One of the most amazing things about the Balkans is that you can be dancing away in a bar in an exciting, modern European city and – just 10 miles away – is a village that hasn’t changed in a century. The countries of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo – were all part of the former Yugoslavia, and so share several characteristics, but in other ways are very different. Travellers will notice huge variations in culture, language, food and landscapes when travelling through this region. The combination of lush mountains, idyllic beaches, canyons, remote villages and exciting cities makes this a fantastic region to explore, with something for everyone.
In terms of tourism, Serbia is still a relatively unknown country, despite being so near to both Italy and Greece. It’s a great time to visit and to explore the rugged mountain scenery, untamed forests, and vibrant cities. And, to check out some of the traditional ways of life.
Sarajevo, now the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina, has a very chequered history as well as being a very beautiful place to visit. Before 1992 Sarajevo was perhaps most famous to schoolchildren as the place where the First World War was triggered when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed here on 28 June, 1914. The country was transformed into a war-zone in the early 1990s when tensions between the different ethnic groups living here erupted. The result was the longest siege in modern European history, when the Bosnian Serbs besieged Sarajevo for 3 years from 1992–1995. Today things are changing for the better and old divisions are gradually fading. Once one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, Sarajevo is now finding its feet again.
Montenegro has an amazing range of landscapes for such a small country. From the white-sand beaches and fishing villages on the coast to the craggy mountains and deep canyons of the north, Montenegro is small enough to explore it all with ease. But despite the crowds of tourists flooding to the picturesque coastal towns, the interior of the country is still largely wild and untouched, and you could easily explore here without seeing another visitor at all.
Very few tourists are visiting Kosovo as many people still think of it as a war-zone even though fighting there ended back in 1999. The reality is that most of the country is completely safe. The Rugova Valley near Peja provides wonderful walking country, while the cities have a great mix of culture, music and history,
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