26 days in The Balkans Itinerary

26 days in The Balkans Itinerary

Created using Inspirock Europe visit planner

Make it your trip
Fly
1
Ankara, Turkey
— 2 nights
Bus
2
Goreme, Turkey
— 2 nights
Drive
3
Istanbul, Turkey
— 3 nights
Fly
4
Athens, Greece
— 7 nights
Fly
5
Thessaloniki, Greece
— 2 nights
Drive
6
Tirana, Albania
— 3 nights
Bus
7
Kotor, Montenegro
— 2 nights
Fly

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Ankara, Turkey

— 2 nights

Heart of Turkey

Turkey's capital and second-largest city, Ankara supports a large population of foreign diplomats and young students, contributing to the city's international feel.
Kick off your visit on the 30th (Tue): admire the striking features of Kocatepe Mosque (Kocatepe Camii), then get to know the fascinating history of Hamamonu Restored Area, then get engrossed in the history at Anitkabir, and finally see the interesting displays at Altindag Belediyesi Sair ve Yazarlar Evi. On the next day, examine the collection at Erimtan Arkeoloji ve Sanat Muzesi, then see the interesting displays at Rahmi M. Koc Muzesi, then get a new perspective on nature at Anadolu Medeniyetleri Muzesi, and finally admire the landmark architecture of Haci Bayram Mosque (Haci Bayram Camii).

Plan my day in Ankara using traveler tips and tourist information provided by Inspirock.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Ankara is an approximately 18-hour flight. The time zone difference moving from Malaysia Time to Turkey Time is minus 5 hours. Plan for cooler temperatures traveling from Kuala Lumpur in November, with highs in Ankara at 9°C and lows at 7°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 1st (Wed) early enough to catch the bus to Goreme.

Things to do in Ankara

Museums · Historic Sites

Goreme, Turkey

— 2 nights
Famed for its landscape of unusually shaped stone formations and churches cut into the natural rocks, Goreme sits in the central part of the country, an area originally settled during Roman times.
Start off your visit on the 2nd (Thu): Head underground at Uchisar Castle, then get to know the fascinating history of Güvercinlik Vadisi (Pigeon Valley), then head outdoors with Outdoor Activities, and finally appreciate the extensive heritage of Goreme National Park. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: see Off-Road Tours, stop by Otantik Bazaar, then get engrossed in the history at Goreme Open-Air Museum, and finally explore the striking landscape at Fairy Chimneys.

To find where to stay, traveler tips, reviews, and more tourist information, read our Goreme trip itinerary planner.

You can take a bus from Ankara to Goreme in 4.5 hours. Another option is to drive. Traveling from Ankara in December, plan for slightly colder nights in Goreme, with lows around -3°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Fri) to allow enough time to travel to Istanbul.

Things to do in Goreme

Historic Sites · Nature · Parks · Tours

Side Trips

Istanbul, Turkey

— 3 nights

Queen of Cities

A physical and cultural bridge between Europe and Asia, the transcontinental city of Istanbul serves as a living reminder of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires.
Istanbul is known for historic sites, museums, and shopping. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: admire the striking features of Hagia Sophia, get engrossed in the history at Topkapi Palace, explore the ancient world of Basilica Cistern, and explore the world behind art at Chora Museum.

To see other places to visit, more things to do, where to stay, and more tourist information, read Istanbul itinerary website.

Traveling by flight from Goreme to Istanbul takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and train. Expect a bit warmer evenings in Istanbul when traveling from Goreme in December, with lows around 7°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 7th (Tue) so you can travel to Athens.

Things to do in Istanbul

Historic Sites · Museums · Neighborhoods · Shopping

Athens, Greece

— 7 nights

The Birthplace of Democracy

One of the world's most ancient cities, Athens remains Europe's undisputed historical and cultural capital.
Venture out of the city with trips to Mycenae (Lion Gate & Archaeological Site Mycenae). Next up on the itinerary: take an in-depth tour of Acropolis Museum, take some stellar pictures from Mount Lycabettus, explore the ancient world of Ancient Agora of Athens, and wander the streets of Plaka.

To find out how to plan a trip to Athens, use our trip itinerary maker.

Fly from Istanbul to Athens in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Due to the time zone difference, you'll gain 1 hour traveling from Istanbul to Athens. Traveling from Istanbul in December, expect nights in Athens to be about the same, around 9°C, while days are a bit warmer, around 17°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 14th (Tue) so you can travel to Thessaloniki.

Things to do in Athens

Museums · Historic Sites · Neighborhoods · Tours

Side Trip

Thessaloniki, Greece

— 2 nights

Mother of Israel

A city with a stormy history and a cosmopolitan heart, Thessaloniki attracts visitors with its diverse culinary scene, dynamic nightlife, and youthful energy.
Start off your visit on the 15th (Wed): get engrossed in the history at Museum of Byzantine Culture, enjoy breathtaking views from White Tower of Thessaloniki, then don't miss a visit to Monument of Alexander The Great, then make a trip to Aristotelous Square, and finally indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas. Keep things going the next day: take an in-depth tour of Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, delve into the distant past at Rotunda, contemplate the long history of Hagios Demetrios, then delve into the distant past at The Greek Agora and Roman Forum, and finally stop by Ladadika District.

