Balkan Discoverer

11 days
from
1 645 €
Loading...
Traveller ratings
4 / 5 from 6 reviews >
Leisurely
Learn more
Trip code: 
AVX
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Multi-country
Min age:
16
Group size:
6–18

Discover Serbia, Macedonia and Albania

The Balkan Peninsula for many is one of the last undiscovered corners of Europe. Cultural and natural variety abound here, forged over the centuries by numerous political changes and imperial influences from the Byzantine to the Ottoman. We contrast Belgrade, Skopje and Tirana with traditional towns, villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and places of untouched natural beauty. Each country offers a different culture, cuisine and tradition to discover, each growing as an independent nation in its own right and taking its place in the modern world. This is a rare chance to see the re-emergence of places kept off limits until relatively recently.

Highlights

  • Discover three Balkan capital cities- Belgrade, Skopje & Tirana
  • Visit Macedonia's beautiful Lake Ohrid
  • UNESCO heritage sites & natural beauty
  • Explore Albania's historic town of Berat
  • Enjoy local cuisines & warm hospitality

Key information

  • 8 nights standard hotels, all with twin rooms and en suite facilities
  • 2 nights renovated village houses with shared facilities
  • Group normally 6 to 18, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • Travel by air-conditioned minibus

 

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas & vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call us on
+91 531 40 28
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Belgrade by night

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Belgrade.

    Our trip begins in Belgrade, Serbia's thriving cosmopiltan capital.
    Hotel Rex or similar

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Belgrade city tour with free afternoon.

    Today we will explore the capital of Serbia. Belgrade is a fascinating city with many cultural facets to explore. We'll visit the old town area, including the Kalemegdan Complex, set high on the rocky ridge where the Sava and Danube Rivers meet. This is the former urban centre of Belgrade, which has the best views of the new Belgrade area and the agricultural plains that surround the city.

    On our tour of Belgrade we'll visit Republic Square, Skadarlija ('the Montmartre of Belgrade'), National Theatre, Parliament, Belgrade Fortress, Knez Mihajlo Street, Kalemegdan Park and Saint Sava Orthodox Cathedral. After the city tour there is the option to visit some of Belgrade's many museums, such as the Ethnographic or Nikola Tesla Museum. We should finish the tour around lunchtime.

    The rest of the day and evening offers the chance to further explore and then sample the famous nightlife in Belgrade.
    Hotel Rex or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Transfer to Visegrad with visit to famous bridge on the River Drina and Sirogojno with traditional village and open air museum.

    We set off towards Zlatibor Mountain and the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, taking in changing scenery on our drive (approx 5 hours) to Visegrad. Here we see the famous Cuprija na Drina (Bridge on the Drina). This UNESCO Heritage site is a magnificent Ottoman bridge spanning the wide Drina river. It gained its fame from the Nobel Prize for Literature winner Ivo Andric and his novel ‘Bridge on the Drina.'

    After lunch we visit the ethno village Staro Selo where traditional Serbian houses have been restored to their original form. We explore the village of Sirogojno and get a glimpse of how life once was for this mountain community. The village is well known for its wool knit work, open air theatre and traditional folklore dances. We spend our first evening in the converted village houses here. The tranquil location and traditional architecture make this a particular highlight.
    Old Village Sirogojno

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Ride the heritage railway in Mokra Gora N.P.; visit Drvengrad - a traditional village built for a Serbian film.

    This morning we ride heritage railway up to Mokra Gora. Our one hour train ride will take us right through this wild and untamed border area. The Sargan Eight is a narrow-gauge heritage railway in Serbia, running from the village of Mokra Gora to Sargan Vitasi station. From Sarajevo to Belgrade, the railway with a gauge of 760 mm (2 ft 5 15/16) ran initially from 1925 to 1974 and was an important connection. The route goes from Mokra Gora to Sargan Vitasi passing through 22 tunnels, over five bridges and climbing 300 metres.

