North Macedonia

Cradled by the foothills on the western edge of Pelister, little Brajčino's lungs are fit to bursting with fresh mountain air, making it a thoroughly idyllic place to pitch up. Rushing water resounds around the village, cherry trees blossom in spring and migrating swallows stop by; traditional rural architecture adds further charm. There are five churches and a monastery hidden in the leafy environs circling this well-kept village and a two- to three-hour, well-marked trail takes in all of them.

Brajčino is on the other side of the park to the single road that climbs into the heart of the Pelister. Hence, it's a longer hike from here up to Pelister's glacial mountaintop lakes (there's a marked trail from the village: plan for around 12 hours for this walk). The village lies within winking distance of Lake Prespa, however, and makes a good base if you wish to explore both the lake and the mountains.