Archaeology of the Balkans

Serbia | Macedonia | Kosovo | Albania | Montenegro

Archaeology | Culture

Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians & Ottomans

19 days £3,295 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Get a real insight into the culture and history of the Balkans. Visit medieval towns, including Herceg Novi and Zajecar, the ancient archaeological site of Gamzigrad and the ruins of Stobi. Along your travels you will see some of the best examples of traditional Ottoman architecture and learn more of the mythological stories in the history of the Balkans.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit Belgrade, see the iconic Fortress of Kalemegdan
  • The Roman settlement of Sirmium and former military camp of Viminacium
  • Lepenski Vir, one of the oldest Neolithic civilizations in Europe
  • Medieval Smederevo Fortress, Fortress of Petrovaradin and Golubac
  • Visit Felix Romuliana UNESCO listed Roman palace
  • Serbia’s ancient yet living Orthodox monasteries UNESCO-listed Studenica & Sopocani
  • Religious site of the Patriarchate of Peć , Decani & Gracanica Monasteries
  • Stobi, Ohrid UNESCO town and The ancient Greek city of Heraclea Lyncestis in Macedonia
  • The city of stone, Girokastra, the spectacular fortress town of Berat and UNESCO-listed Kotor
  • Greek, Roman & Venetian site of Butrint

Places Visited

Belgrade - Novi Sad - Sirmium - Lepenski Vir - Viminacium - Niš - Gamzigrad and Felix Romuliana - Pec - Skopje - Pristina - Stobi - Demir Kapija - Ohrid - Bitola - Heraclea Lyncestis - Girokastra - Butrint - Berat - Vlora - Tirana - Durres - Kruja - Shkodra - Podgorica - Kotor - Budva - Bar - Herceg Novi - Risan - Perast

What's Included

Arrival & departure transfers
Ground transport with driver
Accommodation
Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
English-speaking guides
Entrance fees to sites & parks
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Arrival into Belgrade (Serbia)

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 spend at your leisure. Overnight in Belgrade.

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

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Belgrade

Begin with a city tour of the sights of Belgrade, including Knez Mihajlova Street, the Tower of Gardos in Zemun, Tito's Complex and the Fort of Kalemegdan. 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.

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Day 3 : Belgrade - Sirmium - Novi Sad - Belgrade

Begin the day by travelling to Sirmium for a city tour. Continue on to see the Fortress of Petrovaradin. Later, make a stop at Novi Sad, before returning to Belgrade for overnight stay. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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.

As a Roman settlement, Sirmium developed very rapidly and in the period of the Flavian dynasty the town was granted the status of a colony. Several rulers, such as Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus and Maximinus visited Sirmium. Its importance was elevated when the Illyrian Caesars, born near Sirmium, came to the throne of the Roman Empire. In 294, it was made one of the capitals of the Empire. A military fortress in the beginning, Sirmium was transformed into an opulent and luxurious imperial residence, with the institutions accompanying the Roman administrative apparatus as well as the economical, religious and cultural life. 

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Day 4 : Belgrade - Smederevo - Lepinski Vir - Kladovo

After breakfast, drive to see the Fortress of Smederevo, before stopping at the military camp of Viminacium. Later, travel to the ruins of Lepenski Vir, where you will see ancient sculptures and architecture as you learn of the settlement's history. Overnight in Kladovo.  

Meal plan: Breakfast

Dated to 6000 years BC, Lepenski Vir is the settlement of one of the oldest Neolithic civilizations in Europe and a whole era was named after this site. In mythology, it is said to have been founded by Noah’s son after the great flood. The intricate architecture and sculptures are evidence of the advanced culture and religion of the early Europeans that lived here. 

Viminacium was a very important military camp in the 1st and 2nd centuries, housing Legio VII Claudia & IV Flavia. It had the status of “Municipium” in II century during the ruling of Imperator Hadrian and status of “Colony” in III century during the ruling of Imperator Septimius Severus.  

