21 days Complete Tour of Balkans from Sofia through Transylvania
Visit the Balkans in this 21 days tour in wich You will visit 9 countries: Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Hungary. Enjoy a small group tour from 1 to 14 with a tourguide that will fit on your interests and will make this experience unforgettable.
In this tour of the Balkans You will have the possibility to understand better the history that separated or connected different countries and experience as well mostly of the Unesco sites.
Day 1 – Monday – Sofia – Rila – Skopje (350 km) BULGARIA + MACEDONIA
After breakfast departure to Rila Monastery , Bulgaria’s most famous tourist site ( Unesco World Heritage Site ) and founded in the 10th century by Saint Ivan Rilsky (St John of Rila ) , a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church . The monastery , one of the largest in the Balkans , was the center of Bulgarian culture and Orthodox belief for more than 1000 years . Our tour includes a visit to the Church, which is of particular artistic value, for it was adorned by the foremost 19-century masters of the Samokov, Bansko and Debar schools of painting and woodcarving. Continue drive south to the Bulgarian – Macedonian border . In the early evening we will arrive in Skopje , the capital of Macedonia . Orientation tour of Skopje before arriving to your centrally located hotel. Overnight in Skopje in a 4* Hotel.
Day 2 – Tuesday – Skopje – Ohrid (190 km) MACEDONIA
After breakfast enjoy a walking tour of Skopje (internationally famous for being the birthplace of Mother Teresa ) , with its most important landmarks : quay of the Macedonian river “Vardar”, the narrow streets in the Old Bazaar (is the biggest bazaar preserved in the Balkans today ), the Memorial house of Mother Teresa , the 1500 years old fortress Kale , Macedonia Square with the statue of Alexander The Great on horse . Continue the tour and drive to Ohrid ( Unesco World Heritage Site ) situated on the banks of the lake with the same name , perched on the border of Macedonia and Albania. Ohrid area has been the setting of thousands of years of human history and the old city center are testimony to its past. Lake Ohrid itself is Europe’s oldest lake having formed over three millions years ago. The walking tour of the old city center will include the narrow streets and squares , the Anchient Theater , discover the famous old churches, monasteries and basilicas (Sveti Sofia Church ) , Tsar Samuil’s (Samuel’s) Fortress and pedestrian shopping street . Overnight in Ohrid in a 3/4 * hotel .
Day 3 –Wednesday – Ohrid – Bay of Bones – St Naum – Tirana – Kruja (210 km) MACEDONIA + ALBANIA
After breakfast departure to the Museum on Water called also the Bay of Bones, an exceptional archeological complex and a reconstruction of a part of the pile-dwelling settlement, dating back between 1200 and 700 BC.A Roman military fortification. Next will drive to the amazing monastery of St.Naum, built on a rock that offers a great view of the Ohrid Lake and experience a small rowing boat ride to the springs of Black Drimm river.
Continue the tour and crossing the Macedonian – Albanian border driving to Tirana, capital of Albania . The walking tour of city center of Tirana will reveal the main tourist attractions : Tirana’s massive main square – Skanderbeg , National History Museum , Palace of Culture, National Bank, Et’hem Bey Mosque and Skanderbeg’s statue. In the evening we will arrive in Kruja . The name and the importance of the city are attributed to the national hero of Albania, George Castriot Skanderbeg, who made Kruja a fortress of resistance against the Turkish Ottoman empire for more than 25 years in the 15th century . Orientation tour of Kruja before arriving to your centrally located hotel. Overnight in Kruja in a 4* hotel.
Day 4 Thursday – Kruja – Budva – Kotor (190 km)
After breakfast visit the Kruja Castle, the headquarter of “the Dragon of Albania” . Enjoy a visit of the Kruja Castle Museum for a short lesson of Albanian history than discover the local souvenir market of the local traditional Old Bazaar. Next, departure to Budva – Montenegro , crossing the Albanian – Montenegro border and stop to visit the Old Town and show you the most important spots: Ballerina and Mogren Beach, Land Gate, Ancient Necropolis, Square of Churches, Citadel, Njegoš’s street, marina, Mediternaska Street and Slovenska Plaza. In the evening we will arrive in Kotor and discover the fortified old town – Stari Grad ( Unesco World Heritage Site ) . Overnight in a 3* hotel in Kotor.
