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Cultural Mosaic of the Balkans

(Serbia – Macedonia – Albania – Kosovo – Montenegro - Bosnia and Herzegovina - Croatia)

October 13 to 30, 2020

The amazing cultural mosaic of the Balkans’ region and its diverse ethnic fabric, combined with its historical importance and natural beauty, offers a glimpse of Europe that is a hidden treasure. This strikingly beautiful region is radiant in the early summer months, when its acacia forests are flowering. Its famous coastline is dotted with sleepy villages on turquoise bays. Its rugged interior mountains are home to ancient Christian monasteries and churches, spectacular lakes and waterfalls. Visit Roman ruins, medieval churches, fortresses and monasteries, colorful old Turkish bazaars, Ottoman citadels and mosques, and Austro-Hungarian town, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. You will journey through the former Communist Yugoslavia: Serbia – Macedonia – Albania – Kosovo – Bosnia and Herzegovina - Croatia. It is a historical crossroads where east and west meet. The region is home to an eclectic mix of people: ethnically, geographically and religiously. Join us on this enchanting journey and connect with friendly people who will overwhelm you with their legendary hospitality.

Led by Local Guides

Our cost (land only): $4,550.00 per person in double occupancy

Single Supplement: $650.00    

Price based on group size minimum of 6 participants and maximum of 12 participants

Approx. airfare from east coast is about $1,000.00 round trip using Turkish air

Your tour Includes:

  • All transfers with assistance

  • Transportation with a modern A/C motor coach

  • Accommodation at first class hotels or best available

  • All meals as per the itinerary and water on board bus

  • Professional English speaking guide

  • All entrance fees to visited sites (mentioned in the itinerary)

  • Tips and gratuities to porters, drivers and guides (including lecturer) - Provided min number of participants is met.

Your tour Does Not Include:

  • International airfare

  • Beverages with meals and meals not mentioned

  • Items of a personal nature, i.e. souvenirs, camera fees, laundry, phone calls, emails, etc.

  • supplement for operating with less than 6 participants

  • Travel insurance – Highly Recommended

  • Dayroom or extra hotel nights necessitated by airline flight schedule changes or misconnections

View Tour Itinerary

Tuesday - Wednesday, Oct 13-14
US - Belgrade (Serbia)

Depart the US on Tuesday evening for Europe, arriving the next day (Wednesday) in Serbia. Meet and transfer to the hotel for check in and overnight.

Thursday, Oct 15

Visit of Belgrade. Some of the highlights are the City Hall, the National Parliament, the Old Palace, the Slavija Square, Terazije Street and Square, Republic and Nikola Pasic Square, Knez Mihailova Street - the main pedestrian area of down town, Albania Tower, Skadarlija (a bohemian Street), National Theater; Saint Sava's Temple. Enjoy a walk through the beautiful Kalemegdan Park and fascinating Belgrade fortress with an unforgettable view on the confluence of two big European rivers. Danube and Sava. Free time. Dinner in Skadarlija – famous bohemian quarter of Belgrade. Overnight in Belgrade (B,L,D)

Friday, Oct 16
Belgrade – Skopje (Macedonia)

After breakfast in at the hotel, check out and meet the guests and depart for Skopje, with stop en route to Nis. Time to enjoy a snack or lunch. Continue driving to Skopje for dinner and overnight (B,L,D)

Saturday, Oct 17
Skopje – Bitola - Ohrid

After breakfast in at the hotel, check out, meet the guests and start the city tour of Skopje. Our panoramic tour will explore the old Railway station, Mother Teresa memorial house, the Stone Bridge, Daut Pasha Amam (outside) – monument of the Islamic architecture, the church St. Spas; we suggest also a short walking tour of the old town and its bazaar. Continue to Bitola (175 km – 2.5 hrs.). Time for lunch in one of the traditional restaurants. Start city tour of Bitola and proceed to Heraklea site. Visit Mangolia square, statue of Philip the 2nd and the pedestrian street with an ottoman architecture feel, the Clock Tower and St Demetrius church. Proceed to Heraklea archaeological site. Discover the well preserved ruins of the Roman baths, the baptistery and the Episcopal Church, the Jewish temple, Portico and an ancient theater. Continue driving to Ohrid (75 km – 1.5 h). Dinner and overnight in Ohrid (B,L,D)

