Last year saw some major life changes, one of which was leaving my fashion job in favour of a fully remote position. Naturally, we decided to take advantage of it by going on a long holiday combined with a bit of working.
After we loved Bosnia so much the year before, we decided to return to the Balkans for 3 whole weeks to see more of what the region has to offer. As there were many variables to consider, I didn’t set any fixed budget for our trip. Still, I had an amount in mind that I ideally wanted to stick to, and I was really curious to see how my projections would pan out in real life.
Now that we’re back, I decided to put together this post detailing how much I spent during our 3-week Balkan trip. Spoiler alert – I spent way less than I thought I would! I hope you’ll find this post helpful when planning a trip of your own, especially if you’re travelling around the Balkans on a budget!
How much I spent in Kosovo
We landed in Kosovo on Wednesday afternoon and took off for North Macedonia early Saturday morning. During the 2.5 days we spent there, we mostly hung around Pristina, with the exception of a short day trip to the city of Prizren.
Accommodation – €61.85
For our accommodation, we found the loveliest flat on Booking.com. The main selling points were its central location and the spacious terrace overlooking the city where we could see ourselves chilling in the evenings. We paid €123.69 for 3 nights, which comes to just €61.85 per person.
Eating out – €60.60
Accommodation aside, eating out is where most of our money went. When I was planning our trip, I stumbled across what later turned out to be one of the best restaurants we’ve EVER been to. We enjoyed it so much that we returned the next day and had a proper feast each time. We also went out for coffee and breakfast most days, which brought my spending up to €60.60.
Grocery shopping – €5.74
We did a quick supermarket run on our first evening in Pristina to grab a couple of snacks and drinks. As the massive dinners I mentioned earlier left us pretty full, these snacks actually lasted us until the end of our stay in Kosovo, so I only paid €5.74 in total.
Transport – €39.10
We mostly used public transport in Kosovo, with two exceptions: getting from the airport (€12.50 each) and from the Pristina Bear Sanctuary back to the city centre (€6 each). All that, together with a bus ticket from Pristina to Skopje (€8 each), cost me €39.10.
Other expenses – €10
There weren’t really any museums or other paid attractions we wanted to visit in Kosovo. The only admission fee I paid was the entrance fee to the Pristina Bear Sanctuary (€2 each). Other than that, I bought a fridge magnet for my mum who collects them and a postcard for myself, and donated some money to the sanctuary. In total, I spent €10.
Total spending: €177.29
You can find my Kosovo travel guides below:
- Exploring Pristina: Best Things to Do and See in Kosovo’s Capital
- 5 Best Things to Do on a Day Trip from Pristina to Prizren
How much I spent in North Macedonia
We kicked off our trip to North Macedonia with a weekend in the capital, Skopje, before heading over to Ohrid for a couple of days. We spent a lot of our time in Ohrid working, so we weren’t out and about as much. Still, this leg of our trip proved to be the priciest, mainly because of my boyfriend’s birthday celebration and some gifts I picked up for myself and my mum.
Accommodation – €261.38
As a birthday treat for my boyfriend, I decided to splash out on a stay at a 5-star hotel in Skopje. This came to a total of €184 for two nights, with €40 for breakfast. In Ohrid, we needed a place that would be suitable for remote work, so we rented a flat and paid €154.75 for four nights (€77.38 each). So, in total, I spent €261.38 on accommodation.
Eating out – €105.93
Unfortunately, both of us caught a stomach bug during our stay in North Macedonia, which meant we had to skip a few meals. This brought the food costs down a touch. On my boyfriend’s birthday, we enjoyed a dinner at a lovely restaurant by Lake Ohrid, complete with a three-course meal and cocktails. All of this amounted to 6,530 MKD (€105.93).
Grocery shopping – €18.19
In Skopje, our hotel breakfast covered us in the mornings, so we only had to buy some snacks and local wine. (We ended up enjoying the wine in Albania because of our stomach bug.) In Ohrid, we opted for homemade breakfast, meaning I spent 1,121 MKD (€18.19) in total on groceries – not bad considering what we got.
Tourist attractions and activities – €8.44
In Skopje, we visited two museums – mostly as a means of escaping the relentless heat. Once in Ohrid, the only admission fee we paid was to visit Samuel’s Fortress. In total, I spent 520 MKD (€8.44) on entrance fees.
Transport – €35.53
We pretty much walked everywhere. The only time we got a taxi was to get to the bus station in Skopje – with our heavy luggage and the heat, it just didn’t seem worth the walk. Aside from that, we bought bus tickets from Skopje to Ohrid and from Ohrid to Tirana. These costs brought my total transport spending to 2,190 MKD (€35.53).
