Join us on a journey across historic Eastern Europe – the Balkans. You will enjoy the diversity of one of the three largest European peninsulas, bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the west, the Ionian Sea in the southwest, and the Black Sea in the east. With this tour you will visit 8 countries of the Central Balkans, their Capitals and amazing UNESCO heritage sites. This enchanting land which has remained virtually untouched by tourism, takes its pride in rich tradition, vibrant culture and fascinating cuisine. You will get to know the heart of the Balkans up close and personal and experience firsthand why it is often said; Balkans – frozen in time.
Arrival to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, at the Ferenc Liszt International Airport. Airport pick up and transfer to a hotel in the Budapest city center. After check in you will meet with your guide for a welcome drink in order to get acquainted with each other and the tour. Overnight stay in Budapest.
After breakfast we start with the Budapest city tour. You will experience the magic of Budapest’s exceedingly scenic setting and enjoy Her Royal Highness Budapest – the queen of the Danube. We will take a walk through the downtown Pesta, walk along the famous Andrássy Avenue, visit the oldest underground (metro) system in Europe, walk across the Heroes’ Square and see St. Stephen’s Basilica. We will go along the Budapest Danube Corso (Dunakorzó) from where you will have a beautiful view of the Castle Hill in Buda. We shall visit the terminal of the Millennium Underground, bordered from the north by the huge and beautiful Gerbeaud-House, where there is the famous Café Gerbeaud, opened in 1858. There you can try the best of Hungarian pastry such as the Dobos-cake, Somló sponge cake and plum pie.
Afterwards we will take a walk across the first permanent bridge over the Danube, the Chain Bridge built in 1849. You will be able to capture the lovely view of both the river and the city and in no time find yourselves in Buda – the romantic upper town with many historic buildings and monuments. We shall walk the Trinity square surrounded by the turrets and walkways of the fairy-tale Fishermen’s Bastion, see the Old Town Hall of Buda on one side and the dominating Mathias Church on the other. Following the city tour we are going to have traditional Hungarian lunch which will be an exceptional experience and promises a lot of excitement to gastro-curious travelers. The mysterious Hungarian cuisine nowadays is a combination of ancient Asiatic components mixed with Germanic, Italian, and Slavic elements. After lunch you will have free time at your leisure. Overnight stay in Budapest.
BUDAPEST – SEGET – BELGRADE (SERBIA)
Morning departure towards Belgrade with a coffee break stop in Seget. Expect to arrive to Belgrade at lunch time and we will go for a Belgrade city tour. The city located between the Danube and Sava Rivers with a rough, urban appeal, a fun-loving populace and a fascinating past. We will take you through the city’s most atmospheric neighborhoods, and you will experience this compelling Serbian capital. We will walk to the far end of downtown to explore the ruins of the ancient Kalemegdan Citadel, and the lively, lovely park surrounding it. Then stroll with down Knez Mihailova, a street of restaurants, bookshops, galleries and shops full of enticing fashions. The neighborhood of Skadarlija is experience for itself. It simply seduces travelers with its cobbled streets and live musicians; here you can listen to Old World music while you eat an authentic Serbian meal. Here we will have lunch. Check in to a hotel, free evening to enjoy Belgrade’s allure. Overnight stay in Belgrade.
TIMISOARA (ROMANIA) DAY TRIP FROM BELGRADE
Morning departure towards Timisoara, one of the largest cities in Romania. The city built on the ancient Roman fortress Castrum Regium Themes settled on the bank of the Bega River has been influenced by many cultures over the centuries; Turkish, Austrian, German and Serbian, so no wonder it is a candidate to become the 2021 European Capital of Culture. You will enjoy a day experience in this city often referred to as “Little Vienna” whose charms lie in its distinct architectural character and vibrant cultural life. Timisoara is a true cosmopolitan city rich in art galleries, music festivals, museums and a buzzing nightlife. An interesting fact is that it was the first city in Europe and second in the world after New York, to use electricity to illuminate its public streets. During Timisoara city walk you will get to see a number of churches and cathedrals of several denominations, a Jewish quarter, an elegant baroque square and a pedestrian-only downtown area. You will see its elegant baroque buildings spread around town and particularly along the main square, Piata Victoriei, which stretches from Opera Square (Piata Operei) to Loga Boulevard. considered to be one of the city’s most interesting sites.
After getting to know the streets of Timisoara, we are to have a deserved treat – lunch in one of the local restaurants where you will get to enjoy in diverse blend of different cultures that influenced Romanian cuisine. It is pure time travel on a plate: the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Saxons, the Turks, the Slavic people. All of these influences gradually blended into the varied and delicious Romanian culinary tradition. After Taste of Romania experience we are heading back to Belgrade. Free evening and overnight stay in Belgrade.
