Balkans - Is my itinerary realistic?
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Jun 26, 2012 2:00 PM Last Post By: EasternTravels
Feb 26, 2012 6:41 AM
Balkans - Is my itinerary realistic?Hi fellow travellers,
I'm backpacking for the first time this summer (June, July), and I would like to know if my itinerary is realistic at all:
3 nights in Maribor, probably a day trip to Ptuj
3 nights in Ljubljana, probably a day trip to Skofja Loka
Taking the bus to Bled, spending a few hours there, continuing to Bohinj
5 nights in Bohinj*
4 nights in Zagreb (day trip to Varaždin?)
1 night Plitvice Lakes
7 nights somewhere on the coast between Zadar and Dubrovnik -- any suggestions?
2 nights in Dubrovnik
5 nights in Kotor (are there enough day hikes in the area to keep me busy?)
5 nights Durmitor NP (should I book accomodation in advance?)
3 nights in Mostar (will probably visit at least one town nearby)
6 nights in Sarajevo
5 nights in Belgrade (too much?)
2 nights in Novi Sad
Back to Belgrade, Flight to Zurich, Zurich-Montreal.
I have about six more days that I could add to my trip, if you think I'm missing out on something. I'm a 21 year old female traveling solo, and I don't drive. Does my itinerary make sense? I'm also not sure of what I'm going to do in Croatia. Is it affordable for one person to look for private accomodation? Any advice on my itinerary would be very welcome.
Also, I'm on a budget of about 70$US (54 Euros?) per day, excluding flights but including buses/trains. I plan on booking as many hostels in advance as I can, and to cook my own food most of the time. Am I too ambitious?
*I'd like to stay in this hostel: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Hostel-pod-Voglom/Bohinj/41038 and do some day hikes. Is there a bus service around the lake, or am I going to have to walk to Ribcev Laz every time?
Edited by: navetconfit
Feb 26, 2012 10:35 AM
1Your budget should not be a problem. Obviously it changes from place to place but as a rough guide I would say to budget: 10-15 euros per night for accomodation. 1-3 euros for street/takeaway/kiosk food, 3-8 euros for a restaurant meal, 10-20 euros for long transport journeys.
Don't book your hostels now leave it till you are out there. This gives you some flexibility if you want to change your plans. It's easy enough booking online as you go.
I think you have overestimated how long you need in a few places. However, this is better than underestimating them. It also gives you the chance to consider some day trips and maybe stops at smaller places along the way. Not booking hostels now will give you the flexibility to spend less or more time in each place depending on how much you like it.
Feb 26, 2012 10:39 AM
2Your pace of travel is good. Your stops of five nights or more might be too much for some people. I would encourage you to remain flexible and move on if you are getting bored or antsy. There are a ton of things to do and see in the region.
Check out this page for tons of advice on traveling in the region:
Your budget is definitely possible. However, in some places like Croatia, and in places where you will have trouble finding a cheap hostel, you will have to be very smart about getting by at that level. For example, at Plitvice I don't think there is a hostel, so that leaves you renting a private room. When I was there I looked mostly for private double rooms, which were running 40+ euros during the off season. As you can see, if you have too many of those kinds of lodging nights, that will blow your budget quickly.
Feb 27, 2012 10:30 AM
3Thank you both for your advice!
It's good to hear that I don't have to book my hostels in advance... I'm a very organized person (that's a nice way of saying I'm a bit of a control freak), and I sometimes find it hard to be spontaneous, but I might just have to try it this summer. I guess I don't like the idea of not getting the cheapest rooms possible, but the flexibility is probably worth spending a little more money.
I had definitely planned on spending more in Croatia than in, say, Montenegro, especially since I will be doing a lot of hiking there. Also, I'm ready to splurge on a hotel room at Plitvice, but I'm definitely not staying there more than on night!
Feb 27, 2012 11:04 AM
4Trogir. For day trips Split and Solun are worth some time but you needed stay in Split. You might want to consider one of the islands. Read about getting there from Split and then going to Dubrovnik via ferry and spending some days and nights on one island.
Don't worry so much about booking hostels in advance. Book a night or two a ahead and only book a night or two in case you meet people when traveling for have suggestions for places or activities you haven't considered previously.
Also in this part of the world it is very common to rent a room in an apartment or house rather than to stay in a hostel. So you might want to consider that option.
