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Journey Through The Balkans tour
Croatia Dubrovnik Journey Through The Balkans Trip
Montenegro Sarajevo Journey Through The Balkans Trip
Cultural Trains & Rail Journey Through The Balkans package

Journey Through The Balkans

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Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
93%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
12 days
From: $ 1,870 $ 156 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Kotor, Mostar and Trebinje - Discover the glittering cultural heritage of these picturesque cities
  • Mount Zlatibor - Visit Sirogojno's famous open air museum and travel on the historic Sargan Eight Railway
  • Visegrad - See the UNESCO listed Bridge Over the Drina - the subject of Ivo Andric's famous novel
  • Sarajevo - Enjoy the cultural highlights of the city known as the 'Jerusalem of Europe'
  • Dubrovnik - Explore one of the finest medieval cities in the world

Short Description

Travelling through the heart of former Yugoslavia, we discover four countries that have been shaped by a rich but turbulent history. Against a backdrop of jagged mountain peaks and dramatic coastlines, we explore several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, fascinating old towns and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Durmitor National Park. We'll also ride the rails on the historic Sargan Eight Railway, see traditional sweater making in Sirogojno Open Air Museum and go underground in Tito's Nuclear Bunker.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport N/A
Start City N/A
End City Cavtat

Travel Theme

Cultural

Cities & Attractions

Croatia Dubrovnik Montenegro Sarajevo

Activities

Trains & Rail

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Join trip in Dobrota

Description

Our trip begins in Montenegro and the small, beautiful coastal town of Dobrota. On arrival at our hotel, the rest of the evening is free

Included Meals : None

Day 2 - Walking tour of medieval Kotor and a boat trip in the bay

Description

This morning we travel the short distance to the medieval city of Kotor, lying beneath the slopes of Mount Lovcen. With its engaging mix of European and Byzantine influences, Kotor was once an independent city republic, until the threat of Ottoman attacks saw it join with the Venetians. We'll take a wander through the old city, walking its walls to enjoy the views across the traditional rooftops and out over the fjord from the Ivan Tower. Under the Venetians, Kotor became one of the best fortified cities in the region, boasting walls twice the length of Dubrovnik; walls which today provide us with a fascinating glimpse into its turbulent past.

After lunch, we will take to the waters of Kotor Bay, to explore some of the small islands that occupy the turquoise waters of what is essentially the southernmost fjord in Europe. An inspiration for artists and poets, the bay is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Its breathtaking mix of rugged mountains and azure waters compliment its rich scattering of charming coastal towns that attest to its former domination by the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 3 - Swimming at Budva Town; opportunity of a boat trip on Skadar Lake

Description

This morning's short journey to Budva Town offers a chance to enjoy a swim on the beautiful Budva Riviera - a 35 kilometre-long strip of the Adriatic boasting some of the coast's best beaches. After our swim, we continue to the lovely town of Virpazar on the shores of Skadar Lake, where we will spend the night. The largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula, Skadar stretches for some 44 kilometres, encroaching into neighbouring Albania.

You have the option to explore Skadar Lake and its surrounding national park on a boat trip or on dry land. This area is home to some 270 species of birds, including egrets, spoonbills and one of the largest cormorant colonies on the planet. The park is also a haven for rare plants. What's more, its collection of monasteries, villages and sacred monuments span over nine centuries of Montenegrin history.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 4 - Visit Moraca Monastery and walk in Durmitor National Park; arrive in Zabljak

Description

Today we drive to Zabljak, on the edge of the Durmitor National Park. Our journey takes us via the monumental 13th century Orthodox monastery at Moraca, as well as the impressive Djurdjevica Tara Bridge. Spanning the gorge over the Tara River, the bridge towers some 135 metres above the river valley.

