No idea what your next vacation should look like? Our travel tip: a Balkan road trip! Because they still exist, a few unknown, almost untouched corners! Whether Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania Fascinating Balkans or Bulgaria – we have put together an overview of possible routes and the highlights for your round trip.

No matter which travel destination you choose, we will send you on an exciting journey to the Balkans, show you different travel routes, lots of tips and sights that you should not miss!

On the plane and in a rental car? Or maybe with your own car or camper?

Before you set off, the question naturally arises as to how you want to approach your Balkan road trip. Driving off with your own car or camper is something.

 You are quite independent, you can stop whenever and wherever you want on the way south (and back again). You can also take a lot of luggage, food and maybe even a tent with you. And campsites – we can already tell you that – there are enough places where we send you.

On the other hand, you have to be prepared for thousands of kilometers behind the wheel and possible traffic jams. The expenses for petrol and tolls should not be underestimated either.

This is different when flying: You are fast and ideally without stops at your first destination. Of course you only have your suitcase or a backpack with you, but what more do you need? You buy provisions on site and pack them in your rental car. You can stay in hotels, hostels or guesthouses – by the way, in most of the countries that we present to you in this article, this is not an expensive pleasure. At the end of your trip, you return the car at the airport and fly home safely.

As you can see, both variants have advantages and disadvantages. Which one you ultimately choose will depend entirely on your priorities, preferences, time available, and budget.

From Montenegro to Albania

Our first Balkan road trip suggestion takes you to Montenegro. In the summer you can fly directly from Munich to Tivat with Lufthansa. Tivat is located directly on the beautiful Kotor Bay . Our recommendation: save chilling by the water for the end of your vacation! First, be a bit active and go to the Montenegrin capital Podgorica.

Podgorica has a lot of sights to offer, so take a look around the old town and start shopping for provisions for the next few days. Then we head north into the mountains: Your first destination is the impressive Ostrog Monastery, which you will reach after about 50 kilometers and an hour’s drive.

 If you don’t want to drive the last part by car: There is also a footpath through the forest. If you want to end the day here in peace and quiet, you can stay overnight in the monastery hostel in the lower part of the monastery. Or you can drive to the small village of Bogetici at the foot of the mountain. There is a nice wooden bungalow settlement there .

In good weather you have a great panoramic view down to the plain. Image: adobestock/Neil

Next stop: Tara Gorge, also known as the European Grand Canyon. It is a good 120 kilometers north-east from Ostrog to the gorge in the spectacular Durmitor Mountains. It is 1,300 meters deep, the light blue Tara meanders at the bottom, on which you can raft in summer when the water level is low.

 The Durdevica Tara Bridge offers the best view down from a height of 150 meters – you can get scared of heights there. If you’re still in the mood for a great adventure, we recommend crossing the gorge on the Red Rock Zipline ! It’s good if you have a tent in the trunk, because there are several campsites in Durmitor National Park, for example Auto Camp Mlinski Potok or Camp Ivan Do. From there you can go on various hikes – for example to the Black Lake – or look at the fascinating mountain world from the car, preferably on the Durmitor Ring, a panoramic road that leads around the mountains.

Looking down from the 150 meter high bridge over the Tara Gorge can make you queasy. Image: istock/Victoria Zimanovskaya

Fancy some action? Then you should discover the gorge while rafting. Image: adobestock/Andrew Mayovskyy

There are many locations in Durmitor National Park where you can end the day in peace and beauty. Image: adobestock/Mike Mareen

Then, in just over three hours, we head south again and to the sea, more precisely back to Kotor Bay, the southernmost fjord in Europe. There are many great little towns and numerous monasteries.

 After exploring the bay, it’s time to chill on the beach: jump into the sea in Budva or relax on the longest sandy beach in the country in Ulcinj, or Petrovac is a wonderful coastal town with great beaches. And you will also find a lot of well-rated campsites right by the sea here.

