Discovering the Balkans: Off-the-Beaten-Track Destinations in the Region

Are you looking for ideas for a last-minute summer vacation? Here are the less visited yet beautiful travel destinations within the Balkans that are worth visiting in summer and early autumn.

The Balkan region is one of the most beautiful yet overlooked travel destinations in Europe. Often known for Greece and its stunning islands, the Balkan Peninsula can still be considered a hidden gem because of the relatively small amount of tourists that it attracts each year compared to other European regions. Here are several off-the-beaten-track destinations in the Balkan region that are worth a visit.


Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock

Bosnia and Herzegovina is among the least visited countries in the Balkan region because the country is yet to revive itself after the war that took place around 20 years ago. Mostar is held as the most iconic and historic city in the whole region. The name of the city derived from its most iconic symbol – an old 16th-century bridge (in Bosnian most translates as a bridge and star as old) which was a witness to decades of history such as the birth and later collapse of Yugoslavia. The city itself has a unique charm because of the combination of cultures such as Ottoman, Western, and Mediterranean that shaped the city’s architecture, as well as culture. Here you can explore the beautiful old market and observe traditional Turkish houses and mosques.


Korcula, Croatia

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Croatia is one of those countries that pleasantly surprises with its varied landscape and wide range of destinations that are perfect for any type of traveler. Among some of the best and most beautiful destinations is Korcula, the sixth largest island in the country. Also believed to be the childhood home of Marco Polo, a famous traveler and explorer of the 13th century, Korcula is definitely worth a visit for any avid traveler looking for a mix of culture and adventure. The old town of Korcula town is filled with many narrow streets and restaurants that are serving traditional Dalmatian cuisine. Aside from the medieval charm, the island is home to a lush pine forest and many remote beaches that are perfect for a summer holiday.


Ohrid, North Macedonia

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Probably one of the most spectacular landscapes in North Macedonia is Lake Ohrid. It is the oldest lake in Europe that is known for its crystal-clear water and serene atmosphere. On the shores of the lake, you can find a charming Macedonian town of the same name. Ohrid town is often called the Jerusalem of the Balkans because of its rich and old history, as well as a large number of churches that can be found. It is said that at one point in history there were 365 churches in the town, one for every day of the year. Walking around the town you will get to observe the Ottoman heritage, beautiful ancient monasteries, and an incredible architectural wonder that is the Church of St. John at Kaneo, a 13th-century Byzantine basilica standing on a hill and overlooking the lake.


Piran, Slovenia

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Located on a Slovenian coastline near the border with Italy and the Alps, Piran is one of the most picturesque cities in Slovenia. The fortunate location of the city gives it a unique blend of characteristics consisting of Alpine and Mediterranean landscapes. This beautiful coastal town was developed under the influence of Venice which is why it is considered to be one of the most authentic and photogenic towns on the Adriatic coast. Because of the Venetian influence on its architecture and infrastructure, the best way to explore the city is by walking. Then you can admire the beautiful Tartinijev Trg square, the impressive St. George’s Church on a hill, and the city walls that surround Piran.


Varna, Bulgaria

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Valentin Valkov/Shutterstock

Mostly known for the cities like Sofia or Plovdiv, Bulgaria has a wonderful coastal destination perfect for a summer holiday. Varna is a seaside city with pristine and sandy beaches and a colorful city center. Often referred to as the Pearl of the Black Sea, the city is full of culture, from music festivals to international cinema festivals and sports events. The affordable costs of Bulgaria along with lovely beaches, a fun nightlife scene, and a variety of activities mixed with a number of nature trails make Varna an attractive summer destination choice for families, as well as the younger crowd.


Photo: Kayo/Shutterstock


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