Balkan Explorer


Balkan Explorer

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 15 days
Type: GroupSmall group tours with a maximum of 12 travellers

Dossier

Mention the Balkans to anyone and it can conjure up a plethora of images - flashpoint of the First World War, the atrocities of the recent civil war, Tito’s Communist dictatorship. We get to look beyond these clichéd stereotypes on our two week trip through four stunningly beautiful countries – Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We explore the crossroads of cultures, of Christianity meets Islam in fascinating historical cities such as Sarajevo and Belgrade, as well as some of the best landscapes in Europe at Durmitor and Biogradska Gora. Learn about the recent tragic history of the region in old Mostar and explore the medieval walled city of Kotor. This is a highlight packed tour that delves deep into the culture and history of one of Europe’s most fascinating regions.


Tour Rating

Fitness ●●○○○ | Off the Beaten Track ●●●○○ | Culture ●●●●○ | History ●●●●○| Wildlife ●●●○○

Tour Pace

Moderate

Tour Highlights

• Durmitor National Park
• Ostrog Monastery
• Dubrovnik
• the Latin Bridge, site of the start of World War I


Tour Essentials

Accommodation: Mix of Comfortable hotels
Included Meals: Daily breakfast (B), plus lunches (L) and dinners (D) as shown in the itinerary
Group Size: Belgrade
End Point: Belgrade
Transport: Private minibus
Countries: Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina 


Itinerary

Day 1 – Belgrade, (Serbia)
On your arrival in Belgrade you will be met and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free time.
Overnight Hotel Rex or similar hotel

Day 2 –Belgrade
Today we start with a tour of Belgrade, taking in the temple of St Sava, the parliament buildings and Republic Square, and the Kalemegdan Fortress. Later on we will join up with a cruise on the Danube to see more of the city’s sights, before some free time to explore the city on your own. (Note: cruise is dependent on the weather conditions).
Overnight Hotel Rex or similar hotel (B)

Day 3 - Fruska Gora, Sremski Karlovci and Novi Sad
An early morning start as we set off to explore the Fruška Gora National Park, also referred as the “Serbian Athos” and “The Holly Mountain”, due to the 16 Orthodox monasteries from the late 15th and 16th centuries that are situated on its territory. We continue to Sremski Karlovci, a Serbian cultural centre in 18th and 19th centuries. Here we have a city tour and can partake in a wine tasting of local brands with appetizers at the local cellars. We will visit the Petrovaradin Fortress, knows as “The Gibraltar of the Danube” before exploring the historical attractions of Novi Sad, including the iconic clock tower.
Overnight Hotel Rex or similar hotel (B)

Day 4 – Arilje and Zlatibor
This morning we leave Belgrade behind as we visit the Church of St. Achillius in Arilje. The church was built in 1296 by King Stefan Dragutin of the Nemanjić dynasty, on the location of an earlier monastery built in 1219. This Ariilje area is famous for the production of raspberries and we may stop off to share a basket if we see a road side stall. We stop next at Stopica cave, situated on north-eastern side of Zlatibor mountain between the villages of Rozanstvo and Trnava. The cave entrance is 18 meters high and 35 meters wide. It is a river cave with the Trnavski stream flowing through it and its main attraction is a 10 metre high underground waterfall. We arrive in Zlatibor late this afternoon and check in to our hotel.
Overnight Hotel President or similar (B)

Day 5– (Montenegro) - Biogradska Gora National Park
Today we cross the border from Serbia in to Montenegro. Our first stop is at the Durdevica Tara Bridge, which at 172 meters above the Tara River, was at the time building was finished, the biggest vehicular concrete arch bridge in Europe. This is a great place to for a photo opportunity before we continue on to Biogradska Gora, an isolated area of forests and mountains surround nine glacial lakes. This is one of Europe’s last three remaining primeval forests and we will take some time to explore and the area.
Overnight Cile Hotel, Kolasin or similar (B)

Day 6 - Durmitor National Park
We spend today exploring the Durmitor National Park with its breathtaking scenery of mountains, forests, lakes and high pastures. We will visit the Black Lake and take a walking tour around lake.
Overnight Hotel Enigma or simila, Zabljak (B)

