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Balkan Odyssey

Discover Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro & Bosnia

    • Price £ 2,395 I
    • Please contact us for flights from your nearest airport
    • Single sup. £ 345 I
    • Duration : 15 days
  • Book now

INTRO

Discover the charms of the Balkans. This tour will give you an insight into the people, history and culture of these countries that share much but with distinct local characteristics, making this tour a fascinating exploration of a region still seen by few outsiders. From the Orthodox monasteries of Serbia to the wineries of Macedonia, from the ancient history of Kosovo to the stunning nature of Montenegro and the unique architecture and warm welcome of Bosnia, this is a tour not to be missed.

Extensions to Dubrovnik and other regions of the Balkans possible. Please ask us.

DATES

  • 22 Apr 2017 to 06 May 2017
  • 02 Sep 2017 to 16 Sep 2017
  • 21 Apr 2018 to 05 May 2018
  • 01 Sep 2018 to 15 Sep 2018

If these dates do not suit you but you are interested in this tour, please contact us for alternative dates.

HIGHLIGHTS

Visit Belgrade and Serbia’s Monasteries

Wine tasting at Demir Kapija

Ghoulish Skull Tower of Nis

Stobi, Ohrid and Skopje in Macedonia

The lovely St Naum monastery

Stori, Ohrid and Skopje in Macedonia

The "micronation" of Vevcani

Beautiful old town of Prizren (Kosovo)

Spectacular Tara gorge

Sample Njegusi's famous ham

Biograd Lake and Kotor in Montenegro

Mostar and Sarajevo in Bosnia

Optional extension to Dubrovnik

WHAT'S INCLUDED

International return flight (where indicated)
Airport pick-up & drop-off
Ground transport and driver
Escorted guide
Accommodation
Assistance at all borders
Entrance fees to sites on itinerary
Breakfasts

PLACES VISITED

Belgrade - Sremski Karlovci - Niš - Niš Fortress - Topola - Mediana - Demir Kapija - Ohrid - Vevcani - Skopje - Mavrovo National Park - Pec - Decani Monastery - Prizren - Biograd Lake - Tara River Canyon - Kotor - Mostar - Trebinje - Sarajevo
Belgrade
Sremski Karlovci
Niš
Niš Fortress
Topola
Mediana
Demir Kapija
Ohrid
Vevcani
Skopje
Mavrovo National Park
Pec
Decani Monastery
Prizren
Biograd Lake
Tara River Canyon
Kotor
Mostar
Trebinje
Sarajevo

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ACCOMMODATION



Contact us for a full accommodation list.

ITINERARY

Day 1 : Belgrade (Serbia)
Arrive in Belgrade and transfer to your hotel. Afternoon free to explore the city. Overnight in Belgrade.

Day 2 : Sremski Karlovci - Petrovaradin (Serbia)
Visit Sremski Karlovci and Petrovaradin as well as Zivanovic to taste wine and local honey. Overnight in Belgrade.

Day 3 : Belgrade (Serbia)
City Tour of Belgrade. Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight in Belgrade.

Day 4 : Sumadija - Niš (Serbia)
Drive to Šumadija stopping in Topola (Oplenac), Kruševac and Mediana. Overnight in Niš.

See all days >>

ITINERARY

Short | Detailed | PDF

Day 1 : Belgrade (Serbia)

Arrive in Belgrade and transfer to your hotel. Afternoon free to explore the city. Overnight in Belgrade.

Arrive into Belgrade airport where a Travel The Unknown representative will meet you and take you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or explore. Overnight in Belgrade.

NOTE: If you would like more time to visit Belgrade at the beginning, Sarajevo at the end of this tour (either guided or unguided), or if you would like to add any extra trips or services please ask us as this can be arranged.

Meal plan : n/a


Day 2 : Sremski Karlovci - Petrovaradin (Serbia)

Visit Sremski Karlovci and Petrovaradin as well as Zivanovic to taste wine and local honey. Overnight in Belgrade.

After breakfast drive to Sremski Karlovci, before visiting Petrovaradin Fortress in Novi Sad. Today you will also visit Zivanovic for wine and honey tasting. Return to Belgrade. Overnight in Belgrade.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Sremski Karlovci is a picturesque Baroque town that used to be a Serbian religious and educational centre in the 18th and 19th centuries. Enjoy the Baroque-style fountain from 1790 and Karlovci High School. This site dates back to the end of the 19th century and contains decorative elements reminiscent of mediaeval Serbian buildings. You can also visit the Patriarch's Palace, once the most imposing building in the whole region, as well as the Cathedral from the mid-18th century.