Day 5 Friday – Kotor Bay Tour – Dubrovnik (150 km) MONTENEGRO + CROATIA
After breakfast ,on the way to Dubrovnik ( Croatia ) start with the Kotor Bay Tour : Perast (boat trip to Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks), Tivat & Porto Montenegro . Continue the tour and cross the border to Croatia and head to Dubrovnik. “The Pearl of the Adriatic:”, Explore the Old Town also part of Unesco Heritage, via Onofrio’s Fountain and up Prijeko Street to the Old Port – the key to Dubrovnik’s trading and maritime success. Overnight in a 3* hotel in Dubrovnik.
Day 6 Saturday – Dubrovnik – Mostar – Split (300 km) CROATIA
After breakfast we will head to Bosnia – Herzegovina and after we will cross the border we will visit the beautiful city of Mostar with its Old Bridge Area and the old city, part of Unesco Heritage. Next, we will cross the border back to Croatia and arrive in one of the most important cities at the Adriatic Seat: Split. Visit the 4th century Diocletian’s Palace and city’s historical center also listed on Unesco’s heritage. Overnight in a 3* hotel in Split.
Day 7 – Sunday – Split – Trogir – Plitvice (260 km) CROATIA
After breakfast , we will continue the sightseeing or free time of Split and we will head to Trogir (Unesco). Greek, Roman, Venetian history on a small island connected to one, make this one of the most interesting historic oasis on the Adriatic Coast. The famous Cathedral of St Lawrence, remains of city walls, many palaces, forts and their stories are just some of the things that will impress you on this tour through the beautiful streets of this still small and quiet little town in the heart of the Mediterranean, the heart of Dalmatia. In the late evening we will arrive in Plitvice. Overnight in a 3* hotel in the area of Plitvice.
Day 8 – Monday – Plitvice – Postojna – Ljubljana (290 km) CROATIA + SLOVENIA
After breakfast explore the Oldest National Park from Croatia that is also part of Unesco heritage. We will enjoy a walking tour in the nature and discover the amazing colours of the Natural Park that are ranging from azure to green, grey or blue depending on the sunlight. After crossing the border in Slovenia, explore the largest show-cave in Europe, the Postojna Cave with an electrical train, a touristic attraction that you can’t miss it , thanks to its natural beauty. In the late evening we will arrive in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. Overnight in a 4* hotel.
Day 9 – Tuesday – Ljubljana – Zagreb (140 km) SLOVENIA + CROATIA
After breakfast , enjoy walking tour in wich you will discover the main tourist attractions of Ljubljana city centar : Congress Square, the National University Library, Križanke Monastery, the New Square, and Cobbler’s Bridge, main square with the Prešeren monument, Franciscan Church, and Three Bridges , Old Square, the river promenade, the Municipality Square, St. Nicholas Cathedral, the Open Air Market, Butcher’s Bridge, and Dragon Bridge.
Next, we will head to the capital of Croatia, Zagreb where we will discover this magical city. Explore Zagreb’s Upper Town and Lower Town districts on this 2.5-hour private walking tour. Hop aboard the funicular with a guide to Gradec — the Upper Town — and enjoy fine city views from the Strossmayer Promenade. Discover top attractions including the Lotrščak Tower, St Catherine’s Church, the Stone Gate and the seat of the Croatian Parliament. Then, descend via Tkalčićeva Street to the Lower Town and head through Dolac Market to medieval Kaptol. Admire traditional architecture in Ban Jelačić Square, then finish in the pretty surroundings of Zrinjevac Park. Overnight in a 4* hotel in Zagreb.
Day 10 – Wednesday – Zagreb – Belgrad (400 km) CROATIA + SERBIA
After breakfast we will head to Serbia and in the afternoon we will arrive to Belgrad, capital of Serbia. Visit the Republic Square, the National theater and the National museum, Bohemian Quarter (Skadarlija), the oldest part of Belgrade with Ottoman heritage, the oldest residential house and museum of Serbian language, the only mosque in the city, Kalemegdan park, Belgrade fortress, „Victor“ the most famous symbol of Belgrade, the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers, Saborna church, and Knez Mihailova street. Overnight in a 4* hotel in Belgrad.
