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Discover Slovenia, Croatia and the Balkans

Duration
15 Days
Prices From:
US$ 6,130

Embark on an affordable, private-guided journey visiting historical landmarks such as Dubrovnik and Split as well as the modern-day capitals of Ljubljana, Belgrade, Skopje, and Tirana. See the natural wonders of Postojna Caves and Plitvice Lakes National Park and enjoy colourful flourishes in Lake Bled, Piran, and Kotor.


This 15-day Balkan vacation takes you from Slovenia to Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, and Albania. It features private-guided tours, moderate accommodations, and is a great introduction to this region of Southeastern Europe.

Your journey begins in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, where you’ll meet your private guide and drive to the resort town of Bled to visit the 11th-century Bled Castle, which overlooks the lake. If you have time, you can take a Pletna boat across the lake to discover the still waters. Continue to Postojna Caves, one of the most beautiful caves systems in the world. In Piran, you’ll head on a walking tour to discover the medieval architecture and climb 146 steps up to the bell tower of Church of St. George to enjoy views over the city. Stop by the seaside resort town of Portoroz before returning to Ljubljana, where you’ll head on a walking tour to see Roman ruins, medieval buildings, and the central marketplace.

Cross the border into Croatia and reach Plitvice Lakes National Park, a collection of some of the most stunning lakes and waterfalls in the world. After a tour of some of the lakes and Veliki Slap, the largest waterfall in the park, you’ll continue to Split to head on a city tour to see Roman ruins, including Diocletian’s Palace, one of the best-preserved Roman buildings in the world. Continue through Croatia and see the twin towns of Mali Ston and Ston, which are connected by a 14th-century wall, before reaching Dubrovnik, the most famous town in the country. A walking tour will showcase the beauty of this resort city. See filming locatiosn from King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, walk along the City Walls, and see the Rector’s Palace.

Head north and drive along the Dalmatian Coast into Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor. Explore Kotor, with its maze-like medieval streets and Baroque palaces. Continue into Locven National Park to wind along narrow mountain roads and visit Njegos Mausoleum, the highest mausoleum in the world. Descend to the historical capital of Cetinje before reaching the current capital of Podgorica. After a brief stopover, drive along the Moraca River, enjoying views of the green river in the deep canyon below, before reaching the resort town of Kolasin. Follow the 14 rivers of the Tara River Canyon and spend a day enjoying some adventure, whether zip-lining or quad biking, before crossing into Serbia and reaching Zlatibor.

In Serbia, you’ll ride the Sargan Eight Steam Train before exploring the village of Drvengrad, constructed for the 2004 movie Life is a Miracle. Its eclectic sites are named after famous figures, such as Nikola Tesla and Diego Maradona. Stop off at Topola, where Black George Petrovic became the leader of the First Serbian Uprising in 1804, and St. George’s Church, the burial place of the Serbian Royal Family, before reaching the capital, Belgrade, where you’ll have a chance to experience its famous nightlife.

Cross the border into Macedonia and reach Skopje, the national capital, where you’ll discover over 2,500 years of history as you visit highlights in the Old Town and the Old Skopje Bazaar, one of the most remarkable Ottoman-style markets in Europe. Drive through the mountain ranges away from Skopje and reach Ohrid, one of the country’s hidden wonders, which sits on three-million-year-old Lake Ohrid, one of the deepest lakes in all of Europe. Head on a walking tour of this town known as the Balkan Jerusalem due to its 365 churches.

Close out your Balkan vacation in Albania, where you’ll explore Berat, the Town of a 1,000 Windows, visiting Berat Castle and Gorica Bridge among the town’s landmarks. Follow the road south along the Albanian Riviera and explore Vlore, the third-largest city in the country, before reaching Tirana. Spend the morning on a final walking tour of the capital, seeing Skanderbeg Monument and Mother Teresa Square, before bidding your guide farewell and heading to the airport to connect back home.


 

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Duration
15 Days
Prices From:
US$ 6,130

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1

Arrival in Ljubljana

Upon arrival at Ljubljana airport, meet your English-speaking driver-guide for a 'Meet and Greet' before taking a short drive into the delightful Alpine town of Bled, once the resort of choice for the Austro-Hungarian Empire's elite. Perched high on a rocky cliff is Bled Castle, from where you have a clear view on one of the most iconic tourism scenes of all time: Bled Island, dominated by a Baroque style church, right in the middle of the lake.

Depending on your time of arrival you might have lunch (not included) before boarding a traditional Pletna boat, usually adorned with colourful awnings, that take visitors to and from the island all day. Ask your guide to tell you the story of the 'Wishing Bell' when climbing up the 99 stairs to the top of the bell tower. Once you are back on the mainland it's a 45-minute drive to Ljubljana and your hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure.

Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Best Western Premier Hotel Slon

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    Best Western Premier Hotel Slon



    The Best Western Premier Hotel Slon is conveniently situated in the city center of Ljubljana and offers easy access to major government, diplomatic and corporate offices. The hotel is also near the National Theatre and the impressive historical art housed in the National Gallery Museum. ...

    The Best Western Premier Hotel Slon is conveniently situated in the city center of Ljubljana and offers easy access to major government, diplomatic and corporate offices. The hotel is also near the National Theatre and the impressive historical art housed in the National Gallery Museum. Hotel guests will enjoy the hotel's complimentary spa and fitness area, restaurants and pastry shop as well as the complimentary full breakfast and newspaper each morning.

    Facilities

    • 24 Hour Reception
    • Business Centre
    • Complimentary Newspaper
    • Concierge
    • Currency Exchange
    • Dry Cleaning
    • Elevator
    • Gift Shop
    • Guest Laundry
    • Hot Tub
    • Lounge
    • Multi-lingual Staff
    • Restaurant
    • Safety Deposit Box
    • Smoke Free Hotel
    • Steam Room

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    Preferred Hotel
Day 2

Ljubljana - Postojna Caves - Piran - Portoroz - Ljubljana

The world-famous Postojna Caves and Slovenia's gorgeous coast are planned for today but just before you get to the caves, your guide can arrange a photo stop at the picturesque Predjama Castle, the largest cave castle in the world, wedged into the middle of a towering cliff. Perched up high for more than 800 years, it seems to dominate the surrounding countryside, looking magnificent, defiant, mysterious and impregnable.

The Marvellous Postojna Caves
An extraordinary underground world, Postojna Caves is one of the largest and most beautiful caves in Europe. It's like a whole new world below the surface, shaped over millions of years, with its own mountains, rivers, vast underground chambers as well as smaller passages that have created a breathtaking diversity of shapes and cave formations. It is also home to over 150 animal species, some of which can be admired in the Vivarium exhibition area by the cave entrance. Your regular tour lasts 90 minutes, allowing you to explore 5 km of the cave passages, including 1.5 km of walking, while the Postojna Cave railway takes you around for the remaining 3.5 km. Once you emerge from this wondrous subterranean realm, it's a lovely one-hour drive before you arrive at a stretch of coastline with some of the most pristine beaches of the Mediterranean.

Piran
Even Italians drive across the border for a bite of grilled branzino or sea bass because the waters around Piran have some of the tastiest fish in the Mediterranean. Ask your guide to recommend a place for lunch (not included) around Tartini Square, which is the starting point of your walking tour afterwards. Piran is one large museum, replete with medieval architecture, centred by the square named after its most famous citizen, the musician Giuseppe Tartini. Walking around town won't take that much time, but the key is that you do it at a leisurely pace. The best vistas are often from above and it's well worth climbing up the 146 steps to the bell tower at the Church of St. George. A pretty lighthouse sits at the very tip of the peninsula and this is literally as far as you can walk.

After some leisurely sightseeing your journey continues towards Portoroz, Slovenia's largest seaside resort. With numerous hotels overlooking the beach, restaurants, cafes, shops and nightlife entertainment you can see why the locals like to think of it as a Slovenian version of Monte Carlo.

Time permitting, a stop for coffee is part of the plan before you head back for the 90-minute drive to Ljubljana, where the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 3

Ljubljana - Plitvice

Ljubljana City Walking tour
After an early breakfast at the hotel, your guide meets you in the lobby around 8:00 am, to take you on an enjoyable walking tour of Ljubljana, a city which is easily one of Europe's best-kept secrets. Looking back on a vibrant history that traces 3,000 years of Roman, Medieval, Baroque and Italian influences, it's a friendly and cosmopolitan place today. Your tour takes in most of the major attractions and over the next 90 minutes you'll see the Republic, Congress and Preseren squares, before savouring a stroll alongside the shimmering Ljubljanica river, dotted with outdoor cafes and eateries. A unique architectural gem is the Triple Bridge, the central part of three separate bridges, which is close to the bustling Ljubljana Central Market colonnade and cobblestone streets of the Old Town. Ask the guide to tell you the story about the city's most recognizable resident, and sentinel of the iconic Emperor Franz Josef Jubilee Bridge: the Ljubljana Dragon.

After the tour, you have time to freshen up at the hotel before you're on your way to Plitvice around 10:00am.

The drive to the Plitvice waterfalls takes you across the border into Croatia and your driver-guide will get you there in time for lunch (not included). Ask for recommendations of suitable restaurants.

