Exploring the Balkans: The Best Ways to Travel for Your Ultimate Balkan Trip

Planning a Balkan trip soon? The Balkans can be a great choice if you’re looking for budget-friendly destinations in Europe, as the region comprises some of the cheapest travel destinations on the continent. 

Some Balkan countries aren’t in the Schengen zone, so they’re relatively easy to travel to—especially if you’re a weak passport holder. For Schengen visa holders, the Balkans can be a great destination for visa runs in Europe too! 

In this post, I’m going to share some tips about the best way to travel for your ultimate Balkan trip. 

From how to travel around the Balkans to the best routes to take for your Balkan travel, here’s everything you need to know!

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How to Get Around the Balkan Region

Getting around the Balkans is pretty easy, as the region is pretty well-connected through international bus services. 

Although Flixbus only goes so far to Croatia from Western Europe, there are still some bus companies that offer international services between countries in the Balkans area. 

Private services using platforms like BlaBlaCar or InDrive are also pretty common, although they can be pretty expensive if you’re a solo traveler trying to find the most affordable way to travel around Balkan.

Traveling around Balkan can be pretty tricky too, especially if you’re a non-European citizen, as you may need to be more vigilant about the border services between the countries in Balkan to ensure a seamless trip in the region.  

Traveling the Balkans by Bus

Bus station in Belgrade, Serbia.

If you’re looking for the cheapest alternative to travel around Balkan, international bus service is your best option. 

It may not be the most comfortable option, but it works best if budget is your concern, especially if you’re planning for a slow travel around Balkan. 

The downside of taking the international bus service in Balkan is probably the bus schedule since no matter how long it is written based on the bus timetable, the chance of the journey taking longer than expected is never zero. 

In fact, if you decide to take a bus around the Balkans – I’d recommend spending around 3-4 hours from the estimated time of arrival at your destination. 

The good news? Booking bus tickets in the Balkans is pretty easy, as websites like Omio and Busbud provide some international bus routes in the region. 

As easy as it gets, I’d still recommend getting some cash ready if you plan to travel by bus around the Balkans. 

Some bus operators in the region will charge an additional fee to store your big bags in the compartment, and they may expect payment directly to the bus attendants or drivers before your departure. 

Also, if the bus journey is long enough for toilet breaks, I’d also recommend keeping some coins as you may need it to use public toilets when traveling around the Balkans. 

Traveling the Balkans by Train

Sargan 8 train, the historic railway that connects Serbia and Bosnia.

Although many resources on the internet say it’s possible to travel around the Balkans by train, booking the train ticket online is another matter. 

Online booking platforms like Omio seem to only have a few international train routes in the Balkans, but some companies offer railway passes like Interrail that enable you to take as many train journeys as you want around Europe. 

Some train routes in the Balkans that you can consider taking for your Balkan trip include one between Zagreb in Croatia and Ljubljana in Slovenia

If you want to travel in Balkan by train, I recommend combining trains with other transport like buses or private transfers to make the most of your trip in the region. 

Traveling the Balkans by Flight

International airport terminal at Istanbul New Airport, Turkiye.

For those who only have a short time to travel through the Balkans but still want to visit all the Balkan landmarks during your holiday, flights are probably the easiest and fastest way to travel between the Balkan countries. 

Each capital city of the Balkan countries from Turkiye to Romania has relatively connected airports, making it easier to travel around the region. 

However, you need to plan your Balkan trip accordingly since not all airports in the Balkans have direct flight routes between destinations.

Because of this, if you plan to use flights as your main transport for your Balkan holidays, I highly recommend starting your trip from Turkiye. 

Their national carrier, Turkish Airlines, has more flight routes than other airlines in the Balkans. In addition, budget airlines like Pegasus or Wizz Air also have several international routes within the region that make it easier for you to get around Balkan by plane. 

Traveling the Balkans by Ferry Boats

Ferry boats in Turkiye.

Since the majority of the Balkan areas are landlocked, the only way to travel by ferry in Balkan is if you travel from Turkiye to Greece or the other way around. 

From Turkiye, you can take a ferry boat from either Bodrum, Cesme, or Kusadasi since some ferry operators provide ferry routes to Greek islands like Kos and Chios. 

If you plan to travel around Balkan by ferry, I recommend using Let’s Ferry to book your ferry ticket online.