Smederevo ​Fortress is located in the medieval city of Smederevo, which was once the temporary capital of Serbia in the Middle Ages. Built between 1427 and 1430, it is one of the largest city-fortresses in Europe. In 1979 it was declared a National Monument of Culture of Exceptional Importance. This fortress is still in great condition considering it has been through several sieges by the Ottomans and Serbs. Within the fort is the Smederevo Museum displaying artefacts of the city as far back to the Roman times.

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Day 5 : Kladovo - Zajecar - Niš

In the morning, travel to Zajecar and take a tour of Gamzigrad. Explore the ruins, discovering key sights that will include the Felix Romuliana Palace. Later, continue on to Niš and take a tour of the city. Overnight in Niš. 

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.

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.

The Roman site of Gamzigrad & Felix Romuliana is a palace and memorial complex dating from the late 3rd century. It was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Caius Galerius Maximianus as his Imperial Palace. There have been no attempts to rebuild or replicate any of the buildings, other than to conserve the ruins at their current level, making this site famous for its authenticity and integrity.

Zajecar is a city in the east of Serbia with an interesting history, as the birthplace of three Roman Emperors it uniquely demonstrates a passage in time for Roman building tradition. Today Zajecar is most widely known for its rock music festival, Gitarijada and its festival of contemporary art, ZALET.

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Day 6 : Niš - Zica - Studenica

Spend the morning visiting sights in Niš, including Nis Fortress and Mediana Palace. Continue your journey through Western Serbia and (time permitting) pay a visit to Zica monastery. Continue to Studenica Monastery for overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Studenica monastery, a UNESCO Heritage site, was founded by Stefan Nemanja, the Grand Prince of Serbia from 1166 to 1196, and one of the most famous and beloved figures in Serbian history. It is considered to be the crowning achievement of medieval culture and art in Serbia. The monastic complex consists of the fascinating Church of the Virgin (1183 - 1196), the Church of SS Joachim and Anne (also known as the King's Church) and the Church of St. Nicholas, a simple single-nave building. The monastery circle contains monuments constructed over a period of 130 years, and several Serbian rulers had a hand in their construction. At the start of this period, the young Serbian feudal state under Stefan Nemanja was consolidating its independence, and by King Milutin's reign it had reached the height of its political, cultural and economic power. The strengthening of the medieval state and of its ruler's might is naturally reflected in these monuments.

Žiča Monastery, built in the early 13th century and over 800 years old, is a Serb-Orthodox monastery near Kraljevo. In 1979 it was declared a Cultural Monument of Exceptional Importance, and is protected by Serbia.

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Day 7 : Studenica - Pec (Kosovo)

In the morning, visit Sopocani Monastery before continuing your journey on into Kosovo. Your first stop will be Pec, where you will see the medieval Patriarchate Monastery. 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.

The Patriarchate of Peć complex stands on its own in an area with four churches. The oldest, dedicated to the Holy Apostles, was built in the mid 13th century, while the last one, devoted to St. Nicholas, dates back to the first half of the 14th century. The Patriarchate of Peć plays a major role in the Church and State history of Serbia.

The Monastery of Sopocani was built in 1260 by King Uros I as the resting place for the ashes of his parents and his own tomb is now in its vault too. Its mural paintings rank among the most magnificent and beautiful in European medieval art. The monumentality of Sopocani frescos, the harmony of colours, and the refinement of expression were all responsible for it being granted a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The unique quality of these compositions, mostly from the 13th century, testifies to the vitality of Byzantine art at a time when Constantinople was in the hands of the Crusaders. 

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Day 8 : Pec - Skopje (Macedonia)

Begin the day with a visit to Decani Monastery. Travel on for a tour of the city of Pristina, where you will see Gracanica Monastery. Following this, begin your journey on to Macedonia. Continue to Skopje for overnight.

