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Comprehensive Balkans Tour: Travel to Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia

Historic Villages of the Adriatic & Albania through Serbia Tour Combined

COMPREHENSIVE BALKANS TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tour ancient fortified cities built on cliffs overlooking the sparkling blue Adriatic Sea
  • Walk through Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia), where sixteen lakes join each other in a series of natural travertine waterfalls.
  • Visit the traditional city of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire
  • Delight in the magical city of Mostar, Bosnia
  • Explore the famed walled city of old Dubrovnik 
  • Discover traditional village life
  • Visit the museum cities of Gjirokastra and Berat
  • Marvel at the ancient city of Apollonia
  • Admire the archeological sites of Butrint

This  Comprehensive small group guided tour of the Adriatic and Balkans regions will take you through some of the most beautiful old cities of Central and Eastern Europe covering the rich cultural heritage of Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Hezegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia.

Our tour begins with arrival in Ljubljana (Slovenia) staying overnight at beautiful Lake Bled. We explore Bohinj Valley and the lake Bled villages and then  journey to Piran (a medieval pirate town), visiting the famous Postojna Caves en-route. The tour itinerary next enters Croatia crossing the Istra Peninsula visiting quaint picturesque villages along the way. We continue onward with a delightful visit to Opatija, the oldest and still one of the most popular of the Croatian resort towns.

Next is the spectacular Plitvice Lakes National Park. We explore Zadar, the ancient capital of Dalmatia and a typical Venetian old town with a variety of architectural styles where lone Corinthian columns stand alongside Romanesque churches. Enjoy a guided walk around the old part of Split (Croatia) home to Diocletian’s Palace which is one of the most outstanding samples of classical architecture in the world. Then to Hvar and Korcula. What tour of the Balkans would be complete without the beautiful old walled city at the heart of Dubrovnik!  We really do see quite a bit on this tour.

We arrive in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia, where our Balkans Explorer group members join the tour. We explore Sarajevo and Mostar. 

 

Balkans Tours
Piran Town Square, Istra Peninsula


 Continuing along the coast to Montenegro, we tour Kotor, the old mountain village Njegusi with its well preserved traditional folk architecture, the beautiful town of Cetinje and, finally, the coastal town Budva which is one of the oldest inhabited places in the area.

The Balkans tour continues to Albania's historical attractions influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Italians and Turks. Our tour of Albania will include visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites and the best of the museums as well as allowing exploration of traditional village life in small picturesque villages. Our small group cultural tour ventures into the scenic, historic and culturally interesting cities of Macedonia  including Ohrid and Skopje; into Kosovo to Prizren and Peja (Pec); and crossing the border to Serbia with visits to Novi Pazar, Mt Zlatabor and culminating in Belgrade.

ITINERARY- COMPREHENSIVE BALKANS TOUR

Print Balkans Comprehensive Tour Itinerary (PDF)

Slovenia

Day 1-3: Ljubljana - Bled - Piran
Our guided tour of Slovenia begins with scenic Lake Bled and Bohinj Valley. Tour members visit the castle on the cliff above the town of Bled as well as the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary on the island in the middle of the lake. Also included are a visit to the old village of Lake Bohinj, a walking tour of historic center of Ljubljana, the unique Postojna Cave and the medieval pirate town of Piran with its stone buildings, narrow streets and rich cultural heritage.

Croatia

Day 4-5: Villages of Istria Peninsula
Visit the beautiful historic villages Motovun, Visnjan, Groznjan, Buje, Porec, Rovinj and Pula; includes the famous Basilica (UNESCO) and streets Cardo & Decumanus Maximus in Porec.We then head to Opatija, the oldest established and still one of the most popular Croatian resorts town, in the best tradition of seaside magnificence.

Day 6: Plitvice Lakes National Park
The tour group enjoys a walk in the gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park where sixteen lakes, each at different levels, join each other in a series of cascading waterfalls. Surrounded by dense woods, the region (on UNESCO's List of World Natural Heritage sites) is a natural phenomenon of rare and unique beauty.