Day 7 - Sedlo pass, Ostrog and Cetinje
The Sedlo Pass (1907 m) on the road from Zabljak to Piva Lake is the highest road pass in Montenegro and we will stop here for a photo break with views over the Piva River Canyon. We continue our journey with a visit to the Ostrog monastery, with its chapels set in a sheer rock face and linked by beautifully decorated caves, passages and stairways. We end our day in Cetinje, an important historical centre dating from the 15th century and the cultural and spiritual heart of Montenegro.
Overnight Hotel Sport Inn or similar (B)

Day 8 – Cetinje to Lovcen and Kotor
This morning we visit the former palace of King Nikola, now Montenegro’s National Museum in Cetinje before we set off to Kotor. On the way we will stop for a visit at the Lovcen National Park and view the mausoleum of Peter II Petrovic Njegos. Our journey today ends in Kotor, where we will have a walking tour to discover the old city, the Cathedral of St Tryphon and the fortress of Saint Ivan.
Overnight Hotel Marija 2 or similar (B)

Day 9 – Kotor and Dubrovnik (Croatia)
After breakfast we will take a cruise around some of the islands in Kotor bay. (Note: Subject to weather conditions). We then cross the border in to Croatia and head to Dubrovnik, which is one of the most attractive cities in the region. Here we will take a walking tour with a local guide and visit the Dominican Monastery. We leave Dubrovnik and head to our stopover for the evening, Trebinje, just over the border in (Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Overnight at Platani Hotel or similar (B)

Day 10 – Trebinje, Radimlja and Mostar
Today we will start with a morning sightseeing tour of Trebinje before travelling to the necropolis on Radimlja. This is the best known site of the medieval tomb stones in the country and is among the most valuable monuments of the medieval period in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our next stop is the village of Pocitelj, an old Turkish settlement with many interesting monuments. It was damaged during the war but is rapidly being restored to its former splendour. The last stop of the day is Mostar, where we check in at our hotel for the evening.
Overnight Hotel Amicus or similar (B)

Day 11 – Blagaj
We have a morning sightseeing tour of the city and a trip to Blagaj, with its charming Ottoman architecture and cliff top historical tekke (Dervish monastery). We return to Mostar and have some free time to relax in this lovely city.
Overnight Hotel Amicus or similar (B)

Day 12 – Konjic and Sarajevo
We leave Mostar this morning to head to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo. On the way we will stop off at Konjic. The city is one of the oldest permanent settlements in Bosnia, dating back almost 4000 years nd is set in a beautiful wooded area that is popular with outdoor sports enthusiast and walkers. Our journey continues to Sarajevo where we will take a tour through the old oriental part of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital city, with its beautiful architecture, sweet shops and cafes. We visit the Latin Bridge, site of the start of World War I and where you can spot various markings on the pavements which are ‘mini-memorials’ to the sniper victims of the recent war. We also visit the tunnel museum, a section of the tunnel that was the only way of accessing the city during the siege of 1992-1995. Later there is free time to explore the city on your own.
Overnight Hotel Hecco or similar (B)

Day 13 – Umoljani
Today we drive to the small village of Umoljani much of which was destroyed during the war, but now has been rebuilt. The remnants of ancient settlers can be found scattered around the village with many medieval tombstones perched on high ridges. You can opt to take a moderate 3-4 hour hike with stunning views of Rakitnica canyon and the amazing scenery of Bjelasnica mountain. Alternatively you are welcome to stay and enjoy exploring the village before we return to Sarajevo, stopping on the way back at Vrelo Bosne public park, featuring the spring of the River Bosna, at the foothills of the Mount Igma.
Overnight Hotel Hecco or similar (B)

Day 14 – Visegrad and Belgrade
We leave Sarajevo and stop to visit the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, the historic bridge in Višegrad widely known from book “The Bridge on the Drina”, the best known novel of Serbian writer and winner of the Nobel prize, Ivo Andrić. It was built in 1577 by the Ottoman court architect Mimar Sinan on the order of the Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolović. From Visegrad we take the road via the Tara Mountain and the Drina River valley (with photo stops) back to Belgrade.
Overnight Hotel Rex or similar hotel (B)

Day 15 – Depart Belgrade
At a suitable time you will be collected from the hotel and transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

Inclusions:
Arrival and departure transfers
All accommodation on twin share basis
Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Excluded:
International flights
Any airport taxes
Travel Insurance
Visas
Drinks