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Balkan Discoverer

From US$ 1,925 US$ 1,829
Based on 5 Reviews
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highlights
  • Discover Serbia, Macedonia and Albania
The Balkan Discoverer tour starts in Belgrade and ends in Tirana. The Balkan Discoverer is a Culture, History And Heritage Tour that takes 11 days taking you from Belgrade to Tirana and other destinations in Europe.

The Balkan Peninsula for many is one of the last undiscovered corners of Europe. Cultural and natural variety abound here, forged over the centuries by numerous political changes and imperial influences from the Byzantine to the Ottoman. We contrast Belgrade, Skopje and Tirana with traditional towns, villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and places of untouched natural beauty. Each country offers a different culture, cuisine and tradition to discover, each growing as an independent nation in its own right and taking its place in the modern world. This is a rare chance to see the re-emergence of places kept off limits until relatively recently.
Day 1 Start Belgrade.

Our trip begins in Belgrade, a thriving city with much to offer.

Day 2 Belgrade city tour with free afternoon.

Today we will explore the capital of Serbia. Belgrade is a fascinating city with many cultural facets to explore. We'll visit the old town area, including the Kalemegdan Complex, set high on the rocky ridge where the Sava and Danube Rivers meet. This is the former urban centre of Belgrade, which has the best views of the new Belgrade area and the agricultural plains that surround the city. On our tour of Belgrade, we'll visit: Republic Square, Skadarlija ('the Montmartre of Belgrade'), National Theatre, Parliament, Belgrade Fortress, Knez Mihajlo Street, Kalemegdan Park and Saint Sava Orthodox Cathedral. After the city tour there is the option to visit some ofBelgrade's many museums, such as the Ethnographic or Nikola Tesla Museum. We should finish the tour around lunchtime. The rest of the day and evening offers the chance to further explore and then sample the famous nightlife in Belgrade.

Day 3 Transfer to Visegrad with visit to famous bridge on the River Drina and Sirogojno with traditional village and open air museum.

We set off towards Zlatibor Mountain and the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, taking in changing scenery on our drive (approx 5 hours) to Visegrad. Here we see the famous Cuprija na Drina (Bridge on the Drina). This UNESCO Heritage site is a magnificent Ottoman bridge spanning the wide Drina river. It gained its fame from the Nobel Prize for Literature winner Ivo Andric and his novel ‘Bridge on the Drina.' After lunch we visit the ethno village Staro Selo where traditional Serbian houses have been restored to their original form. We explore the village of Sirogojno and get a glimpse of how life once was for this mountain community. The village is well known for its wool knit work, open air theatre and traditional folklore dances. We spend our first evening in the converted village houses here. The tranquil location and traditional architecture make this a particular highlight.

Day 4 Ride the old steam train in Mokra Gora N.P.; visit Drvengrad - a traditional village built for a Serbian film.

This morning we ride heritage railway up to Mokra Gora. Our one hour train ride will take us right through this wild and untamed border area. The Sargan Eight is a narrow-gauge heritage railway in Serbia, running from the village of Mokra Gora to Sargan Vitasi station. From Sarajevo to Belgrade, the railway with a gauge of 760 mm (2 ft 5 15⁄16) ran initially from 1925 to 1974 and was an important connection. The route goes from Mokra Gora to Sargan Vitasi passing through 22 tunnels, over five bridges and climbing 300 metres. We transfer from the station at Mokra Gora to Drvengrad, also known as Kustendorf, a traditional village created by a Serbian film director for his film 'Life is a Miracle.' The village now hosts the annual Kustendorf Film and Music Festival and is a faithful recreation of a traditional Serbian Village.

Day 5 Long transfer to Skopje in Macedonia, stopping at spa town of Vrnjacka Banja en route.

Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, is the destination today. En route we stop for lunch at Vrnjacka Banja, the most popular spa town in Serbia with a history dating back to the Romans. The town boasts several mineral springs, with UNESCO registered monuments in the surrounds and is well worth the visit as we make our way to the south of the Balkans.

Day 6 City tour of Skopje with boat ride in the Matka Canyon and visit to 14th century monastery. Then journey onto Ohrid.

Skopje has a long and varied history like many of the main cities in the Balkans, having changed hands several times over the centuries. It has at different times belonged to, or been capital of the Byzantine, Serb and Bulgarian empires, as well as being part of Yugoslavia until independence in 1991. Our morning tour takes in the old train station - the first in the Balkans, the monument and house of Mother Theresa, the Kale Fortress and the Stone Bridge. Skopje has undergone a period of redevelopment recently, with the main goal of reinforcing its national identity. Government buildings were altered and new statues of Macedonian heroes such as Alexander the Great were erected all over the city. The new additions now sit alongside the original architecture, making a visit to the city a contrasting experience. After our tour we drive for approximately 30-45 minutes to the beautiful Matka Canyon, see the St Andrews Monastery and take a boat ride to the Vrelo Cave, full of stalactites and stalagmites. We will then have lunch before continuing our journey south to the city of Ohrid, on the lake of the same name.

