch. This time no Flixbus for us, but a local night bus, of which I will spare you the description of all the disgusting noises in the bus. With Blokku as the ‘hipster’ area and all the history Tirana has (read my main reasons to visit Tirana here), it was a great ending to the holiday. Are you only planning on visiting Albania? This ultimate Albania itinerary might be of great use.
Stay: Check out the best hotels in Tirana here.
Getting from Skopje to Tirana: A local night bus