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Despite a surge in popularity, The Balkans still feel like one of Europe's well-kept secrets. An idyllic collection of countries hugging the pebbled shores of the Adriatic Coast; home to sleepy villages, turquoise waters, wildflower-dotted meadows and a charming mix of Austro-Hungarian culture. The legacy of a conflict that rocked the region in the 90s is beginning to fade, and in its place is blooming one of the continent's true renaissance stories. This 15-day journey passes through some of the region's most spectacular destinations, from the ancient Roman town of Split, along the Dalmatian Coast, through Belgrade, Novi Sad and Sarajevo.
Day 1: Split
Your trip starts today with your arrival in Split, the second largest city in Croatia, located right on the Adriatic coast. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until the important group meeting in the evening. If you arrive early why not head out and get a first taste of this magnificent city. After the meeting head out for a dinner with the group.
Day 2: Trogir / Split
This morning you will embark on a sightseeing tour of Split with a local guide. The city dates back 1,800 years, to the time when the Roman emperor Diocletian built a monumental imperial residence for his retirement. Today this fortified camp is an intriguing warren of narrow cobblestone streets where pre-Romanesque churches exist alongside Gothic chapels and a multitude of museums. You will also visit Diocletian's Palace, which was built in 295 AD and constitutes the heart of the city. Very much a living monument, it is framed by four gates, the most famous of which is the Golden Gate. In front of it stands a statue of the 10th-century bishop Grgur Ninski, who once opposed the pope and introduced the Croatian language into his services. In the afternoon you will take a small boat to the town of Trogir. Explore this quaint seaside town on a guided tour. Visit the cathedral where you can see the famous monument (a 13th-century portal of Dalmatian masonry) before returning to Split in the evening.
Day 3: Lastovo Island
Enjoy a free morning in gorgeous Split before boarding an afternoon catamaran for our ride to Croatia’s most remote island – Lastovo. The 4-hour journey is worth it to reach this secluded slice of paradise. Being so remote the island is still undiscovered by mainstream tourism and it has a unique local flair to it. The whole island is a nature park and as such protected from over-exploitation. This means that the locals didn’t develop the mass tourism infrastructure as seen on other islands and for that reason most of the locals moved away and the island’s population is slowly dying out. However this makes it the last authentic Adriatic Island that preserved the life as it once was in the whole region. We support the locals who have decided to stay there. Transfer to your guesthouse and enjoy an included dinner with your group, looking over the tiny bay.
Day 4: Lastovo Island
Today you’ll learn the local trade with an immersive fishing experience – early start included. Rise and shine to head out with a local fisherman, his wife and his crew, helping to bring in the days' catch, usually scorpion fish, mackerel, sardine and bream. Enjoy the fishy fruits of your labour with a seafood lunch freshly prepared on board. Make sure you ask the captain any questions you may have. Return to Lastovo and enjoy the rest of the day as you see fit. Perhaps relax on the beach or explore the peace and quiet of the stone waterfront and tiny port of this unique island lost in time.
Day 5: Korcula Island
Bid farewell to Lastovo and transfer back to the port of Ubli, where you will board the mid-morning ferry bound for the island of Korcula (approximately 1.5 hours). Disembark at Vela Luka and transfer to Korcula Town, stopping en route at Blato, a little-known interior town on the island. Enjoy some time to explore a town many tourists never see and enjoy an optional lunch before continuing. Arrive in Korcula Town and get acquainted with this fortified, seaside city on an orientation walk. Enjoy a free evening in this stunning city. Perhaps wander through the narrow streets of the Old Town, taking in the stocky Revelin Tower and impressive defensive walls before stopping for dinner in one of the many restaurants.
Day 6: Peljesac Peninsula / Dubrovnik
Take a short ferry ride from Korcula to the Peljesac Peninsula, famous for its wine. In a family run winery you will try some of their locally produced wines accompanied with light cheese and smoked ham. Next visit the town of Ston, with time for you to enjoy an optional lunch, before continuing to Dubrovnik. Once settled in, head out into the amazing Stari Grad, Dubrovnik's compact Old Town, with your leader, just in time to enjoy the sunset views from the famous Dubrovnik city walls. This walled treasure is often referred to as the 'pearl of the Adriatic' and is surprisingly tiny (400 m by 600 m within its protective walls). It's a lovely city to walk around, as it's been restored to its former glory since the damages of the 1991 conflicts.
Day 7: Lokrum Island / Dubrovnik
Travel by boat to the island of Lokrum. It's located off the coast of Dubrovnik's old town. In this quasi 'botanical garden' you'll encounter a collection of exotic Mediterranean plants. Lokrum is also strewn with many golden sandy beaches that are popular with the locals. You will visit the ruins of an old Benedictine monastery and enjoy great views back across to Dubrovnik as well as Napoleon's fortress. Return by boat to Dubrovnik at around lunchtime. The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to walk around at leisure. Make sure you visit the Franciscan monastery and the Rector's Palace. In the evening meet up with your group again to enjoy an included dinner.
Day 8: Dubrovnik
Spend more free time in Dubrovnik, one of Croatia's most bewitching seaside cities. Continue to explore the charming Old Town, or simply enjoy the city's lively outdoor cafe culture. Alternatively why not rent a sunbed and umbrella at the city beach, or the beaches south of town.