Zabljak lies among the towering peaks, alpine lakes and high pastureland that is sandwiched between the Tara and Piva Canyons. Durmitor National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that presents us with a magnificent setting for an afternoon walk. On arrival, we will hike up through the thick forest towards the waters of Crno Jezero. Translated as the Black Lake, it is so named because of the dark pine landscape that surrounds it. Of the 18 glacial lakes that pepper this spectacular karst landscape, the Black Lake is probably the most famous and is certainly the largest, feeding the river basins of both the Tara and the Komarnica Rivers. Besides its glacial lakes, the park also features 27 peaks that exceed 2200 metres; five canyons; lush expanses of ancient forest and a labyrinthine system of caves and sinkholes. After exploring these natural wonders, we'll return to Zabljak for the evening.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 5 - Visit Mileseva Monastery; stay overnight in Sirogojno Open Air Museum (Serbia)

Description

Today we cross into western Serbia and head for the peaks of the Zlatibor massif. Covering some 300 square kilometres, Mount Zlatibor encompasses a range of mountains that stretch for 27 miles and makes up part of the Dinaric Alps.

On today's route, we will stop off at the 13th century Mileseva Monastery near Prijepolje. Founded by King Vladislav between 1234 and 1236, the monastery is one of the country's most important spiritual centres. Guided round by a local priest, we will see some of its superb examples of 13th century fresco painting, including the famous 'White Angel', which depicts an angel visiting the grave of Christ.

Tonight's accommodation is in the mountain-side village of Sirogojno - home to a remarkable open air museum that was declared a national monument back in 1983. Upon arrival, we will take a tour of this museum. Covering nearly 15 hectares, it contains a collection of traditional 19th century wooden buildings that have been assembled here from across the region, including a bakery, an inn and a dairy. All are authentic and provide a fascinating glimpse into Serbia's rural past.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 6 - Drive to Mokra Gora; chance to ride on the historic Sargan Eight Railway

Description

Sirogojno is known for its authentic high quality and handmade knitted sweaters. They've been featured in fashion shows all over the world including London, Paris and New York and are highly sought-after. This morning before leaving we will be shown how the jumpers are made and have the chance to try our hand at knitting.

Later this morning we drive to Mokra Gora, which in English translates to 'wet mountain' and is a green and beautiful mountain valley. Here we board the historic narrow gauge railway, Sargan Eight. The line is part of the former track that once ran between Sarajevo and Belgrade, until it was closed in 1974. The section over the Sargan Pass was renovated by the Serbian government to recapture something of its 1920's heyday and reopened in 1999. It was once admired around the world as a piece of world-class construction, for it allows the train to make the steep climb through the mountains in a figure of eight weaving through 22 tunnels and covering just over 15 kilometres. Although as the crow flies, the distance between the stations of Mokra Gora and Sargan is a mere 3.5 kilometres.

From here we continue our drive to Kustendorf. This distinctive mountain village was built by the international film director, Emir Kusturica, for his movie 'Life is a Miracle'. Everything here is constructed from wood and he wanted to recreate a traditional Serbian village, with the exception that all the streets are named after famous film directors. Now days, it is his home, a hotel and also home to an annual international film and music festival. We stay tonight in this unique location. As well as the chance to enjoy the fantastic mountain scenery, here there is also a gym, indoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar and small art gallery exhibiting local Serbian artists.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 7 - Visit the famed Bridge over the Drina; drive to Sarajevo (Bosnia Herzegovina)

Description

Crossing into Bosnia Herzegovina this morning, we drive to Visegrad on the Drina River. Here, we will find the inspiration for Nobel Prize-winning author, Ivo Andric's novel, 'Bridge over the Drina'. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has been an iconic symbol of the region for generations and was the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian War.

Later, we continue our journey to Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina's vibrant capital, which is located on the Sarajevo plain and surrounded by mountains. Famed for its diverse religious heritage and often called the Jerusalem of Europe, we can look forward to a two night stay here.

This afternoon we will take a walking tour of some of its highlights. Although it was a major settlement during the Middle Ages, it was the Ottoman Empire that founded much of the Sarajevo we know today, transforming a collection of villages into the largest city in the region. Annexed by the Habsburgs, Sarajevo became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1908, going on to become the scene of the catalyst for the start of World War I, when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated here on 28th June 1914.

