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Category: Montenegro

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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Exploring the highlights of the Adriatic Coast

The Balkan Peninsula is a splendid area with many beautiful sights to see, so the highlights of the Adriatic Coast listed below, might make you wanna choose to visit this…

The Balkan Peninsula is a splendid area with many beautiful sights to see, so the highlights of the Adriatic Coast listed below, might make you wanna choose to visit this region for your next escape.

Dubrovnik – Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

 Due to its rich cultural heritage and considerable beauty, the “Old City of Dubrovnik” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The city walls are a major tourist attraction and are open to visitors throughout the year. Although it can take a couple of hours to walk around the walls, the views over the terracotta rooftops below and across the sea are truly spectacular. The cable car also offers breathtaking views over the city, coastline and mountains.

The Old Town is spectacularly beautiful with stunning architecture and interesting side streets with many shops and restaurants just waiting to be explored.

Korcula – Croatia

Korcula island055

 The island of Korcula is situated in the Dalmatian archipelago. The medieval Old Town is surrounded by a stone wall and has many historic sites including the Cathedral of St Mark, the Town Hall and the city fortifications.

This is a charming place to explore the numerous palaces, monuments and narrow streets with many shops, bars and restaurants. The spectacular Moreska Sword Dance is performed weekly during the tourist season.

Kotor – Montenegro

Bay of Kotor

 The old port of Kotor is situated at the end of Kotor Bay, often referred to as Europe’s most southern fjord. The scenery surrounding Kotor Bay is magnificent, and the scenic approach to Kotor by boat is both spectacular and memorable.

With a backdrop of rugged mountains and pine trees and surrounded by impressive medieval walls, this beautiful town’s architecture has many Venetian influences. As you stroll around you will find intriguing historic buildings, interesting squares and narrow streets filled with shops and restaurants.

The “Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Budva – Montenegro

Old City Scene from Citadel - Budva - Montenegro - 01

The coastal area is known as the Budva Riviera and is the centre of Montenegrin tourism. The small but charming old town with its winding cobbled streets is interesting to explore. The Citadel, located within the walls of the old town, is the main historic attraction.

Venice – Italy


Founded in the 5th century, “Venice and its Lagoon” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city centre is a pedestrian area so it’s easy to walk around and take in the many famous sights. Wherever you go there are hidden passageways, intriguing shops, museums and galleries and an abundance of superb restaurants.

Venice highlights include St Mark’s Square and the beautiful St Mark’s Basilica, the Gothic arches and marble façade of the Doges Palace, the Doges’ private apartments and the Bridge of Sighs.

After a day’s sightseeing or shopping, glide through the canals on a gondola, the city’s most famous form of transport.

Take a trip to any of these alluring spots or even extend your holiday to visit a few – you probably deserve it after all.

Images by S J Pinkney, Britrob, amira_a, Adam Jones and John Fowler used under creative commons license.


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Bar To Belgrade By Train – The Most Scenic Eastern European Train Ride

Everyone has heard about the Bergen railway, Flam railway and Glacier Express, but what about the Eastern Europe and its railway routes? One route that definitely deserves attention is the…

Everyone has heard about the Bergen railway, Flam railway and Glacier Express, but what about the Eastern Europe and its railway routes? One route that definitely deserves attention is the one from Bar to Belgrade, which connects the Montenegrin coast with the capital of Serbia.

Not only does this route include breathtaking mountain scenery but also the crossing of 254 tunnels and 435 bridges of which the most impressive one is Mala Rijeka viaduct- the world’s highest railway viaduct.

Here are some basic facts;

Fares and timetable

For fares and timetable click here. You’ll need to enter the stations and the date first to get the prices.


17 hours, 550 km

The train leaves Bar at 5pm and arrives in Belgrade next morning at 10am.

When to go


Points of interest

Montenegro: Lake Skadar, the highest railway viaduct at Mala Rijeka, Moraca valley

Serbia: Kumanica monastery, Lim river, Zlatibor, Belgrade

I have traveled this route in August 2014 and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences. You might want to make a reservation a day or two earlier because 3-berth compartments may be taken really fast. I’ve bought a ticket in 6-berth compartment and went to the platform. There was a column of people, many of which with children, who were moving from car to car without knowing in which one to enter. The whole mess lasted about 20-30 minutes, after which the train whistled and finally moved.

Bar train station

Bar train station

Belgrade Bar by train

6-berth compartment

Belgrade Bar by train 2

I got a bed on top which involved climbing the ladder, and there we were… a Serb, Macedonian, an Englishman and Russian in a small 6-berth compartment which was a bit claustrophobic. The temperature was high but the refreshment came almost immediately after the departure of the train. Getting a supply of food and drinks is recommended because there’s no restaurant in the train. There are a couple of restaurants and shops near the train station where you can buy things.

You may wonder why it takes 17 hours for 550 km of travel? It’s even more bizarre that in 2014 it takes 17 hours while in 1975 it just took 7 hours to reach Bar from Belgrade. Welcome to the Balkans! However, there is a reason for this. During the nineties, this railway suffered from underfunding which has resulted in the railway deteriorating. Also, this line has been the target of NATO bombing in 1999, when parts of the tracks were seriously damaged.

As soon as the train passed the tunnel Sozina which is the longest one on this route (6 km), majority of people left their compartments and stood by the windows enjoying the beautiful scenery. A train passes by lake Skadar which is splendid, before arriving in the Montenegrin capital to pick up the passengers. The most impressive moments of the journey were crossing the viaduct Mala Rijeka, as well as passing through the canyon of Moraca river.

Belgrade Bar by train 3 - Lake Skadar

Lake Skadar

Belgrade Bar by train 4

Leaving Podgorica

Belgrade Bar by train 5

Belgrade Bar by train 6

Belgrade Bar by train 7

Mala Rijeka viaduct

The passage is full of students who are talking about the exams that await them, older people who debate about politics and crying children, but they all have something in common – not taking their eyes off the beautiful landscape. I had the opportunity to meet a few Polish girls in a train, who have shared their cherry vodka with me and my friend, and made this journey even more interesting. Cherry vodka, the wind blowing your hair and amazing scenery… what else can you wish for?

Belgrade Bar by train 8

Belgrade Bar by train 9

Belgrade Bar by train 10

Belgrade Bar by train 11

 After 175 km the train arrives at the border with Serbia, more precisely, at the border crossing Bijelo Polje. By then it’s already dark outside and everybody is back in their compartments for the passport check. Majority of people decided to sleep or have a rest, while outside there were just people who were having a smoke. Traveling through the Serbian countryside and seeing the moon shining down on isolated homes is also an unforgettable experience.

The next morning, the passage was again full of people with their heads out of the window, anxiously awaiting to see a symbol of Belgrade – Avala Tower, and to arrive in the capital.

Belgrade Bar by train 13

Slowly approaching Belgrade

Belgrade Bar by train 14

Abandoned train cars

Belgrade Bar by train 15

Final destination – Belgrade

Have you ever traveled this route before? Is there a train ride that you will never forget? Feel free to comment below.

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