The six countries that constitute what was the old Yugoslavia (seven if you count the much-disputed Kosovo) make an incredibly rich and varied destination for a Balkans overland holiday.
With stunning scenery – including one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines – incredible history and welcoming people, an overland holiday in the old Yugoslavia will be an unforgettable experience.
A quick history lesson
Formed after the Second World War and largely held together by the force of the (mostly) benevolent dictator and avuncular figure, Tito, Yugoslavia was a vast and beautiful country. Despite being communist, it stood up to the USSR and the US and carved itself a well-respected place in the world.
Then, following the death of Tito and collapse of communism, the fragile ties that held together the diverse peoples of Yugoslavia disintergrated. What followed was a brutal and bloody war, fought along nationalist, religious and ethnic lines. It was a very dark chapter in the history of the Balkans
However, after nearly two decades of reconciliation and rebuilding, the former countries of Yugoslavia are very much on the up. Returning to the European fold and welcoming progress, there has never been a better time for a Balkans overland holiday. Routes can vary but you shouldn’t miss any of the highlights below
The first to leave Yugoslavia, and perhaps not surprisingly so, Slovenia almost feels more Alpine and Austrian than it does Balkans. The capital, Ljubljana, is a beautiful and charming place but it must be said, it’s not exactly the best place to go for nightlife.
Situated on the Danube, the capital of Belgrade has been destroyed nearly 40 times over its history, and was bombed as recently as 1999, controversially by NATO. Yet knowing this makes it all the more astonishing how friendly the people are, how rich the culture and how much fun the beautiful young people of this city have during the long summer nights.
Home to the simply majestic Adriatic coastline, this is without doubt one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Marvel at the crystalline waters that shimmer reflections of medieval ports, and discover the amazing populated castle walls of the ancient castle in Split.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
It’s impossible to visit Bosnia without noticing the effects of the war. Bosnia was the battleground for the worst of the atrocities during the 90s conflicts. Houses are still riddled with bullet holes and the capital Sarajevo’s young trees give away the fact that all the others were burnt for fuel during the infamous siege. However, it has lost none of its character and remains a centre of culture in the Balkans.
Rapidly becoming the new Croatia, Russian billionaires are snapping up waterside property in this small, mountainous country – and for good reason too. It’s impenetrable interior is lined by an Adriatic coastline that while not quite as beautiful as Croatia’s, is certainly the next best thing.
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
The FYROM is so called because the Greeks have their very own Macedonia and expressed concerns upon independence. It’s a very beautiful and mountainous country that appropriately, given its location, feels like a cross between the Serbo-Croat Balkans and Greece.
There is so much to see and do on Balkans overland holidays in the old Yugoslavia. This fascinating corner of Europe overflows with history and tradition. Despite its troubles, or perhaps because of them, it remains a truly unique and fascinating place to explore.