The written below is for those who have already traveled to the Balkans and also for those who are coming for the first time. There are many passengers who prefer lesser-known places to travel. The reasons are different, but it is very likely that everyone prefers to see something ”less popular”, besides the most visited that a local guide shows you. We are locals and we always explore and look for something interesting to see, learn or try.
LESSER-KNOWN PLACES TO TRAVEL IN SLOVENIA
In the capital
Our guide will show you many places, but our suggestion is to also visit the following places. In Ljubljana, many people go to the castle for the view. Next time take the elevator to the top of Ljubljana’s Nebotičnik (skyscraper) and your Instagram followers will be happy; besides, there is a rooftop bar there to enjoy a piece of cake, coffee, or a soft drink.
Nature is closer than you think. A couple of minutes’ walk from the city center you’ll find Tivoli Park. It is a beautiful place for a stroll, ideal for joggers, with an open-air gallery, the National Museum of Contemporary History, and a large children’s playground.
You can go to Metelkova mesto, a more alternative cultural center. And right there is the Celica Hostel. This former prison is an interesting place to visit and we can also arrange a guided tour inside. If you are passing by, come in and have a cup of coffee in their bar – near the staircase leading down to the cells, which are preserved as they were in the past.
In addition to Postojna Cave and Predjama Castle, this second option of visiting a cave will not disappoint you. The Škocjan Caves are the first monument in Slovenia and in the Karst region inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Accompanied by a guide, you will set off on foot to explore this interesting subterrane world, rich in a variety of stalactite formations.
Do you like the subterrane world? There is a mystery in visiting a mercury mine. Get to know the second-largest mercury mine in the world and explore its underground. In the town of Idrija, 240 million years of geological history await you in the Antony’s Tunnel, which was excavated in the 16th century and is the oldest preserved mine entrance in Europe.
Otočec Castle is the lodging of a king. On your trip to Slovenia and Croatia, your driver-guide can make a brief stop on your way. Otočec Castle is special for two reasons. First, it is the only water castle in Slovenia located on an island in the middle of the Krka River, and second, it is a Relais & Châteaux hotel.
Visit Lake Bohinj, the largest Slovenian natural lake, Lake Ptuj – the largest Slovenian artificial lake, Lake Zbilje – a romantic place with swans, or perhaps the small but very deep Lake Podpeč – popular with fishermen for big carp, pike, chub, tench, perch, and giant goby.
To escape the crowds, but still be in nature, try the Logarska Valley, one of the most beautiful alpine glacial valleys in Europe. The Logarska Route is an ethnographic nature trail that runs through beautiful corners of the preserved nature of the landscape park.
Would you prefer to share the trees with the birds? The treetop walk above the majestic forests of the Pohorje Mountains offers nature lovers a different point of view. A kilometer-long trail makes for an easy walk and offers amazing flora and fauna.
The town situated in the lap of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in Slovenia, with a castle complex on the hill of the town from the 11th century, also known as the town balcony. Only the two-story Romanesque chapel with its crypt remains, which today is one of the main symbols of the town. A special feature of Kamnik is also the Franciscan Monastery Library. The museum part of the library contains material dating back to 1800, with some 10,000 books. On your walking tour through the old town, you can also see the UNESCO-recognized works of Jože Plečnik.
➔ Škofja Loka
A mystical medieval town of the UNESCO Living Heritage. Its medieval streets are full of good stories, romantic sights, and handcrafted secrets. You can instantly transform yourself into a knight by heading to Škofja Loka Castle. Today, the castle houses one of the best-arranged museums with archaeological, historical, cultural, artistic, natural history, and ethnological collections. In the castle park, you can also see a well-preserved 16th-century farmhouse.
The charming old town of Radovljica is one of the most beautiful in Slovenia. The town began to develop in the 13th century on a sunny terrace above the Sava River. The centrally located Linhart Square is adorned with well-preserved townhouses from the 16th and 17th centuries. After viewing the buildings on the church square, visit the Radovljica mansion. The second floor houses the Museum of Apiculture – renovated in 2021, and the Radovljica City Museum.
LESSER-KNOWN PLACES TO TRAVEL IN CROATIA
Visiting the Dalmatian coast and the capital Zagreb, many people forget about the towns on the Istrian Peninsula. Yes, our driver guide will take you to Pula, but there are gems also in the central part of the peninsula.
You will also visit the town of Hum. Hum, also considered the smallest town in the world, is a symbol of medieval architecture and culture. Thanks to its unique shape, it can be said that this small city is a monument in its entirety. Hum is situated on an Istrian hill 339 meters above sea level, on an area only 100 meters long and 30 meters wide, which is, let’s admit it, really small. Hum is certainly a small town, so small that you won’t catch your breath when you visit it. Legend has it that Hum was built by giants with stones left over from the construction of other cities in the Mirna Valley.
