Recommendations for the Balkans starting in April?

I’m in Spain now and heading to Italy in March for a conference, but I want to head to cheaper pastures after that while still being in Europe. I want to be relatively warm so I want to stay as far south as possible. I’ve not spent any time in the Balkans so I’d love some recommendations. I am eventually planning on settling in Croatia for a bit, but probably not until it’s warmer so I’m looking at the southern countries. Maybe Albania?

I need: Access to decent speed internet that is reliable, especially up speeds because I have to call the US regularly. A mid-sized city so I have access to restaurants and bars and a decent gym, but nothing too crazy. A reasonably priced apartment in the city center that has a good kitchen since I like to cook. Good public transit network so I can explore the city/country on weekends.

I’m a US citizen, if that matters.

Thanks for any recommendations!

Hi Mandy!

The Balkans are wonderful, and April is the perfect time to head into the region.
In terms of weather, it starts to warm up nicely from April onwards. In Sarajevo, Bosnia, the city I am most familiar with, April can be a mixed month. Warms some days and cold others. When I moved out there in 2011, some days were 18-20 (Celsius) and the next day it was snowing! The sunny days should outweigh the cooler, cloudy days, but as Sarajevo is tucked into a valley, when the weather changes, it changes fast! But it’s surrounded by incredible mountains, which will take your breath away. I know of at least one co-working space if that’s your thing (http://www.nest71.com/), but internet in cafes is free, plentiful and super fast! I think like a lot of the Balkans, they skipped dial up and went straight to fibre.

Renting apartments can be tricky, so I’d recommend booking a hotel or AirBnB for a couple of nights, or seeing if you can negotiate a reasonable monthly rent. Theoretically, you can get an apartment for as little as $200 a month, but there are quite a few expats related to the various embassies in the area, so they definitely charge more for Westerners. The US embassy is huge! They may be able to help with accommodation.

The city is fantastic. It’s got a population of about 400,000, it’s got so much going on, a great arts scene, an awesome film festival in august, decent gyms and lovely promenades to jog round. Obviously I’m biased, as I run a website about Sarajevo :smile: (Visit Sarajevo)

If you want somewhere a bit warmer, then Mostar, 2 hours south of Sarajevo is lovely, but perhaps a little too isolated. You can easily visit Mostar from Sarajevo as a day trip (about $6 rtn on a rickety little train) though.

Greece (technically in the Balkans) is perhaps a good shout for something more accessible or westernised, but I don’t know too much about the DN scene out there.

Croatia is lovely! Split is my favourite of the coastal cities as it’s easy to explore the island but not overrun with tourists like Dubrovnik. Prices will be a little higher in Croatia as it’s been on the tourist map for a while and it’s now part of the EU. However, if you look, there are certainly bargains to be found.

Belgrade in Serbia, is a fantastic city. I’d say it’s a bit like the Berlin of the Balkans. Rough around the edges, cheap and arty. Oh and they love their turbofolk music, so a good party scene if you want that. You can easily avoid it too though!

I’ve heard good things about Bulgaria and Romania. Most of these areas have incredibly fast internet if you stick to the larger cities and towns. When I worked at a hostel in Sarajevo the internet was faster than back home in the UK and had at least 20 people at a time using it for facebook, skype etc.

As far as I have heard, Albania has amazing beaches and is very cheap, but I think the infrastructure is very hit and miss and transport is unreliable (worst roads in Europe anyone?) But I haven’t visited, I’m basing this info on close friends.

Anyway I hope that helps. I think they DN scene is under-developed but the potential is definitely there. And it truly is an incredible part of the world.

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Thanks for the feedback! I think I’m heading to Albania first and we’ll see how that goes. I need to stay out of Schengen so Greece is off the list. I’ve been to Bulgaria so I’m looking forward to trying some new places. :smile:

No problem. Let me know where you end up, I’d love to know how it goes :slight_smile:

Hey Mandy,

I’ve been using Albania as a base for the past year and a half. I highly recommend it! Affordable, fascinating culture, and proximity to the EU and Asia are a few things that make it great. Plus as an American citizen you’ll have no visa issues for up to a year.

