Hardly any other holiday region is as diverse as the Balkans. In the coastal towns of the former Yugoslavia, you will experience a picture-book atmosphere with crystal clear water, green pine forests and rugged cliffs. The Makarska Riviera with the majestic Biovoko Mountains in Croatia is a breathtaking coastal landscape. In the mountains of the Balkans you will discover cultural treasures such as the Rila Monastery in Bulgaria. With more than 300 monastery rooms lavishly decorated with wood carvings and frescoes, it is one of the country’s landmarks. A visit to the excavations of Herakleia Lynkestis, an impressive settlement of the ancient Romans in North Macedonia, takes you further back in history.
Discover the countless beauties of the Balkans
There are no clear limits to the term Balkans; What is meant by this, however, is the huge peninsula in southeastern Europe. It stretches from the Mediterranean to the Balkan Mountains and includes Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo. Unimagined cultural and natural treasures are hidden in some of the still relatively unknown holiday destinations.
In Pristina, the youngest capital of Europe, you will discover many relics from the past. Most of them come from the Ottoman period. One of the oldest structures is the Great Mosque, which was built in 1460. Because of the impressive dome with a span of 13.5 m, it can be seen from afar. Inside you can admire floral ornaments and arabesques from the 18th century. If you want to learn more about the history of Kosovo, the National Museum is worth a visit. With 50,000 exhibits, including a number of archaeological finds, it is the largest museum in the country.
North Macedonia turns out to be an Eldorado for nature lovers: in the west, the foothills of the Dinaric Mountains invite you to climb and hike. The southwest of the country is characterized by a picturesque lake landscape, which is also home to the largest body of water in North Macedonia, Lake Ohrid. On the beaches of the UNESCO World Heritage you will almost feel like you are in the Mediterranean. Culture lovers are drawn to the fortress of Tsar Samuil, which towers high above the city and offers a breathtaking view. Also worth seeing are the paintings in the Sophienkirche, which were created by masterful artists.
You will discover countless cultural treasures on your adventure trip to the Balkans in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with its golden domes is a real gem. It was designed by Alexander Pomeranzew, who also provided the design for the famous Moscow department store GUM. The richly decorated interior is adorned with frescoes, stained glass and works of art made of alabaster.
The National Archaeological Museum will take you on an exciting journey through time. It houses artifacts from the Stone Age, the ages of the Greeks, Thracians, and many other historical peoples. On three floors, the art gallery is dedicated to great Bulgarian masters such as Zlatyu Boyadzhiev or Vladimir Dimitrov as well as sculptures and around 4,000 icons from the Middle Ages.
If you want to end your tour of discovery in the Balkans and relax to your heart’s content, then you have come to the right place on the 10.5 km long beach of Durres. The fine sandy coastline is only about 40 km west of the Albanian capital Tirana. Shops and bars on the lively promenade invite you to stroll and linger.
The “city of a thousand windows” inspires with romantic stone bridges and mosques. The white houses that create the unique ambience of the city are unique. Many of them overlook the historic center, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from a slope. If you fancy an excursion into untouched nature, one of the highest mountains in Albania, the Tomorr, is ideal. The waterfalls in the natural paradise are now a popular destination for long hikes.
About 70 km south of the Albanian capital Tirana , Berat welcomes you in the heart of the country. The landscape is shaped by the Osum River, which meanders through a gorge into the Myzeqe plain. On the steep slopes, whitewashed houses with large windows look down into the valley. You gave your travel destination the nickname “City of a Thousand Windows”. In the Slavic language, Berat means beautiful city and rightly so: after all, many architectural gems in the center, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, tell of the long history. According to excavations, settled as early as 2,600 BC. First residents of the region. The first mention in history books is from the 9th century.
The Kalaja Castle is already looking towards you from afar and has been enthroning your holiday destination in its present form since the 13th century. In 20 minutes you can reach the Vorberg via a cobblestone path from the south of the center. The 10 hectare area is characterized by small stone houses that are still inhabited. As soon as you enter through the main gate, a wealth of different styles awaits you: some of the ruins and preserved buildings date back to the time of the Illyrians, but the Romans and Ottomans also left their mark.
Between the remains of the minaret and the meter-high walls, you can enjoy a magnificent view of the city. The Onufri Museum is also located in the castle area. It is dedicated to the icon painter of the same name from the 16th century, who founded his own painting school in the city. The exhibition is housed in the former Shen Melissa Monastery.
On the castle hill you will find the Mangalem district, which was previously only inhabited by Muslims. The bachelor mosque is located at the foot of the hill: it owes its name to the shops that were once housed in the arcades. The owners usually hired bachelors to guard the shops. The sacred building is worth seeing because of the ornate ornaments and paintings on the facade: They show, among other things, views of the city and plants.
