The Balkans is the wild part of Europe. Be enthralled by the cobbled castle lanes and satiated by strange exotic cuisines.
The Balkans is the wildest part of Europe to travel in. You’ll be enthralled by the cobbled castle lanes, satiated by strange exotic cuisine, and pushed to your party limits in the offbeat capitals of Belgrade and Sarajevo. You’ll also see your fair share of physics-defying mountains. Go beyond the must-sees and venture off the beaten track!
We spend 15 days exploring Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia , Bosnia. We visit Split, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Budva, Tirana, Gjirokaster, Kalambaka, Thermopylae, Athens, Delphi, Thessaloniki, Ohrid, Skopje, Nis, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar.
What Is Included...
Your fantastic Busabout crew
14 nights’ accommodation
All coach transport
Orientation walks of Thessaloniki, Tirana, Gjirokastra, Nis and Split
Entry into 2 monasteries in Meteora (Kalambaka)
Local guide in Mostar
Local guide in Delphi, plus site and museum entrance
Ultimate Balkan Adventure (Split to Split) Starts at 8:00am at Goli & Bosi Hostel, Split
The Tour Ends at 9:00am at Goli & Bosi Hostel, Split
When We Go
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15 Day Itinerary
Day 1: Split to Dubrovnik to Kotor
Your adventure begins as we depart from Split en route to Dubrovnik with stunning coastal vistas. Explore some surviving renaissance architecture such as the Sponza Palace or partake in a Game of Thrones walking tour of the city. This evening we will make our way into Kotor. Nestled in the secluded Gulf of Kotor, Kotor offers some of the most classic Mediterranean views with gorgeous panoramas of the limestone cliffs and bay. Tonight we feast on traditional Montenegrin eats. Try the seafood, as it is a speciality, and then feel free to enjoy the city’s bustling nightlife or recharge for the adventures still to come.
Day 2: Kotor to Budva to Kotor
This morning soak up the views and explore some of the sites contained within the old Venetian walls. Kotor’s Old Town is rich in history and one the finest examples of medieval architecture in the Adriatic. We will depart for the Budva Riviera before lunchtime. At 2,500 years of age, Budva is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun on some of the most pristine beaches available in the South Adriatic. Upon return to Kotor you will have the opportunity to climb the fortress for stunning sunset views. Tonight there is a social event on at the hostel, take some time to rub shoulders with your fellow passengers and perhaps share a drink and a tale, or two.
Day 3: Kotor to Tirana
Today we head into Albania, plotting a course for the capital city of Tirana. Stretch your legs with our included afternoon orientation walk, and the rest of the afternoon is yours to enjoy the sights and sounds of this incredible city. Explore the vast monuments created by the Romans, Ottomans, and Byzantines. See the famous Tirana Mosaic Archaeological Complex or for those who would like to view a more contentious site take in the views of the Pyramid of Tirana (while it’s still standing). Tonight feel free to explore the nightlife on offer in this beautiful Balkan city.
Day 4: Tirana to Gjirokaster to Kalambaka (Meteora)
As we make our way towards Greece this morning we will be stopping at Gjirokaster, one of the best preserved examples of an Ottoman town. We arrive in Kalambaka (Meteora) this evening and traditional Greek cuisine will be available at dinner. Afterwards feel free to explore your new surroundings and all the amazing scenery that the “Middle of the Sky” has to offer. There are a number of restaurants and hotels with bars should you want to have a few drinks to wind down the day. Be sure to save room though, as tomorrow you will become well acquainted with the truly awe inspiring surroundings you find yourselves in.
Day 5: Kalambaka (Meteora) to Thermopylae to Athens
We depart early for the monasteries of Meteora with free entry into two of them. This mysterious area has been the inspiration behind books, movies, and music and is home to extensive cave systems. The rest of the morning can be used to bask in the panoramic views and take in some history. After lunch we depart for Athens with a stop at the Spartan Monument in Thermopylae. Previously believed to be the entrance into Hades, the “Hot Gates” are home to many historic battles, most notably when the Greeks led by the Spartan King Leonidas managed to halt the advancing Persian armies under Xerxes. Tonight we dine in Athens! Enjoy your dinner under the gaze of the Acropolis.
Day 6: Athens
This morning there is an optional walking tour to get you acquainted with the city of Athens. Then feel free to explore this historical city and its vast sights. Visit the classical Acropolis high above the city and home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. See the Daphne Monastery and Parthenon, and the temple to the Goddess Athena. We will meet this evening for a traditional Greek dinner.