Day 11 – Thursday – Belgrad – Novi Sad – Budapest (400 km) SERBIA + HUNGARY
After breakfast , departure to Budapest with a stop in Novi Sad where we will visit Zmaj Jovina Street, the promenade of Novi Sad and obligatory sight for any tourists, not least for the ornamental Palace of the Orthodox Bishop. We will see also y – Dunavska, street with its long line of single-storied 19th century houses. The Danube embankment, the Petrovaradin Fortress on the other bank as well as at the sights and stories about the troubled bridges of Novi Sad. In the evening we will arrive to Budapest ,`´ The Queen of Danube “ , capital of Hungary . Free time and overnight in a 4* hotel in Budapest.
Day 12 – Friday – Budapest HUNGARY
After breakfast , full day dedicated to Budapest in wich we will get a comprehensive look at Budapest’s top attractions on a 4-hour guided tour of the city. See the iconic statues of Heroes’ Square and drive along Andrássy Avenue, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guide will also take you past St. Stephen’s Basilica, Dohány Street Synagogue and the beautiful Castle District in Buda, discussing the unique stories behind each landmark as you go. To continue seeing the sights from the water, you will have a scenic, 1-hour river cruise along the Danube.
Day 13: Budapest – Arad – Timisoara
Departure from your hotel or directly from Budapest Airport to go to Arad, which will be visited by walking after reaching Romania and where we will see the impressive Neo-Gothic Palace of Culture, the City Hall Palace and the Red Church built in secessionist style, the great Catholic Cathedral and the State Theater, neoclassical. Later, we will arrive in Timisoara, a very charming city for its architectural features for many Turkish, Serbian, Austrian and German elements, which will become the European Capital of Culture in 2019. We will spend the night in Timisoara at a 4 * central hotel.
Day 14: Timisoara – The Corvini Castle – Alba Iulia – Sibiu
In the morning we will visit the most fascinating gothic castle in Eastern Europe and one of the most beautiful and greatest of our continent, the famous Corvin Castle. Later, we will go to Alba Iulia, an important city from a historical point of view, because the Great United Romania was made here on December 1st, 1918, so immediately after the First World War. In the evening we will arrive in Sibiu, the European Capital of Culture in 2007, dominated by the Tower of the Clock or Council Tower dating to the medieval era and by the extensive 18th – 19th century Brukenthal museum, the former residence of the governor of Transylvania. The big square, the small square and Huet Square, with the Evangelical Cathedral, show off in all their beauty. We will spend the night in Sibiu, in the central area, in a 4 * hotel.
Day 15 – Sibiu – Sighisoara – Targu Mures – Bistrita (260 km)
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to the city of Sighisoara, with its imposing Clock Tower. This citadel is the best preserved in Europe and, extraordinary, it is still inhabited. Since 1999 the historic center of Sighisoara is a UNESCO heritage site. Here we will admire the church on the hill, reachable after a wooden staircase called the schoolchildren’s ladder. We will also see the statue of the famous Hungarian national poet Petofi Sandor, testifying to the fact that in Sighisoara the Magyar community was in the past numerically important. Next to the statue is the beautiful Catholic church, reserved for the Hungarian community, and the tower of the shoemakers. Lunch at the house where Vlad the Impaler was born (not included) and in the late afternoon arrival at Targu Mures, a city in which the baroque style predominates. Targu Mures is dominated by the beautiful Palace of Culture, symbol of the locality, an extraordinary baroque palace. In this transylvanian city, the Hungarian community is still numerous and the architects who have worked on the design of historic buildings are all Hungarians. Towards evening I arrive at the city of Bistrita, whose main monument is the Lutheran church, built in the fourteenth century in Gothic style but remodeled with Renaissance elements in the second half of the sixteenth century. Dinner and overnight at the Golden Crown 4 * hotel where in the book by Bram Stoker, Jonathan Harker, one of the main characters of the novel “Dracula”, would also stay. Those who want to can take a pleasant walk in the city center, after dinner.
Day 16 – Bistrita – Voronet – Moldovita – Sucevita – Marginea – Radauti (250 km)
After breakfast at the hotel departure towards Bucovina, the northern part of the Moldavia region, magical place thanks to the presence of internally and externally frescoed monasteries, also UNESCO monuments. Stop in Borgo Pass, the mysterious place where the vampire legend Dracula comes to life. Later we arrive at the monastery of Voronet, nicknamed the Sistine Chapel of the Carpathians, founded by the great prince Stephen the Great and characterized by a beautiful blue color, inimitable and unique in the world. Next, we will have some free time and then continue with a visit to the Moldovita monastery, another famous religious monument, founded by Pietro Rares in the 16th century and whose interior and exterior frescoes enchant the visitor.