There, on a hill surrounded by vineyards is Motovun. Motovun is about 70 km from Rijeka and Pula and is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Croatia. Probably the best known and most attractive, the medieval town of Motovun is the center of the northern part of Istria, which impresses with its natural beauty and attractive tourist offer and is also known for its annual film festival. There is another thing you should try while here. The truffles – a specialty from the Motovun Forest. It is therefore not surprising that many tourists travel thousands of kilometers to taste this delicacy.
Close to the Slovenian border, leaving Piran, is the town of Grožnjan. Once an important Venetian fortress and regional center, Grožnjan is today known as a city of artists and one of the most sought-after destinations for creative vacations. In addition to the many artists who visit the town every year, gourmets and wine lovers are regular visitors to the surrounding restaurants and tourist farms. As well as Grožnjan, Motovun, and Hum connect for a really nice day trip from the Slovenian coast.
If you are looking for a beautiful beach, there is no need to go to the islands. In the town of Makarska, you will find Punta Rata Beach. One of the most beautiful pebble beaches in the world, it is situated in a protected area, a promontory covered with pine trees. Punta Rata is a proud holder of the prestigious “Blue Flag”, undisputed proof of the cleanliness of the sea, numerous tourist facilities, and varied gastronomic offers.
On your trip to Croatia, one of the least visited tourist places is the village of Pakovo Selo. A familiar historical and cultural site right next to Krka National Park and the town of Šibenik. Step back in time and enjoy an authentic, interactive, and entertaining storytelling experience, tasting the famous “pršut” (local smoked ham) and having for lunch “peka” food – the famous Croatian way of preparing food.
NOT SO VISITED IN BOSNIA
If you want to visit Medjugorje and Mostar, we also recommend you visit the places in the surroundings that many people do not know. Our driver guide will take you to see the Kravica waterfalls. A view of nature where you can also cool off in the warmer months, located only half an hour’s drive from the shrine of Medjugorje. Or visit Počitelj, a historic stone village and open-air museum with a fortress dating back to the Middle Ages.
Another suggestion would be Blagaj. Blagaj is a place that attracts attention with its charming nature and history. The freshness of the Buna River, the ”Tekija” of the Dervishes, and the Buna spring are what make Blagaj special. You can visit the monastery (Tekija) of the Dervishes, built around 1520, or enjoy the surrounding nature and try the local food in one of the local restaurants.
If you might take our route from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, we recommend you visit the Vjetrenica Cave which is the largest cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the most biodiverse in the world. It is part of the Dinaric Alps Mountain range, known for its karst and speleological characteristics. It is one hour from Dubrovnik, across the border to Bosnia.
And for those who prefer a bit of adventure: a jeep safari in Sutjeska National Park, the oldest national park in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also here, is Europe’s last Perućica rainforest and the 98 m high Skakavac waterfall, located in a landscape of particular beauty.
A wild horse safari. A stampede of wild horses. A scene from a Western movie? No, a herd of some 400 wild horses has been living on the plateau in the village of Livno for half a century. With Bosnia’s poor tourism infrastructure, the natural horse phenomenon of Livno remains less known to the general public and is among the lesser-known places to visit.
When in Sarajevo…
Take advantage of our English-speaking driver guide to take you on a daily excursion to the city of Jajce. On November 29, 1943, the Second Congress of AVNOJ was held in Jajce during World War II, establishing the Third Yugoslav State. Jajce is famous for its beautiful waterfall, located in the center of the city.
You will also visit Travnik. Although there is evidence of some settlements in the region dating back to the Bronze Age, the real history of Travnik begins during the first centuries of our era. From this period there are numerous traces of Roman settlements in the region, such as tombs, fortresses, remains of other structures, early Christian basilicas, etc.
PLACES IN SERBIA THAT ARE ALSO WORTH VISITING
Visit the unseen part of the famous Knez Mihajlova street in the center – the underground city. The tour of the city’s secrets is a descent into the historical heart of the capital. The tour starts in front of the Belgrade Fortress, from where the introduction to the secrets of this area, where people have lived and existed for millennia, begins.
With a local guide, you will visit a mysterious building created about three centuries ago, a military bunker, which until 2008 was a complete military secret for all guests of the Fortress, because the entrance was masked and no one suspected that there was an important anti-aircraft defense point there. Then you will get to know the most impressive part of the story, which is an almost three hundred years old artificial cave. What is even more interesting is that today they preserve in it the oldest Roman monuments dating from the first to the fourth century.
Would you like to have a coffee in the city that holds the title of European Capital of Culture in 2022? With a high-speed train from Belgrade, you are there in about 40 minutes. Novi Sad is one of the first cities outside the European Union to be declared European Capital of Culture, making it one of 60 cities with this title, promoting the richness of diversity and interculturality. Stroll through the city core loaded with baroque, neo-Renaissance, and classical buildings, and visit the Petrovaradin Fortress. After the visit, return to the capital with time for dinner in the famous Skadarlija part, full of local restaurants.
