Balkan Explorer

Schwedische Gruppe
Multi Day Tour 26 Days / 25 Nights Availability: 2021-01-01
( Tour Starts) Budapest-Hungary Albania, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, North Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro Tour Guide: English Language

Welcome to the Balkan Explorer where East meets West and new merges almost seamlessly with old. The countries of the Balkans are at the crossroads where the Ottoman Empire met Christian Europe and are home to fascinating towns, ancient monasteries, numerous UNESCO sites and dramatic landscapes. Discover 8 countries during this exciting adventure tour. See how the history and culture has given shape to the development of distinctive styles of architecture. During this tour you will have the possibility to enjoy the beauty of these cities and countries by staying the whole day and some of them you will see how they look by night.


DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION
Budapest Airport (Google Map)

PACKAGE INFORMATION
  • Duration: 26 Days / 25 Nights
  • Ages: 01 – 99
  • Type: Car / Minibus / Coach Tour
  • Departures: From January to December
  • Cities Visited: Budapest, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Nis, Skopje, Ohrid, Tirana, Kruja, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Mostar, Split, Plitvice Lake, Zagreb, Lake Bled, Ljubljana, Maribor, Budapest.
  • Price From:  1,490 euro

INCLUDED
  • Accommodation in 3*/4* hotels on twin sharing basis with daily breakfast
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary with English speaking guides
  • Transportation by car/coach/minibus
  • Airport transfers
  • All taxes

NOT INCLUDED
  • Meals other than that mentioned in itinerary
  • Overseas medical insurance
  • Tips and porterage
  • Entrance fees
  • Optional tours
  • Anything that is not stated in itinerary

DISCOVERY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Hungary’s stylish capital is known as the ‘City of Spas’ for its abundance of natural thermal springs.
  • Bled, a magical little town about an hour and a half from Ljubljana, set near an emerald green lake.
  • Tirana, the trendy capital and largest city of Albania, which has transformed from a grey, dismal ex-communist city, isolated by the regime until the 1990s, to a colorful capital buzzing with life.
  • The city is particularly famous for its beautiful single span bridge, Stari Most, which collapsed into the river during the Yugoslav War in 1993.

Balkan Explorer

Itinerary and prices for Balkan Explorer:

  • 2250 Euro per person sharing a double or twin room for minimum 6 participants
  • 3200 Euro per person sharing a double or twin room for minimum 4 participants
  • 4300 Euro per person sharing a double or twin room for minimum 2 participants
  • Single supplement – 375 Euro. (Single rooms will usually be double or twin for single use)
DAY 1: BUDAPEST AIRPORT – BUDAPEST (23 KM)

Arrival in Budapest. We will meet the guide and transfer in hotel. Free time. Hungary’s stylish capital is known as the ‘City of Spas’ for its abundance of natural thermal springs. With a host of historical sights, buzzing nightlife and unique attractions, Budapest is a favorite for many travelers visiting the region. Straddling the Danube River, the city is comprised of two very different historic cities, Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. Overnight in Budapest. (HUNGARY)

DAY 2: BUDAPEST – NOVI SAD (295 KM)

After breakfast we drive to Serbia’s cultural center, Novi Sad. Located in the Pannonian Basin and along the banks of the Danube River in northern Serbia is the city of Novi Sad. This 17th century city, founded by Serb merchants in 1694, is the capital of the Vojvodina Province, an area that is home to people of several different nationalities including Hungarians, Croatians, Slovakians, and more. It is the second-largest cultural center in the country after the national capital, Belgrade, and is an important industrial and financial center. The city was selected to be a European Capital of Culture by the European Union for the year 2021. Overnight in Novi Sad. (SERBIA)

DAY 3: NOVI SAD – BELGRADE (95 KM)

After breakfast we will visit the capital of Serbia. Belgrade is the capital of the southeast European country of Serbia. Its most significant landmark is the Beogradska Tvrđava, an imposing fortress at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava rivers. The fort is a testament to the city’s strategic importance to the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Serbian and Austrian empires, and it’s now the site of several museums. Overnight is Belgrade. (SERBIA)

DAY 4: BELGRADE – NIS (240 KM)

After breakfast we will move onto Nis. Since the days of the Roman Empire the city of Niš has been at an unofficial boundary between East and West. One man who bestrode that divide was the Roman Emperor Constantine, who was born right here in ancient Naissus and went on to found a “New Rome” at Constantinople. The Ottomans had control of Niš from the middle ages to the 19th century, and left an imperious fortress that still has a 16th century mosque inside. There are also a few eye-opening memorials to violent episodes in the city’s past, like a tower of skulls built by the Ottomans to warn against uprisings, and a Second World War concentration camp, left undisturbed as a memorial. On the lighter side there’s sumptuous nature outside Niš at river gorges, the Suva Planina mountain and the city’s hot springs. Overnight in Nis. (SERBIA)

