Friday, 28 July 2017

Five Rivers to Float on through the Balkans in August   
In August, when the Balkans’ seaside resorts along the Adriatic, the Aegean and the Black Seas are bursting at the seams, the regions’ rivers beckon with their coolness. Some, like the Danube, can be enjoyed from abroad a ship, from atop a beach towel or a hopping bar on the shore. Others, of a smaller size, offer opportunities for extreme water sports or fishing, combined with a unique vantage point from which to explore natural and man-made sites. offers five riverside spots to visit in the Balkans this August – a couple are for travellers whose idea of a perfect vacation includes bar-hopping and relaxing on the beach, others are for the more adventurous, while a few yet cater to the history buffs.

Although flowing through different countries, all five of the rivers highlighted here are connected – the Tara flows into the Drina, in turn it joins the Sava, which – in Belgrade, merges into the Danube, which then flows eastward to form the border between Romania and Bulgaria.

The Sava and Danube Rivers, Belgrade, Serbia

The location of Serbia’s capital at the confluence of the two rivers gives residents and visitors of the city the chance to enjoy a full range of water and shore activities.

Walking and bike riding along the banks is quite pleasant in the summer, while the special path that runs along the banks of Sava and Danube offers a strange collection of industrial and beautiful natural views.

Trips to one of the sixteen islands in the area are also possible – one of the best known of them, for example is the Veliko Ratno Ostrvo, or the Major War Island, which has served throughout history as an important strategic point in the conquest and defence of the city. Nowadays, the island boasts the famous Lido Beach, and is home to many rare species, including angered birds.

Ada Ciganlija is another place that locals would head to for a day on the beach. In August is gets as crowded as any of the region’s seaside resorts, but is a different kind of experience, with the river leisurely flowing by the even and flat banks.

Beside an opportunity to explore Belgrade from the water, the cruises along the Danube offer the chance to visit other places. A full-day cruise, for example, is available to Novi Sad.

The Sava and Danube Rivers banks in Belgrade are perhaps best known for the many restaurants and bars that float on rafts on the water, which become the centre of the city’s nightlife during the summer months.

Practical Information:
For details on how to reach Belgrade by air, rail or road, visit the
Route Planner of

The Danube River, Vidin, Bulgaria

Further downstream on the Danube, soon after it crosses into Bulgaria, the town of Vidin, located on the river’s banks, is slowly starting to be discovered by travellers. From the times it was an exemplary Bulgarian trade port and a booming town, it has preserved a splendid mosque, an impressive church and the romantic ruins of a synagogue. Its architecture, resembling that of a provincial Austrian town, is now, to a great extent, under restoration.

The beautiful park, right on the river’s shore, is one of all of Vidin’s most pleasant parts. Green and lively, it combines long shadowy alleys along the bank and animated cafés and restaurants. There, you can stop also for a meal aboard one of an anchored ship, which – beside tasty fish, offers a view of the Romanian coast on the other side of the river.

Going to the beach, just below the medieval Baba Vida fortress, is another option for those who chose not to take advantage of the rowing and fishing opportunities that various spots on the banks afford.

Practical information: Vidin is located within a 3 to 3.5 hours drive north from Sofia. Part of the road (about 45 km) is a highway, the rest is a section of the international route E79. The total distance via Vratsa is 220 km. There is a shorter way via the mountain pass of Petrohan which is 160 kilometres-long and more picturesque, but also more difficult to drive and takes the same time.

There is a train, connecting Sofia to Vidin, and the trip takes 5.5 hours. Public bus transportation is also available – over 10 busses a day cover the distance in about 4.5 hours. Vidin is also reachable from Belgrade – the distance is about 300 kilometres and driving time is about 4 hours.

Nera River, Sopotu Nou, Romania

About 150 kilometres northwest of Bulgarian town of Vidin and 200 kilometres northeast of Belgrade lies the Banat Region in south-western Romania, traversed by the Nera River.

This non-navigable river goes through both Serbia and Romania, but in Serbia there is only one village on the river itself, Kusić. The mouth of the river, however, is a popular fishing spot.

In its Romanian part, the Nera offers more activities – full-day rafting adventures start from the village of Sopotu Nou, and give access to natural and man-made structures, including the Devil’s Lake, an odd green-blue lake suspended above the river in a cave with a partially collapsed ceiling, and a canyon reminiscent of an amphitheatre.

Practical information: Covering the nearly 400-kilometre distance from Bucharest to the general area takes about 4.5 hours by car. It is a much faster ride from Vidin, the 150 kilometres take no more than 2 hours to cover, while from Sofia the 370-kilometres take about 5 hours. Belgrade is a little closer – at about 280 kilometres and 4 hours away.

Read more about the
Nera River in Romania on

Tara River, Montenegro

The Tara River in Montenegro boasts the Tara River Gorge, the deepest canyon in Europe and the second longest in the world – it stretches for 80 km at an average depth of 1100 km. Part of the Durmitor National Park, the area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In many spots along the gorge, one can see the river running wild in all shades of blue, far below the road. The nature around seems at most places intact.

The most popular activity on the river is rafting. The route, which last several hours, starts at Splavište and ends at Sćepan Polje. It passes by many natural and man-made attractions – a few of them are the Ljutica and Draga Waterfalls, the Tara Lever, the bottom of the 1,650-metre Curevac Peak. The rafting route also goes under the impressive historical Đurđevića Tara Bridge, on the crossroads between Mojkovac, Žabljak and Pljevlja and by a couple of monasteries, shining white on the banks.

The area looks desolate even in high tourist season, and the feeling of wild nature comes only a few steps off the road.

Practical information:
The Tara Canyon is north of the Montenegrin capital,
Podgorica. It is reachable mainly by car, the distance from Podgorica via Mojkovac to Žabljak is about 140 kilometres and the drive may take anything between 2 and 2.5 hours, as the route is mountainous, often congested and slow.

The Tara Canyon is also reachable from
Belgrade. From there the road goes south-west, via Valjevo, Požega and Prepolje. The distance is about 360 kilometres, and the drive takes about 6 hours. Žabljak is 255 kilometres from Pristina, and the trip takes a little over 4 hours. From Sofia the trip takes a whole day – 8.5 hours, and the distance is 540 kilometres

Drina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Formed by the convergence of the Tara and Piva Rivers, the Drina forms most of the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

Although perhaps best known from Nobel prize-winning writer Ivo Andrić’ novel, The Bridge on the Drina, which describes 400 years of Višegrad’s dramatic Balkan history, the Drina – together with the Tara, also represents the main kayaking and rafting attraction in the Balkans. It is generally a very fast and cold river, its green colour coming from the limestone through which it flows.

But at Višegrad it flows slow and wide, resembling a lake and mirroring the town houses on the slopes around. Further it narrows and speeds up towards the south-west , becoming ideal for rafting.

Practical information: Višegrad is reachable mainly by car. From Sarajevo the distance is 117 kilometres and could be covered in about 2 to 2.5 hours. From Belgrade the distance is 270 kilometres and takes about 4 hours without the border crossing. From Sofia the distance is 470 kilometres and takes 6.5 hours.

Read more about
Višegrad and the Bridge on the Drina on




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