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Balkins in 10 days

When I think of the Balkans, I think about the countries that mostly make up former Yugoslavia and not all countries on the Balkan Peninsula. This is why I am not including Romania or Bulgaria.

As a result, I would include the following on my list:
• Bosnia & Herzegovina
• Montenegro
• Albania
• Macedonia
• Kosovo
• Serbia

While I should include Croatia, I would include Croatia in a totally separate trip.

Bosnia & Herzegovina

When traveling to Bosnia & Herzegovina, the first stop will always revolve around Sarajevo.

The next day after arrival you will to Mostar to see the famous bridge. This is a 2 hour drive from Sarejevo.

You can also spend time at Trnovacko Lake, which is on the journey to Montenegro.

Off the main route:
In the other direction, you could visit Gradina and see the famous fortress from the 1300s. Close to Gradina is also the Kravica waterfall, which looks beautiful and resembles the Plitvice Waterfalls in Croatia.

Montenegro

After Mostar, I would spend another three hours to Kotor. Kotor is considered one of the most beautiful bays in the world.
You may also want to stop at Sveti Stefan, nice town on the water.

If you have additional time in Montenegro besides spending more time in Kotor, I would spend a day in Biogradska Gora National Park.
Off the main route:

If you really love Montenegro, you could spend a day at Durmitor National Park and see the Tara Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe. Rafting down the river is one of the popular activities.

Albania

People can prove me wrong, but I did not see as many desirable places in Albania as in Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

You can easily get into traveling around Lake Skader, which is considered one of the best attractions in Albania.

This is along your route into Albania and won’t require any extra time.

These were considered other top attractions in Albania and non really grabbed my attention:
http://www.vacationhomes.net/blog/2011/12/08/top-10-travel-destinations-in-albania/

Off the main route:
The only other questions would be to go to Albanian Alps or the capital of Tiranda.

Macedonia

As for Macedonia, the main attractions are around Lake Ohrid, where Galicia National Park is located. With that said, the pictures in Google didn’t amaze me.

I think it might be worth a half day, but I would not over invest in the park.

From Lake Skader, it is only 3 to 4 hour drive to Lake Ohrid. It is then an additional 2.5 hours up to Skopje.

I would only stop in Skopje if you were looking for a place to spend the night.

Kosovo

There are no real attractions in Kosovo that strike me of a lot of interest.

From reading Wikitravel, it appears that you cannot enter Kosovo and then enter Serbia.

Serbia

Whether it is just from hearing about so much in the past, I don’t think a trip to Serbia would be complete without a trip to Belgrade.

From Belgrade, the Danube runs east to the border with Romania. The Danube forms the border between Serbia and Romania. It is along this border that lies the Djerdap National Park. This is beautiful location that contains the Iron Gate and Golubac Gorge.
This gore is 3.5 hours from Belgrade. This would be a good day trip from Belgrade. I am sure there are boat trips along the river.

After Belgrade, I would probably try to make a pit stop in Kuršumlija to see Devil’s Town. I would then continue my way to Nis to see skull tower.
If time was lacking, I would probably only do Belgrade and the tour along the Danube.

Suggested Itineraries

Given the requirement that I can’t go from Kosovo into Serbia, I would first fly in and out of Belgrade.

RT ticket to Belgrade, Sarajevo, or in one city and out of the other city is about $900 to $1,000 from NYC

Renting Car for 1 week from Belgrade is about $300. If I want to pick-up in one location and drop off in another location would require me to call the rental car company.

With that said, it is only 4.5 hours from Belgrade to Sarajevo.

Itinerary #1 – Arrive in Belgrade and Leave from Sarajevo

Friday/Day 1) Leave NYC
Saturday/Day 2) Arrive in Belgrade (Serbia)
Sunday/Day 3) Danube River / Gorge and Spend Night in Belgrade (Serbia) – 7 hours of driving (3.5 hours each way; 480km)
Monday/Day 4) Devil’s Town through Kosovo to Skopje (Kosovo/Macedonia) – 8 hours of driving (600 km); skipping Devils Town makes it only 4.5 hour drive
Tuesday/Day 5) Lake Ohrid to Lake Skadar (Macdonia/Albania) – 6 hours of driving; 424 km
Wednesday/Day 6) Lake Skadar to Sveti Stefan (Albania/Montenegro) – 2 hours of driving; 110 km
Thursday/Day 7) Spend Day in Kotor (Montenegro)
Friday/Day 8) Biogradska National Park and drive to Mostar (Stop at Trnovacko Lake time permitting) (Serbia) – 3 hours of driving – 160 km
Saturday/Day 9) Sarajevo (Serbia) – 2 hours of driving – 126 km
Sunday/Day 10) Leave Sarajevo for home

Itinerary #2 – Arrive in and out of Belgrade

Same trip as above until Day 7
Thursday/Day 7) Kotor/Biogradska National Park
Friday/Day 8) Stop in Mostar and Trnoacko Lake on way to Sarajevo
Saturday/Day 9) Sarjevo and head back to Belgrade (Could stop at Gradina if wanted)
Sunday/Day 10) Leave Home
Itinerary #3 – Focus on the Best Countries
With this itinerary, I will exclude Albania, Macedonia, and Kosovo.
This would leave me with Bosnia, Montenegro and Belgrade.
Friday/Day 1) Leave NYC
Saturday/Day 2) Arrive in Belgrade
Sunday/Day 3) Danube River / Gorge and Spend Night Out There– 3.5 hours of driving; 240 km
Monday/Day 4) Belgrade and Leave for Gradina; 3.5 hours; 215 km
Tuesday/Day 5) Gradina
Wednesday/Day 6) Leave for Sarajevo and spend day there – 1.5 hours; 94 km
Thursday/Day 7) Mostar to Kotor – 4 hours; 240 km
Friday/Day 8) Kotor
Saturday/Day 9) Kotor; Leave for Belgrade – 465 km; 7 hours and 40 minutes
Sunday/Day 10) Leave Belgrade for Home