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Eu absolutamente amo viajar sozinho nos Balcãs! Depois de viajar para mais de 80 países e todos os sete continentes, sempre digo às pessoas que os Balcãs são minha região favorita no planeta. É a verdade. Eu amo isso aqui mais do que em qualquer outro lugar.

Eu amo os Bálcãs porque eles são doidos e bonitos. Eles são esquisitos, adoráveis ​​e são bastante acessíveis em comparação com a Europa Ocidental. Os Balcãs são personificados no verão.

Muitas pessoas ouvem falar de uma mulher viajando sozinha nos Bálcãs e se perguntam: “Os Bálcãs estão seguros?” Para uma mulher viajando sozinha e para as pessoas em geral? A Bósnia é segura para visitar hoje em dia? E o Kosovo? ”

Sim. Hoje, os Bálcãs são um lugar muito seguro para se visitar. Embora tenha havido conflitos nos países dos Balcãs nos últimos 30 anos, hoje eles são um lugar seguro para viajar, mesmo para mulheres que viajam sozinhas. Viajar nos Bálcãs é muito semelhante a viajar para outros lugares da Europa.

Escrevi este guia detalhado para que você possa aproveitar ao máximo minha região favorita do mundo. Está cheio de dicas que adquiri ao longo de vários anos de exploração nos Balcãs. É hora de você planejar!

Esta postagem foi atualizada pela última vez em janeiro de 2020.

Viagem feminina a solo nos Bálcãs - os Bálcãs são seguros? 1
Mapa dos Balcãs via Wikimedia commons

Onde estão os Bálcãs?

Existem muitas definições sobre quais partes da Europa são consideradas “os Bálcãs”. Algumas definições são geográficas e outras são políticas. Veja uma das iterações no mapa acima.

Geralmente, “os Bálcãs” se referem a países ao redor da cordilheira dos Balcãs no sudeste da Europa: os países da ex-Iugoslávia (Eslovênia, Croácia, Sérvia, Bósnia e Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedônia do Norte), além da Albânia, Grécia e Bulgária. Às vezes, partes da Romênia e Turquia são incluídas; às vezes, partes da Eslovênia, Croácia e Sérvia são excluídas.

No entanto, quando os viajantes falam sobre os Balcãs, geralmente se referem aos Balcãs Ocidentais – tudo a oeste da Bulgária e Romênia e norte da Grécia.

Para os fins deste guia, estou cobrindo os Bálcãs como países da antiga Iugoslávia (Eslovênia, Croácia, Sérvia, Bósnia e Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedônia do Norte) e Albânia.

Kate posa na frente de um pôr do sol em Zadar, Croácia.
Na minha primeira viagem aos Balcãs: Croácia em 2012

Por que viajar sozinho para os Balcãs?

Se você passou por Londres e Paris, passou um tempo na Itália e atravessou a Espanha de trem, e está pronto para algo diferente e incomum, os Bálcãs são o próximo destino! São ótimos países para viajar sozinho, e há um milhão de tipos de viagens que você pode planejar nos Bálcãs.

Aqui estão as melhores razões para viajar para os Balcãs:

Uma região peculiar no coração da Europa. Os Balcãs violam as regras. Aqui você encontrará cidades selvagens e repletas de arte, com arquitetura estranha, aldeias tradicionais fascinantes, bandas de música descoladas, vinhos incomuns e pessoas orgulhosas que estão convencidas de que você chegou ao melhor lugar do planeta.

Lagos de néon brilhantes, rios e cachoeiras. Nesta parte da Europa, os lagos e rios costumam estar saturados – turquesa neon cintilante, verde-azulado e verde esmeralda. Do rio em Mostar às cachoeiras do Parque Nacional Krka, à Baía de Kotor e ao Lago Bled, você vai adorar as massas de água aqui.

Uma excelente cultura de café. Uma das minhas coisas favoritas sobre os Balcãs – eles amam seus cafés! E seja Liubliana, Eslovênia ou Bitola, norte da Macedônia, há ruas cheias de cafés. Você recebe cafés durante o dia, coquetéis à noite e as ruas dos cafés são a lugar para ver e ser visto ao pôr do sol.

Costa espetacular. A Croácia pode ter a costa mais famosa dos Bálcãs, mas Montenegro e Albânia também abrigam praias deslumbrantes. A Bósnia e a Eslovênia também têm costas piscantes e você sentirá falta dela. O litoral nesta parte do mundo é rochoso, não arenoso, e a água é cercada por aldeias com telhados alaranjados.

Custo-benefício. Na maior parte, os Bálcãs oferecem uma excelente relação custo / benefício em comparação com os destinos da Europa Ocidental. Dubrovnik é de longe o destino mais caro nos Bálcãs, mas quase todos os outros lugares são significativamente mais baratos.

Os países mais baratos dos Bálcãs são Albânia e Macedônia, e Kosovo, Bósnia, Sérvia e Montenegro interior não estão muito atrás. A Croácia e a Eslovênia são as mais caras e a costa de Montenegro em torno de Kotor e Budva está avançando.

Como em qualquer outro lugar do mundo, cidades e resorts costeiros são mais caros, enquanto áreas rurais, interiores e menos populares são mais baratas.

Lago Bled: um lago azul suave com montanhas ao fundo. À esquerda, há um castelo empoleirado no topo de uma falésia ao lado do lago; à direita, há um prédio branco menor em primeiro plano.
Lago Bled, Eslovênia

Os Bálcãs são bons para viajantes solteiros pela primeira vez?

Penso que dois países nos Balcãs são excelentes opções para viajantes solteiras pela primeira vez: Croácia e Eslovénia. Esses dois países são os mais desenvolvidos dos Balcãs e estão bem equipados para os viajantes solteiros que não têm muita experiência em viagens. Ambos os países têm ótima infraestrutura de viagens e o inglês é amplamente falado.

Você pode ler o meu guia de viagens solo feminino completo para a Croácia aqui.

Se você estiver viajando para Dubrovnik, na Croácia, convém visitar Mostar, na Bósnia, e Kotor, no Montenegro, que são viagens populares de um dia a partir de Dubrovnik. Eu acho que esses dois destinos também funcionariam bem para viajantes solteiras pela primeira vez. Ambos possuem boa infra-estrutura de viagem e são cidades bonitas e fáceis de visitar. No entanto, não faça uma viagem de um dia – é melhor se você passar a noite.

Além disso, os Bálcãs ficam mais desafiadores. A Bósnia, o Montenegro e a Sérvia são menos desenvolvidos que a Croácia e a Eslovênia, e eu acho que elas são mais adequadas para as mulheres que viajam sozinhas pela primeira vez, que já têm uma boa experiência de viagem e que nunca viajaram sozinhas antes.

A Albânia é o país mais difícil dos Balcãs para viajar, devido ao sistema de transporte ímpar e à forte barreira do idioma, e eu não o recomendo para viajantes solteiras pela primeira vez. O norte da Macedônia e o Kosovo não são tão desafiadores quanto a Albânia, mas acho que ambos são mais adequados para viajantes mais experientes.

Passeios nos Bálcãs para viajantes individuais

Se você não tem certeza se está pronto para viajar completamente sozinho, outra opção é participar de uma excursão em grupo! G Adventures é uma empresa com quem já viajei antes e recomendo. Suas turnês são muito amigáveis ​​a solo, mantêm seus grupos pequenos, preocupam-se com a sustentabilidade e têm várias opções de excursão nos Bálcãs.

Aqui estão alguns deles:

  • Zagreb para Atenas: capitais adriáticas e antigas (15 dias, Zagreb para Atenas) – De Zagreb aos lagos Plitvice, costa e ilhas croatas, cidades litorâneas de Montenegro e Albânia, terminando na Grécia.
  • Croácia e Balcãs (15 dias, Budapeste para Split) – De Budapeste a Novi Sad e Belgrado na Sérvia, seguidas de Sarajevo e Mostar na Bósnia, a Baía de Kotor no Montenegro e as ilhas e praias da Croácia, terminando em Split.
  • Descubra os Bálcãs (12 dias, de Zagreb a Dubrovnik) – Esta jornada geográfica nacional concentra-se em profundas experiências culturais na Croácia, Bósnia e Montenegro.
  • Vela Croácia: Split para Dubrovnik (8 dias, Split para Dubrovnik) – Oito dias navegando pelas ilhas e praias da Croácia entre Split e Dubrovnik.
  • Costa da Dalmácia e Montenegro (15 dias, Split para Dubrovnik) – 15 dias navegando pelas belas costas da Croácia e Montenegro.
  • Veja todos os seus passeios nos Balcãs aqui.
Uma mulher passando pelo antigo bazar em Bitola, Macedônia do Norte
Bitola, Macedônia do Norte

Os Bálcãs são bons para viajantes solteiras experientes?

