Journey through Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece from Dubrovnik to Santorini

Wind your way down through some of Mediterranean Europe’s most charming towns, beaches and islands on this journey from the Adriatic to the Aegean. Start off with a tour of Dubrovnik’s enchanting walled city before heading south along the spectacular Dalmatian coast to Montenegro. Venture off the tourist trail for a taste of old-time Balkans in Albania and Macedonia, take time out in provincial Syros, and then eat, drink and sunbathe your way through the good times on offer in Mykonos and Santorini. A region of breathtaking scenery, legendary history and ever-enticing cuisine, this journey through Eastern Europe serves up a slice of the Mediterranean with a Balkans backdrop.

Start
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Finish
Santorini, Greece
Countries
Albania,
Croatia,
Greece,
Macedonia,
Montenegro
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMSEC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
313kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Take a guided walk around the ancient city walls of Dubrovnik, the 'Pearl of the Adriatic'
  • Lake Ohrid straddles the border between Macedonia and Albania. Take a cruise on the stunning lake, which is also one of the oldest in Europe
  • Albania's colourful capital of Tirana is on the verge of big changes, so visit before the rest of the world does. Enjoy Albanian hospitality and plenty of free time to explore this fascinating city
  • Uncover thousands of years of civilisation in Athens with visits to the world-famous Acropolis and the ancient Agora
  • Wander through the charming villages of Syros. When night falls, indulge in delicious seafood dinners in traditional tavernas while Rembetika music floats around you
  • With its boutique culture, gorgeous beaches and thumping nightlife, the chic isle of Mykonos invites you to embrace your hedonistic side. Let the rest of the world melt away as you swim and snorkel in the warm waters of the Aegean Sea
  • The sight of a Santorini sunset can turn even the most hardened of souls into a romantic. Walk along the volcanic rim of the island from Thira to Oia, passing through white villages that cling to plunging cliffs

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia, a place of sunshine, sand and scenery; home to chic cities, coastline, charming cobblestone towns, World Heritage sites, and a thriving food and wine scene. The undisputed jewel of the Dalmatian Coast, Dubrovnik is a beautiful white stone town surrounded entirely by city walls, easily covered on foot. Although it experienced devastation during the war in the early 1990s, the restored old town remains as charming as ever. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm – check with reception to confirm the time and place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive on time, you may wish to arrive a day early. If you have time why not head out to one of the Elafiti Islands. There's Lopud, a quiet island with lovely hikes, clean beaches and a ruined castle. Kolocep is a sleepy enclave that boasts walks for every fitness level, while Sipan is the most populated of the isles and reputedly has the most hospitable inhabitants. There are also many monuments to explore in the city proper, including the 15th century Rector's Palace, monasteries with cloistered gardens, and fine baroque churches with copper domes. The main pedestrian promenade, once a shallow sea channel, is now paved with glistening white limestone, in stark contrast to the warm red terracotta roofs. It is hard to imagine a more beautiful city. A walk along the city walls of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame is not to be missed. As there is not much time in Dubrovnik on this trip you may want to consider arriving a few days earlier.
Leave Dubrovnik behind and take our private transfer to Kotor on the Montenegrin coast. Set on a secluded bay, Kotor is listed as a World Heritage site, and its crooked alleyways give lots of opportunities to get lost and mingle with the locals. Perhaps take a cruise on the Kotor Fjord - the longest fjord south of Scandinavia - and visit an island with a church that is almost as big as the island itself!
After breakfast we will be transferred to Tirana, a drive of about 4-5 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic into Tirana. If you think you know Albania, think again. This addictive country has a myriad faces. In the rugged north, the Alps are so fierce they're deemed 'accursed', while the south enjoys one of Europe’s least known and most beautiful coastlines. Tirana is filled with craziness, from its traffic to its nightlife, but on its doorstep are mosques, citadels, Ottoman architecture and a stunning dose of medieval Balkans. The real surprise of Albania is the people. Their warmth to strangers is infectious and you’re bound to find yourself swapping stories over a glass of raki or three. Tirana is the capital of Albania and its biggest city, though it's small and compact with architectural influences from Italy and Turkey. Recently many buildings have been painted to alleviate the Soviet block feeling that pervaded. Many upgrades have been made all over town such as new parks and wide pavements - a process that's still ongoing.
Today take a half-day trip to the mountain village and former Albanian capital of Kruja. Kruja was the last stronghold of Skanderbegs army until the Ottomans took over the entire country. There is plenty of time to explore the citadel and the famous bazaar area. Perhaps pay a visit to the excellent ethnographical museum housed inside the fortress. Return to Tirana after lunch.