Plitvice National Park
The park is deep inside a mysterious ancient forest in Croatia's rugged interior. Nestled within a misty, lush valley it features 16 terraced lakes, all of which are connected as if they were a ladder and cascading from one into another over a series of stunning waterfalls. It might as well be paradise although, based on a local legend, it is also known as Devil's Garden. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 it has, deservedly, turned into one of Croatia's top attractions. Your private tour starts at the rather blandly named 'Entrance 1' with Veliki Slap, the biggest waterfall in the park, close by and very audible. Your sightseeing tour takes a circular route and includes the Lower and Upper Lakes area via a combination of walks and electric-boat rides, while the return to your starting point is, mostly, a ride on the Panoramic Train. The 16 lakes are divided into 12 upper and 4 lower lakes and, occasionally, while waiting for one of the silent and pollution-free electric boats, you see cheerful local grandmas selling baked goods and home-made cheese. The upper lake area offers a spectacular walking stretch featuring some of the prettiest trails and numerous waterfalls.

After a few hours of enchanting scenery, your driver-guide helps you check into your hotel with the rest of your day at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Degenija

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    Hotel Degenija



    Degenija Hotel is a recently renovated Rakovica, Croatian accommodation, unique to experience peace and relaxation in an idyllic setting during your Croatian holiday. Close to the towns of Plitvicka Jezera and Korenica, Degenija Hotel is just 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Plitvice Lakes National Park, ...

    Degenija Hotel is a recently renovated Rakovica, Croatian accommodation, unique to experience peace and relaxation in an idyllic setting during your Croatian holiday. Close to the towns of Plitvicka Jezera and Korenica, Degenija Hotel is just 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which draws thousands of visitors each year with its gorgeous walking paths, lakes, and waterfalls. The watermills in the village of Rastoke and the natural beauties in the town of Bihac are also nearby. The Degenija Hotel is surrounded by a large garden and offers gorgeous al fresco dining areas. Featuring a welcoming atmosphere, the in-house cafeteria is the perfect place to relax and surf on the complimentary wireless Internet while enjoying a refreshing drink.

    Facilities

    • Internet Access - Wireless
    • Lobby
    • Parking
    • Reception

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    Preferred Hotel
Day 4

Plitvice - Split

Split City tour
Today's drive to Split will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes and before you start your city tour, your driver-guide will assist you checking into your hotel and suggest a place to have lunch (not included). Split is a buzzing, cosmopolitan place that offers Roman ruins and grand museums alongside fashionable cafes, trendy shops, nightclubs and sleek galleries. It's a quick drive to Split's lively ocean front esplanade, 'The Riva', but from here the tour continues on foot as the city's most memorable attraction, Diocletian's Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is right across from the ocean promenade. It's not simply one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world, but a totally separate city, plonk in the center of the Old Town. Within an enclosed space of eight acres, some 3,000 residents live in just over 200 buildings.

Over the next two hours you walk on stone-paved pedestrian paths, explore the belfry, maybe a 16th-century synagogue and, of course, the monumental courtyard known as the Peristyle. Stairs lead up to the Cathedral of St. Domnius, placed on top of what was originally built as Diocletian's tomb. For tremendous vistas, worth the effort, you should climb up its steep bell tower. Outside the palace, Split's Old Town, is also full of curious nooks and tiny lanes, weaving in and out of public spots like the People's Square with the Clock Tower, City Hall, several impressive museums and the busy fish market.

After a great walk, your driver-guide returns you to your hotel and the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Jadran

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    Hotel Jadran



    Situated on one of the most beautiful bays of the Split peninsula, the hotel is just 2km away from the city center and Diocletian's Palace. With a view over the islands of Solta, Ciovo and Brac, and Marjan Forest Park sloping up behind, it's a ...

    Situated on one of the most beautiful bays of the Split peninsula, the hotel is just 2km away from the city center and Diocletian's Palace. With a view over the islands of Solta, Ciovo and Brac, and Marjan Forest Park sloping up behind, it's a splendid setting. The rooms are well-appointed with all modern amenities expected by today's travelers.

    Facilities

    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Sun Terrace

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Day 5

Split - Dubrovnik

Today you are off to what is, probably, a much-anticipated destination: Dubrovnik, the city hailed by many as the pearl of the Adriatic. Before you get there, you briefly enter Bosnia and Herzegovina, taste ocean-fresh oysters at Mali Ston and walk the Adriatic version of the 'Great Wall' at Ston.

Ston and Mali Ston
The drive to the border point at Neum takes two hours, briefly crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina for about 6 km. Back in Croatia, it's a 20 km drive to Ston, which is really two towns in one linked by a magnificent 14th century wall that looks like a seaside version of the Great Wall of China. Ston's little sister, Mali Ston, is nestled into a gorgeous bay of turquoise water and the next 45 minutes include a private boat ride to an oyster farm in the sea, and an opportunity to taste one of Croatia's culinary delights, accompanied by a glass of wine. Please note this is a tasting only.

For lunch (not included) Mali Ston has many great choices before continuing to Ston, which is only a 10-minute drive away. Here, the wall, with its towers and fortresses, was built to protect Ston's salt pans, a key source of revenue, and parts of the fortification can still be seen if you climb some of the steeper sections, which is well worth the effort.

