Archaeology of Serbia

Serbia

Culture | Archaeology

Follow the path of countless invaders

8 days £1,595 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

Delve into this ancient country, discovering prehistoric sites, Roman settlements, Byzantine fortifications and orthodox monasteries. Explore the homeland of Constantine the Great, with numerous archaeological sites illuminating the importance of the area within the Roman Empire. Overnight in Serbia's UNESCO World Heritage monastery and discover its long religious history. Follow the path of countless invaders, along the majestic Danube, passing castles and towns right through the heart of Serbia.

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
  • Soak up Belgrade's cosmopolitan atmosphere

Places Visited

Belgrade - Novi Sad - Sirmium - Lepenski Vir - Viminacium - Niš - Gamzigrad and Felix Romuliana

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, 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 - Belgrade

In the morning, visit Sopocani Monastery before continuing to the Petrova Church. Later you will return to Belgrade for overnight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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 : Departure

At an appropriate time you will be transferred to the airport for your departure flight. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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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. 

Visit hotel's site
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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.

Visit hotel's site
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The Regent Club

In the heart of Nis, The Regent Club Hotel has rooms featuring all modern amenities but also equipped with traditional antique furniture. All bathrooms have hydro massage showers, and there is also wifi available in all rooms.

Visit hotel's site
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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.

Visit hotel's site
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

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

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

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 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

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

Gerald & Ann Diamond , Tailormade Serbia
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