Information on the most visited continent in the world. Learn about Eurailing in the summer, travel through post-communist countries and what to do in Paris with a 12-hour layover.

First Time Balkan Trip - Basic Questions

Gokkartal

User avatar
Thorn Tree Refugee
 
Posts: 5
Joined: January 13th, 2013
Location: Southampton, England

Share on Orkut

This thread doesn't have any tags.

You can still check out the tag index though.

What are tags?
  • Added on: January 13th, 2013
I am planning on taking my girlfriend on a 13 day trip around the western Balkans in mid March this year. I have never been to the Balkans before and I have a few questions to travellers who have some experience in the region. My plan is as follows:

Ljubljana (3 nights) - Zagreb (1 night) - Mostar (2 nights) - Sarajevo (2 nights) - Belgrade (4 nights)

According to my research, the journey times are as follows:

Ljubljana - Zagreb (2.5 hours by train)
Zagreb - Mostar (7.5 hours by coach)
Mostar - Sarajevo (2 hours 35 minutes by coach)
Sarajevo - Belgrade (9 hours by train)

My questions about the trip are:

1- Are the journey times I've acquired generally accurate?
2- Are the train and coach stations in each city easy to reach?
3- Are the journey timetables for March likely to be the same as they are now? Or at least, will transport be available at a similar frequency?
4- Is March a good time to go to the area?
5- Do you have any recommendations for pleasant journeys between any of the locations I have selected, such as a scenic train journey etc.?
6- How are travel costs? Do I pay the same price if I just buy the ticket at the station? What is the availability of tickets like?
7- How difficult is it to get a decent hostel upon arrival? I want to keep my trip flexible by not booking too many things in advance.
8- Does anybody have any information on getting the train from Sarajevo to Belgrade? I've been looking around but apart from a single coach journey a day leaving from East Sarajevo, I can't find anything.

I don't expect any individual person to answer all of these questions but as many as you can do would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance,

Gokkartal

Sophie9

User avatar
Knows What a Schengen Visa Is
 
Posts: 425
Joined: January 4th, 2007

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: January 14th, 2013
I have zero experience with the Balkans.
(but I have spent some time traveling in eastern Europe)

~and since we are now promoting Bootsnall as a friendly neighborhood alternative to the withered Thorntree~

Public transportation-especially when border crossings are involved-are not on an infallible schedule. Border crossings can be a beating.

All those overnighters sound exhausting. You'll be running from train station to room, up early the nest morning trying to figure how to get back to the train station to get the train to the next destination....makes me tired just thinking about it.

Pick two of those places. Go there. Going to just two of those places in 13 days (including the travel time to and from your home which you don't seem to have accounted for) will be much easier on your psyche. Two cities will give you about 5 days in each place in which to wander and become acclimated. You will be able to unpack your shampoo and socks long enough to discover what place you've landed in. You will have time for unexpected excursions.

March will.be.cold. Count on it. Rooms should be easy and cheap that time of year.

Those places often still operate far from the internet. If you want to know what's what and how to get tickets and where the magic lies, you have to be there with your boots on the ground looking around and talking to people.

Relax. Don't try to pack so may places and so many border crossings into 13 days. Really, relax.

Andromeda

Street Food Connoisseur
 
Posts: 736
Joined: March 23rd, 2008

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: January 14th, 2013
I've been to the Bosnia parts of your trip (and Croatia, but that was the coast) in April. Weather was nice and spring-like, but then that was a fairly warm spring.

Firstly I'd note that Mostar is certainly worth a stop but after taking the bus down from Sarajevo and enjoying the afternoon there I definitely felt like that was enough time to see and enjoy the town- it's great but really small.

Second, I heard a few horror stories of the Zagreb to Sarajevo overnight train while I was in Sarajevo (which for the record is AMAZING- maybe consider adding the extra night here!), lots of thefts happen on it. Might be better to look into the day train or if flying is a possibility- you can usually just buy the tickets in town for bus/trains.

Other option from Mostar now that I think about it is consider heading down to Dubrovnik which is quite nearby- sure it'll be on the cold side, but the city is gorgeous! Certainly nicer than Belgrade! (which ok, Hungarian bias perhaps showing, but I don't know why someone would spend so much time there... especially when you're hardly spending any time in amazing Croatia and there are so many lovely things to see there)

Another spot I've heard is awesome btw is consider checking out Plitvice Lakes in Croatia- many people have told me they consider this the prettiest place in the world. :) Think it's like a 2 hour drive from Zagreb.

Final thought as the first responder said, yes if everything goes right those are the times you are looking at, but in this part of the world I really don't think you can assume buses will be on time and there will be no disruptions on a train line etc. Part of the adventure! But because travel in that part of the world takes awhile and you're going such a long distance I'd definitely reconsider things and at minimum drop one of your destinations. It would just be way too exhausting to see it all, as there are several full days of travel here, and you'd miss out on a lot.

Oh and final thing, do talk to the old ladies at the bus stations etc in this part of the world holding "soba/ rooms/ zimmer" signs- they have spare rooms to let (sometimes even an extra apartment), and at this time of year it'd be a steal.

Gokkartal

User avatar
Thorn Tree Refugee
 
Posts: 5
Joined: January 13th, 2013
Location: Southampton, England

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: January 19th, 2013
Thanks for the advice, I was already not too comfortable with the amount of travelling. After revising my trip a little, and as much pain as it gives me to do so, I have sacrificed Ljubljana. The trip will go like this.