Once you have snapped enough photos, or committed some of the vistas to memory, it's time to travel the last hour to Dubrovnik and check into your hotel. The rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Hotel Ivka

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    Hotel Ivka



    Hotel Ivka is a small family-owned hotel situated on Lapad peninsula, open during the whole year. It represents ideal choice for business people but also for the tourists who want to relax and enjoy in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Close to the hotel there ...

    Hotel Ivka is a small family-owned hotel situated on Lapad peninsula, open during the whole year. It represents ideal choice for business people but also for the tourists who want to relax and enjoy in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Close to the hotel there are a number of domestic restaurants and cafe bars. Beautiful promenade near the sea is just 10 min walking distance.

    Facilities

    • 24 Hour Reception
    • Air Conditioning
    • Airport Shuttle (Surcharge)
    • Bar
    • Car Hire
    • Currency Exchange
    • Facilities for Disabled Guests
    • Fax/Photocopying
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry
    • Lift
    • Meeting/ Banquet facilities
    • Non-Smoking Rooms
    • Restaurant
    • Room Service
    • Terrace

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Day 6

Dubrovnik

After breakfast at your hotel, let's find out why the city is called the pearl of the Adriatic.

Dubrovnik Walking Tour
Don't be surprised if a fellow traveller tells you that Dubrovnik is as eternal as Venice. During its long history it has been Roman, Venetian and Byzantine, withstood wars and even recent sieges by 'Game of Thrones' fans. Walking around the fortress perimeter of the magnificent 13th-century City Walls is something even repeat visitors want to do all over again. The views over the ancient terracotta roofs and steeples of the Old Town towards the endless shimmer of the Adriatic Sea, seem to change constantly. Pile, one of the two main gates of the city, is the official entrance to the limestone paved Stradun, the city's main thoroughfare. It's a bustling place and a leisurely stroll takes you past the Franciscan Church with its bell tower and the Monastery, lots of 15th-century fountains, the most famous of which is the Onofrio Big Fountain. All along, there's oodles of restaurants, souvenir shops, as well as stores selling local products.

At the end of the Stradun is the Rector's Palace with a very interesting museum that shows you how Dubrovnik's nobility once lived. You can also admire the iconic Bell Tower, the Church of St. Blaise, Orlando's Column, and finally, the dome of the Cathedral of the Assumption, one of the most photographed attractions of the city.

Your afternoon, following your walking tour, is at leisure and you are free for lunch (not included).

Elaphiti Islands - Optional boat tour
If you prefer to spend the afternoon on a boat, you can book an optional tour to Kolocep, a tiny island that is part of the Elaphiti Islands archipelago, which can be reached in an hour. An English-speaking guide will take you to and around the island on a private motorboat with towels, snorkelling gear and bottles of water included. The island itself is 2.5 square kilometers, free of traffic and home to 160 friendly locals. This is a fabulous outing, swimming in the crystal-clear sea or exploring the colourful underwater world with your

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 7

Dubrovnik - Kolasin

What a day this is going to be, travelling along the Dalmatian coast to Montenegro's Bay of Kotor, dotted with sleepy fishing villages and charming old towns, of which Kotor itself is the crown jewel. Its Old Town rests in the shadows of the formidable St. John's Hill and the walls protecting it are a fortification masterpiece. The view from the fortress above is captivating and the core of the historical old town is the best preserved along the Montenegrin coast.

Enjoy, over the next two hours, a delightful stroll through its many squares, taking the odd peek inside baroque palaces or curiously small churches. Your guide is, of course, right there and knows all the winding, narrow little streets, medieval marble-pathed mazes and quaint stone houses. Depending on the time of day, a splash of vibrancy is added by the bustling daily market, where you can watch excited locals bartering over flowers, fruit and vegetables, or buckets brimming with olives.

From Kotor to Kolasin
After lunch (not included) in town, more spectacular scenery awaits you. The road from Kotor winding up Mt Lovcen presents sublime views. It's a serpentine route that zigzags up the lower slopes before reaching a narrow stretch, snaking up and around 25 hairpin turns. At the top, your view spreads over the bay towards the sparkling blue Adriatic, and with the distant village of Kotor at the bottom it looks like a scene out of a fairy tale. The next tract is over rougher terrain, but the lack of perfect road conditions is balanced by the dramatic images of Lovcen National Park. One is the spectacular Njegos Mausoleum, at a cool 5,500 feet the highest mausoleum in the world. Your driver-guide can give you the full history of Petar Petrovic II Njegos for whom it was built. Standing on the mausoleum's 360-degree stone viewing circle, you can see more than half of Montenegro.

On the way down, you travel towards Cetinje, Montenegro's historical capital, and thence to its actual capital, Podgorica. Time does not allow a tour of either city, but that hardly matters as the road now follows the Moraca River into a near perpendicular, 1,300 feet deep canyon, making this one of the most spectacular road trips in the world, contrasting steep dark cliffs with the light, eerily green river, when not entering one of several short tunnels. It's a drive of awesome beauty and, finally, after one last staggering curvature in the road, a bridge crosses the river and you have arrived at the resort town of Kolasin.

