As this Balkan blog approaches our one year anniversary, I’ve been thinking a lot about why we are writing Sofia Adventures and what we hope you get out of it. Since Allison and I both have our own travel blogs (mine’s History Fangirl and she writes Eternal Arrival), and we’ve both been blogging separately since 2015 and have covered places in the Balkans on our own website, some would think starting another website to cover just the Balkans would be crazy. Yet we wanted to do something more than just document the places we go with travel tips. We wanted to put together a comprehensive website to help people do what we love to do: travel the Balkans.
So here are seven ways you can use this Balkan travel blog to help inspire, plan, and travel.
Learn About the Balkans
A lot of our readers come to us curious about the Balkans, and we’re so happy to help answer these questions! We have articles about which countries count as Balkan countries, articles about different regional cuisines so you can learn what Romanian food or Greek food is, and descriptions of various holidays and festivals like Baba Marta and the Surva Festival.
We know that not everyone is ready to come travel here yet, but so many people are curious about what life is like on the peninsula.
While these articles are far from a complete overview, we’re always working on new posts to highlight the best of the Balkan festivals, customs, cuisine, and traditions to help spread an understanding abroad about these wonderful cultures.
Discover New Places
Our next goal is to help readers learn about new places in the Balkans that they’ve never heard of before. That’s why we’re hard at work on our series about the best places to visit in each country. We know that a lot of people have heard of Transylvania, Sofia, and Belgrade, but you might be curious to learn about more off-the-path (but equally or more beautiful) places like Bucovina, Arbanasi, and Vojvodina.
That’s why we make sure to write about the places we love in the Balkans, from the big cities to the small. And it’s also why we’re hard at work on our “Best Places to Visit” series:
Albania: 15 Incredible Places to Visit in Albania
Bosnia and Herzegovina: 11 Stunning Places to Visit in Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bulgaria (coming soon)
Croatia: 23 Best Places to Visit in Croatia: What to See & Do!
Greece: Where to Go in Greece: 27 Top Greece Vacation Destinations
Kosovo: 5 Best Places to Visit in Kosovo
Montenegro: 17 Awe-Inspiring Places to Visit in Montenegro
North Macedonia: 21 Mind-Blowing Places to Visit in Macedonia
Romania (coming soon)
Serbia (coming soon)
Slovenia: 27 of the Best Places to Visit in Slovenia
Turkey: 17 of the Best Places to Visit in Turkey for Culture & Adventure Lovers
Get Travel Inspiration
Once someone knows a place exists, it doesn’t mean they just rush out and buy a plane ticket. (Okay sometimes Allison and I do, but most people aren’t as insane as us). That’s why we love creating photo essays and Instagram guides to our favorite Balkan places.
Our hope is that by showing you some of the most magical corners of these Balkan cities, you’ll be as enchanted by this part of the world as we are. So whether it is showing your photos of a snowy Meteora or our favorite Instagram spots in Belgrade, we want you to imagine how great it would be to see these places for yourself.
Learn the Rules of Each Country
Unlike traveling in the Schengen Zone, the Balkans is twelve countries with ten visa schemes. Add on top of that the fact that there are nine currencies, three major alphabets in use, and multiple language families, and a simple backpacking trip can start to seem complicated.
That’s why we’re working on guides to help you plan your trip to each country and posts on travel tips, plus regional guides to the big topics like how Balkan currency works or how to road trip in the Balkans. Whenever some big topic seems like it needs to be addressed at the regional level (which you can find on our Balkans page) we want to put out a guide to help you easily navigate this big, beautiful, complicated peninsula.
Here are all of our country planning guides:
Albania (coming soon)
Bosnia and Herzegovina (coming soon)
Bulgaria: Planning a Trip to Bulgaria
Croatia: Planning a Trip to Croatia
Greece: Planning a Trip to Greece
Kosovo (coming soon)
Montenegro (coming soon)
North Macedonia: Planning a Trip to Macedonia
Romania: Planning a Trip to Romania
Serbia: Planning a Trip to Romania: Your Travel Checklist
Slovenia: Planning a Trip to Slovenia
Turkey: (coming soon)
Create Your Trip Itinerary
After you know where to go and how to get there, we want you to have the best time! That’s why we put together guides to help you pick out your activities, like our massive 101 Incredible Things to Do in Sofia and 101 Exciting & Unique Things to Do in Belgrade. We really know and love these places, so we want to give you access to all the info we’ve picked up over the last three years of traveling here. We don’t expect you to see all the places we listed, but you can know what’s available and make choices from there.
We also have guides for some of the best day trips and tours, our favorite restaurants, etc. While far (far) from complete, we’re working on these every day to make this website as close to a one-stop Balkan shop as it can be for you.
The best way to find this kind of information is on each country’s page:
Support You While You’re Traveling
We’ve all been there. You’re on the road, and despite how well you planned your trip, you need a bit more information. Maybe you decided to DIY a day trip or you need to know how to get a Sim Card in the country now that you’re already here.
Whenever we encounter situations on the road where we wished we had practical information, we try to write it down for you. While not complete, we are cataloging how we get places using public transportation, exactly how we do trips when we DIY them, and what it was like getting a SIM card or other basic need.
