Since Summer has arrived, we thought of planning a wonderful scenic route through the lovely Balkan Peninsula. Even though it may not be the first destination in everyone’s mind, we think that this article may just change your mind about that.
Nesebar or, as it is often transcribed, Nessebar and sometimes Nesebur is an ancient town and a major sea side resort located on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Usually refereed to as “Bulgaria’s Dubrovnik” or “Pearl of the Black Sea”, this city is one of the most popular tourist destinations and ports of the Black Sea.
Due to a rich history that stretches over more than three millennia this city-museum attracts not only through its beauty but also through its wonderful stories. Its history includes the role of frontier for a threatened empire on more than one occasion, which makes its history more exciting and interesting.
The ancient part of the town and the main reason why this town is on our list of Balkan Peninsula destinations is situated on a peninsula. What used to be an independent island, now is connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus. This ancient town bears evidence of occupation from all the different civilizations that have passed through over the course of its existence. The abundance of historic buildings has prompted UNESCO to include the city of Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983.
Our second stop is in the wonderful Greece at The Metéora Greek Orthodox Complex. From many points of view, including beauty, grandeur and importance, this Greek complex is second only to Mount Athos.
All of the six monasteries part of this complex are built on natural sandstone rock pillars. These pillars are spectacular to look at due to their greatness and location which is the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains, in central Greece. The nearest town is Kalambaka which is the perfect place to eat and sleep after a visit to this amazing complex. The Metéora is also included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the first destination.
In Albania we stop in a wonderful sea side town by the name of Saranda or Sarandë. Located in southern Albania, in Vlorë County, this town is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Albanian Shore. With a population of under 50.000, this town is small, charming and perfect for an intimate sea side vacation.
For those who wish to explore a bit outside the city, right outside Sarandë’s borders are the remains of the ancient city of Butrint, a place listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city of Sarandë has a Greek minority population and is considered to be one of the two centers of the Greek community in the entire country of Albania.
For those who would like to stay in this charming city, there are a few sea side hotels that offer amazing views. The bars and terraces at the sea edge are also not too easily to pass by for those who would like to enjoy a relaxing time and delicious drink along with a beautiful sea side sunset.
Ohrid Lake, Macedonia
After sea side cities and a monastery complex we move on to the limit of Macedonian and Albanian Land where we visit Lake Ohrid. Surrounded by tree cities, several fishing villages, charming ports and lush green vegetation, this body of water has become one of the most popular tourist destinations as well as a pilgrimage locations for many locals and tourists.
Lake Ohrid is one of the deepest and oldest lakes in Europe and hosts a unique aquatic ecosystem that holds more than 200 different species. The lake had a boost of significance when it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979. More recently, in 2010, NASA decided to name one of Titan’s lakes after Lake Ohrid and, in 2014, the Ohrid-Prespa Transboundary Reserve between Albania and Macedonia was added to UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
In the last years tourism has become a major source of income for all the settlements surrounding the lake. Also, the population has seen a major boost, almost 100.000 in the last half century. Because of these reasons, many people are starting to believe that the fragile ecosystem of the lake may be in danger because of the continuous structure building at the lake side.
Sveti Stefan, Montenegro
We continue our trip with a visit to the lovely Montenegro area where we find a lovely combination between a resort hotel and a historic construction upon an islet. And this lovely resort hotel is known under the name of Sveti Stefan or Aman Sveti Stefan. But the resort is not limited to the islet, also having a part on the mainland.
Since the 1960 until the 1980s this 5 star hotel has gathered a great reputation from the most rich and famous tourists. Today, it is part of the international Aman Resorts chain since 2009. Sveti Stefan used to be a separate island until it was connected by with the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The resort occupying it has several different means of accommodation from rooms to cottages, suites and grand suites located in a separate villa.
In Croatia we run into the Pučiśća settlement, located in the northern part of the Brac island. The main attraction of this amazing place is, beside the beautiful location and surroundings, the unique stone legacy. This settlement originated on and from stone. This has resulted in its wonderful white buildings that contrast beautifully with the surrounding lush dark green nature and in a world known reputation for this construction material.
This is a rich town, mainly due to the excellent local stone which has contributed greatly to the town’s economy. This stone is looked at as a legacy, passed down from generation to generation. There is even a stonemason-school that is still functioning today. The stone has also been shipped all over the world and it can be found in many different sculptures and many renaissance buildings from different countries.
For those who would like to stay in right in the center of this settlement, Porat Hotel is right in the middle of town and, for those looking for a little bit more history, the former Palace “Deskovic” has been transformed into a lovely family hotel. This four star hotel has also a restaurant, a vinoteque and a gallery, all of which will delight your senses. Around the village you will find several other excellent restaurants, coffee bars, pizzerias, and even a cake-shop, all of which are worth visiting.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Our last destination on the Balkan Region Tour is another gorgeous lake region. Lake Bled is located in the Julian Alps, in the northwest part of Slovenia, near the town of Bled. The area is a popular tourist destination mainly because of the Bled Island. This island is right in the middle of the lake and has several buildings on it, the main one being a pilgrimage church.
The church and main attraction of this island has a 52 m or 171 ft tower and a Baroque stairway with 98 stone steps that lead up to the building. Because of its gorgeous location, the church on this island is a popular wedding location. It is believed that good luck will come to the groom who carries his wife through all those steps.