Sim, sim, absolutamente sim. Eu visitei todos os países dos Balcãs durante um período de vários anos e só me apaixonei mais pela região. Comecei em alguns dos lugares mais fáceis (Croácia, Bósnia, Montenegro) e trabalhei até a Albânia ao longo do tempo.

Você pode desfrutar de todas as regiões dos Bálcãs como um viajante individual experiente e não há lugares que eu evitaria de imediato. Há um lugar onde eu planejaria meu tempo com cuidado: Dubrovnik, devido ao seu excesso de turismo em massa. Você pode ler o meu Guia de Sobrevivência de Dubrovnik para descobrir como aproveitar a cidade, evitando as piores multidões.

Além disso, sinto que destinos incomuns nos Bálcãs, como Bitola no norte da Macedônia, Prizren no Kosovo e Sarajevo na Bósnia, serão muito mais apreciados por mulheres que têm mais experiência em viagens. Quanto à Albânia (oh, Albânia…), este país é fascinante, esquisito, difícil e incrivelmente bonito e feio ao mesmo tempo. Eu nunca enviaria um viajante novato para lá, mas é um prazer absoluto se você é um viajante experiente.

Se você quer passear pelas ilhas da Croácia ou se divertir em um festival de música na Sérvia, se deseja caminhar pelas montanhas de Montenegro ou observar as estranhas esculturas de Skopje, os Bálcãs são tudo menos chatos.

Viagem feminina a solo nos Bálcãs - os Bálcãs são seguros? 3
A guerra acabou, mas as cicatrizes permanecem em Sarajevo.

Os Balcãs são seguros?

De um modo geral, os Bálcãs são tão seguros quanto a sua cidade natal – ou talvez até mais seguros. Existem dois grandes equívocos que retratam os Bálcãs como perigosos.

Primeiro, os Bálcãs não estão mais em guerra. Eles são seguros para visitar. Acho que os conflitos dos anos 90 tendem a lançar uma longa sombra, e muitas pessoas assumem que a África do Sul ainda está sofrendo com a violência pós-apartheid, Pol Pot ainda está destruindo o Camboja, Medellín ainda é uma zona de perigo controlada por cartel, a Bósnia ainda está em guerra , e bombas ainda estão caindo no Kosovo. Nada disso acontece há 20 anos.

Ainda assim, lembre-se de que muitos habitantes dos Bálcãs estão vivendo um trauma e as cicatrizes da guerra são visíveis. Você vê buracos de bala em edifícios em Sarajevo e Mostar até hoje. Albaneses e sérvios não podem se suportar. E não mencione a palavra “Kosovo” em um bar em Belgrado ou você poderá se deparar com um silêncio pedregoso. Lembre-se disso quando falar com os habitantes locais.

Em segundo lugar, Ocupado não é real. Infelizmente, esse filme de Liam Neeson fez muito mais para colorir as noções preconcebidas das pessoas sobre os Bálcãs e a Albânia em particular, do que décadas de boa imprensa. Mais seriamente, ampliava o medo de que as jovens que viajam sozinhas pela Europa sejam sequestradas e vendidas como escravas sexuais.

O filme foi lançado em 2008, antes de eu estar blogando em tempo integral sobre viagens individuais com mulheres, mas como uma viajante ávida, me irritou. Isso abalou os temores alarmistas sobre viagens que dominam a mídia americana – o mito de que uma mulher seria louca de viajar para qualquer lugar sem um homem ao seu lado.

Levar Ocupado pelo que é – entretenimento, não realidade.

A verdade? Viajar nos Bálcãs é semelhante ao do resto da Europa, embora as coisas sejam mais lentas e menos desenvolvidas aqui. Seu maior risco ao viajar sozinho nos Bálcãs é um pequeno roubo, assim como no resto da Europa, e é menos provável que você seja roubado aqui do que em Paris ou Barcelona.

A maioria das precauções de segurança nos Bálcãs se resume ao senso comum – trata-se de manter um olho em seus pertences, trancar seus objetos de valor em seu alojamento, observar seu consumo e não confiar rapidamente em estranhos.


Consulte Mais informação:

As 10 principais dicas de segurança de viagens para mulheres


Manhã na Baía de Kotor, Montenegro, telhados laranja e um céu azul brilhante
Amanhecer sobre a Baía de Kotor no Montenegro

Para onde ir nos Balcãs

Os países dos Balcãs estão repletos de atrações interessantes. Você poderia passar seis meses na região e ainda assim gostaria de ter tempo para ver mais. Convido você a passar mais tempo em uma região menor nos Balcãs, em vez de tentar atingir todos os países.

Se você gosta de cidades, os Bálcãs têm muito. Meus favoritos são Liubliana, pelo ambiente e arquitetura perfeitos de contos de fadas; Belgrado, pela história em camadas e vida noturna louca; Sarajevo, para tantas culturas existentes em um só lugar; e Tirana, pela pura estranheza e baixo preço de tudo.

Se você gosta de praias, concentre-se na Croácia e na Albânia. Lembre-se de que as praias aqui são rochosas. Alugue um carro na Albânia para ver as melhores praias, concentrando-se na área em torno de Ksamil e Drymades. Algumas das praias mais bonitas da Croácia ficam ao sul de Dubrovnik e nas ilhas de Hvar e Brač. Zlatni Rat on Brač é uma praia rara na Croácia. Você não pode perder a vista da praia em Sveti Stefan, Montenegro!

Se você gosta de cidades pequenas, esse é um dos maiores pontos fortes dos Bálcãs. Existem muitas cidades pequenas interessantes aqui. Mostar na Bósnia é lindo e tem uma história triste e comovente; Prizren, Kosovo, é uma pequena cidade bonita que desafia todas as noções preconcebidas do país; Ohrid, Macedônia do Norte, é uma cidade divertida em um lago deslumbrante. Minha pequena cidade preferida de todos os tempos nos Balcãs, no entanto, é Zadar, na Croácia, um pequeno enclave à beira-mar que é peculiar e relaxante, da maneira certa.

Se você gosta de maravilhas naturais, mergulhe fundo na natureza. Os Lagos Plitvice, na Croácia, são justificadamente famosos por suas cachoeiras (embora não perca também o Parque Nacional Krka), as Cavernas Skocjan da Eslovênia são fascinantes, e talvez a mais bela atividade de aventura seja rafting no Tara Canyon, na espetacular Durmitor National do Montenegro Parque.

Se você gosta de seguir o caminho mais conhecido, há muitas opções interessantes. Se você gosta de cidades pequenas e legais que não chamam muita atenção, eu gosto muito de Bitola no norte da Macedônia, Idrija na Eslovênia e Berat na Albânia. Para passeios pela natureza, considere as Cataratas de Kravice na Bósnia e na Eslavônia, a região do nordeste da Croácia que recebe muito menos visitantes que a costa.

Kate em um barco a remo no lago Bled, Eslovênia
Kate remando no Lago Bled, Eslovênia

Viagem Solo a Solo na Eslovênia

De todos os países dos Balcãs, a Eslovênia é o país que menos se parece com os outros. Parte disso se deve ao fato de que a cordilheira dos Balcãs atravessa o meio do país. Partes do norte da Eslovênia como Bled se parecem muito mais com a Áustria, enquanto partes do sul da Eslovênia como Piran se parecem mais com a Croácia.

A Eslovênia está entre os países mais desenvolvidos dos Balcãs e é muito fácil viajar para cá. A Eslovênia é uma excelente porta de entrada nos Balcãs. Se você já viajou pelos países mais populares da Europa, a Eslovênia pode ser uma ótima opção para você.

Eu acho que a Eslovênia é uma opção perfeita para viajantes solteiras pela primeira vez, porque é muito fácil, seguro e bonito. Quando você leva em consideração toda a variedade na Eslovênia, das artes à vida urbana, dos pontos de aventura à natureza, pode descobrir o que mais gosta e planejar melhor suas futuras viagens solo.

Sinto que a Eslovênia teria o triplo de visitantes, se as pessoas percebessem o quão encantador é. Tem tanta beleza natural e fácil acesso a aventuras ao ar livre, mas devido ao seu tamanho pequeno, você pode fazer uma extensa viagem por todo o país em apenas 5-7 dias. Eu recomendo explorar a Eslovênia de carro, se puder; você verá muito mais desse jeito.

