A historical view about

Balkan Countries

Cramming in more history, culture, and spectacular scenery than seems entirely reasonable for its size, the Balkans is one of Europe’s most intriguing regions.

Great Outdoors

Rocky mountains and terracotta-roofed towns plunge spectacularly into crystal-clear waters all along the Adriatic coast. Among all the crowded beach resorts, Croatia’s myriad islands provide some nooks of quiet seclusion, while Albania’s less-visited riviera still has donkeys wandering through olive groves abutting secluded bays. Craggy mountain ranges stretch along the entire region, offering endless opportunities for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and paragliding. In their shadows are rowable lakes, raft-able rivers, and scramble-able canyons. Come back in winter and you’ll have access to some of Europe’s most reasonably priced ski resorts.

Home to History

Though change is coming quickly to the Western Balkans, timeless traditions retain their currency – in some parts, even blood feuds aren’t as ancient as they ought to be. It’s a region where you can barely keep up with the nightlife, but still get stuck behind a horse and cart. Urban landscapes are a pop-up book of European architectural history on a grand scale. Winding Ottoman streets are punctuated with Byzantine churches, Austro-Hungarian villas and angular communist-era blocks. Throw in some Roman ruins and Venetian palazzos, then wrap it all in a medieval wall and plonk it by the sea.

Culinary Adventures

Foreign invaders have plundered the Balkans for millennia and the region’s cooks have plundered right back, incorporating Venetian, Austrian, Hungarian, and Ottoman flavors into the mixing pot. You might tuck into crumbed schnitzel in Ljubljana, seafood risotto in Split, octopus carpaccio in Budva, spicy goulash in Novi Sad, flaky burek (savory pastry) in Sarajevo, a meaty kebab in Kosovo, blissful baklava in Tirana, and stuffed peppers in Skopje. Locally produced olive oil, truffles, and wine hold their own against the best in the world, as does the seafood, herb-grazed lamb, and abundant bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Cultural Pursuits

Aside from the ever-present architectural legacy, the Balkans are liberally scattered with artistic treasures, from church frescoes to Socialist Modernist sculptures and an edgy contemporary art scene. You’re likely to stumble on streetside klapa (unaccompanied vocal harmony) performances in Dalmatia, plaintive sevdah singers in Bosnia, bards wielding gusle (single-stringed instruments) in Montenegro, and upbeat Roma trubači (trumpet bands) in Serbia. Religious festivities are celebrated with gusto, as are film festivals, outdoor performances of theatre and classical music, and the large alternative and electronic dance music festivals that attract thousands of visitors every summer.

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