ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A COUNTRY

SLOVENIA – CROATIA – BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA – MONTENEGRO – ALBANIA – NORTH MACEDONIA – SERBIA – CROATIA

 

Once upon a time there was a country on the hilly Balkan Peninsula, spanning from Vardar to Triglav. It had the most beautiful of everything. The most beautiful seas, mountains, rivers, the most beautiful wheat fields, vineyards, orchards. It was a cultural capital and a sports titan, a platform for film festivals, music events, poetry and science. A country that people were happy to visit and where they were happy to stay. It has not existed for a long time, because new borders were set up within its own borders and new countries were created, but it still has the most beautiful of everything and people are still happy to visit. A tremendous tour titled “Once upon a time there was a country” will show you this.

This tour entails visits to all 7 countries that became independent in the 90s (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia), the 7 countries that once made up the great Yugoslavia, the symbol of an era. We also added Albania to this tour, both because of better coordination and set up of the tour, as well as because of its huge influence in the history of this region. We will see and visit some of the most significant cities, national parks, and natural beauties of these countries, accompanied by stories of our excellent local guides.

Tour plan:

We meet at the airport in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, where our Balkan tour begins. We get to our hotel, sort out accommodation, and have dinner at the hotel. End of our first day and bedtime.

Travelling distance: 110 km

After breakfast, we take a fantastic walking tour of the historical neighbourhood of Ljubljana. This tour will help us explore all the main sights of the city and through them get to know the history of the city, its architecture, and way of life in the past and the present. After a walk through the city, we will visit the castle, located above Ljubljana, which provides a breath-taking view of the city. Our next destination of the day is Bled. It is magnificent in both summer and winter, but especially during the spring. A real fairy tale! Bled’s timeless beauty is a magnet for countless visitors. We have a break for a meal and then return to Ljubljana in the evening hours. Dinner; end of activities and bedtime.

Travelling distance: 130 km

After breakfast, we ride to Postojna Cave, a 25km long extraordinary geological landmark, with 5km open for visitors. It’s one of the biggest and certainly one of the most visited caves in Europe, with 30 million visitors so far. Our journey continues to Piran, a small town at the very tip of the Piran peninsula, with its famous Venetian Gothic architecture from bygone times. After a lunch break, we go to Portorož. It’s an elite resort destination, a cosmopolitan town with an abundance of cultural events. We take a little time to sort out accommodation, and then have dinner. End of activities for the day and bedtime.

Travelling distance: 280 km

We set off for Croatia after having breakfast and packing up our luggage. The first place we tour in Croatia is the beautiful Opatija, a city known for its numerous cultural events – festivals, concerts, exhibitions, sporting events. On our way to the Plitvice Lakes we stop for lunch in a beautiful restaurant in Josipdol. When we arrive in Plitvice, we sort out accommodation and have dinner there. End of activities for the day and bedtime.

Plitvice are a phenomenon of nature, of divine forces, it’s simply magic! There are 16 lakes with clear, emerald green water, positioned at different elevation, so the water cascades from one lake into another. We spend this day resting, relaxing and walking around the Plitvice National Park.

Travelling distance: 260 km

After breakfast in the national park, we set off for Trogir. This city lies on a small island in the strait between mainland and the Čiovo Island, connected by bridges. A jewel of middle Dalmatia and protected by UNESCO, it’s adorned by ornate churches, towers, and palaces. One of the town’s landmarks is the Kamerlengo fortress, a magnificent building from the 15th century, which offers an amazing view of the city and its surroundings. After a lunch break, we continue our journey to Split. We will take a tour of this city, the second largest in Croatia, and an important cultural centre of the country, also on the UNESCO world heritage list. We sort out accommodation in a hotel, have dinner, and that is the end of our activities and bedtime.

Travelling distance: 170 km

Following breakfast, we will tour the Diocletian’s Palace. After Croatia, we continue our journey into Bosnia & Herzegovina. In B&H, we arrive to Međugorje, where we visit the St. James church. A break for a meal and then we move on to Mostar. Surrounded by the mountain Velež and Prenj in the heart of Herzegovina, in the sunny Mostar valley, on the banks of the Neretva River, situated is the romantic, alluring, interesting Mostar. The soul of Mostar is the striking Old Bridge with its watchtowers, where “everything happens”, because around the bridge are the promenade, Baščaršija, Kujundžiluk street bazaar, so it’s the most interesting and the most visited part of the town, as well as under UNESCO protection. Mostar is also a city of poets and sevdah. Dinner; end of the day’s activities and bedtime.

Travelling distance: 130 km

We drive to the Bosnia and Herzegovina capital after breakfast. Settled in the fertile Sarajevo valley, surrounded by the beautiful mountains Bjelašica, Jahorina, Igman, Romanija, Trebević, on the banks of the Miljacka River, it’s Sarajevo, the cultural and economic centre of B&H. Having been influenced by the forces of the East and the West for centuries, this is a true cosmopolitan city, where it’s only a short distance between Orthodox and Catholic Christian churches, synagogues, and mosques, new and old bridges on Miljacka, as well as Baščaršija with its recognizable oriental charm. After sorting out accommodation, our local guide leads us through the city. Dinner; end of the day’s activities and bedtime.