After checking into your hotel, time to relax and contemplating the amazing last few hours should be a fitting end to the day.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin

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    Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin



    Sitting at the base of the Bjelasica and Biogradska Gora mountains, at an altitude of 3,100 ft, the hotel is surrounded by pine and beech forests that define the dramatic landscape. Located just off Kolasin's main square, it's easy to enjoy a quick stroll around ...

    Sitting at the base of the Bjelasica and Biogradska Gora mountains, at an altitude of 3,100 ft, the hotel is surrounded by pine and beech forests that define the dramatic landscape. Located just off Kolasin's main square, it's easy to enjoy a quick stroll around town. The property was built in an Alpine style and its public spaces are modern, embellished with a few local touches. Rugged, wooden surfaces and cozy furniture create welcoming room interiors, whilst the signature Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort Bed set guests up for a great night's sleep.

    Facilities

    • Business Centre
    • Concierge
    • Fitness Centre
    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Meeting and Event Facilities
    • Restaurant
    • Spa

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Day 8

Kolasin - Zlatibor

The Tara River Canyon
After breakfast, your drive through often wild and untamed scenery continues to the grandiose Tara River Canyon, one of Europe's little explored gems. It's an incredible landscape with 14 rivers flowing into it and 69 rapids decorating its 158 km long path. The Tara river is on UNESCO's list of protected areas in the 'Man and Biosphere' program because of its diverse flora and fauna. Not quite two hours into the drive, you reach the Djurdjevica Tara bridge, considered to be among the world's most beautiful bridges, standing 560 feet above the river. During WWII, Commander Tito, who was later to become Yugoslavia's president, had it blown up but in such a way that it could be easily rebuilt. The lower part of the canyon is great for rafting as the rapids speed up the river flow, creating some truly exhilarating rides.

This program is available on an optional basis. While not recommend for smaller children, adults would enjoy a trip on this natural rollercoaster. Please bear in mind that depending on the season, the Tara River can be very wild, or very slow. Zip-lining, excellent hiking and even quad biking are also available. All these activities are optional and need to be booked locally at least 24 hours ahead of time.

Zlatibor
After lunch (not included), your journey continues to Serbia and the city of Zlatibor, through a mountainous area of great beauty that might seduce you with its pleasant climate, lush pastures and mountain streams. It's a unique blend of rural and urban places with a rich cultural and spiritual heritage, and colorful scenery.

After arrival in town and checking into your hotel, you can enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration2 Nights
Accommodation

Garni Hotel Simsir

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    Garni Hotel Simsir



    Garni Hotel Simsir is in an attractive location, right in the heart of Zlatibor and walking distance to numerous places of interest, including its main shopping areas. The property has some nice outdoor areas to enjoy a drink, while the rooms are elegantly furnished, and ...

    Garni Hotel Simsir is in an attractive location, right in the heart of Zlatibor and walking distance to numerous places of interest, including its main shopping areas. The property has some nice outdoor areas to enjoy a drink, while the rooms are elegantly furnished, and feature all modern amenities expected by today's travelers.

    Facilities

    • Cafe-Bar
    • Fitness Centre
    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Garden
    • Playroom for Children
    • Restaurant

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Day 9

Zlatibor

Sargan Eight Steam train
While the romantic notion of a steam-powered train often conjures up visions of the Orient Express, today's experience entails riding the Sargan Eight Steam train, which operates on a track not far away from Zlatibor and Tara Mountain. It is one of Europe's most unique and historical trains and you can expect stunning scenery all the way. Built in 1925, the 'Figure of Eight of Sargan' so called because its narrow-gauge railroad track is shaped like a number eight, once connected Belgrade with Sarajevo and Dubrovnik.

Until its retirement in 1974, it was riding through this part of Serbia's often inaccessible hills and bridges but was brought back to life and renamed the 'Nostalgia' train. While not following the original figure eight, you are going to pass 22 tunnels, traverse 5 bridges and, over less than 15 km, negotiate a height of around 1,000 feet. The 'Nostalgia' stops at a total of four stations from its starting point at Mokra Gora. At each of these stations you find look-out points revealing extraordinary vistas of the untouched nature of Tara National Park.

Drvengrad
Not far from where the train operates is the ethno-village of Drvengrad, a product of movie director Emir Kusturica's imagination, and built as a set for his 2004 movie 'Life is a Miracle'. The streets are named after Serbian inventor and futurist Nikola Tesla, Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic and famous film directors Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman, among others. Visitors can see works of art at the Macola gallery, or watch movies in the Underground Cinema, located in the basement of the Stanley Kubrick building. The building contains a gym, a pool, a sauna and, importantly, private rooms where Kusturica and his family live.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Day 10

Zlatibor - Belgrade

En route to Belgrade, capital of the former Yugoslavia, you stop briefly at Topola, a place of significant historical importance. It is here that George Petrovic, better known by his sobriquet Black George or Karadjordje, was chosen as the leader of the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire in 1804. A monument in his honour is a prominent landmark in town.