DAY 5: NIS – SKOPJE (200 KM)

After breakfast we will drive to Skopje. In Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, you can enjoy 2,000 years of history spanning Oriental and Western cultures, neatly divided by the Vardar River through the center of the city. Skopje has many historical monuments including the Kale Fortress dating back to the 6th century and the Daud Pasha Amam, a 15th century bathhouse now converted into the city art gallery. You can also see the Mustafa-pasha’s mosque, the 16th century Clock Tower and the Kamen Most (Stone Bridge) over the Vardar River. Overnight in Skopje. (NORTH MACEDONIA)

DAY 6: SKOPJE

Free day to enjoy Skopje. Overnight in Skopje. (NORTH MACEDONIA)

DAY 7: SKOPJE – OHRID (175 KM)

After breakfast we will drive to the beautiful town of Ohrid, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Europe’s oldest lake, and one of the oldest human settlements in the world, Ohrid has a wealth of historic sites and religious monuments to discover. Ohrid is an eternal town, a magical hill whose primordial pulsation links ancient and modern times forever. The town is said to have once been home to 365 churches, one for each day of the year, earning it the nickname “the Macedonian Jerusalem”, while historical excavations date back to Neolithic times. Despite being a World Heritage site for over 30 years, the town remains under the radar of visitors. Get your bearings on an orientation walk around Ohrid’d old bazaar area (old town). Overnight in Ohrid. (NORTH MACEDONIA)

DAY 8: OHRID – SAINT NAUM MONASTERY – OHRID (60 KM)

After breakfast we will visit the beautiful Monastery of Saint Naum, an orthodox church which dates back to the year 905. It is said that St Naum himself is buried in the church. The surrounding lakeside area is well worth a stroll, with restaurants and lush gardens it makes for a wonderfully tranquil afternoon away. Back to Ohrid we will stop for a short visit to the Bay of Bones museum perched on the water, or simply strolling through the picturesque town and enjoying the views. Overnight in Ohrid. (NORTH MACEDONIA)

DAY 9: OHRID – TIRANA (135 KM)

After breakfast we head to Tirana. In Tirana we will start our visit with Skanderbeg Square and National Museum then you continue to see other important buildings: Palace of Culture, Opera House, National Library, Mosque of Ethem Bey, the Clock Tower, Tirana Castle, Parliament, Ura e Tabakeve, National Art Gallery, mean government buildings, catholic and orthodox cathedrals, the Pyramid, Prime Minister building, Palace of congresses, Mother Teresa Square, Presidential palace, Ex-Blloku (which used to be the most beautiful and protected zone were the ex-communist leaders families lived). Visit the Cold War corner (one Bunker, part of famous Spac Political Prison, and a piece from Berlin Wall). Overnight in Tirana. (ALBANIA)

DAY 10: TIRANA – KRUJA – KOTOR (222 KM)

After breakfast we will drive to Kotor but before we will stop off at the small town of Kruja. Built on a mountainside, you can discover the old town and explore Kruja Castle where we include entry to the Skanderbeg Museum located inside. Skanderbeg was a war hero of Albania, helping defeat the Ottomans, and this museum focuses on his bravery and importance to Albania. After spending the morning exploring Kruja, we will move onward to our next destination, the picturesque town of Kotor in Montenegro. Kotor is a walled city nestled at the bottom of Europe’s deepest fjord. Experience Stari Grad, the old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with it’s tricky labyrinth of cobbled alleys, squares and ancient churches, including St Tryphon’s Cathedral built in 1166. Overnight in Kotor. (MONTENEGRO)

DAY 11: KOTOR

After breakfast  you will have a guided tour of Kotor Old Town around mid morning. Before the tour, we suggest you get up early and climb the fortress walls for some of the most amazing views of the bay. Getting up there nice and early means you can avoid the larger crowds that arrive in the afternoon. If you don’t feel like walking up, you can admire the views from the waterfront, where the steep mountains provide a dramatic backdrop. You could also spend the day drinking espresso in the shade of the medieval walls watching people go by. Overnight in Kotor. (MONTENEGRO)

DAY 12: KOTOR – DUBROVNIK (95 KM)

After breakfast you will be transferred to picture-perfect Dubrovnik. There are many monuments to explore in the city, including the 15th century Rector’s Palace, monasteries with cloistered gardens, and fine baroque churches with copper domes. The main pedestrian promenade, once a shallow sea channel, is now paved with glistening white limestone, in stark contrast to the warm red terracotta roofs. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful city. A walk along the city walls of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame is not to be missed. Overnight in Dubrovnik. (CROATIA)