Look on the country pages for this kind of practical advice. Many of these step-by-step articles are great to bookmark so you can return to them once you’re here. You might appreciate our overview of how to get to Buzludzha while you’re planning, but you’ll love being able to pull up the map in it with the exact coordinates marked once you’re actually here.
Share Your Own Trip to Help Others
We want you to have a great time in the Balkans, and we want to hear all about it! If you get some information from our post that inspired you or helped you (or has changed since we wrote it), let us know! Come back to the posts and comment with your own updates!
You can also find us on our Instagram @SofiaAdventures. If you use the hashtag #sofiaadventures on your trip, we might feature it on our account. We love seeing your trip photos!
You can also find us on our Facebook Page @SofiaAdventures, where we share our new posts on an ongoing basis and our own trip photos.
Final thought, what can we do to make this Balkan Travel Blog more useful for you when planning your trip? Let us know in the comments!
Pin this Balkan Travel Blog to Help Plan Your Trip!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.
Hey guys, just wanted to say that my husband and I have probably read at least 20 of your articles over the last few weeks and this blog is a treasure trove of helpful information, thank you so much! We are spending three months in Central/Eastern Europe later this year, and after a sailing tour in Croatia at the end of September we plan to spend our last month seeing some more of The Balkans. You’ve inspired us to include Sofia in our travel plans 🙂
I was wondering if you could possibly suggest a (rough) route for us, or tell me if my plan sounds okay? Our tour finishes in Dubrovnik end of September, and we would spend another few days there, then bus down to Montenegro (your article about this was very helpful!). I was thinking maybe a few days around Kotor, then a few days in Podgorica. We hadn’t originally been planning to visit Albania but more recently are thinking perhaps we should, so this might be our next stop, say for around 5-6 days. From there, I was thinking we could head up to Sofia (should we stop somewhere in Macedonia on the way?), then to Serbia (+/- Kosovo). We would spend maybe just over a week in Serbia, and also would like to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina (possibly just Sarajevo with a side-trip to Mostar). I was wondering if we go to Belgrade – Sarajevo/Mostar – back to Belgrade, then further North to Novi Sad. Our flight back to New Zealand leaves from Budapest at the very end of October, and we will have already spent 10 days in Budapest at the start of the trip so won’t need to factor in any extra time there.
Does that make sense?? Any advice/tips would be much appreciated. I find it so hard to figure out the best route for visiting all of these countries!
thanks so much again
Hi Caitlin, that’s great to hear! I’d recommend Dubrovnik – Kotor – skip Podgorica TBH because it’s not that interesting – head down to Tirana – Ohrid – Skopje (can do a day trip to Prishtina from here quite easily) – Sofia – Serbia – B&H – back to Belgrade then up to Novi Sad to take a train to Budapest if you want or you can take a Flixbus from Belgrade.
We do charge for more detailed itinerary planning which some people request, but we don’t mind helping people sketch out a basic route! 🙂
Oops sorry, after writing my above comment I read your Balkans itinerary article and I see you usually charge for this kind of advice! I’ve now joined the Facebook group 🙂 still, any advice you don’t mind giving would be very much appreciated
Thank you and I appreciate your comment.
One way to find deals is to consider traveling when demand is relatively light. Often, you can get a deal on flights leaving on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, when fewer people are leaving on vacations or traveling on business.
Great tip! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for helping my wife and I prepare for our tour of the Balkans from 2 Sept. to 19 Sept. It was with Insight Vacations, and like any tour, it limited our time to see all that we wanted to see. Here is some feedback that I promised to share with you:
1. Anyone whose flight connects through Istanbul needs more than the one hour we planned for ourselves. Lots of running through the terminal, and multiple security checkpoints.
2. The bust of Vlad the Impaler in Bucharest’s Princely Court is surrounded by a fence and netting because of the refurbishment project. However, someone cut hole in the netting right in front of Vlad, and it’s the perfect size for a camera lens.
3. In Brasov, the sun rises above the Hollywood-type Brasov sign on the hillside. Good photo op.
4. Rather than use ATM machines and have the machine take a commission on each transaction, I used the no-commission money exchanges. I this way I could convert small amounts of cash without paying any commission, and by knowing the exchange rate in advance.
5. Rose oil, and products made from it, are Bulgaria’s national product. You will pay like triple the price if you buy it anywhere outside the country. The best deal may be to buy a small bottle of drops, and then add it to your own moisturizer.
6. Macedonian weddings traditionally end around sunrise. That may be great if you’re part of the wedding party, but not so great if you’re staying in same hotel.
7. The embroidered stairs are there, as you mention in your blog. Our tour bus passed it on the way into town. I never had time to get back to it for a photo.
8. It was a lot easier to use euros in North Macedonia than I expected. Some shop owners maintained two currency drawers.
9. I was able to located some of the Sarajevo Roses that I could directions to on the internet, but then I stumbled across two in front of the Parliamentary Assembly building.
10. Toilet seat covers are impossible to find in Europe. Carry hand sanitizer with you, and use toilet paper to clean the seat.
Thanks for sharing all your tips, they are very helpful for future travelers — we really appreciate your insight!