THE BALKAN HORSESHOE

What if we told you that the most exotic places you could experience were just a train ride away? The glorious and forgotten Balkans are the exotic nearby and its passionate people and wild stories will forever blow your mind. On your journey, you will come across tiny villages, abandoned buildings desperate for restoration, brutal mountains and bounty beaches out of this world. Take off in Slovenia and simply take the train south till you reach the outskirts of Albania. At this point, you might think that it doesn’t get crazier or wilder, but we recommend you to keep going and make a U-turn back through Macedonia and Serbia. This journey cannot be reached by plane.

THE ROUTE

sLjubljana - Bled - Zagreb - Split - Sarajevo - Mostar - Dubrovnik - Kotor - Podgorica - Shkodër - Tirana - Vlorë - Ohrid - Skopje - Belgrade - Budapest 

 

*You might have to reserve a seat during some of the distances on this route. Click here for more information about seat reservations or visit https://www.interrail.eu/en/book-reservations or download the Rail Planner App.

This route includes bus rides. Go to https://getbybus.com/ for booking. 

EXPERIENCES ON THE ROUTE:

We have listed a few great experiences, but we have even more cool experiences and activities in the Balkans on our website. Check it out!

Bled: Mountain Bike Tour

The mountains and area surrounding Bled are just perfect for mountain biking. Discover the wilderness of the Slovenian nature on your bike while you ride the forest trails. The mountain bike tour can be done on any level and you can even book a guided tailor-made tour where experienced local guides will guide you on scenic routes.

Book here

Bled: Canyoning Adventure

If you visit Bled, you must go on a canyoning adventure! Think of canyoning as a natural water park. Your guide will take you through the rugged canyon filled with obstacles and deep water holes. Climb the rocks, jump off waterfalls, explore caves,  and make your through a beautiful yet rough Slovenian canyon. Safety equipment will be provided.     

Book here

Split: Island Hopping to Brac

Croatia has many islands in the Adriatic Sea, and they are not to be missed! Split is the perfect starting point for a good old island hopping. Take the ferry to the island Brac and explore the rugged landscapes and tropical beaches. If you are really getting into the relaxation-mode, we recommend you hit the beach of Zlatni Rat located on the South coast. This beach is also known as the ‘Golden Horn’ and it probably has the most crystal-clear water in the world.

Sarajevo: Night Hike Trebevic Mountain

A lot of people have been hiking before, but only a few have been night hiking. Just outside Sarajevo rises the Trebevic mountain and overlooks the city and the region. Leave the city in the afternoon and begin your hike through the Balkan forest and admire the sunset covering the mountains. At the summit, you will be able to see the busy life of Sarajevo in the valley, but you will hear complete silence and notice the millions of stars above you. Celebrate your achievement with a drink at the local mountain huts nearby.

Sarajevo: Hiking in Sutjeska National Park

Visit the Yosemite of Southeast Europe! A two-hour drive from Sarajevo you’ll find yourself deep into the majestic canyon of Sutjeska River. Walk around in the thick Bosnian forest and take a peek at the Skakavac waterfall in the valley of Perucica. At the edge of the forest lies the glacier lake Trnovacko surrounded by great mountains. Have an ice-cold refreshing swim, enjoy your lunch and head back to civilization while the sun is setting. Take the opportunity to experience this unspoiled and almost unknown hike.

Book here

Foca: White River Rafting

A short bus ride from Sarajevo lies the city, Foca which is a starting point for thrilling white river rafting. Bosnia and Herzegovina is well known for its white river rafting. To be more specific, Bosnia has four white rivers which all rank amongst Europe’s best class rivers. This adventure will jump your adrenaline and surprise you with untouched wilderness and stunning landscapes.

Book here

Mostar: Stari Most Bridge

The Stari Most bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks of Bosnia and deserves a visit. A masterpiece built in 1566 and destroyed in 1993 in the Bosnian war, the bridge now stands majestic again. The young local men are showcasing their pride and manhood by jumping off the 24-meter-high arch. Pay this unique architectural wonder a visit on your journey!

Kotor: Sea Kayaking

Do a day tour of sea kayaking in the Adriatic Sea and experience the famous and spectacular Blue Cave. Make yourself comfortable in a stable kayak and explores the open sea of Balkan while soaking the sun and fresh air. Your guide will show you the hidden caves along the coastline. Eventually, your guide takes you to the Blue Cave where the sunlight hits the sandy bottom and reflects up through the water coloring the entire cave blue. Finish off by swimming in the crystal-clear water.  

Book here

Tirana: Buggy Group Tour (2 days)

Go on a unique Buggy group tour and combine adrenaline and adventure with local Albanian culture. This tour is available while you are in Tirana and will let you discover the full face of the Albanian South. Drive around with your group and guide in the Albanian landscape and visit the natural wonders of Albania. You will come across mountains, waterfalls, mysterious caves, canyons, and deep valleys. At night time you will be welcomed by a local shepherd where you will eat and sleep in a traditional stone shepherd hut. This tour is the best of the best and truly the Albanian way.

Book here

Vlorë: KALA Festival

KALA Festival is Albanian’s newest international music festival, but it has already got itself a reputation as one of the best summer festivals in the world. KALA takes place in Dhërmi (50 min. by bus from Vlorë), a stunning beach location on the Albanian Riviera which is cut off from the rest of the world.  During the day you can enjoy the incredible beaches and go on adventure excursions. At night, some of the best DJ’s and live acts will turn up the party. Visit this upcoming festival before its too late!

Budapest: Kiraly Bath

Visit the Kiraly Bath in the center of Budapest and travel back to the 16th century. Kiraly Bath is the oldest thermal bath in all of Budapest and it is screaming for restoration which only adds on to the atmosphere. Enjoy the tempered pools in the dim light of the sun reaching through the old dome holes. In Kiraly Bath, you will without a doubt experience the history and culture of Budapest firsthand.