Day 9: Kotor / Dubrovnik
Set out from Dubrovnik on a day excursion to the stunning country of Montenegro. Montenegro occupies a thin strip of the Adriatic coast and is a land of beautiful sandy and pebbled beaches, dramatic mountain peaks and delightful old villages. Your excursion will take you to Europe's most southerly fjord, Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor), one of the most beautiful bays of the region. On the way, pass through the small and picturesque towns of Risan and Perast, situated on the banks of the bay, before arriving at the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Kotor, where you will embark on a sightseeing tour with a local guide. Visit the Cathedral of St. Tryphun, which dates back to the 8th century (according to the annals of Constantine Porfirogenet, the Byzantine czar), the South Gates of Kotor (the "Gurdich Gate"), and the square "Trg od oruzija" (The Armory Square). Return to Dubrovnik in the afternoon.
Day 10: Blagaj / Mostar / Sarajevo
Depart Dubrovnik this morning and travel to the peaceful town of Blagaj, our first stop in Bosnia (approximately 2.5 hours). Blagaj is the location of the turquoise Buna River spring, where you’ll visit a historical tekija (Dervish monastery). After lunch there is a short drive to Mostar (approximately 30 minutes), a town situated in a beautiful valley in the high mountains of Herzegovina. Thanks to the river Neretva, Mostar was able to develop as a city in the barren landscape of Herzegovina. Neretva's size turned Mostar into a trading centre of the region very early on. The most famous feature of the city is its bridge. Stari Most ('Old Bridge'), which was built by the Ottomans in 1565. It was the great architect Mimar Hajrudin who had succeeded with the impossible mission to cross the Neretva River with a single span stone bridge. In the late afternoon you will drive to Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo (approximately 2.5 hours). Enjoy a dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 11: Sarajevo
Explore Sarajevo this morning with a walking tour of the city. You will visit the famous Baščaršija, the old Turkish quarter, home to one of the most interesting market centres in the country. Sarajevo is one of the few cities in the world that features an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and a mosque (the famous Begova Džamija) all within close proximity. You will be visiting all three buildings on your tour. This city may well be one of the highlights of your trip. It has emerged from the brink of ruin in the 1990s to become one of the most interesting capital cities of Europe. After your exploration of the city, there will be free time for lunch before you depart for the Tunnel Museum in the suburb of Ilidža. The tunnel was dug underneath the airport runway and was used to smuggle provisions into the city during the siege. The rest of the afternoon ids free for you to explore this exciting city.
Day 12: Srebrenica / Belgrade
After breakfast transfer from Sarajevo for Srebrenica (approximately 2.5 hours). Explore the narrow streets and learn about the town's tragic past on a guided tour, including a visit to the Srebrenica Memorial Center. The Centre honours the thousands who died in the infamous Srebrenica Genocide of 1995. The local guide who has lived through the horrors of war will answer any question you might have. Take time to reflect on the experience over lunch at a local restaurant before travelling to Beograd, the Serbian capital more commonly known as Belgrade (approximately 3.5 hours). The 'White City' is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Sitting at the confluence of two major rivers, the Sava and the Danube, it’s an important intersection between Eastern and Western Europe. Here you’ll experience an energetic mix of progressive flamboyance and conservative customs.
Day 13: Belgrade
After breakfast take part in a guided sightseeing tour of Belgrade to give you some familiarity with the area and local amenities. Then you'll have the rest of the day free to explore the city. Perhaps begin with a wander around the city’s wide boulevards and squares, and the historic and green heart of Kalemegdan Park. The park is home to Kalemegdan Fortress, which has overlooked the Danube River here for centuries. In the evening, head down to Skadarska Street in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija to sample some authentic local food and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Day 14: Novi Sad / Sremski Karlovci / Belgrade
Embark on a day trip to Serbia's second-largest city, Novi Sad (approximately 1.5 hours). Experience Novi Sad's fascinating blend of traditional culture and Austro-Hungarian architecture wit your leader. Visit the city’s fortress of Petrovaradin, which sits right on the Danube and contains a museum of historic artefacts from the region. In the afternoon, head out of town to visit a local vineyard in Sremski Karlovci (approximately 30 minutes) and see the workings of a family-run wine making business. Visit the Zivanovic family’s honey museum and winery. Their old house has been converted into museum full of beekeeping memorabilia and the have had a wine cellar here for 300 years. You’ll try Bermet dessert wine which is a speciality of the region. Reports suggest it was drunk at the emperor's court in Vienna and was even served on the Titanic. This family are said to have kept the original recipe. Return to Belgrade in the evening for a final dinner with your group.
Day 15: Belgrade
Your trip ends after breakfast this morning in Belgrade. Those wanting to extend their stay can arrange additional nights' accommodation at the time of booking. If you have some spare time before departing, the markets near the Hram Svetog Save (St Sava Church) and Pijaca Venac will keep you occupied for hours.
- Guided Walk of Split
- Diocletian's Palace
- Day Trip to Trogir by Boat
- Trogir Sightseeing with Local Guide & Visit to Trogir Cathedral
- Fishing Trip with Local Fisherman with Seafood Lunch
- Visit to the Town of Blato
- Dubrovnik City Walls
- Dubrovnik Card (1 day local transport and entry to sites)
- Matusko Winery Tour and Tasting
- Boat Tour to Lokrum Island
- Kotor Sightseeing with Local Guide
- St Tryphon's Cathedral
- Blagaj Teke Monastery
- Guided Tour in Mostar with a Local Guide & Craftsman Visit
- Sarajevo Sightseeing with Local Guide
- War Tunnel Museum
- Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque
- Srebrenica Memorial Centre with Local Guide
- Guided Tour Belgrade
- Petrovaradin Fortress
- Wine & Honey Tasting in Sremski Karlovci
- Novo Hopovo Monastery
14 Breakfast(s) Included
3 Lunch(es) Included
6 Dinner(s) Included