This Eastern Europe itinerary visits 5 countries in southeast Europe: Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania.

This itinerary was created as a point to point route, starting in Romania and ending in Albania, and taking 6 weeks to complete. However if you only have 1 week, 2 weeks or even 4 weeks to explore South Eastern Europe, choose the countries that you are interested in and create your own modified itinerary of Eastern Europe.

Why We Chose to Visit South Eastern Europe

We spent 6 weeks in Southeastern Europe, and wow, we fell in love! We found it to be really family friendly, fairly inexpensive and absolutely gorgeous. If you have longer, I’d suggest spending quite a bit more time there!

To be honest, I’d been to a few places in Eastern Europe before (and LOVED the area), and that’s kind of what inspired our 6 week trip. That, and the absolute NEED to see Romania in October. Really, the entire trip was planned around that, and the Christmas Markets in Germany. But I digress.

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Eastern Europe is one of the places I would go back to in a heartbeat. It’s inexpensive, not too touristy, and has some of the friendliest people I’ve met. We were always warmly welcomed and never felt unsafe, even being a single female traveller with young children.

So where did we go?

What did we do?

How did we spend 6 weeks in South Eastern Europe?

6 week South Eastern Europe Itinerary

Beginning in Romania

We started our 6 week Eastern Europe adventure in Romania, as I wanted to see Romania in the fall and be able to spend Halloween there. Somehow I just felt like spending Halloween in Transylvania was a perfect way to experience it! (But we realized it’s not as popular as it is in North America – and the boys were disappointed that there wasn’t any trick-or-treating but it was still a great experience!)

Romania in the fall is absolutely gorgeous. The leaves were changing colour and vibrant reds, oranges and even warm browns were everywhere you looked. It was gorgeous. Plus it helped that the weather was unseasonably warm and we were wearing short sleeves and shorts until almost the end of October! But again, I digress.

Two weeks in Romania

After a few delays and flight changes, we landed Bucharest, picked up a rental car and headed north to Brasov. We spent a few days exploring the medieval town of Brasov and then headed to the fairy-tale town of Sighisoara. Both towns have ties to the legendary Dracula and make for an interesting place to visit in October.

UNESCO Citadel in Sighisoara Romania
The fairy-tale town of Sighisoara

Leaving Transylvania, we headed north to the Maramures, a very rural part of Romania that is considered to have the last remaining peasant-culture in Europe. Life there certainly seems like it hasn’t changed much in the last century! While it’s quite a drive from the more touristic areas of Transylvania, it was worth the time spent to get there!
(If you’re short on time, or want to condense your time in Romania to one week, this is a the part of the itinerary to shorten.)

haystacks in the maramures region of Romania
Haystacks in the Maramures

After a few days in the Maramures, we headed south to do a bucket-list drive on the world renowned Transfagarasan Road. Driving the Transfagarasan is not for the faint of heart, but it was an experience I won’t forget!

Driving the Transfagarasan Road in Romania - one of the highlights of our South Eastern Europe Itinerary
Driving the Transfagarasan Road

Before heading back to explore Bucharest, we stopped at Bran Castle, the legendary (but not real) home of Dracula. While it’s VERY tourist oriented, it’s still neat to see, especially as we were there on October 30th!

Exploring Bulgaria

Our next stop was Bulgaria. Bulgaria borders Romania to the south with the Danube River flowing through, creating a natural border between the two countries.

It’s a fairly short drive from Bucharest to the Bulgaria border. We hired a driver to take us to Veliko Tarnovo, and although it wasn’t inexpensive, it was the easiest option for us, travelling with young kids. (There are buses that will run to the border, but then you will have to switch to a Bulgarian bus for the remainder of the journey. For us, it was easier just to hire a driver and drive straight through.)

Our first stop in Bulgaria was the town of Veliko Tarnovo. Often called the “City of Tsars”, Veliko Tarnovo is one of Bulgaria’s oldest towns and was once the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Known for its’ history and unique architecture, Veliko Tarnovo is also home to the Tsarevets Fortress and an impressive Sound and Light show. (If you can, arrange to be in Veliko Tarnovo on a weekend when the light show is performed – It’s incredible!)

Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo

We spent a week in Bulgaria, just using public transportation. From Veliko Tarnovo, we took the bus to Plovdiv for a few days and then a train to the capital, Sofia. Public transport is easy and reliable and beats having to decipher the Cyrillic alphabet while driving!

 If you have a bit more time on your itinerary, I would suggest spending more time in Bulgaria. It was one of our favourite places, inexpensive and absolutely underrated.