Novi Sad is one of Serbia's biggest cities and is the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Vojvodina. It is a modern, lively city with many growing businesses. At the same time, it maintains a beautiful flavour of its past. Walk through the centre of Novi Sad to visit the main Orthodox Cathedral and the main Catholic Cathedral, then continue walking along the famous Dunavska street.

Visit the Fortress of Petrovaradin, once called 'Gibraltar on the Danube'. This Austrian artillery fortification is situated above the river and represents the second largest structure of its kind preserved in Europe. Built by Austrians in the 17-18th centuries at the spot of former Roman, Byzantine and Hungarian settlements, the fortress plays a very important role in the life of the town even today, as many cultural events are organized there. It also features 16km of underground tunnels.

Day 3 : Belgrade (Serbia)

City Tour of Belgrade. Dinner in a local restaurant and overnight in Belgrade.

Begin with a city tour of Belgrade which includes the sights of Knez Mihajlova Street, Kalemegdan and a tour of the Eastern ward. In the evening, enjoy dinner at Skadarlija, with typical food and music. Overnight in Belgrade.

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Belgrade has been the capital of Serbia since 1403, when Despot Stefan, son of Prince Lazar, moved his palace here. Walk through the elegant Republic Square and pay attention to its architectural monuments, such as the National Theatre and the National Museum. Stroll along Knez Mihajlova Street, the main shopping street and meeting place, to see a few other masterpieces of Belgrade architecture. 

The Fortress of Kalemegdan, which is the symbol of Belgrade, is where the River Sava flows into the Danube. The Upper fortress area includes well-preserved artillery structures dating from the 18th century, as well as a medieval fortification - an acropolis with original or partly reconstructed ramparts, gateways, towers and the excavated ruins of a 15th century castle. A few Turkish monuments and some ancient Roman remains also lie in this area. In this section of the fortification complex you’ll see the elegant 18th century Baroque Clock Tower and the Roman Well. The Eastern Ward features the Rose Church of Our Lady, along with a panoramic view of the Lower fortress and its monuments - the Nebojsa Tower, the Baroque Gate of Karl VI and the remains of the medieval metropolitan palace.

Day 4 : Sumadija - Niš (Serbia)

Drive to Šumadija stopping in Topola (Oplenac), Kruševac and Mediana. Overnight in Niš.

Begin driving South through Sumadija to Topola (Oplenac). Visit Topola and meet a family that make rakija (plum brandy) and sample their wares (for groups with 4 or more). After visiting continue to the town of Krusevac for a short visit. After visiting Krusevac drive to Nis and visit the fortress. Overnight in Niš.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Krusevac was the medieval capital of Serbia during the time of Prince Lazar in the second half of the 14th century. Here you will see the Lazarica Court Church, founded by the Serbian Prince Lazar in 1380. The church represents a fine architectural achievement, adorned with rich carved stone decoration on the arches, rosettes, windows and portals. As one of the earliest monuments of the Morava school, it long served as a model for Serbian builders.

Niš Fortress is a complex and very important cultural and historical monument that dominates the urban nucleus of the city. The existing fortification is of Turkish origin, dating back from the first decades of the 18th century. It is known as one of the most significant and best preserved monuments of its kind in the Balkans. 

Topola sits in  the hilly Šumadija region,  the heart of central Serbia known as the cradle of Serbian uprisings against Ottoman rule in the 19th century. It boasts the Residence of Karadjordje (now a museum dedicated to the leader of the First Serbian Uprising); the Church of Our Lady, built by Karadjordje (1811-1813); and two stone towers which are left from what was once a mighty fortification. Nearby is St. George Church, built after WWI by the King of Serbia, Petar I, on top of Oplenac. This church is unique among all the monuments in Serbia, with columns made of marble, an iconostasis of local marble and stunning mosaics covering almost 3,500 sq. meters, which include 725 scenes and 1,500 human figures that chart the history and the extent of Orthodox Christianity in Serbia. 

Day 5 : Nis Skull Tower (Serbia) - Stobi - Demir Kapija (Macedonia)

See Nis skull tower before crossing into Macedonia. Visit Stobi and Demir Kapija. Overnight in Demir Kapija.

