Insight Vacations - Treasures of the Balkans - 2019

Visiting: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Hungary, Serbia

This is where the sway of the Mediterranean meets Central Europe and blends with the exotic East. From the Danube to Dracula's castle, there is history at every turn.  Discover the legends of Transylvania, as you explore grand cities, wonder at pristine landscapes and meet warm-hearted locals.

Highlights:

  • Tirana: Meet a local resident who will show you Skanderbeg Square and walk you through their home city as they explain what it's like to live in the Albanian capital.
  • Mostar: Explore the Old Town and see the Stari Most with your Local Expert.
  • Sarajevo: Visit the Tunnel of Hope hear a firsthand account of when the city was under siege for 44 months from a resident who was privy to the city's secret lifeline.  A Local Expert will show you the cobbled old town market where Sarajevo was founded by the Ottomans, known as Baščaršija. You will also see the Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque.
  • Bucharest: Walk the cavernous halls of the vast Palace of Parliament, learn about the history and listen to amusing tales from your Local Expert.
  • Sinaia: Led by a local historian, witness the opulent and sumptuous décor in Peleș Castle, the fairy-tale Royal summer residence, at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains.
  • Bran: Visit the imposing medieval castle guarding the old Transylvanian border and embrace its stories, myths and legends from Count Dracula to romantic Queen Marie.
  • Brasov: Explore Town Hall Square with your Local Expert and see the Black Church.
  • Arbanassi: This is one of Bulgaria’s most beautiful villages and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The frescoed churches and fortified dwellings offer a unique insight into the former wealth and spiritual commitment of the settlement.
  • Veliko Tarnovo: With you Local Expert, 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.
  • Ohrid: Walk the cobbled, narrow streets of the Old Town with your Local Expert.
  • Dubrovnik: Your Local Expert will guide you through this ancient city, surrounded by well-preserved walls built in the Middle Ages. See Onofrio's Fountain, the Rector's Palace and the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries.
  • Belgrade: A Local Expert will show you St. Sava Church, Terazije Street, the national museum, national theatre, Republic Square and the Kalemegdan Fortress.
  • Budapest: Visit the colourful Matthias Church and gaze out over the Danube and giant domed Hungarian Parliament Building from the heights of the Fisherman’s Bastion.

Map

 

Itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Bucharest.

Transfers depart Henri Coandă International Airport at 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00 for your hotel, which is one of the city's most sophisticated and prestigious landmarks. At 18:00, join your Travel Director and fellow travellers for your Welcome Dinner served with wine.

Hotel: Athenee Palace Hilton Bucharest.   Meals: Dinner with Wine

Day 2 - From Bucharest to Brașov.

Join a Local Expert for a sightseeing to view University Square and the former Communist Headquarters. Visit the immense Parliament Palace, one of the largest buildings in the world. Travel along the Prahova Valley to the elegant Alpine resort of Sinaia to visit Peleș Castle, the former summer residence of Romania's first royal family. Led by a local historian, admire the lavish rooms filled with art, armour and tapestries. Continue through the Carpathian Mountains to the charming medieval city of Brașov, founded in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights.

Hotel: Aro Palace.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 3 - Transylvania: Castles and Myths.

With your Local Expert, take a walk around Town Hall Square, lined with beautiful red-roofed houses and dominated by the Black Church. Then, picture a horse and carriage careering up a wet mountainous road, thunder booming and lightning illuminating the medieval fortress guarding the Transylvanian border. Visit Bran Castle, said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's novel and discover if this popular image of Dracula's castle is true or like the vampire story itself, only a myth.

Hotel: Aro Palace.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 4 - Veliko Tarnovo, the City of the Tsars.

Cross the Danube into Bulgaria and 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.

Hotel: Yantra Grand Hotel.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 5 - From the Old Bulgarian Capital to the New.

In the morning, see the Monument of the Assens, before meeting your Local Expert to climb up to the ruined Tsarevets Fortress, a reminder of the town's former imperial status. Enjoy the stunning views over the old Bulgarian capital and the Yantra Valley. At the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arbanassi, visit a traditional 17th century merchants' house and enjoy the acoustics in the Church of the Holy Nativity. Cross the Balkan Mountains to Bulgaria's modern day capital of Sofia. 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.

Hotel: Hilton Sofia.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 6 - Relaxed Start.  Sofia at Your Pace.

Enjoy the day at your leisure. Perhaps visit the Rila Monastery or enjoy a fascinating insight into the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria?

Hotel: Hilton Sofia.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 7 - Skopje

Cross the border and continue to the Macedonian capital of Skopje, an ultra-modern city juxtaposed by 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.

Hotel: Bushi Resort & Spa/Aleksandar Palace, Skopje.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 8 - Relaxed Start - Ohrid and Tirana on the Move.

Making your way to the border, stop in the city of Ohrid for lunch. As you cross into Albania and journey to Tirana, renowned for its friendly locals, you are joined by a resident expert. Continue to the landmark Skanderbeg Square for an insider’s look at the Albanian capital.

Hotel: The Plaza Tirana.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 9 Kotor and Dubrovnik, Pearl of the Adriatic.

Journey through the spectacular scenery of Montenegro to the Old Town of Kotor, known as Stari Grad. Located beside a beautiful bay near the limestone cliffs of Mt. Lovćen, its no surprise it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue over the Croatian border to the fortified port of Dubrovnik where you are at leisure to explore the Old Town, bustling with street artists, cafes and restaurants.