Cooking your food, even in a well stocked hostel kitchen, sometimes turns out to be expensive and a hassle because it is rare for portions to be for single people. Pasta may be cheap but it's sold in boxes that are more than one portion so you either eat pasta for several nights or cart it around with you. Preparing lunch from meats and cheese, breads etc is a more reasonable expectation.
There probably aren't enough hikes in Kotor but you can take day trips to Cetinje and Mt Lovcen or visit Budva or Stary Bar.
Booking in Zabljak as a single person will be a little more difficult and much of the hiking there I wouldn't want to do alone so you might want to look for a companion for this area.
Belgrade is pleasant but unless you are planning to take some day trips, I don't think there is enough to keep one busy that long.
I wouldn't necessarily plan to fly back to Zurich unless you can get a cheap budget flight (check whichbudget.com). Instead there is an overnight train from Belgrade to Ljubljana and another from Ljubljana to Zurich and you could stop in Ljubljana for a day or longer. Prices for train tickets aren't bad if you plan in advance.
Feb 28, 2012 1:33 AM
5my general advice is, make a short list of must-do things and must-get-to points, which can be places you listed, and once you get at each one, do yourself a favour and let yourself decide right there if you will stay as long as you planed, or go move somewhere else. After all, it really depends on your current mood, with whom you're accompanied with or not, recommendations on the fly, etc etc.
And you can always use this places as base points to your day trips around.
A few more tips, based on my impressions:
Kotor is okay, but shuffle around the Bay. Many more interesting small villages and spots are around the Bay, and you can use staying in Kotor old town as a base for relatively near by places like Cetinje, Lovcen mausoleum, or other.
You don't really need to book accommodation once on Durmitor. Every second household rents rooms, apartments, camping grounds, etc. Average price in single room with shared bathroom (per apartment) would be some 7 or 8 Euros before July, and not more than 10 Euros in July and August, which is the high season for Zabljak visits. Just appear there and ask anyone for accomodation, it's that easy, or find some recommendations online before you get there.
I can recommend Misho Vojinovic, his family runs that hospitality business over there for quite some time, having ~12 houses/huts for rent, two or three floors each. It might be funny, but Zabljak and other Durmitor settlements are small enough that it's enough only to ask anybody local for certain name and directions.
In Serbia, Belgrade is okay, Novi Sad too, but generally, you won't see much nature there and in between these cities, which could be a shame, given your interests. Also, no matter that these two are the most visited and most usual places in Serbia for foreign travelers, it doesn't mean that they represent Serbia in a right way. My suggestion would be to travel a bit more inland, but you can get some ideas during time.
Croatia, Zagreb for 4 days. That's boring. I lived in Zagreb, and although it's really beautiful city and has big importance for contemporary culture in the ex Yu, I can't really figure out what to do there after two days, if you're traveler. Make yourself a favour and visit Varazdin, like you suggested. Or spend more time somewhere else in Croatia. For example, you haven't include Rijeka and Opatija, anywhere in Istria, etc.
Plitvice waterfalls are okay, but managable to do in a couple of hours. You better get there in the morning, and leave in the afternoon to somewhere else. Or if you're that unlucky with the weather, stay for a night.
Bosnia&Hercegovina. Well, 6 days in Sarajevo. Good luck. Cos it sounds too much. There are plenty of great places in Bosnia and Hercegovina, why do all the travelers stick only to these two cities :) Consider Travnik, Jajce, Trebinje, Banja Luka, all the great mountains Bosnia and Srpska can offer.
You can actually consider rafting down Tara canyon in Durmitor, and getting to Srpska/Bosnia afterwards. Now that would be mind-blowing experience.
Also, if you're continuing to Serbia from Bosnia/Srpska, the easiest and most logical stop-over for outdoors activities might be Zlatibor mountains (baby mountains actually, compared with those in Montenegro and Bosnia/Srpska). Villages in that area have very developed rural tourism and environment is quite scenic, and I bet you're missing it by your planned itinerary (which is too cliche by now).
Feb 29, 2012 12:59 PM
Feb 29, 2012 4:20 PM
7I'm considering a similar itinerary involving Bosnia and Serbia, and am a bit intrigued by mpetrovic's recommendation of the Zlatibor mountains. What's the best way of getting there from Sarajevo (I'm guessing bus?), and how long would it take? I'd have the same questions for getting from Zlatibor to Belgrade as well.
