Unleash your wild side in Europe’s untameable Balkan Peninsula. You’ll be enthralled by the cobbled castle lanes, satiated by strange, exotic cuisine, and pushed to your party limits in the offbeat capitals of Belgrade and Sarajevo. On this gorgeous 15-day adventure you’ll venture so far from the beaten track you won’t remember what a track even looks like! These are lands where the mountains loom on high and the sun rarely reins in its pulsing rays. These are the lands for you.
Our adventure begins as we depart from Split en route to Dubrovnik with stunning coastal vistas. Explore some surviving renaissance architecture such as the Sponza Palace or partake in a Game of Thrones walking tour of the city. This evening we’ll make our way to gulf-nestled Kotor. This Mediterranean marvel offers gorgeous panoramas of the limestone cliffs and bay and a maze of medieval streets begging travellers to meander through. Come sunset, we leave our belts in the hostels and prepare for a feast of traditional Montenegrin eats. We recommend the seafood, a local speciality. After dinner, feel free to enjoy the city’s bustling nightlife or recharge for the thrills still to come.
This morning, soak up the views and explore some phenomenal sites within the old Venetian walls. Kotor’s Old Town is history-rich and hosts some of the finest medieval architecture in the Balkans. In the late morning, we’ll depart for the Budva Riviera, a 2,500-year-old settlement on the Adriatic. Here, you can spend the afternoon perfecting your tan as you laze on the Adriatic’s pristine beaches. When we return to Kotor, you’ll have the fantastic opportunity to scale the nearby fortress and bask in some stunning sunset views. Tonight, our hostel is hosting a social event and we encourage you to take some time and rub shoulders with your fellow passengers. Regale stories of your past travels and hopes for the future over an ice-cold drink or three.
See ya, Kotor! We’re off to Tirana, Albania. Headstrong, we’ll chug our way down winding roads until we arrive to an inclusive orientation walk of the city. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy! Marvel at this incredible city’s complex history whilst you explore vast monuments built by the Romans, Ottomans, and Byzantines. See the famous Tirana Mosaic Archaeological Complex or sample genuine Albanian cuisine. Modern history fans should pay a visit to the controversial Pyramid of Tirana. Tonight, explore pulse-pumping nightlife in this rich Balkan city!
As we make our way to Greece this morning we’ll be stopping off at the wonderfully preserved Ottoman town of Gjirokaster. We arrive in Kalambaka (Meteora) this evening with a traditional Greek spread awaiting us. After we devour our feast (no manners required), you’re free to explore the town dubbed Middle of the Sky. Marvel at its amazing, mountainous scenery and quaint, winding streets. Find yourself a restaurant or hotel bar to relax for the rest of the evening. Make sure to hit the hay at a reasonable hour, though, because tomorrow we’re off to somewhere truly special indeed!
We know it’s early, but you won’t want to miss this. Today, we’re venturing to the logic-defying monasteries of Meteora, where we’ll enjoy free entry to the best ones. From James Bond to Game of Thrones, these insane rock-formations have spurred more than a few creative minds, and are home to a warren of cave systems. Use the rest of this special morning to bask in the humbling views and absorb the monasteries’ rich history. After lunch, we depart for Athens with a stop at the Spartan Monument in Thermopylae. The “Hot Gates” were host to many a bloody battle. Fans of Greek history and the film “300” both will know this as the stage for King Leonidas’ legendary stand against Xerxes and his advancing Persian armies. Tonight we dine in Athens so enjoy your dinner under the gaze of the Acropolis.
What better way to kick off your day in Athens than with an optional walking tour to familiarise yourself with this historic city. Afterwards, feel free to explore the cradle of western civilisation and its vast, impressive sights. Visit the Acropolis, which is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. See the Daphne Monastery and Parthenon, and the temple to the Goddess Athena - the symbol of Ancient Greece and the birthplace of democracy. With your feet sore and your head full of mythology, join us for a traditional farewell Greek dinner. End the day however you see fit. Reminisce with your new friends or head on down to the sea-front for a cooling nighttime swim.
This morning we depart Athens for Thessaloniki, stopping off in Delphi around lunchtime. Perched on the slope of Mount Parnassus, Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and - according to legend - home to the Oracle of Apollo. Here, many a great leader sought the council of the Gods. To truly experience this holy place, enjoy an included tour of the city and entry into the museum. Onwards, and we arrive at Thessaloniki in the early evening ready for another delicious Greek meal. Once full, set out to explore the capital of Greek Macedonia with its quirky vibe, rich history and many archaeological wonders and ruins.