DAY 13: DUBROVNIK

Today you are free to soak up the culture and beauty of Dubrovnik. Founded in the 7th century, for a time in its glorious past the city was a serious rival for Venice in terms of maritime trade. It is hard to believe now but in 1991, two out of every three buildings were damaged during the bombardment of the Yugoslav War. Since then the buildings and walls have been painstakingly restored to pristine condition and represents one of the most beautiful and solid fortress systems on the Mediterranean. There are several other historic attractions worth a visit near the main street (Stradun), such as the 14th century Franciscan monastery which houses a treasury full of sacred art and artefacts, as well as one of the oldest continually working pharmacies in the world, dating back to 1317. Overnight in Dubrovnik. (CROATIA)

DAY 14: DUBROVNIK – SARAJEVO (240 KM)

After breakfast we will drive Sarajevo, a fascinating mixture of western and eastern cultures. Known as the ‘Jerusalem of Europe’, the city was once famous for its religious diversity, with people of Islamic, Orthodox Christian, Catholic and Jewish faiths coexisting relatively peacefully for centuries. The atmosphere of calm and tolerance changed dramatically when violence erupted in the mid-1990s and the city underwent the longest siege in modern military history during the Yugoslav War. Today the city is largely recovered and is packed with fascinating museums, bazaars, markets and bridges. During your time here you could explore the cobbled streets, mosques and Oriental style shops of the Old Town, visit the Bosnian Historical Museum to learn about the siege of Sarajevo and discover the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum, the tunnel which was used to ferry supplies into the besieged city during the conflict, next to the airport. For history buffs a must see is the “Latin Bridge” spanning the river in the downtown area. The bridge bears a plaque commemorating the assassination of Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, the event that sparked the beginning of World War I. Overnight in Sarajevo. (BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA)

DAY 15: SARAJEVO

Today you are free to enjoy Sarajevo in your own time. You could explore the cobbled streets, mosques and Oriental style shops of the Old Town, visit the Bosnian Historical Museum to learn about the siege of Sarajevo and discover the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum, the tunnel which was used to ferry supplies into the besieged city during the conflict, next to the airport. For history buffs a must see is the “Latin Bridge” spanning the river in the downtown area. The bridge bears a plaque commemorating the assassination of Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, the event that sparked the beginning of World War I. Overnight in Sarajevo. (BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA)

DAY 16: SARAJEVO – MOSTAR (130 KM)

After breakfast we will visit the city of Mostar. The city is particularly famous for its beautiful single span bridge, Stari Most, which collapsed into the river during the Yugoslav War in 1993. Built in 1556 by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Great, Stari Most had been a globally recognized landmark and a national symbol for Bosnia-Herzegovina. It had survived centuries of conflict including both world wars and proved that, whatever happened, the mainly Christian west bank and mainly Muslim east remained united. The destruction of the bridge was a devastating event to the local people, but in 2004 the bridge was rebuilt as a replica of the original using pieces of masonry salvaged from the riverbed. Its reopening represented the hope that Muslims, Croats and Serbs could once again live side by side and that Mostar would be healed after a decade of ethnic division. Wonder the bazaar, stroll along the river and admire the quintessential Ottoman architecture, or take a short taxi drive to the beautiful Blagaj Tekke Monastery. Overnight in Mostar. (BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA)

DAY 17: MOSTAR – SPLIT (170 KM)

After breakfast we will drive at the coastal city of Split, built around the remains of the Diocletian Palace which we will visit on an included tour. The palace dates back to the Roman era. Wander inside and admire Peristil Square where you can see an original Egyptian sphinx which was brought from Egypt by Roman emperor Diocletian. Another sphinx can be found near St John’s Church, which was originally a Roman temple. Overnight in Split. (CROATIA)

DAY 18: SPLIT  – PLITVICE LAKE (250 KM)

After breakfast continuing to explore Plitvice National Park, a beautiful reserve featuring 16 spectacular blue lakes surrounded by forest and a highlight of any holiday to Croatia. The lakes are linked by natural dams which create beautiful low level waterfalls joining one lake to another. Due to the varying mixtures of minerals in the water, each lake has a distinctive color ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The surrounding forest features a mix of beech, spruce, and fir trees and is home to 126 species of birds and a number of rare animals including European brown bears, wolves, eagles, wild cats and eagles. Due to its natural beauty and significance, the park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979. The entire park can be seen in about 4 hours and you can get beautiful views from almost any vantage point. Don’t miss the Veliki Slap, 50 meter wide waterfall surrounded by boulders – a great place for photos. Overnight close Lake Plitvice Park. (CROATIA)

