No surprise that these amazing cascading lakes have been an attraction for more than 200 years – their waters in different shades of green and blue attract more than a million visitors per year nowadays. Besides marveling at the lakes, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the orchids – more than 50 species of these beautiful flowers grow in Plitvice National Park.
Once the capital of Bulgaria, the town of Veliko Tarnovo has preserved much of its past glory and mixed it with a vibrant contemporary art and lifestyle scene. Its streets and houses stacked on hills make it a picture-perfect destination with a bunch of vantage points where you can sip your coffee with a view. Stay for the night to see the sound and light show on the historical Tsarevets Hill, where a centuries-old castle has been restored.
They say that once Ohrid used to have 365 churches, one for each day of the year. Even though the number is not as high today, the small UNESCO-listed Macedonian town spread on the coast of the Ohrid Lake is still considered a religious hub in the country. The area is adored by Macedonians and visitors from the neighboring countries, but it’s still a lesser known destination for European travelers from further afield.
Berat is another UNESCO-listed town with turbulent history and impressive remains of its past – the Berat Castle and a mix of churches and mosques that demonstrate in the best way the religious and cultural diversity of the Balkans. Its identical black and white houses with windows like a thousand eyes are lined on the banks of Osum River and make for an impressive backdrop for a photo.
Sibiu has a medieval charm that makes it appear frozen in time. With its collection of art galleries and unusual museums, such as the Hunting Museum or the Pharmacy Museum, and its towers accessible for visitors to climb and watch the town life from a bird’s-eye view, Sibiu is the best cultural stop in Romania’s Transylvania.
Tara National Park is a perfect escape for those searching for untouched nature. The highlight of the Serbian natural site is the Drina River Gorge with the River Drina making its way between towering cliffs and attracting rafting enthusiasts from around the world. Tara is also home to two artificial lakes perfect for leisure sailing or kayaking.
If you are searching for a real-life fairy tale, head to Lake Bled in Slovenia. Take a traditional pletna, a local gondola, to cross to the small island in the lake, and then walk up the 99 steps to reach the church that sits atop it. The morning mist at the lake is one of the most famous sights from Slovenia.
Turkey’s best surfing destination is its largest island, Gökçeada. The winds and waves near its coasts have made it a popular windsurfing, kitesurfing, and surfing destination in southeastern Europe. If you take the ferry to the mainland town of Çanakkale, you can visit the nearby remains of Troy.