Uma última coisa: a Eslovênia é o único país dos Balcãs que faz parte do espaço Schengen, portanto, tenha cuidado se você estiver chegando ao seu limite de tempo de 90 dias na zona Schengen.

Viagem feminina a solo nos Bálcãs - os Bálcãs são seguros? 5
Vida de rua em Liubliana
Uma piscina turquesa natural em Garden Village, em Bled, Eslovênia
O resort relaxante na casa da árvore no Garden Village Bled
Cavernas de Skocjan
Cavernas de Skocjan

Melhores coisas para fazer na Eslovênia

Participe do Festival Ana Desenica em Ljubljana. Este festival de teatro de rua acontece todos os anos em junho e é uma magia absoluta – performances e dança e magia e música, muitos dos shows que envolvem espectadores, se você quiser participar. É como o Edinburgh Fringe Festival, mas barato.

Durma em uma casa na árvore em Bled. Um dos meus lugares favoritos que já fiquei foi Garden Village, em Bled, perto do Lago Bled. Este resort sustentável tem casas na árvore onde você pode ficar, mesas cobertas com grama real e uma piscina natural turquesa brilhante.

Explore uma mina de mercúrio em Idrija. Nas profundezas do solo existem minas cheias de um metal tão denso e pesado que vai chocá-lo quando você o pega.

Remar um barco pelo Lago Bled até a ilha. Lake Bled não permite barcos a motor, o que aumenta o charme e mantém as coisas calmas. Vá para a ilha usando seu próprio poder corporal!

Explore as cavernas de Skocjan. Você pode pensar que sabe no que está se metendo – mas as cavernas de Skocjan são ainda maiores e mais profundas do que você imagina.

Comer žlikrofi e beba vinho preto. A comida eslovena não recebe muita atenção internacional, mas esses bolinhos tipo ravióli caem lindamente com os vermelhos mais escuros da Eslovênia.

Passe um fim de semana tranquilo no lago Bohinj. Se você é um campista ou prefere algo com um teto real, este é um lago tranquilo, longe da loucura de Bled.

Obtenha fotografias profissionais tiradas na Eslovênia. Fotos profissionais minhas em minhas viagens são minhas lembranças favoritas absolutas! Seja no Instagram ou em um portfólio profissional, eles não têm preço. O Flytographer oferece pacotes com fotógrafos profissionais de retratos em todo o mundo e eles operam em Liubliana.


Leia mais sobre a Eslovênia:

Ana Desenica: Incrível Festival de Teatro de Rua de Liubliana

A melhor viagem por estrada na Eslovênia


Kate em pé com a cidade antiga de Dubrovnik em segundo plano
Kate em pé acima da cidade velha de Dubrovnik

Viagem Solo Feminino na Croácia

A Croácia é um dos meus países favoritos do mundo, e eu já escrevi um guia de viagens solo feminino para a Croácia que é mais aprofundado do que este post. Muitas pessoas não sabem ao certo como será viajar na Croácia, principalmente na América do Norte, mas acho que é uma ótima opção para mulheres que nunca viajaram sozinhas!

A Croácia possui a melhor infraestrutura de viagens dos oito países dos Balcãs. Como resultado, é um destino de viagem muito popular. A Croácia é onde você encontra mais turistas nos Bálcãs, e Dubrovnik é o único lugar nos Bálcãs com grandes problemas de turismo em excesso durante os meses de verão.

Um erro comum que vejo são as pessoas supondo que a Croácia será barata porque “é a Europa Oriental” (encolher). A Croácia pode ser barata se você aderir a cidades rurais do interior, como Grožnjan, e locais de praia para moradores locais, como Makarska, mas Dubrovnik pode ser extremamente caros e lugares como Rovinj e Hvar não estão muito atrás.

Há um ponto popular na Croácia em que não recomendo gastar tanto tempo: Split. Embora eu tenha gostado muito de passear pelo Palácio de Diocleciano, acho que Split tende a ser invadido por turistas e empresas que os atendem. Minha recomendação? Não faça de Split uma base. Em vez disso, chegue à tarde, visite o palácio, visite um bar de vinhos, passe a noite e vá para uma ilha na manhã seguinte. Zadar fica nas proximidades e é uma base muito melhor que Split.

Minhas outras recomendações principais na Croácia são: viajar por estrada, se você puder (as estradas aqui são ótimas) e passar algum tempo explorando as ilhas.

Finalmente: não há trem para Dubrovnik. Existem algumas rotas de trem na Croácia, mas você precisará pegar um ônibus para Dubrovnik. Mais sobre isso abaixo na seção de transporte.

Telhados alaranjados de Dubrovnik sob um céu azul
Andando pelas paredes de Dubrovnik
Vistas do lago imóvel no Parque Nacional Krka, Croácia
Parque Nacional Krka
Cena de café de rua em frente a um prédio amarelo em Zadar, Croácia.
Vida de café em Zadar

Melhores coisas para fazer na Croácia

Visite o Museu de Relacionamentos Rompidos em Zagreb. Este pode ser o meu museu favorito no planeta. É uma coleção de itens que as pessoas doaram de seus relacionamentos anteriores, além de histórias tristes, doces e engraçadas por trás deles.

Nade nos lagos de água salgada de Mljet. Esta ilha é minha viagem de um dia favorita de Dubrovnik, lar de um parque nacional e de alguns lagos de água salgada verde neon. Perfeito para nadar.

Vá em busca de cachoeiras nos Lagos Plitvice e no Parque Nacional Krka. A Croácia é famosa por suas cachoeiras e esses são os dois melhores lugares para vê-las. Os Lagos Plitvice tem mais cachoeiras, mas você pode nadar na água perto das cataratas de Krka!

Ouça o órgão do mar em Zadar. Uma das atrações incomuns de Zadar é um órgão que faz música com as ondas do mar. Sente-se na borda, olhe para a água e ouça a música suave.

Viagem por Ístria. Um dos meus lugares favoritos nos Bálcãs para a viagem é a península da Ístria, cheia de belas cidades pequenas e que se assemelha à Itália de várias maneiras. Você pode obter pratos de trufas aqui por muito barato.

Vá a uma turnê de Game of Thrones em Dubrovnik. Esta cidade foi usada como Porto Real na série, e muitos locais serviram como extras. Alguns desses extras agora estão servindo como guias! Minha parte favorita foi ver fotos do show e compará-las com a vida real. Você pode reservar uma turnê de Game of Thrones aqui.

Navegue pelas ilhas. Se você reserva uma viagem de uma semana ou apenas faz um dia navegando, este é um dos países mais bonitos do mundo para explorar de barco.

Obtenha fotografias profissionais tiradas na Croácia. Fotos profissionais minhas em minhas viagens são minhas lembranças favoritas absolutas! Seja no Instagram ou em um portfólio profissional, eles não têm preço. O Flytographer oferece pacotes com fotógrafos profissionais de retratos ao redor do mundo e eles operam em Dubrovnik e Zagreb.


Leia mais sobre a Croácia:

Viagem Solo Feminino na Croácia: O Guia Completo

100 Dicas de Viagem para a Croácia

Guia de Sobrevivência em Dubrovnik

As cachoeiras do Parque Nacional Krka

Um lugar como Zadar


Viagem feminina a solo nos Bálcãs - os Bálcãs são seguros? 7
Kate em frente à ponte velha de Mostar

Viagem Solo Feminino na Bósnia

A Bósnia e Herzegovina foi o segundo país que eu já visitei nos Bálcãs e acho que é um dos destinos culturalmente mais interessantes da região. Embora seja conhecida por ter uma das mais recentes histórias dolorosas dos Bálcãs, hoje a Bósnia é um lugar bonito e fascinante para se visitar.

É seguro visitar a Bósnia? Sim. Essa é a pergunta que costuma surgir quando se discute a Bósnia, mas o país mudou enormemente desde a guerra nos anos 90. There is one issue to be cautious about: there are still some unexploded mines in extremely rural areas. If you’re traveling to rural areas, stick to commonly trod paths or hike with a guide.

Aside from that, just take the normal travel precautions you’d take anywhere else. There is no bigger risk for solo female travelers here than anywhere else in the Balkans, or in Europe — with proper research and preparation, Bosnia can be a great destination for women traveling alone.

Travel in Bosnia can often be a bit rough and slow-going, and I recommend solo women travel by bus rather than by train. Some popular spots in the country like Kravice Falls are a bit of a pain to do by public transportation and are better done by joining an organized tour from somewhere like Mostar.

