10 Best Beaches in Southeast Europe

best-beaches-se-europeIt isn’t hard to find the best beaches in Southeast Europe when there are so many to choose from, but rather harder to choose which beaches to leave out! Here are our top picks for the best beaches in Southeast Europe, from islands in Croatia to the off-the-beaten path islands in Greece, here is where you will find them…

#1. Egremni Beach, Greeceegremni-beachEgremni Beach on Lefkada Island is not on the popular and well-known Greek islands, but this is a beach where you can actually relax and blend in to local life.

#2. Elafonisi Beach, Greeceelafonisi-beachElafonisi Beach in Crete is another such Greek beach worth mentioning.

#3. Jaz Beach, Montenegrojaz-beachIf you’re looking for a little adventure on a sandy beach, then Jaz Beach, outside of Budva, is perfect for you. It’s one of Montenegro’s gorgeous beaches on the Adriatic coast.

#4. Lubenice, Croatialubenice-beachCres Island is home to beaches and crystal-clear coves at Lubenice, accessible by a steep path through the underbrush, so make sure to wear some good hiking shoes. Your hike to this secluded beach will be easily forgotten once you reach the beach.

#5. Navagio Beach, Greecenavagio-beachAlso known as Shipwreck Beach, this is one of the most iconic beaches to visit in Greece, and the picture certainly shows you why! This exposed cove is surrounded by crystal blue waters and trails around to catch the best view.

#6. Rana e Hedhun Beach, Albaniarana-e-hedhun-beachIn northern Albania is the wonderful beach of Rana e Hedhun (Powdered Sand). It is a pristine beach where sand dunes climb nearly halfway up the face of the mountainside.

#7. Šunj Beach, Croatiasunj-beachŠunj Beach is 1km strip of sand sloping gently into warm, shallow waters. There are two restaurants, both of which rent deck chairs and beach umbrellas, and a choice of activities from beach volleyball to tennis.

#8. Sunny Beach, Bulgariasunny-beachSunny Beach stretches 8km along the Black Sea with fine golden sand. It is also home to some of the coast’s last remaining natural sand dunes and rare plant species. Sunny Beach is across the bay from the historic town of Nesebăr.

#9. Sveti Stefan Beach, Montenegrosveti-stefan-beachSveti Stefan is one of the most renowned beaches and certainly an icon for coastal Montenegro.

#10. Zlatni Rat, Croatiazlatni-rat-beachZlatni Rat (Golden Cape) is situated near the city of Bol on the southern coast of the island of Brac. It is a narrow white pebble beach with an amazing shape that shifts with the changes in tide, currents and wind. Zlatni Rat is bordered by pine trees, where you can find remnants of ancient Roman civilization, including a swimming pool.

Montenegro: Where to Stay

montenegro-where-to-stayMontenegro is small country, which makes it an easy drive across the country in a day, but you could spend a whole month there and still have more to explore. There are plenty of posh places to stay in Montenegro – and plenty of not-so-posh places too – so we have narrowed them down to highlight our absolute favorites. From Budva to Ulcinj, we’ve got it covered.

splendid-spa-resortSplendid Conference & Spa Resort, Budva *****OUR TOP PICK
The luxurious 5-star hotel Splendid Spa Resort is set directly on a long sandy beach in the heart of Bečići, just 2 km from Budva’s Old Town. The posh spa area with heated indoor pools, saunas, hot tubs and steam baths with Swarovski crystals is at guests’ disposal. The on-site restaurant serves delicious Montenegrin and international cuisine with freshly prepared ingredients. The private sandy beach with parasols and loungers is available. Guests can relax by the pool where drinks and snacks are served throughout the day. Tivat Airport is 20 km from Splendid Conference & Spa Resort, and the Podgorica Airport can be reached within 60 km.

casa-rozalijaCasa Rozalija Bed & Breakfast, Kotor
Located right next to the Bay of Kotor, Casa Rozalija Bed & Breakfast comprises a sun terrace and provides guests with a hot tub, sauna, shared lounge and kitchen. Rooms here feature a stone wall interior and come with antique furniture, which gives this bed & breakfast soul. At Casa Rozalija, you can enjoy homemade cakes, bread, ham and cheese for breakfast. Perast Old Town and several scenic islets are a 5-minute boat ride away. The UNESCO-protected Kotor Old Town is 9.5km away. Tivat Airport is located at a distance of 12km. Free private parking is provided on site, too.

ziya-hotelZiya Hotel, Podgorica
Located in the capital, the 5-star Ziya Hotel offers a spa with a hot tub and a sauna and a modern gym. You and your family can enjoy the indoor swimming pool. Start your day with their posh continental breakfast. Free private parking is available in front of the hotel. Podgorica Airport is 13km from the hotel.