Welcome to the southernmost fjord in Europe. Don’t miss Kotor Bay. Image: istock/Elena_Sistaliuk

It doesn’t get much more picturesque: In and around Budva you can have a really good time. Image: istock/ MarkGillow

Must see: In Petrovac you can chill out during the day, then eat well and plunge into the nightlife. Image: adobestock/ Maxim Malevich

  • how to go If you don’t come by plane but by car from Croatia, then there may be border controls, because Montenegro – like Albania – is not yet part of the EU.
  • When to go?In Montenegro it can get crowded, especially in summer. That is why spring and autumn are particularly good times to travel.
  • You can find even more insider tips for Montenegro in the article by our author Melanie. Albania borders with Montenegro. So it’s a good idea to simply drive further south and enjoy even more sun, sand and sea. It is particularly beautiful on the Albanian Riviera. Here you should take the coastal road from Vlora to Saranda and just stop where you like. And in Saranda there are great restaurants that serve fresh seafood.

Want to go to the beach? North of Saranda you will find the 7 km long Borsh Beach . The best thing about this secluded beach: it’s still pretty much undeveloped! And that means that there are no hotel complexes here, just olive trees, green hills and the occasional restaurant.

 To the north you need about 2 hours to the village of Dhërmi, which also has the great beach of the same name. And about half an hour further south of Saranda is the nice town of Ksamil, where you can also relax on the sandy beach and cool off in the wonderful blue water.

Next destination: Gjirokastra, one of the oldest cities in Albania, declared a World Heritage Site in 2005. Explore the old town with its many old houses whose roofs are covered with stones. This was also the reason why Gjirokastra became the “City of Stones”.

Gjirokastra is ancient, winding, but also a bit run down. Nevertheless, a detour is worthwhile. Image: istock/Kateryna Mashkevych

From a distance, Berat looks a bit like a city made of Lego bricks. Image: adobestock/milosk50

Berat is also worth a detour, the 2,000-year-old city is considered by many to be the most beautiful in Albania. It is also known as the “City of 1,000 Windows”.

 The best way to see why is in the Mangalem district below Berat Castle, where many of the typical houses with large windows stand. What else is there to discover in Berat? Many churches, mosques and winding streets.

Tip: You can also fly with Lufthansa to Tirana, the capital of Albania, and start your Balkan road trip from there with a rental car.

  • When to go ? The same applies to Albania as it does to Montenegro: it’s at its most beautiful in spring and autumn because it’s the least crowded.
  • Where to stay ? Albania offers a good range of campsites . By the way: wild camping is officially allowed in Albania. If you decide to stay away from campsites, please don’t forget to leave the place clean and litter-free! From Kosovo to North Macedonia

If you are already in the area, then you should definitely make a detour to Kosovo. Why? Because Kosovo is still a real insider tip for everyone who likes it a little quieter and closer to nature! 

The Kosovan capital Pristina is a city that is on the move. Next to old, dilapidated buildings there are often modern houses, you can see that something is happening here.

It is certainly debatable whether Pristina is a beautiful city. It’s best to check them out before you embark on your trip across the country. Image: adobestock/dudlajzov

If you want to go to the mountains, then your car must be in good condition. This also applies to your equipment if you want to discover and climb the mountains on foot. You could start your mountain tour in Peja, for example. Not far from here begins the Rugova Gorge, which is up to 1,000 meters deep and almost exactly 25 kilometers long.

For many, Lake Gazivoda is the most beautiful lake in the country. At this reservoir, which is located in the north on the border with Serbia and is a good 24 kilometers long, outdoor activists in particular get their money’s worth.

 Here you can go windsurfing, kayaking, diving or just bathing and relaxing. There are many small villages on the shore, you can go hiking and enjoy nature.

Would you like wild nature? Then you can’t miss the Rugova Gorge near Peja. Image: adobestock/dudlajzov

A little further south you will find Prizren, the second largest city in the country. The historic buildings in the cultural capital of Kosovo are mostly well preserved. Everywhere there are winding streets where you will find nice cafes and restaurants.

Climbing up to the huge fortress in the mountains above Prizren is highly recommended – you have a great view from up here, especially early in the morning or at sunset. Wine has been grown in the area for thousands of years – just in case you want to treat yourself to a good glass of grape juice.

  • how to go If you are only discovering Kosovo, then a flight to Pristina is recommended (from Munich with Eurowings, among others). From Munich to the capital Pristina you need a good 13 hours by car, by plane you can cover the distance in just two hours.
  • When to go? If you like it nice and warm, the best time to fly to Kosovo is between April and September.