Other expenses – €120.37
While in Skopje, I splurged on a massage at our hotel and bought a fridge magnet for my mum. Ohrid saw a few more purchases: a magnet, some Ohrid pearls for myself and as a birthday gift for my mum, as well as a picture of Ohrid printed on traditional handmade paper. These were on the pricey side, but made for amazing souvenirs, so no regrets there. These expenses totalled 7,420 MKD (€120.37).
Total spending: €549.84
You can find my North Macedonia travel guides below:
- 10 Best Things to Do in Skopje, North Macedonia’s Eccentric Capital
- How to Spend the Perfect 72 Hours in Ohrid, North Macedonia
How much I spent in Albania
Our Albanian adventure started on a Friday afternoon in the bustling capital, Tirana, and wrapped up bright and early the following Monday morning as we set off for Kotor. Our initial plan was to stay a bit longer and take in the sights of the Albanian Riviera or explore the city of Berat.
But, as we delved into the planning, it quickly became clear that travelling around would eat up quite a bit of our time. So, we decided to stick to Tirana for this visit and come back to uncover more of Albania on a future trip.
Accommodation – €74.50
Okay, where do I even start with our Tirana hotel… Seriously, you’ll need to check out my Tirana guide to believe it! Initially, we chose our hotel with a bit of a chuckle because it looked so incredibly kitsch, but it ended up being fantastic for a host of reasons. The three nights there cost us 17,500 LEK (€149), which works out at €74.50 per person. That’s pretty reasonable, especially considering its central location and the huge size of our room!
Eating out – €67.18
After the stomach bug we battled in North Macedonia, we decided to play it safe and stick to restaurants that were highly recommended by other travellers. This meant we paid a bit more than usual, but it was well worth it. Breakfast was included in our room rate, so we only went out for coffee, lunch, and on one occasion, drinks.
We also decided to treat ourselves to a three-course meal at one of the city’s top restaurants. I found the restaurant online and was so excited by it, I persuaded my boyfriend to book a table! The total spending came to 7,860 LEK (€67.18) per person.
Grocery shopping – €5.81
With some groceries left over from North Macedonia, we didn’t have much to buy. We spent most of our budget on sandwiches for our lengthy trip to Kotor, Montenegro – a journey that, while planned to be 6 hours, ended up being 9, but that’s a story for another time…
Tourist attractions and activities – €24.79
Out of all the cities we visited during our trip, Tirana was undoubtedly where we ticked off the most tourist attractions. We were keen to learn more about life under Enver Hoxha’s rule in Albania, so we visited three museums dedicated to this dark period in the country’s history. We also took a cable car up to the top of Dajti Mountain. If it wasn’t for the ongoing renovations around the city, we probably would’ve visited even more places. In total, we spent 2,900 LEK (€24.79) each.
Transport – €30.54
With our hotel in a central location, we got to most places on foot. We only took a bus to Bunk’Art 1 and Dajti Ekspres, located on the outskirts of Tirana, which cost us 40 LEK (€0.34) each way. Apart from that, I purchased a bus ticket from Tirana to Kotor for €29.86, bringing the total to €30.54.
Other expenses – €3.71
The other expenses included the usual fridge magnet for my mum and an additional €2 on top of my bus ticket to bring my suitcase on board.
Total spending: €206.53
For more information on the best things to do and restaurants to visit in Tirana, check out my Tirana travel guide.
How much I spent in Montenegro
Out of all the countries we visited on our trip, Montenegro probably tops the list for me – I’m thrilled we had a solid four days to soak it all in. Our base was in Kotor throughout, but we did manage to squeeze in a charming day trip to the picture-perfect town of Perast.
Accommodation – €120
We made a home for ourselves in a charming flat overlooking the Bay of Kotor, which turned out to be one of our best decisions. Besides the stunning views, we had a host who couldn’t have been more helpful in sharing useful advice to keep the rest of the costs down. For the 4 nights, we paid €240, putting it at €120 per person.
Eating out – €62.20
Our host truly outdid himself with restaurant recommendations! Thanks to his insights, we navigated Kotor’s culinary scene without straining our budget. Given that we also grabbed coffee a few times and enjoyed cocktails in the Old Town twice, I reckon €62.20 was a fair amount to spend.
Grocery shopping – €53.17
When it came to stocking up on groceries in Kotor, we didn’t hold back! We picked up ingredients to whip up our own breakfast each morning, and indulged in some insanely delicious pastries from a local bakery. Our grocery bill also felt the impact of discovering a fruity Serbian wine that was too good to resist, as we found ourselves sharing a bottle on our balcony each evening. The total grocery bill came to €53.17 per person.
Tourist attractions and activities – €33
A must-do in Kotor is the Blue Cave tour – the best deal we found cost us €30 each. Beyond that, I paid €2 for entry to the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks and popped into the Cat Museum in Kotor for €1.
