Day 1:DUBROVNIK, CROATIA.
Welcome to Dubrovnik! At 6 pm, meet your Tour Director and travelling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel.
Dubrovnik was once an independent maritime republic rivaling Venice. Enjoy a walking tour with a Local Guide and see the impressive ramparts, erected during the Crusades to protect the town against land attacks, and the Franciscan and Dominican monasteries. Also visit the fascinating 15th-century RECTOR’S PALACE. Afternoon and evening at leisure; an optional boat cruise is available.
Day 3:DUBROVNIK-MOSTAR, BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA-SARAJEVO.
Enter Bosnia-Herzegovina and stop in the city of Mostar. Meet your Local Guide and hear about the turbulent history of this interesting city. Admire the OLD BRIDGE, the city’s symbol, ordered by Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman ruler in 1566, to replace the older wooden bridge. Continue to Sarajevo, where the 1984 Olympics took place, and the first city in Europe to own an electric tram network.
Hear about the assassination of the Archduke of Austria in 1914, the recent Bosnian War, and see the main sights with a Local Guide. A visit has been included to the SARAJEVO TUNNEL, built between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian War to supply citizens with food and war supplies. Balance of the day is at leisure.
Day 5:SARAJEVO-BELGRADE, SERBIA.
A scenic drive through Bosnia brings you to Belgrade, capital of Serbia.
First mention of Belgrade was in the 3rd century. Morning guided sightseeing features a drive to see the main sights, like the Santa Sava Church. Take a walking tour through the fascinating Kalemegdan Fortress, located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers, and symbol of the strategic importance of the city in the past. For centuries, the city population lived within the walls of the fortress.
Day 7:BELGRADE-TIMISOARA, ROMANIA-SIBIU.
In Timisoara, admire the Romanian Orthodox Church, seat of the archbishop, before arriving in elegant Sibiu. An orientation reveals its towers, churches, and buildings dating back to the 14th century.
Enter the heart of Transylvania and stop at the fortified town of Sighisoara, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved inhabited citadels in Eastern Europe. Continue to Brasov for your overnight stay. Highlight is a visit to Dracula’s BRAN CASTLE and its torture chambers. The Castle, dramatically located on top of a hill was built in the 14th century and has, because of the legends, attracted people from all over the world. Later, dinner has been prepared for you on the castle grounds at Queen Mary’s Tea House.
Day 9:BRASOV-BRAN CASTLE-BUCHAREST.
Guided sightseeing features the Old Town Hall, the Merchants’ Hall, the 15th-century Monastery, and School of St. Nicholas. Take a walk through the Old Town and visit the impressive BLACK CHURCH. Next stop is Bucharest, capital of Romania.
Morning sightseeing with a Local Guide features a drive along flowerfestooned parks, gardens, and wide boulevards shaded by century-old trees. Also see the palace where Ceausescu, the former Romanian dictator, lived, and visit the impressive PEOPLE’S PALACE, the second-largest government building in the world after the Pentagon.
Day 11:BUCHAREST-RUSE, BULGARIA-SOFIA.
Stop in Ruse, Bulgaria’s most important river port, nicknamed “Little Vienna” because of its neo-baroque and neo-rococo architecture. Arrive in Sofia, proud capital of Bulgaria.
Hear about the history of this fascinating city during your guided sightseeing tour. Sofia was known as Serdica centuries before Christ, and was even ruled at one time by Alexander the Great’s father, Philip of Macedonia. Visit the byzantine HOLY SOFIA CHURCH.
Day 13:SOFIA-RILA-THESSALONIKA, GREECE.
Head south to reach the village of Kocherinovo, from where a scenic trip takes you high up towards the RILA MONASTERY, a beacon of the Bulgarian nation during a half-millennium of Ottoman rule. The monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, throughout the centuries, has always been the spiritual, educational, and cultural centre of Bulgaria. Continue through the Struma Valley, Spartacus’ mountainous homeland, before crossing the Greek border and arriving in Thessalonika.
Guided sightseeing features the White Tower; the Arch of Galerious, the biggest triumphal arch of the Roman Empire; the Rotonda; a visit of the BASILICA OF SAINT DEMETRIOUS; and a panoramic view of the city and the bay from the walls of the Upper City. On the way to Athens, drive along the eastern and southern side of Mount Olympus and through the battlefield of Leonidas and the 300, the Spartan forces he led during the Second Persian War and the famous Battle of Thermopylae.
Discover one of the world’s oldest cities with a Local Guide and start with a visit to the world-famous ACROPOLIS, perched high on a rocky outcrop overlooking the city. Here, see the Parthenon, the Erechtheum with its Porch of Maidens, the Temple of Athena Nike, and enjoy a panoramic view with glimpses of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Theatre of Dionysus, and the beautifully preserved Theseum, where Socrates taught. Later, a city orientation drive features the Parliament House and a picture stop at the Panathenaic Stadium. Built in the 2nd century AD, it is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble, and was host to the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896.
A full day at leisure gives you the opportunity to take an optional cruise to the islands. This evening, celebrate the success of your Balkan tour during a farewell dinner at the hotel.