Best Routes to Travel Around Balkan

Turkiye is a great spot to start your Balkan trip, whether you fly from Europe or other continents. 

With hundreds of domestic and international routes, Turkish Airlines has flights to all Balkan destinations. If you choose to travel by bus, it’s also relatively easy to find international bus services from Turkiye to countries in Europe.  

If you prefer crossing the sea, you can also travel to one of the Greek islands from Turkiye. Some ferry routes connect Turkiye to some Greek destinations, including some to Chios and Kos through the Aegean Sea. 

Turkish Airlines on the sky.

Looking for the best ideas to plan a Balkan trip? Here are the best routes to travel to Balkan for a seamless experience!

  • Turkiye – Greece
  • Greece – Bulgaria
  • Bulgaria – Romania
  • Romania – Serbia
  • Serbia-Kosovo
  • Kosovo – North Macedonia
  • North Macedonia – Albania
  • Albania – Montenegro
  • Montenegro – Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina – Croatia
  • Croatia – Slovenia

Alternatively, you can do it in reverse. However, keep in mind that you should do Serbia first before Kosovo instead of the other way around. 

Due to the political situation between both countries, the Serbian immigration officer has the prerogative to reject your entrance if your passport has Kosovo stamps. 


What is the best way to travel around the Balkans?

I think the bus is the best option for traveling around the Balkans because it has many bus routes available, which you can’t get with the other transport options.

If you have an extra budget, renting a car or using a private service like Blablacar can also be a great alternative for an easy travel around Balkan. Feeling more adventurous? You can also consider renting a campervan to explore the Balkans at your own pace.

Some of the best Balkan attractions are usually located in the countryside – most aren’t accessible by flight, though some have train routes available.

Campervan at Triglav National Park in Slovenia.

What is the best country in the Balkans to visit?

All Balkan destinations are actually worth visiting if you have the time to explore them all. But if I have to name the top destinations in the Balkans for a short visit, it would be Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Turkiye.

Slovenia is the best place to visit if you’re looking for a small country with endless natural beauty. The only downside is that the country is already in the Schengen zone, which makes it one of the most expensive destinations in the Balkan – not to mention that a Schengen visa will be required to travel there. 

Serbia and Bosnia are the best countries to visit in the Balkans if you’re looking for a budget-friendly place to explore nature in the Balkans.

Serbia is a landlocked country in the Balkans, but blessed with so many beautiful mountains like Tara or Zlatibor – making it pretty popular for skiing during the winter.

Neum, the coastal town in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As for Bosnia, it has several mountains like Maglic at Sutjeska National Park – as well as a small access to the Adriatic Sea in the coastal town Neum. Both Serbia and Bosnia are considered the cheapest destinations in the Balkans compared to their neighboring countries. 

Although not all parts of Turkiye are located in the Balkan Peninsula, the country has so much to offer. From budget-friendly travel destinations and mountain regions to coastal towns – whether you plan to explore the Mediterranean, Aegean, Marmara, or even the Black Sea.

On top of that, traveling to Turkiye is pretty affordable, and the national carrier Turkish Airlines is pretty well-connected to hundreds of destinations around the world.

Is it cheap to travel around the Balkans?

If you compare it with other European destinations, yes. The Balkan region is more affordable than the Western European destinations.

However, since I’m coming from Southeast Asia where everything is cheap(er), I still find Balkan pretty expensive.

Balkan Mountains region in Bulgaria


If you’re looking for a cheap destination to travel in Europe, the Balkans are a perfect choice. 

Whether you plan to visit the whole Balkan Peninsula area all the way to Turkiye or just focus on the former Yugoslavian countries, there are so many things to explore in Balkan without breaking the bank! 

While public transport in Balkan may not be the best compared to its European counterparts, the options are pretty convenient for all types of travelers. 

For budget travelers, buses and trains are the perfect choice to travel around Balkan – as long as you familiarize yourself with the available routes and schedules. You can also find a commercial ferry between Turkiye and Greece if you want to make the most of your trip in the region. 

But if you have limited time to travel around the region, you can also easily travel by flight as the Balkans are pretty well-connected with some fight routes with airlines like Turkish Airlines or Wizz Air. 

So, are you ready to take off to start your Balkan trip?

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