Spectacular Scenery

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia Turquoise waters, lush forest, cascading waterfalls – enough said.

Lake Koman, Albania A unique pocket of the world seen from the ferry through Albania’s remote mountainous north.

Lovćen National Park, Montenegro A vertiginous drive from Kotor to the Njegoš Mausoleum at the pinnacle of the Black Mountain.

Uvac Canyon, Serbia The spectacular zigzag meanders of the Uvac river in southwestern Serbia are best admired from high above.

Postojna Cave, Slovenia One of the world's largest karst caves boasts unrivalled stalagmite and stalactite formations in a series of caverns, halls and passages.

Zlatni Rat, Croatia The tongue-shaped white-pebble beach on Brač island is one Croatia's most photographed.

Outdoors Action

Extreme sports in Bovec, Slovenia Along with neighbouring Bled, this is the region's unrivalled location for extreme sports, offering everything from canyoning to hydspeeding.

Great-value skiing, Bosnia & Hercegovina Increasingly serviceable and so far affordable, try Bjelašnica, Jahorina and Vlašić mountains.

Rafting the Tara Canyon, Montenegro Hit the rapids of the Tara River in Europe's deepest canyon.

Windsurfing on Bol island, Croatia The famous Zlatni Rat beach attracts crowds of swimmers and windsurfers in summer.

Hiking in the Accursed Mountains, Albania Snow-capped peaks and traditional mountain villages in one of Europe's most remote corners.

Danube Cycling Path, Serbia Cycle along the Danube through the mighty Iron Gates gorge in Serbia's Djerdap National Park.

Old Towns

Dubrovnik, Croatia Marble-paved streets and glorious ocean views can be admired from Dubrovnik’s resplendent city walls.

Kotor, Montenegro Walled Kotor is dramatically wedged between the sea and the steeply rising grey mountainside.

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Hercegovina Enjoy a Turkish coffee in Baščaršija, the bustling old Turkish quarter of town.

Berat, Albania This meandering town with its Unesco-listed black and white houses is so consistently old that even the hostels are Ottoman-style.

Ohrid, Macedonia Stunning 13th-century church perched on a cliff above one of Europe's deepest and oldest lakes.

Prizren, Kosovo Kosovo's most atmospheric town is overlooked by a hilltop fortress and crammed with mosques and churches.

Ancient Remnants

Diocletian’s Palace, Croatia Imposing Roman ruin in the beating heart of Split, encompassing 220 ancient buildings.

Butrint, Albania Enchanting 2500-years-old ruins in a lush forest on the Ionian coast and a fascinating insight into the layers of mind-boggling Balkans history.

Kalemegdan Citadel, Serbia Destroyed over 40 times, this fortress on the Danube was once squeezed between the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.

Dečani Monastery, Kosovo Unesco-listed 13th-century monastery with amazing frescoes, in an incredibly beautiful spot beneath the mountains.

Mehmet Paša Sokolović Bridge, Bosnia & Hercegovina The Unesco-listed masterpiece that inspired Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić's classic work Bridge on the Drina.

Bay of Bones, Macedonia A prehistoric settlement of pile dwellers, excavated by an underwater team, is now Lake Ohrid's Museum on Water.

Wining & Dining

Istrian delights, Croatia Top eateries serve up truffles, wild asparagus and fresh seafood, with rakija (brandy) to start.

Slow food, Macedonia Homespun cooking, from paprika-tinged sausages to foraged mushrooms, is putting Macedonia firmly on the menu.

Vojvodinian salaši (farmsteads), Serbia Combining traditional Serbian cuisine with the influences of neighbouring Hungary, Vojvodina's cuisine is in a league of its own.

Mountain cuisine, Montenegro Njeguši village in Lovćen National Park is famous for its pršut (smoke-dried ham) and Njeguški sir (cheese). Another traditional mountain dish is jagnjetina ispod sača (lamb roasted under hot coals).

Wine tasting, Bosnia & Hercegovina Hercegovina's homegrown wines are a revelation; the Trebinje region produces some of the best.

Wine tours, Slovenia Enjoy gourmet treats and tour the wine cellars of fertile Vipava Valley by car or bike.

Nightlife

Belgrade, Serbia One of the nightlife capitals of the world, Belgrade’s eclectic party scene is limited only by imagination and hours in the day.

Hvar Town, Croatia It’s incredible that Hvar island hasn’t sunk with all the jumping up and down. There are sublime beaches to recover on.

Tirana, Albania The Albanian capital has a particularly lively scene after dark in and around its famous Blloku neighbourhood.

Ljubljana, Slovenia For a scruffy alternative to trendy clubs, head for Metelkova Mesto, an ex-army garrison converted into a free-living commune.

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Hercegovina The line between Sarajevo's bars and cafes can be blurred. Increasing in popularity are cafes for smoking narghile (hookah) tucked into former caravanserai courtyards.

Budva, Montenegro Scores of bars and clubs packed with holidaymakers each summer have earned Budva the nickname of 'Montenegrin Miami'.