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Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo

17 Jun

Balkan Countries Travel Planning is the summary of my two months trip to three of the Balkan countries: Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo, during the summer of 2017 (June – July). The pace of traveling was slow, in accordance with the flexibility I had to go and stay wherever I wanted with my car.

Balkan Countries Travel Planning 2017 - Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo

Balkan Countries Travel Planning 2017 – Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – General Planning:

Travel Planning for the road trip through the Balkan Countries started a couple of months before the estimated departure. I couldn’t go anymore as I had planned in 2016 and I postponed the trip for one year. I used a Lonely Planet Guide for the southeastern Europe and the official tourism websites of Macedonia and Albania. I had names of places where I wanted to go and a vague idea of the order of the places I wanted to see. As I was going with my own car, I didn’t bother too much with the plans. I was flexible to go, stop, and stay wherever I wanted. I only searched for camping places on the ACSI Campings and Campercontact websites and saved some printscreens with the locations of some main campgrounds of the region.

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Fixed Plans:

– a few days before leaving Romania, I booked on Airbnb an apartment for the first four nights in Skopje (the capital of Macedonia

– I checked some accommodation on Booking and decided that the prices were pretty low in this region

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Intentions, but nothing fixed:

When I left for the Balkan Countries of Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo, all I knew was that I wanted to go to some places but I hadn’t fixed dates for them:

– go throughout Macedonia for almost one month – arbitrary route: Skopje – Eastern Macedonia – Western Macedonia – Lake Ohrid

– cross from Macedonia to Albania somewhere near Lake Ohrid (there are two places where you can cross the border)

– stay in Albania for almost one month – arbitrary route from the South to the North of the country: from Sarandë, go along the Ionian and Adriatic Coast to Durës – Tirana – Shkodër

– try the three days round-trip through Komani Lake – trek from Valbonë to Theth for one day – come back to Shkodër

– go to Corfu Island for one week, probably with a ferry from Sarandë (Albania) – I dropped this plan because I decided to experience more the Albanian culture and lifestyle

– cross from Albania to Kosovo and follow the route Prizren – Peja – Prishtina and turn back to Skopje (Macedonia), from where I went home to Romania

Balkan Countries Travel Plannin 2017 - Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo

Balkan Countries Travel Plannin 2017 – Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Final Result:

The final result of my trip through a couple of Balkan Countries, where I stayed for two months, is a series of ……. travel diaries (which I am writing now). Enjoy your reading and let me know your opinion about the Balkan Countries. Which is your favorite country? Why?

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Macedonia (21 days – 3 weeks)

Balkans Countries Travel Planning 2017 - Macedonia

Balkans Countries Travel Planning 2017 – Macedonia

  • two days driving from Romania to Macedonia, crossing Bulgaria (via Bușteni – Calafat – Sofia – Kriva PalankaSkopje)
  • explored Skopje for two days: the new town and the old Turkish bazaar (the Čaršija)
  • round road trip to the lakes nearby Skopje: Kozjak, Matka, and Treska
  • road trip to Vodno Mountain; arrive on the shore of Mavrovo Lake
  • road trip from Mavrovo Lake to Lazaropole village, via Mavrovo – Galičnik – Mavrovo again – Radika Canyon – Sveti Jovan Bigorski Monastery – Jance – Lazaropole
  • explored Lazaropole village and turned back to Skopje for one-working day
  • road trip from Skopje to Kratovo, via Skopje – Staro Nagoricane – Kokino Megalithic Observatory – Kuklica (the Valley of Stone Dolls) – Kratovo (the town of towers and bridges)
  • road trip from Kratovo to Star Dojran, with a few detours to the monasteries of Lesnovo, Veljusa, and Vodocha – Strumica town – Star Dojran lake resort
  • relaxing day in Star Dojran, at Dojran Lake
  • road trip from Star Dojran to Prilep, with stops to the archaeological sites of Vardarski Rid (near Gevgelija) and Stobi (near Negotino) – meandered through Kavadarci wine region and Tikvesh Lake – Prilep
  • round road trip from Prilep to Zrze monastery – Krusevo mountain town – Varosh monastery – Treskavec former monastery
  • explored Prilep and Bitola, including the archaeological site from Heraklea Lyncestis
  • road trip from Bitola to Ohrid, via the shore of Prespa Lake – with stop in Brajcino mountain village
  • explored Ohrid historic town for two days (the Christian part and the old Turkish bazaar)
  • road trip along Ohrid’s eastern shore, via Elshani – Peshtani – Gradiste (Bay of Bones) – Trpejca – Sveti Naum Monastery
  • road trip from Ohrid Lake to Prespa Lake, crossing Galičica Pass in the mountains; returned back to Ohrid Lake via Stenje – Resen – Ohrid – Struga – Kalistha – Radozhda
  • explored the cave churches in Radozhda and Kalistha
  • left Macedonia and crossed the Albanian border at Kjafasan; went to Korçë, via Pogradec

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Albania (30 days – one month)

