Backpacking the Balkans is becoming one of the best adventures for travelers in Europe. It offers culture, nature and great nightlife. Here are some tips to make the most of it
Backpacking the Balkans is hot right now. These ex-soviet countries are no longer unknown and dangerous places to foreigners, but hidden gems full of culture, nature and history. Here I give you 37 tips on how to travel better in Europe’s new trendiest destination.
Before the trip
- Decide if you want to get a Eurail Pass or get around by yourself with local transportation. A Eurail Pass can be useful for a better travel planning, but it will limit your route.
- Get a travel guide in advance to have access to basic information during your trip
- If you are traveling by bus, check their timetables. Buses don´t leave every day, have weird times or can take very long for even short distances.
- Buy a lock and take it with you during your trip.
- Separate your budget in cash (EUR, GBP or USD) and at least two credit/debit cards in case you lose one or it doesn´t work.
- Get a credit card without foreign fee and take money from ATMs without fees.
- Leave some extra space for any other stuff you might get during your trip.
- Take a diary and a pen for writing down expenses, important numbers or information in case your smartphone runs out of battery.
- Download the maps of the cities you visit on Google Maps.
- Get a cheap flight from Western Europe with WizzAir. Flight fares can be as cheap as 10 EUR one way.
- If you are not an EU citizen check out HERE the visa policy of each country you visit.
- Get a Spotify premium account if you are traveling for longer than 6 months.
- Book only the first accommodation in advance. After that book your next accommodation during the previous stop.
- Take an iPad or a good book for long bus/train rides.
- Even if you are traveling during hot summer, take a fleece and/or rain jacket with you.
- If you are not from Europe, get a travel adapter to charge your electronic devices.
- Don´t take a towel with you. They occupy lots of space in your bag and most hostels offer them for free or just a couple of bucks.
- The Balkans have the most expensive laundry services I have ever seen while traveling. Take at least clothes for 10 days with you if you are backpacking for a long period.
During your trip
- Write down the exchange rate somewhere before you travel to another country with another currency.
- Traveling from Bosnia to Montenegro by bus is very exhausting (you need to enter Croatia and exit a couple of hours later). Get a private transfer and save lots of time.
- In countries like Albania, Macedonia or Bulgaria you can sometimes pay in Euros. Do this instead of getting too much local currency.
- Stay in Hostel Mostel during your stay in Sofia. It is by far the best hostel in Europe I have been to.
- Stay in hostels if you are traveling alone. There is a huge backpacking culture in the Balkan countries.
- Book your bus or train connection one or two days in advance.
- Most Balkan cities offer a free tour. These are perfect to get an introduction to the city on a budget and meet other travelers.
- Save a couple of free days at the end of your trip in case you want to extend in a spot you like or make spontaneous decisions.
- Night buses can help you save money and time, but can be exhausting if you need to cross borders in the middle of the night.
- Rent a car if you are traveling along the Adriatic coast. You will regret not being able to stop and enjoy that view.
- While most hostels offer a pub cralw, these are made to just get you drunk, not to taste local drinks. Go to bars and cafes by yourself and order their local products.
- Food is very cheap in the Balkans. Use this opportunity to taste local cuisine in restaurants and local bars.
- Get a SIM card with unlimited internet for only 10-15 EUR once you arrive in the Balkans.
- Visit the Tourist Information Office when you arrive to a new place and get information about what to do from experts.
- Download the MyPostcard App and send your own photos as postcards to your friends and family worldwide for only 2 EUR.
Read more: Guide to plan an interrail trip in Europe
- The Balkan Backpacker is a community that offers you 10% discount in their hostels all around the region.
- Use wikitravel.org to get information on how to get to a new city and move around.
- Many bars, nightclubs and even restaurants close when temperatures go low and autumn begins.
- Be a good traveler and help the local businesses by giving tips and buying local products.