One of the popular excursion destinations for nature lovers is around 50 km from Berat: the 2,400 m high Tomorr was once considered a holy mountain. The third highest point in Albania is now the center of a national park. On a hike from Quarre Dardhe you will discover the impressive Sotire waterfall. After a walking time of around 2 hours you will reach the rushing natural jewel and have the opportunity to refresh yourself.
In the second largest city in Albania, in Durrës, you will discover relics from 2,000 years of history. When you visit the amphitheater from Roman times, brave gladiators appear in your mind’s eye. The forum and the remains of the thermal baths also date from antiquity. Your vacation spot offers a fascinating mix of different cultures: around the Faith Mosque you will experience an almost oriental flair. A visit to the Venetian Tower, which offers a wonderful view of the center, is also worthwhile. Wonderful sandy beaches complete the holiday offer.
Approximately in the middle of the 362 km long Albanian coast and around 37 km from Albania’s capital Tirana is the country’s most important port city – Durrës. The city was founded by the Romans in the 7th century. But the city was also an important transport hub for the Byzantines. Today it is one of the most popular bathing destinations in the country. South of the center, Golem and Shkëmbi i Kavajës are some gently sloping sections. Since the water only deepens slowly, even the youngest can splash around here carefree. Those who long for relaxation hike further south where only a few sun worshipers can be found. Gjiri i Lalzit Bay, which is about 10 km east of Durrës, is even quieter. If you go for a swim on the coast of Albaniatravel, the months May to October are ideal. Already in spring the Mediterranean warms up to 21 ° C, in midsummer even to 27 ° C. In June and July the sun shines from the sky for 14 hours at temperatures around 30 ° C.
The past comes alive on a tour of the 2,000-year-old center: the amphitheater is located near the Epidamn boulevard, one of the main streets. It was built in the 2nd century under the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan. According to historians, there was room for up to 20,000 visitors in the stands, who cheered brave gladiators in their battles against humans and animals. The ancient arena had been forgotten for centuries and only came to light by chance during excavation work in 1966.
During late antiquity, the building served as a cemetery, and one of the staircases was subsequently converted into a chapel. Inside you will discover ornate mosaics that show, among other things, the donors, Mary and some angels.
A completely different architectural style awaits you in the Faith Mosque, the third oldest mosque in the country. It has been a national cultural monument since 1973. The white plastered minaret rises into the air next to the main building. With its sky-blue roof, it is visible from afar. The wooden interior is decorated with calligraphy. The historic fortress walls from the Venetian period are very close by. If you feel like refreshing yourself, stroll to the round tower at the end of the late antique city wall. Today a bar is located here. You will also find many restaurants and bars on the promenade. It is a popular meeting place, especially in the evening at sunset.
In the very south of Albania and only about 30 km from the Greek border, Gjirokastra is located exactly where the Drino river valley expands to the Dropuli plain. Thanks to the picturesque old town, your holiday destination has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As one of the oldest cities in Albania, it is considered the most important cultural center in the south of the country. Learn interesting facts about the traditions in the ethnographic museum and discover cannons from yesteryear in the gun museum of the castle.
The oldest part of your holiday destination, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, nestles picturesquely on the slope of Mali i Gjere at up to 480 m. The city was first mentioned in the documents in the 14th century at the time of the Byzantine Empire. As one of the oldest relics from the past, the castle watches over the city at 336 m. A weapons collection with old cannons is now housed in the historic interior.
You can find out how Gjirokastra came to be known as the “City of Stones” on a walk through the old town. They form defiant houses covered with stones that stay cool in the interior even in hot temperatures. The historic buildings are characterized by high wooden windows, whitewashed facades and large wooden gates. In addition, more than 10 mosques once shaped the cityscape: the only one left is the bazaar mosque, which was built in the 16th century. A look into the interior is worthwhile because of the elaborate interior decoration.
The Ethnographic Museum is housed in one of the most magnificent buildings in the city. The future dictator Enver Hoxha was born in the multi-storey house in 1908. Today you will get an interesting insight into the former life of the residents during the tour. From the attic to the basement, the rooms are housed with original furniture, and historical clothing can also be seen. The Skenduli House, built in the 17th century, also illustrates the living conditions of Albanian families. One of the highlights is the kitchen, you will also be delighted by the sleeping areas.
About 15 km from your holiday destination on the opposite side of the valley is the former Illyrian settlement of Antigoneia. It was founded under King Pyrros I, who was already in the 3rd century BC. Used elephants in his battles. A visit to the site is particularly worthwhile, as the mosaics and remains of the once 4 km long city wall and some temples have been preserved. Today an archeology park can be found on the area: tickets are available in the village of Asim Zeneli, from here a road leads to the village of Saraqinishta, where the relics from the past are located.
