There’s something magical about the Balkans that we can’t quite put our finger on...
Through our affiliation with Sail Croatia and our strong cultural connections with the Mediterranean, we like to think we’re somewhat of an expert on the area! Somewhat off the beaten track, however well worth the journey, the below are the towns you simply must check out this Summer!
Known as the gateway to Meteora, Kalambaka is an authentic, modern village at the base of the Meteora mountains. During the German Occupation of Greece in 1943, the town was burnt to the ground by the German army and was then rebuilt after the war ended. It is a town of rich history and important monuments and also has a number of hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops.
The monasteries of Meteora are a geological phenomenon not to be missed – there are countless theories as to how these giant rock formations came about, yet none of them have been proven. Monks originally settled here from the 11th century and out of 24 original monasteries that were built, only 6 are active today and a small number of monks or nuns still reside here.
Tirana is Albania’s lively capital and is the centre of Albania’s cultural, economical and governmental activity. Once a communist city, Tirana’s history dates back to paleolithic times, with ancient monuments and works of art represented throughout the city.
Over time, Tirana has transformed into a colourful, charming metropolis with a buzzing nightlife. Albanian locals are very friendly towards visitors, with being invited for a coffee one of the local customs. In the city centre is Skanderburg Square, with a large bronze statue of Skanderburg on horseback and the Et’hem Bey Mosque. The National Historic Museum can also be found here.
As Montenegro’s most desired Summer destination, bustling Budva boasts some great beaches, hotels and nightlife and attracts thousands of tourists every year. The region was founded by the Greeks in the 4th century and has become the heart of the Budva Riviera – with sand and pebble beaches stretching for over 8 miles.
Only a short drive away is one of Montenegro’s most notable spots, Sveti Stefan – a small islet connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. The islet is now owned by the luxurious Aman 5 star resort and is only accessible to paying guests. However, photo opportunities from the distance are free – it comes as no surprise as being Montenegro’s most photographed site!
The Pearl of the Adriatic, as it is affectionately known, Dubrovnik overlooks the clear blue waters and is one of Croatia’s most upmarket tourist destinations. It’s charming pedestrian-only Old Town, medieval forts and baroque churches makes Dubrovnik one of the world’s most incredible walled cities. Visitors can explore the medieval walls, Rector’s Museum and the Maritime Museum.
For nightlife options, Dubrovnik has a range of quirky and unique bars and restaurants, including the famous Buza Bar, which is accessed through a tiny doorway in the city walls and opens out to nothing but the Adriatic Ocean. Cafe Bar More is also another popular bar – located in a natural cave with incredible rock formations. If it’s incredible views you’re after, you won’t get much higher than Srd Hill – you can take the Dubrovnik Cable Car to the very top.