The Balkans are a wonderful choice of holiday destination, particularly for those with an interest in the rich culture, history and politics of this region. However, the natural beauty of the Balkans is equally likely to delight and enthrall visitors. The Balkans make up an eclectic mix of countries in the South East of Europe including such disparate states as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia. This mix of countries, languages, cultures and cuisines makes it an awe-inspiring area for a guided tour. You can cover a whole host of captivating experiences within your stay. The history of the region stretches back into antiquity, and there are many fascinating historical sites that date back to many of the intervening centuries. The stunning landscapes that proliferate around these historical sites also long to be explored. The Balkans are an area of stark contrasts, from craggy mountains to serene lakes and from pristine beaches to unexplored forests.
Itinerary and prices for The Best of Balkans:
Welcome to Sofia. At the airport we meet with our guide for your transfer to the hotel. Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It was founded some 2500 years ago, and for some time it was even the capital of the Roman Empire. Explore the remains from the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Soviet eras that can be found throughout the city center. But, there is much more to see in this fast growing city, and below you can find the most important sights. Most of the attractions and sights are located in Sofia city center, so you can easily visit them all on foot. One of the main symbols of Sofia, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, is an Orthodox church built in Neo-Byzantine style, located in the city center. Right below the cathedral is the Alexander Nevsky Crypt Museum, an Orthodox icon museum. Then we will visit, Hagia Sophia Church was built in the 6th century. Sveti Georgi Rotunda, dating from the 4th century. Sveti Nikolai Russian Church is a Russian Orthodox church built in 1914. The Sveta Nedelya Church, The statue of Sveta Sofia is also located at St. Nedelya Square. Overnight in Sofia
After breakfast we drive to the Serbian capital, Belgrade. With stunning views over the Danube and Sava rivers by the mighty medieval Belgrade Fortress, head to the heart of the capitol. First stop of the tour is New Belgrade, on the other side of the Sava River with many interesting buildings, including: The Palace of Federation, Genex Tower or Western Gate of Belgrade, Sava Center, one of the biggest congress halls in this part of Europe, and the building of the Ex-Central Committee of the Communist Party, The next stop is Zemun. Here you will see: Avijatičarski Trg and the Air Force Ministry, Town’s Museum. Then start your walking tour through the heart of old Zemun, go along the bank of the Danube River, see the Zemun Promenade, and the oldest Orthodox church of St. Nicholas from the 17th century. You will also see Gardos Hill – the heart of Old Zemun, Zemun Citadel with Millennium Tower, the Main City Square, Bishop’s Office, and the central city Roman Catholic Church of the Blessed Virgin. After Zemun, you will head for Dedinje, where you can see the Museum of Yugoslav History and House of Flowers – the resting place of Josip Broz Tito, a leader of second Yugoslavia. Your next stop is one of Belgrade’s most prominent landmarks – The Church of St. Sava (also known as St. Sava Temple, one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world. Through the tour, you will see panoramic views of: Nemanjina Street with itts Government Building, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Staff of Serbian Army, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance, the State Court, etc, Kralja Milana Street: Old and New Royal Palaces, Parliament Building (photo stop), King Aleksandar Boulevard: Main Post Office, St. Mark’s Church, Tašmajdan Park, Metropol Palace Hotel, University Library and Technical University with monuments to Nikola Tesla and Vuk Karadzic, Terazije Square, the Moskva Hotel, Republic Square with National Museum and the National Theater and Opera buildings. Kalemegdan: Leopold’s Gate, Zindan Gate, Despot’s Gate, Jakšića Tower, Chapel of St Petka and Ružica Church (Virgin Mary Church), Mehmed-pasha Sokolović fountain, Defterdar’s gate, the Main gunpowder storage, Karl VI’s gate and Nebojsha tower, the Victor monument, Roman Well, the King’s Gate and Sava promenade, the Damat Ali Pasha Tomb, Clock Tower, Military Museum and Istanbul’s gate. Overnight in Belgrade.
After breakfast, next stop Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina’s capital. You will begin by admiring the symbols of the Austro-Hungarian rule, hearing the story of the Spite House. We will then move on to discover the heart of the Ottoman rule, Sarajevo’s Bascarsija, before drinking water from the Sebilj Fountain. Moving on, you can pray in one of the four big houses of God in Sarajevo, and find out why people call it a “European Jerusalem”. Next, we will begin a war tour. Upon arrival at the Tunnel Museum, we will pass through 20 meters of the original tunnel, before watching a movie about the war in Sarajevo upon which the guide will explain the role of the tunnel during the siege, its construction and its methods of use. For the final stage of your tour, you will learn about the 14th Olympic Winter Games which were held in Sarajevo from February 8th to 19th, 1984. It was the first Winter Olympics to be held in a communist country, and on this tour you can see the place where the opening ceremony took place whilst discovering what the Olympic Games meant for the people of Sarajevo. You will be taken to three breathtaking mountains around the city that hosted the Olympics, some of which are still in ruins from the war. At the end you will visit the Olympic Museum, where the memory of one of the most successful Winter Olympics of the 20th century is kept. Overnight in Sarajevo.
After breakfast, we drive for the amazing Adriatic shore, but first a stop at Mostar. Admire 2 parts of the city connected by the Old Bridge that was built by the Ottomans in the 16th-century and is considered one of the most famous pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. Discover how, in fact, Mostar itself got its name after the bridge keepers (mostari) who guarded the Old Bridge in the medieval ages. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years until it was destroyed in 1993 during the Yugoslav Wars. It was reconstructed by the year 2004 using the same stones. Overnight in Mostar.
