It’s not in the air yet but we all feel that summer is getting closer. Time to make decisions. Where to go? With who? Should I go to Crete like I did last year and two years ago? Maybe I’ll go my favourite Polish seaside town and eat friend flounder, cod and waffles for the whole week? Maybe Italy or the South of Spain? Where should I go this time? Little family argument and huge compromises in order to finally select a destination everybody will like.

 

Have you thought about Balkans? A less popular destination, less typical than Spanish beaches, Greek islands or Portuguese Algarve coast. But at the same time it’s a fascinating direction that’s different and perfect if you’re planning a long road trip on which you’ll visit charming towns and lively cities. You’ll eat spicy ajvar, listen to the stories about the countries and lay on the beach. It’s easy to fall in love with Balkans! Why? That’s why!

 

18 REASONS TO FALL IN LOVE WITH BALKANS:

1) MOSTAR

 

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Magical Mostar is the no. 1 must see and one of the few places which will be crowded. It’s worth coming in for a night and seeing the famous bridge at night too! Then it’s quiet in the old town, the area is deserted and has a cool vibe because most of the tourists come just for 1 week trips.

 

The bridge in Mostar which looks like a scenery from a movie about knights and princesses is a crucial place from the historical point of view. It used to be a wooden bridge, from 1566 it’s made of stone. For centuries it used to be a symbol of peace between the East and the West, between Christianity and Islam. The bridge was built by the Turks who established a Stronghold in Mostar in the end of XVI century and were present here until 1875. After World War I Mostar became part of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which later transformed to Yugoslavia and for years it was a city where Bosnians, Serbs, Croats and Yugoslavs lived in peace. Unfortunately in 1992 fratricidal unrest broke out in Mostar – first between Bosnians, Croats and Serbs and then between Croats and Bosnians. In 1993 the Old Bridge went down under Croatian tanks’ fire. It was rebuilt in 2004. Now you can see a writing which reads DON’T FORGET 1993 on it which reminds of the tragic events.

 

2)TURQOUISE WATERS OF NERETVA

 

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Neretva runs through Bosnia and partly through Croatia as well, before it disembogues to the Adriatic. It’s amazing because of the water colour. Incredibly turquoise. It’s one of the things that makes the landscapes of Mostar charming. According to the tradition, young boys jump from the bridge to Neretva in order to prove their bravery.

 

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3) LIVELY SARAJEVO

 

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Sarajevo is a place to be. Despite the tragic history of the city, you can really feel the energy and life here. And when you walk through the old town you can feel the breath of Orient. Cafes and little restaurants hidden on the Sarači street on which you feel like you’re walking the streets of Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Especially if you check out the Gazi Husrev-begov bezistan market hall, Gazi Husrev- begov mosque and Medresa Seldżukija former Muslim religious school.

Baščaršija the municipal bazaar with traditional produce is another must see. Until now you can buy souvenirs and gifts there, eat a burek or feed the pigeons gathered by Sebilij an unusual well which is one of Sarajevo’s landmarks. More about Sarajevo can be found HERE.

 

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4) HISTORIA

 

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Many places in the Balkans such as Mostar or Sarajevo make you stop for a moment and wonder, read about the tragic history which took place here – and not ages or dozens years ago, but quite lately.

 

In Sarajevo, on Ferhadija street you will find Gallery 11/07/95. The gallery opened in July 2012 in order to honour the date of the massacre in Srebrenica during which Serbs killed more than 8000 Muslim men and boys aged 12-77. Apart from the events that took place in Srebrenica, the Gallery also tells the story about the war events in Yugoslavia. It may not be a pleasant visit but it’s surely worth it.

 

5) AJVAR

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We wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t put some food among the reasons to go to Balkans! First … spicy ajvar – a paste from minced red peppers usually with aubergines, tomatoes and garlic, in Bosnia served with every meal. Tastes perfect with meat delicacies such as cevapcici or pljeskavica. More about Balkan cuisine – HERE.

 

6) PINDJUR AND LUTENICA

 

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In Macedonia we fell in love with vegetable pastes that taste great with bread or Balkan cheese. Pindjur is my absolute no. 1 – made from aubergines, grilled peppers, tomatoes and garlic. Amazing! Lutenica is also worth a try, it’s made from peppers live ajvar, but it’s spicier and comes with olive oil, garlic and tomatoes.