regent-porto-montenegroRegent Porto Montenegro, Tivat
Located in Tivat within a luxury yacht marina, Regent Porto Montenegro offers an outdoor pool, as well as a spa and wellness center. Built in Renaissance Venetian style, this luxury hotel offers rooms that feature either a balcony or a terrace. The Regent SPA, which is we consider to be the BEST SPA in Montenegro, include saunas, a Turkish bath, a steam room and a gym, as well as an indoor pool. Tennis and squash courts, as well as a bowling alley, are also available nearby.PortoMontenegroThe world-class marina features 250 boat berths and houses a world-class yacht club and full sailing facilities. Porto Montenegro is also a home to numerous cafés, waterfront restaurants and upscale retail stores offering both local and international brands ranging from fine wines to luxury fashion. The hotel is 4.6km from Tivat Airport and 90km from Podgorica Airport. Free private parking is provided on-site.

hotel-senatorHotel Senator, Ulcinj
Set 1km from Ulcinj’s city center, Hotel Senator is located 500m from the beach and offers an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as bike rentals and massages. The sandy Velika plaža (Long Beach) is 5 km away from Senator Hotel. Skadar Lake can be visited 9km from Hotel Senator. Podgorica Airport is 65km away.

4 Smart Spots for a Ljubljana Coffee Break

Ljubljana is lined with cafes along the beautiful waterfront serving up the local specialty drink, a white coffee. With a huge population of students, you can understand why the city is filled with coffee shops and bookstores. The white coffee may not be for coffee aficionados since your precious shot of espresso is topped with LOTS of milk and frothy foam, but you should try it to enjoy Ljubljana like a local. Pair the white coffee with a tasty cake, and the European café culture is alive in this green city. While in Ljubljana, there are four coffeehouses that make me want to come back, so here’s my list!
cafe-coklCafe Čokl
There are people who take coffee seriously, and then there are people who work at Cafe Čokl. This café by the puppet theatre serves the best coffee in Ljubljana. Cafe Čokl roasts their beans and feature daily recommendations on a chalkboard outside. For all the coffee snobs out there, you will love the sweet taste at the front and a hint of bitter at the back.

cafetinoCafetino
Cafetino offers a huge range of coffee, using only freshly ground beans. With a wide selection of worldly coffee beans, this is place is for those who take their coffee seriously. Climbs the stairs, and upstairs to enjoy your brew. Consider ordering their turkish coffee while you are with your friends and possibly a cappuccino when you want to be alone with a book. 🙂 This coffee shop has no sign out front, but you can’t miss the selection of coffee roasting equipment in their window display.

daktariDaktari
With an interior resembling your grandparents’ living room, Daktari is one of the coolest café in Ljubljana. Daktari has the best Turkish coffee in Ljubljana. They also offer some delicious masala tea for those non-java drinking friends. In the evenings, they host a diverse program of social events, live music and literal readings. Daktari is definitely the place the intellectual // smart people. 😉

tozdTOZD
TOZD produces a relaxed atmosphere with has several bikes decorating the small café, which also adds for a great element of quirkiness. TOZD offers cold brew coffee, which is simply amazing. First, let’s talk about the presentation: coffee and water are served in beakers accompanied by the TOZD orange cup. Depending on the way you like your coffee, you are the “chemist.” You can have is straight up, by pouring the coffee into your cup and drinking as is. You can dilute it with some hot water, think warm Americano. Lastly, you can chill the coffee with the ice water and sip an iced coffee along the waterfront. What a great idea from TOZD because if you don’t like your coffee, it’s because you don’t know the “science” of your coffee palate…not because of their delicious cold brew. 😉

Which of these coffeehouses are your favorite? How do you like your coffee? Let’s experiment!

4 Smart Coffee Spots for a Zagreb Coffee Break

Coffee culture has always been particularly strong in Zagreb, not just in flavor but in society. People value a good strong espresso, cappuccino or latte in a ceramic mug rather than an overpriced sweet “coffee” drink that they take away as they walk through town. People want to chat or do business in a relaxed way, sitting at a café with a delicious cup of locally roasted coffee. While in Zagreb, there are four coffeehouses that make me want to come back, so here’s my list!
eliscaffeEli’s Caffe
Locals come here for great coffee, located on the most prominent street of Zagreb, Ilica. This is not only a coffee bar, but also a coffee roaster. Owner Nik Orosi is a pioneer in the field of all things coffee, sourcing coffee from specific producers and roasting it himself for maximum freshness and flavor. Eliscaffe coffee brand is available for purchase, which is where I get my supply every time I am in town – convenient for true addicts. Eli’ s Cafe is known as “no logo, just taste!”, and it just opened its second location.

cogito-coffeeCogito Coffee Shop
At Cvjetni trg, you can have coffee in countless cafes, but if you look closely you’ll find excellent coffee in a small café, hidden in a passage and decorated in an industrial, hipster-style. Cogito Coffee Shop make truly amazing coffee. The concept was devised by two Matijas, who were frustrated that there were not enough coffee roasters in town, so one of the Matijas opened a roasters in Jurja Žerjavića Street, right next my next favorite coffee shop called Cafe u Dvorištu, which was opened by the other Matija.

u-dvoristeU Dvoriste
U Dvoriste is situated in a quiet backyard setting in the center of a building block. Immediately next door, there’s a small roastery – Cogito Coffee Roasters – where you can see where your coffee was roasted. You can enjoy a delicious coffee with milk or even a cup of aeropress coffee, as well. Naturally, they also sell their coffee – either in bean or ground version. Do you know why Cogito Coffee blend is called “Tesla”? Because their location actually used to be a lightbulb factory.

