22 Photos from 22 Days in the Balkans

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I AM BACK!  After a 22-day break from the site — my first non-working vacation in years — I’m ready to share my adventures from Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro with all of you.

It was SUCH a good trip.  I’ve been yearning to visit this region for years, and the Balkans didn’t disappoint whatsoever.  I’m convinced that these are some of the most beautiful (and most fun) countries in the world!

For now, a picture from each of the 22 days I was away:

Day 1: Pula, Croatia

How’s this for an airport arrival?  Dave and I later learned that we happened to be on Jet2’s inaugural flight from Manchester to Pula, and they welcomed us with wine, pastries, and lavender sachets.

Day 2: Labin, Croatia

On our first full day, we decided on a whim to drive to the village of Labin.  Labin turned out to be a beautiful and colorful town with some of the cheapest truffle pasta dishes we found!

Day 3: Rovinj, Croatia

I’m not usually a fan of very touristy towns, but there was something different about Rovinj.  Maybe it was that underneath the tourist-filled town, Rovinj is a genuine Mediterranean fishing village.  Or maybe I’m getting old and increasingly liking nicer places.  Either way, Rovinj was simply delightful, and I loved it.

Day 4: Kamenjak, Croatia

Four days into our trip, we made our first foray to the beach — specifically, the wild beaches of Rt Kamenjak, south of Premantura.  It’s the bottom tip of Istria and well worth a trip.  Just don’t expect to lie on any sand!

Day 5: On the Road to the Plitivice Lakes, Croatia

One of the best things about renting a car in Croatia was getting to see lots of unexpected sites along the way — like this church, somewhere between Rijeka and the Plitivice Lakes.  We drove by and I yelped, “I have to take a photo of that!”

Day 6: Plitivice Lakes, Croatia

This is one of the natural wonders I had been looking forward to the most — and although we had to deal with a thunderstorm, insane crowds, and a guy who just started randomly peeing in the middle of a cave, we had a great time exploring the green lakes and white waterfalls of Plitivice.

Day 7: Split, Croatia

There’s something old-fashioned about the Dalmatian Coast — somehow, despite all the holidaymakers in tube tops and short shorts, it gives you the feeling of being back in the 1950s.  I think this picture of Split’s harbor exemplifies that.

Day 8: Omiš, Croatia

After hopping on our Busabout Croatia cruise, our first activity was an hourlong hike up a mountain to see the view from the fortress in piratey Omiš.  And as usual, I kind of overestimated my ability to climb a mountain in a skirt, in searing heat, without becoming a blotchy, wheezing mess.  But I made it!

This picture was taken moments after we got back on the boat.  The thought of a giant pina colada is what kept me going to the top.

Day 9: Pučišća, Brač, Croatia

On the way to Makarska, we stopped for a short swim in Pučišća on the island of Brač.  In any other country, a beach this beautiful would be the cornerstone of the trip.  In Croatia, it’s just a swim stop!

Day 10: Stari Grad, Hvar, Croatia

One of my favorite activities on our Busabout cruise was the wine tasting in Stari Grad, Hvar, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The highlight?  THAT HOMEMADE BREAD.  It might be the best bread I’ve ever tasted!

Day 11: Hvar Town, Hvar, Croatia

Strolling amongst possible celebrities in the ritzy town of Hvar, my shipmates and I fit in just fine!  We had a great group on our cruise — mostly Australians, mostly mid-twenties to early thirties, and entirely a lot of fun!

Day 12: Korčula, Croatia

Korčula was an unexpected highlight for me — I loved the town, its architecture, and especially its flowers.  There are so many interesting details — so if you’re a photographer, Korčula is the Croatian island that you want to hit up!

Day 13: Mljet National Park, Mljet, Croatia

Oh, Mljet — one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen!  Odysseus reportedly spent six years here, enthralled by both Calypso and the island’s beauty.  I don’t blame him one bit — I could spend all day gazing at these saltwater lakes.

