Journey from medieval ruins to ancient Roman sights on this 10-day exploration of the Best of the Balkans, featuring the historic town centres of Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split. You'll wander through multicultural cities, hear moving stories of war, discover the stunning architecture, and watch as the vivid colours of the Plitvice lakes and waterfalls morph with the changing light. Centuries of history will be revealed through the eyes of Local Specialists who share their secrets of the Balkans.
Arrive Zagreb (2 Nights)
Tap into your inner socialite and join the locals in indulging in the coffee culture and vibrant energy of the city when you visit Zagreb. Kickstart your adventure through the Balkans on the romantic promenades of Strossmartre or people-watch with a crisp pivo brew in hand. Over the next day you'll uncover the city's unique appeal, but first meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for an included dinner this evening and a glimpse into what lies ahead.
Zagreb sightseeing and free time
Rub shoulders with the stylish Zagrebians when you join your Local Specialist for a guided sightseeing tour of this medieval European city. View the Upper and Lower Town, St. Mark's Church, Cathedral on Kaptol, the Croatian National Theatre and Dolac Market, the 'stomach' of Zagreb. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city your way, perhaps choosing to soak up the local špica coffee culture around the bustling Ban Jelačič Square. Consider joining a Local Specialist for an optional visit to Kumrovec, the birthplace of the late president of Yugoslavia, Marshall Tito. Then enjoy a meal of delicious regional specialities against the backdrop of the beautiful Croatian countryside.
Zagreb – Sarajevo sightseeing (1 Night)
Small villages and lush green forests line your route south into Bosnia-Herzegovina. Arrive later today in its capital Sarajevo, where a rich religious and multi-cultural heritage has earned it the nickname, the 'Jerusalem of Europe'. Centuries of religious history are reflected in its beautiful synagogues, mosques, and Orthodox and Catholic churches as you'll discover when you join a Local Specialist for a guided walking tour. You'll also visit the Old Town, view the largest mosque in the Balkans, and see the Eternal Flame and the Sarajevo Roses that are dotted across the city, standing as a stark reminder of the turmoil Sarajevo endured decades ago. Warm Bosnian hospitality is on the menu tonight if you choose one of our two Optional Experiences. Join a local family in their home for tasty traditional cuisine or enjoy a lively encounter in a favourite local restaurant with dinner and entertainment.
Sarajevo – Mostar (1 Night)
Today you'll head to Mostar, joining a Local Specialist for an exploration of this historic multicultural city that witnessed an impressive resurrection after the Bosnian War. Part of its restoration can be seen in the traditional reconstruction of its medieval 'Stari Most' Ottoman-style bridge. You'll delve into a tragic time not long ago when Catholic Croats, Muslim Bosniaks and Orthodox Serbs fought for supremacy amidst the colourful cobbled streets overlooking the Neretva River. You'll have time to explore the city on your own or perhaps join a Local Specialist for a visit to Blagaj, famous for its natural spring and one of the most mystical cultural and historical villages in the country.
Mostar – Dubrovnik sightseeing and free time (2 Nights)
You'll get to see 'paradise on earth' - if George Bernard Shaw is to be believed - when you visit Dubrovnik on your Best of the Balkans tour. The famous playwright was a big fan of this medieval fortified city on Croatia's Dalmatian coast and you'll discover why when you join a Local Specialist for a guided sightseeing tour of the iconic highlights. Admire the Rector's Palace, Onofrio's Fountain and the city walls which were never breached by the invading Turks. Stroll through elegant courtyards and along its limestone streets, admiring the remnants of Dubrovnik's Golden Age. Tonight, there's no better way to enjoy this shimmering coastline than embarking on an optional sunset dinner cruise to a secluded bay, with the illuminated city of Dubrovnik providing the perfect end to the evening.
Dubrovnik – free day or optional experience to Montenegro
Straight out of a storybook, Dubrovnik's enchanting stone façades reveal a rich trading history from the 7th century. You'll have a full free day to explore the city on your own today. But if you're feeling adventurous, you may wish to switch the 'Pearl of the Adriatic' for the Mediterranean mountain nation of Montenegro, on an Optional Experience. A Local Specialist will take you on a panoramic boat trip across the Bay of Kotor to the UNESCO-listed town of the same name, tucked deep within magical fjord-like surrounds. Fortified walls encircle the city and a rambling maze of steep cobbled lanes reach high up into the hills, with medieval churches and Venetian palaces just waiting to be discovered. Return to Dubrovnik later for dinner at your hotel.
Dubrovnik – Split (2 Nights)
Sit back, relax and watch the stunning Adriatic coastline go by as you pass old fishing villages and modern resorts bound for Split, where modern façades reveal glimpses of an ancient Roman past. A Local Specialist takes you behind the city walls to this harbour town's heart, the 4th-century Roman Emperor Diocletian Palace, followed by a leisurely walking tour through the historic Old Town. See how Gothic, Roman and Renaissance structures merge seamlessly across the cityscape. Admire Jupiter's Temple, the Peristyle and the 7th-century Cathedral of Saint Domnius as you explore its maze of narrow alleys. You'll have an evening to discover the Dalmatian capital on your terms or join an Optional Experience in a traditional stone basement konoba for a Dalmatian dinner and live music.
Split free day
Today is all yours to dive into the history and culture of Split, a city that was built for the retirement of a Roman Emperor. Much of Diocletian's home town survives as you'll come to discover when you venture out to get lost in the narrow lanes of its Old Town. If you're after more sightseeing on your Balkans value tour, you could choose to spend your free day joining an Optional Experience to one of the glittering Dalmatian islands. Or perhaps indulge in some of the local vintages which have justifiably earned the islands their reputation as a celebrated wine centre for centuries.
Split – Plitvice – Zagreb (1 Night)
Leave the salty sea air behind and venture north on a scenic drive to the UNESCO-listed National Park of Plitvice. Prepare for an encounter with a whimsical landscape, filled with cascading waterfalls in all shades of blue, green and grey. As you explore your magical surrounds of lakes and forests, your Local Specialist reveals the legend of the Black Queen who is credited with creating the kaleidoscopic lakes to stave off a drought. After a day of reconnecting with nature, you'll return to Zagreb where tonight a farewell dinner in your hotel closes the curtain on an exhilarating encounter with the Balkans.
You've explored medieval monuments, witnessed the revival of war-torn cities and relaxed on the sun-kissed shores of the Adriatic. The allure of the Balkans will linger long after you've said goodbye to your travel companions. Find out more about your free airport transfer at costsavertour.com/freetransfers.