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18 Day Luxury Balkans Discovery Tour

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18 Day Luxury Balkans Discovery Tour

This is where the sway of the Mediterranean meets Central Europe and blends with the exotic East. From the Danube to Dracula's castle, the layers of history are evident at every turn.

Our adventure map

Map of tour route

Day by day

First Day Welcome to Bucharest

Enjoy your complimentary private VIP door-to-door transfer to your UK departure airport. Transfers depart Henri Coanda International Airport at 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00 for your hotel, which is one of the city's most sophisticated and prestigious landmarks. Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and a pleasant evening of dinner and wine. (WR),(D)

Hotel:    Hilton Athenee, Bucharest

Second Day its Bucharest then we head to Brasov

Sightseeing in the morning with a Local Expert, includes views of University Square and the former Communist Headquarters, as well as a visit to the immense Parliament Palace, one of the largest buildings in the world. Then head up through the Carpathian Mountains to the charming medieval city of Brasov, founded in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights. (BB),(DW)

Hotel:    Aro Palace, Brasov

Third Day visit Transylvanian Dracula's Castle

Join a Local Expert for a stroll around the Town Hall Square, lined with beautiful red-roofed houses and dominated by the Black Church. Now imagine a horse and carriage careering up a wet mountainous road – thunder and lightning illuminating the medieval fortress guarding the Transylvanian border. Discover if this popular image of Dracula's castle is true or, like the vampire story itself, only a myth, as you visit Bran Castle – said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's book. (BB)

Hotel:     Aro Palace, Brasov

Fourth Day we Travel to Veliko Tarnovo

Drive along the Prahova Valley to the elegant alpine resort of Sinaia. Visit Pele? Castle, former summer residence of Romania's first royal family. Admire the lavish rooms filled with art, armour and tapestries, before crossing the Danube into Bulgaria. Continue to Veliko Tarnovo, the 'City of the Tsars', where houses cling to the cliffs of the River Yantra, making it one of the country's most beautiful towns. In the evening, enjoy a Highlight Dinner of local specialities and wine, followed by an authentic folklore show. (BB),(SE)

Hotel:    Yantra, Veliko Tarnovo

Fifth Day we go from the old Bulgarian Capital to the new

In the morning, see the ‘symbol of the city’, the Monument of the Assens, before meeting your Local Expert to climb up to the ruined Tsareves Fortress, a reminder of the town's former imperial status. Here you will enjoy the stunning views over the old Bulgarian capital and the Yantra Valley. At the UNESCO listed village of Arbanassi, visit a traditional 17th century merchants' house and hear the acoustics in the Church of the Holy Nativity. Now cross the Balkan Mountains to Bulgaria's modern day capital of Sofia, the ‘city that grows, but never ages'. On arrival, sightseeing with a Local Expert takes you to St. Sofia Church, across the square from the golden domed St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the archaeological complex, dominated by the church of St. George Rotonda. (BB),(DW)

Hotel:     Grand Hotel, Sofia

Sixth Day take in the sights of Sofia at your Leisure

This day is at leisure, to relax or explore. Perhaps take an optional experience to the Rila Monastery. Enjoy a fascinating insight into the the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria? (BB)

Hotel:       Grand Hotel, Sofia

Seventh Day we explore Skopje then stay at Ohrid

Cross the border and continue to the Macedonian capital of Skopje, an ultra-modern city with an ancient bazaar, where Turkish influences can still be seen and felt. Then head for mountain-ringed Lake Ohrid, its shores dotted with monasteries and villages. (BB),(DW)

Hotel:    Belvedere Hotel, Ohrid

Eighth Day its Ohrid then onto Tirana

In the morning, sightseeing with a Local Expert will show you the narrow streets of Ohrid's Old Town. Afterwards, cross into Albania and journey to Tirana, renowned for its unfailingly friendly locals. Meet a resident expert at the landmark Skanderbeg Square for an insider's look at the Albanian capital. (BB),(DW)

