In our country where getting a visa is a problem, we recently made a route that I think can help those who turn to visa-free options like us. The most attractive point of this route was Montenegro, which has been very popular in our country recently. Since it is one of the points that have been rumoured to be included in the Schengen visa for a long time, I can recommend those who want to see it to prioritise it. When you go there, you will see that there are many Turks who think like us and come to see and invest. Anyway, without digressing, I will move on to our 8-day car route and the highlights.

First of all, since we were going to travel by car, we set out as 4 people with a plan to have at least 2 drivers. In this way, the trip becomes more economical and we were able to change drivers on longer journeys. Since we live in Izmir, we focused on both direct flights and economical flight tickets. Among our options were Skopje and Belgrade. Although we chose Skopje as our route in terms of both distance and flight tickets, I can recommend you to take a shorter route for the reasons I will share before.

Our route was as follows: Skopje – Matka Canyon – Ohrid – Tirana – Budva – Montenegro – Tirana – Skopje

Car Rental

After rentalcars and online car rental sites, I came across the company Üsküper. We rented our car from them because they gave a much more economical price after choosing a vehicle and negotiating via WhatsApp. We picked it up from the airport and delivered it to the airport easily and without any problems. By the way, you can correspond with them in Turkish.

There is an application called Green Card that allows you to pass between the Balkan countries by car. You inform the place where you rent a car about your vehicle route, that is, which countries you will enter. A registration is opened in your name with your passport numbers. We paid 80€ to enter the countries of North Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.

Border crossings were very fast and easy. Before getting out of your vehicle, they check your passport, green card and vehicle license and do not ask any questions. I don’t know if it’s from the previous period, but we waited at most 10 minutes at border crossings. We did this route at the beginning of June, so the season had not yet started.

Now let’s get to the roads:( Do not forget that you will always drive on single-lane roads during your Balkan journey. Additionally, we were told by our car rental company that we must comply with the speed limits, as fines are written with radar in these regions. We must always comply with the speed limits when entering and exiting the city. There was traffic and there were a lot of road works.  That’s why we traveled much longer than our plans on paper, as we were able to travel 50 km on average. Therefore, we broke our snack time in the Balkans. Frankly, I can recommend you to choose vehicle routes, but the nature and views were very beautiful, of course.

Day 1: Izmir – Skopje

Since our plane landed in Skopje around 14:30 on the first day, we devoted the first day to Skopje. Frankly, for the first time in my life, I can say that I should never go to a city. If it were me, you could continue your journey without staying in Skopje, but Matka Canyon, which is 20 minutes away from the city, could be on your list of places to see. I enjoyed it very much.

First of all, the house we stayed in in Skopje was very bad, so we should be more careful in terms of accommodation quality. At the Turkish Bazaar Destan Köfte, the grilled meatballs and casserole beans were eaten, but they were not appreciated.

We didn’t like the pastries very much either. Trileçe and rice pudding were tried and were not liked. Our favorite was the dessert shop –
РИГАРА СЛАТКАРНИЦА –  we stopped by here again. This was the place with the best macaroon cookies, pistachio kadayıf and products in general. We longed for a good coffee shop.

2. Day: Skopje – Matka Canyon – Ohrid

On the second day, we went from Skopje to Matka Canyon and we liked it very much. It’s a very sweet place to take a walk, take a boat trip, and eat and drink at the restaurant. Now when I look at the photos I took, I realize again how photogenic he is.


Ohrid Lake, which reminds me of Antalya Kaleiçi, is the perfect summer escape with its old houses, churches, castle walls and, of course, lakeside pleasure. We reserved our second night here and arranged last minute accommodation for ourselves by wandering around the streets of the old city center in the evening.

There are Safranbolu houses and mosques from the Ottoman Period in Ohrid. Again, everything from tea to dessert is available in the Old Turkish Bazaar. You can have a pleasant meal by the lake, swim in the lake and enjoy the old streets. You can return home with nice gifts by buying pearls specific to this place, but our journey was long and we could not buy much. The highlights of this place for us were as follows.