Day 14: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Oh, Dubrovnik — the Pearl of the Adriatic, the Most Beautiful City Ever, whatever you might call it.  While the old town is crowded and busy, you can get away from it all on the city walls — and get some amazing photos.

Day 15: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

From Dubrovnik to Bosnia in 6.5 hours!  The lines never ended for this water fountain outside a mosque in Baščaršija, Sarajevo’s old town.

Day 16: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

It’s strange, but no image affected me more deeply than this bobsled track.  In 1984, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics and rejoiced at being the first Yugoslavian city to host the games.  Less than a decade later, the city was being bombed from every direction.

Day 17: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Franz Ferdinand is more than a band — he was the Archduke whose assassination sparked World War I.  And this bridge, Sarajevo’s Latin Bridge, was where that shot was fired — and changed the history of the planet.

Day 18: Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

There’s so much to write about Mostar — a beautiful city that, only 20 years ago, was reduced to rubble.  I’m still trying to process my feelings on this difficult place to visit.

Day 19: Kotor, Montenegro

As Dave and I arrived in Montenegro, we were struck by the charm of the town of Kotor, a delicate walled city set in the middle of the absolutely breathtaking Bay of Kotor and surrounded by fjords and mountains.

Day 20: Tara Canyon, Montenegro

Whitewater rafting in Montenegro’s Tara Canyon was one of the activities we were looking forward to the most — and we had a fantastic day on the river.  The rafting was incredibly fun, but the biggest highlight was the staggering beauty of the canyon, mountains rising around you!

Day 21: Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

Several years ago, I saw a picture of the island of Sveti Stefan and immediately knew that I HAD to go there.  For years, Sveti Stefan came to mind again and again when planning my travels.  On this day, my dream was finally realized.  I had made it to Sveti Stefan, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

Day 22: Kotor, Montenegro

On the final day of our trip, Dave and I woke up at 5:00 AM to hike to Kotor’s fortress, where we watched the sunrise over the Bay of Kotor.  A beautiful finale to our three weeks in paradise.

You’ll be reading much, much more about my time in the Balkans in the coming weeks and months.  I can’t wait to share all of these places with you!  But for now, I have to ask:

Which photo is your favorite?

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53 thoughts on “22 Photos from 22 Days in the Balkans”

  1. I have always wanted to visit Croatia and even planned it two times already, but something always went wrong and the trip was cancelled both times. Your photos are absolutely amazing and now I want to go more than ever 🙂 Thanks a lot for sharing this!

  2. This was such an unexpected place for a vaction Kate! People would normally go to Europe or Asia or South Africa but you took this route instead. The photos are gorgeous too! I’m really happy that you had such a good trip. Please post more stories!

  3. I love this region – your photos are fantastic and will help others discover these beautiful lands – they deserve to be in the sun after years of war and unrest. Looking at your photos, it’s hard to believe anything but sunshine ever touched those coasts…

  4. I’ve been trying to plan a Croatia trip for the last year or so but things keep cropping up… hopefully next year will be the year to finally visit! love the pix and looking forward to your posts!

  5. Whoa what GORGEOUS photos Kate! I can’t wait to read all about your trip. We’re looking at visiting Czech Republic and the Balkans next summer.

  6. Wow, so many beautiful photos in a single post! Seems like you had an amazing time. I’m particularly interested in Croatia and Bosnia, but my schedule is already pretty full for 2012. Perhaps next year!

  7. Sounds like you had an amazing trip! The pictures bring back memories of my last trip to Croatia around 10 years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long!) Looking forward to reading more about all your adventures 🙂

  8. Beautiful pictures. Glad you loved the BusAbout trip! I knew you would. It’s hard not to fall for Croatia. I wish I had spent more time in the rest of the Balkans, but alas, another trip.

