Unleash your wild side in Europe’s untameable Balkan Peninsula. You’ll be enthralled by the cobbled castle lanes, satiated by strange, exotic cuisine, and pushed to your party limits in the offbeat capitals of Belgrade and Sarajevo. On this gorgeous 15-day adventure you’ll delve into the rich histories of these often disputed lands, you’ll marvel at the insane natural and man-made wonders, and burst at the seams as you gorge on succulent cuisines. These are lands where the mountains loom on high and the sun rarely reins in its pulsing rays. These are the lands for you.
We’ll kick off our epic adventure from Athens with Thessaloniki in our sights. For lunch we’ll stop off in Delphi and take in the sights. Perched on the slope of Mount Parnassus, Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and - according to legend - home to the Oracle of Apollo. Here, many of history’s greatest leaders sought the council of the Gods. To truly experience this holy place, enjoy an included tour of the city followed by a roam of the local museum. Onwards, and we arrive at Thessaloniki in the early evening ready for a delicious Greek meal. Once full, set out to explore the capital of Greek Macedonia with its quirky vibe, rich history and many archaeological wonders and ruins.
We depart Thessaloniki early this morning, heading towards Macedonia on our jaunt to Ohrid. Situated on Lake Ohrid, Ohrid is a charming little city and a UNESCO-listed site. Here, we’ll discover an insane 365 churches, one for each day of the calendar year. If that wasn’t enough, we’ll also find a monastery, and the vestiges of many ancient basilicas. Take advantage of an optional walking tour to better appreciate the many sights available in this picturesque lakeside city. Later, we’ll enjoy a traditional Macedonian meal and views of the glistening water’s edge. With dinner done, you’re free to enjoy the rest of your time in this outstanding utopia. Take in some of the sites or relax alongside the lake and its calming waters.
We’ll be leaving Ohrid this morning, but there’s plenty of time for a dip and a frolic in the lake beforehand. We don’t like to look back, however, so it’s onwards to the Macedonian capital city of Skopje. Found on the Vardar River, Skopje is home to towering Roman architecture and an abundance of masterfully crafted statues. Take advantage of an optional walking tour on arrival to help get a feel for the city. Afterwards, you’re free to explore Roman ruins, the aqueduct, Skopje Fortress, and anything else that might take your fancy. Tonight, lose yourself in a myriad of exciting venues. Live music is plentiful, as are casinos and nightclubs. Skopje caters to all whims!
See ya, Skopje! We’re off to the heart of Serbia with Belgrade in our sights. Along the way we’ll be stopping for lunch in the ancient Balkan city of Nis. This vintage metropolis was once the gateway between the East and West. Today, however, it’ll be our gateway to Belgrade. We’ll arrive in the Serbian capital come afternoon, where you can take advantage of an optional walking tour to familiarise yourself with the city. The tour ends with a pub crawl where we’ll absorb Belgrade’s vibrant party atmosphere and heavenly cheap drinks. Later, join us for dinner in a traditional Serbian restaurant before cutting lose for the evening. We recommend the party barges (or splav) for a truly memorable night.
Our second day in Belgrade dawns and you’re free to explore this city and its many, many attractions in your own time. Seek out the museums and churches, the old palace, the parliamentary buildings, and many more fascinating places. Scientists, electricity fanatics, or general history buffs should make sure to visit the Nikola Tesla Museum to marvel at his wide-reaching achievements and influence. Lazy-walk fans should venture to Kalemegdan Park and Fortress for beautiful views steeped in cultural significance. When the sun sets, head out into the city once again for some more splav hopping.
Today we venture to the Bosnia and Herzegovina border. Our route - though gorgeous - holds a dark past, as it’s the same route used by marching Serbian soldiers during the Bosnian War. We arrive in the late afternoon with time to explore Sarajevo, a true melting pot of faiths, ideals, and ethnicities. Having undergone a brutal four-year siege, the city may have a painful history but its vibrance and spirit have survived despite everything. Tonight, explore the emerging nightlife of the area or seek out a cafe, club, or bar and share a drink or a story with the locals.
Start your second day in Sarajevo right with an optional walking tour of the city and an excursion to the Tunnel of Hope, which was a lifeline between Sarajevo and her allies during the siege. Once the tour is done, explore at your own leisure. Sports fans should make sure to check out Sarajevo’s various Olympic venues from the 1984 Winter Games. Exploring is hungry work, so grab some street food whilst you’re out (we recommend a cevapi). Alternatively, why not head over to the Old Bazaar (or Bascarsija as it is locally known), the cultural and historical hub of the city? Tonight, we’ll be enjoying the local cuisine at the (in)famous Sarajevo Brewery. Prepare for a pint or five!