During the time of the Ottoman occupation, the city was home to Muslims, Catholics and Jews and Eastern Orthodox and many of its religious monuments have survived the city's turbulent past. Our tour will take in the beautiful old Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Michael and Gabriel and the stunning 16th century Gazi Husrev Bey Mosque. Considered the most important Islamic building in the country, this is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture anywhere in the world. We'll also see the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral and its pseudo-Moorish styled Town Hall - a particularly grandiose building that dates back to the Austro-Hungarian period.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 8 - Free day in Sarajevo; option to take a tunnel tour

Description

Today is free for you to relax and further explore Sarajevo. A stroll through the centre of Bascarsija, in the heart of old Sarajevo, offers a chance to browse the city's markets. The alleys that radiate out from the market square reflect the Ottoman tradition of naming streets after the traders who practised there and among these winding alleys and covered markets you can find bargains galore.

Our perhaps you'd like to join a tour to discover the Sarajevo Tunnel, which was the only way in or out of the city when the longest siege in modern military history took place here during the war of the 1990s. The tunnel took six months to build and covered 800 metres. A small section of this hand dug tunnel has survived today and is now part of the Tunnel Museum.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 9 - Drive to historic Mostar for a city tour and time to explore

Description

We can look forward to spending today and tonight in historic Mostar. Set on the banks of the Neretva River, this is the largest and most important city in the Herzegovina region. Also, one of the most beautiful towns in the entire country, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is divided by the Neretva, with Croats on one side and Muslims on the other, reflecting its rich cultural heritage.

Founded by the Turks during the 15th century and expanded by the Habsburgs 300 years later, the town and its historic old bridge (the Stari Most) were badly damaged during the Balkan conflict of the early 1990s. The old Ottoman bridge was rebuilt after the war and much of the old city has also been restored to its former glory. The five year-long programme of reconstruction went a long way to restoring peace to this shattered region, with international and ethnic co-operation helping to rebuild cultural as well as historic bridges.

Today, the city is host to a number of international festivals, including prominent music and traditional dance events, as well as the annual bridge jumping festival. After a tour of the city the rest of the day is free to explore this lovely old town at your own pace.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 10 - Stop at Tvrdos Monastery with the chance for a wine tasting; city tour of Trebinje

Description

Heading back towards the Adriatic, we pay a visit to the charming 15th century Tvrdos Monastery, located on the cliffs above the town. Belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church, the monastery has endured a somewhat violent past, having been destroyed by Turks, Venetians and a massive earthquake in the 17th century. The building we see today was reconstructed during the 1920s and is the headquarters of the bishop of Herzegovina, as well as being home to a number of monks who still live behind its monastic walls. It is particularly famous for its wine cellar and there is the opportunity to enjoy a wine tasting during our visit.

We will spend the rest of today and tonight in Trebinje and can look forward to a tour of the old city. Lying along the banks of the Trebisnjica River, just across the border from Dubrovnik, this town once commanded the road between Ragusa and Constantinople and its environs are scattered with old mills and bridges. The attractive Ottoman Arsalangic Bridge is of particular note. Built in the 16th century, it is considered by many to be one of the finest of its kind in the country.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 11 - Discover Dubrovnik on foot

Description

This morning we set out on your journey to the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Regarded as one of the finest examples of a fortified medieval town anywhere in the world, it was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. The old city is a wonderful mix of monasteries, museums and red-tiled buildings that hark back to the glory days, when it was one of Europe's greatest maritime cities.

A guided walking tour will give us a feel of the layout of the town and its wealth of architectural masterpieces. Fully restored to its former grandeur following the Siege of Dubrovnik (1991-92), the old medieval town still exudes a unique atmosphere and charm. George Bernard Shaw once wrote, 'those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik'. So, in the company of a local guide, we will discover the majesty of its Pile Gate, the city's Dominican church and the great Franciscan monastery, as well as the old port and the Rector's Palace.

This afternoon is free to continue exploring in your own time, perhaps taking a walk around the city walls to take in the views across the twisting alleyways and the glittering waters of the Adriatic. Later, we will transfer to the beautiful coastal town of Cavtat, a picturesque fishing village that once found favour among the wealthy families of Europe. The old town still retains much of its endearing charm and it is a fitting place in which to enjoy our last evening of the trip.