    We transfer from the station at Mokra Gora to Drvengrad, also known as Kustendorf, a traditional village created by a Serbian film director for his film 'Life is a Miracle.' The village now hosts the annual Kustendorf Film and Music Festival and is a faithful recreation of a traditional Serbian Village.
    Old Village Sirogojno

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 5

    Long transfer to Skopje in Macedonia, stopping at spa town of Vrnjacka Banja en route.

    Skopje, Macedonia's capital city, is the destination today. En route we stop for lunch at Vrnjacka Banja, the most popular spa town in Serbia with a history dating back to the Romans. The town boasts several mineral springs, with UNESCO registered monuments in the surrounds and is well worth the visit as we make our way to the south of the Balkans.
    Hotel Tomce Sofka or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    City tour of Skopje with boat ride in the Matka Canyon and visit to 14th century monastery.Transfer to Ohrid.

    Skopje has a long and varied history like many of the main cities in the Balkans, having changed hands several times over the centuries. It has at different times belonged to, or been capital of the Byzantine, Serb and Bulgarian empires, as well as being part of Yugoslavia until independence in 1991. Our morning tour takes in the old train station - the first in the Balkans, the monument and house of Mother Theresa, the Kale Fortress and the Stone Bridge. Skopje has undergone a period of redevelopment recently, with the main goal of reinforcing its national identity. Government buildings were altered and new statues of Macedonian heroes such as Alexander the Great were erected all over the city. The new additions now sit alongside the original architecture, making a visit to the city a contrasting experience.

    After our tour we drive for approximately 30-45 minutes to the beautiful Matka Canyon, see the St Andrews Monastery and take a boat ride to the Vrelo Cave, full of stalactites and stalagmites.

    We will then have lunch before continuing our journey south to the city of Ohrid, on the lake of the same name.
    Hotel Park Lakeside or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Morning city tour of Ohrid and UNESCO site of Samuil's Fortress; afternoon free to explore.

    We take a tour of this beautiful lakeside city, starting with “Dolna porta”, the entrance to the old town, near two small churches - St.Nikola and St.Bogorodica Bolnicki. We enjoy the old and new architecture of Ohrid, of which Robevci house dominates the scenery. Today the house hosts the museum of Ohrid - which keeps the most important archaeological discoveries of Ohrid and its area.

    The XII Century St.Sofia church is also worth a visit; impressive for its construction as well as its frescoes. Ohrid is one of the rare sites that has hosted continuous human habitation for more than a millenium and traces of the city’s evolution are to be seen everywhere.

    One such landmark is the ancient theatre, built in 1st Century BC. Accidentally discovered and revived to hold plays and concerts.

    The tour continues to the church of St. Jovan of Kaneo and the Kaneo area before heading on to Samuil's Fortress, from where there are the most wonderful views of the entire city, the lake and coastline.

    After this cultural and historical feast, the afternoon is free to enjoy as you please. The tour of Ohrid ends with a short taxi boat ride back to the Old Town.
    Hotel Park Lakeside or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Tirana, Albania with afternoon city tour.

    After a morning departure from Ohrid we drive through the Albanian hinterlands and spend the early afternoon in the capital Tirana, our base for the final three nights. After first checking in to our hotel and lunch, we go to Skanderbeg Square, the centre of Tirana. Here we visit the mosque and the clock-tower, enjoying views of one of Albania's traditional bazaars. After exploring Skanderbeg Square, we also visit the National Historical Museum.

    Afterwards we head to the Blloku area, formerly a residential area for important members of the regime during the Communist era, but today a lively neighbourhood full of restaurants and boutiques. Ater the walking tour we will return to the hotel.
    Hotel Diplomat or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Day trip to Berat, on the banks of the river Osum.

    We leave Tirana early in the morning for a 3-hour drive to Berat, the best-preserved historic town of Albania. Today it boasts a mix of Illyrian, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Socialist buildings accumulated over 2400 years. On arrival we begin with a walk in the characterful Mangalemi neighbourhood and visit the Ethnographic Museum.

    After lunch we walk up to the citadel district of Berat, where we walk inside the old castle walls and visit the splendid orthodox churches and the Onufri Icons museum - named after the famous 16th Century master painter of icons and murals. Later in the afternoon we transfer back to Tirana.
    Hotel Diplomat or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Visit to Kruje, on Mt Kruja, stronghold of the Albanian resistance.

