Balkan Dreams

Duration

13 Days

Physical rate

Moderate

Starting city

Zagreb

Available

May 2024 / March 2025

Cities to visit: Zagreb; Banja Luka; Jajce; Sarajevo; Mostar; Dubrovnik; Kotor; Budva; Tirana; Struga; Ohrid; Kastoria; Kalambaca; Thessaloniki; Melnik; Sandansky; Rila, Kyustendil; Sofia; Bachkovo; Plovdiv; Kazanlak; ; Arbanassi; Veliko Turnovo; Basarboski; Bucharest

Detailed day by day description

Introduction

This tour is part of our flexible coach touring range, guaranteed with a minimum of 2 people. Once the tour is booked, it is guaranteed so it will definitely go ahead, and will never cancel.

This tour is guided in English only. Please note if English speaking attendance numbers are low, the tour can become bilingual either accompanied by two tour leaders, one for each language, or a single tour leader providing explanations in both languages.

The tour offers flexibility, allowing you to customize it to your preferences. By clicking 'Quote or Book,' you will have the choice to select your desired start and end dates and destinations within the tour's defined parameters. Given this flexibility, it's important to note that the same people, tour guides or drivers may not be on your entire journey.

Day
Welcome to Zagreb! Transfer to the hotel.
If you start your trip in Zagreb, our guide will arrive in the city of Zagreb on Wednesday about 15.00 hrs. Free time until the arrival of our guide.
15.00hrs - In order to participate in the city tour , please come to the hotel reception.
16:00 hrs . - Zagreb, city tour with a local guide, we can admire its two hills, the old quarter, the upper city and the new neighborhoods of the Croatian capital. The visit will last about two hours.
You will then have free time. Dinner included.
Note: the schedules that you will find in this itinerary are indicative. The guide, depending on the situation or season of the year, and in order to improve the quality of this tour, may adjust the schedules.
Total distance: 415 km
Scenery: Mountains, ancient castles.
Note: Please bring your passport with you as we will cross to Bosnia. Sometimes this journey may suffer delays due to traffic or border delays.
07:30 hrs. - Zagreb - Departure. We travel to Bosnia. Areas of hills and forests in the center of Croatia.
09.30 hrs. - Border crossing procedures entering Bosnia (sometimes they can be delayed). We travel through the region where the ruined houses remind us of the war and ethnic conflict in Bosnia that took place in the 1990s.
11.30hrs. - Bania Luka. Arrival and time for a walk through the capital of the autonomous entity of Republika Srpska and the second largest city in Bosnia, after Sarajevo, where its boulevards and gardens as well as its fortress and orthodox cathedral stand out.
13.30 hrs. - Bania Luka, departure. We continue through densely wooded regions.
15.00 hrs. - Jajce- arrival in what is perhaps the most beautiful town in Bosnia, with its cultural mix, its mosque, its fortress and its impressive waterfall. Time for a walk and lunch.
16.30hrs. - Jajce, departure and continuation to the capital of Bosnia.
19.45 hrs. - Sarajevo - Arrival. We will have time in the historic center, during which you can stroll through the charming Bazaar, an old Ottoman market famous for its architecture, oriental atmosphere and traditional shops. Dinner included.
Total distance: 280 km.

