EuroTribe

your guide to Europe off the beaten path

Category: Greece

7 Cool Museums in the Balkans

Museums are almost always an integral part of everyone’s itinerary when visiting a new destination. Yet, they are not among top associations when you think of the Balkans – it…

Museums are almost always an integral part of everyone’s itinerary when visiting a new destination. Yet, they are not among top associations when you think of the Balkans – it is nightlife, food, lovely beaches and nature. However, Balkan cities have some real hidden gems and fantastic niche museums that are well worth the visit.

From broken relationships to aviation, nuclear bunkers and science or the communist retro past, these 7 cool museums in the Balkans are waiting for you to discover them! Next time you’re in the Balkans look beyond the main attractions and go visit one of these museums.

Museum of Broken Relationships – Zagreb

Museum of Broken Relationships Zagreb

What started as a traveling exhibition ended up being one of Europe’s most innovative museums. The exhibition consists of objects sent by contributors from around the world which are accompanied with a personal story. These objects can be anything from a fluffy toy or music CD to something more extreme such an axe. Stories, on the other hand, hide much more powerful message – they are packed with satire, hatred and hurt.

This is a museum you’ll remember for a lifetime which is not so surprising as it is such an emotional roller coaster. What you may find interesting though is that this museum was founded by two people whose relationship has ended.

If you’ve just suffered from a breakup and want to do something more creative than punching a pillow, sharing your story to the world might be just what you need.

Museum of Aviation – Belgrade

Kamov Ka-25PL at Belgrade Aviation Museum

Photo: Belgrade Aviation Museum by G B_NZ 

If you happen to fly into Nikola Tesla Airport, the main airport serving Serbia’s capital, don’t miss the chance to visit the Museum of Aviation which is right next to it.

You’ll easily recognize its geodesic glass building which houses more than 200 aircraft previously operated by the Yugoslav and Serbian Air Forces. The most important displays include the USAF F-117 Nighthawk and F-16 Fighting Falcon which were shot down during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

There is also an outdoor exhibition with more than 10 large airplanes.

You can also go to the museum by catching the bus #72 from Zeleni Venac station.

Noesis – Science Centre and Technology Museum – Thessaloniki

cool museums in the balkans

Planetarium (Photo: Noesis Museum)

If you’re a science freak you don’t want to miss Noesis – Science Centre and Technology Museum in Greece’s second largest city. Go watch an astronomy show at the Planetarium, a 3D movie in the Cosmotheater or do a ride show at the Motion Simulator.

After the Science Centre go to the Museum which consists of three main exhibitions. One is dedicated to classic cars, the other to technological innovations and works of Ancient Greeks and the last one is Technopark – an interactive area where you can learn more about the world of physics.

It’s a fantastic experience for people of all ages!

Tito’s Atomic Shelter – Konjic

cool museums in the balkans

Photo: Almin Zrno (www.bijenale.ba)

Also known as the Ark, this former nuclear bunker was built to protect President Tito and his close inner circle in case an atomic conflict happened. The bunker is located near the town of Konjic in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the public only heard about it after the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

It was one of the largest underground complexes in the former Yugoslavia. To get an idea of how big it is, it had Tito’s residence which consists of 5 rooms, over 100 rooms in general, two conference centers, two kitchens and even a fully operational hospital.

You are allowed to sit in Tito’s chair and take photos by his portraits. The bunker also has an art installation from various European artists.

Retro Museum – Varna

If you’re a fan of history you’re gonna love Retro Museum in Varna which opened its doors in 2015. This relatively new museum will take you back in the period between 1944-1989 during which socialism flourished in Bulgaria and other countries. The highlight of the museum is the rich collection of 50 cars which includes some legendary names such as Trabant, Volga, Wartburg, and Moskvich.

Walking along the red carpet you’ll pass by figures of Lenin, Stalin, Karl Marx and other leaders of the socialist movement. The museum also has a nice collection of household items, cigarettes, food, cosmetics and other brand products people used under the Communist regime.

If you happen to visit the Bulgarian coast for holidays and stay in Sunny Beach or Golden Coast, considering stopping in Varna and visit this interesting museum.

Museum of Yugoslav History and House of Flowers, Belgrade

cool museums in the balkans

No visit to Belgrade could be complete without visiting the Museum of Yugoslav History and the House of Flowers – the resting place of Josip Broz Tito and his ex-wife Jovanka Broz. Every year on May 25th Yugonostalgics from Serbia and the former states flock here to commemorate his birthday.

The museum has more than 200,000 artifacts showing the history of Yugoslavia and its nations. Museums are mainly centered around Tito, the gifts he received from youth, workers and foreign politicians. The Museum 25th May is also part of this large complex and is included in your ticket. At the moment it is hosting a fantastic exhibition dedicated to Yugoslav workers in Germany and Austria on temporary work.

Plan at least half a day for a visit to this complex. You won’t be disappointed.