City tour including the Skull Tower and Mediana. Then journey south into Macedonia for a visit of the site of Stobi before continuing to Demir Kapija for a wine tasting. Overnight in Demir Kapija.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Niš is the second largest town in Serbia and is most famous as the birthplace of Constantine the Great. It is situated in the Nišava valley, near the spot where it joins the Južna Morava River. This is one of the most important Balkan and European traffic lines along which people, goods and armies moved. Known as the 'Via Militaris' in Roman and Byzantine periods and the 'Constantinople road' in the Middle Ages and the period of Turkish rule, these roads still represent major European traffic arteries. Niš is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans, and has been considered a gateway between the East and the West since ancient times. There is abundant archaeological evidence that Niš was inhabited even in prehistoric times. The city was named after the Nišava River, which was called Navissos by the Celtic inhabitants of the town. Each new conqueror gave the town a new name: Roman Naissus, Byzantine Nysos, Slovene Niš, or German Nissa.

Visit the ruins of Stobi, one of the largest ancient towns in Macedonia. It was built just before the rule of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, in the early Hellenic period. Stobi is located on the crossorads of two important roads - via Axius, which ran North-South, and Via Egnatia, which ran East-West from the Adriatic to the Aegean coasts. It had beautiful basilicas, palaces, remains and some wonderful mosaics that can still be seen today. 

Mediana is a royal property with a luxurious residence in the suburb of old Niš, known as Naissus. Constantine the Great (280 - 337 AD) was born and raised in Naissus. He ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from 306 to 337 and he consolidated the frontiers of the Empire by imposing a firm organization on the army and the civil administration. As a powerful emperor, Constantine did not forget his birthplace. He erected a majestic residence in one of the luxurious suburbs of ancient Niš in Mediana, where he often resided and attended to state affairs. Historical records testify it was in Naissus that he passed several laws in the years 315 through 334.

The history of the Skull Tower of Niš: At the beginning of the 19th century, during the Second Serbian Uprising, it was crucial that the Serbian state liberate Nis from the Turks. The battle lasted the whole day and the Turks eventually overran the main trench on Čegar Hill after this fierce fighting. The Serbian General, Steven Sindelic, realising he was on the point of defeat, blew himself up alongside 3,000 Serbian soldiers and about 6,000 Turkish soldiers. The Turks built the grisly Skull Tower ("Cele Kula" in Serbian) with four walls - each containing eleven rows of seven Serbian skulls - as a warning against further Serbian resistance. Many of the skulls were removed - at great danger - by Serbian families and buried, but many remain there to this day. In 1892, a chapel was built over the skulls, which now protects the 58 remaining skulls.

Day 6 : Bitola - Lake of Prespa (Macedonia)

Drive to Bitola and see Lake Prespa, the Monastery of St. Naum and Lake Ohrid. Overnight in Ohrid.

The day begins with a drive to Bitola for a visit of the town. Drive alongside Lake Prespa through the breathtaking Mt. Galicica (National Park), which forms a natural division between Lake Prespa and Lake Ohrid. Stop to visit St Naum Monastery. Continue to Ohrid. Overnight in Ohrid.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Lake Prespa, the second largest lake in Macedonia, exudes an extraordinary, wild and unique beauty. It covers an area of 274 sq. km and lies at an elevation of 853m above sea level in Mt. Galicica National Park, an area blessed with an abundance of diverse flora and fauna.

Bitola, which means 'family', was previously known as 'the City of the Consuls'. It is an interesting mixture of old and new, and was a meeting point of different cultures and civilizations. For centuries Christians, Muslims and Jews have lived here side-by-side. The church of St. Dimitriusis is one of the biggest Orthodox churches in Macedonia and its Old Bazaar is amongst the best preserved in the country. 

Day 7 : Ohrid (Macedonia)

Walking tour of Ohrid and afternoon free to explore. Overnight in Ohrid.

The day begins with a walking tour of Ohrid. The afternoon is free for you to explore on your own or an optional trip to Vevcani. Overnight in Ohrid. 

Meal plan : Breakfast


The old town-museum of Ohrid, located on the shore of Lake Ohrid, is at 695m above sea level. The town was known in prehistoric and classical times as 'Lychnidos', or the City of Lights. Slavs gave it the name of Arida in 10th century and it became a major centre of culture and art for this area. It is the cradle of Slavic written language and literature, where the Cyrillic alphabet was created by the brothers Cyril and Methody and spread all over the Slavic world. Ohrid is also known as the 'City of 365 churches', the most important of which are 13th-century St. Kliment’s,11th-century St. Sophia and 9th-century St. Panteleimon.  The 10th-century Tsar Smuili fortress is also worth a look.

NOTE: Ohrid walking tours involve some walking on cobblestones and up hills.


Vevcani (also known as the Republic of Vevcani) is a  village near Ohrid that was a short-lived (and self-proclaimed) independent nation after the fall of Yugoslavia, following a row over water springs. It still has its own flag and coat of arms. 

Day 8 : Skopje (Macedonia)

Drive to St. Jovan Bigorski before continuing to Skopje. Overnight in Skopje.