Balkan Countries Travel Planning 2017 - Albania

Balkan Countries Travel Planning 2017 – Albania

  • explored Korçë for two days
  • awful road trip (almost 25 % off road) from Korçë to Gjirokaster, via Korçë – Boboshtice – Kamenicë tumulus – Ersekë – Leskovik – Çarshovë – Përmet – Këlcyrë – Gjirokaster
  • explored Gjirokastër old town for two days (Dunavat, Manalat, and Cfake neighborhoods + fortress)
  • road trip from Gjirokastër to Ksamil, via Syri i kalter (the Blue Eye) – Sarandë – Ksamil
  • explored the archaeological site of Butrint and the Three Islands of Ksamil
  • sunbathing, writing, and relaxing day in Ksamil
  • road trip from Ksamil to Livadhi Beach, via Ksamil – Lukovë – Borsh – Porto Palermo – Himarë – Livadhi
  • explored Himarë’s old/abandoned castle; fish farm in Porto Palermo
  • road trip from Livadhi Beach to Drymades Beach, via Livadhi – Old Himarë – Jala Beach – Vuno – Gjipe Beach – Dhërmi – Palase Beach – Drymades Beach
  • walked through Dhërmi village
  • road trip from Drymades Beach to Vlorë, crossing Mount Çika and continue via Orikum – Vlorë
  • road trip from Vlorë to Berat, via Vlorë – Fier – the archaeological site of Appolonia – Berat
  • explored Berat for two days (Berat Castle, Mangalen and Gorica old quaters)
  • road trip to Gradec and Osumi Canyons
  • road trip from Berat to Tirana, via Durrës
  • explored Tirana (Blloku Quarter and the communist city center)
  • dentist in Tirana; road trip from Tirana to Krujë, via Prezë
  • raki and tobacco production at camping Tirana; road trip to Shkodër, via Krujë
  • explored Mesi Bridge and Kiri Canyons, nearby Shkodër
  • explored Shkodër (the castle and city center)
  • minibus to Komani Lake – Komani ferry – shared car from Fierza to Valbonë (in the Albanian Alps)
  • trekked in the Accursed Mountains (the Albanian Alps): from Valbonë to Theth, via Rrogam hamlet – Valbonë Pass (Qafa e Volbones) – Theth Gjelaj village
  • hiked to Grunas Waterfall and Canyon, near Fushe Theth (the main neighborhood); walked to Gjecaj Theth village and returned to Fushe Theth village
  • walked through Fushe Theth village; minibus trip from Theth to Shkodër (off road crossing the Albanian Alps)
  • sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing day in Shkodër
  • car service near Shkodër; left Albania and crossed the border with Kosovo at Vërmicë; went to Prizren

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Kosovo (10 days)

Balkan Countries Travel Planning 2017 - Kosovo

Balkan Countries Travel Planning 2017 – Kosovo

  • explored Prizren historic center
  • road trip from Prizren to Prevalla mountain resort; short hike in Mali Sharr Mountains (at the Macedonian border)
  • road trip from Prizren to Peja, via Gjakova and Desan Monastery (still guarded by KFOR)
  • road trip along Rugova Valley & Gorges; short hike to Liqeni Madhe Lake
  • short hike through the mountain villages of Rugova Valley (Drelaj – Koshutan – Reke e Allages)
  • road trip from Rugova Valley to Prishtina
  • explored Prishtina for two days
  • road trip from Prishtina to Kumanovo (Macedonia), with stops at Gračanica Monastery – the archaeological site of Ulpiana – Gadime Cave; crossed the Macedonian border near Skopje

Balkan Countries Travel Planning – return to Macedonia (one week)

  • stayed at a local family in Kumanovo for two days
  • stayed in Skopje for two days
  • went to Kratovo for three days and wrote about Etno House Shancheva
  • two days driving from Macedonia to Romania, crossing Bulgaria (via Kratovo – Sofia – Vidin – Calafat – Rucăr – Bran – Bușteni)

This is the summary of my two months trip to the Balkan Countries of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. Enjoy your reading and let me know your opinion about the Balkan Countries. Which is your favorite country? Why? Where would you go?

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4 Responses to “Balkan Countries Travel Planning – Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo”

  1. Natasha August 25, 2017 at 12:47 pm #

    Wow, this certainly sounds like an adventure. I love that you had your car with you. That makes thing so much easier and then you can really go at your own pace. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

    • Iuliana August 26, 2017 at 11:43 am #

      Natasha, the plan for this trip was to go with my own car from Romania because it was pretty close to drive for me (800 km). It was a good decision indeed as I didn’t pay money for renting a car and I was very flexible. Not to mention that I didn’t have to carry backpack and laptop etc.

  2. Daphne August 29, 2017 at 10:53 pm #

    I never visisted the Balkan countries; Macedonia, Albania, and Kosovo.. This planning is really useful for me. Perhaps one day I can use it as an example to travel around these amazing countries. What country did you liked the most? And you said that you stayed at a local family in Kumanovo for two days. If I may ask, how did you met them or did you already knew them in advance?

    • Iuliana August 30, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

      Daphne, I am glad that you’re thinking to visit the Balkan countries. My planning reflects the way/style that I travel, at a very slow pace + maximum flexibility. I would be happy to hear if you used some ideas from my plan. I found the local family on Couchsurfing. I don’t use it always, especially when I’m tired and all I want is just to rest. But when you travel slowly and have plenty of time is a very good idea to stay with couchsurfing and spend time with them.

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