    For our last day we will visit the small town of Kruje, which was the epicentre of the legendary Albanian resistance to the Ottomans, led by national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg in the 14th Century. Its location on the cliffs of Mount Kruja made it an invincible stronghold in the Albanian-Ottoman wars for almost half a century. Now, this elevated location offers visitors gorgeous views of the Albanian coast and Skanderbeg museum, located in the environs of Krujë Castle. 

    After returning to Tirana, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy as you please.
    Hotel Diplomat or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    End Tirana

    The trip ends this morning after breakfast. Should you be interested in spending more time in Tirana please ask our sales team about extending your stay at time of booking.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Serbia

No visa required for British passport holders.

Albania

No visa required for most nationalities, including UK passport holders, most other EU nationalities, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Vaccinations

Serbia

There are no specific health risks.

Albania

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners are included.

Food in the Balkans is quite varied thanks to the many regional influences, particularly Mediterranean combining Ottoman, Oriental and European tastes. Many corners of the Balkans have popular dishes with the same names but often have big differences in taste. Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in many dishes. Grilled meats are very popular with pork and lamb being prevalent in Serbia, Macedonia & Albania. Pastries, pies, salads and fresh vegetable dishes are a staple of the Balkan diet.

Macedonian wine is incredibly good value, especially wines from the Tikvesh region. 

Vegetarian and some special dietary requirements can be catered for but options are limited throughout the Balkans. Please inform the office of any specific requirements upon booking.

 

Weather

The Balkans enjoy a similar climate to most of Central Europe - hot summers, cool springs and autumns and cold winters with considerable snowfall. We visit from June to September, when temperatures will be generally warmer (20-30ºC). However these temperatures will be a little cooler in the mountain areas. It is here that we are right in the middle of the Central Dinaric Alps, a rough and unpredictable place where Mediterranean and Continental Alpine Climates vie for supremacy. The result is an extremely unstable climate even in summer. Rain can fall at any time of the year, although in mid-summer it is more likely to come as short, sharp thunderstorms.

Belgrade

Tirana

Is this trip for you?

The activity level of this trip is 1- Leisurely.

This is a cultural discovery trip with some walking, required both to access the sites and to make the most of the trip. Some of the city tours are on foot. Travel is by private bus, generally on good roads and there are some long drives due to the distances covered on the trip.

Call us on
+91 531 40 28
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Cabins

You will spend 8 nights in 3 & 4-star hotels and 2 nights in traditional cabins. All of the accommodation has twin rooms and en suite facilities except the cabins, which have twin rooms and shared facilities (1 bathroom for 2 twin rooms). Wi-Fi is available at all of the hotels.

Please be advised that the below accommodation listed in each location are the standard hotels used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

Belgrade:  Hotel Rex

Old Village Sirogojno:  Traditional cabins

Skopje:  Hotel Tomce Sofka

Ohrid:  Hotel Park Lakeside

Tirana:  Hotel Diplomat

Single rooms are available on request. However, single rooms are not available for the 2 nights in Sirogojno.

Call us on
+91 531 40 28
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
+91 531 40 28
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed June 2017
    Chris Bridges

    Balkan Discoverer

    Very good trip giving best of three countries & a taste of Bosnia. Leader was committed, very helpful & personable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Skopje was so interesting & Lake Ohrid, but all countries had their attractions.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Adis Rudaliya was excellent, a truly committed leader.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some longer travelling days but overall a great experience.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It would have been good to spend a night in Bosnia rather than doubling back from Serbia, i.e. One night in Bosnia & one in Serbia village.4
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Ruth Collings

    View of the Balkans

    This trip covers parts of Serbia, Macedonia and Albania. You see a variety of different places, including the capital cities of Belgrade, Skopje and Tirana, the hills / mountains in Serbia, beautiful Lake Ohrid, and many ancient and old sites ranging from Roman to Ottoman to relics from Albania's communist past. There are some beautiful places to see.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I particularly enjoyed seeing Ohrid, the beautiful old lake-side town in Macedonia. We took a walking tour through the historical parts of the town, had a short boat ride on the lake, and ate dinner overlooking the water. The city is small and beautiful, and for such a lovely place is still relatively quiet. Staying in the old-style mountain village huts was also a great experience, and they were actually quite cozy and comfortable, with proper bathrooms! (Obviously that's not so traditional!)

