Skopje by night
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Balkan Capitals: What are the Capital Cities in The Balkans?

Do you want to know more about the Balkan Capitals?

The Balkans are my favorite region! The region is situated in Southeastern Europe with a long and interesting history, many different cultures, and many languages. But what about the Balkan capitals?

The area, which is also called the Balkan Peninsula, is made up of a number of countries, each of which has its own draw and charm.

In this post, I’ll take you on a journey through the Balkans and tell you more about the lively cities of the eight Balkan countries that I cover on my blog.

These Balkan countries are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania.

Let’s go!

What are the capital cities of the Balkan countries?

Let’s go on a trip through the Balkans and get to know all of these different cities! In each of these countries, the capital city is the center of government, culture, and history.

1. Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo

This is my favorite city in the Balkans – I even lived in this city! People often say that Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a place where the east meets the west.

Sarajevo Old Town
Sarajevo Old Town

It is a place with a lot to offer in terms of history and culture. From Ottoman mosques and markets to Austro-Hungarian buildings, Sarajevo’s design shows the effects of the many different cultures that have lived there over the years.

When you’re in Sarajevo and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Roses of Sarajevo Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

2. Croatia: Zagreb

Zagreb is the capital and biggest city of Croatia. It is a busy, full of life metropolitan. You’ll find that it mixes the old and the new very well, with modern shops and bars mixed in with old buildings.

Balkan capitals - Zagreb market
Zagreb market

The famous St. Mark’s Church and the Croatian Parliament are in the city’s Upper Town, or Gornji Grad. The Lower Town, or Donji Grad, has many parks, museums, and shops.

Throughout the year, Zagreb also has many cultural and music events, which add to the city’s lively feel.

When you’re in Zagreb and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Taste Zagreb Food Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

3. Slovenia: Ljubljana

People often say that Ljubljana, which is the capital of Slovenia, is a secret gem of Europe. It’s a city that really cares about the environment. In fact, they do this so much so that in 2016, it was named the European Green Capital(!).

Balkan capitals - Ljubljana by night
Ljubljana by night

The Ljubljanica River flows through the city, and the famous Dragon Bridge and Triple Bridge offer some beautiful views. The Ljubljana Castle is in the middle of the city and also has great views.

Ljubljana is known for having a slow pace. It has beautiful architecture and a rich culture scene with galleries, museums, and events. A perfect place for a romantic get-away weekend!

When you’re in Ljubljana and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Ljubljana City Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

4. Serbia: Belgrade

Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is one of the oldest and busiest cities in Europe. Belgrade is a city with soul, known for its lively nightlife and clubs that float on the Danube and Sava rivers. Belgrade never sleeps!

Balkan captitals - Belgrade Fortress
Belgrade Fortress

Historic places like the Belgrade Fortress show how important the city was as a strategic location for the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian powers.

In the modern neighborhood of Novi Beograd, also called New Belgrade, you can see modern buildings and business centers.

When you’re in Belgrade and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Belgrade Big Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

5. Kosovo: Pristina

Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, is one of the youngest cities in Europe, both in terms of how many people live there and how long it has been a capital. It is a city that is growing and changing. I was here in 2014 for the first time and it has since then changed so much!

Balkan capitals - View on Pristina
View on Pristina

There are new buildings going up and a lot of people moving around. The Newborn monument has become a symbol of the city since it was unveiled when Kosovo got its freedom.

Historic buildings like the Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque and the Gračanica Monastery, which is on the UNESCO list, are next to modern buildings like the National Library. This shows how the city is a mix of old and new.

When you’re in Pristina and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Pristina Half-Day Walking Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

6. North Macedonia: Skopje

North Macedonia’s capital city, Skopje, is just like Sarajevo also a place where old and new meet. In Macedonia Square, there is a gigantic statue of Alexander the Great. The old Turkish market, called Čaršija, is very different from the new city center.

Balkan capitals - Skopje city center
Skopje city center

The Kameni Most (Stone Bridge), which was built in the 15th century, connects these two parts of the city. It is a symbol of the link between Skopje’s past and present.

When you’re in Skopje and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Skopje City Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

7. Montenegro: Podgorica

Podgorica is the capital and biggest city of Montenegro. It is a city with many different cultural impacts because it has been ruled by the Venetians, the Ottomans, and the Habsburgs.

Podgorica
Podgorica

The Millennium Bridge, a sleek, modern structure, and the Stara Varoš, an old stone bridge, show that the city is a mix of old and new.

Even though it is one of Europe’s newest capital cities, Podgorica has a lot of history. For example, you can visit the Roman ruins at Doclea and King Nikola’s Castle.

When you’re in Podgorica and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Podgorica City Walking Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

8. Albania: Tirana

Albania’s capital city, Tirana, is a very lively and colorful place! The city is full of life, from the brightly painted buildings to the busy cafés. Skanderbeg Square, named after their national hero, is the heart of the city.