Hotel:     Sheraton Hotel, Tirana

Ninth Day we visit Kotor then the Port of Dubrovnik

Drive through the spectacular scenery of Montenegro to the old town of Kotor, perched beside the only European fjord outside of Norway. Then continue over the Croatian border to the fortified port of Dubrovnik. Enjoy free time exploring the old town, bustling with street artists, cafés and restaurants. (BB),(DW)

Hotel:    Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik

Tenth Day Enjoy Dubrovnik Sightseeing at your Leisure 

In the morning, join a Local Expert to explore the stone-paved streets within the 16th century bastions. See Onofrio's Fountain and the Rector's Palace, the city walls, as well as the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries. The rest of the day is free for you to immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings. Perhaps enjoy an optional experience to Cavtat – a stunning town on the Adriatic coast, where you can stroll the pine forests paths beside the crystal clear sea. At night, within the city's mighty ramparts, choose from a fine selection of restaurants for your Dine-Around evening. (BB),(DA)

Hotel:     Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik

Eleventh Day more Sights to see in Dubrovnik

Another day at leisure in this ‘Pearl of the Adriatic'. Sunbathe by the pool or stroll with friends along the ancient city walls. As the sun starts to set, maybe take a relaxing cruise on the harbour? (BB)

Hotel:     Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik

Twelfth Day we head to Mostar then onto Sarajevo 

Drive to Mostar and walk with a Local Expert across the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge), reconstructed after being almost completely destroyed during the war. The cobbled old town stretches on both sides of the bridge and is filled with shops selling Turkish style souvenirs. Next, follow the scenic route to Sarajevo. On arrival, visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum. Talk to one of the survivors, for whom the Siege of Sarajevo remains a defining moment in his life. (BB),(RD)

Hotel:    Hotel Bristol, Sarajevo

Thirteenth Day we Sample Sarajevo 

Start with a morning sightseeing. A Local Expert will show you the Bašcaršija, the cobbled old town market where Sarajevo was founded by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Admire Gazi Husrev-beg mosque and Olympic stadium. Next, experience real Bosnian coffee (not for the faint hearted), and learn about the traditional ritual of Bosnian coffee preparation. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. (BB)

Hotel:     Hotel Bristol, Sarajevo

Fourteenth Day its off to the Serbian Capital of Belgrade

Head down through the remote villages and spa resorts of the forested Bosnian mountains to Belgrade. (BB),(DW)

Hotel:    Metropol Palace, Belgrade

Fifteenth Day take in the sights of Belgrade

Join a Local Expert to see the best of Belgrade. St. Sava Church, Terazije Street, the National Museum and National Theatre in Republic Square. Finish your sightseeing at the Kalemegdan Fortress, situated at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Enjoy a free afternoon. (BB)

Hotel:     Metropol Palace, Belgrade

Sixteenth Day we travel across the wild Puszta to Budapest 

Head north, past the riverside fortress at Novi Sad, to cross the Province of Vojvodina to reach the Hungarian border. Continue on through the vast wilderness of the Puszta, where cowboys rustle up goulash under the stars. Your destination will be Budapest on the Danube. (BB)

Hotel:    Corinthia Hotel, Budapest

Seventeenth Day the sights and smells of Budapest

Venture into the heart of Buda's medieval Castle district with a Local Expert to visit Matthias Church and take in the vista of the immense Parliament building from the Fisherman's Bastion. Cross the Danube to the Pest district to visit Heroes' Square and drive down elegant Andrássy Boulevard. Then enjoy time in the Central Market Hall - its three storeys packed with aromatic food stalls offering Hungarian salamis, spicy paprika and sweet Tokaji wines. In the evening, gather with your friends for a joyous end-of-trip Celebration Dinner at a local restaurant. (BB),(CD)

Hotel:     Corinthia Hotel, Budapest

Eighteenth Day we Depart Budapest

Departure transfers arrive Ferenc Liszt International Airport at 07:00 and 11:00. On arrival at your UK airport, your driver will greet and escort you to your waiting car for your return private VIP transfer home. (BB)

Dining

Veliko Tarnovo: Enjoy a Highlight Dinner of local specialities and wine and folklore show.

