This 11-day Balkans tour explores the highlights and beautiful scenery of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Greece.
The tour begins by the sea in the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik before heading north up the scenic Adriatic Coast to Split, famous for its beaches and the Diocletian's Palace which we visit. We leave Croatia next and enter Bosnia & Herzegovina where we'll see the famous Stari Most bridge en-route to the country's capital Sarajevo, now a buzzing small city. Our next country is Serbia where we visit the capital Belgrade before crossing into Macedonia and the city of Skopje. While in Macedonia we drive through more beautiful scenery, especially around Lake Orhid, famous for its many churches which led to it being known as the 'Macedonian Jerusalem'.
The tour finishes in Greece, with stops at the coastal city of Thessaloniki on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea, and the ancient town of Delhi which is host to the Oracle of Apollo and is one of the most popular ancient Greek sites one can visit today. The tour then ends in Athens.
To make the most of your time in Dubrovnik and Athens, extra nights in both locations are available and can be added to extend the tour giving you some free time to explore independently before and after the main tour.
Ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, scenic Adriatic & Dalmatian coast, Split beaches & Diocletian's Palace, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Ohrid lake church, Stari Most bridge, Thessaloniki and the Aegean, Delphi, Athens.
- Small Group
Day 1: Arrive in Dubronik. Airport transfer & city tour
Welcome to Dubrovnik! We will meet you on your arrival in Dubrovnik airport and transfer you to your hotel. At 13:00, we head into town for a guided tour along the city walls, which provide great views of the Adriatic Sea. We'll also see the 13th century Franciscan Monastery, the Sponza and Rector's Palaces and Big Onofrio's Fountan which was built in the 15th century to help supply the city with water.
Dubrovnik is a beautiful and fascinating city and we strongly recommend you consider adding at least one extra day to the start of your tour to explore it fully.
Single Room Supplement, Extra day in Dubrovnik- pre-tour
Day 2: Follow the Dalmatian Coast to Split
Our second day in Croatia takes us on another scenic journey to the town of Split located on the Dalmatian Coast. Split is famed for its breathtaking beaches and its Diocletian's Palace, A UNESCO World Heritage Site which was built in the 4th century.
We'll explore the southern section of the Diocletian's Palace, as we delve into the history of its Bronze Gates, the Vestibul of the Emperor's Palace, The Mausoleum, St. Dujam's Cathedral, Cathedral Treasury, Temple of Jupiter and St. Martin's Church.
We'll finish the day with a visit to the fruit square before stopping at the Venetian castle, Milesi Palace and the Monument of Marko Marulic.
Day 3: Mostar, the Stari Most Bridge & Sarajevo
After our time in Croatia, we cross the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina to the town of Mostar, which straddles the Neretva River. Famed for its iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge) built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, Mostar was one of the most heavily bombed locations during the war and has since become another UNESCO World Heritage Site (we certainly pack them in on this tour!).
After time to look at and photograph the bridge, and learn about the wartime history here, we'll make our way to its capital city of Sarajevo, a compact city located on the Miljacka River, surrounded by the Dinaric Alps.
Sarajevo was once war-torn place, but has since become one of Europe's most vibrant cities, boasting numerous minarets, mosques, bazaars and coffee shops. We'll spend the night exploring Sarajevo's old bazaar known as Bascarsija, trying all its unique dishes. You can also try the local speciality of 'bosanski cevapi', which is grilled minced meat mixed with mild spices.
Day 4: Sarajevo to Belgrade
We'll start our day with a hearty breakfast before we say goodbye to Bosnia and Herzegovina and travel to Serbia. We'll stay in its capital city of Belgrade, famed for its impressive Orthodox churches and historical museums.
Tonight, we'll make our way to Skadarska Street to try some of its authentic cuisines. You'll be mesmerised by its buzzing atmosphere and vibrant nightlife, which runs alongside its Orthodox churches.
