Our most comprehensive tailor-made tour of the Balkans to date is designed for the traveller who is pushed for time and would like to fit in as much of the region as possible in one go. Taking in a total of seven countries (count them; Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Bulgaria) in three weeks, we feel this is just enough time to see the highlights and get a real flavour for the individual countries.
Throughout you will be accompanied by two different English speaking driver/guides (one for Belgrade-Tirana and the other for Tirana-Sofia) who will expertly guide you between the Balkan metropolis' of Belgrade and Sofia and everything in-between. Comfort is also paramount with transfers by spacious private vehicles and hotels of 4* standard or above and all excursions and sightseeing is included allowing for a fully comprehensive tour.
This is a tailor-made itinerary so can shortened, or extended, to suit you, the possibilities and combinations are endless on an itinerary like this.
Fly to Belgrade and on arrival, transfer to your centrally located hotel.
Enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Belgrade with your private guide. Begin the day at the Museum of Yugoslavia- devoted to the life and deeds of the famous communist leader, Josip Broz Tito, and ultimately his final resting place in the House of Flowers Mausoleum. Move on to the hill of Vračar, where Saint Sava Temple is situated. This symbol of Belgrade, with its white and gold exterior beautifully dazzling in the sunlight, has a prominent place in the Belgrade skyline, reflecting the strong faith of the Serbian nation. The afternoon is dedicated to the city's central area passing by the Serbian National Parliament, Republic Square, Knez Mihailo Street and onto the mighty Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park, the most important cultural-historic complex in the city and situated on the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers. (B)
Venture out of the city today on a guided tour of Novi Sad and the Fruska Gora region. Drive through the Fruska Gora National Park, where the rolling landscape is dotted with 17 medieval monasteries which were built to safeguard Serbian culture and religion. The nearby town of Sremski Karlovci is rich with Baroque and Neo-classical buildings and was the seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Habsburg Monarchy. Sample wine and honey that is unique to the region. Continue on to Novi Sad, Serbia’s second city and capital of the autonomous province of Vojvodina. Chosen as the European capital of Culture in 2022, the heart of this laid-back city is the pedestrian thoroughfare Zmaj Jovina, with its many shops and cafes. The city is presided over by the Petrovaradin Fortress, also known as the ‘Gibraltar of the Danube’. Return to Belgrade in the late afternoon. (B, wine tasting)
You will be collected from your hotel this morning by your private driver/guide and transferred across into Bosnia-Herzegovina and its capital; Sarajevo (approx 5.5 hour drive broken with stops along route). (B)
This comprehensive full day tour takes in the central part of the city starting from the old Turkish quarter of ‘Bascarsija’, where you can watch craftsman at work making traditional copper coffee sets, before heading over to the Latin Bridge, the site of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination. Visit a Mosque, Orthodox Church, Jewish Synagogue and Catholic Cathedral, all located on the same street and exemplifying the cities past religious tolerance. Afterwards take a birds-eye look at the city's famous panorama from the villages in the surrounding hills. Lunch is included at a restaurant with the best views in the city. After lunch, head to the fringes of the city to visit the Tunnel Museum. This private museum shows part of the tunnel built to ferry vital provisions to besieged Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict. The tunnel provided a lifeline for many city inhabitants and the museum documents the harrowing realities of the conflict and the resourcefulness of the Bosnian people. (B,L)
Depart for the Herzegovina region of the country today. First stop after a 2 hour drive is the Ottoman gem of Mostar. With your guide, take a walking tour to uncover the remains of the Turkish quarter. View the famous Stari Most bridge from all angles and learn of its history at the photographic exhibition. You are bound to witness locals performing adrenaline fuelled jumps into the Neretva River below. Later in the afternoon head to the nearby village of Blagaj located at the source of the crystal clear Buna River. Visit its Dervish Tekke, situated in a picture perfect position overlooking the river. End the day in the pretty town of Trebinje. An 18th century trading centre, the town is famed for the enormous old mills treading the Trebisnjica River. Overnight here. (B)
