Map of Essential Balkans including Bosnia And Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro and Serbia

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Old-world charm and culture with a sense of adventure: welcome to the Balkans

Veer off the usual Balkan route and discover some of the region’s lesser-visited attractions on this backroads adventure. Starting in cosmopolitan Budapest, travel to the Serbian capital of Belgrade for a taste of a European city on the up. Learn about Bosnia and Herzegovina’s war years in Sarajevo, stop by the famed Old Bridge of Mostar and wind things up in Dubrovnik, one of Europe's hottest spots. Melding the past with the present, the historic with the euphoric, this trip ticks all the boxes with plenty of free time, plenty to learn and plenty of places to let your hair down.

This trip is for 18 to 29-year-olds

Some of our under-30 travellers prefer to get around with people their own age. If that’s you, you’re in the right place!

Over 29? We’ve got over 900 other great adventures to choose from for solo travellers, friends, families, food lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and more.


Start
Budapest, Hungary
Finish
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Destinations
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
ZMYB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15, Max 99
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Learn about the dark history and rebuilding of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo

  • Visit Mostar’s famous Old Bridge and witness a traditional bridge jumper hurl themselves into the icy waters below

  • Enjoy plenty of free time to discover the communist past and progressive vibe of Budapest, the 'Pearl of the Danube'

  • Immerse yourself in the edgy street scene of Belgrade's Bohemian Quarter, then dance the night away in one of Europe’s nightlife hotspots

Is this trip right for you?

  • Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season. Please note that only some of our hotels will have airconditioning, and is virtually non-existent on public transport.

  • As accommodation on this trip is mostly twin-share, (some triple share where stated), single travellers will share a room with other travellers of the same sex. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can.

  • For couples, hotels in this region often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart. Rooms can be rather small, especially compared to American or Australian standards, and in most cases bathroom facilities will be shared rather than en-suite. Please note that a single supplement is not available on this trip.

Itinerary

Szia! Welcome to Budapest, Hungary's intoxicating capital on the banks of the Danube River. Things kick off with a welcome meeting this evening, after which it'd be rude not to grab your new friends and leader for dinner and a night walk along the Danube. With the buildings and bridges lit up in the evening, Budapest is a beautiful city to explore by night – be sure you don't miss the city's funky 'ruin bars', bars found in formerly abandoned buildings that are filled with eclectic furniture, art and young, hip locals.



Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Urban Adventures - Buda Castle Explorer - EUR45
  • Urban Adventures - Bites & Sights - EUR64
  • Urban Adventures - Made in Budapest - EUR68
  • Urban Adventures - Best Beers of Budapest - EUR64
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm 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.
Join your leader on a short orientation walk this morning if you wish. Afterwards, you have a full free day to explore Budapest, known as 'The Pearl of the Danube'. It's a great city to explore by foot or from the water, or perhaps catch a funicular up to the castle for some seriously spectacular views of the parliament building. Continue exploring the cobblestones of the Castle District, or maybe hire a bicycle and head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the Iron Curtain fell. Other highlights include the Hungarian State Opera House and the Hungarian National Museum, and one unmissable activity is a long soak in the healing waters of Budapest's hot thermal baths – there's a reason it's called the City of Spas.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Parliament Tour - HUF5200
  • Thermal Bath - Starting from - HUF4500
  • Hungarian State Opera House Tour - HUF3000
  • Transport and Entry to Statue Park - HUF5000
  • House of Terror - HUF2000
  • Hungarian National Museum - HUF1600
  • Great Synagogue - HUF3500
  • Budapest Central Market - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Overnight trains in Europe are a comfortable way to travel from one city to another without losing valuable time to explore the destinations. Compartments usually consist of 4 berths (2 bottom bunks and 2 top bunks) with lockable doors, communal bathroom facilities at the end of each carriage, and plenty of space for luggage. We depart late in the evening from Budapest, and will arrive early in the morning into Belgrade (approx 8 hours).
Take an overnight train and arrive in Belgrade in the morning. Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe, sitting at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, and is an important intersection between Eastern and Western Europe. As a result of this, you'll experience an energetic mix of progressive flamboyance and convservative customs as you spend almost two full days exploring the city as you please. Perhaps begin with a wander around the city's wide streets and squares to the historic Kalemegdan Park. The park is home to Kelmegdan Fortress, which has kept watch over the Danube for centuries. In the evening, head down to Skadarska Street, in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, to sample some authentic local food, soak up the lively atmosphere and enjoy a place where Orthodox churches compete for space with trendy nightclubs.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Accommodation is triple share on this night.
Ease into the day with an optional, 90-minute cruise along the Danube River, passing the Kalemegdan Fortress, Pancevo Bridge and the artist village of Zemun. If markets are your jam, the Pijaca Venac food market near St Sava Church will keep you occupied for hours, or perhaps take a stroll through the Nikola Tesla Museum to learn about the life and work of Serbia's greatest inventors. The 36-metre Gardos Tower is perfect for views and photos of the city and the Danube, or why not brave the crowds on Ada Ciganlija beach if the weather is warm. Take a swim or soak up the sun with a cocktail in hand, and if you happen to be visiting in the summer months then there is probably a variety of musical and cultural events taking place. The city's nightlife has become legendary throughout Europe, and there are many floating bars, restaurants and nightclubs lining the Danube and Sava rivers – enjoy.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nikola Tesla Museum - RSD500
  • Ethnographic Museum - RSD150
  • Military Museum - RSD200
  • Danube River Cruise - RSD500
  • Guided Tour Belgrade - EUR60
  • Sveti Sava Church - Free
  • Tito’s Mausoleum (House of Flowers) - RSD400
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Accommodation is triple share on this night.
Travel by bus through some beautiful countryside to Sarajevo. It's about an eight hour trip, so enjoy the views, chat with your new friends or load up on music for the journey. Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is slowly asserting itself as one of Europe's most beautiful, interesting destinations following the end of a devastating war. There's a similar vibe to Istanbul, in that it mixes east and west and is dotted with minarets, mosques, bazaars and that sweet, sweet coffee smell. You can join an optional guided tour on arrival to learn a bit about the city's culture and history – this is one of the few cities in the world featuring an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and a mosque within close proximity. In the evening, why not grab your crew and head to Bascarsija, the city's old bazaar, for a simple, delicious meal, then check out the city's nightlife. Your leader can point you in the way of some fun bars.
Accommodation
  • Pension (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Burek Snack in Bascarcija
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a free day in and around Sarajevo. Jump on an optional day trip out to Ilidza, the source of the River Bosna, where green parks and thermal springs are the order of the day. Perhaps discover more about Sarajevo's history with a visit to the History Museum, the Sarajevo War Tunnels and Sniper Alley, or learn about the struggles of the city's Jewish population at the Jewish Museum. The Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a chance to get a little cultured, or why not return to Bascarsija to snack on burek, or head to Park Princeva for views of the city. In the evening, the Pivnica HS Brewery is a great place to try some award-winning brews and hearty local food.
Accommodation
  • Pension (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Jewish Museum - BAM3
  • Guided Tour Sarajevo - BAM90
  • Times of Misfortune Tour & Tunnel Museum - BAM53
  • Ilidza Park and Springs - BAM15
  • National Museum - BAM6
  • Svrzo's House - BAM3
  • Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque - BAM2
  • City Hall / Old National Library building - BAM5
  • Urban Adventures - Scars and Smiles - EUR24
  • Urban Adventures - Story of Sarajevo - EUR49
  • Museum of Sarajevo 1878 – 1918 - BAM4
  • Despica House - BAM3
  • Brusa Bezistan - BAM3
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise early to take the train from Sarajevo to Mostar (approx. three hours), a beautiful town in the high mountains of Herzegovina. You may well have heard of Mostar because of its famous Stari Most (Old Bridge), from which young men traditionally jump into the Neretva River. It's thanks to this river that the city was able to develop in an otherwise barren landscape, and Mostar quickly became the region's trading centre before being heavily bombed during the war. It has since been rebuilt and its World Heritage-listed Old Town is a maze of alleys and cobblestones waiting to be explored, or perhaps post up next to river and watch the brave divers hurlthemselves off the bridge. We don't recommend that travellers jump as the bridge is very high and the water is absolutely freezing. Later in the afternoon the group will continue to Budva (approx. four hours), where you'll spend the night.
Accommodation
  • Pension (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mostar War Photo Exhibition - BAM6
  • Mostar Koski Mehmed Pasa Mosque & Minaret - BAM4
  • Mostar Old Bridge Museum - BAM5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Wake up in Montenegro's prime beach resort, Budva. Take a quick walk around town with your leader to orientate yourself, then enjoy free time to explore or laze by the beach for the rest of the day. f you feel more energetic why not head by bus to the beautiful Bay of Kotor, Europe's most southerly fjord. Kotor is a 5th-century, World Heritage-listed town, sitting in the shadow of towering peaks in a secluded bay. The picturesque Old Town is quinessential Eastern Europe – winding, cobblestone alleys, orange roofs, ancient fortifications and, of course, cats. So many cats.
Accommodation
  • Pension (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cruise on Kotor Fjord - EUR30
  • Kotor Fortress - EUR3
  • Kotor Maritime Museum - EUR4
  • Bus Ride to Kotor - EUR6
  • Boat Trip to Island of St. Nicholas - EUR3
  • Mogren Beach - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave Montenegro for the beautiful southern coast of Croatia, arriving in Dubrovnik after approximately two-and-a-half hours. Today is free for you to explore Dubrovnik, one of Europe's most popular destinations, as you see best. A walk along the city walls is a must-do, especially if you happen to be a Game of Thrones fan. From here you'll not only recognise scenes from the TV series, but also enjoy ridiculous views of the glittering Adriatic (don't forget your camera). Other sights include the 13th-century Franciscan monastery and the Sponza and Rector's palaces, which were the only Renaissance buildings to survive an earthquake and fire in 1668. If you've seen enough, why not look for the hole-in-the-wall bar where you can relax on the rocks, drink a cold beer and spend some time swimming. There are also several beaches on which to unwind. This is the last night of your trip, so why not get your group together for a final meal and, if you feel like it, hit the town's bars and clubs.


Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today your adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time. As there is so much to do in Dubrovnik you might like to extend your stay here.
Optional Activities
  • Game of Thrones Tour - HRK200
  • Lokrum Island Boat Trip - HRK100
  • Franciscan Monastery - HRK30
  • War Photography Museum - HRK50
  • City Walls Walk Dubrovnik - HRK150
  • Rector's Palace - HRK120
  • Church of St. Blaise - Free
  • Hike up Mt Srd - Free
  • Museum of Croatian War of Independence - Mt Srd - HRK30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

5 breakfasts

Transport

Train, Public bus, Private vehicle, Overnight sleeper train, Metro, Taxi

Accommodation

Hostel (4 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night), Pension (4 nights)

Included activities

  • Burek Snack in Bascarcija

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is not available on this trip.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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.