Best of the Balkans

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Best of the Balkans



Tour Description:


Itinerary also travels in reverse.

Map for Best of the Balkans
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Dates & Pricing

Monday 09 Sep 24 — Monday 23 Sep 24Starting at $5,395Check Mark Icon SPECIALGet a Quote
Thursday 26 Sep 24 — Thursday 10 Oct 24Starting at $6,915Check Mark Icon SPECIALGet a Quote
Check Mark Icon Disclaimer: Prices listed are per person, based on double occupancy, and in USD. All promotions are valid for new bookings only, capacity controlled and valid on select dates and departures. Individual Terms and Conditions will apply to all promotions. Any promotion can be withdrawn at any time without notice. Please speak with your Pavlus Travel Planner for complete vendor terms and conditions, including eligible tour and cruise dates.


ITINERARY

Budapest, Hungary
Welcome to Budapest. Transfer to your hotel for an overnight stay.  One of Europe’s most diverse and vibrant cities, Budapest is divided by the Danube, with Buda on one side and Pest on the other, but became united in 1873 when a newly built bridge connected the two. The city is an architectural treasure trove comprising styles from Gothic to Art Nouveau and everything in between. It is also well known for its hot springs and thermal baths and has a vibrant nightlife scene. 

Budapest > Zagreb
Today we journey to the Croatian capital of Zagreb, where you will enjoy a two-night stay. Located on the southern slopes of the Medvednica Mountain and on the banks of the Sava River, Zagreb is Croatia’s largest city, and it beautifully encompasses traditional history with modern function as the economical and governmental hub of the country. Sometimes overlooked for the seaside towns of the sparkling Dalmatian Coast, Zagreb is an underrated gem. It has the tenacity of the Balkans while oozing the laidback charm of the Mediterranean.  The afternoon your local guide will help you discover this vibrant city, which comprises two districts: the thousand-year-old Upper Town (Gornji Grad), made up of two medieval villages with winding cobbled lanes, and the 19th century Lower Town (Donji Grad), which is resplendent with wide streets and grand townhouses and is the main shopping and cultural centre of Zagreb. A funicular, the shortest in the world, connects the two towns.

Zagreb, Croatia
This morning, travel to Plitvice National Park. The oldest and largest national park in Croatia, it covers 30,000 hectares and was named a World Heritage-listed site for its exceptional natural beauty.   An emerald-hued wonderland, the water that has been flowing throughout the national park for thousands of years has passed over limestone and chalk, depositing travertine barriers and creating natural dams. The result is a utopia of lakes, caves and hundreds of cascading waterfalls, surrounded by hyper-green forest that is home to bears, wolves and rare birds. Meander along the boardwalks that weave throughout the park, stopping regularly to capture the beauty that surrounds you.