 

7) SHOPSKA SALAD

 

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A perfect meal for hot days. Super easy to make, taste perfect. Tomatoes, cucumber, red peppers and grated salty cheese. Works great as a side for meat and as starter or even as a light meal on its own. You will find it in Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

 

8) BUREK

 

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A popular snack, very convenient when you’re on the road. Burek is made from Danish pastry filled with meat, cheese, spinach, potatoes or pumpkin. Everyone will find something. I loved burek with cheese while Łukasz fell for a more masculine option – with meat. Bureks can be found in many bakeries and in Bosnia also in dedicated establishments called ‘buregzinica’.

 

9) COLOURFUL POTTERY

 

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If you go to markets in Sarajevo or Mostar you will surely notice beautiful and colourful pottery. Mugs, bowls and tiles to put under hot pots. Makes you wanna take all of them home!

 

10) CHARMING CROATIAN TOWNS

 

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We only passed through Croatia but we managed to fell in love with the atmosphere of Rovinj. Dubrovnik didn’t give us a chance to fall in love with it because the city welcomed us with storms and rains but I feel it should be included into this list too. We definitely have to come back for more to Croatia. And if you’re looking for more information about Croatia see Crolove.pl – they must know everything about this country! 🙂 You will find our report from Rovinj HERE.

 

11) SVETI STEFAN

One of the most beautiful views in Montenegro. There used to be a fishermen’s settlement here, but now the whole Sveti Stefan island is a hotel complex and in order to get there you need to a have a reservation of the table in their restaurant. But on the other hand, Sveti Stefan looks the best from a distance!

 

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12) BAY OF KOTOR

 

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One of the most beautiful places in in Montenegro. Beautiful bay, mountains and picturesque towns – Risan, Kotos and Perast. The road to Cetinje provides breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor. And even though the hairpin roads make even the bravest men feel unease it’s absolutely WORTH IT! It’s incredible! 🙂

 

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13) KOTOR AND PERAST

 

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Kotor and Perast are the most intriguing stops on a trip to Kotor Bay. We love Perast especially. Perfect for an evening walk and a romantic dinner. Calm, quiet, romantic with tiny restaurants where you will try fried calamari and fish soup. In 1979 the city was struck by an earthquake and some buildings bear a mark until today which makes it even more magical.

Kotor on the other hand is a must for everybody travelling through Montenegro. Stone houses, churches and orthodox churches, former palaces. Plenty of tourist by day. If you’re feeling like having an active day, go and visit Fort St. John towering over the old town.

 

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14) BERAT – ALBANIA

 

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Berat in Albania is also known as the city of thousand windows and there’s a reason for that. Little houses go up the hill which makes this part of the city really charming. More about Berat and our first impressions of Albania – HERE.

 

15) BLUE WATER AND THE BEACHES

 

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There’s plenty of beaches you can have a bath on both in Montenegro and Albania. Unfortunately in many places, especially near the large resorts, the beaches aren’t too tidy – they’re even quite dirty.. however, sometimes, it’s possible to find empty gems, not trampled by the tourists, with beautifully blue water.

 

16) LAKE SKADAR

 

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The biggest lake in the Balkans, located partially in Montenegro (63% of its surface) and in Albania. You can take a cruise from a little village called Virpazar for instance. The views are magical however there’s plenty of trash – bottles, packages and stuff in the lake, even though it’s a part of the National Park. Not cool! Despite that it’s worth visiting at least for an hour-long cruise. There’s plenty of birds living in the lake to see.

 

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17) POCITELJ – BOSNIA

 

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Near Mostar you will find a less popular but equally charming little town called Pocitelj. It’s quiet, calm and empty. Stone houses, charming alleys, a mosque and a tower which is the only thing that remained from the former Turkish fort. The views are amazing and there are women selling the most beautiful fruits in the world too!

 

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18) SEAFOOD

 

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If you like mussels or calamari, you won’t be complaining in Balkans! There’s plenty of fish restaurants in Croatian, Montenegro and Albania. Not all of them provide considerable quality but if you look around a little bit, you will find mussels and delicious, firm calamari!

 

So what? You’re coming??? 🙂

 

PS. Balkans are amazing in September!:) But I guess that in other months it’s nice too… 🙂