Our proposed route through the Balkans will take us through 13 countries over about 5,000 kilometers. Already, we have changed the route drastically once and we expect this to happen many times before leaving and while on the road. How drastically have we changed it? Well, for starters we’ve added an extra 1,000 kilometers to the trip. Further, we have decided to do the whole things backwards so we might be able to meet up with our Serbian friend “D” in Croatia. Though this will continuously change, for now I think it is safe to say this is our official trip proposal:
We start in Turkey where we are set to spend a few days touring Istanbul before setting out on our adventure. Taking a northern route out of Istanbul, we will eventually turn southwest at Kirklareli and head towards Greece. We cross into Greece at Ipsala and ride the coastal roads until Thessalonika. From there we turn south where we run into Mount Olympus as we ride through Karditsa and Lamia on our way into Athens. Once in Athens, we turn back the way we came and head north through Thebes, Delphi and Meteora before crossing into Macedonia at Medzhitlija.
Once in Macedonia, we peddle along the banks of the beautiful Lake Ohrid, through Struga and into Mavrovo National Park where we climb and then cross legally (???) into Kosovo. From there we peddle through Restelice and Plav north on our way to the border town of Morine. Into Albania, we are hooping to find the most direct route west possible and expect to hit the towns of Kukes, Koire, and Shkoder on our way to the Montenegrin border at Sukobin. From there, we travel north through Bar and along the shores of Scutari lake until reaching Rvasi. From Rvasi, it’s west for us into Dobroto before reaching Lake Dobroto and the Croatian border town of Plocice. Into Dubrovnik, we are relying on directions from our friend Jared to cross into Bosnia near Brgat as Google Maps are… let’s just saying lacking in this area. Regardless, we’ll peddle NW towards Mostar before turning South back into Croatia near Metkovic. From here, we turn west into Ploce and then North along the coast and into Split. Near Split, we hope to run into our Serbian friend in his home village on our way to Peruca. Through Peruca we will race NE to the beautiful lakes at Plitvicka Jezera.
After spending some time in Plitvicka, we head NW through Slovenia and into Trieste, Italy. Italy is really more of an add on to our trip (why not?) as we will dip quickly into Trieste before crossing back into Slovenia near Sezana. We’ll dart East through the capital city of Ljubljana and then drop down back into Croatia at Bregana. From Bregana, we will move to Zagreb along flat and fast roads through North Croatia. After Zagreb, we continue across the North part of the country and into Serbia at Erdut. Here in Serbia, we pick up the Danube River path and follow it through Novi Sad and Belgrade until crossing into Romania at the Iron Gate Dam. We’ll follow the Danube into Bulgaria at the city of Russe and then cut SE towards Varna. From here, we follow the Black Sea Coast south to the border with Turkey at Malko Tarnova and pick up our starting route to get back into Istanbul.
The trip is an undertaking unlike anything we have ever set out to accomplish. We hope that by the end, we can inspire others to do what we have done and look forward to planning out whatever may next be ahead on the road for us!