Unknown North Macedonia

North Macedonia is also a rather blank slate in terms of tourism. The small country, which lies exactly between Albania in the west and Bulgaria in the east, has a lot of highlights to offer – therefore an insider tip for your Balkan road trip! Nature lovers in particular will get their money’s worth here. North Macedonia may not have access to the sea, but it does have a lot of beautiful lakes.

In Skopje, the country’s capital, the old town in particular is absolutely worth seeing. Here you can stroll through the bazaar, enjoy the old town as well as the many new magnificent buildings, visit the Kale Fortress and spend a really nice day.

ou can see from every corner of Skopje that the city was once under Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule. Image: istock/Gwengoat

Only about 15 kilometers from Skopje is the Matka Canyon, a reservoir with beautiful green water. It is always open and you can stay there all day and explore the canyon, for example with a kayak that you can rent directly at the dam.

 Or you can just go for a hike and enjoy nature. A boat trip to the Vrelo Cave is highly recommended. It consists of several above-ground chambers and two lakes that attract deep divers from all over the world.

The Matka Canyon offers everything a hiker’s heart desires. Sports fans don’t miss out here either. Image: adobestock/Sergey Ivanovich

You absolutely have to see the great Vrelo Cave, which can be reached by boat. Image: adobestock/dudlajzov

About three hours from Skopje is the crystal clear Lake Ohrid, which has many small sandy beaches and some really nice campsites. The village of Ohrid with its old town, many churches and mosques and the fortress is a must-see.

 First and foremost is St. Jovan Kaneo Church, which is said to be the most photographed attraction in the country! No wonder, because it is right on the shore of the lake. If you still want to hike a bit, then you can do that best in Galičica National Park , where you can choose from a total of 31 trails – a true, untouched paradise!

A sight on Lake Ohrid is the St. John Kanoe Church. Image: istock/traveler1116

Strolling, eating delicious food and enjoying a drink – absolutely no problem in Ohrid. Image: istock/Leonid Andronov

  • Where to sleep? 
  • In Skopje in particular there are many reasonably priced hotels and there is also a large selection of stylish Airbnbs. All in all, staying overnight in North Macedonia is not very expensive and can still be organized on site if you want to be flexible. Traveling with a camper is fine in North Macedonia. There are many g
  • ood and cheap campsites , especially on Lake Ohrid. Wild camping is not officially allowed in North Macedonia, but it is tolerate

Bulgaria: mountains and beach

How about a road trip through Bulgaria? Good idea, because there is not much going on in Bulgaria yet – at least from a tourist point of view! As a starting point for your round trip, we recommend the Bulgarian capital Sofia (from Munich with Lufthansa), which with just over 1 million inhabitants is by far the largest and at the same time the oldest city in the country.

 It’s been an unbelievable 5,000 years since the first settlers settled here. There are sights on almost every corner, just let yourself be carried away and make sure you have enough time for all the churches, museums and promenades that this great city has to offer.

After that, maybe you should just go out into nature. For example in the mountains. First, you could head northwest to check out the Magura Cave near Belogradchik. After that, you should head to Rabishkoto Lake for a relaxing lap.

Our second suggestion heads south-east: a two-and-a-half hour drive from Sofia is the spectacular Devetaki cave system. Here it is not like in a stalactite cave, but wonderfully bright, which is due to the seven large ceiling openings – you will be amazed!

Very close by, not far from the picturesque town of Lovech, you will find the Krushuna National Park, best known for its waterfalls. The special thing about the Krushuna Falls is not their height: the turquoise water flows down over many terraces, surrounded by a wild landscape. 

Even if it would be nice to look for a comfortable place for the mobile home here: wild camping is not officially allowed in Bulgaria, but there are many great and top-rated campsites everywhere.

Pure holiday? Then let’s go to Sosopol on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Image: adobestock/rustamank

From there it’s a good four or five hours’ drive to the Black Sea, more precisely to Cape Kaliakra. This headland stretches some 7 kilometers into the Black Sea and is dotted with Roman ruins. From here you can drive north or south along the coast and just stop where you like.

Our two beach tips will take you south. The beach of Pasha Dere in the district of Varna is very quiet and chilled out. Want a little more action? Nessebar is home to Sunny Beach, the most famous beach on the Black Sea, where there is a lot going on, especially at night in the bars and clubs.