Tirana is dotted by many museums. You can't miss the National History Museum if you look for the gargantuan mosaic on the facade which represents the development of Albania's history with everyone from the time of the Illyrians. Inside, each hall of this vast building covers one of the stages in the development of the Albanian nation. The main sight in Tirana is the Et'hem Bey Mosque which is right on the city's main square. Construction of the Xhamia e Haxhi Et'hem Beut started in 1794 and was finished in 1821 by Et'hem Bey. Closed under communist rule, the mosque resumed as a place of worship in 1991. 10,000 people attended the reopening and the event was considered a milestone in the rebirth of religious freedom in Albania. Take a look at the frescoes outside and in the portico that depict trees, waterfalls and bridges - motifs rarely seen in Islamic art. Remember to take your shoes off before entering the inner room.
Travel by private bus to Ohrid in Macedonia, a drive of about 3 hours, situated on a lake with the same name. Get your bearings on an orientation walk around Ohrid, before embarking on a cruise on the turquoise waters of Lake Ohrid to take in the views of the town and the surrounding scenery while afloat.
At 34km long, 14km wide and over 300 meters deep, and shared between Albania and Macedonia, vast Lake Ohrid is one of Europe's oldest lakes and there's plenty of it to explore. Today is free for you to discover the area. Possibly visit the Macedonian Orthodox Church of Sveti Jovana Kaneo, situated on a rocky outcrop above town overlooking the lake. The Sveti Naum Monastery is also a great option and is situated on the shores of the lake south of town. During your time here you may also want to hike to sample some of the flora, fauna and spectacular views found in the mountainous Galicica National Park.
This morning hop onto public bus to Skopje, Macedonia's capital city. In Macedonia’s political and cultural centre, walk through Macedonia Square and sample gozleme and tasty baklava. Take a step back to Ottoman times with a visit to the Daut Pasha Hamam or journey through the humbling Holocaust Museum to learn how Macedonia suffered during this tragic chapter of history. Skopje's stone bridge over the river Vardar is an iconic sight and acts as a handy connection between Macedonia Square and the Old Bazaar. Perhaps visit the Museum of the City of Skopje, housed in the old Railway Station which is a unique piece of history itself. It's unusual, part-ruined exterior is a result of the 1963 earthquake. The large clock on the outside of the building is frozen at 5:17, the moment the earthquake shook the city.
Venture out to Matka Canyon, a deep ravine cut into the mountains by the Treska River. This area is home to several medieval monasteries, caves and to over 70 species of endemic butterflies. There is the option to explore the canyon's sights by boat. One of the monasteries worth exploring is St Andrew's Monastery, which contains many valuable frescoes of great artistic importance. There is also Vrelo Cave, speculated to be the deepest underwater cave in the world. Alternatively, you can take one of the many nature walks in the canyon, or up to the ridge high above the valley. In the late afternoon take a local bus back to Skopje with the remaining part of the day free for you to continue exploring this exciting city.
A 3 hour public bus ride will take you to Pelister National Park, located in the Baba Mountain massif, a perfect location for a walk, and a beautiful landscape with views that go on for miles. Enjoy a great wine tasting experience at our homestay. The owner produces his own prize winning wine while trying many local delicacies including home baked bread, jams, salami...
Take another private transfer across the border into Greece, and on to Ioannina. With astounding archaeological sites, islands of extreme beauty, bucolic villages and some of the greatest food you’ll ever consume, Greece should be on every traveller's list. This gem of the Aegean will satisfy your thirst for knowledge, lust for adventure, desire for partying and craving for cuisine. Opa!
Discover the wonders of Ioannina while ambling through the city’s old town, castle district and along idyllic Lake Pamvotis. Located in the center of the town, Ioannina's castle was the heart of the Despotate of Epirus, and the maze-like layout of the old town's streets, many of which lead to dead ends, was allegedly designed to confuse pirates who would get lost within the fortress and be captured before escaping with their booty. One of the most notable attractions of Ioannina is Nisaki Islet in Lake Pamvotis. Take one of the frequent motorboats that ferry visitors to the monastery of Agios Panteleimon located on the islet. In the evening, jump into Greek culture with a shot of Ouzo before a lively night out.
Take a private bus over the causeway to the island of Levkas (also known as Lefkada) on the Ionian sea. In the birthplace of Greek goddess Aphrodite, there will be plenty of time to rest and relax on blue waters and white-sand beaches. Choose to follow the crowds to Porto Katsiki beach, which is surrounded by white cliffs. There are daily boat trips that leave from Nidri and Vasiliki harbour that take you to this and other beaches.
Continue to explore the island further today as it is a free day. Perhaps try your hand at a challenging hike or mountain bike ride around the surrounding mountains, all of which will afford great views of the Ionian Sea and the rugged coastline.
There's much to be seen in the ancient capital of Greece, vibrant and refreshed following the 2004 Olympics, yet still retaining so much visible history. Named after the goddess of wisdom, Athens has a weighty history that spills out over the modern city, represented most dramatically by the ancient Acropolis, where you can enter the Pantheon and enjoy fabulous views over the city. The birthplace of Western civilisation, Athens has an amazing array of historic sites to explore, including the National Gardens, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the original Olympic Stadium. Another highlight is the renowned changing of the guard at Syntagma (Parliament) Square.
