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How To Fly From Manila to the Balkans – Airlines and Different Routes You Should Take

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor March 30th, 2020 Posted in Europe Travel Blog, Travel Blog No comments

The Balkan Peninsula is an area in Southeast Europe. Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Greece, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Kosovo are the countries in the Balkans. These countries are boasting with mountains and a lot of historical destinations. And for Filipinos to travel to the Balkan region we need to get a visa first. 

If you wish to travel around the Balkans, a Schengen Visa would be the best visa that you can have. Although most of the Balkan countries are not included in the Schengen zone, having a two or multiple entry Schengen visas will allow you to wander around each Balkan country without worrying.Flying Business Class from Montenegro to Philippines with Turkish Airlines

Visa Requirements for Filipinos that are Planning to Travel to the Balkans. (Schengen Visa)

1. A Completed Visa Application Form.

2. A Valid Passport. It should have at last 2 blank pages. 

Philippine Passport

3. Two photos are taken within the last 3 months. 

4. Proof of legal residence in the Philippines. It can be a National ID.

5. A Round trip flight itinerary. It should have your entry and exit date. (a reservation is fine)

6. Europe Travels Health insurance. Your insurance should have at least 30,000 EUR medical emergencies.

7. Proof of Accommodation. It can be a hotel booking, letter of invitation, etc.

8. Proof of sufficient funds. (a bank statement, bank certificate, etc.)

Philippines Bank Code & Swift Codes

9. Cover letter. Make sure that your cover letter has all the information regarding your trip. Such as the reason why you want to visit the Schengen area, the countries in which you’re traveling to, how long you will stay, and other details regarding your trip. 


Additional Requirements for Filipinos who are Employed:

  • Employment Contract
  • Bank statement of the last 6 months.
  • Permission leave from your employer.
  • Income Tax Return or ITR

For the Self-Employed:

  • A copy of your business license in the Philippines.
  • Bank statement of your company for the last 6 months.
  • Income Tax Return or ITR

For Students:

  • Proof of enrollment.
  • A ‘No Objection Letter’ from your school or University.

Schengen Visa Holders Rules entering the Balkans

Albania – Tourists are allowed to enter, stay and transit in Albania if you have a multiple-entry Schengen visa. A maximum of 90 days stay in any 180 days period is allowed.

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Tourists with a multiple-entry Schengen visa can enter and stay for up to 15 days within the 180 days period. 

Croatia – The allowed period of stay is 90 days.

Kosovo – A 15 days stay is allowed.

Montenegro – A maximum of 30 days stay if you have a multiple-entry Schengen visa.

North Macedonia – A 15 days stay is allowed if you have a short-stay Schengen visa (Type C).

Romania – If you have any of the Schengen Visa type (Type C, double, or multiple-entry), then you can transit, enter, or stay for at least 90 days in Romania.

Note: Your visa must be used in any Schengen zone territory first.

Serbia – A maximum of 90 days stay is allowed in Serbia.

Now that you’re prepared, pack up and get ready for an adventure in the Balkans.

Different Routes to fly from Manila to the Balkans

How To Fly From Manila to the Balkans

Route 1: From Manila to the Balkans via Istanbul (Turkey)

In order to go to any of these Balkan countries from Manila, tourists must fly to Istanbul first as a layover. And from Istanbul going to the Balkans. Meaning, you will need to have a transit visa. BUT, unfortunately, the Turkish embassy only issues transit visas to seafarers. So if you are just a regular Filipino tourist, you will still need to have a tourist visa even if you are staying in Istanbul or in Turkey for less than 24 hours. However, if you will not leave the transit lounge during your layover, then you don’t need to get a transit visa. 

Most flights from Istanbul usually has a direct flight to any of the Balkan Airport. 

Airlines that fly from Istanbul

Turkish Airlines is the most popular airline that travels from Istanbul to the Balkans. 

Estimated Travel Time

A trip from Manila to Istanbul will take you at least 13 hours (direct flight). And from Istanbul, it will depend on your point of entry. But usually, it’s not more than 2 hours of flight to any Balkan countries. Giving you a total of 15 hours of travel time. Layovers are not yet included. 

You can choose this route if your point of entry is in Montenegro, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, or Albania.