The Viroi Park, around 3 km from the center, offers the opportunity to recharge your batteries. A circular path leads around the lake, which is fed by a karst spring and remains refreshingly cool even in summer. A few restaurants around the park invite you to stop for a break, and there are also sports facilities.
Corfu is considered to be one of the wealthiest islands in Greece. In the Mediterranean Sea, it is located southeast of Italy and 2 km from the Albanian coast. Because of its lush vegetation by Mediterranean standards, the locals like to call it ” the green island ”. According to legend, it was Odysseus’ last stop before he returned to his homeland in Ithaca. Let your soul dangle on kilometers of beaches, sightseeing in Corfu town, hike between olive groves or explore the numerous romantic villages of the island on your own with a rental car – your holiday in Corfu offers you all this and much more. Enjoy wonderful bathing bays, the tasty Greek cuisine and the hospitality of the islanders.
Visit the old town of Corfu as part of the tour “Kalilmera on the Ionian Sea”. Stroll through picturesque streets or enjoy the unique view from the old fortress down to the Mediterranean Sea. The numerous antique shops are particularly worthwhile for those interested in art. In the immediate vicinity, the locals also offer typical island handicrafts made of colored glass and olive wood. Many guests already know Paxos from greeting cards. The view of the harbor promenade of the town of Gaios on Paxos is one of the most popular photo opportunities for visitors to Corfu. Several excursion boats leave for Paxos every day from the big sister island. Treat yourself to the mini cruise that takes you past Caribbean-style beaches and experience the uniqueness of the island of Paxos. The easiest and most convenient way to discover the diversity of Corfu is by renting a car. Go on individual day tours with the rental car package and make yourself independent of travel groups. Visit the legendary Paleokastritsa or the gently sloping dream beach of Acharavi, visit Empress Sisis Achilleion or the idyllic fishing villages in the south of the island – with the rental car you can organize your time on site according to your wishes.
Mystical Kosovo in the Western Balkans . On your journey through the country, you will not get past the capital Pristina – fascinating buildings such as the Imperial Mosque, small street cafes or beautifully prepared paths for walking. Why not combine your stay in Kosovo with the neighboring countries Albania , Montenegro or Serbia . This gives you a far-reaching view of the country, its people and the culture of the Western Balkans.
The coastal city of Saranda is mainly known as a holiday destination by Albanians, but more and more foreign visitors are learning to appreciate the beautiful place. The seaside resort is the perfect travel destination if you want to relax on the impressive Albanian coast and are looking for secluded beaches. But not only sun worshipers and beach lovers get their money’s worth in the small, charming port town – there are some exciting sights in the vicinity of Saranda, which make the coastal city a great starting point for excursions.
Saranda is located in the very south of Albania on the Ionian Sea in an open bay not far from the Greek island of Corfu and exudes as much holiday feeling as you might know from other European seaside resorts. The place is to Albania what the island of Mallorca is to Spain – with more than 320 days of sunshine per year, a true holiday paradise. One of the city’s figureheads are of course the beaches, which promise pure bathing pleasure. Mirror Beach, also known as Pasqyra Beach, is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches around Saranda.
On the pebble beach you can relax on a sun lounger and enjoy the beauty of the Albanian Riviera with a cool drink. Pulebardha Beach is also particularly beautiful. This bright pebble beach is located in a picturesque little bay and shines with the sea, which shimmers in all shades of blue. Santa Quaranta Beach is particularly popular with young people due to its proximity to the city and here you can enjoy a little entertainment and the proximity to restaurants.
In addition to the beautiful coastline with its enchanting beaches, there is another great natural highlight in Saranda – the unique natural spectacle of the so-called blue eye. The karst spring Syri i Kaltër is surrounded by centuries-old oaks and the turquoise, icy water forms a great contrast to the green of the surroundings.
But culture lovers will also get their money’s worth in Saranda. Not far from the city are the extensive ruins of Butrint, which have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 and are an absolute cultural highlight of the region. Another cultural testimony to antiquity is the city of Phoinike, which was once the mother city of Saranda. An ancient theater was discovered here during excavation work, which you can visit today.
A visit to the Byzantine church Shën Kollë in Mesopotam, which is dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra, should not be missed during your stay in Saranda. A trip to Lekursi Castle is also worthwhile. The castle is enthroned on a slope high above the roofs of Saranda and overlooks the entire city and the bay. The two-hour hike takes you further and further out of the city and up the mountain – the great views alone make the ascent worthwhile. When you arrive at the castle, you can reward yourself with a cool drink and local dishes in the castle restaurant.