Mar 1, 2012 12:40 AM
8to be honest, Zlatibor mountains aren't really unmissable, if you're about mountains. I would always recommend a few other mountains in Serbia, than Zlatibor.
However, Zlatibor sceneries are really nice and pictoresque, mountain isn't hard to climb but it's consisted of slopes and hilly terrains with vast meadows, therefore it makes it easy to trek for anyone. It's really a mainstream mountain destination within Serbia itself, so it means you can find accommodation easily just anywhere you go there.
Apart from nice sceneries, that area is known for excellent locally made meat products (prosciutto type of things), and excellent shlivovitza brandy. Probably the most well known open-air ethno-village-museum in Serbia (or however they call this places), Sirogojno, is over there. Etc..
If you are into real rural environment, I guess Zlatibor isn't really it, because it's more or less developed area in terms of tourism (but certainly not yet spoiled by it). If you're into real mountains, with canyons and inpassable forests and high summits, again Zlatibor isn't the best choice then. But it is easy enough to reach from Sarajevo, and it's popular mountain destination anyway, also, it's nice. I guess you can take bus from Sarajevo to Visegrad and Uzice, and once in Uzice, find any local bus to Zlatibor, most probably you'll have to find it labeled as Kraljeve Vode, which is this over-developed hotels and weekend houses area. Continuing to Belgrade is easy, either from Zlatibor itself, or better from Uzice, where you can catch trains too.
Mar 3, 2012 9:54 AM
May 9, 2012 4:46 AM
You chose a great route, but let me add some ideas. You wanted to go in June and July, so I hope thisreply still gets to you in time.
ad Costs: Be warned that Slovenia and Croatia are rather expensive to travel around in ! Prices of food and accomodation have reached European levels, so a single room in a private home along the coast will cost you around EUR 20 without breakfast. That price I just paid last week in Istria. Come June and July the Croatian coast will get packed and more expensive. BA and MN are still a bit cheaper.
ad Maribor: Since you do not have any wheels to get out into the outskirts, there is no point in saying 3 days in MB. 3 hours is enough, a stroll around themain square, church and along the river, basta. Rather spend some time on the beautiful wine roads of Southern Styria just 25 km north of Maribor.
ad Ljibljana: Nice city, but one intensive day should have it. Sounds like you are more of a nature type, then (besides Bohinj and Bled) get over to Kranjska Gora and the Triglav Nationalpark !
Summer will be hot and unless you die for cities inland (Zagreb etc.), stay along the coast. Easier to get transportation or hitchhike, beautiful countryside (the 1800m high Velebit mountains follow the coast) and lovely coastal villages. Not to forget idyllic peninsulas and island such as Cres, Losinj, Hvar, Korcula, Peljesac !!
All the best ! :)
May 9, 2012 11:41 AM
What would be the best choice in Serbia if that was what I was into, then, marko? You described just what I am looking for.
(OP - sorry for the threadjack. Your itinerary looks great, BTW)
Edited by: etcap
May 10, 2012 12:58 AM
12in my opinion, south-west or south-east/east. dozens of options, and almost totally out of any tourist trail. Google/Flickr for Trem, Babin Zub, Streser, Rtanj summits, Sicevo, Jerma, Lazarev and Jelasnicka gorges, watterfalls of Stara Planina, etc. For south-western part, Google/Flickr for Uvac, Mileshevka gorges, Zlatar, Golija, Peshter, Ninaja mountains, etc. All of these are just names that come to my mind right now, to give some general idea, not much more than that.
May 10, 2012 4:38 AM
May 15, 2012 12:12 AM
14Hi everyone - OP here.
I'm travelling at the moment, so I only just got the chance to reply.
@EasternTravels: Thank you for your recommendations! Do you know if Southern Styria is worth it without a car? Most of the information I can find is in German and my knowledge of the language is rather rudimentary, I'm afraid. I'm going to look into hiking where you suggested, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to spend that much time in Zagreb, but rather make my way down the coast slowly.
@etcap: If you do start a thread, could you link to it here? I'd love to see it. And don't worry about the threadjack, I was definitely interested in mpetrovic's reply!
(4 star Hotel)
From US$89.85 per night
(1 star Hotel)
From US$20.91 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$20.89 per night