Sunday, Oct 18
Ohrid – st. Naum - Ohrid

After breakfast join the group for Ohrid city tour. The highlight of the Ohrid tour include Ohrid Fortifications; Church of St. Sophia, St. Bogorodica Perivlepta, St. Jovan Kaneo,(outside) St. Pantelejmon – Plaosnik, (outside) Old Bazaar, Antique Theatre, Ohrid Traditional Architecture,. Enjoy lunch in one of the traditional restaurants situated in the old town. Boat tour in Ohrid Lake. Afternoon visit of a Monastic Complex of St. Naum (70 km)Dinner and overnight in Ohrid (B,L,D)

Monday, Oct 19
Ohrid – Berat (Albania)

Transfer to Berat/ALBANIA (165 km – 4 hrs. – border procedures included). Upon your arrival have lunch at a local restaurant Berat (description tour) - Known as the “City of one thousand windows” and is declared a Museum City”. Berat, overshadowed to the east by Tomorr Mountain 2415 m, and is an ancient Illyrian settlement founded in the 4th century B.C. on the territory of the Illyrian tribe of Desarettes. The town is composed of 3 parts; Gorica, situated on the far side of the river; Mangalem, situated on the fortress side of the river and the Residential quarter within the fortress known as Kalaja. The old part of the city has some religious buildings like mosque and Byzantine churches. Visit the fortress; Onufri Museum. Dinner and overnight in Berat (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Oct 20
Berat – Gjirokastra - Saranda

After breakfast at the hotel, departure to Gjirokastra (160 km – 3.5 hrs.) with stop en route for refreshments. Upon arrival start with the visit of the Castle of Gjirokastra. Hurtling through the sweeping plains of the Drino Valley, the ancient Ottoman city appears suddenly and unexpectedly, clattering up the steep slopes of the Gjerë Mountains high above the patchwork of verdant farmlands that paint this corner of Albania a vibrant, hazy green. Standing guard across the valley, the imposing Gjirokastra Fortress dominates the skyline amidst a sea of slate grey rooftops that hide a veritable labyrinth of cobbled alleyways and hidden staircases simply made for wandering. A place to put away the map and get well and truly lost. Visit Castle of Gjirokastra and free time in the bazaar. Enjoy a traditional lunch at a local restaurant. Continue driving to Saranda (1.5 hrs.). Dinner and overnight in Saranda (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Oct 21
Saranda – Butrint - Vlora

After breakfast at the hotel, depart to Butrint Archaeological Park (40 min). This impressive walking tour will stir your imagination about the ancient word during the peak of the Roman power and the classical Greek mythology. Start with the Asclepius temple, theatre, Roman portico and baths, early Christian baptistery, byzantine basilica, defensive walls and their impressive gates. Lunch in Ksamili. After lunch, departure to Vlora through wonderful Albanian Riviera. (150 km – 4.5 hrs.). The stretch of coastline dubbed the 'Albanian Riviera' stretches from the Roman theatre of Butrint in the south to the remote Karaburun Peninsula in the north. Along the way, the Riviera takes in easy-going beach towns, forested mountain passes, bird- and terrapin-filled marshes, noisy resort towns and brilliant snorkeling spots. Dinner and overnight in Vlora. (B,L,D)

Thursday, Oct
Vlora – Ardenica – Durres - Tirana

After breakfast at the hotel, departure to Ardenica Monastery. Located 237 meters above sea level and only a 1 h drive from Vlora, are the Ardenica hills, famous for the Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos and many breathtaking landscapes. A pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis had existed where the Monastery sits now, which explains the origin of the name Ardenica. The Monastery was built in 282, commissioned by the emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos of Byzantium. Perhaps the most interesting historical event recorded in Ardenica is Skanderbeg’s wedding to his lifelong wife Donika, hosted on April of 1451 at the Chapel of St. Trinity Church, the monastery’s very first church, built in the 10th century. Visit the most famous St. Mary’s Church (Kisha e Shën Mërisë). Continue driving to Durres (70 km – 1.15). Upon arrival, lunch at a local restaurant. City tour of Durres. Explore the ruins of the town forum, the Roman baths, the city center, the Town Hall, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Byzantine walls, and the Venetian tower, a panoramic display of discoveries and urban planning of this once an important city. Continue driving to Tirana. Dinner and overnight in Tirana (B,L,D)

