Enquire About This Tour Code EEEX Eastern Europe Experience
Duration: 12 Days Route: Sofia to Dubrovnik Style: Adventure Tours Price: US$1,899.00
Beyond the well-trodden tourist trail, Eastern Europe has plenty to offer travellers in search of adventure. This short but sweet tour gives you the chance to sample some of the popular and lesser known areas of the Balkan Peninsula and nearby nations. Join us for an Eastern Europe Experience you'll never forget.
Day 1 to 1 - Arrive Sofia
The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre tour accommodation. On arrival please ask at the reception for information on when the pre departure meeting will be held.
Bulgaria’s capital Sofia offers a wealth of cultural entertainment, including Byzantine churches, museums full of ancient archaeological treasures, towering monuments and numerous mineral baths adjacent to the magnificent Mount Vitosha. Laid back and cosmopolitan, Sofia offers a thriving and diverse street life, including open-air cafés, busy markets such as the famous Ladies’ Market, rattling trams and buskers all adding to the ambience. At the foothills of Mount Vitosha about 8 kilometres from the city centre you can visit the 900 year-old Boyana Church, considered among the masterpieces of medieval European painting, which features murals and frescoes dating back to 1259 AD, medieval architecture and monumental art. Also at the base of Mt. Vitosha is the splendid National History Museum, with antiques dating back to the Thracian period.
Sofia also offers many beautiful gardens to relax in, such as Boris Gardens and the South Park, which starts just behind the Palace of Culture.
Optional Excursions: Ethnographical Museum – BGN 3 • National Art Gallery – BGN 6 • Alexander Nevski Cathedral – free • St Alexander Nevski Crypt – BGN 4 • National Museum of History – BGN 10
Day 2 to 2 - Skopje
In Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, you can enjoy 2,000 years of history spanning Oriental and Western cultures, neatly divided by the Vardar River through the centre of the city. Skopje has many historical monuments including the Kale Fortress dating back to the 6th century, the Daud Paša Amam, a 15th century bathhouse now converted into the city art gallery. You can also see the Mustafa-pasha's mosque, the 16th century Clock Tower and the Kamen Most (Stone Bridge) over the Vardar River.
Optional Excursions: Mother Teresa statue and memorial room – free • National Museum & Icon Gallery – MKD 50
Day 3 to 4 - Lake Ohrid
We travel on to the gorgeous lake side town of Ohrid, perching on the Macedonia/Albania border. This unassuming, picturesque settlement has been the setting of thousands of years of human history and the ancient churches, fortress walls, bazaars and old quarters are testimony to its past. Lake Ohrid itself is Europe’s oldest lake having formed over three millions years ago. Wander the streets and squares of its compact centre before hiking up to the ancient walled fortress that overlooks the day to day life of the city and explore the famous old churches, monasteries and basilicas.
Included Excursions: Visit Lake Ohrid
Optional Excursions: Sveta Bogorodica Bolnicka, originally a hospital church where plague victims were quarantined – free of charge • Sveti Nikola Bolnicki – free of charge • National Museum – MKD 100 • Samoils Fortress – MKD 50 • Sveta Bogorodica Perivlepta, a 13th century painted church – MKD 100 • St Pantelejmon monastery – free • Boat trip around Lake Ohrid - €15 per person (based on 6-8 people)
Day 5 to 5 - Tirana
We then head to Tirana, the trendy capital and largest city of Albania, which has transformed from a grey, dismal ex-communist city, isolated by the regime until the 1990s, to a colourful capital buzzing with life. While the city has a long history, you can enjoy its modern outlook, with fashionable bars, and wander boulevards lined with relics of the city’s Ottoman, clubs and boutiques, Italian and communist past. Tirana’s massive main square, Sheshi Skënderbej, is bordered by the National History Museum, the Palace of Culture, the National Bank, the Et'hem Bey Mosque and Skanderbeg's statue. A short bus ride from the centre city, the Martyr’s Cemetery offers marvellous panoramic views over the city. If time allows we may have an opportunity for a morning trip to Kruja.
Included Excursions: Kruja
Optional Excursions: National Art Gallery – Lek 200 • National Museum of History – Lek 200 • Muzeu Onufri (Onufri museum) – Lek 200 • Muzeu Etnografik – Lek 200 • Sky Bar & Restaurant – €2
Day 6 to 7 - Budva
Our next visit is to the seaside town of Budva in Montenegro. Budva (not to be confused with the Czech beer Budvar) is 2,500 years old, one of the oldest and most popular settlements on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. This vibrant seaside town is well known for its sandy beaches, historic old town, diverse nightlife, and beautiful examples of Mediterranean architecture.
We will take a day trip to the picturesque Kotor, a walled city nestled at the bottom of Europe’s deepest fjord. Stari Grad, the old town, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a tricky labyrinth of cobbled alleys, squares and ancient churches, including St Tryphon's Cathedral built in 1166. The mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to this beautiful town as they come down steeply, almost to the waterfront. You could spend the day drinking espresso in the shade of the medieval walls watching people go by. You can climb the walls of the ancient fort of Sveti Ivan which spans some 4.5 kilometres above the city on almost vertical cliffs. Your efforts will be rewarded by an excellent view of Kotor and the bay.