The last of the painted monasteries that you will have the pleasure of admiring is the Sucevita monastery, founded by the Movila brothers in the seventeenth century. Like the previous two, too, it presents Gothic and Byzantine elements, which merge to form the fascinating Moldovan architectural style. The frescoes on the northern façade of this monastery have remained visible thanks to the protective walls that have never been demolished here. We continue with a visit to the local artisans of Marginea, who perform excellent work with the famous black ceramic, here you will have the opportunity to enter the workshop to closely observe the various working phases of ceramic pots, but you can also buy items typical of Bucovina. At Marginea you can buy not only ceramic vases, but also beautiful painted eggs and decorated with the traditional Romanian technique. Overnight at Gerald’s 4 * hotel in Radauti or Best Western Bucovina 4 * in Gura Humorului.
Day 17 – Radauti – Piatra Neamt – Bicaz Gorges – Miercurea Ciuc (290 km)
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to the Bicaz Gorges. Stop in Piatra Neamt, a famous ski resort that preserves a beautiful citadel founded at the time of Stephen the Great, in the fifteenth century and an 18th century synagogue. The city has a wonderful geographical position being surrounded by mountains that guard beautiful lush vegetation. Then we will head towards the Bicaz Gorges and then admire a breathtaking landscape. The Bicaz gorges are crossed by a road flanked by a stream and constitute a landscape of strong emotional impact with thrilling cliffs. Along the gorges there is a market with typical handicrafts and souvenirs that make the attraction even more lively.
Visit of the Red Lake, a natural barrier lake, which was formed following the landslide of a part of a mountain, in fact the trunks of the trees are still present in the lake and this gives a particularly evocative atmosphere. The place is interesting especially for the legends that were born and have spread in reference to the name of the lake. During the visit you will become aware of these legends. You then continue through a scenic road that offers a spectacular view of the Carpathian chain to get to Miercurea Ciuc. This area is also called the Siberia of Romania for the low temperatures and the landscape that characterize this area. Overnight at Hotel Fenyo 3 * in Miercurea Ciuc or Hotel O3one 4* in Tusnad.
Day 18 – Miercurea Ciuc – Brasov – Bran – Sinaia (180 km)
Breakfast and then immediately departure to Brasov, a wonderful Transylvanian town, once entirely fortified, an important cultural, tourist and commercial center. Brasov impresses with its typically German architecture, where the Gothic, the Baroque and the Renaissance intersect to give life to an interesting and culturally very lively city. Visit of the First Romanian School, which is located in the oldest district of the city, and which was inhabited exclusively by Romanians, the Schei district, interesting for the entrances into the city that were carried out in medieval times through the Caatherine’s and Schei Gate, quest last of the nineteenth century. In Brasov we will also visit the impressive Black Church, the largest evangelical Gothic church in Eastern Europe, with a 65 meter high bell tower and a length of 90 meters, the church houses the most beautiful nineteenth-century mechanical organ of Romania. We will then admire the palaces and houses of the historic center, recently restored, with the Council Square which now houses a beautiful museum, and the pedestrian Avenue of the Republic.
Later we proceed to Bran where we will visit the famous Bran Castle, better known as Dracula’s Castle. In the Middle Ages, Bran was exactly on the border between Wallachia and Transylvania, so it was essential for the inhabitants of Brasov to build and preserve a defensive stronghold. In the 90s of the 900 this fortress was transformed into a beautiful castle thanks to the intervention of Queen Maria of Romania. In the evening arrival in Sinaia, the pearl of the Carpathians, where there is the beautiful Sinaia monastery founded by the great Michele Cantacuzino, a leading figure of the nobility and the Romanian culture of the seventeenth century. Overnight at the New Montana 4 * hotel in Sinaia
Day 19 – Sinaia – Bucharest (130 km)
A nice breakfast and then, in the morning, a visit to the fabulous Peles Castle, the summer residence of the first king of Romania, the King Charles 1 of Hohenzollern, of German origins. The castle was beautifully designed by a Czech architect, and is famous for being one of the most modern castles in Europe at the time of its construction, between the 19th and 20th centuries. Each room is characterized by a unique style, different from the styles of the other rooms. We will also admire the Florentine room, where we will breathe a typically Italian and Renaissance atmosphere.