This morning we make our way to Split, stopping in Mostar along the way. Here, we’ll explore the area with a walking tour lead by a local guide. After the tour, we’ll visit the Bridge Museum and watch as professional daredevils launch themselves from the bridge, falling 24 horrifying metres into the river below. After lunch we’ll be departing Mostar and arrive this evening in the coastal city gem that is Split, Croatia. Explore the majestic walls of the ancient Diocletian’s Palace before discovering Split’s heart-thumping nightlife!
Sorry Split, but we’ve gotta split! Today we’re en route to Kotor, with a stop off in Dubrovnik to experience stunning coastal vistas. Explore Dubrovnik’s renaissance architecture such as the Sponza Palace or partake in a Game of Thrones walking tour of the city. Once we’re all Dubrovniked out, we’ll make our way to gulf-nestled Kotor, arriving in the evening. This Mediterranean marvel offers gorgeous panoramas of the limestone cliffs and bay, and a maze of medieval streets begging to be wandered through. Come sunset, we leave our belts in the hostels and prepare for a feast of traditional Montenegrin eats. We recommend the seafood, a local speciality. After dinner, feel free to enjoy the city’s pumping nightlife or explore these quaint, winding streets some more.
Morning arrives and so too does another opportunity explore the phenomenal sites within Kotor’s weathered Venetian walls. Kotor’s Old Town is history-rich and hosts some of the finest medieval architecture in the Balkans. In the late morning, we’ll depart for the Budva Riviera, a 2,500-year-old settlement perched on the Adriatic. Here, you can spend the afternoon devouring the sun’s rays as you laze on the Adriatic’s pristine beaches. When we return to Kotor, you’ll have the fantastic opportunity to scale the nearby fortress and bask in some stunning sunset views. Tonight, our hostel is hosting a social event and we encourage you to rub shoulders with your fellow passengers. Regale stories of your past travels and future plans over an ice-cold drink or three.
Another day, another country. Welcome to Albania! We’ll be navigating this majestic land’s winding roads as we drive, headstrong, to the capital city: Tirana. After stretching our legs and filling our minds with an inclusive orientation walk, the rest of the day is yours to enjoy. Lose yourself in the sights and sounds of this gorgeous city whilst you explore numerous monuments erected by the Romans, Ottomans, and Byzantines. See the famous Tirana Mosaic Archaeological Complex or sample genuine Albanian cuisine. Anyone hoping for a more bellicose experience should visit the Pyramid of Tirana (before it’s torn down). Tonight, explore pulse-pumping nightlife in this beautiful Balkan city.
As we make our way to Greece this morning we’ll be making a pitstop at Gjirokaster, a fantastic example of a preserved Ottoman town. We arrive in Kalambaka (Meteora) this evening with traditional Greek cuisine waiting for us to devour. After the feast, explore your new surroundings and the amazing mountainous scenery. Wind down the day with a drink or two in one of the numerous restaurants or hotel bars and get to know your fellow passengers a little better. Don’t stay out too late, though, because tomorrow we’ll get truly stuck in to the awe-inspiring surroundings of this dream-like Greek town!
After an early breakfast, we’ll depart for the monasteries of Meteora with free entry into a couple of the best ones. From James Bond to Game of Thrones, these mammoth mountains have fanned the flames of many an imagination and are home to expansive cave systems. Use the rest of the morning to bask in the panoramic views and absorb the area’s fascinating and complex history. After lunch we depart for Athens, stopping off at the Spartan Monument in Thermopylae. Previously believed to be the entrance into the Underworld, the “Hot Gates” are home to many historic battles, most notably when the Greeks - led by the Spartan King Leonidas - successfully slowed Xerxes’ advancing Persian armies. Tonight we dine in Athens! Enjoy your dinner under the gaze of the Acropolis.
Kick off your last full day of our adventure with an optional walking tour to get yourself acquainted with historic Athens, the cradle of western civilisation. Afterwards, you’re free to explore this vibrant city and its vast, impressive sights. Visit the gorgeous Acropolis, which is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. See the Daphne Monastery and Parthenon, and the temple to the Goddess Athena, the symbol of Ancient Greece and the birthplace of democracy. With your head full of mythology and feet sore from walking, join us this evening for a traditional Greek farewell dinner. End the day however you see fit. Roam the bustling streets in search of a party, or head on down to the seafront for some cooling night time waves.
Enjoy your final breakfast before your departure. We hope to see you again!
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Trip Name: Ultimate Balkan Adventure (Athens to Athens)
Duration: 15 Days
From Price: $1,959
Supplier Tour ID: BK8/225125
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