Day 7: Adriatic Coast
Next we visit the historic towns of the Adriatic Coast including Zadar, Sibenik, Trogir and Split. Zadar, the ancient capital of Dalmatia and a beautiful example of a Venetian old town; picturesque Sibenik and the medieval architecture of the buildings of Trogir. The old part of the town of Spilt includes a beautiful Roman Palace.

Day 8-9: Hvar & Korcula Islands
We board a high speed catamaran for the island of Hvar where we have a walking tour through the narrow streets to the 15th Century Franciscan Monastery followed by a visit to the Renaissance Cloister. The old Rectory houses today a collection of lace, manuscripts, and books. The church also contains remarkable collection of paintings. We visit St Stephen's Cathedral and the Arsenal, a thick-walled fortress overlooking the harbor, where Europe's oldest community theater opened in 1612. Enjoy was free time to meander. Later we board a ferry for the one hour ride to the island of Korcula.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Day 11-13: Sarajevo & Mostar 
Continuing our guided tour of the Balkans, our intrepid world travelers will enjoy a breathtaking drive from to the small village of Medjugorje which in recent times has become an important religious pilgrimage site. Continue to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We explore the charming historic town that takes you instantly back to Ottoman times.

Next we head to the very magical and historic town of Mostar with its maginicent Ottoman built bridge and quaint narrow streets with cafes overlooking the river.

Montenegro

Day 14-15: Kotor, Njegusi, Budva
Our historic village tour continues along the Adriatic coast to Montenegro and the town of Kotor. Members of our tour of Montenegro will enjoy a marvelous drive around beautiful Boka Kotorska Bay, passing old fishing villages, churches, monasteries, marinas and beaches. Walking tour of the Kotor UNESCO World Heritage Site with its beatutiful Venetian influenced architecture. Visit the old Njegusi village (birth place of the poet King Njegoš) and Cetinje (the town often seen as the birthplace of Montenegrin cutlure and a past capital of Montenegro). Finally, enjoy the coastal Budva, known since Illyrian times, with gorgeous old-world architecture, narrow streets and stone buildings placed around the main cathedral.

Albania

Day 16-17: Shkoder - Kruja - Tirana
Our visit of Albania starts with a tour of Shkoder, the most important town of northern Albania and and the Illyrian capital in the 3rd century BC. Once part of the Venetian empire, Italian influence is evident everywhere in Shkodra.

Next is a stop in Kruja,the center of the Albanian resistance against the Ottoman Turks under the leadership of Albania's national hero Scanderbeg. We visit the Fortress and the Skanderbeg Museum.

A full day visit in Tirana including Et'hem Bey Mosque (beautiful and unusual exterior frescoes), the Clock Tower, and the National Historic Museum; the area of Tirana called Blloku ("The Block"), the location of former Communist dictator Enver Hoxha's villa.

Day 18: Tirana - Durres - Berat

Our tour of Albanian cultural sites continues in Durres where we visit the Amphitheatre (built by the Romans in 2nd century AD and one of the largest in the Balkan peninsula) and an excellent Archeological Museum. Continuing to Berat, we enjoy the Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site where people continue to live, as well as the Onufi Museum and the beautiful old town district.

Day 19: Berat - Apollonia - Vlora-Saranda
Our tour group visits the ruins of the ancient city of Apollonia, founded in 558 BC, before continuing our Albanian travel adventure to Vlora where we explore the town where important events in the struggles for Albanian independence took place.

Then, we will enjoy a pleasant drive along the Albanian Riviera stopping for refreshments at one of the small coastal villages en-route to Saranda.

Day 20:Excursion to ButrintA day excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint, Albania’s most important archaeological site with ruins that show both Hellenic and Roman origins.

