The Balkans poses no notable health risks to travellers, though as with anywhere else in the world there are basic things you should be aware of.

Before You Go

Prevention is the key to staying healthy while abroad. A little planning, particularly for pre-existing illnesses, will save trouble later: see your dentist before a long trip, carry spare contact lenses or glasses, and take your optical prescription with you.

Bring medications in original, clearly labelled containers along with a signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names. If carrying syringes, have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity.

Health Insurance

If you’re an EU citizen, an E111 form, available from health centres, covers you for most medical care. The E111 will not cover you for non emergencies or emergency repatriation home. If you do need health insurance, strongly consider a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an emergency flight home. Find out if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. The former option is preferable.

Recommended Vaccinations

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination. Since most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, visit a physician at least six weeks before departure.

In Destination

Availability & Cost of Health Care

Good basic health care is readily available, and pharmacists can give valuable advice and sell over-the-counter medication for minor illnesses. They can also refer you to more specialised help when required. Outside major cities, medical care is not always readily available, but embassies, consulates and five star hotels can usually recommend doctors or clinics. Healthcare costs tend to be less expensive than in Western Europe, but given you may want to go to a private clinic for anything beyond a doctor’s consultation, comprehensive health insurance is essential.

Tap Water

Tap water may not be safe to drink, so it is best to stick to bottled water or boil for 10 minutes, use water purification tables or a filter. Do not drink water from rivers or lakes; it may contain bacteria or viruses that can cause diarrhoea or vomiting. Brushing your teeth with tap water is highly unlikely to lead to problems.