Scenery: Beautiful landscapes throughout the whole route: mountains, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, and picturesque villages. Arrival in Dubrovnik with beautiful seascapes.
Notes: Please bring your passport with you, as today we cross to Croatia.
After the breakfast we will have a sightseeing tour with a local guide in Sarajevo , a fascinating city known as "Jerusalem of Europe" due to the coexistence of several religions. Mosques, churches and synagogues reflect religious diversity. We will observe the great Ottoman influence in its old town, with its great mosque of more than 500 years old and its beautiful fountain.
11.30 hrs. - Sarajevo - Departure. Very beautiful landscapes between mountains and valleys.
14.00 hrs.- Mostar .- Free time to stroll and have lunch in this very picturesque city, its streets are full of lively commerce and small restaurants. The high stone bridge separated the Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim communities.
17.00 hrs.- Departure. We continue to Croatia.
20.00 hrs.- Dubrovnik/Cavtat - Arrival. Dinner included .
Note: in some departures, accommodation may be in Cavtat, a coastal town near the city of Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik - In the morning we begin with a city tour with the local guide of Dubrovnik. We are undoubtedly in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe: hanging on a rock, surrounded by walls, by the Adriatic Sea. The tour includes tickets to the Franciscan Monastery with the oldest pharmacy in Europe, and the Cathedral. We also include a boat trip to LOKRUM , a small island 15 minutes by boat from Dubrovnik and home to the ruins of a Benedictine monastery of the eleventh century, popular setting of the series "Game of Thrones". Free time during the afternoon. Return at the end of the afternoon to our hotel . Dinner included.
Note: in some departures, accommodation may be in Cavtat, a coastal town near the city of Dubrovnik.
Note: in the winter months, from November to March, there is no boat service to Lokrum and therefore we cannot visit the island.
Distance covered: 295 km
Scenery: Very beautiful scenery along the Adriatic coast. The bay of Kotor possesses some of the most beautiful scenery in Europe. Very picturesque villages along the way. . Subsequently Albania presents us with images of a more rural country with a very strong character of its own
Note: Have your passports to hand. We cross the border to Montenegro and Albania. We will sometimes have to change coach on the border with Montenegro.
07.30 hrs.- Dubrovnik - Departure -. We set off early for Montenegro . Border procedures (which may sometimes be long). Beautiful scenery in the bay of Kotor.-
09.30 hrs ( variable depending on which border).- Kotor. - Arrival -. Time to stroll in this beautiful walled town with its strong Venetian influence, which stands in a magnificent scenic background.
11.00 hrs.- Kotor - Departure - We continue among beautiful coastal scenery.
11.45 hrs.- Budva , a beautiful walled enclave on a rocky islet in the sea. Time for a stroll, to take photos and have lunch.
13.45 hrs.- Budva - Departure -. We travel along the coast towards Albania . Arrival at the frontier and border procedures (which may sometimes be long). Time at the frontier too to have a coffee and change money. We carry on along small roads. We enter the capital of Albania.
17.30 hrs.- Tirana - Arrival -. Dinner and accommodation.
Distance covered: 160 km
Scenery: Slow mountain roads in Albania. Interesting scenery throughout the whole stage. Very beautiful around Lake Ohrid with its crystal clear waters.
Note: Have your passport with you. We will cross the border with Macedonia. Make sure you do not need a visa to enter this country.
After breakfast we include a city tour of Tirana: The capital of Albania, with its mosques, the clock tower, the ministries. Our local guide will tell us about this small country. Free time before going on our way (this visit may also take place in the evening on arrival in Tirana, depending on the sunlight and on the decision of the guide).-
11.15 hrs.- Tirana - Departure -. Mountain scenery. We come to Lake Ohrid which forms the border with Macedonia and offers us very pretty countryside. Border crossing (there may sometimes be delays). Entry in Macedonia .
14.30 hrs.- Struga - Arrival -. A picturesque town on the shore of the lake. Time for a stroll and lunch.-
15.30 hrs.- Struga - Departure -.
16.15 hrs.- Ohrid - Arrival -. A town with a very strong Ottoman influence, declared World Heritage. Time to see the center of the town, after which we will go to our hotel (located in the outskirts of the town, by the lake). Dinner included and accommodation.
Distance covered: 295 km
Scenery: Generally pretty scenery of the Balkans and north of Greece. Mountains in Greece. Spectacular scenery in the area of the Meteoras.
Notes: Have your passports to hand. We enter Greece (Schengen zone).
- We visit the Valley of the Meteora, making a stop at the most important Orthodox monasteries and visiting one of them. Be prepared with appropriate clothing (women will have to put on skirts, which will be given to them at their arrival at the Monastery) and comfortable footwear to climb up to the Monastery.
07.45 hrs.- Ohrid - Departure -. We travel to the border through regions of pleasant agricultural plains. We pass through Bitola, a historic town that was called the “city of consuls”. Stop at the frontier where we have a chance for a coffee and to change money if we need to. The north of Greece has a strong Slavic and Ottoman influence and a very rugged geography.
11.45 hrs.- Kastoria - Arrival -. The city of the 100 churches, with its mediaeval streets and pleasant restaurants beside its pretty lake. Time for a stroll and lunch.
13.45 hrs.- Kastoria - Departure -.
16.00 hrs. – Meteora – Arrival -. We start our route amidst the fantastic scenery of the Meteora, which houses monasteries “hanging” from the rocks. We will make a stop to visit one of them (entrance included) .
Dinner included and accommodation in Kalambaka, a small town at the center of the Meteora region.
Total distance: 395km
Landscapes: Beautiful landscapes in the north of Greece and on the way to Bulgaria: mountains, isolated areas, forests.
Note: Remember to have your Passport ready, you will need it to enter Bulgaria.
08.00 hrs.- Kalambaka.- Departure. We travel through the North of Greece, amidst pretty mountain scenery, to the Aegean Sea.
11.15 hrs.- THESSALONIKI – Arrival-, time for a walk and lunch in Greece’s second city.
14.00hrs.- Thessaloniki- Departure. We travel towards the Pirin mountain, a World Heritage Site, areas heavily influenced by the Greek, Slavic and Turkish cultures. After this we go on our way towards BULGARIA, crossing the border. Schedules of this stage sometimes can suffer important delays because of the border procedures.
16.45hrs.- MELNIK. Arrival. In Bulgarian Macedonia we will make a stop in this picturesque museum-town among beautiful landscapes in the center of a wine-producing area. We will learn about the traditional Balkan ways of life.
17.45hrs.- Melnik. Departure.
18.15 hrs- SANDANSKI , arrival in this beautiful small spa city, the birthplace of Spartacus, dinner and accommodation.
Total distance covered: 225 km.