Today you'll have more time to explore Athens. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as 'Taste of Athens' or 'Markets, Ruins and Ancient Athens'. As this is a combination trip, your leader and the composition of your group may change at this point. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary. You're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers. In the evening after the meeting, why not head out for some gyros and ouzo with your new friends?
Today travel by metro to the port of Piraeus, where you'll catch a four-hour ferry to Syros. In the heart of the Cyclades, Syros offers a rare opportunity to see the islands as the Greeks do. Also known as Syra, the island features typical whitewashed houses, farms, terraced fields and gorgeous sandy beaches. Syros is also home to delicious sweets. Take a wander through the main town of Ermoupolis and try the hazelnut, almond or honey-filled wafers or the fruit-flavoured jelly from one of many one-room shops. You'll have plenty of time to explore tomorrow, so perhaps kick up your feet at a waterfront cafe and watch the setting sun turn the houses pink.
Take a walk through the fortress-like town of Ano Syros, which offers great views of the Aegean Sea. Wander the narrow alleyways, keeping an ear open for traditional Rembetiko music floating out of the tavernas. Enjoy free time to further explore Syros in your own time. Perhaps hire a bike in town and cycle to the various archeological sites on the island, or you might prefer to simply hole up on a beach for the afternoon. The most popular beaches are on the southern side of the island. While some are sandy and others pebbly, all boast crystal clear waters for swimming in. In the evening, take taxis to a remotely located taverna in the rugged northern part of the island to sample delicious local specialities during an included meal, while watching the sun set over the Aegean Sea.
Today board a two-hour ferry to Mykonos. Mykonos is legendary both in ancient and modern times. Known in ancient Greek mythology as the battlefield where Zeus fought the Gigantes, today the island is best known for its decadence, style and nightlife. Take a walk through the maze-like old town and browse the chic galleries and boutiques. In the evening, perhaps wander down to Little Venice, where colourful balconies hang precariously over the sea - the ideal spot to sit back with a cocktail and enjoy an Aegean sunset. Afterwards, join in the fun of Mykonos’ notorious nightlife.
This morning you will take a half-day trip out to the nearby island of Delos. One of the most important mythological sites in the Greek Islands, Delos is considered to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. Later on today you might like to head to one of Mykonos' many beaches, which are some of the nicest in Europe. Take a short bus ride to the pumping Paradise or Super Paradise beach bars, or perhaps find a quieter spot to relax along the beautiful coastline. You could also check out the 19th-century House of Lena or the Aegean Maritime Museum in town.
Today take a three-hour ferry to Santorini. Renowned for its spectacular natural beauty, Santorini is one of Europe's tourist hotspots. Discover the hilltop ruins of Ancient Thira and the archeological site of Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement. Check out the range of restaurants and shops in the island's capital, interchangeably called Thira or Fira. If you have time while you're here, perhaps head to one of Santorini's volcanic beaches, such as Red Beach or the black beaches of Perissa, Vlhada, Perivolos or Agios Georgios.
In 1500 BC a volcanic eruption sank the centre of Santorini, forming one of the most significant geological formations on the planet - the awe-inspiring caldera. Today make an excursion along the crater rim, starting in Thira town and walking through little villages all the way to Oia. If you have time, you might also like to take a half-day trip to the island's volcano and hot springs in the centre of the lagoon. On the last evening of your adventure, rub shoulders with friendly locals in packed pubs and cafes, sipping a cocktail as you witness a magnificent Santorini sunset.
Today your Greek Islands adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. You might want to extend your stay to see all Santorini has to offer. We are happy to book additional accommodation, subject to availability. Please enquire at the time of booking.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
18 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
Transport
Public bus, Ferry, Private vehicle, Taxi, Metro
Accommodation
Hotel (19 nights), Pension (1 night), Homestay (1 night)
Included activities
  • Kotor Orientation Walk
  • Orientation Walk - Tirana
  • Orientation Walk - Ohrid
  • Lake Ohrid Boat Ride
  • Orientation Walk - Skopje
  • Wine Tasting - Dihovo
  • Orientation Walk - Ioannina
  • Boat trip and Ali Pasa Museum - Ioannina
  • Day Trip to Zagoria Villages
  • Orientation Walk - Levkas
  • Ano Syros Walk
  • Day Trip to the Island of Delos
  • Walk Thira to Oia on Santorini

Dates

There are currently no departures for this trip.

{{departure_day.departure_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}} {{departure_day.arrival_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}}

Style: {{departure.style}}

Boat/Ship: {{departure.vehicle_name}}
On sale Hot deal Departure guaranteed On request
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.base_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.discount_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
Fully booked Bookings closed

Total price per person {{room.room_type | lowercase}}
Includes {{departure.kitty_currency_code}} {{departure.kitty | noFractionCurrency:departure.kitty_currency_symbol}} kitty
Includes {{extra.extras_code}} {{extra.extras_symbol}}{{extra.extras_value}} in local payments Single supplement available from {{product.currency_code}} {{departure.single_supp | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}

Contact us to arrange an alternative departure for you

Book {{departure.places_left}} spaces left! space left!

If you can’t find the dates you’re after here, click on the button below to find options for the next season. Please bear in mind that some of our itineraries can change from year to year, so this trip may differ slightly next season to the information shown on this page.

Next Season Dates

Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Dubrovnik to Santorini trips score an average of 4.5 out of 5 based on 8 reviews in the last year.

Dubrovnik to Santorini , May 2016

Dubrovnik to Santorini , May 2016