A market in Sarajevo at sunset
Market in Sarajevo. Image via Pixabay.
Waterfalls in a green lake at Kravice Falls
Kravice Falls. Image via Pixabay.
The bridge and skyline in Mostar, Bosnia
Mostar’s bridge attracts a lot of daring divers! Image via Pixabay.

Best Things to Do in Bosnia

Take the historic tour of Mostar with Žika from Hostel Nina. This is the single most moving thing I did in Bosnia and I’m grateful I got to learn about the impact of the war on the locals. You won’t regret it, and you’ll love getting to know Žika.

Go Virgin Mary-crazy in Medjugorje. In 1981, the Virgin Mary reportedly appeared to six children in Medjugorje. Today, Catholic pilgrims flock to see the spot. While the sight itself is a bit of a letdown, the Virgin Mary-stocked souvenir shops alone are worth the visit.

See Kravice Waterfalls. These waterfalls aren’t as famous as their Croatian counterparts, but at 25 meters tall, they are enormous! The falls are a great place to spend an afternoon swimming and picnicking.

Eat lots of ćevapčići. This dish is found throughout the Balkans, but I enjoyed it in Bosnia the most: little beef sausages served with pita and onions.

Get lost in Sarajevo. This city is full of interesting corners to explore, from the Ottoman-era Baščaršija market to the tunnels running beneath the city to the Latin Bridge, where Franz Ferdinand’s assassination kicked off World War I.

Watch the divers jump off the Old Bridge in Mostar. This can be a hair-raising event to watch — but for many men in Mostar, jumping from this great height is a rite of passage.

See Bosnia’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Adriatic coastline at Neum. This town is a thorn in the side of travelers trying to travel down the Croatia coast and having to go through two rounds of immigration — but for people already in Bosnia, it’s a lovely seaside stop.

Ski the cheapest Olympic slopes in Europe. Bjelašnica is where Sarajevo’s Olympic ski events took place, and here you can find runs from easy to super-challenging for a fraction of what you’d pay in Western Europe.


Read more about Bosnia:

Life After War: Sarajevo Today

Mostar: A Beautiful and Heartbreaking City


Kate takes a selfie at sunrise in front of the Bay of Kotor
Kate proud of herself for hiking Kotor at 6:00 AM

Solo Female Travel in Montenegro

I absolutely adore Montenegro and consider it one of my favorite countries. In fact, after traveling to every country in Europe, I think Montenegro is the most beautiful country in Europe. (Yes, I know, Switzerland and Norway are beautiful too. I said what I said.) Montenegro feels like what Norway would be if it were placed in a warm climate.

Montenegro has been touted as “the next Croatia” for quite some time — and it’s starting to have an effect. While Montenegro has historically been a holiday spot for Eastern Europeans (and in places like Budva, the crowd is still heavily Russian), the country is seeing increased tourism from North Americans and Western Europeans.

Kotor and the surrounding towns have long been a popular day trip from Dubrovnik, but Kotor is dealing with the beginnings of overtourism as a result of cruise ships. Staying overnight in Kotor is one way to experience the town at its best, when the sun goes down and everything becomes quiet.

I had no issues traveling solo in Montenegro, but know that the towns close to Croatia are much more developed than the rest of the country, and some buses don’t run as often as you’d hope. If you’re traveling solo for the first time, the public transit might drive you a bit crazy. I also found the driving in Montenegro to be wild at times.

If you’re traveling onward to Albania from Montenegro, I strongly encourage taking the shuttle to Tirana from Montenegro Hostel — it saves so much time and frustration.

On a trip to Montenegro, you’ll want to balance your time between coastal destinations and inland mountain destinations. Just try to soak up as much beauty as humanly possible. (One place that you can skip without guilt is Podgorica, the capital — you’re better off spending your time elsewhere.)

A church in Kotor set against the mountains.
Kotor, set on a bay surrounded by mountains
A bright pink and yellow sunset over the island of Sveti Stefan, just off the coast of Montenegro.
Sunset in Sveti Stefan
A yellow raft parking in the middle of the green Tara river, surrounded by limestone cliffs and trees.
Whitewater rafting in Tara Canyon

Best Things to Do in Montenegro

Hike up to the top of Kotor at dawn and watch the sunrise over the Bay of Kotor. By far the best activity to do in Kotor, one of my favorite places in the Balkans. The views are almost unspeakably beautiful, the colors change enormously, and if you do this during the summer, it’s nice and cool.

Check out Sveti Stefan. This town is home to a spectacular island off the coast that was once a resort for the Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor, fell into disrepair during the war, then was turned into a luxury resort again. The resort is off-limits to non-guests but it makes a great photo stop. The beach has two sides: one expensive and for hotel guests, and the other is much cheaper.

Go whitewater rafting in Tara Canyon. This might be one of the most visually spectacular places in the world to whitewater raft. You speed down the jade-green river while surrounded by dramatic green and white mountains.

Dance on the beach at Sea Dance Festival in Budva. I am not ordinarily a concert-goer, but this music festival is one of the most fun things I have ever done in the Balkans — and you can’t beat dancing to EDM on a beach surrounded by mountains.

Explore Herceg Novi. This town close to the Croatian border is the gateway to the Bay of Kotor — but smaller and less touristed than Kotor, and home to some good swimming beaches.

Spend a few days exploring Durmitor National Park. This is one of the most beautiful places in the world most people have never heard of. A great spot to do some hiking, biking, and climbing the tallest mountains in Montenegro.

Take a boat across Lake Skadar. This lake in southern Montenegro, close to the Albanian border, is home to unique bird species. Cruise across the lake, explore the wetlands, and spend time in the lakeside villages.

See the church islands off the coast of Perast. Just inside the Bay of Kotor are two tiny church-topped islands. Take a boat to see them up close, or explore the picture-perfect town of Perast.


Read more about Montenegro:

Montenegro: The Most Beautiful Country in Europe


Kate, Kash, Leah, and Rob with a band of accordion players in Belgrade
Kate and friends at a rollicking Serbian restaurant

Solo Female Travel in Serbia

Serbia doesn’t get as much publicity as the other Balkan countries — it doesn’t have the striking coast or memorable lakes, and while it has a vibrant city in Belgrade, it just doesn’t get quite the publicity of Dubrovnik, Kotor, or even Ljubljana.

Serbia is also the Balkan country that I’ve explored the least — I’ve only been to Belgrade. But Serbia is home to plenty of interesting cities, monasteries, and national parks. Also here is EXIT Festival, one of the best music festivals in Europe, which can be a lot of fun if you’re into hitting up music festivals solo.

There is one sensitive subject in Serbia that you should be careful about mentioning: Kosovo. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo as a country — they consider Kosovo part of Serbia. While most of the narratives are framed as Serbia attacking the Kosovars, particularly if you’re American, keep in mind that some Serbians were killed by Kosovars. This conflict has been a long source of trauma for both countries.

I made the mistake of talking about Kosovo with a Serbian while traveling solo, and when I realized what a mistake I had made, it felt like a target had been put on me. That is something you want to avoid when traveling on your own.

Serbia makes a strategic entry point into the Balkans, as it’s nestled up against Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungry. Belgrade is a six-hour bus ride from Budapest.

A yellow house on a cobbled street in Belgrade
Strolling through Belgrade
Cafes on the street in Belgrade
Cafe life in Serbia
Belgrade's Fortress
Kalemegdan Fortress

Best Things to Do in Serbia

Have a NIGHT OUT on the river barges in Belgrade. Belgrade is well-known for being the best nightlife destination in the Balkans — and one of the best in Europe. People party on the barges anchored at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers.

Go to EXIT Festival. This music festival in Novi Sad is one of the biggest music festivals in Europe, drawing big names each year. If you want to visit one of the biggest trend-setting festivals, EXIT is one of the best you could attend.

Explore Tara National Park. Serbia might not be as famous as its neighbors when it comes to natural beauty, but that changes when you see Tara National Park. This park, nestled up against the Bosnian border, is home to stunning mountains, rivers, and ravines.

Visit Studenica Monastery. Serbia’s largest monastery, located in the Raška district of central Serbia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with two churches built from white marble and a collection of Byzantine paintings.

Spend an afternoon at Kalemegdan Fortress. Located in the heart of Belgrade, this is one of the most famous sites in the city — but for locals, it’s more popular to hang out there with a beer when the weather is nice.

Explore Novi Sad. Serbia’s second city is arguably the prettiest place in Serbia, with pastel-painted architecture and a beautiful main square.