Meal plan: Breakfast

One of Kosovo's genuine highlights Monastery Gračanica is a monastery church devoted to the Annunciation. The monastery was an endowment of King Milutin and was built in the early 14th century. Its architectural structure represents the apex of Serbian architechture following a long Byzantine tradition. This monastery stands apart as a work of harmonious proportions and extraordinary beauty and as such made its way onto the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Pristina is the capital of Kosovo, Europe's youngest capital, which offers a rare mix of tradition and modernity. Take time to stroll along its streets and enjoy its lovely main square at the very centre of the town. 

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."

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Day 9 : Skopje - Demir Kapija

After a short tour of Skopje continue southeast to visit Stobi. Continue on to Demir Kapija where you will enjoy some wine tasting. Overnight in Demir Kapija.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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. 

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Day 10 : Demir Kapija - Ohrid

Begin your day by visiting the town of Demir Kapija. Following this, drive to Bitola for a tour of the town, where you will also see the ancient Greek ruins of Heraclea Lyncestis. Continue to Ohrid. Overnight in Ohrid.

Meal plan: Breakfast

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. 

Sample some of Macedonia's finest wine's at Demir Kapija, a peaceful wine town with spectacular mountain views. The town's name means 'Iron Gate' in Turkish and refers to the narrow 'gates' in the limestone cavern on the Vardar river. It is also home to many rare birds and plants. 

Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in southern Macedonia that was later ruled by the Romans but named in honour of the mythological Greek hero, Heracles. Situated on the main Roman road in the area Heraclea Lyncestis became a strategically powerful city during the Hellenistic period. Following its excavation it has since become famous for its detailed mosaics, ancient theatre and Roman baths.

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Day 11 : Ohrid

Begin the day with a walking tour of Ohrid. The afternoon will be free for you to explore at your leisure. 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.


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Day 12 : Ohrid - Girokastra (Albania)

Drive to the site of the Monastery of St. Naum for a visit. Later, cross the border into Albania and arrive into Girokastra where you will stay overnight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The Monastery of Saint Naum lies on the banks of Lake Ohrid. It is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Macedonia, surrounded by sandy beaches and tranquil gardens where colourful peacocks roam freely. The Eastern Orthodox monastery and church were built in 905 by the monk, St. Naum, who was one of the founders of Slavic and Macedonian literacy and education. The monastery and church buildings house some of the best religious paintings of the Balkan countries, dating back to the 18th century, along with inscriptions to evidence early examples of Slavid literacy. You can also visit the tomb of St. Naum, where if you listen closely, it is believed you can hear a deep rumble of the saint's heartbeat. 

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Day 13 : Girokastra - Saranda

Begin the day with a visit to Girokastra. Later, continue on to Butrint, where you will stop to explore the ancient ruins. Travel to Saranda for your overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Situated on the Straights of Corfu, Butrint was once the site of a Greek colony. During the 4th century BC, it became one of the most important commercial and maritime centres of the ancient world. Archaeologists have uncovered statues of the ‘Goddess of Butrint’, Roman amphitheatres and a temple dedicated to Asclepius, the Greek God of healing. The town was uncovered mostly intact thanks to the mud and vegetation of the area and has been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The site is also a haven for many species of fish, birds, tortoises, and vegetation.

The city of Girokastra, also known as 'the city of a thousand steps', is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its well preserved Ottoman architecture. The city has been occupied by many different countries over the years, including the Turkish Ottomans, the Greeks and the Italians. The city has a diverse culture, with a substantial Greek minority and the area around Girokastra is the centre of Bektashism, a Muslim sect. It is home to Girokastra castle which overlooks the town and is known as the ‘city of stone’ because of the grey stone houses and cobbled alleyways. The city is also the birthplace of two of Albania's most famous people - the writer Ismail Kadare and the communist leader Enver Hoxha.

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Day 14 : Saranda - Vlora - Berat

Spend the morning taking a short tour of the coastal town Saranda. After this, continue your journey on to Berat, stopping en route to visit the port city of Vlora. Overnight stay in Berat. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Situated on the open sea gulf of the Ionian sea, the small town of Saranda is considered the gateway to Southern Albania. As a result of its coastal location combined with a warm Mediterranean climate, it has transformed into a popular tourist destination. 

