Discover the old-world charm and cultures of the Balkans

Veer off the usual Balkan route and discover some of the region’s lesser-visited attractions on this intriguing backroads adventure. Starting off in cultured and cosmopolitan Budapest, travel on to the Serbian capital of Belgrade for a taste of a European city decidedly on the up. Learn about Bosnia and Herzegovina’s war years on a guided walk through Sarajevo, stop by the famed Old Bridge of Mostar and wind things up in wonderful Dubrovnik. Melding the past with the present, the raw with the cultivated, this trip will both impress and enlighten.

Start
Budapest, Hungary
Finish
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Countries
Bosnia & Herzegovina,
Croatia,
Hungary,
Montenegro,
Serbia
Themes
Explorer
Code
ZMRC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
129kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Encounter Hungary’s communist past in Budapest
  • Uncover Belgrade’s edgy street scene in the Bohemian Quarter
  • Learn about the history of Bosnia & Herzegovina on a walking tour in Sarajevo
  • Visit Mostar’s Old Bridge
  • Admire the elegantly restored architecture of Kotor
  • Soak up stunning views over the Adriatic in Dubrovnik

Itinerary

Szia! Welcome to Hungary. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm today. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with the hotel reception about where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). 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 ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

In the evening after the welcome meeting, perhaps take a night walk along the Danube River to see the surrounding buildings and bridges lit up in lights, or head out with some of your new travel buddies to one of Budapest's funky 'ruin pubs'.
Today you have a full free day to explore Budapest. Known as 'The Pearl of the Danube', Budapest is a great city to enjoy from the water. Perhaps take a boat trip along the river or catch a funicular up to the castle for spectacular views of the Parliament Building. If you're an art buff, visit the Museum of Fine Arts at Hero's Square, which offers free English tours of the permanent collections from Tuesday to Saturday. Perhaps head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One unmissable activity is a soak in Budapest's hot thermal baths. The pools vary in temperature, and some even feature whirlpools or seats where you can enjoy a game of chess. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day tours, such as the Budapest Custom Tour or Bites and Sights. Check them out at urbanadventures.com.

In the evening, board an overnight train to Belgrade.

Note: Many museums throughout Europe are closed on Mondays. If you are interested in a particular museum, you may want to check opening times and plan your arrival into Budapest accordingly.
This morning arrive into Belgrade after your overnight train journey. Known as the' White City', Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe and is an important intersection between Eastern and Western Europe. Your leader will take you on a short orientation walk to give you some familiarity with the area and local amenities. After the walk, you'll have almost two full days of free time to explore the city. Perhaps take a stroll through the Nikola Tesla Museum to learn about the life and work of Serbia's greatest inventor, or check out the city's Ethnographic or Military Museums. If the weather is warm, why not brave the crowds on Ada Ciganlija beach, where you can swim, take part in water-sports or simply soak up the sun with a cocktail?
Today is another free day to discover Belgrade. You might like to take a 90-minute cruise along the Danube River, passing the Kalemegdan Fortress, Pancevo Bridge and the artist village of Zemun. The markets near the Hram Svetog Save (St Sava Church) and Pijaca Venac will keep you occupied for hours. Throughout the summer months, Belgrade hosts a variety of musical and cultural events and the city is abuzz with people and activities. In the evening, head down to Skadarska Street in the Bohemian Quarter to sample some authentic local food and enjoy the lively entertainment.
Today travel by bus through beautiful countryside to Sarajevo. The journey will take around seven hours in total, so sit back and enjoy the scenery. Sarajevo is Bosnia and Herzegovina's small but vibrant capital. On arrival, embark on an orientation walk to gain insight into the history and culture of this enchanting city.
Sarajevo was significantly damaged during the Bosnian War, and has undergone extensive reconstruction in recent years. In your free time today, uncover this history with a visit to the Sarajevo War Tunnels, or learn about the tragedies faced by the city's Jews at the Jewish Museum. You might prefer to get active with some white water rafting on the Neretva River. In the evening, perhaps enjoy a simple but delicious meal in Bascarsija, Sarajevo's oldest bazaar. Try the local speciality of bosanski cevapi (grilled minced meat mixed with mild spices).
Travel by train (two hours and 40 minutes) to Mostar. Mostar was the most heavily bombed city in Bosnia during the war. The town has since been rebuilt, however, and now features on UNESCO's World Heritage list. On arrival, perhaps head to the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge) to witness brave members of the Mostar diving club dive into the water below. We advise against having a go yourself, as the bridge is high and the water is freezing. You might like to follow local custom and hand the divers a few KMs. Alternatively, there's an interesting museum about the history of the city's most famous landmark next to the bridge itself.
Today take a six-hour bus to Montenegro. Head to Europe's most southerly fjord, Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor), before arriving into Kotor. This World Heritage-listed city is set on a secluded bay. Head out on a short orientation walk, checking out the ancient Cathedral of St Tryphun. The tour will also take you past the South Gates of Kotor (the Gurdich Gate) and the Armoury Square. Afterwards, you might like to climb the hills behind the city to visit Kotor's ruined castles. A one-and-a-half hour hike to the fortress at the top rewards you with magnificent views across town.
Depart Montenegro on a three-hour bus along the beautiful southern coast of Croatia to Dubrovnik. Take a walk along the two kilometre-long city walls, enjoying views of the sparkling Adriatic Ocean. Visit Big Onofrio's Fountain, built by the European architect Onofrio della Cava in the 15th century to supply water to the city. Perhaps check out the Franciscan monastery, home to one of the world's oldest continuously-functioning pharmacies, founded in the 13th century. The Sponza and Rector's Palaces were the only Renaissance buildings in the city to survive a devastating earthquake and fire in 1667. You might prefer to check out the city's War Photography Museum, or even take a boat trip to nearby Lokrum Island. On the last night of your trip, perhaps enjoy one last meal with the group and toast to your adventures.
Today your adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
2 breakfasts
Transport
Metro, Overnight sleeper train, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nights), Hotel (2 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night), Pension (4 nights)

Dates

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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.

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Reviews

Our Budapest & the Balkans trips score an average of 4.86 out of 5 based on 14 reviews in the last year.

Budapest & the Balkans , September 2015

Budapest & the Balkans , August 2015