After breakfast, get ready for a long day at Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic”. With its well-preserved majestic walls encircling the whole town and its sea of terra-cotta roof tiles, giving life to the “King’s Landing”, the whole town is an amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start your tour at the iconic Clock Tower in the Old Town before heading up the famed old steps leading to the Northern Outer Wall fortification, the “Hidden Walls”. Imagine Tyrion’s escape through the tunnels here, Cersei watching the Mountain train, and Tommen and Cersei’s talk about love and power. Next, head to the nearby Pile Gate to see where Jaime Lannister’s return and the riots in King’s Landing took place. Take photos of the scenic Pile Bay, the setting for Princess Myrcella leaving for Dorne and Sansa’s plotting with Lord “Littlefinger” Baelish. Then take a stroll down Dubrovnik’s historical main street, Stradun, while your guide tells you about other movies and series that have chosen to film here. You will find the Jesuit Steps at the end of this street, where Cersei began her famous ‘Walk of Shame’. Overnight in Dubrovnik.
After breakfast, next stop Montenegro. Arrive in Kotor after a scenic drive an meet its calming natural beauty and characteristic architecture, a less-crowded version of Dubrovnik with its impressive medieval citadel. Visit old town of Kotor and take a walking tour of this charming city. See the Arms Square, the clock tower, and Bizanti and Beskuća Palace. Stroll through the Flower Square, the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, and Karampana Fountain. Visit the Maritime Museum and the Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church. Then we drive to budva. Budva is more than 2,500 years old. It is one of the oldest towns in Europe, built with a unique architectonic and urban entity. The old town is considered as “the place to be seen”, where you can find items ranging from designer clothes to souvenirs to take with you as a memory. In the middle of the town you can discover the Citadel, the castle of Budva which offers outstanding views of the Riviera. Following that, move on to soak up the amazing views of Sveti Stefan, one of the most amazing islets of Budva. This town is one of the most attractive coastal cities of Montenegro, and the old part of the city is the jewel on the crown. As an illustration of that, encounter the Italian presence around the city through the Old Town’s Venetian-influenced walls. Overnight in Budva.
After breakfast, next stop Albania. First, stop at Scanderbeg Square and visit the National History Museum and the Opera House. Get an overview of Albanian national history prior to the communist era and learn more about Albania’s national hero, Scanderbeg. Hear of the story of the military commander who led a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. Then, visit the Etemhem Bey Mosque and the Clock Tower. A few meters away from Scanderbeg Square is the underground bunker, Bunkart 2. Explore this modern-day museum which provides plenty of fascinating stories from communist times. Discover traces of communist architecture and artifacts when entering the nearby block area. See a section of a war bunker, materials from the Spac mine, and parts of the Berlin Wall which were gifts from the German government. Inside the block area, see the exterior of the house of former dictator, Enver Hoxha. Continue the tour with a visit to the museum, the Hause of Leaves, a building that housed the state intelligence agency, the Sigurimi. Travel from downtown to a district on the edge of the city. Visit the Bunkart 1 museum in Dajti, an anti-nuclear bunker site that Enver Hoxha built to protect party leaders and their families in the event of a nuclear attack. Overnight in Tirana.
After Breakfast, we start the day driving to Ohrid. We start the a tour with a visit to the church of St. Sophia, which dates back to the 11th century. The you’ll go up to the Roman amphitheater, which dates back to the 3rd century B.C. Afterwards you will continue walking to the Icon Gallery, home to a range of some of the most famous and valuable icons in the world, right after the ones on Athos and in Russia. In the vicinity of the gallery is the Church of St. Clement’s, or the Church of the Holy Mother of God Most Glorious, which dates back to the 13th century and possesses some of the most beautiful and valuable frescoes from the 13th century not only in this country but in the whole of the Balkans. After that you will carry on walking to Tsar Samoil’s Fortress, named after the first tsar of the Macedonian Slavs, who, having conquered Byzantium, brought most of Macedonia under his rule. Then you will walk to Plaoshnik, where you will visit the newly built St. Clement’s Monastery Church. Dedicated to St. Clement – the patron of Ohrid – and St. Panteleimon, it stands beside the original site of St. Clement’s University, the first university of the Macedonian Slavs, founded in the 9th century A.D. Inside the church you can also see the tomb with St. Clement’s relics. Beside the church you can see the foundations of the 5th-century basilica with beautifully preserved mosaic floors and some swastikas also discovered on the floors. From here you will head towards the Church of St. Jovan at Kaneo, which was built at the end of the 13th century, and is one of the most frequently visited churches in Ohrid because of its beautiful location on the cliffs directly above the lake. After this you will go back to the town on foot. Another option is to return to the town by boat and at the same time to make a tour of the lak,e providing you with a great view of the town. Overnight in Ohrid.
After breakfast, prepare to discover the beautiful Skopje with a guided sightseeing tour filled with stunning architecture, grand monuments and unique history. We will begin your walking tour of the city beginning at Skopje Fortress where you can admire the wonderful view of the city. The next site you will visit is the Church of the Holy Savior, home to fantastic iconostasis. From there you will continue towards Sultan Murat Mosque and the Old Bazaar, where you can witness the remnants of the Ottoman Period and Skopje’s history as one of the main trade centers in the Balkans. We will continue your walking tour crossing the Vadar River to start your exploration of a new part of the city. Here you will visit the new neo-classical square and continue to Mother Teresa memorial house. The walking part of your tour will end at the newly built triumphal arch Porta Macedonia. Overnight in Skopje.
After breakfast we will drive to Sofia. The city’s landmarks reflect more than 2,000 years of history, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Soviet occupation. Medieval Boyana Church has 13th-century frescoes. Built by the Romans in the 4th century, St. George Rotunda Church has medieval and Ottoman decoration dating to the 10th century. You can explore the shopping streets, highlights and the nightlife as you wish. Overnight in Sofia.
After breakfast we drive to the Airport. End of our Service.
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