I wanted to report on my recent trip across the Balkans for those who are interested in going there. In a nutshell, it's a great place and pretty much hassle-free.
The prices are moderate in all these countries, about 1.10€/liter for petrol, 1€ per bottle of
, the 2 staples of a motorbike trip. By country:
Spent just 2 hours crossing over to Croatia. If you want to avoid the motorway vignette you have to exit after the border crossing, if coming from Trieste (no border really, thank you EU). But that's OK, the roads are great.
Didn't spend too much time there, too many tourists. The road along the Adriatic is too busy. But great people nevertheless, and I didn't try to go inland too much. No that cheap either. The road from Senj to the Bosnian border is great, but you'll have to make do with many crawling Bosnian lorries.
Roads are a bit worse, and riddled with ridiculous speed limits (30 Km/h, hello ?). The speeds traps are everywhere, they're really a pain. Every slight bend in the road is marked with a speed limit - sometimes down to 20 km/h! Otherwise, people are great. No problem to find
in the muslim part either, very relaxed. Don't know much about off-roading, there may be some landmines left.
Good thing about this country: they're using the Euro, so no money changing. And the latin alphabet. But prices may be a little inflated because of that. People are very friendly. The roads are generally good, very interesting for such a small country, with the mountains hugging the sea. In particular, the road above Kotor is great. The border post from Bosnia to Montenegro between Trebinja and Risan is very easy, and the road down to the gulf of Kotor is great.
Note: the border crossing to Kosovo above Andrijevica - Velika is closed.
I used the border crossing at Plav - Gusinje on the Montenegro side, reaching Vermosh on the Albanian side. On the montegran side one has to ask for directions because it isn't sign posted. A very small road leads to a very quiet border post - I found out later why: the Albanian side is terrible, roadwork was blocking all traffic (except for a bike) and you get to a high valley that's only reachable by a very very bad road. But a lot of fun for offroaders for sure.
The border guard didn't mind my green card having Albania crossed out. Very easy crossing. Petrol is available (almost) everywhere in brand new petrol stations. ATMs are available in the big cities.
The road network is of 2 kinds: the highway on the coast is in pretty good condition (only a few stretches of gravel where it is completed), but pretty busy with very bad drivers. Oh, and cops like their radar guns: follow the locals, they know exactly where to speed and where to slow down.
The secondary roads are terrible, they're partially asphalted and very twisty, with as little engineering as possible, which makes for a very slow ride - even when it's tarred.
The mountain roads are very steep, on loose rocks, very technical on a big bike. Especially the road to Vermoshi and to Thethi.
Didn't spend too much time, petrol and
are the same price as in the neighbouring countries. No issue at the borders (from Albania and into Greece).
Overall, a highly recommended region and easy to reach from Europe.