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Category: Nature & Outdoors

Hiking Serbia’s Dry Mountain

Serbia has some great mountains but one in particular seems to be very underrated. Suva Planina (meaning the Dry Mountain) is especially beautiful but still not enough known among travelers….

Serbia has some great mountains but one in particular seems to be very underrated. Suva Planina (meaning the Dry Mountain) is especially beautiful but still not enough known among travelers.

One of the reasons why this place hasn’t grown into a famous tourist attraction is poor infrastructure, so you’ll need to arm yourself with a lot of patience if you decide to explore it. However, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views and solitude.

This area is a popular excursion destination for the citizens of Nis, Serbia’s third largest city. But for people who love hiking Dry mountain offers well-marked trails to the peaks.

The highest peak is Trem (meaning porch) at 1,810 m. Other peaks that also deserve attention are Mosor (this one is especially popular among climbers) and Sokolov kamen.

One thing I suggest you do during your planning process is check the weather forecast for the mountain. Great website for that is Mountain Forecast.

Suva planina Serbia, Dry mountain Serbia

Suva planina Serbia

Suva planina Serbia 2, Dry mountain

Suva planina Serbia 3, Dry mountain

Suva planina Serbia 5, Dry mountain

How to get there

There’s a daily service from Nis to Gornja Studena which is a village at the bottom of the mountain. Unfortunately, from there to the mountain hut “Bojanine vode” you’ll need to walk 5 km as the bus doesn’t go all the way up. You can easily hitch a ride though and some people will probably offer to take you there which will save you a lot of time. I had a bumpy ride on a tractor from the village to the hut! 🙂 The trails to the peaks basically start from here and you can opt between three or four great ones.

Suva planina Serbia 4, Dry mountain

On the way to Trem

Where to stay

You can stay in Nis which is 17 km away from the mountain or Niska Banja which is a little bit closer. Niska Banja is basically a spa of Nis and it’s a famous health center in the country. It’s popular among athletes and it has a new modern wellness center. The nearby area also offers great opportunities for active holidays. You can read more in this travel guide to Nis.



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Travel Guide To Nis – Serbia’s Undiscovered Gem

Serbia is still insufficiently known country in terms of tourism and the first associations related to it are usually great nightlife of the capital and the world-famous Exit festival. However,…

Serbia is still insufficiently known country in terms of tourism and the first associations related to it are usually great nightlife of the capital and the world-famous Exit festival. However, if you decide to look deeper you’ll find more fascinating gems that wait to be discovered by more travelers.

One such gem is Nis, the third largest city in the country. Due to its geographic position Nis has always been considered a gateway between East and the West and one of the most famous military roads in the world called Via Militaris used to run through its territory.

The city is most proud of the fact that Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor and the founder of Constantinople was born here. In 2013, the city was host to the celebration of 1700 years of Constantine’s Edict of Milan.

Besides many important historical monuments, the city offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation in its vicinity, it’s proud of its food and maybe most of all its hospitality. Indeed, many people will say you haven’t actually been to Serbia without visiting its south.

The bloody history of Nis

The fortress in the very center of the city is the most famous tourist attraction. The oldest remains such as the tombstones and thermal baths are linked to the Roman era. Given the fact that the fortress was destroyed and renovated several times, it was in hands of many conquerors, among them the Ottomans. Some rare objects that have been preserved from Turkish times are a hamam and mosque which is now being used as an art gallery.

Nis Fortress, Serbia

The monument which perhaps speaks the most about the brutal history of this city is the Skull tower. It was built after the defeat at the Battle of Cegar in 1809, during the First Serbian Uprising. Turks have built this tower which consisted of 952 skulls of Serbian soldiers. Today however, only 54 stay on it. Upon visiting Nis in 1830, a French romantic poet Alphonse de Lamartine said that the Skull tower was one of the most horrific things he’s seen.

Another sad reminder of a recent history is Bubanj Memorial Park which was built to commemorate the shooting of more than 10,000 citizens of Nis during the Second World War. It’s one of the most famous monuments of this kind in the former Yugoslavia and it consists of three concrete obelisks which symbolize men’s, women’s and children’s hands that defy the enemy.

