The Balkans are still an off-the-radar destination in Europe, one that remains largely unexplored by foreigners. This corner in the southeast of Europe has many cards up its sleeve, including romantic getaway ideas – romantic spots, couple-perfect towns, lakes, and hotels. If you want to discover a new destination and keep your romantic vacation affordable, here are the best places in the Balkans to do so.
Lake Bled is, hands down, one of the most scenic spots in the Balkans, where couples can share sweet moments together. The choice of accommodation is vast – from luxury hotels to glampsites. The lake is beautiful in all seasons, which makes it one of the best honeymoon destinations in Slovenia. It is located 50 km (30 mi) from the capital Ljubljana and 50 km (30 mi) from the Italian border, thus offering a multitude of options for day trips and further exploration.
Dubrovnik is Croatia’s pride and a sun lover’s paradise. It has a coastline, an Old Town whose walls tell the stories of the past, and a myriad of vantage points with spectacular views. When satiated with the city itself, couples can rent a boat or a yacht and explore the surrounding small islands at their own pace. The fact that it was a film location for Game of Thrones has made it extremely popular for the last couple of years; in fact, so popular that its mayor has announced plans to reduce visitors’ numbers. This fact is enough to make you put Dubrovnik at the top of your to-visit list before it becomes harder to do so.
Santorini really needs no presentation – it has gained world popularity as one of the most beautiful Greek islands with some of the most stunning sunsets. Tasting local wine while relaxing in a small pool with a view over the island or the sea is a picture-perfect moment that many couples around the world crave. Even if you don’t do anything in particular, just walking up and down the whitewashed staircases among white-and-blue houses or exploring the beautiful beaches will make you feel like you’re in heaven on Earth.
Although Mostar was severely damaged during the Balkan Wars in the 1990s, it has regained its beauty and middle-age look and is a perfect place to seek out stunning architecture and fewer crowds. Couples filled with wanderlust will enjoy discovering what’s around the corner while ambling the old streets and delving into the history of the town. The historic bridge is the main attraction of Mostar, but finding a quiet place with a view of the bridge is the best way to admire it.
Mećavnik (or Drvengrad) is for nature lovers. This a wooden ethnological village built by the Serbian filmmaker, composer and writer Emir Kusturica, who fell in love with the natural setting while he was shooting one of his films. The village comprises several wooden doll-like houses gathered from all over the country, brought here and restored to shine. An old-style narrow-gauge train gets the visitors to the village, where you can also spend the night.
Sibiu is part of the Romanian historical region of Transylvania, but one that doesn’t include vampires. Romanians, Germans, and Hungarians have all lived here, leaving their respective footprints. The historical center of Sibiu feels like a fairy-tale setting with its towers, colorful houses, and neat streets. Some of them are accessible to climb for a panoramic rooftop view.
Old Town Plovdiv‘s cobbled streets lead you up to the top of a hill with a fantastic panorama over the city. The hilltop attracts locals and visitors alike, especially at sunset. It is where, as believed by historians, the first inhabitants of the city created a settlement more than 7,000 years ago. The second biggest city in Bulgaria boasts a host of carefully restored bright-colored houses and one of the longest pedestrian streets in Bulgaria. If you visit it with your better half in summer, make sure to see the show of the Singing Fountains, located in the Tsar Simeon’s Garden.
The Albanian Riviera is still mostly unknown to foreigners, but with its turquoise water and pristine beaches and coves, it is a perfect spot for an affordable romantic getaway. The best way to explore it is to rent a car and just drive along the coast, stopping wherever you spot a wild rocky beach. Albania itself is a jewel for true explorers, suitable for those couples who need something more than a beach and a cocktail.