In April the weather will be great, a mild and warm Mediterranean climate. Infrastructure wise, Albania is not like the rest of Europe . But you’ll have no problem getting Internet at 5 MB speeds for a decent price. Plus the 10€ 3 GB vodafone package is great.

I’m in Shkoder, the largest city in the north. It’s a great small-city without the chaos and hectic atmosphere of Tirana.

I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. If you stop by, give me a shout and we can grab a coffee. I can introduce you to the local expat community and friendly locals.

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Hi Mandy,

If you are coming by Milan, Italy, let me know. We would love to show you around Talent Garden Milano, our digital coworking space.

Cheers,

Chiara

Thanks. I want to get to Milan at some point, I have a friend there. But on this trip I will only be in Rome. :slight_smile:

@wanderingdev Still planning on coming to the Balkans? Spring is finally here and when it’s not raining its absolutely gorgeous.

I just left Albania and I’m in Montenegro. Loving it! :slight_smile: I was actually in Shkoder. Sorry I didn’t review this thread earlier, I’d have met up with you for a coffee. next time!

Sounds like it’s all going well. I highly recommend the Bay of Kotor, and the towns along it in Montenegro. Just beautiful, and you can rent your own boat and sailor for an afternoon.

I spent 2 nights in Kotor. It was beautiful but freezing and the thought of being on the water was not enticing. But, as I make my way up the coast, I keep thinking how much fun I’ll have coming back when I get my boat. :smile:

How is Montenegro for wifi and meeting other nomads? How about summer weather there and in Albania? I got a big recommendation from a friend for Montenegro. Like Mandy, I will probably need to stay out of the Schengen area for 3 months this summer, but I actually haven’t tried Croatia or Bulgaria yet either. Any thoughts appreciated.

I was only in Kotor in Montenegro and the internet was usable but not high speed. Albania was similar. Summers in that region are HOT. Best internet I had was in Sarajevo and I really liked it there. I could live there a while. I also like Plovdiv Bulgaria.

Thanks. Good to know about the Internet. My plans just changed again and I probably wouldn’t head to the Balkans until Sept or Oct.

weather-wise, it’ll be probably better than high summer, but will be cool, especially in the evenings.

Glad you enjoyed Sarajevo @wanderingdev! There internet there is crazy fast :smile:
@suuzin I think I’ll bein the Balkans Sept/Oct, thinking one month in Split and then slowly working my way along the Albanian coast and hopping to Berat too. If you’re about, would love to meet up. Early autumn is the best time to be in the Balkans. The weather is still good and the sea is still warm, yet with far fewer tourists.

Does anyone have good costal, digital nomad friendly tips for Albania? AirBnB looks difficult outside of Shkodër.

Thanks, @hannahvictorius - sure, let’s keep in touch! I’ll update here again once I know my plans better. Cheers.

Hi guys :smiley: If you thinking about visiting Balkan I would definitely recommend Serbia and Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. It is amazing modern european city with strongest alternative culture and creative community in this part of Europe. It is set on a confluence of two rivers, magnificent Danube and Sava. Belgrade has rich history (it is one of the oldest european city, first settlement dates back to 4800 bc), it is interesting mix of eastern and western civilization and it has best night life . Belgrade probably has one of the best energy, you will love it. In a city you will find many coffe shops and they are always full of people. It is very cheap, people here live with 300 euros for month :smile: Wifi network is excellent. Also if you love food you will be amazed with Serbian cuisine. Kajmak, kulen, rakija, sarma are only few things you must try. And for the end the best thing about Serbia, serbian people! Everyone who visited Serbia was charmed by Serbian people, warm and helpful Serbs will do everything to make your experience of Serbia the best possible.

Also if you can you should definitely visit EXIT festival (officially best european music festival) and Guca

One video about Serbia and serbian food that you may like

and one with pictures that I like

Beside Serbia I would recommend Montenegro, especially Herceg Novi, Kotor and Budva and Bulgaria, Nessebar

Greece is already popular destination so I don’t need to say anything

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I can recommend Skopje or Ohrid in Macedonia. Great nature, low cost.

If you plan on staying in Sarajevo, drop me a line if you want, there are quite a few cool Co working spaces and lots to see. The Cuisine is simple but very delicious and it has a sprawling ecosystem in the works as well.