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7 highlights of the Balkans

From the lush meadows of Albania’s northern alps and the sparkling turquoise waters of Turkey’s Lycian Way to the ornate frescoes of Bulgaria’s capital, the lesser-visited countries of the Balkans have plenty of natural wonders and cultural highlights to discover.
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Dubrovnik, Croatia

A gleaming Balkans gem, Croatia’s city of Dubrovnik, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, is a popular must-see destination. A labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets is encapsulated by timeworn stone ramparts that protect the city and separate it from the waves of the Adriatic Sea. Stroll along wall-top paths for far-reaching views over a patchwork of terracotta roofs, or ride to the top of the hill on a cable for panoramic views that stretch towards the golden-sand beaches on our Highlights of Croatia tour.
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Valbona National Park, Albania

Follow deserted footpaths to remote mountain villages in Albania’s northern alps. Home to lush valleys and wildflower meadows amongst the craggy peaks of the Accursed Mountains, Valbona National Park offers some of the most scenic walks in the Balkans. Hike along verdant plains in the shadow of steep mountain cliffs and meander through alpine forests on our Undiscovered Balkans trip. Take a break for a refreshing cup of mountain tea with a local shepherd’s family and, after a long day on foot, feast on slow-cooked lamb for dinner.
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Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade in Serbia might not be the first city you'd think of when planning a trip to the Balkans, but, despite its turbulent history, it has undergone a magnificent transformation. Stroll along the picturesque banks of the River Danube and soak up the eclectic atmosphere of the city's lively streets. One of the Balkan's most revelled rail journeys, from Podgorica to Belgrade, is also a must-do highlight you can take on our Balkans Rail Adventure. Gaze out of a carriage window as the train snakes through mountains and navigates towering viaducts with aerial views over glacial lakes and alpine forests.
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Lycian Way, Turkey

Get away from crowded tourist beaches to uncover spectacular Balkan walking trails along the Lycian Way. Sparkling waters lap golden shores along this picturesque coastline of southern Turkey. Discover ancient villages from a bygone era and wander the eerie, deserted streets of Kayakoy. Pine forests open out onto rural farmland, and silvery limestone cliffs offer far-reaching views over the azure-blue ocean. Ease aching limbs with a refreshing swim in the calm waters of Patara and dine in a waterfront restaurant in the fishing port of Kas.
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Lake Skadar, Montenegro

Pedal into the alpine valley of Zeta River for panoramic views of one of the largest lakes in the Balkans, Lake Skadar in Montenegro on the Cycle Bosnia and Montenegro tour. Drifting meadows of water lilies cloak the shores, and the calm waters glimmer in the sunlight. Keep your eyes peeled for the plethora of bird species that live here, including long-beaked pelican and pink flamingo, and spend a night in a remote mountain village to experience the warm hospitality of the Montenegrin people.
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Cyclades, Greece

The beautiful white sand beaches, glistening harbours and rocky inlets of the Greek Cyclades are a must-see highlight of the Balkans. Island-hop by boat to explore this picturesque archipelago on our Greek island walking tour. Wander along the olive grove coastline of Syros, follow Byzantine roads lined with fragrant sage and thyme on Paros, join in with local wine tasting amongst the white-washed terraces and blue-domed churches of Santorini and explore the vibrant fertile valleys of Naxos.
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Sofia, Bulgaria

Uncover the brightly-coloured frescoes of Sofia's Rila Monastery in the lesser-visited Balkan country of Bulgaria. Verdant mountains rise above the distinctive striped brickwork of this UNESCO World Heritage Site that is still regularly visited by the local people. Ride into lush alpine countryside by train and ascend the highest valley in the country before returning to sea level to discover well-preserved Byzantine ruins in the charming peninsular town of Nessebar on the Best of Bulgaria tour.
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