8 Places to Visit in the Balkans Before Everyone Else Finds Out

Saint Paul and Saint Peter Cathedral in Gjakova
Saint Paul and Saint Peter Cathedral in Gjakova | © ShkelzenRexha / WikiCommons
Francesca Masotti

The Balkan Peninsula is one of the most interesting destinations in Europe. Despite its famous destinations, such as Dubrovnik, Sarajevo and Belgrade, it is still possible to visit unspoiled and undiscovered spots in the Balkans. Here’s our list of eight towns to visit in this European region before everyone else finds out.

Maribor, Slovenia

Maribor is the second largest town of Slovenia, after the capital city Ljubljana. Nestled on the Drava river, Maribor has a delightful old center with stunning buildings, churches, museums and gardens. After a tour of the old town, don’t miss the chance to taste excellent Slovenian wines at Old Vine House. In this lovely place, you’ll find a great selection of wines from the oldest vines in the world.

The view of Maribor from Drava river

Sibenik, Croatia

The Adriatic coastal town of Sibenik is filled with gorgeous historic sites, Renaissance palaces and lovely hidden squares. The best thing to do here is to stroll through the beautiful cobblestone streets of the historical city center. Near Sibenik there is the spectacular Krka National Park, a natural area with seven waterfalls, multiple mills and more than a few old monasteries. Don’t miss it, if you have extra time.

A view of the old town of Sibenik and the Adriatic Sea

Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Trebinje is maybe the best-kept secret of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The heart-shaped country is home to many treasures, such as the capital city Sarajevo, the historical town of Mostar and the religious Tekke of Blagaj, but for those who are looking for places off the beaten path, Trebinje is the perfect destination. Trebinje is only 28 km (17.3 miles) from Dubrovnik, so keep it in mind for your next adventure.

Aerial view of Trebinje

Subotica, Serbia

Subotica is the true hidden gem of Serbia. This amazing multicultural town, located in the northern region of the country, is home to Serbs, Hungarians and Croatians and is a paradise for Art Nouveau fans: Subotica has plenty of liberty-style buildings. The three not-to-miss places in town are Subotica Synagogue, Subotica City Hall and the Modern Art Gallery.

The stunning Modern Art Gallery of Subotica

Gjakova, Kosovo

Gjakova is a beautiful town located in the youngest country in Europe, Kosovo, which is often overlooked by visitors attracted by the more famous historical town of Prizren. However, this charming city offers visitors a traditional bazaar, lovely mosques and an interesting ethnographic museum perfect for discovering the history of Gjakova.

Saints Paul and Peter’s Cathedral in Gjakova

Korça, Albania

Albania is home to gorgeous places like the Riviera, the historical towns of Berat and Gjirokaster, and the vibrant capital city, Tirana. The land of the eagles has several hidden gems, such as Korça, an enchanting cultural town located in the south of Albania. Apart from the majestic Orthodox cathedral and the National Educational Museum, Korça has one of the nicest bazaars in the country, a perfect place to sip a coffee, do a little shopping and taste excellent Albanian delicacies.

The Orthodox Cathedral of Korça

Bitola, Macedonia

Along with the capital city, Skopje, and the enchanting lake-town of Ohrid, Macedonia is home to other gorgeous and hidden places, such as Bitola, the oldest city in the country founded by Philip II of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great). The old town of Bitola is a perfect mix of Ottoman constructions, ancient sites and Yugoslav buildings.

The main pedestrian street in Bitola’s city centre

Ioannina, Greece

Ioannina is Greece’s best-kept secret. Located on the shores of the Pamvotida lake, Ioannina is a multicultural town full of hidden delights. The historical city center and the fortress, which is the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece, are two not-to-miss spots in town. Also, be sure to book a lake tour to admire spectacular views of Ioannina.

Ioannina city center

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