Tonight we will be staying in one of number of private pensions (guesthouses). Each guesthouse and bedrooms within it are unique, so the size and decor of the rooms will vary. Most rooms are en suite but some do have shared facilities.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 12 - Trip ends in Cavtat

Description

After enjoying breakfast in a local pastry shop, our trip ends in Cavtat this morning.

Depending on the time of your flight or if you're extending your stay by a night then you might like to return to Dubrovnik today for some additional free time exploring the city. It's easy to reach from Cavtat by public bus or boat, which usually run around once an hour and the journey time is about 30 minutes. Depending on what you'd like to visit then you may find that purchasing a Dubrovnik Card offers a saving on a number of museum entrance prices.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Availability

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Price From $ 1,870
Price Per Day: $ 156 per day
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Stride Featured in

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30 Explore! Travel Reviews & Ratings

93%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 3
Average 1
Disappointing 1
Terrible 1
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.5

Journey Through The Balkans

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Company Reviews

Wonderful

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I was grateful to Explore with my booking as I was forced to cancel at a late date and then was enabled to rebook which meant the difference between having no summer holiday and a wonderful one. All of the administration seemed to be very efficient, friendly and professional.
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Wonderful holiday memories

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
We have travelled all over the world with explore on their family adventure holidays. We have an only child and she benefited so much with instant friendships, and has some wonderful holiday memories. Explore has always been very helpful with the booking process, and we have found most of the tour leaders they use to be professional, committed, really good at their jobs.
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Extremely enjoyable

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I have travelled with Explore on several occasions. Each experience has been positive and every trip extremely enjoyable. The itinerary’s are excellent ensuring a full and varied experience and the use of local guides is hugely beneficial.
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It's fantastic trip

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
It's fantastic trip for me..just not very happy for accommodation. And the trip leader .If he can make more time with us.and make more interesting and funny when he was talking. It is should be good..other way he is good..
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wonderful

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Danijela, our tour guide, was wonderful. She shared plenty of facts about Croatia with us and managed all the arrangements really well. One of our group had a birthday while we were away and Danijela gave her a present and we celebrated. Transfers to and from the airport went well. Prior to going, the staff on the phones were really helpful with any questions.
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Great experiences

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This was our third family adventure with Explore, all have been great experiences. Kids bond immediately and adults can melt into the background and relax. The size of the groups makes mixing manageable and the guides and crews have been first rate throughout.
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Details

Optional Activities

Optional Excursions

Skadar Lake: 2.5 hour boat trip on the lake €18.00 plus €4.00 entrance fee to the park. Tvrdos Monastery and wine tasting: €1.50 per tasting. Sarajevo Tunnel Tour: €15.00 entrance plus €7.00 transfer to the Tunnel Museum from the city centre.

Accomodations

Accommodation Notes

On day 5 of our trip we will be staying in the mountain-side village of Sirogojno, which is home to a remarkable open air museum. It covers nearly 15 hectares and contains a collection of traditional 19th century authentic wooden buildings. We will be accommodated in small historical mountain houses. Each house has two to five beds, but they are in separate rooms rather than being dormitory style. So for example a house with five beds would usually have three bedrooms. Every house has a shared bathroom. In Cavtat on day 11 you will be staying in one of number of private pensions (guesthouses). Unfortunately it isn't possible to specify the exact guesthouse name that you will be staying in ahead of your arrival, but they are in the same area and of a similar standard. Each guesthouse and bedrooms within it are however unique, so the size and decor of the rooms will vary. Most rooms are en suite but some do have shared facilities. If you decide to extend you stay at the end of your holiday then our local agent will endeavour to make the booking for you in the same guesthouse as you stayed in on the final night of the trip. The majority of hotels used on this trip don't have a lift.

Guides

An Explore Leader is an integral part of any Explore trip and your trip will be led by one of our experienced Explore Leaders who have been handpicked and expertly trained. We believe that our Explore Leaders are the key to the success of our trips; they are passionate travellers who are bursting with first-hand local knowledge which they love to share. Your Explore Leader will also take care of all the planning and organisation throughout your journey. Their passionate approach will make this trip fun and inspiring, bringing the destination to life whether you're travelling alone or with others.

Tour Staff

Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s)

Trip ID#:

explore-YD

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