Ski in Kopaonik National Park. You may not have considered skiing in Serbia — but this national park is home to some terrific slopes at a fraction of the cost of Western European resorts.

Hang out with Bald Jesus. The church of St. Peter and Paul in the small town of Rsovci is notable for being inside a cave. But even more unusual is the fresco of a bald Jesus on the wall, a tiny tuft of hair springing up from his head. Estranho? Sim. Good luck finding a bald Jesus anywhere else!


Read more about Serbia:

Briefly, Belgrade


Kate takes a selfie at the Bill Clinton statue in Kosovo.
Kate and the Bill Clinton statue in Prishtina

Solo Female Travel in Kosovo

Kosovo blew me away from the moment I arrived. As I rode the bus from Skopje, I gaped at the jaw-dropping mountain scenery. The man who collected my American passport burst into a grin. “I love this country,” he said, gesturing to the passport, “I love this flag.” This was just the beginning of the warmest welcome I have received in any country, ever.

Mention Kosovo to someone of my generation and they may recall vague memories of mid-90s newscasts: war, violence, ethnic cleansing at the hands of the Serbs. US military intervention that saved Kosovo without a single American life lost.

Is Kosovo safe and worth visiting today? sim. Those terrible days were more than two decades ago, and Kosovo is now a very safe place to travel.

Perhaps the phrase “ethnic Albanians” will jog your memory because that’s who Kosovars are: ethnic Albanians who speak Albanian and are largely secular Muslims. Go to Kosovo and you’ll be surprised by how many blood-red Albanian flags you’ll see!

The most important thing to know about visiting Kosovo is that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as its own country — nor does the United Nations, as countries like Spain and China refuse to recognize Kosovo (and with strong separatist regions like Catalonia and Taiwan, you can understand why). Serbia considers Kosovo to be part of Serbia.

For this reason, you must exit Kosovo depending on the way you went in. If you enter Kosovo from North Macedonia, cross into Serbia, and leave Serbia for, say, Bosnia, the Serbs will say that you entered Serbia illegally. If you leave Serbia without a Serbia exit stamp and go back in the future, they’ll say you exited Serbia illegally. Go back the way you came.

It’s also important to know that there are still unexploded landmines in remote parts of Kosovo. If you’re walking in the countryside, never walk off-trail, and only go hiking with a guide.

I found Kosovo to be cheap and quirky with some VERY memorable architecture. But I will always remember how warmly everyone welcomed me, how total strangers asked for my phone number so they could check up on me later. As a solo traveler, that kindness was invaluable. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

Prizren's bridge and mosque in Kosovo
Prizren’s skyline
A black and white shot of people walking down the street in Prizren, Kosovo
Street life in Prizren
Prishtina's wacky, silver and white egg carton-evoking library
Quite possibly the strangest building in the Balkans: Prishtina’s library.

Best Things to Do in Kosovo

Take a selfie with the Bill Clinton statue. It’s such an odd place! And hilariously, it’s next door to a dress shop named Hillary.

Visit the monasteries in Peja. While Kosovo is primarily Muslim, there is a sizable Serbian Orthodox minority. This is reflected in the beautiful churches around the country, including some near Peja.

Marvel at the look of Prishtina’s library. The Balkans are a region of offbeat architecture, but this eggs-in-metal-cages aesthetic has to be the strangest of all.

Talk to everyone you meet — especially if you’re American. Most Kosovars I met were delighted to meet a tourist, and perhaps a bit perplexed — why would someone from America want to come here? Also, know that if you’re past your mid-twenties and unmarried, people will want to know why.

Get into Kosovo’s cafe culture. Two places where I enjoyed sitting down with a cup of coffee were along the river in Prizren and on Raki Street in Prishtina.

Explore Rugova Canyon. This canyon, near Peja, is one of the deepest canyons in southeast Europe. This region is popular for outdoor activities like hiking, caving, and biking.

Climb the fortress in Prizren. This will give you panoramic views of Kosovo’s most beautiful city. Be smarter than me — don’t wait until it’s the hottest part of the day.

Visit the bear sanctuary in Novo Selo. Bears used to be used for entertainment at destinations throughout Kosovo — this is now an illegal practice. This sanctuary allows the bears to live out their lives in peace and comfort.


Read more about Kosovo:

Kosovo: A Warm Welcome from a Newborn Country


Kate poses at the church in Sveti Naum, North Macedonia
Kate at the monastery in Sveti Naum

Solo Female Travel in North Macedonia

It’s a bit of an adjustment writing “North Macedonia” instead of “Macedonia” — the country officially changed its name in 2019. Previously it was known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM. While most people shortened it to Macedonia, this angered many Greeks who claimed that their own Macedonia region was the only Macedonia. Enter the compromise.

North Macedonia is one of the biggest mysteries among the Balkan countries. It’s not particularly famous for anything in particular, other than Lake Ohrid. It’s one of the cheapest and least developed countries in the Balkans, and while it has Lake Ohrid, it doesn’t have any of that legendary Balkan coastline. The Peace Corps has more volunteers here than any other Balkan country.

I fell hard for North Macedonia when I visited — and as I type this, I’m struck by how much I’m yearning to return. It’s a stunningly beautiful country, but in a way you don’t expect. Sometimes the underdogs can make the strongest impressions on us.

I was very comfortable traveling solo in North Macedonia and met several women doing the same. While North Macedonia has a few train lines, locals told me that it was smarter to travel by bus. Buses in North Macedonia are faster, higher quality, and run more often. I also found it convenient to use Skopje as a base for further exploration — you can easily get buses to Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Greece.

One last thing — North Macedonia is the only Balkan country to primarily use Cyrillic script. There is enough Latin script signage to figure things out, but learning a bit of Cyrillic can help you sound words out. (Side note: the scariest thing I saw in North Macedonia was a toilet surrounded by lots of urgent-looking signage in Cyrillic.)

A giant Alexander the Great rearing horse statue in Skopje, North Macedonia
When Skopje builds sculptures, they go BIG.
Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid blends into the sky almost seamlessly.
A cafe-lined street in Bitola, North Macedonia
Bitola is a lesser-known town that’s fun to visit.

Best Things to Do in North Macedonia

Gawk and laugh at the outlandish sculptures around Skopje. These sculptures were recently built as part of the “Skopje 2014” project. I called the city “Skop Vegas” because so many of the sculptures evoke the “modern Roman” look of Caesar’s Palace.

Spend a few days chilling out in Ohrid. Macedonia’s summer hotspot is best known for the postcard image of Sveti Jovan monastery on the edge of the lake, but this is a beautiful small town worth exploring.

Hang out on Širok Sokak and people-watch in Bitola. This cafe-lined street is the place to see and be seen. Get an outdoor table with a coffee in the afternoon, and check out all the dressed up locals as they walk down the street in the evening.

Take a boat ride through Matka Canyon. Just south of Skopje, this canyon is a great place to get into the outdoors and enjoy an afternoon of hiking and swimming.

Take the cable car to the top of Vodno. This journey gives you unmatched views over the city of Skopje.

Get lost in the bazaars. Skopje’s bazaar is large, extensive, and a great place to buy art and handmade goods. Bitola’s modern, low-key bazaar is worth a visit, too.

Take a boat ride across Lake Ohrid to Sveti Naum. Down on the edge of the Albanian border, Sveti Naum is home to an orange-brick monastery complex, several seaside restaurants, and bizarrely, shrieking peacocks. You’ll pass the president’s summer home en route.

Sample all the North Macedonian wines. You would be shocked at just how good these wines are, especially the reds. You’d also be shocked at their low price tag. There are several varietals that are only grown in North Macedonia; I recommend you try these while you’re there.


Read more about North Macedonia:

North Macedonia’s Magnificence Will Surprise You

Scenes from Lake Ohrid


Kate faces away from the camera with her arms in the air in front of the turquoise water of Ksamil, Albania
Kate enjoying the beach in Ksamil

Solo Female Travel in Albania

You think you know the Balkans, and then you get to Albania. Albania is the most challenging country to travel in all of the Balkans. It’s the poorest country, the least developed country, one of the cheapest countries, and has the biggest language barrier (and since Albanian is related to zero other living languages, you can’t exactly pick it up).

And it is esquisito. When dictator Enver Hoxha ruled Albania, the country was cut off from the world for years in a self-imposed exile, almost frozen in time. (Today, my Albanian friend tells me she loves visiting Cuba because it feels like her childhood in Albania.)

