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  • Scenic natural spots in the Balkans to see before you die

    Plitvice waterfalls, photo by 29cm on Flickr

    When the new seven wonders of the world were chosen in 2007, a dozen of the nominated sites were located in the Balkans. This small patch of Europe has an inordinately large amount of natural beauty on its side, and this alone would make the Balkans an excellent choice of a travel destination.

    Add to this the fact that Balkan countries have amazing cuisine and unique cultures, and there’s not much else you could wish for in a vacation spot. The Balkans are becoming more and more popular with foreign tourists, many of whom flock to the pristine beaches at the Mediterranean, there are many other scenic natural spots in the Balkans to see before you die, and here are some of them.

    Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

    Plitvice National Park is widely regarded as one of the most stunning natural wonders in Europe, so surreally beautiful that pictures of it seem to be photomanipulated rather than genuine. The water of Plitvice Lakes is impossibly blue, and they are surrounded by grey rocks and lush forests.

    To put it simply, Plitvice is a feast for the eyes. The sixteen lakes are connected by streams, waterfalls and waterfall complexes, the most unusual of which is Veliki Splat.

    Retezat National Park, Romania

    Vrelo Cave, photo by rom@anski photo on Flickr

    Retezat National Park is such a wonderful collection of glaciers, lakes, valleys, peaks and caves that it can’t fail to impress even the most well-traveled hikers.

    The park is made even more picturesque by the fact that many of the locals still bring their sheep to graze the rich grass that covers the high slopes. If you are interested in wildlife watching, you have the chance to see roe deer, red deer, wild boars, and various bird species.

    ?avolja Varoš, Serbia

    ?avolja Varoš, the Devil’s Town, is a very strange rock formation hidden away on Radan Mountain, in southern Serbia. The peculiar pyramid-like shape of the tall rocks (some of them as tall as 15 meters), as well as a nearby acidic spring (called Devil’s Water, in keeping with the spirit of the place) are what’s left of a wedding party turned into stone by God, according to local legends. In any case, these eroded volcanic rocks are a much prized national treasure for the Serbs.

    Tara River Gorge, Montenegro

    ?avolja Varoš, photo by Dimo Dimov on Flickr

    Montenegro is blessed with extraordinary natural beauty, but if one highlight has to be chose, then it must be the gorge of River Tara, over 80 kilometers long and the deepest canyon in Europe.

    The river seems to cut through tall and craggy cliffs with patches of forest and shrubbery, and it all looks very impressive, but nothing compares to the heart-stopping awesomeness of the forty Tara Cascades that are so strong and fast that their sound can be heard from the peaks.

    Vrelo Cave, Macedonia

    Vrelo Cave was among the 77 finalists vying to be included in the new seven wonders of the world, and it is one of those places that manages to fascinate both onlookers and scientists.

    It is estimated that the underground lake in the cave is well over 300 meters deep, which is a bit scary when you’re floating on a boat over those depths, but the amazing stalactites and stalagmites scattered all over the walls and ceilings of the cave make the trip worth it.

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