You are currently viewing What Countries Were the Balkans? A Complete Guide for Visiting This Underrated Region of Europe

What Countries Were the Balkans? A Complete Guide for Visiting This Underrated Region of Europe

  • Post last modified:February 29, 2024
  • Post author:
  • Post category:Europe

Sharing is caring!

Welcome to one of the most beautiful and underrated areas of Europe, the Balkans! If you were wondering what countries were in the Balkans, or what they have to offer, then you're in the right spot.


Last summer we spent 3 months exploring the Balkans, and have so much to share with you! There are so many great reasons to visit the Balkans, and this guide is going to share everything you need to know so that you can have as epic of a trip as we did.


So without further ado, let's jump in to our complete travel guide of the Balkans in Europe!

*Please note that this blog post may contain some affiliate links, which we make a small profit on, at zero cost to you. Links are only used on products & services that we've used and believe in, to give you the best buying experience. Purchasing from these links helps us to continue providing free travel guides for you- so thank you for your support!


What Countries Were the Balkans?

The Balkans are a region in south Eastern Europe, that spread across what is known as the Balkan Peninsula. The name comes from the Balkan mountain range that runs through Bulgaria. When discussing what countries were in the Balkans, this topic can be kind of controversial, as some people count some countries, while some others don't.


The countries that are always included in this region are Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Some others consider Romania, parts of Greece, and the most western part of Turkey to be inside the Balkan Region.


In this post we are going to include Romania, but leave the focus out for Greece and Turkey.


Which Country to Visit in the Balkans

Each country in the Balkans is beautiful in its own way! There isn't a single country that we didn't love in one way or another. However, there are definitely some that are more tailored for certain types of people. In this post were  not only going to go over what countries were in the Balkans, but go over the highlights of each one so you can choose which ones you'd like to prioritize.


what to do in Croatia, what countries were in the Balkans
Beach in Albania, what countries were in the Balkans
spa in Romania, what countries were in the Balkans
Montenegro, what countries were in the Balkans

Each country in the Balkans has something unique to offer.


What Countries Were the Balkans? Different Options to Visit the Balkans

There are so many countries in the Balkans! So where exactly should you travel? Well, the good news is that the Balkans are very well-connected, so you can easily visit a few countries in just a short amount of time. We spent 10 weeks in the Balkans, and spent an average of one week in each place (we spent a couple of days less in Kosovo for example, and then used those extra days in Romania).


In order to choose where exactly to start, you can do exactly what we did! We used Skyscanner flying from Spain, and were looking for the cheapest destination to get to in the area. We found our flight from Sevilla to Bucharest for just 50 Euros, and have also seen flights as low at 9 Euros coming from other European countries!

Flight Tip: Use Skyscanner and put from "your city" to "Everywhere". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport in the Balkan area to fly. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for your destination!

Search for a flight to the Balkans:


Travel More. Spend Less.

Let us help you plan your dream trip.


Entry Requirements for Visiting the Balkans

Now that you know what countries were in the Balkans, and how to reach this part of Europe, It's important to know the requirements needed to enter in each country.


Visa Entry Requirements

One of the reasons we actually traveled to the Balkans was because all of the countries are outside of the Schengen Zone! This is great news because it means that you can spend up to 90 days in each country. The only countries in the Balkans that are part of the Schengen Zone are Croatia and Slovenia. This means that is you have visited other countries in the Schengen Zone prior, you will be limited to a total of 90 days within a 180-day period.


Covid Entry Requirements

We visited the Balkans in the summer of 2022, and pretty much all of the requirements had already been lifted. You won't need to worry about being vaccinated or taking a Covid-19 test before visiting any of these countries, nor will you find anyone really wearing masks anymore.


All Your Travels

in One Book

Transform your travel memories into a unique book, with personalized pages, country by country.


Local Adjustments for the Balkans

Whenever you travel there are things that will be different than where you are coming from. Here are some of the things to keep in mind for visiting the Balkans.


Languages Spoken in the Balkans

Being that the countries in the Balkans are so close, they have a lot in common when it comes to their language! Pretty much every country has their "own language" but almost everyone in the Balkans can communicate with each other because they are quite similar.


The languages in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Slovenia are all slavic languages, and closely linked. In Kosovo and Albania they speak Albanian, which is closer to Greek or Armenian.


Another thing to note is that while some countries use the Latin alphabet, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia all use the Cyrillic alphabet.


Currency Used in the Balkans

While most of Western Europe use the Euro, there are some countries in the Balkans that use the Euro, and some that have their own currency. Currently Slovenia, Montenegro, and Kosovo use the Euro, and soon Croatia will be changing from the Kuna to the Euro.


The rest of the countries have their own currency, which you can check out in our individual guides of each country.


Are the Balkans Expensive?

Overall, the Balkans are extremely affordable! In comparison to western Europe, they are much cheaper. You can find hotels for as low as 10-15 euros, and have meals for 10-20 euros/person.


Which Balkan Country is Chapest?

We found that the cheapest country to travel in the Balkans was Serbia.


What is the Most Expensive Country in the Balkans?

The most expensive county in the Balkans is definitely Croatia. It is a lot more set up for tourism, and you can find much more luxury options when it comes to hotels and dining. That being said, you can definitely have a budget-friendly trip to Croatia!


What Plug Do They Use in the Balkans?

The Balkans use the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C, E, & F. The standard voltage throughout the Balkan countries is 220 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.


Water Potability

Depending on which countries you visit, will depend on the quality of the water. Most places in the Balkans have water that is perfectly safe to drink from the tap.


Countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Kosovo have clean water everywhere, were as Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania have potable water in certain areas of the country. To learn more you can check our individual guides for each country.


Tipping Culture

The tipping culture in the Balkans is typically similar from country to country. We suggest as a general rule of thumb to leave 10-15% extra on top of your bill, and to do so in cash. 

Pink Dot Thessaloniki Greece

Will You Buy Us A Coffee? ☕

As coffee lovers, we always enjoy the energy of caffeine. It helps us get the best free travel guides out there for you! 😄


What Countries Were the Balkans? Comparing Each Country

Now that you know what countries were in the Balkans, and the basics for visiting the area, it's time to explore each place! Here are the highlights of each country, so that you can choose which country in the Balkans is the best for you to prioritize.


Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

What Countries Were the Balkans pin
What Countries Were the Balkans pin
What Countries Were the Balkans pin

Croatia

Croatia is definitely the most popular and well known country of the Balkans. Full of pristine beaches, colorful villages, and 79 different islands, this country is the perfect location for those that love to party and soak up the sun. While it may be the most expensive, it also is super safe and well-developed in terms of tourism.


what to do in Croatia, what countries were in the Balkans
Croatia, What Countries Were the Balkans
Rovinj, Croatia, what countries were in the Balkans

Croatia is the most popular destination in the Balkans.


Highlights of Croatia: Zagreb (the capital), Split, DubrovnikHvar (party island), BracPlitvice Lakes, Rovinj, Zadar, Pula, Krka Waterfalls, and the famous Yacht Week.

Slovenia

Slovenia is one of the smallest countries in the Balkans, but is full of stunning nature. I also visited here in December and they have a magical Christmas market! Centrally located, this is the most easily accessed country from Western Europe.


Lake Bled in Slovenia, What Countries Were the Balkans
Slovenia, What Countries Were the Balkans
Slovenia, What Countries Were the Balkans

Highlights of Slovenia: Liubljana (the capital), Lake Bled (the #1 attraction), Lake Bohinj, Maribor, Koper, and Piran.


Montenegro

Located just under Croatia, this country is home to epic seaside resorts and charming historic villages on the west, and breathtaking mountain landscapes in the east. You can visit on a budget, or splurge at one of the luxury hotels.


Montenegro, What Countries Were the Balkans
Montenegro, what countries were in the Balkans
Kotor, Monegro, What Countries Were the Balkans


Highlights of Montenegro:
 Kotor, Budva, Sveti Stefan, Ulcinj, Perast, Lake Shkodra, and Zabljak.


Albania

Albania definitely has to be the most diverse of all the countries in the Balkans. The entire coast is full of stunning beaches, while the north has breathtaking mountains, and in the middle you can find fairytale towns. You can find everything from cold springs to thermal waters inside of canyons, waterfalls, and more. Prices are affordable, and the cuisine is delicious.


Albania, What Countries Were the Balkans
travel in Albania, what countries were in the Balkans
Beach in Albania, travel to the Balkans


Highlights of Albania: 
Tirana (the capital), Shkoder, Theth, the Albanian RivieraLumi I Shales, Berat, Girokaster, Lake Skodra, Lake Ohrid, and Benje (thermal baths).

Serbia

Serbia is the cheapest of all the countries, and really shines with its overall vibes. There's something about the people and nightlife that makes Serbia special. It has tons of history, great markets, and beautiful nature to check out.


Serbia, What Countries Were the Balkans
Serbia, What Countries Were the Balkans
Things to Do in Serbia, What Countries Were the Balkans


Highlights of Serbia: Belgrade (the capital), Nis, Novi Sad, Subotica, and Zlatibor (and Tara National Park).

Kosovo

This is definitely the least visited and most overlooked country of the Balkans, but is where all the hidden gems are! The capital was ranked one of the ugliest cities in the world, but there are sill plenty of reasons the visit. We love Kosovo for its adorable historic towns, and gorgeous untouched nature that it offers. It is also super affordable!


Kosovo, What Countries Were the Balkans
Prizren, Kosovo, What Countries Were the Balkans
Gadima Cave, Kosovo, What Countries Were the Balkans

Highlights of Kosovo: Pristina (the capital), Peja (mountains), Gjakova, Mirusha Waterfalls, and Prizren (our favorite!).

Macedonia

Macedonia is one of the smallest countries in the Balkans, and has a cool blend of Greek and Turkish influence. It has some incredible nature, and also really fun nightlife. It is also one of the most well-connected countries in the Balkans.


Lake Ohrid, What Countries Were the Balkans
Best places to visit in Macedonia, What Countries Were the Balkans
Skopje, What Countries Were the Balkans
Stone Dolls, best places to visit in Macedonia, What Countries Were the Balkans


Highlights of Macedonia: Skopje (the capital), Lake Ohrid, Matka Canyon, Vodno, and The Stone Dolls.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria is another country that just has incredible vibes from its people and parties, as well as some great nature. It's full of gorgeous villages and fun beach cities along the Black Sea. Another thing we loved was the wine culture, and the endless sunflower fields we passed while driving across the country.


stone forest, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Sofia, What Countries Were the Balkans
Bulgaria, What Countries Were the Balkans


Highlights of Bulgaria: 
Sofia (the capital), Rila Monastery, Seven Rila Lakes, Belogradchik, Plovdiv, Burgas, Varna, and Nessebar.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Sandwiched between Croatia and Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina is a country that often gets overlooked in the Balkans. We love this country due to its incredible nature, as well as the blend of cultures and religions that you can find there.


Blagaj, What Countries Were the Balkans