To find maps, photos, ratings, and more tourist information, use the Thessaloniki trip itinerary planner.

Traveling by flight from Athens to Thessaloniki takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train; or drive. Traveling from Athens in December, things will get slightly colder in Thessaloniki: highs are around 13°C and lows about 2°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Thu) to allow time to drive to Tirana.

Things to do in Thessaloniki

Historic Sites · Museums · Neighborhoods · Spas

Tirana, Albania

— 3 nights
Tirana, the largest city in Albania, represents one a lively and fast-paced metropolis.
Your list of things to see and do now includes Lezhe Castle, Enver Hoxha Pyramid, Skanderbeg Statue, and other attractions. Change things up with a short trip to Parku Kombetar Divjake-Karavasta in Lushnje (about 1h 25 min away). There's still lots to do: take an in-depth tour of Muzeu Historik Kombetar, walk around Grand Park (Parku i Madh), take in breathtaking views at Canyons of Erzen River, and learn about all things military at Bunk'Art 1.

For more things to do and tourist information, read Tirana sightseeing planning site.

Getting from Thessaloniki to Tirana by car takes about 6 hours. Other options: fly; or do a combination of train, car, and bus. You'll gain 1 hour traveling from Thessaloniki to Tirana due to the time zone difference. December in Tirana sees daily highs of 17°C and lows of 0°C at night. On the 20th (Mon), you're off to Kotor.

Things to do in Tirana

Parks · Nature · Museums · Historic Sites

Side Trips

Kotor, Montenegro

— 2 nights

Bride of the Adriatic Sea

Perched on the edge of a fjord-like bay rimmed by rugged mountains, Kotor grew around a medieval settlement purposely built like a maze.
Kotor is known for historic sites, nature, and adventure. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: explore the activities along Bay of Kotor, contemplate the long history of Kotor Old City, see the interesting displays at Maritime Museum, and take in the waterfront at Porto Montenegro.

For more things to do, maps, traveler tips, and other tourist information, refer to the Kotor road trip tool.

Getting from Tirana to Kotor by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: do a combination of bus and car; or take a bus. December in Kotor sees daily highs of 17°C and lows of 1°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Thu) early enough to travel back home.

Things to do in Kotor

Historic Sites · Nature · Parks · Museums

Side Trips

Turkey travel guide

4.4
Architectural Buildings · Sacred & Religious Sites · History Museums
Rich in culture and customs and brimming with hospitality, natural beauty, and historical heritage, Turkey serves as a crossroads between Asia and Europe. The landmass known as Anatolia on which Turkey thrives has been home to numerous civilizations and their faiths and cultures, as attested by the 13 World Heritage Sites and countless religious sites you'll find here. Relive the ancient world through the ruins, customs, and traditions that are among the nation's most precious heritages. Adventure-seekers have plenty do to here, including mountain climbing, scuba diving, rafting, and skiing. A holiday to Turkey is incomplete without a cup of Turkish coffee, the pinnacle of Turkish cuisine inscribed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Greece travel guide

4.2
Beaches · Ruins · History Museums
Few places manage to capture the world's imagination quite like Greece, a land of sun-kissed coastlines, tranquil whitewashed villages, lively seaside towns, and well-preserved ancient sites. One of the world's top tourist destinations since ancient times, the country draws nearly 20 million visitors each year. Athens, the birthplace of Western civilization, continues to attract the biggest crowds and serves as a base for exploring the country and its 227 inhabited islands. Away from its cities, Greece features a picturesque countryside of olive groves, vineyards, and tiny settlements nestled against rolling hills and rugged mountain ranges. Explore the old mainland on foot and discover the islands on a guided boat or ferry tour.

Albania travel guide

3.9
National Parks · Landmarks · Castles
Land of the Eagles
With its young bustling metropolis, networks of cobblestone pedestrianized streets, coastal beach towns, and cities of ancient ruins, Albania will continuously surprise you. As you reach each new major town and discover how completely different it is from the last, your appreciation will deepen for this tucked-away land steeped in history. Travel, eating, and accommodation here is very inexpensive, freeing you from budget concerns and allowing you to travel in the style that you want. Meanwhile, you may find yourself going days without spotting another tourist. While this means that many things will not be customized for visitors (non-English menus, sparse accommodation, and fewer international transportation options), you'll experience the feel of authentic Albania.

Montenegro travel guide

4.4
Historic Sites · Bodies of Water · Beaches
Whether you're in the mood to explore unspoiled nature, see historical sights, or soak in the Mediterranean atmosphere of beaches and parties, in Montenegro you can find everything within arm's reach. The Montenegrin coastline offers both large city beaches abundant with amenities, as well as peaceful fishing villages and secluded coves. Fortified old towns, medieval cathedrals, and monasteries are certain to satisfy history enthusiasts. Further inland are some of the nation's larger cities, as well as an abundance of opportunities for an active vacation. Wander off the beaten path, hike the mountains and canyons, and experience the traditional hospitality of villages where time seems to stand still. The national cuisine reflects the diversity of the landscape, including everything from fresh meat and dairy specialties, to a selection of seafood. The size of the country allows you to see a lot even during a short stay.