A perfect Balkan itinerary | 5-6 weeks

A great area to discover: a perfect Balkan itinerary | 5-6 weeks

In the summer of 2017, we went on a 5 – 6 week trip through some Balkan countries. Right after graduation and before starting the adult life with a full-time job, it was time to use our time off with a long holiday. After many considerations of 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 this Balkan Itinerary | 5-6 weeks, as the time span was not that usual. Hopefully, this can help you out. Different parts of the itinerary can also be done separately.

Day to Day Balkan itinerary Planning

Day 1 & 2: Amsterdam to Lake Bled & Vintgar George
Day 3, 4 & 5: Discover Ljubljana
Day 6, 7 & 8: Discover Sarajevo
Day 9 & 10: Mostar & Surroundings
Day 11, 12, 13 & 14: Dubrovnik and Lopud
Day 15 to 21: Kotor and other parts of Montenegro

Day 22 to 25: Shkoder, Lake Koman, Theth to Valbona
Day 26 & 27: Berat
Day 28 to 32: Saranda
Day 33 & 34: Ohrid
Day 35, 36, 37: Skopje
Day 38 to 40: Tirana 

Lake Bled, Slovenia (2 nights)

We started off with a very early morning flight from Amsterdam to Ljubljana, to catch a minivan straight from the airport on to 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!
Boats at Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia (3 nights)

The next stop was Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. We went to the bus station from where we took a shared taxi to Ljubljana. I did love Ljubljana more than I expected. There are beautiful buildings, nice canals and great bars and restaurants to hang out. There is so much to do and discover in Lubjana, so this city guide might help you out!

Ljubljana
Metelkova, Ljubljana

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina (3 nights)

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 Sarajevo in this city guide. 

Sarajevo Old Town
Sarajevo Bobsled Track

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina (2 nights)

A scenic train ride, which we reserved 2 days before departure, brought us to the little city of Mostar, famous for its bridge and the impressive remainings of the Yugoslavian war. We also did a private tour – which we could reserve with the nephew of the complex we were staying in – to discover more of the south Mostar’s surroundings. Read more about what to do in and around Mostar in this complete guide.

The famous bridge in Mostar, Bosnia
Blagaj, Mostar surroundings

Dubrovnik, Croatia (4 nights)

A 4-hour bus ride got us to the famous Game of Thrones-city: Dubrovnik. Very beautiful, but very busy and touristic and also the prices of food and drinks are way higher compared to the other places we visited during the trip, so we tried to make more use of the local supermarket for food.
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Climbing Mount Srd, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Kotor, Montenegro (6 nights)

As we are almost half-way our holiday and this perfect Balkan itinerary | 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 and visited nearby places such as Tivat (during the Vrmac Ridge hike!) and Budva.

Kotor, Montenegro
Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Shkodra, Lake Koman, Theth & Valbona - Albania (4 nights)

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 go 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.

Lake Koman, Albania
Discovering the meadows in the Albanian Alps

Berat, Albania (2 nights)

We were already aware traveling by public transport and busses in Albania would be a challenge. From Shköder we took a bus to Tirana, where we were friendly thrown out at a very busy road. Apparently, that is where we had to be. After asking around, we figured the bus station was 200 meters away and this is where we could catch our next and final bus to Berat, the city of a thousand windows.

Guesthouse Kris, Berat, Albania
Berat, city of a thousand windows, Albania

Saranda, Albania (4 nights)

Well-deserved beach time is around the corner! The bus ride from Berat to Saranda was estimated on 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 traveling interesting.

Ohrid, Macedonia (2 nights)

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 busses 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 all the way to Ohrid for aroud 20 euros.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Skopje (3 nights)

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 literally everywhere. We had the feeling we were walking around in Disneyland as the city felt unreal.

Skopje by night, Macedonia

Tirana, Albania (3 nights)

The last destination of our Balkan itinerary and 5-6 week trip. 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, it was a great ending of the holiday. Are you only planning on visiting Albania? This ultimate Albania itinerary might be of great use.

Tirana, Albania

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Balkan Itinerary

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