Hiking in the Balkans is a real treat, there are plenty of marked and unmarked trails leading adventurous travellers through some of Europe's most scenic landscapes. Dense forests, spectacular viewpoints and mountain peaks await anyone looking to escape the crowds of tourists at the beach and enjoy some time surrounded by beautiful mountain nature.
As well as the increasingly popular longer hikes such as The Peaks of the Balkans there is also a range of rewarding day hikes in the Balkans which are great for everyone from families to seasoned hikers.
During our road trip in the Balkans we stopped off for some hikes but there where plenty we missed out on too. So with the help of some other Balkan-lovers, we came up with a list of the best day hikes in the Balkans. So grab your day pack and enjoy!
Lake Bled Ojstrica Viewpoint, Slovenia
by Kay of Jetfarer
About an hour outside of Ljubljana, Slovenia, high above the magical town of Bled, lies a postcard-perfect viewpoint of Lake Bled and Triglav National Park called Ojstrica. Though many people flock to the Bled area, especially in the summer months, Ojstrica is a peaceful place with the most striking views of this scenic area. For visitors in the area, Ojstrica is a short, moderately difficult day hike from Bled town.
From the town, walk on the pathway bordering the lake until you reach the Bled campsite. To the left of the campsite, there's a pathway that cuts through the trees with a small sign that says "Ojstrica." From there, it's a 1-2 hour hike through the forest up a fairly steep, gravel incline. Continue to follow signs for “Ojstrica,” because the path splits eventually and you’ll want to take a right turn when you reach a fork in the trail. At the top, you'll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Bled Castle, Bled Island, the town, and the mountains in the distance.
If you’re up for even more hiking, you can continue up the main path for another hour to Osojnica viewpoint, which is an even higher lookout to the lake and its surroundings. However, if you’re looking for the best viewpoint in the Lake Bled area, Ojstrica takes the cake.
Check out accommodation options around Lake Bled here.
Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
by Rohan of Travels of a Bookpacker
The Durmitor National Park is high on most people's Montenegro itinerary and is a great area for hiking. The most popular area is around the main town of Zabljak and there are several great day hikes from there. Our favourite was the walk to Crno Jezero (Black Lake) followed by a hike through the forest to the smaller Snake Lake.
The main walkway to the Black Lake is a footpath from the town but if you arrive at the lake from the south or walk this way from the lake there are plenty of scenic paths and trails through forests and fields with stunning mountain views. From Black Lake to Snake Lake it takes about 45 minutes and is fairly easy going. The trail isn't marked but once you start there is really only one path and it's easy to find. Both lakes are really beautiful and in summer Black Lake is a great spot for a dip!
Find accommodation in Zabljak near the Black Lake here.
Paklenica National Park, Croatia
by Rachel of Adventure and Sunshine
Paklenica National Park is located close to the small town of Starigrad, only 40 kilometers from Zadar. Perhaps more famous as one of the best rock climbing destinations in the Balkans, it offers hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails. The Park is part of the Velebit Mountain Range and is made up of two dramatic limestone canyons.
The main trail takes you through the Velika Paklenica Canyon to Lugarnica forest cottage, a small cluster of cottages set deep within the forest. The trailhead is at the entry to the park, where you pay a small fee.
The hike is primarily through beech forest on a varied track of stone steps and dirt paths. The trail runs alongside a small stream scattered with huge boulders and pretty secluded waterholes that are fun to explore. The forest canopy occasionally gives way to views up across the surrounding canyon walls where you can spot many rock climbers.
The hike to the forest cottages takes about 2 hours each way. The walk is steep in sections but is of moderate difficulty. It is possible to complete the hike with children. The return to the Park entry is along the same trail. There are snacks available at the forest cottages otherwise stop at one of the waterholes for a picnic and a swim.
The town of Starigrad is on the beach and there are a number of hotels, pensions and campgrounds close by. Click for accommodation options in Starigrad here.
by Karen of Wanderlustingk
There’s some amazing hiking near Prizren, Kosovo. You can take a minibus up to Prevalla prior to hiking out of town to the nearby mountain. It’s an intermediate hike that follows the length of a mountain stream that is poorly marked. However, any hiker who is creative enough will find something good there. Unless you keep on going further, you’ll need to come back the same way that you came. There’s a nice Turkish restaurant (Kulla Jetimit) near the beginning/end of the hike in case you get hungry afterwards.
Accessing this area in winter may be difficult due to snow in the mountains, however it's possible to go up even higher during the summer to do more hiking at a higher altitude. At the time that I visited, the higher mountains were already covered in snow, however the leaves made it a truly magical hike perfect for anyone looking for some mountain air. I recommend Driza’s House to stay at in Prizren.
