Four Travel Hacks for Exploring The Balkans

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the adventure begins.

Majestic mountains: check. Breathtaking beaches: check. Unforgettable hidden gems: check. Bursting at the seams with beautiful sights and things to discover and explore, the Balkans proves that when it comes to travel, sometimes the best things to discover are just a road trip away. Read on to discover four travel hacks for exploring the Balkans, and don’t forget your sunscreen. 

 

1. Drive from Belgrade to Sarajevo.

Start your trip in Belgrade where you can enjoy an array of affordable river boat hotel options next to floating river boat clubs and bars playing anything from house, The Smiths (who doesn’t love Morrissey), folk music and more. On the other side of the river, there’s bars and restaurants that are more upscale where you can mingle with a slightly older crowd in their 30s, 40s, and beyond. 

By day check out the Kalemegdan (Belgrade Fortress) which makes for one of the most beautiful natural lookouts in Belgrade. By night check out Skadarlija, a vintage street lined with restaurants and bars for you to explore.  Before setting off to Sarajevo, try to squeeze in a food tour so you can get a true taste of the local cuisine.  My food tour included Bar Kafana Question Mark (the oldest bar in Belgrade) and went on to include many local favorites and authentic dishes. The drive from Belgrade to Sarajevo is peaceful and scenic featuring picturesque farmland that’s Instagram-ready. 

 Balkan Travel Hacks

2. Don’t miss Kravice Falls.

A remote, large lake surrounded by waterfalls, Kravice Falls is a must-see hidden gem. Although the water is freezing (for someone from Guam), you have free reign to wander everywhere. Spanning about 20 waterfalls around the lake, it’s a great way to  refresh.  It's well worth the 2 to 3 hour drive from Sarajevo or Dubrovnik.

3. Check out the views from the top of Saint John’s Fortress in Kotor.

A medieval maze of museums, churches, cafe-strewn squares and Venetian palaces, Kotor is one of the most romantic and charming places on the planet. While there is plenty to see and do as you roam the historic, cobblestone streets; soaking in the stunning views at the top of Saint John’s Fortress is a bucket list moment in the making. We climbed the 1,350-plus steps to the top of the cliff and the vantage point that awaited was nothing short of spectacular. If you consider yourself a daring adventure seeker, keep climbing past Saint John’s and there’s a quaint shack with an old man selling fresh goat cheese and rakia shots--guaranteed worth the climb.

4. Experience Budva hospitality.

Whether you set out to explore the atmospheric Stari Grad (Old Town) or soak up the sun on the bonny beaches of the Budva Riviera, Budva has some of the most warm and welcoming people that will bring your experience to a new level. We chatted with locals over a delicious lunch at S'msom, and then went on to sipp beers and test our knowledge by playing trivia at nearby Chest O'Shea's Irish Pub

 

 

David Wilson, CFP®, CFA, CDFA®, CCFC is a New York City-based CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Practitioner & Senior Wealth Advisor at Watts Capital.  He can be reached at dwilson@planningtowealth.com.