Dubrovnik: Inside the mighty defensive walls of the old town, you will be offered a varied selection of charming restaurants on your Dine-Around evening.

Sarajevo: Experience real Bosnian coffee and learn the traditional ritual of coffee preparation.

Budapest: Now burgeoning with bistros, head to the Hungarian capital for a grand finale Celebration Dinner with wine to toast your tour.

17 Buffet Breakfasts (BB); 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 6 three-course table d'hôte Dinner (DW), 1 Signature Evening (SE), 1 Dine-Around (DA), 1 Restaurant Dinner (RD) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, plus tea or coffee.

Travel Highlights

  • Bucharest: Walk the cavernous halls of the vast Palace of Parliament, learn some of the history and amusing tales. See University Square and the former Communist Headquarters.
  • Bran: Visit the imposing medieval castle guarding the old Transylvanian border and embrace its stories, myth and legend - from Dracula to romantic Queen Marie.
  • Sinaia: Witness the opulent and sumptuous décor in Peles Castle, the fairytale Royal summer residence, at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains.
  • Veliko Tarnovo: Ascend Tsarevets, the King's Hill, crowned by a ruined medieval citadel. Enjoy the views and imagine yourself back in the days of the Crusades when this was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Visit Arbanassi, one of Bulgaria's most beautiful sites. The frescoed churches and fortified dwellings offer a unique insight into the former wealth and spiritual commitment of the settlement. Walk along Gurko Street, see the Monument of the Assens.
  • Sarajevo: Hear a first hand account a city under siege. Visit the ‘Tunnel of Hope', and talk directly with a resident who lived through the 44-month blockade and was privy to the city's secret lifeline. Tour the Bacarsija to see the Mosque and Olympic Stadium.
  • Budapest: Visit the colourful Matthias Church and gaze out over the Danube and giant domed Parliament from the heights of the Fisherman's Bastion. Enjoy skyline views from Gellért Hill. Walk through the cobbled streets of the medieval Castle Hill district. See the Parliament and visit Heroes' Square in Pest.
  • Transylvanian Alps: Enjoy guided sightseeing of Brasov.
  • Sofia: See the Cathedral, churches, and Soviet-era buildings.
  • Ohrid: Walk through the cobbled streets with a local expert.
  • Tirana: Enjoy a guided sightseeing tour.
  • Kotor: Visit the old town situated on its fjord.
  • Dubrovnik: See Onofrio's Fountain, Rector's Palace and the city walls. Admire the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries.
  • Mostar: Walk across its famous bridge, explore the old town.
  • Belgrade: See all the main sights with a guide including the imposing Kalemegdan Fortress.

The Difference

An expert Tour Director, at the pinnacle of their career, will guide you on your journey. Serving as your 'travelling concierge', this skilled guide will act as consummate organiser and be your 'friend in a foreign land'.

Enjoy the unique comfort of our luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It's business class comfort.

A personal radio headset gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating insights and commentaries.

Baggage handling everywhere, with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.

Hotel and restaurant tips included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus we include all taxes and porter-age charges at hotels.

Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi.

From time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local titbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.

Included airport transfers at scheduled times on arrival and departure days.

Guarantees, Bonds and Awards

  • This tour is run by our outstanding travel partners who are award winners British Travel Awards Best Small Group.
  • All Tours are Guaranteed Departures.
  • Tours are fully bonded, protected and guaranteed and you pay the operator directly when booking.
  • ABTA protected

Best prices, more information and booking

Great Discounts are available – please speak with our expert who can arrange extra unique discounts.

Only £100 per person deposit required (except for last minute bookings).

By booking through us you will receive additional customer service and extra discounts.

Please ask our expert about last minute special offers available throughout the year.

If this is not quite what you are looking for, please mail us we have many great alternatives.

You can call our expert on 0207 620 8963 – UK time 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (this number is specifically for this or similar multi-day tours of Britain, Europe or World-Wide) or out of those hours please leave a voice-mail for a call back.

Alternatively email us at info@21stcenturytravel.co.uk and request a call back or if you prefer mail, we can send you more details from there.