Balkans in two weeks
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Aug 29, 2012 7:11 AM Last Post By: daveelmstrom
Aug 28, 2012 8:02 AM
Balkans in two weeksHi everyone!
i'm considering a 2-week trip to the Balkans, but I'm rather ambitious. It will also be my first time there, so I'm hoping to get some opinions. I am hoping to cover Croatia and Turkey mainly, but I want to visit Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia as well, since I'm considering the Rail Europe Balkan Pass.
Is it convenient to travel around the Balkan area via Rail Europe? I'm actually thinking of staying in Croatia, Bulgaria and Turkey mainly, and then taking day trips to the other places from Bulgaria maybe, but I'm not sure how long it takes to travel from Bulgaria to the other places by rail. Can anyone enlighten me on that? How does the cost of accommodation in Bulgaria compare with the other countries?
Actually, is it even worth it to get the Rail Europe Pass, since I will have to get a Balkan Pass as well as a Croatia Pass? Might it be cheaper to pay for individual fares?
Considering the little amount of time I have, I guess I can only visit a city per country. Any suggestions on which cities to visit for these countries?
Hope to hear from you guys! Thanks!
Edited by: skiahui
Aug 28, 2012 9:30 AM
1Usual advice here for that kind of trip is to forget about all rail passes and cover the area by bus.Bus is more frequent,flexible,faster,just as cheap and more or less just as comfortable.It takes hours and hours to travel anywhere of even moderate distance between 2 countries in the Balkans,at least for the kind of cities worth seeing,and sometimes even travel within countries by rail is slow and difficult.You won't be able to stay in one country and visit another,you will have to stay in the country you visit more or less every time.
Train from Bulgaria-Turkey is part bus anyway,and there is nothing direct between Bulgaria-Macedonia.
Also,if you are looking to 'cover' Croatia,this alone can take up most of your time,so I would say Turkey and Romania are steps too far.If you only want to see one or 2 places in each country:
I would go by bus,see around the Croatian coast,Dubrovnik,maybe Split,bus to Montenegro,onward to Macedonia and Ohrid,bus to Sofia,and then into Serbia,possibly by train,spend as long as you feel you like in those countries and don't get rushed and stressed out trying to do too much.If you really feel the need to,do Istanbul by bus from Sofia.
Aug 28, 2012 9:54 AM
2From someone who done Balkans with car untold times, used buses and occational train, i will tell you that you bit more than you can chew for 2 weeks.
Forget rail pass of any discription, use buses, cheaper, frequent and plenty plus preffered transport mode.
To do Turkey, Bulgaria,Macedonia, Serbia, Romania,Montenegro & Croatia is imposible in 2weeks, as you will spend your time travelling and not seeing anything in those countries.
If you are coming from Turkey,I would concentrate to Bulgaria, Macedonia & Serbia and leave rest for other occation. Romania deserves trip on its own.. So much to see and do. And put together Croatia, Montenegro, bosna & perhaps Albania, for another trip.
Need some more info just shout.
Happy planing & traveling
Aug 28, 2012 12:04 PM
3We just did a trip from Istanbul to Croatia in 2 weeks, then spent 1 week in Croatia. Along the way we hit 2 towns in Bulgaria, 2 in Macedonia and 1 in Montenegro.
I will tell you it did feel rushed. Although bus is the best way to travel, they can be late or not at convenient times (ie you may arrive one town at night, and have to catch the bus first thing in the morning)
You do get to see a lot from the bus tho, and so even though you don't get the flavor of many cities, the Balkins are beautiful from a bus window.
The bus from Montenegro to Macedonia goes thru Albania anyways, so you could easily stop there.
So many places to see. If your okay with one night here, one night there- go for it!
Aug 28, 2012 6:32 PM
4Your plans are pretty unrealistic unless you are only planning to make one stop in each of the 7 countries you mention.
Either focus on one or two countries or figure out your start and end point and the. Travel more or less directly.
Travel is much slower than you realize in this part of the world. Trains are uncommon in them any areas.
Bottom line. Rethink your plans.
Aug 28, 2012 7:04 PM
5so glad to hear from you guys! as you definitely can tell, i am as clueless as anyone can get. i'm coming from singapore by the way, and i have limited knowledge of the area and the travelling time
will it be more practical for me to cut down to just Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and Hungary, say slightly less than a week for Croatia, and another for the rest? and leave Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey for two or three other trips
Edited by: skiahui
Aug 28, 2012 8:21 PM
Aug 28, 2012 8:42 PM
Aug 28, 2012 8:57 PM
8Than focus on Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo & Metohija.
Or Romania only.
For the first 3 there is lots of medival, churches, fortresses, history and arhitecture in general. Very much different than W or Central Europe. With much of Ottoman ( islamic) influence, as the Ottomans ruled the Balkans for 5 centuries. Very different experience. Be prepared for lots of walking and make sure you have suficiant battery suply for your camera..
Aug 28, 2012 9:06 PM
Aug 28, 2012 9:21 PM
10For good time, warm but not excrutiatingly hot I suggest end of May and first week of June.
If you are coming from Singapore fly to London for cheaper fare and than take budget airline to Skopje and out of Belgrade.
Concentrate on MKD, SRB & KS and if you have some time visit Zagreb from Belgrade by train.
Aug 29, 2012 7:11 AM
11If it were me, I would allocate a week at minimum, and better to have 10 days, to visit Croatia. That will allow you to see about three cities for a couple of days each, and maybe a day trip or two if you have 10 days. That will only leave you only 4 to 7 days to visit other locations. I would recommend just picking one additional country, and visiting that country.
As noted above, transportation around the Balkans can be very slow, so keep your expectations low in terms of how much you can see in two weeks.
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