Stopica Cave is a river cave through which the Trnavski stream flows, only about 20 km from the town of Zlatibor. There are five units of Stopica cave: the light room, the dark room, the large room with baths, the channel with pools, and the river channel. Because of their uniqueness, the pools are the greatest attraction of the cave. They were made with deposited limestone and are crevices bordered by stone walls or by sinuous wrinkles of vermilion-colored “siga” in which the water accumulates and then flows over the tubs to the lower ones.
Options for a day trip from Belgrade
➔ Krupajsko vrelo
The region is known as a great ecological oasis. Krupajsko vrelo is one of the rarities and natural features of this region. With its unique beauty, this spring, which creates a karst lake on the surface, irresistibly attracts you to the forests, waters, and clean mountain air. The healing waters of the thermal spring, which mingle with the cold water of the Krupaj spring, complete the picture of this fairytale landscape.
Gamzigrad Romuliana is one of the most interesting ancient settlements discovered in Serbia dating back to the Roman Empire. The remains of this fortified castrum, which with an area of 60,000 m² was larger and more important than Diocletian’s Palace in Split, testify that it was a very important settlement and almost certainly the residence of Emperor Galerius.
Lesser-known places to travel
in well-known countries
MONTENEGRO – VISIT ALSO THESE PLACES
Come with us to Montenegro and let your driver guide show you lesser-known places to travel. In addition to Kotor and Budva, take the opportunity to visit Tivat as well. Although a large part of Tivat is modern and glamorous, here you can find traces of history: the Renaissance summer house Buca in the city center, Ostrvo Cvijeca with sacred monuments, Gornja Lastva, the old town, the magnificent beach of Plavi Horizonti and the island of St. Nikolas.
The town of Cetinje at the base of Lovcen Mountain. Cetinje is a treasure of Montenegrin’s cultural and historical heritage. It smells of 18th and 19th-century architecture coming from the rich greenery of this small town. Two of the most representative buildings are the monasteries of Cetinje and Biljarda.
Make sure the road takes you to the old town of Bar. Wandering among the ruins of the old city, let your imagination run wild and relive in your mind the ancient times, when east and west intertwined in the city, teeming with life and exposed to various dangers. The renovated palaces, churches, aqueducts, and Turkish baths will give you an idea of what the city might have looked like in the past.
A little further south of Bar, already on the Albanian border, is Ada Bojana, a small islet surrounded by the Buna River and the Adriatic Sea. Both foreign and domestic experts have already identified 143 different species of fish in the river delta. The Bojana River is a true natural wonder due to its duality. In some places, the bottom of the river is between two and five meters below sea level. There you can enjoy a day at the beach and taste fish and seafood in one of the local restaurants.
ALBANIA – THE LEAST VISITED
Among the lesser-known places to travel in the Balkans – it can be said to be the entire country of Albania. Discover the unknown, the country that was closed to foreigners for much of the 20th century. Albania has long been the enigma of Mediterranean Europe. And yes, it has cultural cities and breathtaking mountain scenery, crumbling castles, a bustling capital, and dreamy beaches to rival any in the Mediterranean.
Our driver guide will take you to all the interesting places. To introduce you to this country and to better understand it, the content will be delivered to you by a local guide. You will see the capital Tirana, which was founded in the early 17th century by a Turkish general, who is said to have built a mosque, a bathhouse, and a bakery to attract the inhabitants. This route would be a success for those who wish to combine a nice walk with a wine tasting
You will also visit the town of Dures, the ancient Greco-Roman port city of Dyrrachium. The city is Albania’s most important port, located in the north of the country, 34 kilometers from Tirana. You will see the Amphitheater (2nd century AD) and the Archaeological Museum, pass through the old town, and then continue to the ancient Greek settlement of Apollonia – (founded in 588 BC).
Visit the city of Vlore, which is the second seaport of Albania. It was strategically important during Roman times and during the 11th and 12th-century wars between Normans and Byzantines. On November 28, 1912, Ismail Qemal proclaimed Albania’s independence there. The city is surrounded by olive groves in the hills and is located just inland from its port.
Drive through the town of Berat. Berat, known as the “city of a thousand windows” and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ancient Illyrian settlement founded in the 4th and 5th centuries BC on the territory of the Illyrian tribe of Desarettes.
Rest on the beaches of Saranda. Being a beach town on the Albanian Riviera, obviously, the beaches are what attract most visitors to Saranda. Almost the entire coastline of Saranda is made up of beaches, and the water is perfectly clear and turquoise.
So, do any of the above places catch your eye? Let us know at email@example.com what kind of traveler you are and which of these places to include in your next trip to the Balkans.
With our driver-guide, you will have the possibility to see the lesser-known places and learn something extra, besides the usual spots that are always mentioned.