A very short drive away is the local St. George's Church, also known as Oplenac, the burial place of the Ducal and Royal Family of Serbia and Yugoslavia. It's a beautiful building, founded by King Peter I of Yugoslavia and, during your 30-minute visit, you can admire its magnificent crypt and the king's tomb. After lunch (not included) it's a short, one-hour drive to Belgrade where you check into your hotel before meeting your guide for a tour of the city.

Belgrade
Belgrade is the capital and soul of modern Serbia, located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, which provide the backdrop for many of the city's prominent sights. Thanks to its strategic position, battles for the city have been waged in 122 wars. It was destroyed 44 times and during its lively history inhabited by Celts, Romans and Slavs. It's been a possession of Byzantine, Frankish, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Ottoman and Serbian rulers, a principal city of Ottoman Europe, the capital of Yugoslavia and, finally, the capital of the Republic of Serbia.

Today, Belgrade is a modern city of about 2 million inhabitants and, curiously, enjoys a reputation for its vibrant party scene. Your tour covers most of Belgrade's highlights, including Dedinje, the richest residential area and the location of the Museum of History of Yugoslavia. This is also the location of the 'House of Flowers', the mausoleum to Josip Broz Tito, former leader of what used to be Yugoslavia. St. Sava, the world's largest Eastern Orthodox church, Slavija Square, Nemanjina Street with its many imposing government buildings, King Aleksandar Boulevard, the University complex with monuments to Nikola Tesla, and Republic Square with the National Museum, National Theater and Opera are all part of your tour.

Just below is Skadarlija, a cobble-stoned Bohemian quarter with a Montmartre-style charm. An opportunity to walk for a bit presents itself at Kalemegdan, the city's most popular park, while in Upper Town the impressive sight of the confluence of the Sava and the Danube can be seen from up close. In this area you are passing historical sights, including the Victor Monument, the Roman Well, the Damat Ali Pasha Tomb, Clock Tower and Istanbul's Gate, among others.

Coming back to Republic Square again signals the end of the tour and your return to the hotel where the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Argo Hotel Belgrade

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    Argo Hotel Belgrade



    Located in the centre of Belgrade, Argo Hotel was fully renovated in 2013 and you can feel the buzz of a vibrant city as soon as you step outside the hotel. A short walk takes you to the Nikola Tesla Museum, while the shopping of ...

    Located in the centre of Belgrade, Argo Hotel was fully renovated in 2013 and you can feel the buzz of a vibrant city as soon as you step outside the hotel. A short walk takes you to the Nikola Tesla Museum, while the shopping of Knez Mihailova Street, the Church of Saint Sava and the historical and bohemian charm of old Belgrade in the district of Vracar are all with a 15-minute walking distance. The rooms are sound-proofed and elegantly furnished, offering all modern amenities expected by today's travelers.

    Facilities

    • Concierge
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Meeting Rooms
    • Restaurant
    • Street Parking

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Day 11

Belgrade - Skopje

It's an early breakfast this morning as we are leaving Belgrade and Serbia around 8am. Today, you are travelling into Macedonia and discover that its capital Skopje is another major Balkan city that is full of surprises. Lunch (not included) will be enroute and your guide is going to take you on a city walking tour after you have checked into your hotel.

Skopje
During its 2,500 years of existence, Macedonia's welcoming capital city has been under Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Yugoslav rule, leaving permanent traces that can still be seen in its architecture and mix of cultures. It was rebuilt after a catastrophic earthquake in 1963 and is, today, a forward-looking city that has not abandoned its past. Sleek modern hotels rise above the cobblestoned Ottoman streets and beautiful neoclassical homes are right around the corner from grand old Yugoslav-era buildings, red-bricked Byzantine churches or rounded Turkish mosques, chic cafes and shopping malls. As you walk towards Macedonia Square, a bustling and dynamic place with lots of cafes, you also find the memorial house of Mother Teresa. This is the place where she was baptized as Agneza Gonxha Bojaxhiu and where she used to sing in the church choir as a girl.

On your way to the Old Town, you cross the Stone Bridge over the river Vardar that connects Macedonia Square and the Old Skopje Bazaar, neatly dividing the city into two different parts. While the part you just came from looks like a Western European city, once you cross the bridge and set foot into the Old Town it will resemble a Middle Eastern one. Home to one of the largest and best-preserved bazaars in Europe it offers an intriguing insight of what it might have looked like during Ottoman times. About thirty mosques, numerous caravanserais, remains of Byzantine architecture, two churches and a clock tower provide the evidence.

