Treasures of the Balkans - Insight Vacations

Treasures of the Balkans (Summer 2017)

Duration: 19 days Visiting: Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Hungary

Prices from US${{lowPrice | number:0}}

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Highlights
  • Optional experiences
  • Accommodation
  • Reviews
  • Dates & prices

This is where the sway of the Mediterranean meets Central Europe and blends with the exotic East. From the Danube to Dracula's castle, the layers of history are evident at every turn.

  1. Day 1

    Your Journey Begins

    Board your overnight flight to Europe (please ask about our great deals).

  2. Day 2

    Welcome to Bucharest

    Transfers depart Henri Coandă International Airport at 12:00, 14:00 & 16:00 for your hotel, which is one of the city's most sophisticated and prestigious landmarks. Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and a pleasant evening of dinner and wine.

  3. Day 3

    From Bucharest to Brașov

    Sightseeing in the morning with a Local Expert, includes views of University Square and the former Communist Headquarters, as well as a visit to the immense Parliament Palace, one of the largest buildings in the world. Then head up through the Carpathian Mountains to the charming medieval city of Brașov, founded in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights.

  4. Day 4

    Transylvania, Castles, Myths and Legends

    Join a Local Expert for a stroll around the Town Hall Square, lined with beautiful red-roofed houses and dominated by the Black Church. Now imagine a horse and carriage careering up a wet mountainous road – thunder and lightning illuminating the medieval fortress guarding the Transylvanian border. Discover if this popular image of Dracula's castle is true or, like the vampire story itself, only a myth, as you visit Bran Castle – said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's book.

  5. Day 5

    Veliko Tarnovo, the 'City of the Tsars'

    Drive along the Prahova Valley to the elegant alpine resort of Sinaia. Visit Peleș Castle, former summer residence of Romania's first royal family. Admire the lavish rooms filled with art, armour and tapestries, before crossing the Danube into Bulgaria. Continue to Veliko Tarnovo, the 'City of the Tsars', where houses cling to the cliffs of the River Yantra, making it one of the country's most beautiful towns. In the evening, enjoy a Highlight Dinner of local specialties and wine, followed by an authentic folklore show.

  6. Day 6

    From the Old Bulgarian Capital to the New

    In the morning, see the ‘symbol of the city’, the Monument of the Assens, before meeting your Local Expert to climb up to the ruined Tsareves Fortress, a reminder of the town's former imperial status. Here you will enjoy the stunning views over the old Bulgarian capital and the Yantra Valley. At the UNESCO listed village of Arbanassi, visit a traditional 17th century merchants' house and hear the acoustics in the Church of the Holy Nativity. Now cross the Balkan Mountains to Bulgaria's modern day capital of Sofia, the ‘city that grows, but never ages'. On arrival, sightseeing with a Local Expert takes you to St. Sofia Church, across the square from the golden domed St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the archaeological complex, dominated by the church of St. George Rotonda.

  7. Day 7 - Relaxed Start

    Sofia at Leisure

    (Relaxed Start) This day is at leisure, to relax or explore. Perhaps take an optional experience to the Rila Monastery. Enjoy a fascinating insight into the the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria?

  8. Day 8

    Skopje and Ohrid

    Cross the border and continue to the Macedonian capital of Skopje, an ultra-modern city with an ancient bazaar, where Turkish influences can still be seen and felt. Then head for mountain-ringed Lake Ohrid, its shores dotted with monasteries and villages.

  9. Day 9 - Relaxed Start

    Tirana on the Move

    (Relaxed Start) In the morning, sightseeing with a Local Expert will show you the narrow streets of Ohrid's Old Town. Afterwards, cross into Albania and journey to Tirana, renowned for its unfailingly friendly locals. Meet a resident expert at the landmark Skanderbeg Square for an insider's look at the Albanian capital.

  10. Day 10

    Kotor and Dubrovnik, Pearl of the Adriatic

    Drive through the spectacular scenery of Montenegro to the old town of Kotor, perched beside the only European fjord outside of Norway. Then continue over the Croatian border to the fortified port of Dubrovnik. Enjoy free time exploring the old town, bustling with street artists, cafés and restaurants.

  11. Day 11 - Relaxed Start

    Dubrovnik Sightseeing and at Leisure

    (Relaxed Start) In the morning, join a Local Expert to explore the stone-paved streets within the 16th century bastions. See Onofrio's Fountain and the Rector's Palace, the city walls, as well as the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries. The rest of the day is free for you to immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings. Perhaps enjoy an optional experience to Cavtat – a stunning town on the Adriatic coast, where you can stroll the pine forests paths beside the crystal clear sea. At night, within the city's mighty ramparts, choose from a fine selection of restaurants for your Dine-Around evening.