Visiting North Macedonia

 From Sofia, we headed into North Macedonia. Locals also refer to it as “Macedonia”, but officially it is now called North Macedonia.

Skopje is the capital city and we easily spent a few days here exploring.  If you have more time, there are MANY other places to explore in North Macedonia as well.

children looking at statue in the water under a bridge in Skopje, North Macedonia
Finding statues in the river in Skopje

While Skopje gets mixed reviews from people, we loved the city. It’s definitely an interesting place and the center of the city is an odd mix of old and new. The Matka Canyon is short drive away and well worth a day trip.

Kosovo, Europe’s newest country

Another inexpensive (I think it was 4euro for myself, kids were free) bus ride took us into Kosovo.

While Kosovo may not be a popular tourist destination (yet!), it should be!

After declaring their independence in 2008, Kosovo is considered to be Europe’s youngest country by many people, however some countries – Serbia, Russia and some other EU members – do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.  

Newborn monument in Pristina, Kosovo
Newborn monument in Pristina

Pristina is the capital city and where we spent our first days in Kosovo. It’s a small city and worth spending a few days, including taking time to see the Four Paws Bear Sanctuary. From there, we headed to Prizren and spent another few days, but wish we had more time to explore more of Kosovo.

Albania and the Mediterranean Coast

From Kosovo, we headed to neighbouring Albania.

Albania is situated on the Mediterranean coast, and although we were there in November, the weather was still fairly warm. (Or at least for us Canadians!)

The bus took us right over the border (one place that we had to get a passport check) and into the capital city of Tirana.

Birds eye view of Skanderberg Square in Tirana Albania
Skanderberg Square in Tirana

After spending a few days exploring Tirana, we rented a car for a week to see more of Albania. Public transportation in Albania is most often by furgon, or shared mini-bus, and not always leaving at a set time. For us, renting a car was more reliable and easier when travelling with kids.

View of houses in Berat Albania - you can see why it has the nickname of City of 1000 Windows
Berat, City of 1000 Windows

From Tirana we headed south to Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the City of 1000 windows, before heading over to the coast. We spent a few days in Vlore, a popular beach town in the summer, and then headed north to Durres, also on the coast, for our last few days in Albania.

After returning our rental car, we flew from Albania to Germany to experience the Christmas markets. Germany isn’t part of Eastern Europe, so it’s not included in this itinerary, but you can read more about our experience at the Christmas Markets here!

6 Week Eastern Europe Itinerary at a Glance

Romania – 2 Weeks (Brasov, Sighisoara, Maramures, Sibiu,
Transfagarasan, Bucharest)
Bulgaria – 1 Week (Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Sofia)
North Macedonia – 4 Days (Skopje)
Kosovo – 1 Week (Pristina, Prizren)
Albania – 10 Days (Tirana, Berat, Vlore, Durres)

For more information on any of these destinations, click on the image below.

things to do in Romania on an eastern europe itinerary


Home to the legendary Dracula, with plenty of castles and medieval cities to explore, Romania is an interesting contrast of old and new, modern and traditional.

things to do in bulgaria on a southeastern europe itinerary


Ottoman and Bulgur history mix in Bulgaria where you will find ancient fortresses, Roman ruins mixed in with modern day life.

things to do in Kosovo on an eastern europe itinerary


Explore Europe’s newest country, with modern buildings mixing in with remnants and reconstruction from the fight for independence.

things to do in Albania on an southeastern europe itinerary


Head to the Mediterranean coast where you will find Ottoman towns and castles, beaches and stunning scenery, all part of everyday life in Albania.

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If you have visited any of these places, or done a similar itinerary, let us know in the comments below! Which was your favourite or most memorable place?


  1. I love your blog post! I am from Serbia and my husband is from Skopje, Macedonia. I am glad you have visited this part of the world. And I am sure there are so many other places you will love it here!
    If you decide to come again, I will gladly recommend you wonderful places around the Balkans!
    Happy travels 🙂

    1. Thank you! We hope to visit again soon!

  2. Thank you for sharing! iI’ve been to western Europe before but eastern Europe is really a plave I would really like to visit.

    1. It’s honestly one of our favorite places! Hopefully you get a chance to visit soon!

  3. What a great post. I loved the way you have set it out – so easy to read and to access more detailed, valuable information. I have pinned it for future reference.

    1. Great Post! I also love this part of the world. Looks like you had a great time 🙂

      1. Thanks, yes, we had a fantastic time!

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