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Multi-country guidebooks on the Balkans

Multi-country guidebooks

Western Balkans - Lonely Planet Guide  (1st edition published Feb 2006)
Long awaited by aficionados of Balkan travel, the first edition of this guide has just been published. It covers Albania, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia And Montenegro, and Slovenia - in other words, all of the former Yugoslavia plus Albania.

This book occupies a rather odd position in Lonely Planet's range, somewhere between an individual country guide and a regional guide. If you will be spending a lot of time in just one or two countries, you should be aware that Western Balkans is a relatively slim volume, so the treatment of each country is nowhere near as detailed as a dedicated country guide. The Rough Guide to Slovenia, for example, has 368 pages, compared to 440 pages for the seven countries in this guide.

This guidebook will be most useful to people visiting several of these countries in a single trip (a popular approach to travelling in this region). All of these countries are included in the Eastern Europe Regional Guide (see below), and much of the text is identical. Western Balkans obviously has additional detail, but the difference is not huge - a typical country gets about 50% more space. Western Balkans is also more up to date (by about a year), and more compact. The six suggested itineraries will probably be helpful to newcomers to the region. If your trip will be entirely within the Western Balkans this guide is obviously the better of the two. If you will also be visiting Bulgaria and/or Romania, the Eastern Europe guide may well suit you better - I don't think you should worry too much about missing out on the relatively limited extra details in the Western Balkans guide.
More about this book:

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Eastern Europe - Lonely Planet Multi Country Guide  (9th edition published Feb 2007)
Includes all the Balkan countries except Greece and Turkey. There is quite a bit more detail than in the Europe on a Shoestring guide - enough to make this a definite contender for anyone planning a tour of several Balkan countries. Nevertheless it covers a vast area, so many interesting places are inevitably omitted to keep the book to a reasonable size. Coverage of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia has improved over the last couple of editions (admittedly from a fairly weak starting point).
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Mediterranean Europe - Lonely Planet Regional Guide  (8th edition published Feb 2007)
Depending on your planned route this is a possible alternative to the Eastern Europe guide, with about the same level of detail. Of the Balkan countries this guide includes Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, and Turkey. Slovenia and Bosnia apparently have coastlines too short to qualify as Mediterranean countries - although Portugal, with no Mediterranean shore at all, is included.
More about this book:

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Europe on a Shoestring - Lonely Planet  (5th edition published March 2007)
Includes all the Balkan countries. The area covered is so vast that inevitably there isn't room for much detail on any one country - the focus is generally on major cities. A handy reference to have on your bookshelf, but don't expect it to lead you even slightly off the beaten path.
More about this book:

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Amazon (UK)  
Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable - (Independent Traveller's Edition)
A printed timetable might seem a bit old-school in our era of online databases, but being able to produce this from your backpack at a moment of indecision will make you feel like a proper traveller. Also includes ferry timetables.
More about this book:

Amazon (USA)

Amazon (UK)  
Thomas Cook European Rail Map  (16th edition published Feb 2007)
The title is fairly self-explanatory: this is a map of Europe's railways. Main lines are distinguished from secondary ones; high speed lines are also identified, but that's of rather academic interest to the traveller in the Balkans. A nice touch is the highlighting of scenic lines - see the article

http://www.balkanology.com/overview/books.html

Alan Grant

 

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