Dubrovnik (3 nights) - Mostar (1 night) - Sarajevo (4 nights) - Belgrade (4 nights)

One overnight journey and 3 smaller journeys seem more reasonable.

What are your thoughts on this trip plan? What forms of transport would you recommend between the locations?

Andromeda

Street Food Connoisseur
 
Posts: 736
Joined: March 23rd, 2008

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: January 21st, 2013
That sounds way more sane to me. :) Not sure if there's rail from Sarajevo to Belgrade but for the others you have no option but to go via bus. Simple, huh?

You can just go up to the window the day of at the bus station and buy the tickets IRC, lots of buses on those routes.

Gokkartal

User avatar
Thorn Tree Refugee
 
Posts: 5
Joined: January 13th, 2013
Location: Southampton, England

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: January 25th, 2013
Andromeda wrote:That sounds way more sane to me. :) Not sure if there's rail from Sarajevo to Belgrade but for the others you have no option but to go via bus. Simple, huh?

You can just go up to the window the day of at the bus station and buy the tickets IRC, lots of buses on those routes.


I think it definitely is more sane :) I heard the trip between Mostar and Sarajevo can be made on a super-old, rickety train that takes a beautiful route. I will be trying to find out about that but it seems the rest of the journeys will be made by coach.

Wanderled

User avatar
Guidebook Dependent
 
Posts: 15
Joined: January 10th, 2013

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: February 14th, 2013
Gokkartal wrote:
My questions about the trip are:

5- Do you have any recommendations for pleasant journeys between any of the locations I have selected, such as a scenic train journey etc.?
6- How are travel costs? Do I pay the same price if I just buy the ticket at the station? What is the availability of tickets like?
7- How difficult is it to get a decent hostel upon arrival? I want to keep my trip flexible by not booking too many things in advance.
8- Does anybody have any information on getting the train from Sarajevo to Belgrade? I've been looking around but apart from a single coach journey a day leaving from East Sarajevo, I can't find anything.

Gokkartal


5- I found the bus ride between Belgrade and Sarajevo to be incredibly scenic inside of Bosnia.
6- I traveled all around the Balkans and often bought a train or bus ticket the day before departure. Never came close to running into sold out bus or train problem.
7- I found the hostels much less flexible than the transportation, but I was there in summer. You may be fine to book as you go in March. I suggest Haris Youth Hostel in Sarajevo. You'll hate me when you're trekking up the steep hill to the place, but the view of the city from the terrace is amazing, especially at sunset. The owner is an incredibly knowledgeable nice man in his early mid-20s.
8- See 5. I took a bus. Maybe that because I couldn't figure a train route either. I don't remember to be honest. Like I said, the Bosnian countryside was beautiful. You can probably catch a nap during most of the Serbian portion.

Colin
Writer for Wanderled

Gokkartal

User avatar
Thorn Tree Refugee
 
Posts: 5
Joined: January 13th, 2013
Location: Southampton, England

Share on Orkut

  • Added on: March 2nd, 2013
Wanderled wrote:
Gokkartal wrote:
My questions about the trip are:

5- Do you have any recommendations for pleasant journeys between any of the locations I have selected, such as a scenic train journey etc.?
6- How are travel costs? Do I pay the same price if I just buy the ticket at the station? What is the availability of tickets like?
7- How difficult is it to get a decent hostel upon arrival? I want to keep my trip flexible by not booking too many things in advance.
8- Does anybody have any information on getting the train from Sarajevo to Belgrade? I've been looking around but apart from a single coach journey a day leaving from East Sarajevo, I can't find anything.

Gokkartal


5- I found the bus ride between Belgrade and Sarajevo to be incredibly scenic inside of Bosnia.
6- I traveled all around the Balkans and often bought a train or bus ticket the day before departure. Never came close to running into sold out bus or train problem.
7- I found the hostels much less flexible than the transportation, but I was there in summer. You may be fine to book as you go in March. I suggest Haris Youth Hostel in Sarajevo. You'll hate me when you're trekking up the steep hill to the place, but the view of the city from the terrace is amazing, especially at sunset. The owner is an incredibly knowledgeable nice man in his early mid-20s.
8- See 5. I took a bus. Maybe that because I couldn't figure a train route either. I don't remember to be honest. Like I said, the Bosnian countryside was beautiful. You can probably catch a nap during most of the Serbian portion.

Colin
Writer for Wanderled


Thanks the for the advice, that helps a lot. I've done a lot of reading so I feel a lot more comfortable now. Not long to go actually, it's all booked up, we're leaving on the 17th. I've booked the first hostel in Dubrovnik but have left the rest unbooked to give flexibility. I have a list of potential hostels and I put the Haris Youth Hostel on there because it looked pretty cool, I think that'll be the first place we go to since you recommend it. A trek is no worry as we are both young and fit, and a great view is definitely worth it!



Return to Europe Travel

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

PLEASE NOTE: Your original BootsnAll Boards Member login still works by logging in below on the Boards.
We have a new BootsnAll Account that you will start seeing around the BootsnAll Travel Network. This new login is not yet linked to your current Boards Account. In the meantime, you will need to sign up (for a BootsnAll Account) to use Account features like Indie ™ , Traveler Profiles etc.

Quick Links

Community Activity

Statistics for the last 7 days

New posts:
0
Newest Member:
vodeus


Indie - Multi Country Flight Finder
Round the World Travelers


Join BootsnAll on Facebook

1 (503) 528-1005

© 2017 BootsnAll Travel Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.