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Amazing places to visit in the Balkans

By Julius Choudhury

About the Balkan:
The Balkan Peninsula, or the Balkans, is a peninsula and a cultural area in Eastern and Southeastern Europe with various and disputed borders. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea.

The Balkans are bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the northwest, the Ionian Sea on the southwest, the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea on the south and southeast, and the Black Sea on the east and northeast. The highest point of the Balkans is Mount Musala 2,925 metres (9,596 ft) in the Rila mountain range.

From the breathtaking views of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast to awe-inspiring architecture ensembles of Albania and Kosovo, these important places in the Balkans should be atop your bucket list.



Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia


The UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its 16 lakes arranged in cascades that make up for a stunning view especially during autumn. The highlights here include waterfalls, caves and mountains and an 11.1-mile (18 km) long wooden footbridge that snakes around the edges across the rumbling waters.



Meteora, Greece


Defying logic and inspiring awe, the place is home to six mountaintop ancient monasteries built on the edge of massive monolithic pillars. Perched at almost 2,000 feet (600 meters) above the ground, the picture-perfect vistas have been used as location backdrops for the HBO Series "Game of Thrones."



Sveti Stefan, Montenegro


Located on the beautiful Adriatic coast, it’s an island town with shaded courtyards, cobbled lanes and 600-year-old red-tiled roofs with pink-sand beaches. A favorite of celebrities during 1970s, this charming islet today houses a 5-star hotel resort, Aman Sveti Stefan, built in 2009 offering 50 rooms, cottages and suites.



Dubrovnik, Croatia


One of the world’s most stunning walled cities, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was termed as the “Pearl of the Adriatic” by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. The historically rich and culturally diverse town is known for its amazing architecture with a cable car and beautiful beaches. The city is also famous for its Dubrovnik Summer Festival that runs from July 10 to Aug. 25 this year.



Subotica, Serbia


Well known for its Hungarian architecture, the multicultural city has several spots for tourists to enjoy such as Lake Palić, Town Hall along with several parks, fountains and art galleries. The region's famous fast food is Burek, a pastry with various fillings including cheese, mince and mushroom.



Seven Rila Lakes, Bulgaria


It’s a group of seven glacial lakes located one above the other and are connected by small streams. One of the natural beauties of Bulgaria, these lakes are nestled a few hours away from Sofia. Also a popular hiking spot, the best time to visit here is during summer in the months of July and August, when there is less snow around.



Peleș Castle, Romania


Located at the bottom of the Bucegi Mountains in the picturesque town of Sinaia, this German new-Renaissance architecture is one of the most beautiful castles in the region that features over 4,000 European and Oriental pieces dating from 15th to 19th centuries. Other things to do here include skiing, hiking, and wildlife viewing.



Hagia Sophia, Turkey


Originally a Greek Orthodox church that was later turned into an imperial mosque, it now serves as a museum in Istanbul. Known for its intricate tiles and carpeted interior, the structure was Turkey’s most-visited tourist attraction in 2015.



Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia


Lying on the southwest of Skopje, the city is rich in picturesque houses and monuments. According to a legend, the region had 365 churches (one for each day of the year) out of which only few are left today. A vibrant tourist destination, Ohrid is famous for its cobbled streets flanked by traditional restaurants and lakeside cafes.



Vrelo Bune, Bosnia and Herzegovina


It’s a natural and architectural ensemble situated on the Buna river. One of the prominent features here is the Blagaj Tekke – a monastery, built in the 17th century. Open all year around, the tourist spot has a beautiful view with a pleasant feel of the Mediterranean climate.



Tirana, Albania


Developing ever since the fall of communism, the city today has become a popular tourist destination. Among the several monuments dating back to the Greek and Ottoman periods, Skanderbeg Square, Clock Tower of Tirana and Petrelë Castle stand out.



Prizren, Kosovo


The historic city located on the slopes of the Šar Mountains is known as the cultural capital of Kosovo with the architecture imprint from the Ottoman Empire still visible around the town. Some of the popular tourist spots here are Shadervan and Old Stone Bridge. The city comes alive during Dokufest, an international documentary and short film festival, that happens in August.



Split, Croatia


Located on the Adriatic coast, the city is a classic example of natural and man-made beauty. While the centuries old Diocletian’s Palace remains a tourist favorite, other major attractions here include Mosor mountain, Krka National Park and the Riva waterfront.



Ljubljana, Slovenia


It wouldn’t be wrong to call this city the Amsterdam of Eastern Europe because of its beautiful canals and colorful buildings. The main sites here include a medieval Ljubljana Castle, Tivoli City Park and Republic Square among others. Tourists can also enjoy boat rides over the Ljubljanica river.



Mostar, Bosnia


Situated on the Neretva river, the city is famous for its Old Bridge locally known as Stari Most, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. The city’s old town is also an important tourist attraction along with Bishop’s Ordinariate building and the World War II Partisan Cemetery.

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