The coastal city of Vlora lies in southern Albania and is the second largest port city in the country. It holds historical importance, being the site where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was announced in 1912. Following this the city became Albania’s first capital but was later invaded during World War 1 and was largely under occupation for many years after this.

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Day 15 : Berat - Durres - Tirana

Spend the morning sightseeing in Berat, which will include highlights such as Berat Castle. Later, travel on to the ancient city of Durres before finally stopping at Tirana where you will spend the night. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Durres has an ancient history, the remnants of which make for a fascinating visit. If you believe the sign in the museum it was founded by ‘Greek colons’ in 627 BC and named Epidamnos. Local political unrest played a part in sparking the Peloponnesian war that pitted the Greek states against each other from 431 to 404 BC. For a brief period it became part of an Illyrian kingdom before being taken by the Romans in 228 BC and renamed Dyrrachium. War once again touched it in 48 BC when Julius Caesar and Pompey did battle nearby during the Roman Civil War. Despite all the bloodshed, the town itself was sacred to Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of love, whose images fill the museum. Since Aphrodite’s decline, Durrës has changed hands between the Bulgarians, Byzantines, Argevins, Serbs, Venetians, Ottomans and German Prince Wilhelm of Weld, before briefly becoming the capital of an independent Albania between 1918 and 1920.

Known as the ‘town of a thousand windows’, Berat’s Ottoman architecture and ancient history has given it UNESCO World Heritage status. The town is home to Berat Castle, which is perched on a rocky hill and inaccessible from the south. The fortress was so large that it could house a substantial proportion of the town’s inhabitants. An influence of different cultures can be found in Berat’s mosques and Byzantine churches.                

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Day 16 : Tirana - Kruja - Shkodra - Podgorica (Montenegro)

Begin the day exploring the highlight's of Tirana, before driving north to visit the settlement of Kruja. Later, make a stop off at Shkodra, before continuing on to Podgorica for overnight stay.

Meal plan: Breakfast

The city of Tirana was established by Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a native feudal lord from Mullet, in 1614. His first constructions were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam (Turkish bath). On February 8, 1920, Tirana was made the temporary capital by the Congress of Lushnje, then named the permanent capital on December 31, 1925. Albania spent the majority of the last 60 years under a strict and isolationist Dictator, Enver Hoxha. Upon his death, the country moved towards a free market economic model, with mixed results. Presently, Tirana is where the old and new Albania meet. Unpaved streets host brand new Land Rovers, iPhone-toting youngsters rub shoulders with street vendors peddling all manners of items, and gleaming glass towers look down on abandoned construction projects.

Kruja (alb. Krujë) is a medieval town located 32 km northwest of Tirana, built 560 meters above sea level, on the slopes of Sari -Salltiku mountain. The name of Kruja derives from the Albanian word krua, meaning 'water spring'. The citadel has become the main Illyrian fortress in the area in the 4th century AD. In the year 879, Kruja was mentioned for the first time as a Christian religious center, (bishop see). The first Albanian feudal state was created here circa 1190. The Ottomans occupied Kruja two times, in 1396 and 1415. The town reached its zenith on the 28th of November 1443 when Kruja castle was taken by Gjergj Kastrioti (Skanderbeg), who then organized the long anti-Ottoman resistance. From this time on, under the leadership of Skanderbeg, Kruja repelled three Ottoman sieges in 1450, 1457 and 1466. Only ten years after the death of Skanderbeg, in 1478, were the Ottomans able to capture the castle and destroy the town.

