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Treasures of the Balkans

Duration 18 days

Destinations visited :
  • Romania
    ,
  • Bulgaria
    ,
  • Macedonia
    ,
  • Albania
    ,
  • Montenegro
    ,
  • Croatia
    ,
  • Bosnia
    ,
  • Serbia
    ,
  • Hungary
    ,

Explore the former Communist headquarters of Romania in Bucharest, see Bulgaria’s Roman ruins in Sofia and marvel at Bosnia’s Tunnel of Hope in Sarajevo. After exploring the medieval city of Brașov, take the mountain roads to the Transylvanian border and join a private visit of Bran Castle after hours – better known as Dracula’s haunted abode in Bram Stoker’s infamous novel, followed by private dinner. Delve into the myths and legends before adventuring onwards to Mostar, where a Local Expert guides you through the city’s iconic sights ahead of a Sarajevo Dine at Home experience. Sit down with a Sarajevan family for a feast of local delicacies, traditional Bosnian coffee and tales of local life before the adventure continues in Hungary. Conclude your voyage with the spectacular city vistas served up from the Budapest Fisherman’s Bastion.

Take a look at your day-by-day itinerary or contact us on 0207 620 8952 to find out more.

DAY 1

Welcome to Bucharest.
Your complimentary, private transfer takes you to your local departure airport. 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: Athénée Palace Hilton, Bucharest.
Meal: 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 mountain 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, Brașov.
Meal: 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. Visit the medieval fortress guarding the Transylvanian border that is said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s novel, Bran Castle. Explore inside this national monument of Romania and discover if this popular image of Dracula’s castle is true or like the vampire story itself, only a myth.
Hotel: Aro Palace, Brașov.
Meal: Breakfast

DAY 4

Veliko Tarnovo.
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, Veliko Tarnovo.
Meal: 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. Arbanasi 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. Visit a traditional 17th century merchant’s house and 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.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 6

Sofia at Your Pace.
Enjoy the day at your leisure. Perhaps visit the Rila Monastery and enjoy a fascinating insight into the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria? Throughout the centuries, this popular tourist destination has been the spiritual, educational and cultural centre of Bulgaria.
Hotel: Hilton Sofia.
Meal: 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.
Hotel: Bushi Resort & Spa/Aleksandar Palace, Skopje.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 8

Ohrid and Tirana on the Move.
Making your way to the border, stop by the scenic Lake 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.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 9

Kotor and Dubrovnik.
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.
Meal: Breakfast

DAY 10

Dubrovnik Sightseeing.
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.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 11

Dubrovnik, Paradise on Earth.
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 filming 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.
Meal: 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 authentic cuisine and traditional Bosnian coffee as you hear inspirational stories.
Hotel: Swissotel Sarajevo.
Meal: 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. The rest of the afternoon is for you to explore as you wish.
Hotel: Swissotel Sarajevo.
Meal: Breakfast

DAY 14

The Serbian Capital of Belgrade.
Journey through the remote villages and spa resorts of the forested Bosnian mountains to Belgrade.
Hotel: Metropol Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Belgrade.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 15

The Best of Belgrade.
Join a Local Expert to see the best of Belgrade including Terazije Street, the national museum and national theatre in Republic Square, as well as a visit to the famous St. Sava Church. 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: HomeMetropol Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Belgrade.
Meal: Breakfast

DAY 16

Across to Budapest.
Journey north and cross the Province of Vojvodina to reach Palić on the Hungarian border. See the picturesque lake, where you can admire the art nouveau buildings. Continue on through the vast wilderness of the Puszta, where once cowboys rustled up goulash under the stars. Your destination will be Budapest on the Danube.
Hotel: Corinthia Hotel Budapest.
Meal: 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.
Meal: Breakfast,Dinner with Wine