A short walk to the Fortress Kale, located on a hill, is an opportunity to appreciate the, perhaps, finest view across both parts of the city. From here your guide takes you back to your hotel and the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Best Western Hotel Tourist

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    Best Western Hotel Tourist



    The Best Western Hotel Tourist is located right in the city center, half a kilometer from Skopje's Old Town with it's fascinating old bazaar and Ottoman-era buildings. Macedonia Square and the house of Mother Teresa are 250 yards away, but so are the new shopping ...

    The Best Western Hotel Tourist is located right in the city center, half a kilometer from Skopje's Old Town with it's fascinating old bazaar and Ottoman-era buildings. Macedonia Square and the house of Mother Teresa are 250 yards away, but so are the new shopping centers, cafes, restaurants and bars. The property's rooms are well-appointed, and some have balconies with views of the city.

    Facilities

    • Business Centre
    • Fitness Centre
    • Foreign Currency Exchange
    • Free Off-Site Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Meeting and Event Facilities
    • Restaurant
    • Room Service

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Day 12

Skopje - Ohrid

Today's drive from Skopje is around two and a half hours, travelling through majestic landscapes, dominated by high, often incredibly wild looking mountain ranges.

Ohrid
Originally known as Lychnidos, the name Ohrid was, allegedly, bequeathed by wandering Slavic tribes that came here in the 6th century. Three centuries later, Christian Slavic missionaries, led by the Bulgarian monks Clement and Naum arrived in the area and built, among other things, the splendid Saint Naum monastery. Today, Ohrid is a wonderful lakeside city that remains a relatively unknown gem. The Old Town's narrow streets are lined with restaurants and cafes perfectly suited for relaxing at almost any time of day and its cafe bars and nightclubs make for pretty good nightlife. It's Lake Ohrid itself though that claims some of the kudos. At three million years old, it ranks as one of Europe's oldest and deepest lakes, giving Ohrid the prestige of being named as both a cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage site.

After checking into your hotel, your guide takes you for a walking tour that starts with St. Sophia Square, the heart of the old town. It seems that there's a medieval church at every corner which explains its sobriquet as the Balkan Jerusalem for its 365 churches; one for each day of the year. There's not enough time to visit all 365, but you are going to see some of the most important ones.

Other significant stops include the only Hellenic-styled theatre in Macedonia, the fortress of Car Samuil, the exceptional archeological complex of Plaosnik and, finally, the Church of St. John the Theologian at Kaneo, sitting on a cliff offering spectacular views over Lake Ohrid.

Following lunch (not included), your guide returns you to your hotel and the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Nova Riviera

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    Hotel Nova Riviera



    Hotel Nova Riviera is located on the shores of beautiful Lake Ohrid, and a leisurely walk away from the marvelous Old Town. Several significant historical highlights such as the Church of Saint Sophia, Samuel's Fortress and the Ancient Theatre are all close by. The property's ...

    Hotel Nova Riviera is located on the shores of beautiful Lake Ohrid, and a leisurely walk away from the marvelous Old Town. Several significant historical highlights such as the Church of Saint Sophia, Samuel's Fortress and the Ancient Theatre are all close by.

    The property's public spaces include a restaurant with a lovely summer terrace and bar, offering gorgeous panoramic views over the lake and the Old Town. The rooms are nicely furnished and feature all the amenities expected by today's travelers.

    Facilities

    • Bike Rental
    • Business Centre
    • Concierge
    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Restaurant

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Day 13

Ohrid - Berat

After breakfast and checking out of your hotel, your day starts with a visit to the famous Monastery of Saint Naum, a 45-minute drive away, promising breathtaking panoramic views of the entire bay area.

Monastery of Saint Naum
Saint Naum of Ohrid, a Bulgarian medieval scholar and writer, who together with Saint Clement arrived here in the 9th century founded this Eastern Orthodox monastery. Known as a living saint for the many miracles he performed, he died in 910 at the age of 80 and is buried in the church at the monastery. Legends suggest that if you bring your ear very close to the stone coffin you can hear his heartbeat. Your local guide, on the other hand, might tell you that it's the water of Lake Ohrid crushing against the rock formation down below. The Monastery is a strikingly massive complex, located just 1 km from the Albanian border, on the Southern shores of Lake Ohrid, a perfect location from which to continue today's trip into Albania.

The drive to Elbasan, where you stop for lunch (not included) takes about two hours, and by then you are in central Albania, a little over an hour to Berat, your final destination of the day. After checking into your hotel, meet your guide in the lobby for a fabulous sightseeing tour of the 'Town of a 1,000 Windows'.