Day 5: Exploring Belgrade
We'll spend the entire day exploring Serbia's capital city of Belgrade today. Belgrade is one of Europe's oldest cities, boasting settlements which date back at least 7,000 years. Travellers flock here to immerse themselves in its rich culture, with ancient monuments at almost every step.
We'll browse through its boulevards and squares, before we make our way to Kalemegdan Park located on a 125-metre-high cliff, at the junction of the River Sava and the Danube River.
We'll spend the rest of the night in Belgrade before we make our way back to Macedonia tomorrow.
Day 6: Through Nis to Macedonia & Skopje
We start the day with a journey to Nis, Serbia's third largest city. We'll go on a sightseeing tour of Nis, as we delve deep into its Ottoman past. Nis is known for being the birthplace of Constantine the Great, a Roman Emperor of Illyrian-Greek origin from 306 to 337 AD.
We'll cross the border into Macedonia, as we head to its capital city of Skopje, situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. Skopje was founded at the time of the Romans and became capital of the Serbian Empire in the 14th century before it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1392, and incorporated into Yugoslavia in 1918. You have the rest of the day free to explore Skopje independently.
Day 7: Exploring Skopje
You have the morning free to do some exploring or get some extra sleep in before we head out in the afternoon for a walking tour of Skopje, where we'll visit the Kale Fortress - situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River, the Church of the Holy Savior with its iconostasis, the Old Bazaar and the Stone Bridge.
You have the evening free to do some exploring and we'll once again overnight in Skopje.
Day 8: Explore lakeside Orhid's churches, the Macedonian Jerusalem
We start our day with a drive to the small lakeside resort city of Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ohrid is often known as the 'Macedonian Jerusalem', due to the sheer number of churches in the city, at one stage having 365, one for each day of the year.
We'll explore Ohrid, visiting the 11th century Church of St. Sofia - one of the most important monuments of Macedonia, which houses architecture and art from the Middle Ages.
We'll spend the rest of the night in Ohrid, getting some rest in as we make our way back to Greece tomorrow.
Day 9: Back to Greece & Thessaloniki
After finishing our time in Macedonia we make our way back to Greece, this time visiting Thessaloniki - Greece's second largest city famed for UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments and its breathtaking foreshore which boasts numerous cafes, cocktail lounges, bars and restaurants.
We'll spend the rest of the day in Thessaloniki.
Day 10: Exploring ancient Delphi, then travel back to Athens
Today we say goodbye to Thessaloniki as we make our way to the town of Delphi, which serves as the home of the 4th century BC Temple of Apollo and the former home of the legendary oracle.
We'll explore the Temple of Apollo, before we visit the Museum of Delphi. We'll also make our way to the sanctuary of Delphi, which was once the religious centre of the ancient Greek world.
Later in the day, we'll travel back to Athens, where we'll spend the night.
Day 11: Your Balkans adventure ends, hotel to airport transfer included
After an eventful journey through the Balkans, the tour unfortunately, comes to an end. After breakfast at your hotel in Athens, your time is free until we transfer you to the airport to board your flight back home.
Extra days are available in Athens, and we can also arrange extensions to the tour to head to one of the Greek islands for some sun and relaxation at the end of your trip.
Extra days in Athens- post-tour, Greek island extensions (details on request)
Touring with Encounters Travel
Encounters Travel specialise in creating imaginative, adventurous small group tours all around the world for the open minded traveller. They are always looking for new ways to add value and excitement to your travel experiences so that you see more than just the usual tourist spots, as well as having great fun at the same time. Their tours are designed to give you the best possible experience in each country, whilst at the same time providing good value for money without making compromises.
You will see and learn about local cultures and historic sites while enjoying some more adventurous activities along the way. They also try very hard to keep the overall style and inclusions/exclusions of their tours as consistent as possible from country to country, while taking into account the different highlights and activities available in each destination. Their escorted group tours are hosted by specially selected experts who bring their knowledge and skills to add an extra dimension to the tour.
Encounters Travel are committed to travelling responsibly, and leaving a positive impression and impact on the countries through which they travel.