Zagreb, Croatia > Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Today we journey to Sarajevo, the capital and cultural centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina.   Although Sarajevo is steeped in history dating back centuries, once known as a melting pot of religion, it is best known for harrowing 20th century events, including the four-year siege in the 1990s. In the wake of independence from Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serb Nationalists placed the city under siege, denying them of food, water and power. It became the longest siege in modern European history and almost every building was destroyed. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was also the place of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which is one of the key events to spark the beginning of World War I.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Today you will explore the treasures of Sarajevo, including the Bascarsija, the bazaar at the heart of the old town; the distinctive 16th century Ottoman Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque; and the Sarajevo Tunnels, which were dug by Bosnian volunteers during the siege and part of which is now a museum.  Enrich Tonight’s Scenic Enrich: Traditional Bosnian Dinner: Tonight, you’ll be treated to a private home-hosted dinner of traditional Bosnian cuisine. Learn about everyday life from a local Muslim family as you enjoy their hospitality. As this is a Muslim household, no alcohol will be served.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina > Dubrovnik, Croatia
Depart for Dubrovnik this morning, stopping in the beautiful city of Mostar en route. Located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mostar is perched on the Neretva River and nestled within a mountainous landscape. Much of this historic city was destroyed during the Bosnian War of the 1990s but has been thankfully rebuilt and is now a World Heritage-listed site.   You’ll join a guided tour to see the old Turkish Houses and the 16th century Old Bridge, Stari Most, a 20-metre-high stone arch bookended by watch towers. Sadly, the original bridge collapsed after being bombed in 1993, but was rebuilt using the same methods and some salvaged materials, reopening in 2004.  Take in the amazing vistas this afternoon as you cross over the border into Croatia towards Dubrovnik, where you’ll enjoy a two-night stay.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
This unique Croatian city is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, sitting majestically on the Dalmatian Coast, a spectacular stretch of rocky coastline splashed by turquoise water and dotted with ancient villages. Dubrovnik boasts a distinctive walled Old Town, a complex 13th century system of forts, bastions and towers that are very well preserved to this day.   This morning you’ll take a guided tour of this fascinating port town. See the Onofrio Fountain, which dates to the 1400s and still provides fresh drinkable water today. Youll also see Rectors Palace, a Gothic Renaissance palace that historically housed the elected rector who governed the city for a term of one month only, and visit the 700-year-old pharmacy at Franciscan Monastery, one of the oldest working chemists in Europe.   Freechoice: This afternoon, choose one from the following Scenic Freechoice activities: Tour of Dubrovniks Old Town Walls: Wander along the walls of Dubrovnik, from where you’ll view the city’s iconic red brick rooftops. Built over hundreds of years at the end of the Middle Ages, the wall measures almost two kilometres in length and stands between five and 24 metres high. Excursion to Konavle Villages & Cavtat: Drive outside of the city to the quaint villages of the Konavle region, an area rich in agriculture, dotted with vineyards, olive groves and orchards. Enjoy a tour of these typical Croatian villages with your local guide to see traditional village life. Then continue your trip with a visit to Cavtat, a relaxing seafront town dating to the 6th century.   Tonight you will visit a local farmhouse, meet the owners and taste delicious homegrown produce during dinner.  

Dubrovnik, Croatia > Kotor, Montenegro
This morning the spectacular coastal views continue as we travel from Dubrovnik to Kotor.  Surrounded by steep, rugged mountains, this charming city is nestled on the Bay of Kotor, which spills out into the Adriatic. Kotor was once part of the Republic of Venice from the 15th to 18th centuries, which is evident in its romantic-style Venetian architecture.   You’ll be guided on a tour of Kotor, wandering through the labyrinth of narrow, cobblestoned streets, with its century-old buildings adorned with ornate balconies and colourful flowerpots, see the 12th century Romanesque Cathedral of St Tryphon, and say hello to the ubiquitous cats who roam the laneways.

Kotor, Montenegro > Budva, Montenegro > Tirana, Albania
Today continue through picturesque Montenegro to Budva, where your Tour Director will escort you through the town during an orientation tour.   Set on the cerulean Adriatic Sea, Budva is a well-preserved medieval walled city with a World Heritage-listed old town dating to the 5th century.   Arrive in the Byzantine city of Tirana, the Albanian capital. This city stepped out of the shadows of communist rule in the early 1990s and today is a distant version of its former grey self. The centre is a mix of vividly painted buildings and an array of architectural styles. 

Tirana, Albania > Ohrid, North Macedonia
Discover Tirana’s fascinating past during a walking tour and see highlights such as the Skanderbeg Square, the centre of the city with its impressive 11-metre statue of the 15th-century feudal lord who led the rebellion against the Ottomans. You will also see the historic 17th-century Clock Tower and the Ethem Bey Mosque.  This afternoon, continue through Macedonian countryside to Ohrid, where you’ll stay for two nights. Known as ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans’ because it had 365 churches – one for every day of the year – this is one of the most ancient towns in the Balkans, sitting on the shores of its namesake lake.   Enrich Tonight’s Scenic Enrich: Macedonian Dinner & Folklore Show: Enjoy a traditional Macedonian dinner and folklore show. Its a wonderful opportunity to absorb some of the regions unique culture. 