A diamond-shaped city wedged between the Rozafa Citadel, the magnificent Albanian Alps, deep blue Lake Shkodra, a 30-kilometre sand beach and the serene Buna river delta reservation - Shkodra is a diamond in the rough with plenty of potential. While many visitors quickly breeze though the city, Shkodra’s turbulent 2,400-year-old history has left plenty of interesting relics that make a stay in Albania’s cultural capital worthwhile. Hundreds of years of no-nonsense religious and ethnic tolerance resulted in booming trade, witnessed by Shkodra’s grand merchants’ homes, and dozens of mosques and Catholic and Orthodox churches standing in close proximity to each other. Travel to Albania is now easier than ever before, the number of visitors to Shkodra is increasing and facilities for travellers are improving rapidly, with good hotels and several excellent restaurants now established. 

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Day 17 : Podgorica - Bar - Kotor

Drive to Bar, taking a tour of the town and the historic ruins of Stari Bar. Later, travel to the medieval town of Budva. Finally stop in Kotor for your overnight stay. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Budva is one of the oldest places in the area, inhabited since Illyrian times. The old town dates from the medieval period and is one of the prettiest towns on the Riviera. The typical architecture of narrow streets and stone buildings surrounding the cathedral, make this town a true highlight of Montenegro.

Podgorica is the capital of Montenegro. Throughout history it has undergone five name changes, been wiped off the map completely twice, and has been occupied by the Romans, Turks and the Austro-Hungarians. Little remains however other than a small amount of traditional Ottoman architecture.

Bar is a coastal port town in southern Montenegro. Amongst the ruins of the old town, Stari Bar, one can find historic fortresses, the castle of King Nikola and the old olive tree of Mirovica - said to be one of the oldest trees in the world.

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Day 18 : Kotor - Risan - Perast - Kotor

Spend the morning exploring Kotor before travelling on to Boka Bay. Later, visit the old towns of Risan and Perast. Continue your journey on to Herceg Novi and take a tour of the medieval town. Later, return to Kotor where you will spend the night. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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. 

Herceg Novi is a medieval town founded by the Bosnian King Tvrdko in 1382. The town played a very important role in the trade and economy of whole area in the 14th and 15th centuries, even after it was given to the Turks at the end of the 15th century. The town was ruled at times by Venice, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and France before it was finally given to Montenegro in 1918. 

The town of Risan is in southern Montenegro and is one of the oldest settlements in the bay of Kotor, dating back to the 3rd century BC. This small port town, famous for its mosaics, is set amongst the picturesque limestone cliffs of the Orjen Mountains.

The old town of Perast, in the bay of Kotor, is set at the foot of St. Elijah Hill. Although small in size, with only one main street, it has 16 churches, 17 once grand palazzos and several 17th and 18th century palaces. A short boat ride away lie two beautiful island churches.

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Day 19 : Departure from Kotor

Transfer to Kotor airport for onwards travel.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

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Moskva

The 4* Hotel Moskva was built in 1906 and is one of the most important architectural gems of the Serbian capital. All the rooms are equipped with stylish furniture, a mini bar, a cable TV, air conditioning and free wireless internet. Rub shoulders eccentric artists, enthralled poets and proud intellectuals at Hotel Moskva's cafe (the Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić even had his own table here), try the traditional “Moskva šnit” at the famous on-site pastry shop or dine at the on-site award-winning Restaurant “Tchaikovsky”. There is also an on-site Spa and Wellness Centre with a range of treatments. 

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Aquastar Danube

The 4* Aquastar Danube Hotel has modern rooms which all look over the Danube River. They are air-conditioned and equipped with direct phone line, satellite TV, internet connection, mini bar, safe, hair dryer and shower cabin.

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New City Hotel

New City Hotel is situated in central Nis. The hotel has been designed and decorated in a contemporary style. The spacious en suite bedrooms are fitted with modern facilities that include air-conditioning and wifi. New City hotel restaurant serves a breakfast buffet, along with a lunchtime and evening à la carte menu which offers a combination of national and international dishes. 

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Monastery Guesthouse

The guest house at the Monastery Studenica is small and simple but the chance to stay within the grounds of this great site make staying here worthwhile. There are two sections - one building overlooks the monastery and the other the Studenica River. The rustic bedrooms and balconies show a glimpse of the stunning views across the Serbian landscape.

