Short on time? This is the trip for you. Hit up an incredible 7 countries in just 15 days and take in the best sights the Balkans has to offer. Whether it's exploring the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, partying untl the early hours in Belgrade or strolling around the historic sights Sarajevo has to offer, this trip has something for everyone.
Meet up with your Contiki team & fellow travellers before we head to Slovenia's capital. Known as the economic & social hub of Slovenia, despite celebrating its 2000th birthday in 2014, Ljubljana has only been the capital of an independent nation since 1991. Made up from a mixture of influences from the neighbouring nations - Italy, Germany, Croatia & Serbia, Slovenia has taken all the best bits to create a strong cultural identity with Ljubljana at the heart. After you've got your bearings there's time to explore your way. Find a cute little spot for some people watching, hit the shops or grab your camera & explore.
Off to Plitvice Lakes, with its sixteen lakes, amazing waterfalls, and surrounding forest, you'll be blown away by the beauty of the area, these are some of the greatest of the great outdoors. Instagram post likes will be going up, up, up! You have plenty of time to enjoy the stunning lakes your way, either take a hike and take in the remarkable natural landscape, or choose a more leisurely boat ride around the lakes.
On to our start city of Split, the largest city of Dalmatia. Make your last night one to remember, soak up Split’s ultra cool vibes and get amongst it at a waterfront nightlife spot, or dinner at a restaurant overlooking the harbour - with fresh seafood, of course...
Check-in to your hotel & get ready to explore the Balkan Peninsular with its stunning mountains & coastline over the next couple of weeks. First up, get into the sunshine! Wander along the Riva (seafront) and take in the views of the stunning turquoise waters, visit the Diocletian's Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) or hang out a beachfront cafe like a local. Later, get to know your travel buddies and Trip Manager over dinner before heading for a few cocktails and getting to know each other. Make your first night in Croatia one to remember!
Enjoy a free morning to explore Old Town Split before our drive down the scenic Dalmatian coastline to Dubrovnik. This city is one you won't be easily forgetting! From it's limestone walls and sparkling Old Town walkways, this place is a haven for the explorer to get lost in the old city walls. This evening you could choose to get out on the water on our optional Dubrovnik Dinner Cruise. And really...why not! Jump on the family-run boat & taste the delights that gives this city the name ‘Pearl of the Adriatic' with a delicious dinner.
With Baroque buildings, museums and monasteries, this eye-catching UNESCO World Heritage Site is great to explore. Wander around the walled city’s web of winding streets on a locally guided tour this morning. Then, ask your Trip Manager or a friendly local for one of the city's secret waterside bars with rocks that are perfect for sunbaking and relaxing alongside the locals. You’ve got free time today, so pull up at a table in the pedestrian district of the stunning Old Town. Lunch on fantastic fresh seafood or a spicy beef stew while watching the locals going about their day. If beach vibes get you going, the city's Banje Beach is a great spot for some swimming. And if you feel like getting active, opt in for a kayak adventure around theold town walls and see Dubrovnik from a different perspective, or for full scale views of the area, wander along the 2kms of Old Town walls with your camera, or hike up Mt. Srj for an unbeatable overview of the city landscape. Otherwise, take a moment to remember Croatia’s recent history visiting the war memorial or the war photo exhibition. Or else get away from it with a taste of paradise on the small neighbouring island of Lokrum. With botanical gardens, a small lake and gorgeous beaches, this is the perfect place to chill out. And then tonight, relax at a bar as the glistening sun goes down or sample some of the delicious local cuisine in one of the many restaurants lining the old town.
Today is free to explore Budva & all the great things it has to offer. Over 2500 years old, it's one of the oldest cities on the Adriatic Coast. Discover the Old Town which entirely circles the city in the medieval fashion found on the Adriatic, visit the large square containing the Church of St. Ivan and wander the narrow cobbled streets lines with shops & restaurants. Then head to the beach where you can swim in the crystal clear waters.
