Travel Guide: Most Exciting Cities of the Balkans

pretty buildings in The Balkans with an ocean background

The Balkans are a part of Europe where cultures from all corners of the world intertwine. It is mountainous, teeming with natural wonders, and resting on the majestic shores of the deep blue Adriatic seas. But what really gives the Balkans its distinct charm are, of course, the people. They are light-hearted, humorous, straightforward, and incredibly tall. In fact, it is amazing that such small countries are able to produce some of the best athletes in the world. If you plan on visiting this mystical and vigorous region, here are some of the most exciting cities you should definitely include on your travel itinerary. 

The capital of Romania is best known for its vibrant nightlife scene and architectural splendor that earned it its title as Little Paris of the East. With wide brutalist boulevards, Art Nouveau edifices, and some of the best-preserved medieval structures, Bucharest’s architecture alone paints a clear picture of the city’s history. It also hosts the heaviest building in the world, which was unfortunately constructed during the bleak times of Nicolae Ceausescu's oppressive communist regime. Tourists usually start off their visit at the iconic Old Town but make sure to reach out toward the famous vineyards and forests nestled at the periphery of the city. And when it comes to wellness, recreation, and spa treatments, Therme Bucharest is the largest complex in Eastern Europe dedicated to this noble leisurely purpose. 

Novi Sad 
Lonely Planet listed this second largest city in Serbia as the world’s #3 tourist destination of the year 2018/2019. Nestled on the sandy banks of the Danube River, Novi Sad is known as the cultural center of the nation and hosts one of the greatest festivals in Europe - Exit Festival. However, what really makes this city stand out is its laid-back vibe and hospitality services. Novi Sad is teeming with urban hotspots, hip cafes, and trendy clubs, the culinary splendor will literally leave you begging for more, and the tranquil natural wonders of Fruska Gora that partially envelop the city will rejuvenate your senses. Take a shot of the cityscape from the iconic Petrovaradian Fortress and let everyone know that this city is the future of tourism in the Balkans. 

No city boasts such immaculate cultural amalgamation of the East and the West better than Sarajevo. In fact, the capital of Bosnia and Hercegovina was bringing sociologists and anthropologists from all over the world to study how Christian Orthodoxy, Islam, and Catholicism can coexist together. Unfortunately, the civil war in the 90s shook the foundation of this glorious city but as the years pass, the wounds are slowly mending and people are once again opening their arms to both domestic and foreign guests. Take a walk through the iconic Bascarsija, a historic opulent marketplace that will captivate your senses with shiny baubles, souvenirs, and mouth-watering local dishes. Sarajevo is also teeming with Ottoman mosques and ancient churches so you will definitely feel the raw spiritual energy radiating through the air. 

This jewel of the Adriatic has its own distinct maritime charm that no Mediterranean city can match. Pula effortlessly blends Croatian and Italian influences to create its own unique laid-back Istrian identity. With surrounding beaches like Medulin, Premantura, Brioni, and Verudela, you will enjoy the sun, sea, and sand like royalty here. Plus, the city boasts a grand arena dating back to ancient Roman times, which hosts some of the best music venues and festivals to date (Outlook, Dimensions). Feel free to lose yourself amid the hilly Mediterranean architecture and don’t forget try out local seafood delicacies. They are delicious! Pula is teeming with natural maritime splendor so take a deep breath of the salty air and prepare yourself for a fully-fledged exploration.

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