Berat
Looking at the beautiful houses, climbing up the steep hill around the old town, the most fascinating part is the seemingly endless number of windows, the reason why it is called 'Town of a Thousand Windows'. The views are truly stunning, and many consider Berat the best-preserved Ottoman city in the Balkans. It was declared a Museum City in 1961, followed by its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

Walking from your hotel you'll pass a little curio, the Bachelors' Mosque built for unmarried shop assistants, which is perched between some fine Ottoman-era shopfronts along the Osumi river. This area is the traditionally Muslim Mangalem quarter, a prime spot for the famous view up towards those cascading facades of houses. Enjoy and explore the maze of narrow, tiny cobbled streets, dotted with cafes and restaurants.

Although the climb to Berat Castle, at the very top is quite steep, the breathtaking view over the entire city and the old Gorica bride across the Osum river, is worth the effort. Inside, the castle reveals a town of its own with houses, bars and restaurants, churches, bazaars, museums and monuments, surrounded by an extraordinary lush landscape. Its inhabitants, clearly the most interesting characters of the neighborhood, are also the best unofficial historians of the city and, yes, in some ways, it all feels slightly surreal.

Finish your tour on the pedestrian street by Gorica Bridge, from where you return to your hotel, where the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Berati

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    Hotel Berati



    Hotel Berati is in the historical center of Berat, just a few minutes away from all major historic sites. The Lead Mosque, for example, is about a minute away and the Berat Castle, on top of the hill, takes about 8-10 minutes depending on your ...

    Hotel Berati is in the historical center of Berat, just a few minutes away from all major historic sites. The Lead Mosque, for example, is about a minute away and the Berat Castle, on top of the hill, takes about 8-10 minutes depending on your pace. You are also just across the bridge from the Gorica quarter, another great place to explore.

    Each of the property's rooms enjoy a view of the city and some have high-speed internet access.

    Facilities

    • Bar/Lounge
    • Free Parking
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service
    • Restaurant

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Day 14

Berat - Tirana

Today's journey to Tirana includes a little detour south because you should see a small part of Albania's Riviera. Pristine beaches and turquoise water are terms very few people associate with Albania, but you can judge for yourself when you arrive at Vlore, Albania's third-largest city and originally an ancient Greek colony named Aulon. Today, it boasts a wide beach boulevard with tree-lined walkways, planted palms and pretty sitting areas. Shiny apartment buildings and hotels line up all along the promenade as do a great number of restaurants, cafes and pubs.

Enjoy a leisurely lunch in Vlore (not included) before continuing your journey to the country's capital. After checking into your hotel, the rest of your day is at leisure.

Meal Plan Breakfast
Duration1 Night
Accommodation

Hotel Capital

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    Hotel Capital



    Opened in 2012, the stylish Hotel is in the center of Tirana, in the Old Town, in good walking distance to Skanderbeg Square, the National Museum, the Opera House and Et'hem Bej Mosque. This is a non-smoking property, including all the public spaces in the ...

    Opened in 2012, the stylish Hotel is in the center of Tirana, in the Old Town, in good walking distance to Skanderbeg Square, the National Museum, the Opera House and Et'hem Bej Mosque. This is a non-smoking property, including all the public spaces in the hotel. All rooms have soundproof windows and are elegantly furnished, offering all amenities expected by today's travelers.

    Facilities

    • Bar/Lounge
    • Free WiFi
    • Laundry Service

    More Details

Day 15

Tirana

After breakfast at the hotel, meet your guide to venture out on a 2-hour walking tour of the city. Despite a somewhat harsh past, Tirana is a city on the verge of big changes, moving forward in a very positive spirit. Your tour includes highlights such as the Skanderbeg Monument outside the National Museum on Skanderbeg Square, the Palace of Culture, the Ethem Bey Mosque, the Clock Tower and Tirana Castle. Walking past Catholic and Orthodox cathedrals, you'll see the Presidential Palace, Mother Theresa Square and the delightfully bourgeois district of Blloku where the communist elite use to live but is quite an upmarket area today with boutiques, shops, restaurants, pubs, trendy bars and cafes.

After this enjoyable introduction to Albania's capital, your guide walks you back to your hotel where you collect your luggage and enjoy a private transfer to Tirana airport for your departure flight.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information

DEPARTURES:

Daily.

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • 14 nights' moderate accommodation
  • Breakfast daily
  • Transportation in comfortable air-conditioned vehicles
  • English speaking guide/driver
  • Local guides where obligatory
  • Entrance fees to:
    • Bled Castle, Pletna boat ride and visit of St. Mary church, Postojna caves, Plitvice lakes, Diocletian palace in Split, Ston walls, Oyster tasting experience, Rector's palace and Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik. Kotor city tax, Sargan eight tour, Drvengrad entrance, Museum of 25th May in Belgrade, Church of St. Sophia, Church of Perivleptos, Samuel's Fortress, St. Naum monastery in Ohrid, Castle in Berat, National Museum of History in Tirana

PRICE EXCLUDES:

  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned
  • Gratuities
  • Items of a personal nature

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

Prices are "from" per person based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Limited seat/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request - please inquire.

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3 Nov 2020
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