Planning a holiday can be one of the biggest items in your household budget. While many people consider expensive trendy destinations where they will spend half of their hard-earned annual income, you can travel to a slightly less popular spot – and enjoy the ultimate experience without draining your pocket.
Southeast Europe is the place where you can relish all the joys of an active or laid back vacation while getting your money’s worth. Pleasant sunshine, delicious food, breathtaking landscapes, abundant culture, and tons of exciting outdoor activities – the Balkan Peninsula has really much to offer for both passive recreation fans and adrenaline junkies.
There is no shortage of fun-making opportunities in southeast Europe. To soak up the best of Southeast Europe, some prefer to travel around the region or hop from island to island, exploring the incredible beauties of localities. Since the region is washed by Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean, and Black seas, many holidaymakers love to explore the area by boat and visit hidden coves, secluded beaches, and remote marine towns.
Others are excited about opportunities to explore the coasts of southeast Europe by paddle power, so they go kayaking and canoeing. One of the best outdoor leisure activities to relish in southeast Europe is luxuriating on some of the world’s best beaches with a tasty cocktail. Adventure-seekers will find top-quality windsurfing and kitesurfing spots in this region, while underwater sports enthusiasts will surely appreciate some of the most beautiful dive sites on the planet.
Even if you pack your travel things in winter, Southeast Europe will not disappoint you with a nice diversity of outdoor leisure activities. Beautiful fairytale cities, magical winter festivals, abundant Christmas markets, and modern SKI & SPA resorts will leave lasting memories about your winter trip to the Balkans.
Whether you are heading to this region in summer, winter, or inter-season, you are bound to find that it is a truly magnificent place to experience some of the best cultures, foods, and activities in Europe, without paying through the nose. There are lots of things to do in Southeast Europe to tickle your fancy, so hit the road and consider some of the countries below as your next travel destination this year.
Activities to do in Romania
Romania is a country where holidays are never boring. This pretty little European country brims with a multitude of amazing outdoor activities tourists can engage in, irrespective of the season. Blessed with fantastic landscapes and natural beauties, Romania makes an ideal setting for either an active or relaxing vacation.
Since the relief of Romania is primarily dominated by the Carpathians, the country is ideal to arrange an adventure holiday and go hiking, camping, cycling, and caving. But not only do the Carpathians make tourists flock to this beautiful country, but also many other postcard-perfect places in Romania.
Due to the country's temperate continental climate, there are four distinctive seasons, each with its own perks, which means that no matter what time you come to Romania, you are sure to have gazillion options for outdoor activities.
You can visit mountain villages to get impressed with their colourfulness, rich culture, and the hospitality of locals. Alternatively, you can explore caves that are numerous and exceedingly mysterious here.
Biking tours are also popular among visitors as they allow you to come into closer contact with the culture and traditions of Romania.
Air ballooning is also a trendy entertainment that allows you to soak in the gorgeous beauties of the Romanian terrain from a bird's perspective. Wonderful landscapes can also be admired through paragliding and skydiving adventures – luckily, there are really many flying spots in the country.
Transylvania paragliding tours are all the rage nowadays because it is the most mysterious region not only in the whole country but, probably, entire Southeastern Europe.
Both amateur and professional fishermen can throw a hook in the Danube Delta and catch that golden fish.
For winter sports enthusiasts, Romania has much up its sleeve too. The country is known for an array of world-class winter resort destinations, such as Poiana Brasov, and Sinaia to name a few, which offer amazing conditions to enjoy the ultimate winter holiday. From skiing and sledding to snowboarding and snowmobiling, there is an outdoor activity for everyone. But the greatest thing about Romanian outdoor activities is that they are extremely budget-friendly, yet never lack the quality!
Outdoor Activities in Serbia
Serbia is just beautiful. A varied and eclectic European country, Serbia is blessed with countless different landscapes and sights to explore and marvel at. While Belgrade – the country’s capital city – is chock-full of architectural masterpieces and historical places, you don't want to be limited only to cycling around the sights of a big city. From the astonishing natural beauties to a raft of incredible outdoor activities – Serbia is undoubtedly an explorer’s dream.
In summer, things to do in Serbia include hiking or walking in the Fruska Gora National Park, Tara National Park or Djerdap National Park. Adventure holidays in Serbia also offer biking, off-road safari, kayak trips, canyoning, fishing, paragliding and multi-activity tours to experience the best of what Serbia has to offer.
