- Four weeks
Start this ramble through some of the more offbeat pockets of the Balkans with the colourful Albanian capital Tirana to soak up the cultural assets of the city. After charging your batteries on Himara and Drymades beaches, spend a couple of days exploring the ruins of Butrint, then head north for a trek through the Accursed Mountains combined with the wonderful ferry ride across Lake Koman.
Leaving Albania, cross into Kosovo and explore its monasteries from the old town of Prizren. Next, head south into the mountains of Macedonia through the Mavrovo National Park. Spend at least a couple of days in beautiful Ohrid for its picture-perfect monastery and some swimming in its eponymous lake. Make your way to the Macedonian capital of Skopje where Ottoman and Byzantine architecture create a heady urban landscape.
Continue north towards the Serbian capital, Belgrade, for fascinating museums by day and hip clubs by night. Then explore one of the country's wild national parks – Djerdap in the east, with a cruise through the Danube's Iron Gates gorge, or Tara in the west, on the whimsical Šargan Eight heritage railway. End the journey in historic Niš, from where you can take side trips to the stone pyramids of Devil's Town or the spectacular meanders of Uvac canyon in southern Serbia.