Balkan - tips
|In short||Depending on the source, Balkans is
either the unstable powder keg of Europe or the border-line in between European
Christianity and Asian Islam.
Both are perfectly true, and for the European traveler the Balkans give an excellent opportunity to see a very different part of the world - very close to ourselves.
|Highlights||For culture and old towns, go for
Dubrovnik (Croatia), Kotor (Montenegro) or Mostar (Bosnia).
For nature, the Slovenian mountains in the west are hard to beat. Otherwise, the highlands of Bosnia are pretty nice and so is the fabled Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. Close by, Plitvicka Jezera are quite ok and so is the north of Albania.
For people, my favourites are the least developed countries, i.e. Albania and Bosnia - in that order.
|Places to avoid||Nothing particular, unless you are a bit stingy. In that case, Slovenia is nice but too expensive.|
|Seasons||The summer is fine but flooded with tourists, in particular at the Croatian coast. Ideally, you should be in ex-Yugoslavia in June or September - when all the mass tourists have left for home and when the climate is stille quite gentle.|
|Do's and don'ts||Easy place to explore, especially if you know a bit of Russian or any other Slav language. Otherwise, try German and Italian along the coast, while English is somewhat less common.|
|Visa||No problems anywhere. Even Serbia has dropped the visa-requirements in the summer of 2003.|
|Value for money||Never really cheap, however, Albania
can be done on quite a low budget (less than 10 USD/day). Bosnia is the second cheapest,
while the Croatian tourist attractions (Dubrovnik + Plitvice Lakes) are somewhat more
expensive. Slovenia is by far the most expensive and being there for less than 25 USD/day
is not really possible - or not really fun.
Camping is an option in the highlands or in the "shoulder seasons"; very good for reducing the costs.
|Others||Easy for female travelers. Don't listen to all the rumours of the "dangerous" Albanians, very popular with the neighbouring countries. Albania is an undiscovered gem.|