To this day, there are military bunkers all over the country — many of them looking like an alien’s spaceship — and some are even turned into businesses like cafes and guesthouses. You’ll even find one in Blloku, the chic, cafe-filled neighborhood that used to be off-limits to everyone but Hoxha and his higher-ups.

Albania is challenging for women traveling alone, which is why I recommend it for experienced solo female travelers. The most difficult thing about traveling in Albania is figuring out the bus system. Some cities don’t have central bus stations, Tirana and Saranda among them, and travel agencies will only sell tickets for certain routes.

Combine that with the language barrier and the simple act of buying a bus ticket was often a frustrating experience. Once I arrived in a town where my connecting bus was nowhere to be found and I basically paid a guy with a van to take me to Berat. (I was VERY relieved to take a tourist shuttle from Tirana to Budva in Montenegro. See more on that in the “How to Get Around the Balkans” section below.)

One other thing to know is that most Albanians are Muslim, though virtually all of them are quite secular (case in point: they drink). I only saw around three women wearing a hijab the whole time I was in Albania.

While it’s been a bit of a travel industry secret that Albania’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in Europe, the country is lesser known for its mountains and hiking. But word is spreading. I think that a decade down the road, Albanian will be a popular outdoor destination in southeast Europe.

A white building in Tirana covered with a swirly rainbow.
Rainbows add cheer to boxy Tirana buildings.
Feet on a rocky beach in front of the blue ocean, Saranda, Albania
Rocky beaches and clear water on the Albanian Riviera
A bridge in front of the window-covered houses of Berat, Albania
In Berat, the windows of the city stare back at you.

Best Things to Do in Albania

Rent a car and drive up the coast around Himare, spotting your own perfect beach. Albania’s best beaches are inaccessible by public transit, so you’ll have to do the exploring on your own! The best ones require a bit of a walk.

Have sparkling wine overlooking the city for cheap. Enjoy drinks on top of the tallest building in Tirana for the equivalent of a few dollars per glass.

Watch the streets of Berat come to life just before sunset. All day, there won’t be more than three people on the street at a time. Then once evening hits, watch the street swell with thousands of people, all ages, knowing it’s the place to see and be seen.

Take a swim in the Blue Eye. Located between Saranda and Gjirokaster, this swimming hole is home to ice-cold, clear, dark blue water, surrounded by forest.

Climb to the top of Tirana’s pyramid. This sci-fi like structure has since been covered in graffiti — go ahead and join the kids climbing up and sliding down!

Hike in the mountains near Shkoder. If Montenegro is the next Croatia, Albania is the next Montenegro — and the country is quickly becoming better known for its full-day hikes in the northern part of the country.

Explore the ruins at Butrint. These are some of the best preserved Roman ruins in the Balkans.

Spend a beach resort day at Ksamil. Then marvel at the fact that few people outside Albania have ever heard of this place.


Read more about Albania:

What’s it Like to Travel in Albania?

The Funk Factor of Tirana


A cable car in Dubrovnik, silhouetted from behind during an orange sunset, islands in the distance.

Balkans Travel and Safety Tips

Know their history — and current tensions. I know that the history of the former Yugoslavia isn’t the most riveting subject, but reading up will give you so much context for your trip.

You may want to get SIM cards for your trips — but do your research. If you have a SIM card from home that works in several countries, keep in mind that it may not cover all of the Balkans. If not, wifi in the Balkans is far faster and more reliable than it used to be, and you can survive without data if you need to.

The countries of the Balkans use different currencies. The euro is used in Slovenia, Kosovo, and Montenegro — every other country has their own currency (Croatian kuna, Bosnian mark, Serbian dinar, North Macedonian denar, Albanian lek).

The cheapest way to exchange money in the Balkans is to get money out direct at the ATM. If you have any extra left over, there are plenty of exchange shops all over the region. You can also exchange with a traveler heading in the opposite direction.

It might help to learn a bit of Cyrillic. North Macedonia primarily uses Cyrillic script; you may see a bit of Cyrillic in Serbia, Kosovo, and Bosnia as well. Once you learn Cyrillic, you can easily sound words out. And don’t worry — it’s easy to find translations in Latin script!

Fake a phone call when getting in a taxi. When you’re getting in a taxi alone, open your phone, pretend to make a call, and make a big deal over walking to the license plate and reading it out loud. While most drivers are perfectly fine, this lets them know that someone is looking out for you.

Always verify that a meter is working before you get into a taxi. Some drivers will claim the meter is broken, and this is a lie to get you to agree to a higher fixed rate. If it’s “not working,” get another cab.

Clothes shopping is fun and super-cheap in the Balkans — but know that women tend to be very thin here. You’ll struggle to find clothing larger than a size 8.

See a travel doctor before your trip and be prepared on what to do if you get sick. While some Balkan countries have excellent healthcare systems, not all of them are equal. If you’re planning extensive travels, it’s not a bad idea to see a travel doctor periodically and ask her if there’s anything you should be doing.

Is the water safe to drink in the Balkans? For the most part, yes, it’s safe, but there are some exceptions. You can go ahead and drink the water in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro.

There are a few water safety exceptions: in Kosovo and Albania, the water is technically safe to drink, but most locals never drink it because it tastes unusual. In Albania, this is due to chlorination. In North Macedonia, the water is safe to drink in urban areas like Skopje, but in some rural areas, it’s not. It’s good to ask someone in the destination you’re visiting.

While most travelers rely on bottled water, it creates a major waste problem. For this reason, I recommend you bring a LifeStraw, a bottle that purifies water as you drink it through its straw. Alternatively, you can bring a reusable bottle and invest in a SteriPen water purifier (much better and faster than tablets).

Learn a few words of the local language. It’s not necessary in the Balkans, where most people speak a lot of English, but just saying thank you can bring a smile to a local’s face. It’s hvala in most countries and faleminderit in Albania and Kosovo.

Keep your valuables locked up in your accommodation and only take with you what you need that day. I do this with my Pacsafe Travelsafe and I consider it the most important thing I pack. Keep an extra debit card and at least $100 hidden in obscure parts of your luggage.

Never leave your bags anywhere unattended. Even if you’re used to asking someone at the next table to watch your things while you use the bathroom in a coffeeshop at home, don’t do that in the Balkans. Take your belongings with you. If you’re keeping your bag under the table or otherwise out of sight, keep it between your feet or hook the strap around one of the chair legs.

Don’t flash your valuables and limit your expensive jewelry. Be especially cautious at tourist areas and on public transportation.

If you carry a purse, hold it close to you. I recommend a crossbody purse, made out of a tough material like leather or fake leather, that zips shut. I recommend many purses in this post. Never let it hang behind you — always keep it in a place where you can see it, and keep your hand on it if you’re in a crowd.

If you carry a wallet without a purse, don’t keep it in your back pocket. This is obvious to thieves. They will grab it and run.

Be careful about your drinking. Drink less than you ordinarily would at home — two drinks is a good limit. Only take drinks from bartenders, never take a drink from a stranger, and always keep it with you and keep an eye on it. Be especially cautious in party spots like Hvar and Belgrade, but drink spiking can happen anywhere.

Especially be cautious when it comes to rakija, a popular liquor in the Balkans. Isto é extremely strong — especially if it’s homemade. Be cautious with rakija and definitivamente don’t go shot for shot with a local!

Do not take drugs, even if you’re a party drug enthusiast. Drugs in the Balkans can be cut with poisonous substances that can often lead to your death, and if you’re caught by the police, you’ll be in life-changing trouble.

Spend extra money on staying safe. If it costs you money to take a taxi rather than walk, or to stay in a guesthouse in a well-lit, central neighborhood, do it. It’s worth the peace of mind. Don’t pinch pennies on your safety.

Bring a digital Balkans guidebook. I always bring PDFs of Lonely Planet guidebooks — they have critical information, like details on transportation and the locations of medical centers, and a digital version adds no weight to your bag. You can buy the book or individual chapters, and I keep my PDFs in the Books app on my iPhone.

I recommend Lonely Planet Western Balkans if you’re just visiting the Balkans or Lonely Planet Europe if you’re visiting other parts of Europe as well.

Kate stands in front of a bus bound for Tirana while holding tzatziki-flavored potato chips.

How to Get Around the Balkans Solo

Traveling in the Balkans is different from traveling in Western Europe. The train coverage isn’t as good (most notably, there is no train to Dubrovnik), the driving can be hairy in some countries, and you often have to cross borders in inconvenient places.