BELGRADE – DEVIL’S TOWN – SKOPJE (MACEDONIA)
Morning departure towards Devil’s Town and Skopje. Our first stop will be at Devil’s Town- Đavolja Vroš and you will see this remarkable natural phenomena which was, among others, a nominee in the new Seven Wonders of Nature campaign. This peculiar rock formation was created millions of years ago and features over 200 exotic earth pyramids or “towers” 2-15 m tall and 4-6 m wide. It will be a unique experience while this miraculous world also features acoustic phenomena – the wind which hums between the pyramids creates strange murmurs, howling, sighs, squeaking. Afterwards we will have a traditional lunch in the area upon which we are to continue towards Skopje – the city that lies in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula and the birthplace of Mother Teresa.
Expect to arrive to Skopje in the afternoon. After check in we will go for a walk through one of Europe’s most entertaining and eclectic small capital cities. It will be a walk full of surprises. At first it will seem like you found yourself in yet another communist city, but with a closer look you will get to discover architectural gems, vibrant market places, splendid cafes and monuments to the past that lay hidden between the communist era blocks. It will be an exciting sightseeing walk where you will get to explore Skopje’s Ottoman and Byzantine-era wonders; the 15th-century Stone Bridge, the wonderful Čaršija – the old Turkish bazaar as the biggest bazaar preserved in the Balkans today where you can get lost for hours, the ancient 5th century Kale Fortress from which stone walls you’ll get great views of the city below. After exploring Skopje, you will have free evening to enjoy the other face of the city – the vibrant and eclectic capital of 21 st century. Overnight stay in Skopje.
SKOPJE – LAKE OHRID – TIRANA (ALBANIA)
Morning departure towards the Lake Ohrid and Tirana. The drive across Macedonia towards Albania will be an interesting way to capture the image of the “old” Balkans. Our first stop will be at the remarkable UNESCO cultural and natural heritage site – the Lake Ohrid – one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes. After seeing Lake Ohrid it will be quite understandable why NASA decided to name one of Titan’s lakes after Lake Ohrid.
You will enjoy the views of its astonishingly clean and clear waters and serene stillness of its mountainous settings. However, besides beautiful landscape, Lake Ohrid is famous for its authentic and unique souvenir – the well-known Ohrid pearl which is made out of scales of The bleak (fish). This treasured jewel is produced according to a secret method which was passed on from generation to generation. We shall visit one of the two existing jewelers that still make the original Ohrid Pearl, nowadays quite rare. After the Lake Ohrid we will continue with our trip and head towards Tirana, Albania, where we shall spend the night. Lively, colorful Tirana is the beating heart of Albania. Walking through the city, you will get to see remarkable historical mix from elegant minarets to socialist murals. Tirana’s boulevards lined with remainders of its Ottoman, Italian and Communist past and its unique buildings painted in primary colors will simply be a pleasure to wander through.
After city sights, you will have free evening to enjoy the pulse of Albania’s capital and possibly visit a thriving restaurant scene of communist Area Ish-Blloku (“the Ex-Block”). Overnight stay in Tirana.
NATIONAL PARK LOVČEN – BUDVA – KOTOR (MONTENEGRO)
Morning departure towards Kotor. We shall have two stops on the way. Our first stop will be the National Park Lovcen located in the rocky region of Dinara Mountain. You will get to see the remarkable mausoleum of famous Montenegrin ruler and poet Petar II Petrovic Njegos on the top of the mountain. It is an imposing building with 461 stairs that lead from parking lot to mausoleum itself. Lovcen is a symbol of Montenegro and gives it national identity. In short, what Statue of Liberty is for the Americans that is mountain Lovcen for Montenegrins.
After NP tour we will continue with our trip and have a short stop at the coastal Town of Budva known for its well preserved medieval walled city, sandy beaches and diverse nightlife. We will have a tour of Budva and its medieval walled city. Our final destination for the day will be the Town of Kotor in the Bay of Boka Kotorska.
The region of Kotor is UNESCO cultural and natural heritage site whose beauty lies in its medieval fortified and open towns, settlements, palaces and simple houses and their integration to the terraced landscape on the slopes of high rocky hills. You will enjoy the Kotor town walk and its natural and culture-historical sites like the four Romanesque churches and 9th century town walls within which lie labyrinth like marbled lanes and hidden piazzas with churches, shops, bars and restaurants that will simply surprise you. Free evening to enjoy this charming costal town and overnight stay in Kotor.