  9. I really regret not having visited Croatia whilst I was living in Europe. It was only a cheap and short Easyjet flight away, but I just never got round to it. Now I live in Asia it is a bit more tricky to get there, but maybe I will just combine it with a visit to my parents and in-laws in England and Germany. The crystal clear waters look amazing. And you have mountains as well. That’s my kind of destination!

  10. Kate we’ve missed you!!! Welcome back, and I’m glad that you and Dave had a wonderful vacation – although I must say I’m disappointed that you didn’t get a photo of the peeing man, or Blue Ivy Carter.

    I LOVE the photo of the church, the wine and bread, the images of Sarajevo, and that giant pina colada! Can’t wait to read all about your travels to the Balkans!

  11. I’ve been going through the Balkans myself for the last 7 weeks and it is indeed a BEAUTIFUL place! I didn’t get to half the places you did but I went further along the coast into Albania and into Greece!

  12. My hubby and I just got back from a 10-day trip through Croatia (and I have been blogging about it). LOVE your pictures and experiences.

  13. This sounds like a spectacular trip! What a great welcome you had, and I can’t wait to read about your experience visiting Mostar. My favorite photo is of Plitivice Lakes, but really, they’re all beautiful.

  14. Györgyi Kovács

    I love Montenegro. I’ve been to the country two times (in 2009 and two weeks ago), but I’m looking forward to travelling there again. When? Hopefully soon. 🙂 Next time I don’t want to miss the Tara Canyon. I’d love to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina too. Thank you for sharing your experiences and photos!

      1. Of course it is not, it ias Central European and Med country… Visit Kosovo and then compare it with Croatia, I think you will see some “minor differences…

  15. The Balkans are becoming more and more popular and for a good reason too! Every country in the Balkan peninsula has so much beauty, culture, and history to offer. Travelers should take advantage while prices are still very much affordable!

    I write quite a bit on Bosnia and Herzegovina on my blog, with some upcoming posts on Croatia, too. I absolutely love the Balkans (I was born in Bosnia) and I love even more to write about them. Next summer, I’m planning a Balkan road trip and I’d love for anyone reading this to check out and support my blog: http://www.thetravelixir.com !

    Thank you!

    -Raza 🙂

  16. Hello!

    I am planning to do a 20 days trip on my own starting and ending in Zagreb. I look very young and petite so I feel kinda worried about street harrassment and that kind of stuff.

    I was wondering how did you manage to go from city to city every day if transport there is so slow and unreliable. I want to go to thd highlights of Croatia Bosnia Montenegro, Bulgaria and Romania.

    Btw your blog is awesome thank you so much for the inspiration 🙂

    1. Hi, Sandra — in the years since I wrote this, I’ve spent more time in the Balkans. In Croatia I rented cars; you can also take buses or (slow) trains on some routes. Buses are best. You don’t need to worry about street harassment in Zagreb; I didn’t find it to be an issue in Croatia.

  17. Beautiful. Been to the Balkanis for the first last August and I was blown away by the beauty of it, especially Montenegro and Sarajevo touched my deeply.

  18. If you are traveling into Bosnia and Herzegovina from Croatia, you can either go from Zagreb to Sarajevo and then onwards to Mostar or you can travel from Dubrovnik to Mostar and onwards to Sarajevo.

    As we were coming from Macedonia and Montenegro, we head from Kotor straight into Mostar, then to Sarajevo. From Sarajevo, we head to Zagreb, with the intention of visiting some place in Republika Srpska I.e. Banja Luka. Instead, we went to Jajce due to schedule constraint.

    Jajce is known for its waterfall within the town. Nice town to explore on foot. If you think you are done with the Mostar and Sarajevo, do consider checking out Republika Srpska de facto capital Banja Luka and the town Jajce.

    Happy traveling.

  19. Shirley Bormann

    You have great pics. I enjoyed your journey. We are considering visiting the Balkans next year and just researching and your website popped up. Nice job!

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