This day is for exploring the city and its surroundings on your own. You can arrange with our guide to make a reservation for one of the many great tours of Sarajevo – visit to the spring of the Bosna River, day trip to Trebjević, visit to Jahorina – the focus of the 1984 Olympics.

Travelling distance: 240 km

After breakfast, we ride to Trebinje, a city with Mediterranean climate, a great location, and a huge number of sunny days, situated at the base of Leotar in the fertile Trebinje valley. It has been considered one of the most beautiful cities of Bosnia and Herzegovina for centuries.  The city’s trademark is the Trebišnjica River, once the longest subterranean river in Europe, with monumental bridges and tree avenues lined with sycamores. We tour the city, making a stop for lunch. We leave for Dubrovnik, where we will stay in a hotel. We will have some free time in the city when we arrive. End of the day’s activities and bedtime.

We have breakfast in the hotel, and then begin our tour of the city. A local guide will lead us to Stradun, the Dubrovnik cathedral – Saint Blaise Church, the city square, Orlando’s statue, the Sponza palace, Onofrio’s fountain, Revelin fortress, Mulo tower. Dubrovnik is a magnificent city, an open sky museum, an architectural opulence of perfect harmony and beauty. We have a break for lunch and some free time in the city before we return to the hotel. End of the day’s activities and bedtime.

Travelling distance: 125 km

After breakfast, we keep driving on the famed Adriatic highway toward Herceg Novi. Situated at the very entrance to the picturesque Bay of Kotor, it cascades from the towering Mount Orjen to the beautiful Adriatic Sea. Following a lunch break, we continue driving alongside the Bay – the Queen of Adria. Our next stop is Perast, a unique, quaint town, situated at the base of St. Elijah, across the Verige strait. Perast is a town built from stone with only one street alongside the sea and 350 inhabitants, somewhat of a museum-town. We continue to Budva, the capital of Montenegro’s tourism. The old town of the city is especially appealing and alluring, located at the ridge, surrounded by the city defense walls, with a view to the Budva riviera, fishing boats, luxury yachts. It’s an opens sky museum and protected by UNESCO. Our accommodation is in a hotel. End of the day’s activities and bedtime.

Travelling distance: 120 km

We start the day with a walking tour of Kotor’s old town, where we’ll see the best of sights and landmarks, including the city defense walls, palaces, the St. Tryphon chruch. Our journey continues with a scenic drive above the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska) to the historical capital of Montenegro – Cetinje. It’s a museum-town situated in the rocky base of the Lovćen Mountain in the Cetinje valley, and it’s also the honorary capital of the country with its monasteries, museums, libraries, galleries, art academies. The Cetinje monastery is a treasury of Montenegro history, culture, and science heritage. It is in possession of a monumental relic – right hand of John the Baptist, with which he baptized Jesus. Some 15km away from Cetinje is Lovćen, where the famous sculptor Ivan Meštrović built a mausoleum at 1600m elevation. This is the resting place of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, the most famous Montenegrin Prince-Bishop, a poet, and the author of the outstanding Gorski Vijenac (The Mountain Wreath). After touring these landmarks, we return to Budva, and we’ll have some free time there.

Travelling distance: 200 km

Breakfast. We drive to Albania, making stops for border formalities. Our first stop is Shkodër, the economic, cultural and tourism centre of Albania. It has about 90 000 inhabitants and it’s situated in the quiet and fertile valley of Lake Shkodër. It’s one of the oldest, ancient cities in the Balkans. We have a break for lunch, and then continue the drive to Krujë, considered one of the most beautiful Albanian cities, and the birthplace of Skanderbeg, one of Albanian national heroes. We will visit the Skanderbeg Tower, dated from the 6th century, which houses historical and ethnographic museums. We will also visit the unique old bazaar, where you can find handmade kilims, products made of alabaster, as well as many other handcrafted products. After these two cities, we leave for the capital of Albania. We sort out accommodation in Tirana, and have an evening walk through the city, seeing the Resurrection Christian Orthodox Cathedral, the Catholic Cathedral, The Hadji Et’hem Bey Mosque, National Museum of history, Skanderbeg Square. End of our activities; bedtime.

Travelling distance: 130 km

A scenic drive through Albanian landscapes to North Macedonia. In the afternoon, we arrive in Ohrid, where we’ll spend a little time walking through the town’s charming narrow streets and alleys. Ohrid is an amazing town in the beautiful southwestern Macedonia, and also the main center of the country’s tourism. It is considered the soul of the Balkans, and it’s the cradle of Slavic literacy. Because of its extraordinary natural beauty, and a rich historical and cultural heritage, Ohrid has been part of UNESCO world heritage since 1979.