  12. Day 12 - Relaxed Start

    Dubrovnik, Paradise on Earth

    (Relaxed Start) Another day at leisure in this ‘Pearl of the Adriatic'. Sunbathe by the pool or stroll with friends along the ancient city walls. As the sun starts to set, maybe take a relaxing cruise on the harbour?

  13. Day 13

    Mostar and Sarajevo

    Drive to Mostar and walk with a Local Expert across the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge), reconstructed after being almost completely destroyed during the war. The cobbled old town stretches on both sides of the bridge and is filled with shops selling Turkish style souvenirs. Next, follow the scenic route to Sarajevo. On arrival, visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum. Talk to one of the survivors, for whom the Siege of Sarajevo remains a defining moment in his life.

  14. Day 14

    Sarajevo, City of Culture

    Start with a morning sightseeing. A Local Expert will show you the Baščaršija, the cobbled old town market where Sarajevo was founded by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Admire Gazi Husrev-beg mosque and Olympic stadium. Next, experience real Bosnian coffee (not for the faint hearted), and learn about the traditional ritual of Bosnian coffee preparation. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.

  15. Day 15

    The Serbian Capital of Belgrade

    Head down through the remote villages and spa resorts of the forested Bosnian mountains to Belgrade.

  16. Day 16 - Relaxed Start

    The Best of Belgrade

    (Relaxed Start) Join a Local Expert to see the best of Belgrade. St. Sava Church, Terazije Street, the national museum and national theatre in Republic Square. Finish your sightseeing at the Kalemegdan Fortress, situated at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Enjoy a free afternoon.

  17. Day 17

    Across the Wild Puszta to Budapest

    Head north, past the riverside fortress at Novi Sad, to cross the Province of Vojvodina to reach the Hungarian border. Continue on through the vast wilderness of the Puszta, where cowboys rustle up goulash under the stars. Your destination will be Budapest on the Danube.

  18. Day 18

    Budapest, Queen of the Danube

    Venture into the heart of Buda's medieval Castle district with a Local Expert to visit Matthias Church and take in the vista of the immense Parliament building from the Fisherman's Bastion. Cross the Danube to the Pest district to visit Heroes' Square and drive down elegant Andrássy Boulevard. Then enjoy time in the Central Market Hall - its three storeys packed with aromatic food stalls offering Hungarian salamis, spicy paprika and sweet Tokaji wines. In the evening, gather with your friends for a joyous end-of-trip Celebration Dinner at a local restaurant.

  19. Day 19

    Depart Budapest

    Departure transfers arrive Ferenc Liszt International Airport at 07:00 & 11:00.

Highlights

 

SIGNATURE EXPERIENCES

  • Bucharest: Walk the cavernous halls of the vast Palace of Parliament, learn some of the history and amusing tales.
  • Bran: Visit the imposing medieval castle guarding the old Transylvanian border and embrace its stories, myth and legend - from Dracula to romantic Queen Marie.
  • Sinaia: Witness the opulent and sumptuous décor in Peles Castle, the fairytale Royal summer residence, at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains.
  • Veliko Tarnovo: Ascend Tsarevets, the King's Hill, crowned by a ruined medieval citadel. Enjoy the views and imagine yourself back in the days of the Crusades when this was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom.
  • Veliko Tarnovo: Visit Arbanassi, one of Bulgaria's most beautiful sites. The frescoed churches and fortified dwellings offer a unique insight into the former wealth and spiritual commitment of the settlement.
  • Sarajevo: Hear a first hand account a city under siege. Visit the ‘Tunnel of Hope', and talk directly with a resident who lived through the 44-month blockade and was privy to the city's secret lifeline.
  • Budapest: Visit the colourful Matthias Church and gaze out over the Danube and giant domed Parliament from the heights of the Fisherman's Bastion.

ADDITIONAL INCLUDED HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bucharest: See University Square and the former Communist Headquarters.
  • Transylvanian Alps: Enjoy guided sightseeing of Brasov.
  • Veliko Turnovo: Walk along Gurko Street, see the Monument of the Assens.
  • Sofia: See the Cathedral, churches, and Soviet-era buildings.
  • Ohrid: Walk through the cobbled streets with a local expert.
  • Tirana: Enjoy a guided sightseeing tour.
  • Kotor: Visit the old town situated on its fjord.
  • Dubrovnik: See Onofrio's Fountain, Rector's Palace and the city walls. Admire the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries.
  • Mostar: Walk across its famous bridge, explore the old town.
  • Sarajevo: Tour the Bacarsija to see the Mosque and Olympic Stadium.
  • Belgrade: See all the main sights with a guide including the imposing Kalemegdan Fortress.
  • Budapest: Enjoy skyline views from Gellért Hill. Walk through the cobbled streets of the medieval Castle Hill district. See the Parliament and visit Heroes' Square in Pest.