Kaj Kanevche

In the morning, we walked along the stone paths and had breakfast at Kaj Kanevche by the lake. Both the breakfast and the venue were very enjoyable. We owe a debt of gratitude to the We Are Not At Home team for the suggestion. The star of the breakfast was ajvar made from roasted peppers that you can find in this region.

Saint John Church

St. John’s Church, which comes into our view at breakfast, is worth visiting just for the view. It was delightful to cool down under the trees here and watch the lake from above.

National Workshop For Handmade Paper

You can buy wonderful souvenirs made of handmade paper at the wonderful shop we come across while getting lost in the streets. And as soon as we walked in, the owner explained to us how handmade paper is made. As someone who loves such sweet places and still hasn’t tried handmade paper, I bought my souvenirs from here. I added this sweet moment to the highlights of ‘Balkan Roadtrip’ on Instagram.

Lake Ohrid

We spent time by Lake Ohrid in the intimacy of a sweet holiday town, walked and left without swimming due to the weather and special conditions, but there are boat tours and sweet beaches for those who have time.

  1. Day: Ohrid – Tirana

Now it is time to leave North Macedonia and cross to the Albanian border. Our next country is Tirana, the capital of Albania. Our border crossing was quick, smooth and question-free. Unfortunately, there was terrible traffic when entering Tirana, but we loved the city. Tirana made us happy especially with its prices and green streets. Frankly, since it was our stop on the road both on the way and on the way back, we spent a day here on the way and on the way back and were able to see a little bit of the city. I can go again and even recommend those who are curious about Montenegro to rent a car from here and continue.

We entered Bunk’Art 2, a former Cold War bunker now a multi-storey underground contemporary art and history museum. We took a quick tour and took a look at the historical buildings and squares in the city center. Tirana Castle is surrounded by restaurants and bars in a touristic way. It was also enjoyable to spend time here and around.

Tirana has Italian restaurants that will make you feel like you are on the opposite coast of Italy, but we could not explore many places due to lack of time. There are many restaurants and cafes inside the castle.

Again, because of the endless roads, we checked ourselves into the hotel when it was getting dark and when we went out, we sat in an open-air park called Imaji, disguised as a tea garden, to have a quick meal. There was a full Italian menu here, right down to the house wine. Pizza, caprese salad and pasta were above our expectations. Local beers and house wine were also very successful. It can be tried for one meal.

Hemingway Jazz Bar

We had a drink near the end of the night. We couldn’t come across live music, but it was nice to spend time outdoors in a pleasant bar.


Although we couldn’t find the good coffee we were looking for in the morning, the breakfast plates and the place were not bad. I’m sure you’ll find something better, of course 🙂

Accommodation in Tirana: Villa Jasmin

On our way back, we stopped by Tirana again and this time we stayed at the highly rated Villa Jasmin. It is located in a green cul-de-sac in the city and its rooms are very spacious and brand new. It also has a parking lot. I recommend it. If I were to go again, I would stay here again.

Villa Artigiano

I leave a disappointment here, which looks very pleasant from the outside and cannot be entered without a reservation. Both the staff and the food were below average, so unfortunately we said it wasn’t the case and ran away from here.

Of course, this is a frequent destination for gambling lovers. Since I cannot find a Casino like in Hollywood movies, this environment reminds me of the arcade halls we went to in the 90s. We leave the place quickly because it’s not like us 😉

  1. Day: Tirana – Budva

You can also explore the Albanian coast by traveling from the seaside between Tirana and Budva. We passed through very beautiful but endless roads to get to Montenegro immediately. The entrance to our first stop, Budva, was one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever experienced. I was in a city far away from the Budva I saw in the photographs, as I saw multi-storey residence constructions and aesthetically deficient buildings like ours everywhere.

Fortunately, the place we arranged here was in a beautiful location, giving the feeling of coming to my aunt’s summer house. Even though we hit the streets again in the evening, hungry, we couldn’t even reach the old city because the roads were closed due to the event. Although we tried to relieve our pain in one of the restaurants lined up by the sea, we did not like Budva at all on the first night and at first impression. It was like we were caught in the middle of everything we don’t like in our country. Bad restaurants, high prices, high-rise buildings and constructions, crowds of people, etc. Anyway, we threw ourselves into our room, rested and left our hopes to Kotor.