Travelling distance: 60 km

An optional outing: St. Naum. We get a ride to the St. Naum monastery, where we tour the monastery and visit the spring of the Black Drim River. We will have lunch at the monastery. During this short trip, we will also stop for at the Museum on the Water. We return to Ohrid and stop to visit various UNESCO landmarks – Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon, Church of St. John at Kaneo, Church of St. Sophia, the Holy Mother of God Peribleptos Church. We will also visit the farmer’s market and the filigree workshops which use the tradionional way of making the famous Ohrid pearl. We have dinner in one of the traditional restaurants. End of activities, bedtime.

Travelling distance: 170 km

Breakfast. We drive to Tetovo. A panoramic tour of the town and a visit to the Painted Mosque (Šarena Džamija), built in the 15th century. We continue our journey to Skopje. We tour the capital with a local guide, visiting Memorial House of Mother Teresa, Macedonia Square, the building of the National Bank.

Travelling distance: 250 km

After breakfast, we leave for Prishtina. We’ll take a panoramic tour of the city, and visit the Gračanica monastery, the endowment of King Milutin from 14th century, one of the most significant monuments of Serbian culture. A break for lunch, and we continue our trip to Niš. After sorting out our accommodation in a hotel, we go for an evening walk with a local guide in the city center – the building of the University of Niš, the Niš Fortress, the Square of the King Milan I, Milan Obrenović Street, Coppersmith Alley. Dinner; end of activities, bedtime.

Travelling distance: 225 km

Breakfast. Visit to Skull Tower, a monument of immense significance. We leave for the Resava cave, the most famous and most visited cave in Serbia. Its total length is 4.5km, and has a 800m long path open for visitors. Close to the cave is the Lisine waterfall, one of the most well-known waterfalls in Serbia. Together with the spring of the Vrelo river it’s a protected natural landmark. After lunch, a visit to the Manasija monastery, another one of the most significant Serbian monuments. Built in the period between 1407 and 1418, the monastery was a spiritual cultural and arts center of Serbia. After touring the monastery, we continue to Belgrade. We arrive in the evening hours, sort out our accommodation in a hotel, and then have some free time until dinner. End of our activities for the day; bedtime.

Belgrade sightseeing after the breakfast. On perfect panoramic tour we will see the most important monuments which marked the history of our capital city: St. Sava Temple, Slavia Square, Palace of Serbia, New and Old Palace, National Theatre, National Museum. The highlight is the walking tour which we start from the fortress. Belgrade fortress represents an open-air museum that had been changing and developing over time. There are located numerous monuments, such as: The Clock Tower, Roman well, Kula Nebojsa/ Daredevil Tower, as well as the oldest park in Belgrade-Kalemegdan park, with many sports terrains and courts, playgrounds and a zoo. After the Belgrade fortress, we will walk along the famous Knez Mihailova Street, where we will see many 19th-century architectural monuments: The National Bank building, the old “Znak pitanja” cafe, Princess Ljubica’s residence. We will finish our tour at the Beton Hall, where we will have break for lunch. In the afternoon, optionally, anyone who wants can take a boat ride on the Danube and the Sava River (1.5h) and see the city from a different perspective. Throughout the route, the guide will tell you about the tumultuous past of Belgrade. In the evening, we will have traditional dinner with a music program in Skadarlija, the famous bohemian part of the town. Overnight.

Travelling distance: 395 km

Breakfast. We drive through Serbia and Croatia with breaks for rest and border formalities. Finally, we arrive in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. A local tour guide will show us through the city’s landmarks and sights – Donji Grad and Gornji Grad, Banski Dvori, Ban Jelačić Square – a masterwork of Austro-Hungarian style, the Church of St. Mark. After sorting out our accommodation in a hotel, we have some free time. That’s the end of our activities for the day; bedtime.

Breakfast. Transfer to the airport. Departure from Zagreb/Ljubljana depending on flight schedules. End of the program.

Details:

  • Transport by high-class van, mini-bus or bus according to plan and program
  • 18 nights in 4 * hotels in 1/2 rooms based on half board
  • 1 night in Portorož in a 3 * hotel in 1/2 rooms based on half board
  • 2 nights in Plitvice in apartments with 3 * in 1/2 and 1/3 rooms based on half board
  • Lunch every day according to plan and program
  • All tickets provided by the program
  • Licensed tourist escort services throughout the trip
  • Local tourist guide services at the sites and cities listed in the program
  • The costs of organization and leadership of times
  • Airfare tickets
  • Cruising the Danube and Sava River in Belgrade
  • Travel medical insurance
  • Optional transfer, activities and excursions
  • Tips for the guide and driver
  • Individual costs of participants

This program is based on at least 6 applied people. If there changes occur a on the monetary market, commodity and services market, or when there is not a sufficient number of participants, the organizer retains the right to adjust the price, change or cancel the program at least 5 days before the start of the program.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 60 DAYS PRIOR TO DEPARTURE

According to the Serbian Law on Tourism (Article 79), for one-day excursions (trips shorter than 24 hours), protection is not provided in terms of travel guarantee.