Many visitors take advantage of Tara Mountain and the stunning Uvac Canyon to challenge themselves and try outdoor activities they have never experienced before. These include rock climbing and skydiving as this area boasts unmatchable views and an incredible variety of fauna to admire from up high. Horse riding tours along the picturesque valleys are also one of the favourite activities of both locals and travellers.
When you visit Belgrade in summer time do spend some time on Ada Ciganlija beach in Belgrade. Here, you can indulge in different water sports including surfing, swimming, diving, fishing, sailing, and parasailing. If you are not good at some of these activities, experienced guides will eagerly help you. The beach is dotted with numerous lovely cafes, hiking trails, and picnic spots and offers various sports activities to enjoy while you are here.
Nestled on the southern slopes of the Tara Mountains, Zaovine Lake is an extraordinarily beautiful handmade reservoir where you can relax in nature or engage in your favourite activities such as fishing, swimming, or boating.
River voyages along the Iron Gates (a 130 kilometres gorge situated along the Danube River) are also one of the best things to do in Serbia in summer time.
Even in winter, Serbia does remain a prime playground for all sorts of exhilarating outdoor activities. The iconic Tara National Park is a haven for hiking trails in colder seasons. You can also hit the ski slopes at Kopaonik.
Apart from skiing, Kopaonik National Park offers some of the craziest winter activities in the Balkans, such as winter safari when you ride a snowmobile or drive an off-road vehicle through the boundless landscape of impenetrable veil of snow and ice – it is an extraordinary adventure not to be missed.
Activities to Do in Croatia
Croatia, one of southeastern Europe’s most picturesque and amicable destinations, is a buzzy land that teems with eclectic urban vibes in Zagreb and the laidback lifestyle of the countryside.
A Balkan mixture of dynamic nightlife, tranquil villages, and epic activities make Croatia the next big thing in the European tourism industry. The possibilities for fun in Croatia will blow your mind as they are as numerous as they are exciting.
Croatia’s Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo is a huge magnet that attracts myriads of people with its sparkling blue uniqueness. Not only will it take your breath away with its enigmatic shivering surfaces, but it also provides a fantastic site for scuba diving, rafting, and jet skiing.
Some of the best outdoor activities to experience in Croatia are found in the UNESCO-accredited Plitvice National Park where you can admire astonishing waterfalls, hit numerous hiking trails, or go on a boat cruise on one of the 16 Plitvice azure lakes.
Things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia include such adventure activities as parasailing where you can take to the skies and admire the greatest views of Croatia’s Adriatic coast. By the way, Dubrovnik was a background for many scenes in the legendary “Game of Thrones” show, so things to do in Dubrovnik are unquestionably exciting.
The best of Croatia can be experienced in the Blue Lagoon which is a 15-minutes drive from the city of Trogir. The Blue Lagoon is a picture-perfect spot that offers sites for kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, and other marvellous water sports.
Croatia’s island hopping is also a fun activity that will create lasting memories for you. Croatian islands are famed for their exquisiteness, so make sure you visit Mlaska (Hvar), Vela Przina (Korcula), Lapad Beach (Dubrovnik), and Saldun Bay (Trogir) to indulge in beachside relaxation or devote yourself to breath-catching activities like zorbing, water skiing, and surfing.
If you are going to Croatia outside of the hectic summer season, you will find tons of incredible outdoor activities to do in winter, as well. The Zagreb Christmas Market is arguably one of the best in entire Europe to purchase lovely presents for your loved ones.
The prestigious, yet affordable ski resorts of Croatia, such as Platak, provide snowy wonderlands to revel in toboggan joys, snowboarding and winter hiking. Hardcore swimmers can even splash into the Adriatic Sea, even in the cold season because winter weather in Croatia is very pleasant, thanks to the mild Mediterranean climate.
They say the fabulous Plitvice Lakes become even more impressive in winter when they freeze over, as the streams of water turn into massive sparkling icicles. Due to its location next to the mountains, the Plitvice region is always colder than the coastlines of Croatia. And this means that you have more snow and ice to have fun here!
Albania Outdoor Activities
Sky-scraping mountains, lovely abundant rivers, mesmerizing sea water, and pristine lakes – Albania is a gem of the Balkans. Not as crowded as many touted West Europe resorts, Albania still ranks as well-known holiday destinations in terms of experience and entertainment. Whether you seek adrenaline or would like to lallygag on some secluded beach, Albania has the right solution for extremely different tourism types.
In Albania, you will find countless mountains and forests with awesome great hiking trails. The Albanian Alps are the country’s landmark where you can explore different paths and enjoy fantastic views from the mountain peaks.