The citizens of Nis were brought here from the Red Cross concentration camp which was operated by Germans during the Second World War. This is one of the best preserved camps in Europe and a little known fact is that the largest escape from all the camps on the continent was organized here.

Red Cross concentration camp Nis, Serbia

City of burek and “Chaos”

Nis’ main pedestrian street is full of traditional restaurants and cafes where you can sit and relax after sightseeing. The city is famous for its burek, a pastry filled with meat or cheese but there are other varieties too. The recipe for round burek was developed in Nis back in 1498 by a famous Turkish baker Mehmed Oglu from Istanbul and since then it got spread all over the country and beyond. The city hosts an annual burek competion and the world’s biggest burek was made here – its diameter was 2 meters long.

Chaos? Nothing to worry about. It’s just the name of a salad which consists of cream cheese in oil mixed with ground peppers and garlic. Other popular dishes are the shopska salad, cevapcici and pljeskavica – better known as the Balkan burger. When it comes to drinks, a local favorite is rakija, a brandy made from various fruits. The city prides itself on its traditional spirit which is reflected in high number of taverns.

The Alps at the South of Serbia

Just ten kilometers away of the city center there’s a Spa of Nis, a famous health center in Serbia. It is very well known for its hot, radioactive water containing radon. The spa is especially popular among athletes and has a new modern wellness center.

The vicinity of Nis is rich in natural beauties. Suva planina (meaning the Dry Mountain), which was named as the ‘Alps at the South of Serbia’ by the most famous Serbian geographer Jovan Cvijic is especially attractive. Its highest peak called Trem (1810 m) is very popular among mountaineers. There are several trails that are well-marked and which lead to several peaks that offer beautiful views. Mountains in the vicinity of Nis are also ideal for mountain running, climbing, rock climbing, speleology etc.

Suva planina, Serbia

Suva planina Serbia

Cerje Cave for example offers ideal conditions for tours that are tailored to different interests (educational, sports and adventurous visits etc.). For water sports enthusiasts there are opportunities for rafting and kayaking on the river Nisava.

How to get there

Starting from June 29th WizzAir will add flights to Nis from Basel/Mulhouse and to Malme – Sweden from June 25th. However, the best way to reach the city is by bus. ‘Nis Express’ has 22 daily services to Nis from the capital city Belgrade and the journey takes about 3 hours.



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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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5 Idyllic Areas In France For An Active Holiday

Over recent year, France has really come into its own as one of the world’s top holiday destinations, especially for UK tourists. This of course comes largely down to the…

Over recent year, France has really come into its own as one of the world’s top holiday destinations, especially for UK tourists. This of course comes largely down to the frankly brilliant transport connections to the continent which are being refined and stepped up year after year, but more so than ease of access to the country, Brits and others are just beginning to find out about so many of France’s long-time hidden haunts.

So, if you’ve been thinking of heading over to France this year and would like something a little off the overly-beaten path, you simply cannot go wrong with any of the following five idyllic areas in France:

Midi-Pyrénées Camping

In the summertime at least, the Midi-Pyrénées is the place to head for the very best weather in all of France and guaranteed sunshine. Well, almost guaranteed! It’s an area that’s bursting at every seam with incredible mountains, valleys and gorges which come together to present some of the most spectacular cycling, walking and camping opportunities anywhere in Europe. A true haven especially for the families, it can also be surprisingly cheap to rent a delightful hut for the week, or better yet bring along your own tents for further savings!

Auvergne Volcanic Adventures

One of France’s best-kept secrets is undoubtedly the country’s central Auvergne region, which presents no less than 80 volcanic peaks and boasts some truly spectacular landscapes. You’ll be able to explore the peaks of ancient volcanoes and climb the country’s largest for incredibly views – the Puy de Dôme.

Brittany Beach Life

Of course, few places in France can promise quite the same quintessentially French experience as Brittany. Spend your days unwinding on the beaches or bring along the bikes and head out on an adventure – you’ll be spoilt for choice! What’s great for UK travelers is that Brittany Ferries are right now offering some great holidays with ferry travel included. Visit their website as they are currently offering 20% off holidays during school holidays.