Wind along the dramatic Adriatic Coast to Montenegro via the Fortified Town of Kotor. Take in the best views in the Adriatic as we drive along Koto's fjord, watch as the mountains get steeper & steeper and the landscape becomes even more breath-taking. This town is a dramatically beautiful mix of old & new, with century's old town walls and a marina filled with modern super-yachts & cruise ships. Later we arrive in Budva, to enjoy this picturesque coastal town, sandy beaches and great nightlife.
Next up is one of our newest destinations, Bosnia, and the town of Mostar. See the Balkans' most celebrated bridge (known as the Stari Most 'Old Bridge') which stands over the Neretva River. With its reincarnated medieval towers, this town is very much enchanting. We'll get you in the know and ponder the darker side of the city hit by the 1990s conflict. With your historical knowledge in check, we head into to Sarajevo, the capital city once hit by war but now a cool & happening destination now known for it's politics, culture and social scene. The city has been loving restored & has a wonderful mix of Ottoman & Austro Hungarian architecture.
Visit the cultural and historical landmarks that shape this city on our walking tour including the Tunnel museum, and abandoned 1984 Olympic bobsleigh track where you'll get the full lowdown on the city's history. With a free afternoon to explore this unique and intriguing city, there are plenty of things to explore. You could pay tribute at Gallery 11/ 07/95 - built to commemorate the events that took place in July 1995. If you feel like a pit stop after all the exploring, then make tracks to Zlatna Ribica, a bar that is backed with quirky floor to ceiling artefacts before meeting up with your travel buddies later on to enjoy the Sarajevo nightlife.
A stop at Srebrenica & see the monument dedicated to the 8000 Bosniaks killed here during the 1995 war. Then in to Serbia to the capital city of Belgrade where you have a free afternoon to head out and explore. See the combiantion of medieval and modern architecture, visit Beogradska Tvrđava, an imposing fortress at the confluence of the Danube and the Sava rivers or head up to the 'Hill of Contemplation' & take in the memorable views. Although one of the oldest cities in Europe it has been raised to the ground 40 times and there are no buildings left older than 250 years old. Tonight, enjoy the town’s festive vibe and party on one of Belgrade’s floating bars, yes, you heard that right!
Next we cross the border into Romania to explore the western city of Timisoara. Today visit one of the country's most attractive areas with beautiful public squares, parks & gardens. Take the time this afternoon to take a paddle in a Kayak down the Bega River, which cuts its way through the city centre, or set off on foot on one of the many designated hiking trails around the city. Later, visit one of the famous pool bars and relax with some tunes.
Pop in your iPod or chill with a book as we make our way towards our next destination, Budapest, then check out the city sites as we take a city tour from Buda to Pest taking in Fisherman's Bastion for the best views of the city, The Royal Palace, the famous Chain Bridge & the stunning Parliament building. You're going to fall in love with this city where east literally meets west and one of Europe's hottest destinations to visit. Later, to get a another take on Budapest from the water, a recommended must-do. Jump on board tonight’s optional cruise, and see the city aglow from the water as you feast on a large buffet full of delicious local specialties. Full and happy, either head to bed or push on into the Hungarian nightlife!
This morning opt in to a visit to the Terror museum & discover this memorial to the victims of two terror regimes, and learn what life was like for Hungarians in those times. Then the day is free meaning a chance to get around Budapest at your own pace. If you’re after something different, treat yourself to a truly local experience: a spa. With outdoor thermal waters, Art Nouveau architecture and treatments, this is the perfect way to unwind. For more of Budapest’s outdoor lifestyle, visit St Margaret Island in the heart of the city, a favourite among the city’s residents with its gardens, fountains, pools and ruins. Tonight watch & learn as a local expert prepares a delicious bowl of beef goulash before your chance to dig into this traditional treat for dinner. Make sure you stock up on paprika to cook up this favourite once you're home.
The tour ends after breakfast and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends.
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Trip Name: Best of Balkans (Start Budapest)
Duration: 15 Days
From Price: 1325
Trip Code: 160923
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