Depart for Montenegro, where the brooding black mountains meet the sea. Make visits along the picture perfect Boka Bay (Bay of Kotor). Visit the small baroque town of Perast where you catch a water taxi out to Our Lady of the Rocks Island which offers a fantastic panoramic view of the bay from its shores and an interesting history. Continue on to Kotor. Wander the marble streets with your guide and discover shady piazzas flanked by bustling cafes and Venetian Palaces. Admire the impressive city walls, snaking high up the surrounding hillside and perhaps stop for a coffee in the Square of Arms and a spot of the favoured Balkan past time of people watching. (B)
Spend the day touring sites associated with historical Montenegro with a steep drive up the 25 Serpentines road which snakes its way uphill to a magnificent view point and on to Lovcen national park to climb the 461 steps to the mausoleum of the national hero Petar II Petrovic-Njegos, located on top of Jezerski Vrh, one of the country's highest peaks. Reach the old capital city of Cetinje for a look around King Nicola’s Museum, which is home to many interesting artefact's documenting Montenegro’s tumultuous history. Continue on to Njegusi village, where you can sample the delicious, locally produced meats and cheeses that the region is famous for (samples of meats and cheese included). Return to the coast to visit perhaps Montenegro’s most famous town, Budva. Explore the charming Old Town with its medieval walls, cobbled lanes and small shady piazzas. Return to Kotor. (B, snacks)
Transfer down along the Montenegrin coast to the Albanian border. Once across the border, visit Shkodra. Once an important economic centre due to its flourishing Ottoman-era bazaar at the convergence of the Danube River and Aegean Sea trade routes, Shkodra today is the cradle of northern Albanian culture and of the gheg dialect. A highlight of this lakeside town are the ruins of the Fortress of Rozafa, an ancient Illyrian castle built on a rock hill with spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Continue on to Tirana where you will say goodbye to the driver/guide that has been with you since Belgrade. In the early evening, you will be met by your Albanian driver/guide and taken up to the Dajti Cable Car for a superb panoramic view of the city (there is a restaurant at the top if you wish to have dinner there). (B)
Begin your exploration of Tirana with your Albanian guide this morning, starting in Skanderbeg Square, the heart of the city. Here visit the diminutive Et’hem Beg Mosque and statue of Skanderbeg, together with the striking exterior of the Opera and Ballet Theatre and the exterior of various ministries and the clock-tower. Visit the National museum, as well as Bunk Art 2 (a former nuclear bunker), documenting Communist life and persecution during Enver Hoxha’s rule. If you have interest, visit the well-tended cemetery for British soldiers, who died in Albania during WWII. See the National Martyrs Cemetery of Albania with its impressive statue of Mother Albania overlooking Tirana. Some 900 partisans who died during World War II are buried in the cemetery. (B)
Meet your driver/guide this morning and head south to Berat. En-route, stop at Pupa Winery considered one of the best in the country. Samples a few of their wines, surrounded by lush countryside. Arrive in Berat, a UNESCO listed city often referred to as the "City of a Thousand Windows" due to its unique and picturesque Ottoman-era architecture. Berat boasts a rich cultural heritage with the town split into Upper and Lower quarters. The upper town includes the Medieval citadel and many small churches and mosques are packed tightly inside its walls. Visit the Icon Museum, which features works by the famous Albanian painter Onofri, before venturing to the lower town passing by splendid Ottoman era architecture, Byzantine churches and elegant mosques. Overnight in Berat. (B, wine-tasting)
Continue south along the lauded Albanian Riviera. Watch as the sparkling Adriatic morphs into the Ionian sea as you drive over the famed Llogara Pass, at 1,043m above sea level. The view from the pass offers a stunning vista of the coast and its many small settlements and resorts. In the far south of the country, reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint. The Greek and Roman ruins of Butrint are Albania's most important archaeological site. This rediscovered city is a microcosm of almost 3,000 years of Mediterranean history. Its sixth century B.C. fortification evokes the city's military power and the third century BC amphitheatre symbolises the rich culture of this once thriving ancient city. End the day in Gjirokaster, the so called 'City of Stone'. (B)