 

Day 21: Saranda-Gjirokastra
We drive to Gjirokastra, a museum city and UNESCO World Heritage Site.  There we visit the pre-Ottoman citadel that houses a fascinating weapons exhibit.We shall overnight in one of th characteristic houses of Gjirokastra with original wood and stone work.

Day 22: Gjirokastra - Korca
Breathtaking mountain scenery can be enjoyed on the way to Korca where our tour visits the National Museum of Medieval Arts.

Macedonia

Day 23: Korca - Voskopoja – Pogradec - Ohrid
A short drive brings us to fascinating Voskopoja which was once one of the most important towns in the European part of the Ottoman empire. We continue to Pogradec on the southern shore of lake Ohrid and then pass through the quaint village of Tushemisht, close to Macedonian border.

Our guided tour group will then travel into Macedonia to the beautiful city of Ohrid on the shores of Lake Ohrid.

Day 24: Ohrid
We shall enjoy a full day exploring the beautiful and fascinating town of Ohrid on foot.  Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid at 695m above sea level, the town is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. There is much to see here and its all very exciting! we begin our tour around the old town-museum of Ohrid, (UNESCO site) also known as "City of 365 Churches." We will stroll along the old narrow streets where, at every 100 meters, you will come across significant historical sights. Out of endless number of monuments and churches, we will visit the most important ones.

Day 25-26: Ohrid - St. Jovan Bigorski - Skopje
A scenic drive through the mountains and villages, following along the border with Albania, will take us to the Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski (famous for its beautiful wood carved iconostasis) before reaching Skopje with its 6th century fortress and 15th century stone bridge.  

A walking tour of Skopje, Republic of Macedonia.

Kosovo

Day 27: Skopje - Prizen - Pec (Peja)
Crossing the border into Kosovo, a walking tour of the town of Prizren where we visit its' archaeological heritage including the old Turkish Bath, Stone Bridge, Fortress and other remarkable architectural features.

We continue to Pec, also called Peja. In Pec we visit two magnificent monastery complexes both are living places of learning and worship. Monastery Visoki Decani, UNESCO, is a 13th century church in Romanesque-Gothic style. Monks have been living here continuously since the 14th century.

Serbia

Day 28: Pec (Peja) - Novi Pazar - Kopaonik
This morning on our way to the Serbian border, we stop to visit the second monastery complex--the Patriarchate of Pec. The complex has four churches built between 1220 and 1330. The Patriarchate of Pec plays a major role in the church and state history of Serbia. There are currently about 25 nuns living here who returned to the Patriarchate in 1957.

Afterwards, a scenic drive takes us to Novi Pazar, capital of the southern area of Serbia called Sandzak with its Turkish-style Old town, before visiting the UNESCO Sopocani Monsatery. We continue to Kopaonik for overnight.

Day 29: Monastery Studenica - Mount Zlatibor
Start the day with a visit to the UNESCO Monastery Studenica, considered the crowning achievement of medieval culture and art in Serbia. The tour group then journeys onward to ascend Mount Zlatibor National Park with its beautiful Golden Pines for an overnight stay.

Day 30-32: Belgrade 
We drive through central Serbia, to Belgrade, the capital with sightseeing en-route, stopping in the towns of Oplenac and Topola.

Belgrade has been the Serbian capital for 6 centuries and the two days here are filled with culture and history: a walking tour of architectural masterpieces and monuments, The Fortress of Kalemegdan, ancient Roman remains, The Eastern Ward, Ethological Museum, Kaleniceva Pijaca largest market in Belgrade), the royal compound, New Belgrade and much more.

Day 33: departure

Trip Details

COMPREHENSIVE BALKANS TOUR - TRIP LENGTH
33-day trip begins in Ljubljana, Slovenia and ends in Belgrade, Serbia
2018 DATES
May 21-June 22
August 30-October 1
LAND COST JUNE/SEPT TBA
From $8875
ACCOMMODATIONS
3/4-star, 5 star and boutique hotels
GROUP SIZE
6-12 guests
INCLUDED MEALS
All breakfasts, 4 lunches, 8 dinners

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