The rock climbing sport is also actively developing in Albania. Enthusiasts of this outdoor activity can conquer rock formations in the Albanian Riviera and enjoy the magnificent landscape of the sea. Bovilla Lake, which is 25 kilometres away from the capital, also presents a great base to climb the mountains.
Cycling is available simply everywhere in Albania. You can cycle through cities, villages, national parks, forests, beaches, and even mountain paths – an unforgettable experience is guaranteed.
Albania also makes the perfect holiday destination to go for a wild off-road adventure on 4 × 4 vehicles. The rough terrain paths are countless, all offering great views. You can choose your level of difficulty and explore mountains, rivers, and fields to taste the wild side of Albania.
Paragliding is also among the most popular outdoor activities in Albania. Depending on the season, your options can include Llogara (Vlora) and Sasica (Vlora) for splendid marine views, or Daiti (Tirana) and Morava (Korcea) for the mountain scenery.
Water sports include rafting, kayaking, canoeing, jet-ski, diving, fishing to name a few.
Kayaking is a great method to explore the Albanian sea and lakes. More than that, you will be able to get to the beaches, coves, and caves that cannot be reached by land. You can practice this adventurous activity anywhere on the coast and nearby lakes, individually or with a professional guide.
For all fans of the underwater world, scuba diving is a real adventure in Albania. You can rent equipment and start exploring the Albanian seabed. Given the numerous caves and shipwrecks, the experience will forever be etched in your memory.
Rafting on the Albanian rivers can also provide you with a strong adrenaline rush. There are three main rivers you may consider:
Vjosa (Permet) is said to be Europe’s last untouched river;
Osum (Skrapar) will fascinate you with a 3-million-year-old canyon;
Black Drin (Dibra) is gifted with admirable surroundings, and it is a great launchpad for beginner rafters thanks to its wide riverbed.
Activities to do in Montenegro
Popular travel bloggers constantly chant the praises of Montenegro’s untouched beauty, and they do have a point there. However, you are not going to experience the best of this little southeastern European country if you will only be lazing about on crowded beaches. Things to do in Montenegro are as hopscotch as its culture, food, and locals. There are loads of thrilling opportunities to go wild in Montenegro!
For instance, you can explore Montenegro’s fascinating nature through rafting. The Tara Canyon provides the best setting for this active pursuit. It is a picturesque remote cleft that cuts through Durmitor National Park in the country’s mountainous north. Waters are not aggressive here, so the expedition might not be so adrenaline-filled, yet beginner rafters are bound to be in raptures.
For a more sedate experience, you can go hiking or biking in Montenegro. The country has many well-marked hiking and biking trails with options for any levels of training. Memorable easy routes include itineraries around lakes in the Biogradska Gora and Durmitor National Park. The first passes through century-old forests, while the second offers mountain vistas – and it is impossible to get lost on either one. For more skilled bikers and hikers, the Vrmac Ridge offers more challenging routes and more spectacular views.
For kayaking junkies, Montenegro offers the Bay of Kotor and Lake Skadar to row a boat and go into raptures over unforgettable sceneries. Kayak hiring services are ample here, and you can also book an organised tour with a well-trained guide to take you to the secret and most interesting locations.
If you wish to try your hands at canyoning, the wonderful Nevidio Canyon near Durmitor National Park is the right setting. The canyon’s name means "invisible" – it is a reference to the enclosed nature of the gorge, which in some places is only 2 meters wide. For a safe expedition, consider hiring an experienced guide.
If you want to soar in the sky, the 12 km-long sandy stretch of Velika Plaza (Big Beach) near the Albanian border provides the ideal launch pad for kitesurfing, water skiing, and parasailing. Skilful instructors are here to offer rental equipment and teach you the basics of these astonishingly cool water sports.
If you are a daredevil traveler who wants to smell the fear, Montenegro has got you covered in this respect, as well. For instance, the 865-meter-long, 152-meter-high zip line across the Tara River is the biggest one in Europe and offers an unforgettable thrill and absolutely astounding views.
Moldova Outdoor Activities
Moldova is a country that captivates travellers with exceptional cuisine, cherished traditions, and plenty of things to enjoy. Moldavians are one of the most hospitable nations on the planet, and when you arrive here, you are bound to get the kind of authentic, grassroots experiences that only a few countries can offer. Life in Moldova is simple, tranquil, and yet to be touched by globalisation.