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Dukagjini Hotel

Hotel Dukagjini has always been known as one of the elite hotels in Kosovo. The hotel has a unique architecture with its own elegance and charm. Positioned on the White River, the hotel is also located just a few steps from local attractions and its proximity to the city centre makes it the ideal place to stay.

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Turist Hotel

The Turist Hotel is located at the heart of Skopje, nearby to many of the cities sights including Kale Fortress and Stone Bridge. The spacious bedrooms are fitted with modern comforts to provide guests with a comfortable stay. The on-site restaurant serves both buffet and à la carte options to guests who can decide between local and international delicacies. There is also a fitness suite in the hotel that guests are welcome to make use of during their stay. 

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Popova Kula

The Popova Kula Hotel offers unique experience to its guests with its distinct suites and rooms, each carefully named after and decorated in the colors of the wine type they represent. Each room benefits from a balcony which gives breathtaking views of the surroundings. The restaurant serves traditional Macedonian and other international cuisines combined with their delicious wines.

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Villa Mal Sv. Kliment

Villa Mal Sveti Kliment is an exclusive 4* villa located near the entrance of the old city of Ohrid called Lower Gate. Keeping true to traditional values and the centuries old unique Ohrid architecture, each room has ornate wood carved furniture. Ideally located just 50-100 steps from the lake and the most exclusive cafés and restaurants, a view of the lake, quay and harbour can be enjoyed from the villa.

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Girokastra Hotel

The hotel is located 350 yards from the centre, in a part of town famous for numerous museums. The hotel is surrounded by green gardens and large parks, while the building itself is made of traditional stone and wood. Free Wi-Fi is included. The entire town of Girokastra is UNESCO-protected and the famous Girokastra Castle is just 50 yards away. The town features an old Ottoman bazaar originally opened in the 17th century. More than 200 homes are preserved as cultural monuments.

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Brilant

Brilant is a modern 4* hotel, located in the beautiful area of Saranda, on the south coast of Albania. Its rooms offer lovely sea views, and it's only a few minutes walk from the beach.

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Residence Hotel Desaret

Residence Hotel Desaret is situated in the scenic valleys of the historic city of Berat. The hotel has been decorated in a contemporary style and offers guests access to facilities such as wifi, a restaurant and bar. The bedrooms have an simple, yet elegant decor and provide guests with a comfortable space to relax. The restaurant serves characteristic Albanian dishes alongside modern alternatives. Nearby sights include Berat Castle, the ruins of Dimal and the Saint Triad Church.

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Tirana International Hotel

The Tirana International Hotel is conveniently located in the centre of Tirana and looks over Skenderbeg Square. Rooms are finished to a high quality and guests have full access to the hotel gym, swimming pool and sauna.

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Hotel New Star

It is located in the centre of the Podgorica. It is located in the vicinity of shopping, entertainment and sports centres ("Moraca" city stadium), bus station and airport "Golubovci" ( 7km ), as well as other cultural and historical sites.  

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Porto In

Featuring free WiFi and an à la carte restaurant serving international cuisine, Porto In is located in a quiet area of Kotor, 10.6 miles from Budva. The Old Town of Kotor and Kotor Marina are just a 2-minute walk away. All rooms are equipped with state of the art technology, including free WiFi. 

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Extensions

Archaeology of Serbia (8 days)

Follow the path of countless invaders

Balkan Explorer (20 days)

Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro & Bosnia

Archaeology of the Balkans (19 days)

Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians & Ottomans

Highlights of Serbia (10 days)

Historic monasteries, striking valleys and Roman ruins

A Taste of Serbia (6 days)

Discover the unique culinary heritage of Serbia

Festivals of Serbia (8 days)

Eat, drink and be merry in Europe's forgotten gem

Balkan Odyssey (15 days)

Discover Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro & Bosnia

Serbia's Remoter Trails (8 days)

Hiking and cycling in remote Southeast Serbia

Belgrade & Vojvodina (4 days)

Discover Europe's coolest capital and the history & nature of Vojvodina

Devil's Town & The Danube (9 days)

Uncover the hidden gems of Europe's best-kept secret

Reviews

Enjoyed travelling with Travel the Unknown. They were most helpful and filled in as much as possible on our trip.