The Balkans are less developed than much of Western Europe, and for this reason, transportation often takes much longer than you would expect. This is a big reason why I encourage you to take your time and not plan a packed schedule.

Getting to the Balkans

It can often be pricey getting a flight into the Balkans from North America, but there are hacks to make it cheaper. Croatia has exploded as a destination in the past 15 years and it’s probably easiest to find an affordable flight here. I recommend starting by using Skyscanner to price out the cheapest flights.

Sometimes it can be significantly cheaper to book a flight from North America to a European hub, like London or Paris or Milan, then book a budget flight on an airline like RyanAir or EasyJet to a destination in the Balkans.

If you do this, keep in mind that traveling from airport to airport is often hellish (but not so bad if you use the hub city as a few days’ layover). I recommend carrying on your luggage because if it’s lost on your first leg, it won’t make it to your second.

In the past I’ve taken very cheap flights from Manchester, England, to Pula, Croatia; from London to Zagreb; and from Istanbul to Skopje.

Other travelers arrive in the Balkans overland. Many arrive by boat from Italy (to destinations in Slovenia, Croatia, and Albania) or Greece (the ferry from Corfu to Saranda, Albania). Some of the bigger train hubs are Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade. And buses can take you all over the Balkans.

Getting Around the Balkans by Train

There aren’t a lot of train lines in the Balkans. I recommend taking a look at the Eurail map (warning: large file) to see the train lines that DO exist. But the map doesn’t tell the whole story.

Trains in Slovenia: Many destinations are decently connected by train, and from Ljubljana you can travel internationally to Zagreb, Vienna, Budapest, and beyond by train (though frustratingly, not Trieste, Italy).

Trains in Croatia: Trains from Zagreb run to Pula in Istria, to Split in Dalmatia, and to Osijek in Slavonia. Once again — there is no train to Dubrovnik, nor are there trains to popular destinations like the Plitvice Lakes. Trains to some popular destinations, like Zadar, are slow and limited, and better done by bus.

Trains in Bosnia: There are some domestic trains in Bosnia but buses are nicer, faster, and run more often.

Trains in Serbia: There are some domestic trains in Serbia but buses are nicer, faster, and run more often. However, the 11-hour train from Belgrade to Bar, Montenegro, is absolutely gorgeous. You can do it during the day or overnight.

Trains in Montenegro: There are a few domestic trains in Montenegro but none to the popular coastline towns like Kotor, Budva, and Sveti Stefan. The 11-hour train from Bar to Belgrade, Serbia, is spellbinding. You can do it during the day or overnight.

Trains in Kosovo: Kosovo’s train lines are slow and it’s faster to travel by bus, especially the route from Prishtina to Prizren.

Trains in North Macedonia: There are a few domestic train lines in North Macedonia, but buses are nicer, faster, and run more often.

Trains in Albania: Albania only has trains between Tirana and Durres, but it’s faster and more efficient to travel this route by bus.

Getting Around the Balkans by Bus

If you’re taking public transportation in the Balkans, you’ll likely be traveling primarily by bus. Taking buses in the Balkans is fairly straightforward: you go to the station and buy a ticket, or you buy a ticket from a tour agency.

When you cross borders in the Balkans on a bus, usually there will be someone on board who collects all the passports, gets them stamped, and brings them back to you afterward. You stay on the bus the whole time. Sometimes, like on the Croatian coast where you annoyingly have to cross into Bosnia and back into Croatia a few minutes later, an agent comes on the bus and just looks at your passports. Occasionally you’ll get off the bus.

Overall, taking buses in the Balkans is efficient and fairly straightforward.

There is one exception: Albania. Tirana is one of few world capitals without a central bus station, and different ticket agencies sell tickets for different bus lines. You may be picked up or dropped off on the side of the road. I had to go door-to-door in Saranda before finding a place that could sell me a ticket to Berat, and the language barrier made things very difficult.

Montenegro mountains and seaside at sunset
On tourist shuttles, sometimes they’ll stop at viewpoints like here near Bar, Montenegro.

Getting Around the Balkans by Tourist Shuttle

On some routes in the Balkans there are tourist shuttles — basically a minibus or regular bus that take you directly from one tourist hub to another. These are more expensive, but they save you a ton of time and are far more comfortable, with good seats and air conditioning.

There are two major routes that I recommend doing by tourist shuttle: the first is from Bosnia to the Montenegro coast, and the second is from Albania to the Montenegro coast. If you do either of these by public transportation, they will take an insanely long time and require several changes.

Montenegro Hostel runs tourist shuttles along these routes and I took their shuttle from Tirana to Budva. It was a great experience and I highly recommend them. They let us stop for photos when we passed Sveti Stefan at sunset!

Getting Around the Balkans by Boat

If you’re traveling the Adriatic coastline, you’ll probably hop on a boat at some point. Jadrolinija run an extensive network of domestic ferries in Croatia in addition to some international routes to Ancona and Bari in Italy, including one ferry from Bar, Montenegro, to Bari.

If you’re traveling to Albania, you may find it easier or cheaper to fly to Corfu, Greece, and take the ferry to Saranda, Albania. This is what I did. Several ferries run this route and it can take 30-90 minutes. Buy your ticket ahead of time at the ticket office, not the port!

Likewise, you may enjoy flying into Venice, taking a train to Trieste in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, then taking the 30-minute ferry to Piran, Slovenia.

Getting Around the Balkans by Air

Sometimes the overland travel time can be so long that it’s easier to fly from city to city. Zagreb to Dubrovnik is one route that can take very long on public transit (13+ hours) but less than an hour by plane.

I prefer traveling overland in the Balkans when possible. But if you’re looking for cheap flights within the Balkans, I recommend using Skyscanner.

Keep in mind that many flight routes to the Balkans are seasonal — especially to popular summer destinations like Dubrovnik.

Renting a Car in the Balkans

Renting a car can be a great way to explore the Balkans, get off the beaten path, and explore small towns in addition to large cities, but not all Balkan countries are created equal!

I’ve road tripped in Croatia and Slovenia and both of those countries are ideal for driving — roads are in great condition, the driving is reasonable (though I found Slovenians to be a bit aggressive behind the wheel), lots of interesting small towns to explore. I highly recommend exploring these two countries by car.

Beyond that, driving can be a bit more challenging in the remainder of the Balkans — slower driving routes, less developed roads, and some countries have VERY crazy driving (I’m still reeling from Montenegro).

In Albania the roads are in the worst condition. But if you want to see the most beautiful beaches in the Balkans, renting a car in Albania is pretty much the only way to do so.

Before renting a car in the Balkans, I recommend getting an International Driving Permit in your home country. It’s essentially a translation of your license. Most places don’t require it, but it’s a good thing to have.

If you’re looking for a cheap car rental in the Balkans, I recommend using RentalCars.com.

One major tip — before you book, double-check that you’ll be allowed to drive to different countries, if you plan on crossing borders. Your rental company may not allow this.

Waterfalls at Krka National Park
Krka National Park, Croatia

Best Time to Visit the Balkans

I personally believe that the best time to visit the Balkans is in the shoulder season: late April, May, early June, mid-to-late September, and October. These months of the year give you mostly beautiful weather, pleasant temperatures, and it’s cheaper and not as crowded as the summer months.

Most people travel to the Balkans in the summer (mid-to-late June, July, August, and early September), and I have done a lot of summer Balkans travel, but I encourage you to avoid this time if you’re not focusing on islands and beaches. This is a beautiful time of year to visit the Balkans, but it can get VERY hot.

The summer months the most crowded and expensive time to visit the Balkans. August is the month of peak tourism and pricing, though July is also fairly intense. The absolute worst crowds are at Dubrovnik on summer days when cruise ships are in port. (I’ve written about how to avoid the worst Dubrovnik summer crowds here.) Popular day trip spots like Mostar and Kotor swell in population during the day, but are much more pleasant at night.

If you’re going to the Balkans for beach and island time, I recommend traveling in September — it’s outside peak season, and the water is much warmer in September than in June.

There are a few exceptions. Many Albanian and Montenegrin beach resort towns are essentially closed from October through May, so if those beaches are a priority, go during the summer. Some Balkan mountain treks are best done in the summer months because it can get cold at night. And most Balkan music festivals take place during the summer.

Visiting the Balkans in the winter can be a nice option if you don’t mind colder weather. There are some ski resorts in Bosnia and Serbia where you’ll pay a fraction of what you’d pay to ski in France or Austria. For photographers, getting snowy photos of places like the Plitvice Lakes can be rewarding.