Friday, Oct 23
Tirana – Kruja - Tirana

Breakfast in at the hotel. Transfer to Kruja. The walking tour of Kruja will take you through the cobble stone pathway of Ottoman bazaar, with wooden shops and displays of various gifts and antique household items. Visit within the walls of the castle will include an old house turned to an ethnographic museum will invite you to a unique cultural aspect of life in northern Albania. Lunch at Panorama restaurant near the Bazaar. Return in Tirana. We shall explore the capital city of Albania, including some of the historical highlights, as City Centre, Skanderbeg Statue, Et’hem Bey Mosque, Clock tower, Italian buildings and Martyrs’ of the Nation Boulevard. Visit the ex-communist buildings, painted with vibrant colors and the expansion of city. Visit of National Historic Museum. Dinner and overnight in Tirana (B,L,D)

Saturday, Oct 24
Tirana – Prizren (Kosovo) – Decani - Pej

After breakfast, check out and get on board toward Prizren (190 km – 3.5 hrs.), in the newly created state of Kosovo. Visit the old town of Prizren. Discover Prizren the cradle of cultural wealth of Kosovo people. The walking tour will explore the Old town with its Ottoman bridge, water fountain, their unique mosques and orthodox churches. The city is known for its rich culinary tradition, mainly home-made products and dishes. Lunch in the old town. Visit of Decan Monastery. Visoki Decani Monastery, the first cultural monument on the territory of Kosovo, to be inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage has long been known as one of the architecturally most interesting and best preserved Serbian medieval churches. Continue to Pej. Accommodation and overnight in Pej (B,L,D)

Sunday, Oct 25
Pej – Fierza Lake – Koman Lake – Budva(Montenegro)

Early departure (06.00 AM) to Fierza Ferry Terminal (ALBANIA). Fierza and Koman Lake were formed when the rugged Drini valley was dammed in the early 1970s, allowing Albania to quickly develop its own industrial base and become an energy exporter. The huge lake behind the VauDejes dam contains some 320 million cubic meters of water, and stretches 30 km eastward to the town of Fierza, the location of a second dam which holds back another lake that goes all the way to Kukes near the Kosovo border. The boat trip passes between 1000-1500m-high mountains and through a series of deep gorgeous and interconnected lakes, with hardly any signs of human activities on the shores – though occasionally the ferry will stop to let off some hardy. Continue driving to Budva, with stop en route for lunch and refreshments (178 km – 3.5 hrs.). Accommodation and overnight in Budva (B,L,D)

Note: the boat tour planned might be cancelled due to weather conditions in which case, you will visit between Pej to Kolasin a national park in Montenegro.

Monday, Oct 26
Budva – Kotor - Budva

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to Kotor (27 km - 40 min). Located along one of the world’s most beautiful bays is Kotor, a city of traders and famous sailors, with many stories to tell. The Old City of Kotor is a well-preserved urbanization typical of the middle Ages, built between the 12th and 14th century. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor land on the UNESCO’s World Natural and Historical Heritage Site list. Visit St. Tryphon Cathedral. Free time in the old town. Boat ride to the Lady on the Rock Island. Return to Budva and have some free time in the old town of Budva. Accommodation and overnight in Budva (B,L,D)

Tuesday, Oct 27
Budva – Mostar (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

After breakfast at the hotel, depart for Mostar/BOSNIA&HERZEGOVINA, with stop en route for refreshments. Upon arrival have lunch at a local restaurant. Visit Mostar Old Town. The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990s conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Sinan, was destroyed. The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. Free time in the Old bazaar. Dinner and overnight in Mostar (B,L,D)

Wednesday, Oct 28
Mostar - Sarajevo

After breakfast at the hotel, check out and depart to Sarajevo. Lunch at a local restaurant between visits. In the 1990s Sarajevo was besieged and on the edge of annihilation. Today, its restored historic center is full of welcoming cafes and good-value lodgings, the bullet holes largely plastered over on the city's curious architectural mixture of Ottoman, Yugoslav and Austro-Hungarian buildings. Visit Tunnel of Hope. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Sarajevo (B,L,D)

Thursday, Oct 29
Sarajevo - Dubrovnik (Croatia)

After breakfast at the hotel, departure to Dubrovnik (CROATIA) – (270 km – 5 hrs.), with stop en route for refreshments. Lunch at a local restaurant on the way to Dubrovnik. Upon arrival to Dubrovnik, start with the walking tour. Regardless of whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe never fails to descend when you set eyes on the beauty of the old town. Indeed, it is hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city’s white limestone streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic, or failing to be inspired by a walk along the ancient city walls that protected a civilized, sophisticated republic for centuries. Dinner and overnight in Dubrovnik (B,L,D)

Friday, Oct 30
Dubrovnik – USA

After breakfast at the hotel, transfer to the airport. (B)

“We (STS) reserve the right to change hotels, restaurants or the order of activities if/as needed”