Start with a drive to along the picturesque mountain route to St. Jovan Bigorski. Later you will pass through the National Park of Mavrovo, the biggest in Macedonia, famous for its lake, river, gorges and waterfalls. Explore Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, where you will stay overnight.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Skopje​, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, is located in a valley on both sides of the river Vardar. Its history can be traced back 2,000 years, when it was known as the ancient city of Skupi. Visit the old town 'Charshi', where you will find the Stone Bridge - a symbol of Skopje built by Turks in 15th century. You can also visit the church of St. Spas, with its marvelous iconostas from 17th century; the Old Bazaar and Fortress Kale whose first walls date to the 6th century; as well as Mustapha Pasha Mosque. This is one of the most beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture erected in 1492 with the earliest wall paintings. Daut Pasha Bath is another masterpiece of Islamic civil architecture, dating from the second half of 15th century. Modern day Skopje has had a dramatic facelift in the early 21st century with the erection of a vast number of statues and important buildings amid much pomp. Some question the tastefulness, others the cost, but it has certainly transformed Skopje into a talking point.

The Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski is famous for its beautiful iconostasis carved in wood and it location on the slope of a mountain. First built in 1020 the monastery, dedicated to St John the baptist, has been rebuilt and restored on numerous occasions. 

Mavrovo National Park, one of three National parks in Macedonia, was founded in 1949, and is home to brown bears, wolves, lynxes and foxes.

Day 9 : Skopje (Macedonia)

Today is a free day to explore Skopje at your leisure. Overnight in Skopje.

Today is a free day to explore Skopje at your leisure. Optional visit to some old-style shops to meet locals who make products in a traditional manner. Ask your guide for options of other things to do. Overnight in Skopje.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Skopje​, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, is located in a valley on both sides of the river Vardar. Its history can be traced back 2,000 years, when it was known as the ancient city of Skupi. Visit the old town 'Charshi', where you will find the Stone Bridge - a symbol of Skopje built by Turks in 15th century. You can also visit the church of St. Spas, with its marvelous iconostas from 17th century; the Old Bazaar and Fortress Kale whose first walls date to the 6th century; as well as Mustapha Pasha Mosque. This is one of the most beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture erected in 1492 with the earliest wall paintings. Daut Pasha Bath is another masterpiece of Islamic civil architecture, dating from the second half of 15th century. Modern day Skopje has had a dramatic facelift in the early 21st century with the erection of a vast number of statues and important buildings amid much pomp. Some question the tastefulness, others the cost, but it has certainly transformed Skopje into a talking point.

Day 10 : Prizren - Decani (Kosovo)

Drive to Kosovo and visit Prizren. Continue to Pec via Decani Monastery, where you will overnight.

After breakfast drive to the border and cross into Kosovo. Drive the scenic route to Prizren for a visit before continuing to Decani to visit the monastery. Continue to Pec. Overnight in Pec.

Meal plan : Breakfast


The city of Pec is located in western Kosovo surrounded by the dramatic Rugova mountains. The region recently became a National Park of the Republic of Kosovo and is renowned for its natural beauty.

Dečani (or Deçan), a town and municipality in western Kosovo, lies in the mountainous area of the country bordering Montenegro and Albania. It is widely known due to the Visoki Dečani monastery, a major Serbian Orthodox Christian monastery. Built in the 14th Century UNESCO cited it as "an irreplaceable treasure, a place where traditions of Romanesque architecture meet artistic patterns of the Byzantine world."

Situated on the banks of the river Bistrica with a backdrop of the Sharr Mountains, Prizren is located on the border of Albania and Kosovo. It is a very culturally diverse town, with mosques sitting next to Orthodox churches, and it has a prominent Turkish community where Turkish is widely spoken. It hosts  Dokufest,  the summer film festival, and has many interesting monuments in the town centre, such as the League of Prizren Monument and the Sinan Pasha Mosque. The town centre has the feel of a bazaar, where modern shops blend in with small craft boutiques, delis and sweet shops.

Day 11 : Biograd Lake - Zabljak (Montenegro)

Drive into Montenegro to Biograd Lake. Continue on to Zabljak. Overnight in Zabljak.

After breakfast cross into Montenegro and drive along the scenic road to Biograd Lake. Continue to drive along the River Tara before continuing on to Zabljak. Overnight stay in Zabljak.

Meal plan : Breakfast & lunch


Biograd Lake is a National Park protected by law since 1872 by King Nikola. It is one of the last three virgin woods left in Europe, where many trees are more than 500 years old and 40-50 metres high. The park has a wide variety of flora and fauna, but the central attraction is its large glacial lake.

