Named after the Balkan Mountains that stretch from the Serbian-Bulgarian border to the Black Sea, the Balkan Peninsula is a group of 12 countries that make up a cultural area in south-east Europe. Until recent times the region had been in the shadow of France, Spain and other more established second home destinations, when it came to attracting overseas property buyers. This mind-set has gradually begun to shift, however, thanks to the growth of tourism in the area, opening buyers’ eyes to the Balkans investment potential. So which of these spectacular countries located between the Black Sea to the east, Adriatic to the west, Mediterranean to the south and central Europe to the north, should property buyers focus their search on?
It’s one of the oddities of real estate life that one of the priciest property markets in Europe is within view of one of the least. North-east Corfu – home to bankers, aristocrats and the Durrells – is just a mile from Albania, with the same beautiful climate and sea. The property is a bit cheaper in Albania and with striking mountain scenery, a thriving capital in Tirana and Mediterranean beaches to rival any in Europe, modern Albania has a lot to shout about. Whether you’re in the market for a seaside villa in a vibrant resort with views across to Corfu, peaceful mountain retreat or a city apartment, you won’t be disappointed in terms of location or price.
Take a viewing trip to Dracula country! If that sounds less than appealing, while Count Dracula left Transylvania in Romania for the UK, Prince Charles has bought homes in Romania because he loves its bucolic beauty so much. Old-world rustic charm can be found at every turn, whether you’re exploring villages in the Carpathian Mountains or strolling through the streets of Bucharest. Romania’s capital also offers a more contemporary side to proceedings, where shiny new office blocks and quirky cafés sit alongside grand historic architecture. Beach resorts and Romania aren’t words you often read in the same sentence, but property buyers looking for a spot of sea and sand should head to sun-drenched destinations like Costinesti, Mangalia and Olimp on the country’s Black Sea coast.
Bulgaria is one of the most popular destinations for overseas buyers on our list of Balkan property hotspots. Like its neighbour Romania to the north, it offers buyers a mix of Black Sea coastal resorts, stunning scenery and historic capital city charm. Aside from the obvious house hunter favourites, such as Sofia and Sunny Beach – known for its water sports, sand dunes and nightlife – Bulgaria’s ace up its sleeve is its affordable rural towns and villages. Buying a property that’s off the beaten track here also has the potential of opening the door to well-respected – and cheap – ski resorts like Bansko and Borovets on the northern slopes of the Rila Mountains.
Croatia isn’t just one of Europe’s fastest-growing tourism destinations; it’s also a property buyer’s dream, where the relaxed Adriatic lifestyle can be achieved without the Italian prices. The argument for purchasing a home here is a compelling one: 13 hours of sunshine a day in July and August, flights from the UK that take just two-and-a-half hours or less, continued use of the kuna rather than the euro makes it affordable, fascinating medieval cities, delicious seafood, breath-taking natural beauty…the list goes on. And they don’t build things by halves here either. The beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik, for example, is used to depict King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, while the Fortress of Klis, is used for exterior shots of Meereen.
The most established property market in the Balkan region, Greece attracts visitors with its ancient wonder and sparkling seas dotted with thousands of spectacular islands. Most property buyers head to island hotspots like Mykonos, Crete and Kefalonia in search of their very own piece of paradise, but there is an island for every kind of buyer. Here you can relax on white-sand, palm-fringed beaches, stroll along the cobbled streets of historic towns, enjoy the local cuisine and hospitality, or simply hop on a boat and explore the Aegean. The mainland is worth consideration too; after all Athens is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city, with outstanding nightlife and shopping, stunning architectural landmarks such as the Acropolis, and the property is very, very affordable right now.
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