Mount Vodno, North Macedonia
by Alice of Teacake Travels
Head to Skopje, Macedonia and the city’s humungous Millenium Cross will be towering above you on Vodno Mountain. The good news is that you can hike right up to it! The views of Skopje city you’re rewarded with are glorious and depending on when you go, you may find yourself above clear skies or immersed in a magical version of Narnia!
To reach the cross, you can start right at the bottom of the mountain off Todor Aleksandrov road and follow the winding road all the way up. Or, if you want to tackle the hike 50% instead of 100%, hike as far as Sredo Vodno, where you can then ride the cable car up the rest of the way for 100 MKD return. The whole hike from bottom to top should take 2 hours max, and half this time if you take the cable car.
Once you reach the top, take the time to enjoy the views and stand beneath the cross, before wandering off into the forest for a bit. You can do an easy loop route or take on an even bigger challenge and hike the 15km to Matka Canyon!
Cherni Vrah on Mount Vitosha, Bulgaria
by Allison of Sofia Adventures
One of the most cherished day hikes in Bulgaria is also one of the most convenient! Cherni Vrah on Mount Vitosha, Sofia’s very own mountain, can be seen from nearly any point in the city center… and it surprises many people to find out that they can be at the top of Cherni Vrah in just a few hours from the center!
To reach it, there are free buses that leave from the Vasil Levski Stadium parking lot at 8 and 9 AM on weekends that take you to near the Golden Bridges where you can start your hike, which is what I did. You can also take the blue line to Vitosha metro station, then take bus 122 to the Simeonovski cable lift which will bring you to Aleko hut, where you can begin your hike. You can also take bus 66 on weekends from Vitosha metro stop, which stops at Hotel Moreni close to Aleko Hut. From Aleko Hut, it takes about 1.5 hours to the summit; from the Golden Bridges where I started, the hike is closer to 3 hours to the summit. The hike is medium difficulty, uphill but well-marked and not too long, making it one of my favorite things to do in Sofia. The trail can be hiked year round with proper clothing, as the snow is not usually too deep and the path is well marked.
Check out accommodation options in Sofia here.
Mount Trebevic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
by Gemma of Two Scots Abroad
Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of my favourite European cities. There is a stack of history on every corner (literally, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on a corner here) and nature surrounds this city in the valley.
One of my favourite hikes is Mount Trebevic because at the top is a hidden gem - the abandoned bobsleigh track of the Winter Olympics 1984. Home to races for one season, the track is now covered in tags and graffiti - a surreal site to be seen. The hike itself takes you through local houses and then some green space which has the remains of the war-torn house. The house has the famous grinning cat mural by M. Chat sprayed on it.
It is advised to leave valuables at your accommodation as there have been incidents of theft during the hike. We did feel a little insecure passing a group of guys who were whistling to each other as we passed. We're confident travellers so do be cautious. Not to put a dampener on the trek, still the best views of the city so worth it!
Read more about Bosnia and Herzegovina here.
Seven Rila Lakes, Bulgaria
by Maria & Rui of Two Find a Way
The Balkans’ region is filled with staggering mountains, breathtaking views, and endless nature-filled adventures. Bulgaria is home to the highest mountains in the Balkans, the Rila mountains.
There are plenty of hiking trails located in the Rila mountains, including all types of difficulty and length. If you are looking for an easy day hike in the region you should really consider the hike to the Seven Rila Lakes. The region is full of glacial lakes, but these seven really are worth their own category. There are different trails to see the lakes, but the most basic one is very easy, just make sure you use adequate shoes! At the beginning of the trail, you can take a lift that will turn the first two hours of hiking into about 15 minutes. If you take the lift, you’ll start the actual hike at the hut, near the lowest lakes.
If you really only have a day, it is possible to do as a day trip from Sofia, using private shuttles that make the experience very easy, and still quite affordable. If you have more than a day, you can take public transportation to Sapareva Baya, a nearby town located on the north foot of the Rila Mountain.
Check out accommodation in Sapareva Baya here.
Komovi Mountains, Montenegro
by Veronika of Travel Geekery
The Komovi Mountains in Montenegro, located near the border with Albania, offer incredible hiking opportunities. That is, if you like the fresh mountain air, unspoiled nature, dramatic views and non-touristy places!
To hike to the third highest peak of Komovi – the Kom Vasojevičkij with its 2,461m height – you can choose Štavna as your base. You’ll have to drive to get there. Nearest towns include Andrijevica (22km away) and Mateševo (20km away). There’s a sustainable accommodation option called Eko Katun Štavna. The Katun is at a level of 1,670m, so you’ll have “just” about 800 meters to climb :-)
You’ll start by crossing the grassy Štavna Plateau. From there, it’s mostly up. The last meters might see you using your hands to climb as well, but nothing too bad. However, if you have walking sticks, you’ll find them handy.