Route 2: From Manila to the Balkans via Dubai 

If you will choose this route, you will need to have a transit visa in Dubai. But no worries as obtaining a transit visa in UAE is not so much of a hassle.

The good news is, it’s FREE. Yes, the UAE cabinet decided to change its visa rules. Making the transit visa, free for travelers. For as long as you will stay in Dubai for up to 48 hours only. Meaning the first 48 hours is free. But if you wish to extend or if your stopover is more than 48 hours, you can pay a minimal amount of AED 50 for another 48 hours, making your stay in Dubai for up to 4 days (96 hours). You can obtain the transit visa at the express counters across any UAE airports.

Requirements you need for the transit visa:

  • Confirmed onward ticket for your next destination.
  • Hotel reservation

Airlines that fly from Dubai

There are several airlines that fly directly from Dubai to the Balkans. Some of these airlines are, fly Dubai, Aeroflot, Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, and Pobeda.

Estimated Travel Time

From Manila to Dubai, it usually takes an estimated time of 9 hours. While from Dubai to any of the Balkans, it will take a maximum of 6 hours. Making a total of 14-15 hours of travel time. Layovers are not yet included so you still need to consider how long will your layover be.

You can choose this route if your point of entry is in Montenegro, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, or Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Route 3: From Manila to the Balkans via London (UK)

The UK Route is also hassle-free like the Dubai route. If you have a US or Schengen visa, then it’ll be easier for you to stay in London as a layover. 

Going to the Balkans, you will get to enjoy your transit without a visa! However, you need to remember that it is only possible if your flight is on the same day (within 24 hours) and if your flight doesn’t require a change of airport at any part in the UK. So when you book your flight, it is important to thoroughly check your flight details. 

Airlines that fly from London

Easyjet and Ryanair flights usually travel directly to the Balkans from the UK. And they are a lot cheaper compared to other airlines. 

Estimated Travel Time

If you will travel from Manila to London, prepare for a 14-hour direct flight. And from London to the Balkans, it takes at least 3 hours. A total of 17 hours of travel time with layovers not yet included. 

You can choose this route if your point of entry is in Montenegro, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, North Macedonia, or Albania.

Note: If you can’t find a direct flight to London, you can go there via Hong Kong, Singapore, or Bangkok route. Filipinos don’t need a visa in these countries.

Route 4: From Manila to the Balkans via Doha

Using the Doha route, you won’t have any problem with the transit visa for as long as you will stay in the Doha International Airport during your whole layover. Just prepare your onward flight ticket, hotel reservation, etc to your next destination then you’re all good.

Airlines that fly from Doha

Qatar Airways fly directly to the Balkans.

Estimated Travel Time

The travel time from Manila to Qatar takes up to 10 hours (direct flight). From Doha to the Balkans, the maximum travel time is 6 hours. You’ll have a total of at least 16 hours of travel time. Layovers not yet included.

You can choose this route if your point of entry is in Croatia (Zagreb), Romania (Bucharest), or Serbia (Belgrade).

Route 5: From Manila to the Balkans (Serbia) via Abu Dhabi

Going to the Balkans via the Abu Dhabi route is quite easy since there are some direct flights available. However, this is only applicable if your point of entry is in Serbia.

As for the transit visa, since Abu Dhabi is the capital of UAE, it has the same visa rule as Dubai. It’s free for the first 48 hours, then you’ll need to pay for AED 50 for another 48 hours. That’s if you have to extend your layover. But if it’s not necessary, then you don’t have to. 

Airlines that fly from Abu Dhabi

The airlines that fly directly from Abu Dhabi to Serbia are Etihad Airways and AirSERBIA.

Estimated Travel Time

The travel time from Manila to Abu Dhabi is about 9 hours. Then from Abu Dhabi to Serbia, it will take you at least 6 hours. With a total of 15 hours of travel time, with layovers not yet included.

You can choose this route if your point of entry is in Serbia.

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About the Writer

Fatima Turla2Hi there! I’m Fatima. My first major travel was in 2016 in the beautiful city of Cebu. After that, I got interested in traveling. Now I enjoy learning languages and other country’s cultures. My goal is to visit at least one country each year and to share my experiences with other people through writing or blogging. Witness my journey by following me on Instagram.​​​​​​​​​​​

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Written by Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor

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