Balkans 101 – complete guide through Balkan customs

There is a saying, popular throughout the Balkan peninsula: “Guest is a sacred person”. It is an imperative for Balkan locals to give more than they have. This is why the Balkan countries are appreciated for their hospitality.

Greetings in Balkans

Balkan people are very warm-hearted, and they are not used to hide their emotions. When you introduce yourself to Balkan locals, be prepared for a long hand shake. In case two men are shaking hands, expect firm and strong shakes – they mean that your feelings and intentions are sincere and honorable. Hugs are not so common for the first encounter, but you can expect one on the second meeting for sure.

Balkan people adore hugging and kissing. Moreover, it is our tradition to kiss our acquaintances – and we usually do it three times. Even if it is only a “pass by” encounter, be prepared to leave at least a couple of minutes for a quick chat, usually shaking hands the whole time.

Small chitchats

Balkan people love to talk and love to socialize. Be prepared for the fact that, no matter where you come from, locals will know some trivia about your land; and they will show a sincere interest to hear the “first hand” information from you. On the other hand, you will definitely get the sympathies if you mention a thing or two that the locals are proud of. This means that you took time to show interest in local culture and you will be much more appreciated.

If you are going into a discussion with Balkan local, forget politics – as this is very sensitive topic. Any other topic is more than welcome. If you are a sports fan – you will enjoy conversation with our folks as there will be many comparisons between your country and ours. We love to exchange experience with other nations. Remember one more thing – each Balkan nation is very proud of its history and achievements. Although small today, Balkan nations are among the oldest ones in Europe. Yet again, we would never underestimate another nation’s achievements.

Dining in Balkans

One thing is for sure: you cannot stay hungry in Balkans, despite of your diet. Our cuisine is very diverse: fresh salads, vegetable dips and spreads, variety of dairy products and abundance of meat and fish is our daily routine. Our moto is that “the strength enters through one’s mouth”. Organic products are a part of our life. Don’t be surprised with large portions in the restaurant. It is not meant to be eaten right away. Dining out is a part of our life philosophy, and we enjoy long meals with a lot of chitchat.

One thing that the Balkan people are notorious of is paying the bill: it is not unusual to see a group quarreling about who is going to pay the bill. It is a matter of honor for one to pay the whole check. If you are into this situation, be sure that your host will not let you pay the bill. However, it is considered as an act of politeness from your side to offer to pay for it. Rest assure that you wouldn’t have to spend a dime when your host is with you.

Going to someone’s home

Don’t be surprised if you get invited to someone’s home. Consider it a great honor, as the host would like you to meet his family and friends. This means that you are considered as a good friend. If you are not into such kind of socializing, we strongly suggest to come up with a good reason and ask for a raincheck. Otherwise, you might offend your host.

However, if you choose to accept the invitation, prepare yourself for an excellent time! It is our custom to bring along a couple of small presents to our host’s home: for example, a chocolate for child; a bouquet for hostess; or a bottle of wine are great tokens of gratitude.

Now, if you managed to avoid hugging and kissing until this point, rest assure that you will be squeezed and smooched upon arrival.

Hanging out with locals

Balkan people are very loud. We are not used to hide our emotions, which might seem a little bit intimidating. However, rest assure that you are perfectly safe. we can only suggest to go with the flow and let yourself to absorb the enormous amount of positive energy. We usually do not visit only one club, but prefer to “check out” several. Of course, it will be imperative for the whole group of locals to take to the place that suits you the best. Don’t be shy. Sincerity is highly appreciated throughout the Balkans, and will guarantee you the best time in your life.

Balkan countries are hosts of some of the most renowned festivals in Europe. Perhaps the most famous ones are “Fresh Island Festival” held each June on Zrće Beach, Croatia; “Exit Music Festival”, held each July in Novi Sad, Serbia; “Sea Dance Festival” held in August in Budva, Montenegro; “Guča Trumpet Festival” held each August in Guča, Serbia; and much… MUCH more…