The Balkans is still a hidden gem in terms of travel destinations, and is yet to be fully discovered by the masses, however, this is changing, as the ten countries that make up the Balkans are rising in popularity. The nations all offer a different vibe and perspective, but certainly share some turbulent history. Travellers have a wealth of choice, in terms of whether they want a relaxation type break on the beautiful beaches along the Adriatic Coast, or more of an adventure, actively tackling the vast mountains or renting a bicycle and exploring off the beaten track.
This 10 Day Bucket List Balkans Travel Itinerary covers four nations, five cities and an unlimited sense of adventure, as you make your way through the natural beauty, listen to the amazing stories and collect all of your passport stamps along the way!
This 10 Day Balkans Travel Itinerary is based on a faster style of travel, so is more suited to travellers who prefer to travel more quickly, or tourists who only have limited annual leave but want to tick off several countries. This is an authentic Balkans experience and where better to start than the Pearl of the Adriatic!
- Day 1 : Arrive in Dubrovnik
- Day 2 & 3 : Explore Dubrovnik
- Day 4 : Mostar & Kravice Waterfalls day trip
- DAY 5 : Dubrovnik to Kotor Bay
- Day 6 : Explore Kotor Bay
- Day 7 : Explore Budva And Sveti Stefan Island
- Day 8 : Travel To Tirana
- Day 9 & 10 : Explore Tirana and head home
- Need to know for your Balkans adventure
Day 1 : Arrive in Dubrovnik
Although several of the destinations in this Balkans Travel Itinerary are less crowded, we start in the tourist hotspot of Dubrovnik due to its central location around many other Balkans cities, and also has reasonable flights from many European destinations.
Where to stay in Dubrovnik?
These two areas offer a unique experience in Dubrovnik, so your choice depends on what you want out of your stay in the charming Balkans city.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to many of the city’s most famous attractions, so a great place to base yourself. You can expect to pay more for your accommodation, which is expected when located in the heart of the Old Town.
Gruž is located in the northwest part of the city, near the city’s main bus station and international ferry port. It is around a fifteen minute walk to the Old Town, therefore, is cheaper and quieter. A great option for budget travellers.
Day 2 & 3 : Explore Dubrovnik
For the adventure seekers, you will find many bucket list activities to do in the ancient Croatian city, but cliff jumping takes top spot, and is a very popular free thing to do for the locals and visitors, with many well established spots dotted around the city.
Lokrum Island is a great spot to try some cliff jumping during your day trip. The two most famous spots are the ‘dead sea lake’ and ‘Pidgeon Cave Cliffs’. Other cool spots on the mainland include the beaches, ‘Bellevue Beach Cliffs’ & ‘Boninovo cliffs’.
Recommendations for bars in Dubrovnik
One of the best kept secrets in Dubrovnik is the secret hole in the wall cliff bar called ‘Buza Bar’. This is a great bar on the outskirts of the walled Old Town, and home to some more brilliant cliff jumping, unique views of the Adriatic Sea and some beautiful sunsets.
If cocktails are your thing, then head to Zox Box Rooftop Bar, located right next to the famous ‘Jesuit Steps’, which were featured in Game of Thrones. The vibes are truly unique as you relax with a cocktail or two, looking across at the city’s terracotta rooftops.
You can’t visit the pearl of the Adriatic without taking the walking tour of the walls. Be prepared to walk through a time machine back into Dubrovnik’s ancient past, as you find out about the centuries old history which makes the city great. Grabbing a guide to lead you along the 2km walk is thoroughly recommended.
To finish off your visit to Dubrovnik, a sunset cable car ride up Mount SRD offers the perfect setting and ambience, as you take in the breathtaking views of the Old Town lit up at night.
Day 4 : Mostar & Kravice Waterfalls day trip
Before you leave Dubrovnik, a day trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina is a must. The very popular day excursion includes a visit to Kravice falls, which is one of the highlights on this 10 Day Balkans Travel Itinerary, where you will be truly blown away by the beautiful nature. A dip in the water is a refreshing break from the Bosnian heat, and a great way to break up the journey to Mostar.
One for the adrenaline junkies in Mostar
It doesn’t get any more bucket list worthy than jumping off a 20 meter high bridge into a freezing cold fast flowing river. Does it?
You will have the opportunity to really test out your adventurous side in Mostar. If you do not dare jump, then you can sit by the river with a cold drink watching the locals complete their dives, which is entertaining, nevertheless!
Other notable highlights in your time in Mostar can include, shopping in the local bazaars, trying some local cuisine, or venturing further afield to find the beautiful building graffiti art, which now stands where the front line was during the Bosnian war.
DAY 5 : Dubrovnik to Kotor Bay
How to reach Montenegro?