BAY OF BOKA KOTORSKA – CAVTAT – DUBROVNIK (CROATIA)
After breakfast we continue with our tour towards the south of Croatia – Dubrovnik, the Pear of The Adriatic. On our way you will enjoy the views of the Bay of Boka Kotorska. We shall stop at the Town of Perast, the town that looks like a chunk of Venice has floated down the Adriatic and anchored itself onto the bay. It is a quiet town with an abundance of historical charm. There are 16 palaces in Perast that have been completely preserved; you will see the Baroque Palace of Bujovic which sits right at the town’s entrance. The town has retained its historical appearance so you can see Europe as it would have been centuries ago. We will have coffee at Conte Restaurant located in the perfect position for enjoying views of Kotor Bay as well as Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George islets.
After Perast we shall drive to Dubrovnik with our first stop at the Town of Cavtat just before Dubrovnik. A charming Croatian coastal town with long waterfront very attractive to yachting enthusiasts. After Cavtat waterfront walk we are heading towards Dubrovnik, half an hour drive. Hotel check in at Dubrovnik, free evening and overnight stay in Dubrovnik.
Morning tour of Croatia’s pride and joy – the unique Old City of Dubrovnik and its walls. You will be walking through streets, fortresses and squares of more than a thousand-year old history which made Dubrovnik a cultural center of Europe. History is present in the entire city which is a museum itself. All houses and monuments have a unique value. The Old City is encompassed by medieval walls and fortresses which have been preserved in their original form and opened for visitors as Dubrovnik’s major attraction. In 1979, the Old City was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. However, Dubrovnik reached its world glory for second time quite recently. It happened by being the prime filming location of the globally popular series called Game of Thrones in which Dubrovnik took the main lead by providing a shooting site for the famous Kings Landing. You will be able to see and compare the popular actual scenes with real life sites.
After the tour you will have free time to explore the city on your own. You can relax and enjoy in the popular and unique Buža café bar located within the old city walls. There you can also enjoy sunbathing and swim in the old city walls beach. Overnight stay in Dubrovnik.
DUBROVNIK – MOSTAR – SARAJEVO (BOSNIA&HERZEGOVINA)
Morning departure towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our first stop will be at Town of Mostar. We will reach Mostar in two hour drive. On the tour of Mostar you will see the beautiful historic Ottoman-style bridge – the symbol of the city called Stari Most (Old Bridge). The bridge stretches 28 meters across the Neretva river connecting the two sides of the city; Croat West bank and Bosnian/Muslim East bank. It will be a unique experience of symbiotic existence of the two cultures and religions. We will walk the cobbled streets of Kujundžiluk, an old bazaar where local artists sell traditional handicrafts and where you will get a glimpse of the colorful and lively atmosphere of the Orient.
After the tour it is time for the famous Bosnian treat – Bosnian Čevapčići for lunch (minced meat sausage rolls). After lunch we continue our drive to Sarajevo and expect to arrive to Sarajevo in the afternoon. Upon arrival we will have a city walking tour. The city tour will give you insight into one of the most historically interesting and varied cities in Europe. It is a place where the Western & Eastern Roman Empire split; where the people of the Roman Catholic west, Eastern Orthodox east and the Ottoman south, met, lived and warred. It has been both an example of historical turbulence and the clash of civilizations, as well as a beacon of hope for peace and tolerance through multi-cultural integration.
Sarajevo is very livable, vibrant and busy city. You will walk its streets and experience firsthand the traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries. After we explore the old town, we will take a stroll along the banks of river Miljacka that flows through the centre of Sarajevo. We will walk over the Latin bridge, the oldest preserved from the Ottoman era, whose northern end was the site of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria which became casus belli of World War I. Afterwards you will have free time to explore Sarajevo. Overnight stay in Sarajevo.
SARAJEVO – RUDA VILLAGE – SPLIT (CROATIA)
Morning departure towards Croatia with final destination being Split (Dalmatia). On our way from Sarajevo to Split we shall drive through Dalmatian Inland and have a lunch stop at a village situated on the banks of the beautiful River Cetina. You are going to have traditional lunch at local family household in Ruda village. It is a genuine inland village on the Ruda water spring surrounded by scenic mountainous landscape.
Prepare your palate for extraordinary flavors since you will try local homemade cooking, a rare opportunity nowadays and quite different from what restaurants can offer you: local smoked ham (pršut) with a homemade cheese, popular Dalmatian Peka as well as some of the local specialties like frog legs or river crabs, depending upon the season. After lunch we shall take a walk around the water spring and head to Split.Free evening and overnight stay in Split.
Transfer to the Split Airport.