Looking for Ideas for Your Next Vacation? How About a Road Trip to the Balkans?

Looking for Ideas for Your Next Vacation? How About a Road Trip to the Balkans?

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Before going on vacation, most people plan where they will be going and what they want to see. My partner and I are the opposite. We usually have no plan and do little research beforehand besides visa requirements and such. In March, we took a short five-day road trip in Scotland, and now we have just returned from an eleven-day road trip from the Netherlands to Bosnia and Herzegovina with several stops in several countries in between. Typically, we stay in smaller places and try to stay away from the uber-touristy things. But on this road trip, we did more of those typical touristy things because they were gorgeous and worth it.

Day One

This day and the last day of our road trip to the Balkans were the most uneventful. We drove from the Netherlands to Ingolstadt, Germany. That took about 8 hours (plus bathroom breaks and a stop for lunch). Once we arrived in Ingolstadt, we walked a bit around the city and grabbed dinner at Hamburgerei Ingolstadt. The burgers were pretty good. Our day wasn’t over just yet. We booked a hotel in a small village called Inzell by the German border with Austria, so we still had to drive there. We arrived at the hotel, Landgasthof Schwarzberg, and headed straight to bed.

You may be wondering why we didn’t explore Germany. Well, we’ve been there many times, as the Netherlands is right next door. So our goal was to explore countries a bit beyond Germany, particularly in the Balkans.

Day Two

We woke up to a stunning backdrop of rolling green hills and lots of German bread buns. The hotel breakfast was filling and in a beautiful old room filled with wooden beams and accents. Then we were back on the road headed for Austria. Once we crossed the border into Austria, we spotted a castle from the side of the road. So naturally, us both loving castles, we stopped to explore it. Burg Hohenwerfen had absolutely stunning views of Austria and was the perfect place to stop for lunch and learn about the area.

Then it was time to get back on the road and drive to Lake Bled. The drive from the castle to Lake Bled was about 2 ½ hours. We booked the Adora Luxury Hotel right across from the lake. Sadly there were no rooms with a view left, so we settled on a different room. The hotel was so cozy and more like a B&B than a hotel. We chilled for a bit before getting some dinner. The dinner was okay, nothing too memorable. But we did go to a wine bar called Vinoteka Zdravljica, and that was wonderful. The owner was so friendly and kind. We got to try local liqueurs, which were pretty interesting.  

Day Three

After enjoying our made-to-order eggs and more for breakfast, we walked over to Bled Castle to explore it. Instead of driving there, we walked to the base of it and climbed the many stairs up to the castle. It was quite the climb considering we live in a very flat country. But despite sweating and taking a break or two, we made it to the top. And boy, was the view worth it. You could see all of Lake Bled and beyond. We explored for a bit, got ice cream and lunch, and then headed back to our hotel. We took a quick break to explore the church next to the base of the steps that lead to the castle.

Dinner was much better tonight. We ate at Restavracija Sova Bled. My partner had the mixed grill plate, and I had the sea bass. We also had an appetizer. The food was delicious and filling, and definitely too much for us. The interior and atmosphere were great.

Day Four

Sadly it was time to leave Slovenia and drive into Croatia. I’ve been to Croatia once, last summer. But my partner has never been. Once we crossed the border into Croatia, we stopped for a very mediocre lunch before driving on to Split. By the time we arrived in Split, it was dark. We love to take the longer route so we can see all the small towns and villages. So instead of taking the toll road, we took the other road to Split.

Finding our hotel was such a hassle. Google maps doesn’t work very well in the center of Split, and there was no signage to be found. Eventually, we found our hotel, Gothic Palace Heritage Hotel. It was above the restaurant called Fig. Just take the stairs in the courtyard/terrace, then open the door on the right side and take the stairs two flights up. The hotel didn’t have a proper lobby or such, so you just have to ring the bell. We got some delicious risotto and ravioli at Portofino restaurant and just took a small walk around the center.

