Where are the Balkans?
The Balkan peninsula is located in southeastern Europe, the region taking its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian–Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. Balkans travel is unique, unlike traveling anywhere else in the world. It’s full of contradictions. Its history is both triumphant and tragic, long and recent. The Balkans are home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Europe. It’s home to the southernmost fjord in Europe, the beautiful Danube Delta, the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, which looks like a postcard come to life.
The concept of the Balkan peninsula was created by the German geographer August Zeune in 1808, who mistakenly considered the Balkan Mountains to be the dominant mountain system of Southeast Europe spanning from the Adriatic Sea to the Black Sea, when in fact, they are encompassed by the Dinaric Alps. The definition of the Balkan peninsula's natural borders do not coincide with the technical definition of a peninsula and hence modern geographers reject the idea of a Balkan peninsula, while scholars usually discuss the Balkans as a region.
The Balkans was "the powder keg of Europe" meaning that it caused continuous conflicts which could drag in the whole continent. The most obvious reason is that World War I started in the Balkans. The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Bosnia by Gavrilo Princip was the pretext that started World War I.
The extensive history of the Balkans is only one of the many reasons why the region needs to be on your travel list!
Countries that make up the Balkans
The countries that make up the Balkans today include Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, rump Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), and Bosnia Herzegovina (referred to as Bosnia throughout this text). Geographically, "European Turkey," a small region around Istanbul, is located in the Balkans.
Reasons to Visit the Balkans
The sparkling turquoise sea all along the Albanian Riviera has some of the warmest, bluest waters you’ll find in Europe, but the coastline everywhere from Croatia down to Greece is absolutely stunning.
If you’re a fan of mountains, the Balkans won’t let you down: this region is incredibly mountainous and beautiful. The tallest mountains in the Balkans are located in Bulgaria, with the highest being Musala Peak in the Rila Mountain range, even Balkan cities are nestled in the mountains.
The Balkans have a long and rich history that encompasses several empires. Plovdiv, the second-largest city in Bulgaria, has been inhabited for more than 8,000 years.
While there are several major religions in the Balkans, Christian churches and monasteries make up the majority of historic religious buildings.
The Balkan peninsula is one of the most historically rich regions of Europe, with countless empires converging and fighting for dominance, shaping the culture, language, and history. Where else can you find prehistoric artifacts, Greek and Roman ruins, Ottoman relics, and Communist monuments all in one region, let alone one city?
Explore the fascinating Balkans your own way with one of Slow Tours many travel experiences.