Declan Cloonan , Archaeology of Serbia

I had the pleasure to be on the "Archaeology of Serbia" trip in May, which although only 8 days long was packed with fascinating insights into the complex history of the land. Not (yet) on the main tourist routes, there are many sites dating from stone-age, through Roman times to the many monasteries of the Middle Ages, some of which retain beautiful frescos, despite a turbulent history. The people here are friendly and the food served in hearty portions, plenty for meat lovers and vegetarian alike. I thoroughly recommend visiting Serbia before it becomes mainstream.

Nigel Denney , Archaeology of Serbia

Have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Serbia with David Lindo, the Urban Birder, and local wildlife expert, Milan Ruzic. Truly a privilege to have been with leaders whose knowledge of birds - their identification and calls - was quite outstanding; their sense of humour would also take some beating. Serbia - a birdwatching destination with more bonuses than the average City banker.

Dennis Buisson , Northern Serbia - Owls & Raptors, Serbia

Simply, a wonderful experience. There`s a special kind of relaxation that`s achieved when you know that you have none of the stress of organizing a trip, driving, navigating, travel, booking, etc. Thanks so much for an excellent experience.

Milojko Dobrijevich , Festivals of Serbia, Serbia

Was well thought out and the experience was absolutely GREAT!!!!!!

Gerald & Ann Diamond , Tailormade Serbia

The Balkans is a fascinating part of the world to visit with such complex histories. Wonderful scenery, great food, terrific variety of accommodation and especially loved the vineyards and wine tastings! Albania was such a surprise package! So much more than we anticipated and so much to see and do in this small country. Stunning scenery and roads generally better than we expected. Go before the rest of the world discovers this gem.

Laurel & Paul Smallwood , Balkan Odyssey & Albanian Odyssey, Balkans

We were looking for a land tour in the Balkans and contacted Travel The Unknown. The staff were very responsive in setting up a private tour schedule for us that proved to be perfect and reasonable in cost. We have just got back from our travels and can say that it was certainly a good choice The itinerary was varied and interesting and the accommodation well chosen. The quality and price of the food and wine in the region were an added bonus. Our drivers/guides were friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable. They went out of their way to accommodation our interests and preference.s Highly recommended!

Raymond & Janet Sterling (USA) , Tailormade Balkans

Thank you so very much for organising our trip. It went swimmingly, Dejan is super cool, the house was fab, the people lovely and strange, the rakjia insane. Memories of river swimming, spit roast pigs and lambs, urns of beans and cabbages, gallons of cheap beer and craze-inducing rakia with a massive dose of incomprehensible contemporary Serbian music , a modern take of Balkan brass orchestras, some tiny glimpses into Roma life, and rackety fair rides, along with beautifully grown organic vegetables and perfect skinned youth ...with not so many tourists. Plus a sand blast of the fascinating Balkan history with which the Belgrade fortress bulges, a clean and safe city … I`m a little overstuffed with roast pig but am thirsty as ever to find out more about the Roma and their music. All that history was what I found the most fascinating. Crazy stuff!

Cerys Matthews , Tailormade Guca Festivals Tour

I am delighted to see that Travel The Unknown have started to run tours to Serbia - it is time that someone did as the country has plenty to offer for all tastes. Looking at their itineraries for both North and South Serbia, it is clear that they manage to visit some of the more out the way places and lesser known sites that few know about. They offer a good degree of variety too, and their tours should give potential visitors a really good taste of this often overlooked destination.

Laurence Mitchell (Author of Bradt Guide: Serbia) , Tailormade Serbia

I have been extremely well looked after and am grateful to Dejan for showing me his wonderful country.

Adrian Mourby (Travel Writer) , Devil's Town & The Danube, Serbia
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