Day 7 Morning city tour of Ohrid and UNESCO site of Samuil's Fortress; afternoon free to explore.

We take a tour of this beautiful lakeside city, starting with “Dolna porta”, the entrance to the old town, near two small churches - St.Nikola and St.Bogorodica Bolnicki. We enjoy the old and new architecture of Ohrid, of which Robevci house dominates the scenery. Today the house hosts the museum of Ohrid - which keeps the most important archaeological discoveries of Ohrid and its area. The XII century St.Sofia church is also worth a visit, impressive for its construction as well as its frescoes. Ohrid is one of the rare sites that has hosted continuous human habitation for more than a millenium and traces of the city’s evolution are to be seen everywhere. One such landmark is the ancient theatre, built in 1st century BC. Accidentally discovered and revived to hold plays and concerts. The tour continues to the church of St. Jovan of Kaneo and the Kaneo area before heading on to Samuil's Fortress, from where there are the most wonderful views of the entire city, the lake and coastline. After this cultural and historical feast, the afternoon is free to enjoy as you please.The tour of Ohrid ends with a short taxi boat ride back to the Old Town.

Day 8 Transfer to Tirana, Albania with afternoon city tour.

After a morning departure from Ohrid we drive through the Albanian hinterlands and spend the early afternoon in the capital Tirana, our base for the final three nights. After first checking in to our hotel and lunch, we go to Skanderbeg Square, the centre of Tirana. Here we visit the mosque and the clock-tower, enjoying views to one of Albania's traditional bazaars. After exploring Skanderbeg Square, we also visit the National Historical Museum. Afterwards we head to the Blloku area, formerly a residential area for important members of the regime during the communist era, but today a lively neighbourhood full of restaurants and boutiques. After the walking tour we will return to the hotel.

Day 9 Day trip to Berat, on the banks of the river Osum.

We leave Tirana early in the morning for a 3-hour drive to Berat, the best-preserved historic town of Albania. Today it boasts a mix of Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Socialist buildings accumulated over 2400 years. On arrival we begin with a walk in the characterful Mangalemi neighbourhood and visit the Ethnographic Museum.
After lunch we walk up to the citadel district of Berat, where we walk inside the old castle walls and visit the splendid orthodox churches and the Onufri Icons museum - named after the famous 16th century master painter of icons and murals. Later in the afternoon we transfer back to Tirana.

Day 10 Visit to Kruje, on Mt Kruja, stronghold of the Albanian resistance.

For our last day we will visit the small town of Kruje, which was the epicentre of the legendary Albanian resistance to the Ottomans, led by national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg in the 14th century. Its location on the cliffs of Mount Kruja made it an invincible stronghold in the Albanian-Ottoman wars for almost half a century. Now, this elevated location offers visitors gorgeous views of the Albanian coast and Skanderbeg museum, located in the environs of Krujë Castle. Our day ends with free afternoon in Tirana.

Day 11 End Tirana

End Tirana.

what’s included
  • All breakfasts
  • 3 lunches and 3 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to Belgrade and from Tirana are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this Balkan Discoverer tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Booking Type Instant Booking  
Duration 11 days
Tour Type Group Tour  
Minimum Participants 6 people
Age Requirement 16+ yrs
guiding method Live guide/instructor
guide language English
Starts/Ends Belgrade, Serbia/Tirana, Albania
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Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Balkan Discoverer
customer reviews
4.0 - Very Good Based on 5 reviews
View of the Balkans
4 - Very Good
“This trip covers parts of Serbia, Macedonia and Albania. You see a variety of different places, including the capital cities of Belgrade, Skopje and Tirana, the hills / mountains in Serbia, beautiful Lake Ohrid, and many ancient and old sites ranging from Roman to Ottoman to relics from Albania's communist past. There are some beautiful places to see.”
Good Introduction to The Balkans
4 - Very Good
“This was my first trip to the Balkans and it was a good introduction to this misunderstood area. From great cities to great landscapes! We saw it all! I hope to return very soon.”
Balkan Dicoverer
4 - Very Good
“A very enjoyable trip to 3 countries. i think the day in Bosnia Herzogovina (lunch, train ride, bridge over the River Drina and film director's villages) was not necessary and the time could have been better spent elsewhere. the rest of the trip was very good and varied.”
Balkans
4 - Very Good
“Trip to former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia) and Albania.
These are countries I had on my radar to visit but all the research I did revealed that they were not easy to get to so this trip was perfect.”
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Good to know Payment

A deposit of 195 USD is required to confirm this tour. For any departures within 24 August 2017 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Balkan Discoverer tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Balkan Discoverer tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

Cancellation No additional cancellation fees apply for this Balkan Discoverer tour. You can cancel the tour up to 57 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 56 days of departure.
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