The Western Balkans are a paradise for nature and adventure lovers. It's an area characterised by mountains, but it also has access to the coast. All this provides an unparalleled opportunity for unique experiences.
To enable foreign and regional visitors alike to enjoy this unique destination, a long-distance hiking trail, The Via Dinarica Mega Trail, has been established by adventure aficionados and travel businesses from across the region.
Covering an area of more than 500,000 km2, across no less than eight countries, this isn’t your usual hiking trail. As its name suggests, it really is mega.
Andrea Danglli is a tourist and journalist. He crossed Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo by bike when he did part of this exciting trail. He describes it as "an extraordinary experience". He also met "fantastic people" along the way and "witnessed fascinating landscapes".
Alongside the main Via Dinarica routes are multiple other adventures to be had. You can enjoy them on foot, bike and even on water.
Madlina Puka is an adventure tourism expert for the Regional Cooperation Council's Triple Tourism Project. She says the Via Dinarica route has "a green line, blue line and a white line, offering a full range of adventure programs like hiking, ski touring, kayaking, white water sports and winter sports as well".
The adventure tourism market is growing rapidly, and the hope is that this cross-regional trail will attract high-value customers, support local economies and encourage sustainable tourism practices across the Western Balkans.
The many thematic trails along Via Dinarica aid nature-loving visitors to explore historical and cultural heritage, as well as experience the hospitality of an incredibly diverse region.
Another hiking trail developed through regional cooperation is the Via Egnatia, which follows the ancient road that once connected the eastern and western parts of the Roman Empire. Today it offers hikers a path that connects historical sites on the Illyricum trail and stands as a symbol for the cultural connection of the region.
Free movement at borders and mutual recognition of tour guides and industry professionals is one of the main goals of the project.
Madlina tells us that the region supports "multi-destination tourism that will help travellers to enjoy itineraries that will take them across the borders, thus visiting more sites and diverse cultures".
Therefore, a trip to the Western Balkans can open your eyes to more than one of the treats the region has to offer.