The Balkan Peninsula – or the Balkans, as they are more commonly known – is one of Europe’s most underrated travel destinations, sadly often overlooked by international tourists. The Balkans have some fantastic places for you to visit, from cultural institutions like museums to historic castles and beautiful hiking trails. If you intend to visit, then there are some urban districts that you absolutely can’t miss. The beauty of the Balkans is that no matter where you are, you are never too far from history.
This article will tell you about some of the Balkan’s best urban areas that you need to visit:
Belgrade is Serbia’s capital, and without a doubt the Balkans’ most exciting urban center. The sprawling city has a lot to offer, from ancient forts to beautifully landscaped parks. There is so much to do, that you will definitely need a Belgrade travel guide so that you can make the most out of your visit there. Some of the places and things that you should see include:
- Belgrade Fortress is an ancient fortress, with a Roman well and medieval gate. It was built in 279 BC, then reconstructed in 535 AD by Byzantine ruler Justinian I. It is one of the world’s most beautiful castles and is visited by over two million people a year.
- Skadarlija is Belgrade’s bohemian district. Its cobbled streets have been wandered by artists, musicians, and free-thinkers since the 1800s. The district’s glory days were in the 1900s, when Serbian singers and poets lived, worked, and performed there. It has a number of cafés, great restaurants, and bars that are worth visiting if you are there.
- The Church of St. Sava is the largest Orthodox Church in the Balkans. It is the second-largest church in the entire world, just after St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.
- Knez Mihailova Street runs diagonally through Stari Grad. It is a popular shopping district, with lots of restaurants and bars. It is definitely somewhere that you should consider visiting if you are in the city because there’s a lot to do there.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, another beautiful, historic Balkan nation. It is without a doubt one of Europe’s prettiest cities, with beautiful architecture, museums, and a lively cultural scene. If you are in Slovenia, then it’s worth a visit to its capital city. In addition to a cultural scene, the city also has an exciting night scene, mainly because of the city’s high student population. Some things that you could consider doing in Ljubljana include:
- Triple Bridge is a group of three bridges, located just off of Prešeren Square. The bridges are a very popular area for tourists, who flock there to take photographs.
- Ljubljana Castle is the city’s castle, sitting in the hills above. If you intend upon visiting, then you definitely need to see it. It’s one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, with lots of history attached to it. It was constructed over 900 years ago.
- Dragon Bridge is another bridge and another tourist hotspot. It is called Dragon Bridge because four massive dragon statutes stand on each of the bridge’s corners. The dragons were designed by the famous architect Jurji Zaninović.
Zagreb is Croatia’s capital, and like the other two capitals that we have mentioned so far, very beautiful. The city’s architecture is considered to be some of Europe’s finest, on par with cities like Rome and Paris. Zagreb is best known for its beautiful, cobbled streets. One of the main reasons that you should visit Zagreb is its food. Yes, Zagreb’s food scene is incredible. You will find some of Europe’s finest food in the city’s many restaurants, cafés, and diners. In addition to a culinary scene, Zagreb has many beautiful flower markets and parks, perfect for aesthetes. If you are in Zagreb, then you should see:
- The Museum of Broken Relationships is one of the city’s major attractions, and one of the only museums of its kind in the world. The entire museum is dedicated to heartbreak. The objects found there are personal objects that were of significance in previously broken-up relationships. In addition to the objects, there are short stories about the relationship. If you have had a break-up that you would like to share, then why not leave something of your own?
- Esplanade Zagreb Hotel is one of the city’s most beautiful and famous hotels. While prices can be very expensive, it is well worth a visit. Alternatively, you could of course stay in an Airbnb. Because the city’s streets and buildings are so beautifully designed, even the shabbiest of apartments feels like a five-star hotel. Airbnb rooms are a very cost-efficient way of finding accommodation when you are visiting Zagreb. You could alternatively also visit a hostel.
Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities (as many of the Balkans’ cities are!) If you are visiting, then there is lots for you to see. It is also a very diverse city, with large Jewish, Catholic, Orthodox, and Muslim populations. Most people only know about Sarajevo because of its significance to the First World War, but the city has so much more to offer than just that! The Winter Olympic Games also took place there in 1984. When you are in the city, why not visit the following places:
- Museum of Crimes Against Humanity and Genocide is a sobering museum located in Sarajevo, that reminds us just how terrible war really is. This museum is perhaps more poignant now, considering Europe’s current condition, than ever before. It is a location that you should visit when you are in the city, to pay respect to the dead and to understand the cost of war.
- Sarajevo City Hall is a beautifully designed building, located in the city’s heart. It is definitely somewhere that you should visit, because of the architecture alone. Surrounding it are lots of cafés, restaurants, and places for you to sit down and relax.
The Balkans is a region that you have to visit when you are in Europe because there’s so much to do and so much history there. There are many more cities than the few which we have mentioned in this article, so once you have seen them, there are hundreds more for you to check out.