DAY 18

Depart Budapest.
Departure transfers arrive at Ferenc Liszt International Airport at 07:00 and 11:00. On arrival at your home airport, your driver will greet and escort you to your waiting car for your private transfer home.
Meal: Breakfast

Authentic Dining

  • Veliko Tarnovo: Enjoy a Highlight Dinner of local specialties with wine and witness a folklore show.
  • Dubrovnik: You will be offered a varied selection of charming restaurants to choose from for your Dine-Around Evening.
  • Sarajevo: 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.
  • Sarajevo: Experience authentic Bosnian coffee and learn about the traditional ritual of coffee preparation.
  • Budapest: Dine in elegance and savour Hungarian delicacies accompanied with specially-selected Hungarian wine during your Celebration Dinner at Gundel.
  • Dining Summary: 17 Breakfasts (B) and 10 Dinners with Wine (DW) all with tea or coffee.

Insight Experiences

  • Sarajevo: Visit the Tunnel of Hope and 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.

Stay in Style

  • Sofia: The Hilton Sofia features art deco-styled rooms, and is centrally located, surrounded by the South Park and set opposite the National Palace of Culture.
  • Budapest: The 5-star Corinthia Budapest Hotel is one of the grandest luxury hotels in Budapest. An impressive landmark building with an imposing Neo-classical facade and soaring glass atrium. Excellent technology and personal service ensures an elegant and luxurious stay.

Top Rated Highlights

  • Bucharest: Walk the cavernous halls of the vast Palace of Parliament, learn about the history and listen to amusing tales from your Local Expert.
  • Bucharest: During sightseeing with your Local Expert see University Square and the former Communist Headquarters.
  • 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.
  • Veliko Tarnovo: With your Local Expert, see the Monument of the Assens, dedicated to the Bulgarian Kings.
  • Arbanassi: 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.
  • Veliko Tarnovo: 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.
  • Skopje: Visit the capital of Macedonia.
  • Ohrid: Walk the cobbled, narrow streets of the Old Town with your Local Expert.
  • 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.
  • Kotor: Visit the Stari Grad, also referred to as the Old Town, perfectly positioned on a beautiful bay.
  • 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.
  • Mostar: Explore the Old Town and see the Stari Most with your Local Expert.
  • Sarajevo: 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 and the Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.
  • Belgrade: A Local Expert will show you St. Sava Church, Terazije Street, the national museum, national theatre, Republic Square and the Kalemegdan Fortress.
  • Palić: Visit this town sitting on the Serbian-Hungarian border. See the water tower and the art nouveau buildings by the lake.
  • Budapest: With a Local Expert, visit the colourful Matthias Church in the heart of Budapest’s Castle District.
  • Budapest: Visiting the Central Market Hall is a foodie’s dream. Accompanied by your Local Expert, wander three levels of stalls, brimming with mouthwatering salamis, spicy paprika, Hungarian wines and a whole lot of Pálinka.
  • Scenic Drives: Venture through Prahova Valley and pass the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains, Lake Ohrid, Bosnian Mountains. Travel through the Province of Vojvodina and Puszta Region.

Included Insight Services

  • Our 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.
  • We 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. We 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.
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Treasures of the Balkans

Explore the former Communist headquarters of Romania in Bucharest, see Bulgaria’s Roman ruins in Sofia and marvel at Bosnia’s Tunnel of Hope in Sarajevo. After exploring the medieval city of Brașov, take the mountain roads to the Transylvanian border and join a private visit of Bran Castle after hours – better known as Dracula’s haunted abode in Bram Stoker’s infamous novel, followed by private dinner. Delve into the myths and legends before adventuring onwards to Mostar, where a Local Expert guides you through the city’s iconic sights ahead of a Sarajevo Dine at Home experience. Sit down with a Sarajevan family for a feast of local delicacies, traditional Bosnian coffee and tales of local life before the adventure continues in Hungary. Conclude your voyage with the spectacular city vistas served up from the Budapest Fisherman’s Bastion.