AUTHENTIC REGIONAL FLAVOURS

  • Veliko Tarnovo: Enjoy a Highlight Dinner of local specialties and wine and folklore show.
  • Dubrovnik: Inside the mighty defensive walls of the old town, you will be offered a varied selection of charming restaurants on your Dine-Around evening.
  • Sarajevo: Experience real Bosnian coffee and learn the traditional ritual of coffee preparation.
  • Budapest: Now burgeoning with bistros, head to the Hungarian capital for a grand finale Celebration Dinner with wine to toast your tour.
  • 17 Buffet Breakfasts (BB); 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 6 three-course table d'hôte Dinner (DW), 1 Signature Evening (SE), 1 Dine-Around (DA), 1 Restaurant Dinner (RD) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, plus tea or coffee.

STAY AT THE BEST ADDRESSES

  • Budapest: The 5-star Corinthia Budapest Hotel is one of the grandest luxury hotels in Budapest. An impressive landmark building with an imposing Neo-classical façade and soaring glass atrium. The high technology and personal service ensures an elegant and luxurious stay.

ADDITIONAL FIVE STAR SERVICES

  • An expert Insight Tour Director, at the pinnacle of their career, will guide you on your journey. Serving as your 'travelling concierge', this skilled guide will act as consummate organiser and be your 'friend in a foreign land'.
  • Enjoy the unique comfort of Insight's luxury air-conditioned 40 seat coach with extended leg room and on-board restroom. It's business class comfort.
  • A personal radio headset gives you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating insights and commentaries.
  • Baggage handling everywhere, with seamless and prompt delivery to your door at every hotel.
  • Hotel and restaurant tips included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency. Plus we include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
  • Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi.
  • Insight Flourishes - from time to time, your Tour Director will enchant you with local tidbits, each representing authentic food or beverages unique to the destination.
  • Included airport transfers at scheduled times on arrival and departure days.

Optional experiences

Most Insight trips already include a host of bonus highlights and comprehensive sightseeing. There may also be an exciting array of Optional Experiences which will turn an already amazing experience into the trip of a lifetime! These are entirely optional and can be booked through your Travel Director/Local Representative at the commencement of your trip. Please note, many Optional Experiences are operated by independent third party suppliers, not Insight Vacations.

Prices and availability of Optional Experiences are subject to change.

Accommodation

 

Hilton Athenee Palace

Bucharest (Central) - Romania

Hilton Athenee, Bucharest

Aro Palace

Brasov (Contemporary) - Romania

This is the only five star hotel in Brasov with a perfect location in the heart of town and a history of outstanding service that dates back over 70 years.

Yantra Grand Hotel

Veliko Turnovo (Contemporary) - Bulgaria

Situated at Velchova zavera Square in Veliko Tarnovo – the old capital of Bulgaria, the hotel enjoys magnificent views of the Tzarevets Fortress, the Architectural reserve village of Arbanassi and the University of Veliko Tarnovo.

Grand Hotel Sofia

Sofia (Central) - Bulgaria

Grand Hotel Sofia is one of the most prestigious hotels in Sofia. Business guests benefit from its close proximity to main administrative, financial and commercial areas.

Belvedere Hotel Ohrid

Ohrid (Scenic) - Macedonia

Belvedere Hotel, Ohrid

Sheraton Tirana

Tirana (Central) - Albania

The only 5-Star hotel in Albania, located in the heart of Tirana.

Hotel Kompas Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik (Contemporary) - Croatia

Overlooking the sea in the beautiful Lapad Bay, the Kompas hotel was fully renovated in 2015 andis only a 2 minute walk to the beach and close to the popular promenade.

Bristol Hotel

Sarajevo (Central) - Bosnia

Metropol Palace

Belgrade (Contemporary) - Serbia

A stunning five star hotel which has always been the heart of Belgrade's social life and the host to all its guests, since originally opening in 1957.

Corinthia Hotel Budapest

Budapest (Heritage) - Hungary

Located in the heart of the city, the Corinthia Hotel Budapest blends classic hotel opulence with the finest five-star luxury. Its refurbished Royal Spa is simply stunning!

Guest Reviews & Experiences

Our guests rate us 4.6 out of 5 based on 11318 independent user reviews received during the past year.

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