42-coffee-co42 Coffee Co.
In the cozy ambient of 42 Coffee Co., located on (old) Vlaška, they serve top-notch coffee and guarantee pure pleasure. The lovely barista will chat with you about all the wonders of coffee. Industrial decor paired with a giant community table with a dog-friendly environment, and you have yourself a winning combination.

chocolat-041Honorable Mention: Chocolat 041
There are few reasons why locals love this place. First it is owned by once very famous football player Zvonimir Boban; Second, decoration is unique with lamps made of old cassettes, chairs look like big puzzle toy or old chairs taken from high school classrooms. This place is fun for the WHOLE FAMILY when you are wanting coffee but need something for your kids to enjoy, too. The ice cream is superb, and the range of irresistible cakes – all of which are based on chocolate in some way or another – almost guarantees repeat visits. Order a delicious espresso which goes sooo well with chocolate, and you’ll have a sweet experience for the whole family.

Which of these coffeehouses are your favorite? How do you like your coffee?

10 Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria

IMG_0704If you’re looking for a city with absolutely everything then Varna should be on your bucket list. It’s oozing with tradition, coastline and history, and to add to its appeal, it’s incredibly cheap, which makes it a perfect destination for a family on a budget. But what is there to see? Here’s my top 10 things to do in Varna, Bulgaria.

1. Play at the Children’s Nook
Located inside the Primorski Park, your family can enjoy different entertainment for kids of all ages. They will find an excursion train, mini golf, artificial pond with water wheels, inflate castle and so much more. There are restaurants beside the Children’s Nook, where the parents can rest, while the kids play.IMG_0744
2. Eat at Parmy Restaurant
Parmy is family-run restaurant in Varna, and it is absolutely unbeatable in terms of value for money, quality of food and service.IMG_1703
3. Lay on the beach at Sunny Day
Sunny Day is perfect for the family who loves making sand castles, get a tan and relax on the beach. It’s not as touristy as the other beaches and you still enjoy the golden sand. The water is calm from the middle of June until the beginning of September, providing perfect conditions for summer holiday.IMG_1720
4. Explore the Varna Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum displays fine collections from prehistory to Antiquity but, above all, it houses two treasures. The first of these, found in Varna’s necropolis, consists of weapons, objects and gold jewelry (4600-4200 BC). The second comprises chased-gold jewelry, including exceptionally fine earrings. The upper floor presents the main periods of Bulgaria’s history, from 681 to 1878: medieval treasure, religious gold work and superb icons. The works of the Triavna school should not be missed either.

5. Stroll Through in the Sea Garden
Sea Garden is located by the beach. You will not only enjoy the nice atmosphere of impressive trees and accurately arranged small gardens, but you also will be able to visit some of the best sight of Varna that are located namely in this park.IMG_0746
6. Grab a gelatoIMG_0738
7. Walk to Aladža Monastery
A thirty-minute walk takes you to Aladža Monastery. Occupied during the 13th and 14th century, it was hollowed into a limestone cliff over a height of several stories. The chapel of the deceased, the refectory and the monks’ cells are on the first level. On the second level, the rock church, decorated with remarkable frescoes, offers a splendid view of the Black Sea. Not to be missed: the catacombs, a small museum devoted to monastic life and terraces reserved, in summer, to cultural events.

8. See How the Romans Bathed
The Roman Baths are one of the most valuable monuments of culture in Varna, situated in the central part of the city, on the corner of the streets San Stefano and Khan Krum. This is one of the sites of the Archaeological Museum in the city. The Public Baths of Odessos are one of the most preserved architectural monuments of the Roman Age in Bulgaria (1st – 4th century). They are of the so called “small imperial style” and their construction refers to the end of the 2nd century.

9. Visit Summer Palace of Queen Marie & Botanical Gardens in Balchik
This palace was completed in 1926 by King Ferdinand of Romania for his English wife, Queen Marie (as Balchik was a part of Romania). It was rumored that Marie entertained her much younger Turkish lover here. The architecture – a blend of Bulgarian, Gothic and Islamic styles topped with a minaret – is unique. The rooms on show contain original furnishings, including paintings by Marie, and several photographs of the queen striking dramatic poses in the grounds. Also here is a curious collection of local archaeological finds, including Roman pottery and mammoth bones. Behind the palace are the extensive botanical gardens. Around 600 species of flora are featured throughout a series of themed gardens, including an impressive collection of cacti.

10. Parasail on the Black Sea
A parasailing ride is the new trendy attraction along the beaches of the Black Sea. You enjoy a motor boat-driven, parachute flight over the sea. The flight lasts approximately 12 minutes and guarantees high adrenaline and an unforgettable view over the beach.varna-parasailing