5. Day: Budva – Kotor

The next day it was time to meet the sea and see the old city. Anyway, we were a little relieved when we saw the old city, and we also enjoyed good coffee and a good brunch at Casper Bar & Roastery. The garden was both cool and very enjoyable.

It is also a suitable spot to visit at any time, as it has a very extensive food and drink menu.

Then we toured the old city and finally enjoyed the sea. Thus, we swam in the Adriatic Sea. Frankly, although Budva’s beaches and sea are pleasant, I found the medieval town I dreamed of in Kotor.

  1. Day: Bay of Kotor

Kotor fascinated us even before we entered its walls. This medieval town gave me the Italian inspiration I was looking for. It was already built by the Venetians. The old city called Stari Grad is under UNESCO protection and is fascinating. We stayed at HealthyStudio512 Apartments in the city and loved the house. If you want to stay in the old city center, we recommend it.

As you take hundreds of photos on its fascinating streets, the cats, the real owners of the city, are waiting for you at every corner. When we went, the cat house was crawling with kittens at the entrance. It is written that cats were brought to the city by sailors and they were the protectors of the city, but if you are a cat lover, you will love Kotor even more.

Our Kotor Highlights List:


Although I find it ridiculous to pay8 euro to climb, it is a great spot to watch the city from above and take photos. Also, we didn’t go out all of it, but it was very enjoyable when the weather was overcast and rainy the day we went out. I do not recommend it in extreme heat.

Konoba Scala Santa

Konoba Scala Santa, which offers a wonderful Italian menu in the city, is a place where reservations are required. We tried hand-rolled pasta, meat and seafood, everything was great. Of course, there is also a nice local wine menu. Their traditional dessertKrempita was also tried and loved here.

BBQ Tanja

The second is a butcher shop just outside the walls. BBQ Tanja prepares wonderful barbecue plates when you choose meat, but it is an overcrowded and demanding place. There are waiting times approaching two hours. We ate chicken so as not to waste time, but everything from potatoes to salad was good, you should try it.

In the evenings, we hung out in the old city and enjoyed the bars. Even though there is a cruise ship crowd during the day, very few people stay in the evening and we love this calmness.

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The next day, we toured the Bay of Kotor, but we could not swim. For the sea, Budva is really the best. It may be in Dobrota, but Perast only has a concrete pier and a small beach with a fee to enter.


A point exactly like a postcard. I recommend you to definitely see it with its magnificent views and streets, but the quality of the place is bad. There are places that are just like, let’s get tourists and ask for more money. Lady of the Rocks can be seen by boat from here. Actually, I think a boat tour around the entire bay would have been more enjoyable. We got a little bored with the vehicle because there is no pleasant spot to swim.

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Herceg Novi

We came to the gulf to the Croatian border and had to swim from there, but we escaped very quickly.


There is a small ferry between Kamenari Lepetane. We crossed the road by car for 5 euros and went to see Tivat. Tivat marina was the same as every other place we saw and had a high price, so we returned to Kotor without staying for long.

7. Day: Kotor – Tirana

We divided the return journey into two, thinking that it would be difficult to return from Kotor to Skopje in one go, but do not divide it 🙂 Since there was a huge chaos at the entrance and exit of Tirana, this caused us unnecessary time loss and we spent extra time on the road. We had a hard time getting to Tirana in the evening and another tiring road was waiting for us the next day.

8. Day: Tirana – Skopje

Since we had a night flight on our last day on the way back, we started with tours in Tirana and continued with our departure for Skopje. Since we did not like Skopje, we spent time in a shopping mall outside the city center until our flight.

When we did this tour, Pegasus’ Montenegro flights had not started yet. I think it makes more sense to see the trip to Montenegro and North Macedonia separately. If you have time, it can be Tirana-Montenegro, but the roads and traffic should be in your mind beforehand.

Of course, traveling with a car rental for 4 people was both economical and enjoyable. Let’s talk about next trips.


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