Travelling from Dubrovnik to Kotor Bay is an experience in itself, offering breathtaking views of the Adriatic coast and magnificent mountainous terrain in Montenegro. The lack of rail network in the region means that travelling by road is the only option, however, bus or car, can offer two different experiences during your 92 kilometre journey.
Reaching Kotor by Bus
The buses in the Balkans are very established and run several times throughout the day between Dubrovnik and Kotor. Tickets usually cost between €9 – €13, depending on the time and how busy it is. You can expect the journey to take around two hours. The driver will take care of the border crossing requirements, so this is a good option for you to relax and take in the sights.
Reaching Kotor by Car
There are many interesting places in between Dubrovnik and Kotor, so if you want some flexibility and freedom to stop on the way, then renting a car is the best option. You will have to navigate the windy roads and deal with the border crossings on your own this way.
When planning your trip, it’s important to note that border crossings between Croatia and Montenegro can sometimes be time-consuming, particularly during the peak tourist season. Always allow extra time for this when scheduling your journey.
Day 6 : Explore Kotor Bay
If you are someone who loves mountains, there is a high chance that you will love Kotor Bay, especially when you factor in the awesome views of the bay from various vantage points, as you ascend up the wonderful terrain.
One of the best things to do in Kotor is a sunset paddle boarding tour of the bay during the golden hour. The sunset makes for a vivid experience, whether you are experienced, or taking beginner friendly lessons with the locals. Most of the tours are upwards of two hours in duration and are the perfect way of encapsulating the beautiful nature with some exercise and fun.
Looking for a party in Kotor?
If partying is on your agenda during your Balkan itinerary, then Kotor Bay is home to the perfect hostel. Montenegro Hostel Party 4 U sits on the beachfront of the bay and offers a very lively stay in the Montenegrin town. After your ‘arrival shot’ with the owner, you can look forward to non stop partying with like minded travellers. A nightly BBQ, drinking games and a pub crawl of the Old Town gives you plenty of adventure.
Day 7 : Explore Budva And Sveti Stefan Island
Budva is notorious for its lively nightlife, which spans across its many open air beach bars, restaurants and famous nightclubs, and continues well into the night. Although It might come alive at night, through the day, the beach fronts offers a more serene vibe, as visitors to the Montenegrin coastal town relax on the white sandy beaches.
Sveti Stefan Island is one of the true highlights of Montenegro and is a must on this 10 Day Balkans Travel Itinerary. The exclusive island offers a great backdrop while sunbathing on the opposite beaches (which are now open to the public). The island can be reached by the famous ‘Seven Bay Trail’, which passes many beaches during its 5km route, starting from the Stari Grad (Old Town) in Budva. This makes for a very scenic leisurely stroll, or for more adventurous travellers, you can rent bikes in the Stari Grad and cycle the route (recommended option).
Day 8 : Travel To Tirana
It’s time to head to Albania to tick off country number four. The bus is the best option for you, if you want to relax and recharge your batteries. The daily bus leaves Budva at 8:30 am and arrives into Tirana at approximately 13:50 pm, after the 270km and five hour journey (plus stops). The fare is around £20 and can be purchased on the bus.
This leaves you ample time to check into your accommodation and explore Tirana in the evening. You will find the vibrant city modern with a laidback feeling throughout the restaurants, bars and cafes.
Day 9 & 10 : Explore Tirana and head home
Tirana can be enjoyed in a day if you start early and are prepared for an active day. You can start by exploring Skanderbeg Square and the modern centre of the city, before heading to Mount Dajti and riding the cable car up the mountain, to enjoy magnificent views of the city.
If you are looking for a unique experience during your stay in Tirana, then the two Bunk’art museums tick this box. The most famous of the two museums, ‘Bunk’Art 1’ is an underground bunker, turned museum, and does a very good job of explaining the paranoid history of the once isolated nation. This famous historical spot is very close to the Mount Dajti Express (cable car), so makes for a great day out.
This 10 day Balkans Travel itinerary is packed with full of new experiences, bucket list worthy activities and some history and culture. If you decide to do it solo and stay in hostels throughout your trip, then you will be in for even more adventure and fun. It’s time to head to the Balkans!
Need to know for your Balkans adventure
Across the four countries, you will need Croatian, Bosnian and Albanian currency, along with Euros for Montenegro. You can exchange within the destinations with cash or card.
You will be crossing international borders four times during this itinerary, including the Bosnian day trip, so make sure you have room in your passport, and a little patience!
There are local sim cards available in all the destinations, however, due to the fast travel time across this trip, it is recommended to pay your local daily phone charges.
Mode of transport
Buses are cheap and efficient in all the Balkans countries in this itinerary.