Have you ever considered the Balkans as a perfect winter activities destination? You probably think about southeaster Europe as a place where you would spend your typical summer vacation – long pebble beaches, hundreds of islands and azure waters of the Adriatic Sea. But there is more to the Balkans then its long and by all means very attractive coastline.
Here are some ideas which Balkan places to visit in the winter months and what fun activities are there waiting for you.
SKIING ON JAHORINA & BJELAŠNICA
You probably knew that Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics. It was only the second Olympics hosted by a socialist country (after Moscow in 1980) and the first in the Balkans since Athens in 1896.
Skiing competitions where held on the nearby mountain slopes of Bjelašnica and Jahorina which both remain popular ski resorts. Of course they cannot be compared to the modern ski centers of central Europe, but visitors agree that these Bosnian resorts offer great value for their money. You can easily spend a few days enjoying the slopes before getting bored. The lightning system even enables skiing after dark and there are also cross-country trails for nordic-enthusiasts.
In warmer month both mountains offer great hiking options. In recent years the slopes above Sarajevo are also visited by mountain bikers and have become a base for paragliders. What a better way to escape the crowds of the city?
WINTER ACTIVITES IN DURMITOR
Those of you who visited all five national parks of Montenegro will agree that Durmitor stands out as the most glamorous and jaw-dropping of them all. It attracts numerus hiking lovers in the summer months, but in the recent years, Durmitor is also emerging as a popular winter destination, recognized for its reliable early season.
Ski tickets at slopes of Savin Kuk are a bit more expensive than those in Bosnia, but still very friendly to your pocket comparing to the rates offered by resorts in Austria or Switzerland. There are three ski lifts and two cable cars allowing access to several slopes of various difficulties. Kids can practice their skills on the special track with its own lift.
Besides skiing, Durmitor National Park offers some of the wackiest winter activates in the Balkans. Have you ever though about taking a winter safari? Well in Montenegro you can! Imagine riding a snowmobile or driving a 4×4 through the vast landscape of impenetrable veil of snow and ice – it’s a unique experience of a lifetime.
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There is no true winter experience without a proper Christmas market. And the best ones are located in the Balkans! Zagreb is a proud recipient of “Best European Christmas Market” title several years in a row. Thousands of tourists flock to Croatian capital every December to enjoy the tasty local food offered at the numerous stalls, sip mulled wine and buy handmade presents for their loved ones. Why don’t you join them this year and see it for yourself?
Once in the region, why not also visit the Ljubljana Advent Market, just an hour drive from Zagreb. This charming capital will impress you with its lonely alleys which are even more pretty when adorned with thousands of lights.
Meanwhile, every December the nearby Postojna Cave stages a breathtaking version of Nativity Story with more than 100 performers. This amazing show set within the spectacular karstic cave will touch your hear even if you are not a religious person.
WINTER HOLIDAYS IN SERBIA
If you really want to get off the beaten tracks, you should visit Serbia in the winter months. There are several great ski resorts, including the one at Kopaonik located in the western part of the country, close to the border with Kosovo. It its a four hour drive from the nation’s capital of Belgrade and once you get there it truly feels like in the middle of nowhere. That said, skiing and snowboarding is nothing short of amazing and regarded as one of the best in the region. There are 55 kilometers of slopes spanning between 1057 and 2017 meters above sea level. No need to say the visas are just breathtaking.
Another reason why Serbia can be a fun winter destination is its capital. Belgrade is recognized as the best party destination in the Balkans, especially for celebrating New Year. Thousands of fun-loving travelers flock there every December. Why don’t you join them and combine the celebration with ski holidays? Nothing cures the January hangover better than fresh mountain air.
PLITVICE COVERD WITH SNOW
Yes, Plitvice National Park is one of the most visited natural attractions in Croatia and rightly so. It truly is one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular creations in the whole Balkan peninsula. Most people visit them in summer, but you should know that they are no less charming in winter. There is something divine about these 16 lakes when the area gets covered with snow. The park seems more peaceful and not just because there are no hordes of tourists trying to get the best selfie.
You might think about it as an ultimate summer destination, but you should definitely consider also visiting Croatia in the winter. The Lika region where Plitvice are located gets above average quantity of snow and turns into a white fairly-tale.
Other winter activities you can enjoy in Croatia are skiing on the popular Sljeme resort just above Zagreb, which also hosts annual World Cup alpine ski race or visit the popular Zagreb Chritamas market, already mentioned above.
As you can see, there are numerous winter activates you can do in the Balkans. Some of them are also covered in a separate post about Winter holidays in Slovenia. You should be aware that you are more then welcome to visit Slovenia even if you are not a fan of outdoor activates, since you can opt for a relaxing spa holidays. The options are limitless and as local experts, we are here to find the one that is most suited for you.
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