Eat Your Way Through the Balkans: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and More

Eat Your Way Through the Balkans: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and More

The Balkans are the countries on the Balkan Peninsula of southeast Europe, most of which made up the former Yugoslavia: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, and North Macedonia, as well as Albania and Kosovo. The names of their dishes may vary from country to country, with slight variations in the ingredients as well. Yet, as a whole, Balkan foods are savory, flavorful,  and quite tasty.

We simply couldn’t decide how to rank our MIR staff favorites, so we’ve divided them into categories with our top three picks:

Main Dishes
  • Ćevapi or ćevapčići  grilled, spicy kebabs of minced meat such as beef, lamb, or pork. It’s served 5-10 on a plate with chopped onions, a clotted cream called kajmak, or sour cream.
  • Burek – pastries made with layers of thin dough and filled with meat, cheese, potatoes, or spinach. Burek is both a sit-down main dish and a fast food for on-the-go eating.
  • Pljeskavica looks like a burger, but better. Made from the most flavorful cuts of meat, pljeskavica means “clapping hands,” which is what you do when you press these burgers into patties.
Savory <i>burek</i> is served any time of the day; this type is Bosnian cheese-filled <i>sirnica</i> <br>Photo credit: Lisa Peterson

Savory burek is served any time of the day; this type is Bosnian cheese-filled sirnica
Photo credit: Lisa Peterson

Drinks
  • Slivovitz  a plum brandy. It comes from the family of rakija, or fruit brandies.
  • Locally brewed beer (pivo)  some of the more popular breweries are Jelen in Serbia and Laško in Slovenia.
  • Coffee “Serbian” coffee in Serbia; “Bosnian” coffee in Bosnia; etc. Regardless of the name, the process is the same: finely ground coffee is boiled until it foams up, and then served from a cezve pot. Sugar? Yes, please!
Laško beer is a favorite Bosnian brew for pairing with grilled ćevapi <br>Photo credit: Lisa Peterson

Laško beer is a favorite Bosnian brew for pairing with grilled ćevapi
Photo credit: Lisa Peterson

You can easily drink your way through the Balkans, java-style <br>Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

You can easily drink your way through the Balkans 
Photo credit: Martin Klimenta

Cheeses
  • Paski sir  Also known as Croatia’s Pag cheese, it won a gold medal as the world’s best sheep-milk cheese in an international cheese competition, beating out more than 4,000 cheeses.
  • Kajmak is a bit like clotted cream, and typically made at home.
  • Feta a soft, crumbly cheese usually made from sheep’s or goat’s milk.
    Artisanal cheeses are the hallmark of Balkan cuisine, as here in Slovenia<br>Photo credit: Srdan Zivuloviu

    Artisanal cheeses are the hallmark of Balkan cuisine, as here in Slovenia
    Photo credit: Srdan Zivuloviu

Desserts
  • Baklava pastries filled with nuts and drenched in honey or sugar syrup.
  • Halva – often made from tahini paste with nut butter and sugar.
  • Tufahije apples stewed in sugar water, stuffed with walnuts, and topped with cream.
    Baklava is a favorite sweet throughout the Balkans, each with its regional variation <br>Photo credit: Helen Holter

    Baklava is a favorite sweet throughout the Balkans, each country with its regional variation
    Photo credit: Helen Holter

Travel to the Balkans with MIR

You can sample these foods and more on MIR’s tours to the Balkans. We have over two decades of Balkans travel experience, with on-the-ground support and guides and tour managers that clients rave about. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

Explore seven Balkans countries on MIR’s 16-day 
Balkan Odyssey: Crossroads of Cultures small group tour.

You can also travel independently, on your own dates, on these Balkans itineraries:

Or, see the Balkans on a rail journey by private train:

There are endless custom and private travel possibilities for having MIR build a Balkans trip tailored to your specific interests. 

(Top photo: This Bosnian ćevapi is smothered in kaymak, a popular clotted cream. Photo credit: Lisa Peterson)

PUBLISHED: April 29, 2015

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