 If you are traveling with a camper, you have a large selection of campsites here . And rental car users can also rest easy: there are plenty of guesthouses and hotels in the area.

  • When to go? The best time to travel to Bulgaria is from May to September, especially if you are traveling along the Black Sea coast. In summer it can be up to 40 degrees, especially inland.
  • Would you like more tips? Find out more about Bulgaria’s cities and beaches in the Travelers Archive article.

Romania: On the trail of nature

All Frankenstein fans among you have to go to Romania – and those who love wild nature, too! The Romanian capital Bucharest (direct flight from Munich with Lufthansa) is in the south of the country, Transylvania is inland, where a truly mystical landscape awaits you. 

There are many mountains, castles, dense forests and a lot of history to discover here. If you do not fly to Bucharest, then you should book a flight to Cluj-Napoca, which shortens the journey by car.

Be sure to check out Bucharest before you start your trip through Romania. Image Image: istock/LordRunar

But first take a look at Cluj-Napoca, because this city is beautiful: many historical buildings can be discovered there, impressive churches or the city park, which you can also discover by rowing boat. You can recharge your batteries in great cafés, and the nightlife here is also impressive. Speaking of night: there are many cheap guesthouses and hotels in the city. There are also enough good campsites !

The roads in Transylvania, also known as Transylvania, are often in poor condition – so you should plan your travel times generously for the trip. Let’s go to Count Dracula’s castle, which lies in the middle of the Carpathian Mountains: The road to Bran – as the Count’s castle is called – leads over some winding roads with quite a lot of potholes.

And then Bran stands there, big, mighty, with many towers and battlements on the Dietrichstein mountain. You can reach the castle from the parking lot in about half an hour on a path that leads through the forest.

 It’s best to come early, because the rush is usually quite large from late morning. Bran is now a museum, but it’s anything but spooky: there are no coffins to be seen here.

There are definitely no vampires here: Count Dracula’s castle Bran in the middle of Transylvania. Image: adobestock/emperorcosar

Not far from Bran Castle is Brasov with its old town worth seeing. Image: adobestock/emperorcosar

Information on admission prices and opening hours is available on the castle’s website . After that you should go to Brasov, the former Kronstadt, which according to many is the most beautiful city in Romania. The journey takes about 30 minutes and is worth it!

Tip: There is a campsite very close to the castle .

  • When to go? A road trip through Romania is worthwhile in the summer months (June to September). But even in spring and autumn the temperatures are still pleasant, even if you are traveling Accept

More tips for your Balkan road trip

  • What are the costs of the trip?
    In some countries tolls or tunnel fees apply. Information and fee tables can be found at the ADAC . There is also an ADAC map with detailed route planning including toll costs.
  •  If you start your Balkan road trip in Germany, you have to reckon with additional costs, for example for a vignette in Austria and Slovenia or tolls in Croatia, North Macedonia and Serbia (here, distance is charged).
  • What do you have to consider when entering the country?
    In all the countries presented, an identity card, a passport or a provisional passport are sufficient for a tourist stay (up to 90 days). You can find out which customs regulations you have to observe when entering and leaving the country on the ADAC website. 
  • The best way to find out about details on entering and leaving the country is to contact the Federal Foreign Office.
  • you want to fly
    If you are flying and do not want to travel in your own car or in a rental camper, then you should change to a rental car at the airport. Here you will find the right vehicle.
  • Which currency or means of payment do the individual countries have?
    In Montenegro and Kosovo you pay in euros.
    In Albania, the official currency is the Albanian Lek, abbreviation ALL (1 Euro = approx. 120 ALL).
    In North Macedonia you pay with Macedonian Denar, abbreviation MKD (1 Euro = approx. 61 MDK).
    The currency in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Leu, abbreviation LEW (1 Euro = 1.95 LEW).
    In Romania, the Romanian Leu, abbreviation RON, is the official currency (1 Euro = 4.95 RON).

Tip: Check out our Best Travel Apps article for a helpful currency converter app.

  • How much time should I plan for a Balkan road trip?
    That depends entirely on your route. If you start from Germany and plan stops in several countries along the way, then you should plan at least three weeks. If you only want to explore one of the countries and save yourself time on arrival by flying, then two weeks can be sufficient.

Tip: In some countries, the roads are not in very good condition, so you should take this into account when choosing your vehicle and planning your time.


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