We will visit Ostrog Monastery, clinging precariously to an almost vertical cliff face. Ostrog Monastery is a famous Serbian Orthodox Church built in the 17th century to honour one of the four Montenegrin saints, Vasilije Jovanovic, who fled here from the Turks in 1665. The greatest spiritual centre of Montenegro and the most visited Orthodox shrine in the Balkans, the sanctuary still attracts pilgrims who hope to cure their illnesses and other problems by praying over his remains. You may also have time to take in the Old Royal Capital of Cetinje, visiting the Monastery and many museums showcasing some of Montenegro’s prosperous past.
Included Excursions: Kotor • Ostrog Monastery
Optional Excursions Budva Museum – €3 • Discover the picturesque old town – free • Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor), a full day trip of Mamula Island, Zanice beach and Blue cave – price TBA
Day 8 to 9 - Sarajevo
Crossing the border into the ‘heart-shaped land’ of Bosnia and Herzegovina we visit the capital Sarajevo, a fascinating mixture of western and eastern cultures. Known as the ‘Jerusalem of Europe’, the city was once famous for its religious diversity, with people of Islamic, Orthodox Christian, Catholic and Jewish faiths coexisting relatively peacefully for centuries. The atmosphere of calm and tolerance changed dramatically when violence erupted in the mid 1990s and the city underwent the longest siege in modern military history during the Yugoslav War.
Today the city is largely recovered and is packed with fascinating museums bazaars, markets and bridges. During your time here you could explore the cobbled streets, mosques and Oriental style shops of the Old Town, visit the Bosnian Historical Museum to learn about the siege of Sarajevo and visit the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum, the tunnel which was used to ferry supplies into the besieged city during the conflict, next to the airport. For history buffs a must see is the “Latin Bridge" spanning the river in the down-town area. The bridge bears a plaque commemorating the assassination of Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, the event that sparked the beginning of World War I. Today the city is largely recovered and is packed with fascinating museums
Optional Excursions: Tunnel Museum, the entrance to the tunnel used during the Bosnian War – BAM 30 • Jewish Museum – BAM 2 • Jewish Tour – BAM 32 every day at 2pm • Communism Tour – BAM 38 (minimum 2 people) • Orthodox Church Museum – free but donations welcome • History Museum – BAM 1 • Walking Tour of the Old City (Bascarsija) – BAM 20
Day 10 to 10 - Mostar
Widely felt to be the prettiest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina Mostar is situated on the Neretva river and is the fifth-largest city in the country. Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (natively: mostari) who kept the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over Neretva river. The city is particularly famous for this beautiful single span bridge, Stari Most, which collapsed into the Neretva River during the Yugoslav War in 1993. Built in 1556 by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Great, Stari Most had been a globally recognised landmark and a national symbol for Bosnia-Herzegovina. It had survived centuries of conflict including both world wars and proved that, whatever happened, the mainly Christian west bank and mainly Muslim east remained united. The destruction of the bridge was a huge blow to the local people, but in 2004 the bridge was rebuilt as a replica of the original using pieces of masonry salvaged from the riverbed. Its reopening represented the hope that Muslims, Croats and Serbs could once again live side by side and that Mostar would be healed after a decade of ethnic division.
Optional Excursions: Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque - €2.5 (includes minaret) • Karad-zozbegova Mosque - €2.5 (includes minaret) • Turkish House – BAM 2 • Memorial Museum of Herzegovina – BAM 1.5
Day 11 to 11 - Dubrovnik
Into the south of Croatia, we visit the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, the UNESCO World Heritage listed walled city of Dubrovnik.
With a paved town centre enclosed in fortress-like 13th century stone walls, the city is easy to explore on foot and is full of character. A great start to your exploration of Dubrovnik could be with a walk around the city walls. Stretching almost 2 kilometres around the old town, the walls offer stunning rooftop and city views out to the turquoise blue Adriatic Sea. Founded in the 7th century, for a time in its glorious past the city was a serious rival for Venice in terms of maritime trade. It is hard to believe now but in 1991, two out of every three buildings were damaged during the bombardment of the Yugoslav War. Since then the buildings and walls have been painstakingly restored to pristine condition and represents one of the most beautiful and solid fortress systems on the Mediterranean. There are several other historic attractions worth a visit near the main street (Stradun), such as the 14th century Franciscan monastery which houses a treasury full of sacred art and artefacts, as well as one of the oldest continually working pharmacies in the world, dating back to 1317.
Included Excursions: Dubrovnik City Wall
Optional Excursions: Museum of the Orthodox Church – HRK 10 • Synagogue – HRK 10 • 14th century Dominican Monastery – HRK 15 • Rector’s Palace – HRK 20 • Lokrum Island – ferry HRK 80 • Half day kayaking – €40 • Scuba diving – one boat dive €46, two dives €83, wreck dive €55 • Dubrovnik 24 hour City Card – HRK 130 • Cable car – HRK 97 return
Day 12 to 12 - Depart Dubrovnik
Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.
Day by Day Itinerary
|Day 3||Lake Ohrid||B|
|Day 4||Lake Ohrid||B|
|Day 8||Sarajevo||Bosnia and Herzegovina||B|
(B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner included)
For tours that include the option of a single supplement, a ✔ will indicate in which destinations single rooms are available. The detailed and day by day itineraries above are provided in good faith and it is our intention to adhere to the published route. Changes may be made before or during your tour for operational or safety reasons or to incorporate improvements. Impromptu changes may also occur whilst you are travelling as a result of one-off circumstances such as an excursion being closed on a particular day, weather conditions or transport. Delays are rare but occur occasionally and for this reason and the reasons above this itinerary should be considered as a guide only. Published transport times are approximations and may vary depending on local conditions.