Balkan capitals - Tirana in the evening
Tirana in the evening

It is surrounded by important buildings like the National Historical Museum, the Palace of Culture, and the Et’hem Bey Mosque. You’ll find a lot of mosques, orthodox churches, and catholic churches. They are all coexisting peacefully in the city without any problems.

The 182-meter-high Tirana TV Tower gives you a wide view of the city and the beautiful Dajti mountain range in the background.

When you’re in Tirana and want to do a great tour, I would recommend the Tirana Sightseeing Walking Tour:

Click here to book your tour!

Balkan Capitals: FAQs

The information below is related to the topic of Balkan capitals and will give you an even better understanding of this region.

What is the biggest Balkan country?

The answer to this question is Serbia! This Balkan country has the most land area of the countries I cover with my blog which are Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania.

It takes up about 88,361 square kilometres of land. From fertile plains in the northern Vojvodina region, mountains and woods in the center, and rough terrain in the south, Serbia is a very diverse country.

To me, Serbia is a unique country to visit on the Balkan Peninsula because of its many different scenery and historical sites.

What is the oldest city in Balkans?

The town of Pula in Croatia is considered to be the oldest city form all the Balkan countries that I cover.

Pula’s history goes back more than 3,000 years, when Illyrians built the city. In the 2nd century BC, the Romans came and took it over.

Pula has a lot of Roman artifacts, like the Pula Arena, which is one of the biggest and best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world and has been kept in great shape.

View on Pula and amphitheater
View on Pula and amphitheater

But it’s important to note that many cities in this area have very strong historical roots and have been inhabited for thousands of years. This makes it hard to say which is the oldest city. But Pula is for sure a great town to visit!

What is the most expensive city in Balkan?

Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, is probably the most expensive place to live in or to visit.

As the largest city in Slovenia, Ljubljana tends to have higher prices of living for housing, food, and entertainment than other cities in the Balkan countries listed.

Also, Slovenia is part of the European Union and uses the Euro. This can make tourists from countries that don’t use the Euro think that prices are higher. Recently, also Croatia adopted the Euro as the official currency, though.

But it’s important to remember that costs can change based on a person’s lifestyle, habits, and wants.

Which Balkan state is the safest?

Slovenia has a reputation for being safe and having a low crime rate, which makes it one of the best Balkan states.

The capital city, Ljubljana, is safe for both locals and for you as a visitor. I also always felt really safe during my visits to Ljubljana!

Ljubljana Castle Ground
Ljubljana Castle Ground

Check out my post about safety in Ljubljana for a detailed review! I also have posts about safety in Sarajevo and safety in Podgorica. These mini guides will give you a better understanding of the topic of safety in these cities.

What is the oldest Balkan language?

The Albanian language is one of the oldest in Europe. It is part of the Indo-European language family, but it has its own branch. This means that it is not directly linked to any other language group.

Some scholars think that the Albanian language comes from the old Illyrian languages, but there is still a lot of disagreement about when and where it came from. But the first written Albanian language records come from the 15th century.

So, if you look at where the language came from and how it has changed over time, you can see that Albanian is older than the South Slavic languages.

When it comes to the South Slavic languages (which are all pretty similar), Slovenian is considered to be the oldest language.

Are any Balkan countries in the EU?

Just two of the countries that I cover are currently members of the European Union (EU), while others are at different stages:

  • Croatia became the 28th member state of the EU on July 1, 2013.
  • Slovenia joined the EU on May 1, 2004, as one of ten countries in the so-called Big Bang expansion.

    The other countries are at different stages in the process of joining the EU:
  • Montenegro and Serbia are both candidate countries, which means that they are in the process of bargaining to join the EU.
  • Albania and North Macedonia are both official candidates, but they haven’t started talking to the EU yet.
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are two countries that could be possibilities. They haven’t been officially named as candidates yet.

As long as a country keeps meeting the EU’s political and economic criteria for membership, its position can change.

The Wrap-Up: Balkan Capitals

It’s a wrap!

The Balkans are interesting because they have many different cultures, a rich past, and beautiful landscapes, all of which are beautifully shown in the Balkan capitals. You now know exactly which capital belongs to which country.

From the east-meets-west feel of Sarajevo to the lively atmosphere of Belgrade, from Pristina’s modern growth to Skopje’s rich past, the Balkan capitals really have a lot to offer.

Each of these cities is a buzzing center of life, culture, and history.

So, if you want to see an interesting part of Europe, these Balkan capitals will welcome you with open arms and will give you a fantastic time!

If you’re looking for a road-trip, check out my post about tips and tricks for a Balkan road-trip. Are you a fan of hiking? Check out my post about the beautiful Balkan Trail!

Your restless voyager,

Dustin

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