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1 reply
Exploring the Balkans
funkmonk_10
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Hi All,

I had almost planned my Eurotrip for this and was all set to start the booking process until i met up with a friend of mine who had returned home after spending six months in the Balkans. His narrative, pictures, experiences simply blew me away. The history and culture of the region is unmatched. It is his experience and some accounts on this forum that have made me change my entire plan. Even on this forum i have read many seasoned travelers urge people to experience the lesser explored Balkans

Having decided to visit the Balkans this summer. The few challenges i see are:

- Transportation, from what i have read, the countries seem to be connected by trains pretty well, but make for long arduous journeys. People suggest that bus routes are faster and easier than train routes. I havent been able to find a good portal for bus information

- Visa regulations: I guess this wont be a problem for many US/EU passport holders, but I am from India and getting a Visa for each country requires a lot of running around and also adds to the cost. In the past week i have been making calls to a lot of embassies to understand the visa regulations. Having trouble with Serbia, Kosovo and B&G

- Convincing your buddies to ditch the earlier itinerary. This has also been a tough task, not sure why but its just difficult to get your friends to agree to go to places they haven’t heard about before!

- Cheaper? Really? People do say it’s a cheaper option, but it doesn’t seem like it. Maybe the food and drink is slightly cheaper, but on the whole I don think I will be saving much $$.

The itinerary I have decided goes like this: 25 to 30 days with $3600 in the pocket

> Start in Istanbul: 3 nights.Visa on arrival if you have a valid Shengen visa (this costs around $70)
> Bulgaria: free 48 hour transit Visa. I want to visit Plovdiv, one of the most ancient European cities and maybe a night in Sofia
> Skopje, Macedonia: 2 days, no clue about the Visa policy
> Montenegro: This is the country i have read most about. This small country looks like heaven on earth. I would like to spend around 5 days here and would want to visit Kotor, Durmitor, Podgorica and Skadar lake. Free transit for 7 days if you have a valid Shengen Visa
> Dubrovnik: This is touristy town, but from what i have heard, worth a visit. I’d like to spend four days in and around Dubrovnik. I have heard that the drive from Montenegro to Croatia is one the most scenic routes in the world
> Bosnia:I would like to spend around three days in Sarajevo, with the day visit to Mostar and Trebinje. No Visa information as yet
> Serbia: Separate visa, around $80. I’d like to spend around 4 days here, spending time in Belgrade, Nis and Novi sad
> Hungary: I will be flying out from Budapest and would like to spend at least 5 nights exploring Hungary

I would really like some suggestions and general comments on the route, places to visit, personal experiences, modes of transport, budget and anything really.

Thanks!

I am leaving from new delhi with $3600 for 30 days
Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Naples, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Delft, Antwerp, Brussels, Bruges
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Sights
I am leaving from New Delhi with $3600 for 29 days
Budapest, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Itinerary, Nightlife
oldlady
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Some thoughts…
Turkish visa: be sure to have correct change and crisp untorn bills in the appropriate currency. US citizens have to have $US and Brits need £. You may not have a problem, but not needing change back and having the right currency will make it much easier.

Try www.eurolines.com for buses. I think they have a redirect link specifically for the Balkans if you click on one of the Balkan countries. There are lots of smaller bus companies, too and the best way to find them is a guidebook (or tourism websites) specific to the Balkans.

Split, like Dubrovnik is touristy, but you might find the “in and around” better in that area. Lots of fast ferry service to nearby islands, national parks, scenic spots.

I think you’ll find daily living and regional transportation noticeably cheaper in the Balkans than in Western Europe. Getting there in the first place is probably just as expensive or more so. Cheap lodging in private homes, small B&B places and even apartments is readily available, but probably not listed on any booking website. Look for “rooms” signs and folks hawking rooms at the bus and train stations. Negotiate and make sure you see the place or at least know EXACTLY where it is before handing over any money.