We continue towards Bucharest where we can have lunch at the Hard Rock Caffè restaurant in the beautiful Herastrau park (not included), a relaxing place that also hosts a large lake. Visit the Village Museum, founded by a Romanian sociologist and built in 1936 with the collaboration of construction experts, anthropologists, ethnographers and sociologists from all over Romania. This wonderful open-air museum offers the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of the romanian farmers of the 19th century, their houses, their water mills and their churches entirely made of wood. Here everything is authentic. We will also admire a wooden Maramures church, which was dismantled and then taken to the museum. In this regard, remember that many wooden churches of Maramures are UNESCO heritage. We will then have the pleasure of seeing the Parliament Building, a majestic monument, second only in size to the Pentagon, built at the behest of the dictator in the 80s of the 900 and for whose creation an entire neighborhood was razed. This will be followed by a tour of the hystorical Center of Bucharest, a completely pedestrian area, with the remains of the princely fortress of Vlad the Impaler, the 16th century palatine church in Byzantine style, and the Stavropoleos church, an architectural jewel of the 18th century, in typical Wallachian style, with important oriental influences in external decoration.
Dinner in the most famous restaurant in the capital, Caru cu Bere, which means the beer wagon, where you will have a great time thanks to the folklore show that will take place during dinner and where you will taste excellent traditional Romanian food. The beer produced here is original and the recipe is secret. Caru cu Bere has a fabulous neogothic facade and the restaurant was born as a brewery. The building is magnificently decorated inside in Art Deco style and with paintings representing scenes of bucolic and German life. In each painting you will see represented mugs of beer. As soon as you enter Caru cu Bere, you feel like you’re in a beautiful Bavarian brewery. Overnight at the Novotel 4 * hotel (or similar) in the center of Bucharest.
Day 20 – Saturday – Bucharest – Ivanovo Monastery – Arbanassi – Veliko (200 km) ROMANIA + BULGARIA
We will leave Bucharest in the morning and head to Bulgaria. After crossing the bridge over the Danube River we will enter in Bulgaria and our first visit will be at Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo ( Unesco World Heritage Site ) and noted for its magnificent medieval age frescoes still preserved. Continue with the picturesque Arbanasi village . In the walking tour of the village , we will discover houses that preserves an unique medieval bulgarian architecture and a hidden 16th century Church of Nativity with beautiful and richly inside painted fresco .
Early evening arrival in Veliko Tarnovo , “City of Tsars” , the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Tsarevets Fortress , Monument of the Asenevtsi kings , Samovodska charshia are the main attractions of the city. Overnight in Veliko Tarnovo in a 4* Hotel.
Day 21 – Sunday – Veliko – Shipka – Kazanluk – Sofia (320 km) BULGARIA
After breakfast departure to Sofia . Crossing the Stara Planina mountains , we will stop to visit Shipka Monument (aka “Monument of The Liberty“) . The memorial complex was erected in memory of the fallen bulgarian volunteers and Russian soldiers during the Shipka battles in the summer of 1877. Shipka battle plays a crucial role in the Russo-Turkish War and for the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. Continue to drive south to the town of Kazanlak located in the pretty Valley of roses at the foot of the Balkan mountains. The natural geographical center of Bulgaria is just here where the roads of home and international tourist routes cross each other. Visit the most important touristic attractions : Thracian Tomb ( Unesco World Heritage Site , the only monument, completely preserved from the Early Hellenistic Period , 4-3 century B.C.) and Rose oil Museum .
In the early evening we will arrive in Sofia . The walking tour of city center will include the gold-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Saint (Sveta) Sofia Church , Banya Bashi Mosque, the Sofia Synagogue and the main shopping street Vitosha . Overnight in Sofia in a 4* Hotel.
- Overnight in 3/4 * Hotel with breakfast included as indicated in the itinerary
- Entrance fees to museums
- All breakfasts included
- Transport by minibus / coach with air conditioning
- Guide in English that will accompany the group for the duration of the trip
Services not included:
- Photo/Video fees where applicable
- Meals other that the ones indicated in “Services included”
- Anything not expressly indicated under “Included services”