We depart Thessaloniki early this morning, heading towards Macedonia on our jaunt to Ohrid. Situated on Lake Ohrid, Ohrid is a charming little city and a UNESCO-listed site. Here, we’ll discover an insane 365 churches, one for each day of the calendar year. If that wasn’t enough, we’ll also find a monastery, and the vestiges of many ancient basilicas. Take advantage of an optional walking tour to better appreciate the many sights available in this picturesque lakeside city. Later, we’ll enjoy a traditional Macedonian meal and views of the glistening water’s edge. With dinner done, you’re free to enjoy the rest of your time in this outstanding utopia. Take in some of the sites or relax alongside the lake and its calming waters.
We’ll be leaving Ohrid this morning, but there’s plenty of time for a dip and a frolic in the lake beforehand. We don’t like to look back, however, so it’s onwards to the Macedonian capital city of Skopje. Found on the Vardar River, Skopje is home to towering Roman architecture and an abundance of masterfully crafted statues. Take advantage of an optional walking tour on arrival to help get a feel for the city. Afterwards, you’re free to explore Roman ruins, the aqueduct, Skopje Fortress, and anything else that might take your fancy. Tonight, lose yourself in a myriad of exciting venues. Live music is plentiful, as are casinos and nightclubs. Skopje caters to all whims!
Farewell, Skopje! Today we’re journeying into the heart of Serbia with Belgrade in our sights. En route we’ll be stopping for lunch in one of the oldest Balkan cities, Nis. This ancient metropolis was once considered the gateway between the East and West. Today, however, it’ll be our gateway to Belgrade. We’ll arrive in the Serbian capital come afternoon, where we’ll be offered an optional walking tour to familiarise ourselves with the city. The tour is capped off with a pub crawl where we’ll absorb Belgrade’s friendly party atmosphere and wonderfully cheap drinks. Later, join us for dinner in a traditional Serbian restaurant before cutting lose for the evening. We recommend the party barges (or splav) for a truly memorable night.
Day two in Belgrade and you’re free to explore this glorious city and its many, many attractions. Seek out the museums, churches, the old palace, the parliamentary buildings, and many more fascinating places. Budding mad scientists should make sure to visit the Nikola Tesla Museum to marvel at the archive of his life’s work. History buffs and lazy-walk fans should venture to Kalemegdan Park and Fortress for beautiful views steeped in cultural significance. When the sun sets, head out into the city once again for some more or splav hopping.
We’re headed westward today, with Bosnia and Herzegovina in our sights. Our route is steeped in modern history, as it’s the same route used by marching Serbian soldiers during the atrocities of the Bosnian War. Arriving in the late afternoon, you’ll have time to explore Sarajevo, a true melting pot of faiths, ideals, and ethnicities. Having undergone a brutal four-year siege, the city may have a painful history but its vibrance and spirit have survived despite it all. Tonight, explore the emerging nightlife of the area or seek out a cafe, club, or bar and share a drink or a story with the locals.
Start the day right with an optional walking tour of the city and an excursion to the Tunnel of Hope, which linked Sarajevo to her allies during the siege. Sports fans will want to check out Sarajevo’s various Olympic venues from when it hosted the 1984 Winter Games. Exploring is hungry work, grab some street food whilst you’re out (we recommend a cevapi). Alternatively, why not check out the Old Bazaar (or Bascarsija as it is locally known), the cultural and historical hub of the city? Tonight, we’ll be enjoying the local cuisine at the (in)famous Sarajevo Brewery. Prepare for a pint or three!
Our last full day of travel dawns and we depart for Split early with a stop in Mostar along the way. Here, we’ll explore the area with a walking tour lead by a local guide. After which we’ll visit the Bridge Museum and watch as professional divers leap from the bridge into the rushing river below. After lunch we’ll be departing Mostar and arrive this evening in the coastal gem of Split, Croatia. With heavy hearts and fond memories, we share our final group dinner with some of the finest seafood Croatia has to offer. See the majestic walls of the ancient Diocletian’s Palace and then enjoy your last night out. Split comes to life at night with its varied selection of bars, clubs, and cafes.
Enjoy your final breakfast before your departure. We hope to see you again, and if you’re continuing your journey on our Hop-on Hop-off network, the next stop is Venice via Zadar!
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Trip Name: Ultimate Balkan Adventure (Split to Split)
Duration: 15 Days
From Price: $1,799
Supplier Tour ID: BK4/164814
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