Hotel: Hotel Kompas Dubrovnik.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 - Relaxed Start - Dubrovnik Sightseeing and Time at Leisure.

Join a Local Expert for a morning of exploring the stone-paved streets within the 16th century bastions. See Onofrio's Fountain and the Rector's Palace, the city walls and 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 a stunning town on the Adriatic coast, Cavtat, where you can wander along the pine-forest paths beside the crystal-clear sea. At night you may choose from a fine selection of restaurants for your Dine-Around Evening.

Hotel: Hotel Kompas Dubrovnik.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 11 - Relaxed Start - Dubrovnik, Paradise on Earth.

(Relaxed Start) Spend another day at leisure in the Pearl of the Adriatic. Sunbathe by the pool or stroll with friends along the ancient city walls. Perhaps explore some of the film locations of the award-winning series 'Game of Thrones' and appreciate the enterprising spirit of the Old Harbour? As the sun starts to set, maybe take a relaxing cruise to admire the city and its incredible walls from the water.

Hotel: Hotel Kompas Dubrovnik.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 12 - Mostar and Sarajevo.

Journey to Mostar. With your Local Expert, see the famous Stari Most, the Old Bridge, reconstructed after being almost completely destroyed during the war. Explore the cobbled Old Town stretching on both sides of the bridge and filled with shops selling souvenirs. Continue your travels following the scenic route to Sarajevo for a unique and rewarding insight into the local way of life as you are invited into a Sarajevan family home for a dinner with drinks. Savour the warm hospitality and authentic cuisine as you hear inspirational stories about their culture and recent struggles.

Hotel: Hotel Bristol Sarajevo.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 13 - Sarajevo, City of Culture.

Start the morning with sightseeing. Visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum and talk to one of the survivors, for whom the Siege of Sarajevo remains a defining moment in his life. With a Local Expert, see the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated sparking World War 1. Experience authentic Bosnian coffee and learn about the traditional ritual of Bosnian coffee preparation. The rest of the afternoon is for you to explore as you wish.

Hotel: Hotel Bristol Sarajevo.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 14 - Relaxed Start - The Serbian Capital of Belgrade.

(Relaxed Start) Journey through the remote villages and spa resorts of the forested Bosnian mountains to Belgrade.

Hotel: Metropol Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Belgrade.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 15 - Relaxed Start - The Best of Belgrade.

(Relaxed Start) Join a Local Expert to see the best of Belgrade. Visit 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 to relax or continue exploring on your own.

Hotel: Metropol Palace.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 16 - Across the Wild Puszta to Budapest.

Journey north and cross the Province of Vojvodina to reach Palić on the Hungarian border. See the unusual water tower, and wander down to the lake where you can admire the art nouveau buildings. 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.

Hotel: Corinthia Hotel Budapest.  Meals: Breakfast

Day 17 - 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 view of the immense Hungarian Parliament Building from the Fisherman's Bastion. Cross the Danube to the Pest district to visit Heroes' Square and travel down elegant Andrássy Boulevard. Enjoy time to wander through the Central Market Hall. Spread over three levels, the market is a foodie's paradise, brimming with aromatic food stalls offering delicious salamis, spicy paprika, delicious Tokaji wines and an array of flavoured Pálinkas, a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy. Tonight you are in for a treat with your Celebration Dinner at Gundel, one of Budapest's most renowned restaurants for over a hundred years. Dine in elegance as you savour hearty, Hungarian delicacies accompanied with specially-selected Hungarian wine.

Hotel: Corinthia Hotel Budapest.  Meals: Breakfast, Dinner with Wine

Day 18 - Depart Budapest.

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

Meals: Breakfast

 

 

Includes

  • A Highly-skilled Travel Director will ensure your journey is seamless, serving as your expert guide, consummate organiser, and friend overseas.
  • Enjoy the comfort of Insight's luxury, air-conditioned, 40-seat coach with double the standard legroom and onboard washroom.
  • Personal radio headsets give you the freedom to wander during visits to famous highlights, without missing any of your Local Expert's fascinating commentary.
  • Insight carry your bags for you and promptly deliver them to your hotel door.
  • Hotel and restaurant tips are included - you'll never have to worry about how much to give, nor search for foreign currency They also include all taxes and porterage charges at hotels.
  • Stay connected with friends and family with our complimentary coach and hotel Wi-Fi (where available).
  • From time to time, your Travel Director will enchant you with an Insight Flourish, which is a local specialty representing the destination.
  • If your arrival and/or departure flights are as per the itinerary start and end dates, then transfers are available at scheduled times. If your flights are outside these times, or you have booked additional nights accommodation with Insight Vacations, you may purchase transfers or make your own way from/to the airport.
  • Dining Summary: 17 Breakfasts (B) and 10 Dinners with Wine (DW) all with tea or coffee.

 

 

 

Bonus

Save 10% with Early Payment Discount when you pay in full by January 31, 2019.

Please Note:
Price shown is based on low season travel. Season surcharges apply.

Trip prices are correct at the time of the website going live, however are subject to confirmation at the time of booking.

Note prices displayed reflect available discounted rates (i.e. Early Payment Discount, Last Minute Deals). All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however is subject to change, please confirm all details at time of booking.


Travel dates:
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18 days stay from:
$5,693*
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