Zagreb is well-known for its Christmas markets, making December a lovely time to visit that part of Croatia.

Cevapcici, Bosnian sausages with pita and onions
Ćevapčići, you are so delicious, you make me willingly eat raw onions.

Eating Alone in the Balkans

It’s completely normal to eat while alone in the Balkans. Nobody will think it’s weird that you’re eating alone.

In a region with a big cafe scene, many of the cafes in the Balkans serve food as well as drinks. Eating alone at a cafe can be a bit less intimidating if you’ve never done it before — but again, I encourage you to eat in restaurants. There’s nothing to be afraid of!

The only country where things were a bit unusual was in Kosovo — sometimes, after finishing a meal, waiters would ask if they could have my phone number. This was before we had even had a conversation. It wasn’t because they were hitting on me — it’s because they genuinely wanted to check up on me and make sure I was doing okay later. That’s Kosovo for you!

The Balkans are best known for their grilled meats. In fact, if you’re traveling the Balkans for a longer amount of time, you’ll probably be sick of grilled meats at some point. It can be tough being a vegetarian in the Balkans and very tough being a vegan, but the HappyCow app is your best bet for finding plant-based eats.

If you’re sick of Balkan food, you can find pizza almost everywhere.

What to Eat in the Balkans

There are so many delicious things to eat in the Balkans! Here are a few of my favorites:

Burek — A large flaky pastry that can be stuffed with anything from cheese to spinach to meat. These are a snack for any time of day and you can find these all over the Balkan countries.

Pag cheese — A hard sheep’s cheese from the island of Pag in Croatia, you can find this all over the Croatian coast. I like snacking on thin slices with a glass of local wine.

Ćevapčići — I ate so many of these in Bosnia. Ćevapčići or ćevapi are small oblong sausages, usually made from beef but sometimes mixed with pork or lamb. In Bosnia are served with pita and raw onions, and ajvar (spicy red pepper spread) or tomatoes, but different regions serve them differently. This is the only context in which I will eat raw onions.

Šopska salads — With so much meat on the menu in the Balkans, this is a reliable meatless option. Šopska salads, or shopska salads, are made from chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and topped with a shaved white cheese similar to feta. I ate these daily in North Macedonia.

Pršut — The version of prosciutto that you see in Croatia in Slovenia is thicker and saltier than Italy’s varieties.

Žlikrofi — These potato-stuffed dumplings, similar to ravioli or vareniki, hail from the Idrija region of Slovenia and are served as a side dish.

Stuffed peppers — Dolma, or stuffed vegetables, are common throughout the Balkans, but stuffed peppers were my favorite. They are usually stuffed with minced meat and rice.

The black truffle pizza from Jupiter Pizzeria in Pula, Croatia — I often say this is one of my favorite pizzas on the planet. And I am a girl who knows her pizza. Make sure they put tomato sauce on it; sometimes they don’t.

Kremšnita (Croatia) or Kremna Rezina (Slovenia) — This cream cake is made with custard, Chantilly cream, and top and bottom layers of puff pastry. Great for glamming up your afternoon coffee in Bled or Zagreb.

Local wine — Some of the Balkan countries do wine quite well, especially Croatia, Slovenia, and North Macedonia. North Macedonia creates some gorgeous red wines, but with such a small country, you will never see them anywhere else.

Viagem feminina a solo nos Bálcãs - os Bálcãs são seguros? 9

How to Meet People in the Balkans

If you’re looking to meet people while traveling in the Balkans, you’ll probably have an easier time meeting travelers than locals. I recommend trying to meet people through organized meetups and activities rather than hoping to meet someone organically at a cafe.

Stay in social hostels and guesthouses. Read through the reviews of hostels and guesthouses (and keep in mind that many Balkans hostels have private rooms!) and spend time in the common areas. I made several friends at Montenegro Hostel in Kotor years ago.

Check out local meetups via Meetup.com. Whether you’re into travel, running, movies, board games, or just want to meet a group of nice people, there’s a Meetup for that.

Couchsurfing. The Couchsurfing community in the Balkans isn’t just for free accommodation, it’s also for socializing. The local Couchsurfers often put on events and meetups in a variety of destinations. (Though don’t do what I did and accidentally tell a Serbian you’re going to Kosovo.)

Join local tours and events. Go on a city walking tour, go kayaking in Dubrovnik, take a cooking class in Ljubljana, go whitewater rafting in Montenegro. Once the day is over, ask a fellow participant if they feel like getting a drink or dinner.

Put out feelers on social media. You never know — often a friend of yours will have a cousin or friend somewhere in the Balkans at the same time as you, or knows someone who is living there long-term.

Tinder. If you’re looking to date or hook up in the Balkans, it’s as easy as swiping right.

Kate lying on her back on the beach in Montenegro, wearing aviator sunglasses.
Kate on the beach at Sea Dance Festival in Budva, Montenegro

What to Pack for the Balkans

Packing for the Balkans depends on what time of year you’re visiting and what you plan to do on your trip. If you’re visiting beaches, you should bring a sarong; if you’re trekking, you might need good hiking gear. Here are some items that work well for most Balkans trips:

Pacsafe Travelsafe — It keeps your valuables locked up in your accommodation. I consider my portable safe the most important thing I pack.

Speakeasy Travel Supply scarf — These scarves are ideal for travel — they all have a hidden pocket for your passport or cash, and some come in light fabrics perfect for the Balkans. I love these scarves (I even designed my own!).

Water filter — If you’re visiting an area with questionable water safety, like Albania or rural parts of North Macedonia or Kosovo, bring a LifeStraw, a bottle that purifies water as you drink it through its straw. Alternatively, you can bring a reusable bottle and invest in a SteriPen water purifier (much better and faster than tablets).

Lockable backpack — If you’re planning on taking public transportation in the Balkans, using a small lockable backpack like my Pacsafe Venturesafe as your day bag is one way to protect yourself from pickpockets.

Sports sandals — Perfect footwear for climbing to the monastery in Kotor, exploring the Skocjan Caves in Slovenia, and walking the pathways at the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. I’ve been wearing my Teva Tirra sandals since 2010.

Flip-flops — Essential beach footwear. I can’t wear most flip-flops due to arch issues but I ADORE my Abeo flip-flops with arch support.

Black flats — If you’re wearing dresses or wanting to look polished, I recommend the black Abeo flats from The Walking Company. They are insanely comfortable with great arch support.

Trail runners — If you plan to hike or work out in the Balkans, bring trail runners — they work equally well as sneakers and hiking shoes, as long as you’re not doing super-intense mountain hiking. I love my Merrill Siren Edge Q2 Waterproof Trail Runners.

Bathing suit — Even if you’re planning an urban getaway to the Balkans, you never know — there are more swimming opportunities than you think.

Divacup, if you menstruate — A great way to avoid buying pads and tampons and ultimately creating more waste in the Balkans.

A yellow kayak and cabin in Lake Bohinj Slovenia
Lake Bohinj, Slovenia, on a rainy day

Travel Insurance for the Balkans

One last note — it’s absolutely vital to have travel insurance before traveling to the Balkans. If you get sick or injured on your trip, if you get robbed, or even if you have to be flown home for more care, travel insurance will protect you from financial ruin. I use and recommend World Nomads for trips to the Balkans.

Travel insurance will help you in your hour of need if you get pickpocketed on a bus ride to Skopje; they will help you get medical care if you come down with appendicitis in Lake Bled or trip and break an ankle while climbing the city walls in Dubrovnik; and if you get so sick that you need to be flown home for further care, like two of my friends have while traveling, they’ll cover the expensive flight.

As always, be sure to read your policy carefully and make sure it’s a fit for you. See what World Nomads covers here.

Sveti Jovan church perched on the edge of a cliff at Lake Ohrid

The Balkans are waiting for you!

The Balkans have meant SO much to me over the years. They’ve given me joy. They’ve brought me friends. They’ve helped me heal during tough times in my life, and they’ve helped me celebrate the best times of my life.

I will be traveling to the Balkans forever — and frankly, writing this post has made me realize how much I want to go back this summer! I’ll have to get on that. I hope you fall in love with this region as much as I have.

Go to the Balkans and have the time of your life. Then come back and tell me all about it.


This is a Solo Female Destination Guide.

Quer mais? See the guides for Croatia, Italy, Paris, and more!


Viagem feminina a solo nos Bálcãs - os Bálcãs são seguros? 11

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Este post foi traduzido a partir do blog de Adventurous Kate, neste link https://www.adventurouskate.com/solo-female-travel-balkans-safe/

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