Day 7: Athens to Delphi to Thessaloniki
This morning we depart Athens for Thessaloniki with a stop off in Delphi around lunch. Perched on the slope of Mount Parnassus, Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site best known as the home of the Oracle of Apollo, and where many great leaders met to seek the council of the Gods. There is an included tour of the city with a local guide and entry into the museum. We arrive at Thessaloniki in the early evening ready for another delicious Greek meal, and then set out to explore the capital of Greek Macedonia with its quirky vibe, rich history and many archaeological sites and ruins.
Day 8: Thessaloniki to Ohrid
We depart Thessaloniki early this morning towards Macedonia on our jaunt to Ohrid. Situated on Lake Ohrid this is a UNESCO Cultural and Natural site. This city is home to a cornucopia of churches (Ohrid is known for having 365 churches, one for each day of the calendar year), a monastery, and the vestiges of many ancient basilicas. There will be an optional walking tour in order to better highlight the sights available in this picturesque lakeside city. Then we will enjoy a traditional Macedonian meal. There will be ample time to then take in some sites or perhaps relax alongside the lake and its calm waters.
Day 9: Ohrid to Skopje
We will be departing in the late morning, leaving plenty of time for a quick swim in Lake Ohrid. We then set a northerly course for the Macedonian capital city of Skopje. Located on the Vardar River, Skopje is home to a several examples of Roman architecture. Upon arrival we have an optional walking tour to help you acclimatise to your new surroundings. Then feel free to explore the Roman ruins, aqueduct, and Skopje Fortress. Tonight check out the diverse nightlife on offer in Skopje, ranging from live music to casinos and nightclubs. There’s something for everyone here!
Day 10: Skopje to Nis to Belgrade
We depart early on our journey into the heart of Serbia, en route we will stop for lunch in one of the oldest Balkan cities, Nis. This ancient city was once considered the gateway between the East and West, and after lunch, upon our departure, it will be our gateway to Belgrade. We arrive in the Serbian capital in the afternoon, where will have an optional walking tour to help you get your bearings followed by a pub crawl to soak up Belgrade’s friendly party atmosphere (and cheap drinks!). Join us for dinner in a traditional Serbian restaurant before heading out for the evening to enjoy the spectrum of entertainment options available, with a favourite being the party barges or splav, as they are locally known.
Day 11: Belgrade
Explore Belgrade and its many attractions, including museums, churches, the old palace, the parliamentary buildings, and the list goes on. Of particular interest to the budding mad scientists among you would be the Nikola Tesla Museum, this archive of his life’s work contains thousands original documents, designs, photographs and drawings that could not been seen elsewhere. Kalemegdan Park and Fortress are also attractive options for those who wish to delve into the history or simply have a lazy walk through a beautiful and extremely culturally significant park. The evening is yours once again to do some bar (or splav) hopping.
Day 12: Belgrade to Sarajevo
Today we head west to the Bosnia and Herzegovina border, along a route that would have been marched by Serbian soldiers during the atrocities of the 1990s. We arrive in the late afternoon, giving you some time to explore Sarajevo, a true melting pot of faiths, containing churches, synagogues, and mosques. Having survived a four-year siege the city has a painful history going back to the Bosnian War. Tonight explore the emerging, vibrant nightlife of the area. There are numerous cafes, clubs, and bars in which to share a drink and story with the locals.
Day 13: Sarajevo
Today we begin with an optional walking tour of the city as well as an excursion to the Tunnel of Hope, which linked Sarajevo to her allies during the siege. Sarajevo played host to the Winter Olympics in 1984 and hasn’t lost its Olympic spirit, check out the old Olympic venues and grab some street food. There is also the Old Bazaar, or Bascarsija as it is locally known, which is the cultural and historical hub of the city. Tonight we will be enjoying the local cuisine at the (in)famous Sarajevo Brewery, prepare for a few pints!
Day 14: Sarajevo to Mostar to Split
We depart for Split early this morning with a stop in Mostar around lunch. There is an included walking tour with a local guide to fully acquaint you with the area, then visit the Bridge Museum and watch as professional divers defy the odds diving from the bridge. We make our way after lunch and arrive this evening in the coastal gem of Split, Croatia. With heavy hearts and fond memories we share our final dinner of the tour with some of the finest seafood Croatia has to offer. See the majestic walls of the ancient Diocletian’s Palace and then enjoy your final night out. Split comes alive at night with its varied selection of bars, clubs and cafes with something for everyone!
Day 15: Split
Enjoy your final breakfast before your departure. We hope to see you again, and if you’re continuing your journey on our Hop-on Hop-off network, the next stop is Venice via Zadar!
This tour connects with the following trips
All of our tours are designed to link to each other. The Ultimate Balkan Adventure (Split to Split) connects to these great trips.