Day Five

Unlike at most hotels, we didn’t get breakfast at this hotel. So instead, we headed to some Mexican place for breakfast. It was okay and did the job. We walked around for a bit before going on a walking tour of Split. It was neat to learn about how the city used to be a palace. How cool? We also explored the bell tower and some other monuments. For dinner, we ate at Konoba Hvaranin. The food was absolutely delicious. I had the stew, and my partner got the cheese-filled steak.

Day Six

Once we woke up, we packed up and brought our luggage to the car, and got breakfast at some local place. We set our destination in the navigation to Kravica Waterfall in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As usual, we took the long way there to explore the countryside and villages. At one point, we had to turn around and go back 20 minutes because the place where we wanted to cross the border was only for locals. So we had to take another border crossing. The Kravica Waterfall was incredibly beautiful. But if you have trouble with stairs and steepness, then maybe this isn’t for you.

After the waterfall, we headed to our destination for the night: Mostar. This old city took our breath away. The Kriva Cuprija Hotel had the most gorgeous view of the water and the Kriva Cuprija Bridge. The staff there were so incredibly friendly and helpful. We also had a traditional Bosnian dinner at the hotel. The meat was cooked under a lid covered in ash. We also enjoyed a bottle of wine, salad, desserts, and aperitif.

Day Seven

We started the morning with regular coffee and Bosnian coffee, as well as a very elaborate breakfast. The number of choices was amazing. Then we explored the city. We went to the famous Stari Most (old bridge) as well as under it. We also stopped by the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque and gardens and learned about the war and genocide at the Museum of War and Genocide Victims. It was quite gruesome and confronting, as one can probably understand.

For lunch, we went to Winery and Hotel Imperial Vineyards. Eating pasta with a view of vineyards is something else. It really felt like a vacation. Then, we drove to Blagaj Tekija, which is very close to Mostar. We visited the Monasterio de Blagaj, which is a Muslim Monastery on the side of a cliff. The views from inside and outside were just gorgeous. We also got some freshly squeezed pomegranate juice made from pomegranates grown in the area. For dinner, we went to Food House in the center of the old city of Mostar. I got the stew which was so delicious. We also went to a bar, but I forgot what it was called.

Day Eight

Our vacation was starting to come to a close, and we needed to begin heading back home. Before sleeping in Banja Luka, we went to the Pliva Waterfall in Jajce. I highly recommend you visit the waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are stunning. We spent the night at Hotel Cezar in Banja Luka. I wouldn’t recommend it, as the whole place reeked of smoke. If you don’t mind the smell of cigarettes, then I have no other complaints about the hotel. We walked around the city, saw some architecture, and grabbed dinner and drinks.

Day Nine

We woke up and got some hotel breakfast and then headed to check out Kastel Fortress. It’s the oldest monument in Banja Luka. We also wanted to pick up some Bosnian wine and liquor before heading back towards the Netherlands. So we stopped at Drink & More to purchase a few things. We drove for most of the day (on the normal toll road) until we ended up in a small town in Croatia called Kutina to get lunch at King’s Pub. I had a delicious cheesy pizza.

For the rest of the day, we just drove to Hotel Center in Postojna, Slovenia. After we checked and settled in, we headed to Pizzerija Minutka for dinner. It had amazing reviews, and boy, did it live up to the reviews. The food was absolutely divine.

Day Ten

We woke up to rain and cold, the first time on our entire vacation. We weren’t too upset because we planned on going to the Postojna Cave Park. This is seriously one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. It’s miles and miles of preserved caves. We learned about the animals living in the cave and took a train and walking tour to discover them further. You can also check out the nearby castle, but we didn’t have time.

We had to get back on the road to go to our final stop, Hotel Müllerbräu in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Germany. So we basically just drove for the rest of the day.

Day Eleven

This was the final day of our trip, and that meant we had to make the long drive back to the Netherlands. We just drove all day and made it home in time for dinner. If you have time, you could check out the town of Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm before heading back home. We just wanted to make it back at a decent time.

Feel free to use this as an itinerary for your next vacation. You can also adjust it so it fits your needs and wants. Let me know what questions you have about our trip. Thank you for reading!

If you want to see more of my travels and life in the Netherlands, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

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