Scenery: beautiful landscapes of the Balkans, with mountains, remote areas and forests.
Note: Wear suitable clothing to visit the monastery of Rila.-
08.30 hrs - Sandanski.- Departure.-
10.30 hrs - Rila Monastery - We visit this beautiful walled Orthodox monastery that is hidden hidden among forests and mountains within a national park. Time to visit it.
11.45 hrs - Rila -Departure-.
15.00 hrs - Sofia - Arrival-. After the lunch time we include a city tour of the capital of Bulgaria , where we will see the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the Russian church, the mosque, its squares and avenues of Stalinist architecture. Free time afterwards.
Total distance covered: 205 km.

Scenery: Large agricultural plains.
Note: Wear suitable clothing to visit the monastery of Bachkovo.-
08.30 hrs.- Sofía. Departure.
11.00 hrs.- BACHKOVO MONASTERY, arrival to the Bulgaria’s second most important monastery, founded in the eleventh century, with its three churches and the life of its monks, and we feel it as a place full of peace.
12.00 hrs.- Bachkovo Monastery. Departure.
12.45 hrs.- PLOVDIV, arrival and lunch included before the sightseeing tour of one of the oldest cities in Europe. Here we include tickets to the Roman Amphitheatre, the ancient chemist’s and the Armenian House . Free time afterwards, so you can stroll through its beautiful historic streets and small shops.
Total distance covered: 230 km.
Scenery: We cross the valley of the roses with great color in season of flowering (May and June). Beautiful scenery across the Balkans mountain range.
Note: in some cases, Arbanassi visit may take place on Sunday instead of Saturday.
08.00hrs.- Plovdiv. Departure. Nice small roads through the interior of Bulgaria. We arrived to the valley of the roses.
10.00 hrs. - KAZANLAK .- In the valley of the Roses, we will see KAZANLAK, where the tickets to the replica of the Thracian tomb (UNESCO Heritage) are included and we will learn about the production of products derived from the roses.
11.30 hrs.- Kazanlak. Departure. Amidst the mountains we will make a stop at the Russian church of SHIPKA , which reminds us the strong links that exist between the Bulgarians and the Russians and the help that Bulgaria received from Russia in its war for independence against the Ottomans.
13.15hrs.- ETARA, arrival at this charming village/ethnographic museum. We walk between their traditional houses and their artisan workshops. Lunch included in a typical restaurant.
15.30 hrs.- Etara. Departure.
16.45 hrs.- ARBANASSI, arrival to the ancient trading city with its fortress-houses, where we visit the Church of the Nativity (admission included) .
18.00 hrs.- Arrival in VELIKO TARNOVO , Bulgaria’s former capital, with a very picturesque medieval center, along with its hill.
Total distance covered: 190 km.

Scenery: We crossed the Danube on the border.
Note: Keep your passport with you, as it will be required on the border with Romania.
08.30hrs.- Veliko Tarnovo. Departure.
10.00hrs.- BASARBOVSKI MONASTERY , we will stop at a place of pilgrimage dug out of the rock.
11.00hrs.- Barsabovski. Departure. We cross the border and the river Danube; sometimes there may be delays at the border.
12.45 hrs.- BUCHAREST , arrival. Lunch included. 15:00 hrs. - city tour of Bucharest with its ancient quarter and the giant Parliament Palace. Free time afterwards.
After breakfast, end of our services.
Note: Remember that hotels check-out time is usually at 10.00 hrs. In most cases, you can leave your luggage at the hotel reception at check-out time, so you can enjoy the city and pick it up at the time you require that same day. If you need more time to use your room, please consider booking an additional night at the end of your tour.

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From AUD 3,110