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We benefited from two excellent leaders who were with us throughout the trip. They were friendly and well-organised and really helped make the tour so enjoyable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring suncream and a good hat, but also something warm. When we went in July, the mountains in Serbia were cold and damp while Albania was very hot and sunny. Euros and GBP were easy to convert into local currency along the way. There were just a few occasions when crossing borders when it was a bit tricky to have the right currency, so having some Euros (which are widely accepted) is useful.
  • Reviewed October 2015
    Gyan Fernando

    Good Introduction to The Balkans

    This was my first trip to the Balkans and it was a good introduction to this misunderstood area. From great cities to great landscapes! We saw it all! I hope to return very soon.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It was an inspiration to see how war torn countries have repared their infrastructure as well as their souls!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Evelin Balta, a Bosnian, firstly was neutral when it came to us asking him about "The War". I thought that was very good diplomacy on his part. He was well organised, had matters in hand and above all a cheerful character. His English was very good including his understanding of idiomatic English.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just forget about the war. These are nice countries, trouble free for tourists and very friendly. Do forget the war!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Some days involved long travel and so perhaps you might want to think of changing the itinerary ver slightly
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Sonia Richardson

    Balkan Dicoverer

    A very enjoyable trip to 3 countries. i think the day in Bosnia Herzogovina (lunch, train ride, bridge over the River Drina and film director's villages) was not necessary and the time could have been better spent elsewhere. the rest of the trip was very good and varied.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Berat in Albania sett on top of hills, Lake Ohrid for the first time, wandering around Tirana.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Evelin Bata was an excellent group leader; caring, observant and well-organised and with a good sense of humour.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some long bus rides (driver excellent but coach not as comfortable as it should have been) so be prepared and the high summer are very hot.
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Michael O'Brien

    Balkans

    Trip to former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia) and Albania. These are countries I had on my radar to visit but all the research I did revealed that they were not easy to get to so this trip was perfect.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I didn't expect much from Albania and its always been considered one of the poorest countries and isolated from the world. It was an inspiration to see how the Muslims and Christians live in harmony and many historical sites were well preserved albeit a poor country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    He was excellent. If there was a problem he ALWAYS went the extra mile. An 8 hour day was not his style.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Sunscreen and a hat. Use your credit card whenever possible and don't get too much local currency.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    First time with Exodus.....I like the out of the way countries on their menu
  • Reviewed August 2015
    James Cone

    Balkan Discoverer

    This is a really enjoyable, varied trip that gives a great introduction to three interesting countries (and a brief sojourn into Bosnia) encompassing history, beautiful scenery, and the hustle and bustle of the capital cities thrown in for good measure. There are a number of longish drives, but to see so much in 11 days I guess this can't really be avoided

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lake Ohrid was definitely the highlight for me, a beautiful place that I will definitely visit again in the future. In fact there were plenty of highlights in Macedonia and Albania, while staying in the cabins in Sirogojno, Serbia also added another dimension.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Evelin was an excellent leader who went above and beyond the call of duty. He managed to deal with any problems we could throw at him, especially at meal times when patiently dealing with bill paying, and was always on hand to deal with questions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack your trunks for a dip in the lake, ensure you have a penchant for dairy and meat products, and don't expect to be able to pronounce any words in Albanian.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Personally, I'm not sure the short visit to Bosnia adds much to the trip and perhaps could be replaced with an alternative activity in Serbia. It's also a slight shame we didn't have time for anything more than lunch in the spa town of Vrnjacka Banja. Ultimately, however, I'd suggest seriously considering booking on this trip.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

Trips you might also like

Bosnia & Beyond

Experience the cultural variety and rugged natural beauty of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro

Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures

Discovery & Wildlife
11 days
From 1 645 €
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate
4.5 / 5
 from 
Add to wishlist
Call us on +91 531 40 28