Ohrid, North Macedonia
Enjoy a guided tour of Ohrid today, wandering along its extremely well-preserved cobblestone streets to discover temples, ruins and Byzantine basilicas. The city was built mainly between the 7th and 19th centuries, making it one of Europe’s oldest settlements, with the oldest Slav monastery and more than 800 Byzantine-style icons. The region was listed as a World Heritage site in 1979 for its natural and cultural legacy After some free time for lunch at your leisure, board a boat for a relaxing cruise on Ohrid Lake, taking in the lush green scenery. Ohrid Lake is recognised by UNESCO as a superlative natural phenomenon, home to numerous endemic and relict freshwater flora and fauna.

Ohrid, North Macedonia > Sofia, Bulgaria
Departing Ohrid, your first stop today is Skopje, where you will enjoy some free time. Skopje was part of Yugoslavia until 1991, and is now the capital of North Macedonia, which has been inhabited since 4,000 BC.   Dominating the skyline is the 6th century fortress, which occupies the highest point in the city, while at its centre, a 12th century maze of cobblestoned streets makes up the bazaar. A 15th century bridge connects this old town to Macedonia Square, which underwent a transformation in 2014 and is now an eccentric mix of Neoclassical buildings and statues, including a giant statue of former king Alexander the Great. Much of Skopje’s buildings are post 1963, when a massive earthquake razed the city, and it was rebuilt with a cutting-edge modernist aesthetic.  This evening you’ll arrive in historic Bulgarian capital of Sofia, your base for the next two nights.  Two thousand years ago, Sofia was known as Serdica, one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire. Ruins of this ancient city were uncovered in the 2000s, the most extensive of which were found when excavating for the city metro in 2010 and have been built ar Today’s city is an eclectic mix of architectural styles, with Ottoman mosques, onion-domed churches and communist-era buildings, with a smattering of public gardens and a snow-capped mountain at its doorstep, which turns into an outdoor playground in winter.

Sofia, Bulgaria
Today you will join a local guide for a walking tour along the treelined boulevards of Sofia. Discover the Neoclassical Stalinist architecture, the Botanic Gardens of Sofia University, the 4th century Church of St Sophia, and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which was erected to honour the Russian liberators of 1878.   This afternoon is at leisure to explore Sofia at your own pace. Perhaps you’d like to wander down Vitosha Boulevard, which is the main shopping promenade and home to many cafes and bars where you can stop and enjoy a glass of rakia (fruit brandy; Bulgaria’s unofficial national drink) or a local craft beer.

Sofia, Bulgaria > Bucharest, Romania
Today, journey to our last stop, Bucharest. The capital of Romania was once called the Paris of the East, however WWII changed the face of the city with much of its Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture destroyed. Now a unique mix of Art Nouveau remnants and Brutalist-era architecture, along with wide, tree-lined boulevards and leafy squares, hidden street art and thriving nightlife, splendid Orthodox churches, and a gargantuan Palace of Parliament.  This evening, celebrate the end of an unforgettable journey with a farewell dinner.

Bucharest, Romania
After breakfast, prepare to head home. It may be the end of your journey, but its the start of a lifetime of fond memories. This itinerary is a guide only and may be amended for operational reasons. As such, the journey may operate altered from that stated above. Please refer to our terms and conditions.

Check Mark Disclaimer: Prices listed are per person, based on double occupancy, and in USD. All promotions are valid for new bookings only, capacity controlled and valid on select dates and departures. Individual Terms and Conditions will apply to all promotions. Any promotion can be withdrawn at any time without notice. Please speak with your Pavlus Travel Planner for complete vendor terms and conditions, including eligible tour and cruise dates.