This morning, take a tour of Gjirokaster with your guide. The town comprises hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with distinctive stone roofs, wooden balconies and whitewashed stone walls. Dominated by the sheer flanks of its vast castle, Gjirokaster is a magical city with a tumultuous past. A visit to the vast 13th century castle brings the adventurous tales of medieval rulers and communist atrocities alive. Also visit Skenduli House, the oldest and most authentic Ottoman house in the city. After the tour, depart on towards the North Macedonian border, and the lake-side town of Ohrid via the oft-overlooked Elbasan to enjoy a walk around the walkable old town and Elbasan Castle. Reach Ohrid this afternoon. (B)
Awake in Ohrid and embark on a walking tour of the town which starts from the square of St.Clement and visits the old part of the town, stopping at the Lower Gate and the archaeological museum. Continue to Plaoshnik, the site of the reconstructed church of St Clement, and the Church of St Jovan at Kaneo, one of the most photographed churches in the Balkans due to its beautiful location on the cliffs directly above the lake. Return to the town by boat. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure and perhaps enjoy a rejuvenating lake swim. (B)
Drive towards Skopje today via the Mavrovo National Park, where the highest peaks in North Macedonia can be found and visit the monastery of St John Bigorski. On arrival in Skopje, tour the city with your guide and discover the many monuments built during the regenerative Skopje 2014 project. Walk up to Kale Fortress to take in the afternoon hustle and bustle of the city below, before visiting the birth place of Mother Teresa and the vibrant Old Bazaar, the second biggest of its kind in Europe (after Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar). (B)
Take a full day trip with your driver/guide to neighbouring Kosovo. The first stop, just 90 minutes from Skopje, is the beautiful 14th century Gracanica Monastery. The tour continues to Prishtina, the newest capital in Europe which has undergone huge regeneration. Take a sightseeing tour of the main highlights such as the Cathedral of Mother Teresa, Prishtina University and National Library of Prishtina and Skanderbeg Square. After a break for lunch continue to Prizren, a beautiful Ottoman town located on the slopes of the Sharri Mountains and packed full of mosques, tekkes, artisan shops and town houses with their upper storeys jutting out into the narrow cobbled streets. Highlights include the ruined fortress, which offers panoramic views of the town below and the old house and museum of the Prizren League. Return to Skopje in the early evening (this will be an approx 10 hour day). (B)
Continue the journey today crossing into Bulgaria and its capital Sofia (approx 4 hour drive). En-route stop at Rila Monastery which was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonised by the Orthodox Church. His simple dwelling was transformed into a monastic complex which played a vital role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Spend some time at leisure in Sofia this afternoon. (B)
Tour Sofia today with your guide. Visitors are charmed by Sofia with its wide boulevards and compact city centre where many of its attractions are clustered. The city boasts a colourful and ancient collection of churches, mosques and synagogues; the most famous of which is the Alexander Nevski Cathedral, which has magnificent frescoes. Pay a visit to the National Historical Museum which offers visitors a glimpse into Bulgaria's storied past. The rest of the day is at leisure, so perhaps you may opt to take the cable car up to Mt Vitosha or enjoy thr city's vibrant cafe culture. (B)
Depart for a full day tour of Plovdiv, considered to be one of the oldest cities in Europe. Here see remains of a Thracian fortress (5th century BC) and well-preserved remains from the Roman period. The Old Town is a marvellous site, with its picturesque churches, the mosque and architecture from the Bulgarian Revival period. Move on to the Thracian Tomb in Kazanlak,' Jewel of the Valley of the Kings' and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here see the numerous tombs of different Thracian kings. Reurn to Sofia in the early evening. (approx 10 hour day).
Bid farwell to your guide today at Sofia Airport and take return flight home. (B)
This is a tailor-made itinerary and can be altered to suit your preferences. Please speak to a Regent Balkan's specialist to discuss options.