There are clear signs showing the path to Kom Vasojevičkij, so getting lost is out of question. The whole hike should take about 6.5 hours with a good lunch break and several snack/toilet stops on the way. Enjoy!
If you are longer in the region, check out our article on the Bay of Kotor.
Musala Peak, Bulgaria
by Bilyana of Owl Over The World
Musala peak is the highest peak not only in Bulgaria but in the whole Balaknian Peninsula. To conquer the peak is one of the best hikes near Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria. And although it's close to Sofia, it's even closer to Samokov and the ski resort Borovets.
Musala peak is rising at 2 925 meters and the view from the top is amazing! A day hike from Sofia to Musala is completely possible but I would recommend to do it as a 2 days hike and sleep in the shelter or the hut under the peak.
If you do the hike in one day, you'll need to take the lift from Borovets to Yastrebets and start the hike from there. It's not a difficult hike and from the start point to the top, it takes about 2 to 2 and a half hours/ one way.
To get to Borovets, the easiest way would be by car. However, if you don't have a car and you're not going to spend the night there, you should take the first bus from Sofia to Samokov. Then, from Samokov to Borovets, you need to take another one, a minibus. Make sure to check the opening times for the lift in advance.
Delphi to the Corycian Cave at Mount Parnassus, Greece
by Helena of Just for one Summer
The archaeological site at Delphi is one of the most popular destinations in Greece but did you know that it is an awesome hiking spot as well? According to legend, the sanctuary was founded at the navel of the Earth, determined by Zeus himself and protected by a mythical serpent, Python. However, I have a strong suspicion that the stunning surroundings played an important role in the decision-making process as well.
Delphi lies in a beautiful valley half way between the sea and the peaks of Mount Parnassus. To get the most of its charming countryside, add an extra day to your Delphi itinerary and hike to the Corycian Cave hidden deep in the mountains above. The hike is around 20 km and even though there is a lot of elevation to gain I didn't find it particularly difficult. Take plenty of food with you though, there are no shops or taverns along the way.
The first section zigzags across the steep slopes above Delphi offering superb views across the sanctuary and towards the sea. Despite its name, Kaki Skala (Bad Stairway), the path is wide, cobbled in places and comfortable. Once on the top of the cliffs, you'll enter a classic alpine landscape of flowering meadows, fir forest, grazing cows and snowy peaks. There is a spring at the Kroki settlement, make sure to fill your water bottles here before the final ascent to the cave.
In ancient times, the Corycian Cave was a place of worship to the god Pan and the Corycian nymphs. Later on, it served as a refuge for the local population during the foreign invasions. The cave doesn't look like much from the outside but is actually quite impressive once inside. Bring a torch and explore its two large chambers with ancient inscriptions still visible near the entrance.
Looking for accommodation in Delphi? Check prices here.
Lake Bled Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
by Clemens of Travellers Archive
This easy walk is about 4 kilometers long and will take you through absolutely breathtaking nature. Start your hike at Lake Bled and head towards Vintgar Gorge. The gorge itself is about a mile long and was discovered in 1891. It’s made of spectacular limestone cliffs that reach 100 meters in some places.
Once you have reached the gorge, you can walk along the boardwalk which will take you to observation bridges and some mesmerizing river views. The boardwalk covers the full length from gorge to the impressive waterfall Šum waterfall which flows beneath the Bohinj railway bridge. Once you have reached your final stop, you can chill at a little café and enjoy some well-deserved ice-cream. Sounds good? Well, it is! This really is one of the most magic hikes, we have ever taken and even if it rather feels like an easy walk and puts you right into the heart of untouched nature and a beautiful landscape.
As a little bonus... A hiking weekend trip!
Theth to Valbona, Albania
by Max of Travels of a Bookpacker
Theth to Valbona is a proper day hike (about 6-8 hours) in the beautiful Albanian Alps. But it is a bit out of the way and not easy to get back to the starting point in the same day, that's why we would recommend doing it as a weekend trip with one night stay before and after the hike in the Albanian Alps.
It is also possible to extend the main hike for any amount of days around Theth or Valbona at either end of the hike and include sights such as the beautiful Blue Eye. Also there is a beautiful ferry trip from Fierze to Koman along the breathtaking Komani Lake, which you should include on your way back to Shkoder. Read our full post about the Theth to Valbona hike in the stunning Albanian Alps.