When you arrive, you can get a taste of the local life by herding sheep in the field, milking cows, picking berries right from the trees, squeezing grapes with a wine press, kicking off the fun at the festival, and making new friends with an extraordinary glass of Moldovan wine. But adventure tourism is also booming in this wondrous land. Outdoor things to do in Moldova can tickle your fancy, so you cannot resist the temptation of booking a ticket to this little southeastern European country.
For a soft adventure, you can go for a kayak tour on the River Nistru and discover the most secret places in Moldova. For more sedate relaxation, you can hit bird-watching trails in the cultural-natural reservation “Orheiul Vechi”. Here, you have a golden opportunity to watch rare birds in their natural habitats, including floodplains, forests, waters, villages, and farmlands.
For those who want to keep fit while on vacation, the reservation area of Orheiul Vechi offers six tourist routes for hiking and cycling. All routes have different levels of complexity, from 4 up to 23 kilometres. One could go for a walk or ride a bike, admiring the scenic landscapes of the River Raut.
For a harder adventure, you can get a flight over the country. Moldova’s unrepeatable landscapes look even better from the height. You can find a plane for rent at Vadul-lui-Voda Sports Airfield.
Daredevils can explore the capital of Moldova from a hot air balloon. Air ballooning trips are available throughout the year to see the marvelous land from the height of a bird’s flight.
For the ultimate adrenaline buzz, there are also paragliding services in Moldova provided in Orheiul Vechi, Molovata, Dubasari, and Farladeni.
The beauties of the country are hidden away from national routes. Deep in the pristine bosom of Moldova, there are so many truly breathtaking places! If you step aside from the beaten trails, you will discover the finest gems of Moldova. Rent a crossover vehicle and explore the wildest side of the country.
Activities to do In Georgia
Georgia is a hidden gem in the Caucasus part of southeast Europe. This small country washed by the Black Sea waters is blessed with delightful natural sights, a rich historical heritage, and striking food diversity. Georgian landscape is a fabulous mixture of mountains, plains and coastlines, making it an ideal destination for both adventure seekers and passive leisure aficionados.
Things to do in Georgia are as exciting as the country itself. Here are just a few ideas of active pursuits you can apply yourself to while visiting this majestic country.
Paragliding in the Caucasus Mountains is one of the most mind-bending things to do in Georgia. Paragliding flights are widely available in the small town of Gudauri, where the take-off point is located at an altitude of 2800 meters above sea level on top of the lush greenery of Mount Gudauri.
If you want to keep your adrenaline level even, yet experience the wild alter ego of Georgia, you can go trekking and explore the country’s beauties on foot. The landscape of Georgia is mountainous and provides lots of trekking and hiking opportunities. Some of the best hiking paths center on the mountain Kazbegi. It is the highest and definitely the most beautiful snow-covered peak in the country. If you do not want to beat your shoes, quad/ATV tours around Kazbegi are the solution!
As Georgia is graced with many rivers that flow directly from the mountains in different directions throughout the country, rafting is another exciting thing you can easily engage in while in Georgia. The flow of most rivers near the capital Tbilisi is rapid. Therefore, they offer great rafting sites throughout the year, except from December to March, when the weather conditions become too cold for this activity. The Aragvi River, which flows near Gudauri, is also very popular for rafting among adrenaline junkies.
For the true sense of Georgia, you can head to the Borjomi Natural Park in Borjomi city. It is one of the largest parks in entire southeast Europe, brimming with waterfalls, natural hot water pools, drinking water springs, and marvellous walking paths!
For a solid dose of thrills, you can go zip-lining at the National Botanical Garden of Georgia. Difficulty levels vary, so you can enjoy fantastic views from a comfortable height.
To smell the fear, you can drive on some of the most dangerous roads in the world, which is the Abano pass near the Tusheti region in Georgia. Nearly 3 km above the sea level, it is one of the highest and most frequently visited mountain passes in the Caucasus area and can only be crossed by four-wheel cars.
Parasailing over the Black sea is also an exhilarating venture you can experience while spending time on some Georgian beaches.
As for winter activities in Georgia, you can try heli-skiing. This service is easily available in the Gudauri ski resort where you can glide through infinitely beautiful slopes. Moreover, it is a much cheaper winter holiday destination compared to hyped European resorts, but neither beginner nor expert skiers or snowboarders will be disappointed.
Want to see Georgia from a bird's eye view? Try paragliding in tandem. Flights are primarily arranged over Tbilisi, Gudauri, Kazbegi, the Black Sea coastline, and the Kakheti region, but other areas may also provide this service. Hot-air balloon flights also offer spectacular views over the Greater Caucasus mountain range and entire Georgia!