DAY 19: PLITVICE LAKE – ZAGREB (135 KM)

After breakfast continue taking in the beauty of the Plitvice Lakes, so we highly recommend getting up when the park opens to beat the crowds. After lunch we will then make our way to the next destination of Zagreb where you will have a free afternoon to explore the sights. Zagreb is a vibrant cultural center with a long history, located on the crossroads of important routes between the Adriatic coast and Central Europe. Originally established as two fortresses on two neighboring hills in medieval times, the city has withstood numerous invasions, earthquakes and political upheaval to grow into a prosperous center of industry. In your free time you can explore Ban Jelacic Square surrounded by grand buildings or visit the Zagreb Cathedral with its fountain of Madonna surrounded by golden angels. You can visit colorful open-air markets such as Dolac Market and discover the historic Upper Town with its palaces, monasteries and churches from the 17th and 18th centuries. Another interesting museum to see is the City of Zagreb Museum covering every facet of its long history. Overnight in Zagreb. (CROATIA)

DAY 20: ZAGREB – LAKE BLEND (200 KM)

After breakfast we will drive to Slovenia and we stay in Bled, a magical little town about an hour and a half from Ljubljana, set near an emerald green lake. Perched on a cliff high above the lake is the Bled Castle, dramatically framed by the snowcapped peaks of the Julian Alps. Dating back to the 11th century, Bled Castle is the epitome of a medieval fortress and has a fairytale appeal, with towers, ramparts, moats and a terrace offering magnificent views. Part of the castle houses a museum with an interesting collection of armour and weapons, carvings, jeweler, tapestries and paintings which trace the history of the castle from the Bronze Age to the 19th century. Overnight in Bled. (SLOVENIA)

DAY 21: LAKE BLED 

After breakfast walk around Lake Bled. The most romantic way to enjoy it is to hire a boat and row over to the island in the middle of the lake or for the non-rowers of the group you can take a Pletna boat and be taken across. On the island you can visit a small 17th century Baroque church called Church of the Assumption, complete with a wishing bell which you can ring to ask a favor. If time permits, you can also visit Vintgar Gorge, a raised timber walkway that tracks the gorges river for 1.6 kilometers to a beautiful waterfall. Overnight in Bled. (SLOVENIA)

DAY 22: LAKE BLED – LJUBJANA (55 KM)

After breakfast we will visit the capital Ljubljana. Learn about the history, architecture and legends of Slovenia, as you admire the highlights such as Robba Fountain, Congress Square, Butchers Bridge, Dragon Bridge and the Town Square. Ljubljana is the capital and largest city in Slovenia. As well as being the cultural, educational, economic and political center since Slovenia gained independence in 1991, it is also a charming city with a whole host of activities. The cobbled streets are made for casual walks and the architecture quite intriguing. Overnight in Ljubljana. (SLOVENIA)

DAY 23: LJUBJANA

Today is free time and you may enjoy a visit to the botanical gardens, Dragon bridge, Tivoli Park, Ljubljana city museum, Ljubljana castle (Ljubljanski Grad) on Castle Hill and the viewing tower in the castle courtyard for views across the Old Town. When you need to relax, sit down at one of the many outdoor riverside cafes in the Old Town, check out the Habsburg and Baroque architecture and enjoy the young fun vibe of Ljubljana’s large student population. You could also visit Metelkova Mesto, an autonomous cultural center located in the old army barracks. Home to some fascinating street art as well as galleries and cafes, the area is bursting with culture and is one of the best known areas of the city. Overnight in Ljubljana. (SLOVENIA)

DAY 24: LJUBJANA – MARIBOR (130 KM)

After breakfast we will drive to Maribor. Maribor is a Slovenian city set amid wine-region hills on the Drava River. On Glavni Trg, the old town’s main square, the Renaissance-style Town Hall (Mariborski rotovž) dates from 1515. On nearby Grajski Trg square, 15th-century Maribor Castle houses a frescoed Knights’ Hall and the Regional Museum of Maribor, with extensive displays of local artifacts. Overnight in Maribor. (SLOVENIA)

DAY 25: MARIBOR – BUDAPEST (340 KM)

After breakfast we will drive to Hungary. We will arrive into Budapest in the early evening. Straddling the Danube River, the city is comprised of two very different historic cities, Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. Highlights here include Castle Hill, Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Liberation Monument, the fabulous St Stephen’s Basilica and the much photographed Parliament Building. An evening river cruise is an excellent way to see the parliament lit up at night. Overnight in Budapest. (HUNGARY)

DAY 26: BUDAPEST – BUDAPEST AIRPORT (23 KM)

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. End of our service.

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