BUNK’ART,  Tirana

Bunk Art 2

Photo: Bunk Art

Albania is one of the countries that suffered the most from the Communist regime. It is home to thousands and thousands of bunkers that you’ll spot pretty much everywhere – on mountains, beaches, cities. In fact, just after leaving the Warsaw Pact the country built 700,000 of them.

Since they were extremely hard to destroy locals found the way to make them a bit more aesthetically pleasing by being artistic and decorating them in different colors.

BUNK’ART is a place where you can learn more about Albanian history during the Communist regime and the lives of its citizens. There’s also another bunker called BUNK’ART 2 which reveals the secrets of Enver Hoxha’s secret police.

Did you like this list? Which cool museums in the Balkans do you recommend?

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Five Great Hikes in the Balkans

The Balkans are a fantastic place to go hiking or for an outdoors holiday. With plenty of mountains, lakes, and forests, the Balkans offer a true opportunity for adventure and…

The Balkans are a fantastic place to go hiking or for an outdoors holiday. With plenty of mountains, lakes, and forests, the Balkans offer a true opportunity for adventure and some of the most spectacular views. You can always choose between short and long distance hiking trails, depending on your level of fitness and available time.

And if the only thing you’re missing is inspiration here are the five great hikes in the Balkans;

Mount Olympus

The highest mountain in Greece and the home of Greek gods according to Greek mythology, Mount Olympus has always attracted the attention of people. The mountain is located 80 km southwest of Thessaloniki and is relatively easy to get to. It offers numerous hiking paths, among which the Litochoro – Prionia – Spilios Agapitos is the most popular.

The route consists of walking along the beautiful Enipea Canyon, Agios Dionysios monastery, spectacular Enipea waterfalls and more. Due to many ascents and descents, it is more suitable for experienced hikers.

If you decide to stay on the mountain you can sleep in one of the refuges. The one in Agapitos is the most popular.

The length of the route is 17 km and it takes around 8 hours to complete it.

Rtanj Mountain

Rtanj won’t top the lists of the biggest mountains in Serbia but it is definitely one of its most mysterious. With its pyramidal shape, there were many theories of the existence of this mountain. Some believe it is alien’s creation while others sought shelter prior the famous Mayan doomsday which obviously didn’t happen.

Theories aside, Rtanj mountain is a beautiful hiking spot with lovely villages in its vicinity. It is also famous for local tea called Rtanj which has many health benefits.

Rtanj’s highest peak Siljak offers beautiful views of the area and the mountain is home to many rare healing herbs. The mountain is best accessible from the town of Boljevac.

> Accommodation in and around Boljevac 

Vitosha Mountain

Vitosha mountain dominates Sofia’s cityscape and is the city’s most notable symbol. It is one of Bulgaria’s best mountains for hiking, skiing, and alpinism and is also the oldest natural park in the Balkans.

The best hiking paths on Vitosha are Aleko Hut – Cherni Vrah peak; Boyana Church – Boyana Waterfall and Vladaya – Golden Bridges.

Boyana is Sofia’s elite suburb and Boyana Church is listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

The easiest way to get to the mountain is with a bus or a taxi. Buses can have sometimes irregular schedules and taxis are inexpensive so I’d recommend saving time by going with the latter option. If you don’t have time to organize this daily trip by yourself you can choose to book a tour to the mountain. Also, don’t forget to check out my detailed guide to Sofia.

> Accommodation in Sofia

The Accursed Mountains

The Accursed Mountains have always topped the lists of great hikes in the Balkans, and Europe in general. There are three national parks situated in the mountains – one is in Montenegro and the other two in Albania.

One of Europe’s most remote areas, the Accursed Mountains offer beautiful scenery, picturesque villages and a real mental challenge! This walk is best for the more experienced hikers.

You can start your tour from the town of Shkoder and pay a visit to the nearby Rozefa fortress. Albania used to be isolated for years, however, that’s slowly changing and the country is drawing more attention thanks to its beautiful beaches and the Accursed Mountains. You can read more about my journey to Albania here.

Durmitor Mountain

Durmitor is a national park in northern Montenegro. This area is famous for the Tara Canyon which is the deepest in Europe. The town of Zabljak from where most hikes are starting is the highest populated town in the Balkans.

Durmitor is mostly known for its glacier lakes. There’s 18 of them and Crno Jezero (Black Lake) is the most famous. It is very close from the main town of Zabljak. Crno Jezero is a good starting point for half-day and daily hikes.

Walking through beautiful forests, admiring the lakes and tasting authentic local cuisine, are one of the top and must have experiences in Northern Montenegro. These features regularly place the mountain among the greatest hikes in the Balkans.

> Accommodation in Zabljak

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7 Fantastic Walks in Eastern Europe

Eastern Europe offers some fantastic opportunities for walking and not just in the countryside and wilderness, but also in its cities rich with culture and history. Not only will you…

Eastern Europe offers some fantastic opportunities for walking and not just in the countryside and wilderness, but also in its cities rich with culture and history. Not only will you explore new places, but walking is also a fun recreational activity suitable for all ages. Here are my picks for the 7 fantastic walks in Eastern Europe:

The Castle District and The Old Town, Prague

Prague is definitely one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and the best way to explore it is to start from the Castle District. The Prague Castle is the seat of the Czech president and it’s one of the most famous attractions in the city. The views from the top are amazing and from here you can get down to the Charles Bridge which is flooded by tourists, musicians and painters. Continuing to the Old Town you’ll see numerous historic buildings including the famous Astronomical Clock.