Transport – €33.24
A local bus ride from Kotor to Perast cost us €1.50 each way. Then, the bus from Kotor to Dubrovnik cost about €26.24 per person. In addition to that, I had to cough up an extra €2 for what they call a platform ticket, and another €2 to carry my suitcase aboard.
Other expenses – €22.24
Additional expenses included picking up some souvenirs and little gifts for friends and family back home. We also had to buy some sun protection spray after my trusty Anthelios SPF ran out.
Total spending: €323.85
If you need help planning your own trip, here’s my post containing the best things to do in Kotor, Montenegro.
How much I spent in Croatia
And just like that, we’ve come to the final chapter of our journey. Given our past experiences with Croatia being a bit on the pricier side, we decided to only spend a weekend there for a bit of last-minute relaxation. We started our Croatian adventure in Dubrovnik and then moved to Split, from where we flew back home.
Accommodation – €131
Accommodation prices in Dubrovnik can get pretty scary, I’m not gonna lie. That’s why we thought it was smart to rent a flat 30 minutes away from the city centre, which helped us save quite a bit. We paid 1,219.28 HRK for 2 nights, which works out to €81 each. We loosened the purse strings for our final night in Split and decided to book a place right inside Diocletian’s Palace (yes, you heard that right!), which cost €50 per person.
Eating out – €71.34
Since my boyfriend didn’t get to throw a birthday party this year, he took me out for a lovely dinner in Dubrovnik instead. So, my only real expenses for dining out in Dubrovnik were a few coffees and some juice, which cost me about 105 HRK (€13.95).
Once in Split, we finally had the chance to try out an amazing pizzeria we had on our list from last year, but never got around to visit. We loved it so much we returned for a second meal, and, naturally, we couldn’t go without our daily dose of coffee (Split has some amazing specialty coffee shops!), bringing the total to 432 HRK (€57.39) each. That brings the overall damage for eating out in Croatia to €71.34.
Grocery shopping – €18.44
We decided to keep breakfast simple in both cities, with fresh pastries from local bakeries, and we also bought some snacks for the evenings. All in all, I spent 138.82 HRK (€18.44) on groceries.
Tourist attractions and activities – €43.84
In Dubrovnik, we only chose to visit the city walls, which cost a significant 250 HRK (€33.21) per person. While in Split, we bought a combined ticket to visit the Split Cathedral, the Treasury, the Crypt, the Temple of Jupiter, and the Bell Tower for 80 HRK (€10.63) each.
Transport – €38.53
Our transport costs in Dubrovnik were Uber rides to and from the bus station at 45 HRK (€5.98) per person, while the Flixbus from Dubrovnik to Split cost 200 HRK (€26.57) each. In Split, we paid 45 HRK (€5.98) each to travel from the main bus station to Split Airport.
Other expenses – €67
The other costs included souvenirs and gifts for family and a luggage storage fee in Split. Since my parents’ birthdays coincided with our stay in Croatia, it was a great opportunity to buy them some unique Croatian gifts.
Total spending: €370.15
You can find my Croatia travel guides below:
- 6 Top Things to Do in Dubrovnik: The Ultimate Day Guide
- How to Spend 24 Hours in Split: Best Things to Do and Eat
Cost of flights and travel insurance
- Our flight from Gdansk to Pristina: 387 PLN (€80.47) per person
- Our flight from Split to Gdansk: 447 PLN (€92.95) per person
- Travel insurance: 103 PLN (€21.42) per person
Total spending for the trip: €1,822.5
Some final thoughts…
So, there you have it – a complete rundown of what I spent on our 3-week trip to the Balkans! The conversion rates into euros are accurate at the time of writing, but naturally, they will fluctuate a bit.
Many of these costs are subject to personal preferences – for example, I’m more than happy to save money on accommodation, but I generally tend to avoid hostels. These figures would also be significantly lower if it wasn’t for my boyfriend’s birthday celebrations, or the fact that I also picked up some birthday gifts for my parents while on this trip.
The cost of your flights will depend on various factors such as your departure and arrival airports, how far in advance you’re booking, or the amount of luggage you’re bringing with you. Just to give you an idea, we travelled with hand luggage only, but we chose to pay extra for Priority boarding and added a Flexible tariff that allowed us to alter our flights if something unexpected happened.
The last thing worth mentioning is a small tradition that my boyfriend and I follow. Throughout the year, we put aside all 2 PLN coins into a money box, which we then use towards accommodation on our next big trip. This year, we managed to accumulate enough to exchange it for €700! This was of great help in managing our expenses, and so was booking our flights and some of our accommodation a few months in advance.
How do you find these costs? Were they surprising? Did you think I would end up spending more or less money on this trip?