Argeles-sur-Mer Seaside Treats

When it comes to the blending the bliss of the beach with the most astounding natural wonders in France, nowhere does it better than Argeles-sur-Mer. Here’s where you’ll see the Pyrenees finally giving way to the ocean, with a six-mile stretch of beach the likes of which is absolutely drenched in sunshine for the whole of the summer.

Menton’s Old World Charms

Last but not least, for a heady blend of the best elements of the Côte-d’Azur without the clichés and the unnecessarily high prices, Menton is the place to head. Again blessed with stunning natural beauty and all the thrills you’d expect from any high-class coastal resort, Menton just doesn’t have that kind of snootiness you’d find if you holidayed a little further to the west. Instead, it’s all about family-friendliness, wonderful old-town streets to explore and that genuine feeling of discovery you just do not get from the more obvious French holiday hotspots.

Photo by leshaines123 on Flickr under CC

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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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Stunning Scenery: Natural Marvels in Turkey

Nature, culture, history, gastronomy … the truth is that Turkey has all the ingredients to make a country the perfect destination for all kinds of travelers. Most visitors limit their…

Nature, culture, history, gastronomy … the truth is that Turkey has all the ingredients to make a country the perfect destination for all kinds of travelers. Most visitors limit their stay to Istanbul or the beach resorts in the Aegean or Mediterranean coast, but it would be a pity to miss out on the natural scenery that dominates other parts of this huge country. Destinations like Cappadocia or Pamukkale are well known to most visitors, but relatively few venture into the landscapes of the Black Sea region or Eastern Turkey. If you’re already about to make your way over on flights to Turkey and ready to explore the lesser-known side of the country, read through the handpicked destinations listed below. They’re a mixture of the popular and of gems you can beat the hordes to.

Here are some of the best natural marvels in Turkey;


Cappadocia balloons

The eerie landscapes of Cappadocia have fascinated travelers for centuries. This region is one of Turkey’s most visited areas, but its beauty makes it a port of call that you’d regret not making a stop at. Millions of years of exposure to the elements have shaped Cappadocia’s landscapes into something seemingly out of this world. Whether seen from a hot air balloon or from the ground, Cappadocia’s singular rock formations will make you feel as if you had just landed in a different planet.

The towns of Nevsehir and Goreme are the gateways to the region, but it pays to venture a little further and explore villages like Uchisar, Avanos, or Ibrahimpaşa. For a change of scenery, head to the beautiful Ilhara canyon, where the greenery contrasts with Cappadocia’s earthy, otherworldly tones.


Pamukkale Turkey

If Mother Nature was an artist, it would have surely won many awards for creating Pamukkale. This region is covered in cotton-like white minerals that truly pay homage to its name, as Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. Dozens of cascading hot springs form natural bathing pools, creating a surreal landscape that will make an impression on even the most seasoned travelers. Late summer is the best time to visit this area.

Yedigoller National Park

Yedigoller national park Turkey

Tucked away in the little visited Black Sea region, Yedigoller National Park is a remarkable natural paradise. Yedigoller (which means “Seven Lakes” in Turkish) is every bit as impressive as the mountain landscapes of places like Western Canada or the Alps, but to appreciate the beauty at its best you should visit during the late summer of the spring, when the leaves turn vivid red, orange, and yellow tones. The park is accessible from Bolu, an interesting city known for its hearty cuisine, cool architecture, and hot springs.

Güzelçamlı National Park

Güzelçamlı National Park

Located in Turkey’s Aegean coast and covering nearly 70,000 acres on the Dilek peninsula, Güzelçamlı National Park (also known as Milli Park) is a compulsory stop for nature lovers who want to experience the best of western Turkey. It’s hard to believe that this oasis of peace and quiet is only 15 miles away from Kusadasi, one of the busiest resorts in this part of Turkey. Güzelçamlı is the ideal spot to spend a day hiking, taking pictures, sunbathing in the beaches of the park, exploring gorges and canyons, or enjoying panoramic views over the peninsula and beyond.

To be in Turkey is to be in a captivating country. You can explore the tourist sights and also make the most of the time to see the less touristic ones before the throngs of holidaymakers discover it.

Images by brewbooks, Esther Lee, Serhan Sevim and Nikolay Georgiev used under creative commons license.

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