Zabljak, a small village near Durmitor Mountain, lies at the very centre of the vast and wonderful Durmitor National Park. Zabljak is 1,456 m above sea level and is the highest town in the Balkans. It is surrounded by 23 hill tops, the highest of which is 2,300m. Within the territory of the National Park there are 17 glacial lakes known as the 'eyes of the mountains', the most famous being Black Lake.

River Tara, a UNESCO site, has its source in the mountains at the northern part of the country and runs 140km before it joins River Piva, forming one of the largest and richest rivers in the Balkans. For centuries, Tara eroded the soft limestone, forming a spectacular gorge, measuring 82 km long and in some places up to 1,300m deep, making it the deepest river canyon in Europe. It resides within the Durmitor National Park. 

Day 12 : Cetinje - Kotor (Montenegro)

Early start. After breakfast drive to Cetinje for a visit of the town. Continue to Njegusi for lunch. Continue to Kotor for a visit of the town. Overnight in Kotor.

Early start. After breakfast drive to Cetinje for a visit of the town. Continue to Njegusi for lunch. Continue to Kotor for a walking tour of the town. Overnight in Kotor.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Cetinje was once, in the time of Njegos, the capital of Montenegro. It doesn’t have a strong fort like many other important capitals from its time because nature blessed this place with natural stone protections. The town was founded in 1482, when Ivan Crnojević, the last ruler of the medieval country of Zeta, built a palace for himself as well as a church. Cetinje stayed the heart and soul of Montenegro all the way up to WW1. The Royal Palace of King Nikola II, who was the last King of Montenegro, contains a beautiful small museum and the Monastery of St. Petar.

The typical, laid-back village of Njegusi is the birth place of Petar Petrovic. In many ways, the villagers still live a very traditional way of life. The village has been famous since Yugoslav times for its high-quality cured hams.

The World Heritage Site of Kotor is a town which was inhabited from the times of the Illyrians and the Romans. The walking tour through the city takes us back to medieval times as most of the monuments we observe are from the 14th to 18th centuries. You will also visit the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, St. Luka Church and St. Mihail Church amongst other sites. 

Day 13 : Kotor - Mostar (Bosnia)

Drive along Kotor Bay to Trebinje. Continue to Mostar. Overnight in Mostar.

After breakfast drive along Kotor Bay. Cross into Bosnia and continue to Trebinje to visit the town.  Continue to Mostar for a walking tour of the town. Overnight stay in Mostar.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Mostar is a picturesque town that is more than 5 centuries old. It was made famous by its old Turkish bridge that was once the only means connecting the city over the emerald waters of the Neretva River. The bridge always played a central role in the lives of its inhabitants. The original bridge was wooden, built at the beginning of the 15th century, and it was a very important link between the two parts of Herzegovina, not only strategically but also in respect of trade linking the sea to the interior. This soon brought the urgent need to replace the old unsafe wooden chain bridge with a new one that could meet the growing requirements. The construction of the bridge began in 1557 and continued for nine years under the close observation of the Caliph, Suleyman The Magnificent (builder), making it the masterpiece of Hajrudin.

Trebinje is a town with roots going back to Ottoman times and longer. The Arslanagica Bridge is a notable example of Ottoman architecture, and was funded by the powerful Bosniak and Ottoman ruler Mehmed Paša Sokolović. The town also boasts numerous interesting churches and monasteries as well as a pleasant market square.

Day 14 : Sarajevo (Bosnia)

Drive to Sarajevo for walking tour of the city. Overnight in Sarajevo.

After breakfast the day begins with a drive to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a walking tour of the town. Overnight in Sarajevo.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina and your visit here begins with a walking tour. This magical town instantly takes you back to the Ottoman days as we visit beautiful Ottoman mosques, old quarters and the authentic Turkish 'carsija', with its oriental sweets shops, cafes and traditional Bosnian food. Sarajevo is also a town with a multiplicity of mosques, orthodox churches, Roman-catholic churches and synagogues which have been standing side by side for centuries.

Day 15 : Sarajevo (Bosnia) - Departure

After breakfast transfer to Sarajevo airport for onward flight.

After breakfast transfer to Sarajevo airport for onward flight.

NOTE: If you would like more time to visit Belgrade at the beginning, Sarajevo at the end of this tour (either guided or unguided), or if you would like to add any extra trips or services please ask us as this can be arranged.

Meal plan : Breakfast


ENQUIRIES






















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020 7183 6371
POST
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1 Putney Bridge Approach
London SW6 3BQ
EMAIL
info@traveltheunknown.com
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