View from the Charles Bridge Prague

Meteora, Greece

You don’t get to walk in “the middle of the sky” every day. Well, that’s what Meteora basically means in Greek. This complex consists of 24 monasteries located on immense rocks which were split by earthquakes a million of years ago. This place served as a shelter for those people who seeked spiritual isolation, and considering that they had to use ladders and ropes to inhabitate this unfriendly area, it’s pretty amazing to imagine what they’ve done. However, only six remain today and they are part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Walking is definitely the best way to explore Meteora and to enjoy truly breathtaking views and that’s the reason why so many tourist agencies offer interesting hiking tours.

Meteora monasteries

Durmitor and Northern Montenegro

The best way to explore Durmitor national park is to start from Zabljak, which is the highest populated town in the Balkans. 18 glacial lakes also known as the “mountain eyes” add so much to the beauty of this place. The park has more than 200km of marked hiking trails that pass through pine forests and numerous springs. I also suggest a visit to the Holy Trinity Monastery in Pljevlja which is hidden in the woods and has one of the richest art collections in the ex-Yugoslav countries.

Holy Trinity Monastery Pljevlja Montenegro

Old Town, Warsaw

Surely there are more beautiful historic centres in Europe but Warsaw deserves to be a part of this list mainly because of the reconstruction of its urban core after the WW2. It’s just amazing to walk its streets and to imagine that 90% of the city was completely demolished and that exactly looked like this. The historic centre is surrounded by Barbican  – one of the few remaining fortifications in Warsaw. Other prominent tourist attractions in the Old Town include the Royal Castle, St. John’s Cathedral and the Sigismund’s Column.

Old town Warsaw

Eastern Serbia

If you want to escape from civilization Eastern Serbia is a place to go! This hidden gem is famous for its fascinating beauties, waiting to be discovered by more travelers. Picturesque villages located below Stara planina, the highest mountain in eastern Serbia, Zavoj lake with ideal places for camping and interesting geological forms are definitely gonna attract more travelers interested in adventure tourism to this area. For instance, Dry Mountain is a great place for hiking as it offers breathtaking views from the top and it often gathers mountaineers from various parts of the Balkans.

Zavoj lake Serbia

Skocjan Educational Trail, Slovenia

You definitely shouldn’t miss Skocjan Caves once in Slovenia as this place ideally combines beautiful nature and cultural heritage. The underground canyon of Skocjan caves is the largest of its kind in the world and touring this place will make you feel like you’re in an Indiana Jones movie! The most impressive part is walking down the stairs and reaching the bridge inside the cave which is located above the Reka river, some 45 meters above. The cave is surrounded by Skocjan and Betanja villages which are also part of the Skocjan Educational Trail and they are also worth exploring because of the rich cultural heritage and great hiking paths.

Skocjan caves Slovenia

Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul

Walking down this street for the first time will surely never leave your memory. With a never ending flow of people, art galleries, cinemas, libraries, historical patisseries, cafes and restaurants you’ll be like Alice in Wonderland.  The only thing that can interrupt your walk are beautiful historic red trams which are the symbol of the city.  However don’t just walk the Istiklal street, but also explore the alleyways with markets and restaurants.

Istiklal avenue

What’s your most memorable walk?

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Postcards from Delphi, ‘the center of the world’

Delphi is a modern town in Greece and also an archaeological site which is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The modern town of Delphi is a popular…

Delphi is a modern town in Greece and also an archaeological site which is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The modern town of Delphi is a popular tourist destination nowadays, with lots of hotels and guesthouses, souvenir shops and tavernas. In October there are less crowds than usual, and I’ve only had the chance to discover Delphi at night, while the town sleeps. Narrow streets, shut blinds on windows of the houses, beautiful balconies with colorful flowers and a few retro cars are some of the things that you can see in the town at night. What are the advantages of discovering the town at night? It’s interesting, adventurous and calm!

 A lot of people come here to discover the Archaeological site which represents the most famous oracle of the ancient Greece. It is also known as “the center of the world”.

 Besides its cultural and religious importance, one of the “wow factors” of this site is that it is set within a breathtaking landscape.

Archaeological site of Delphi landscape

At the foot of Mount Parnassus, this place was the main cultural and religious center for the Hellenic world.

Archaeological site of Delphi

Archaeological site of Delphi

Treasury of the Boeotians and treasury of the Sicyonians are just some out of many monuments located in Delphi.

Archaeological site of Delphi

Archaeological site of Delphi

Archaeological site of Delphi

The second most important games in Greece where held here every four years- Pythian games.

 

How did you like these postcards from Delphi? Let us know in the comments!

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