Learn about the dark history and rebuilding of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. Visit Mostar’s famous Old Bridge and witness a traditional bridge jumper hurl themselves into the icy waters below. Enjoy plenty of free time to discover the communist past and progressive vibe of Budapest, the ‘Pearl of the Danube’. Immerse yourself in the edgy street scene of Belgrade’s Bohemian Quarter, then dance the night away in one of Europe’s nightlife hotspots
Veer off the usual Balkan route and discover some of the region’s lesser-visited attractions on this backroads adventure. Starting in cosmopolitan Budapest, travel to the Serbian capital of Belgrade for a taste of a European city on the up. Learn about Bosnia and Herzegovina’s war years in Sarajevo, stop by the famed Old Bridge of Mostar and wind things up in Dubrovnik, one of Europe’s hottest spots. Melding the past with the present, the historic with the euphoric, this trip ticks all the boxes with plenty of free time, plenty to learn and plenty of places to let your hair down.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: Dinner Included:
Szia! Welcome to Budapest, Hungary's intoxicating capital on the banks of the Danube River. Things kick off with a welcome meeting this evening, after which it'd be rude not to grab your new friends and leader for dinner and a night walk along the Danube. With the buildings and bridges lit up in the evening, Budapest is a beautiful city to explore by night – be sure you don't miss the city's funky 'ruin bars', bars found in formerly abandoned buildings that are filled with eclectic furniture, art and young, hip locals.
Budapest / Overnight Train
Join your leader on a short orientation walk this morning if you wish. Afterwards, you have a full free day to explore Budapest, known as 'The Pearl of the Danube'. It's a great city to explore by foot or from the water, or perhaps catch a funicular up to the castle for some seriously spectacular views of the parliament building. Continue exploring the cobblestones of the Castle District, or maybe hire a bicycle and head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the Iron Curtain fell. Other highlights include the Hungarian State Opera House and the Hungarian National Museum, and one unmissable activity is a long soak in the healing waters of Budapest's hot thermal baths – there's a reason it's called the City of Spas.
Take an overnight train and arrive in Belgrade in the morning. Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe, sitting at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, and is an important intersection between Eastern and Western Europe. As a result of this, you'll experience an energetic mix of progressive flamboyance and convservative customs as you spend almost two full days exploring the city as you please. Perhaps begin with a wander around the city's wide streets and squares to the historic Kalemegdan Park. The park is home to Kelmegdan Fortress, which has kept watch over the Danube for centuries. In the evening, head down to Skadarska Street, in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, to sample some authentic local food, soak up the lively atmosphere and enjoy a place where Orthodox churches compete for space with trendy nightclubs.
Ease into the day with an optional, 90-minute cruise along the Danube River, passing the Kalemegdan Fortress, Pancevo Bridge and the artist suburb of Zemun. Make sure you visit the imposing Hram Svetog Save (St Sava Church). If markets are your jam, the Zeleni Venac food market will keep you occupied for hours, or perhaps take a stroll through the Nikola Tesla Museum to learn about the life and work of Serbia's greatest inventors. The 36-metre Gardos Tower is perfect for views and photos of the city and the Danube, or why not brave the crowds on Ada Ciganlija beach if the weather is warm. Take a swim or soak up the sun with a cocktail in hand, and if you happen to be visiting in the summer months then there is probably a variety of musical and cultural events taking place. The city's nightlife has become legendary throughout Europe, and there are many floating bars, restaurants and nightclubs lining the Danube and Sava rivers – enjoy.
Travel by bus through some beautiful countryside to Sarajevo. It's about an eight hour trip, so enjoy the views, chat with your new friends or load up on music for the journey. Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is slowly asserting itself as one of Europe's most beautiful, interesting destinations following the end of a devastating war. There's a similar vibe to Istanbul, in that it mixes east and west and is dotted with minarets, mosques, bazaars and that sweet, sweet coffee smell. You can join an optional guided tour on arrival to learn a bit about the city's culture and history – this is one of the few cities in the world featuring an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and a mosque within close proximity. In the evening, why not grab your crew and head to Bascarsija, the city's old bazaar, for a simple, delicious meal, then check out the city's nightlife. Your leader can point you in the way of some fun bars.
Enjoy a free day in and around Sarajevo. Jump on an optional day trip out to Ilidza, the source of the River Bosna, where green parks and thermal springs are the order of the day. Perhaps discover more about Sarajevo's history with a visit to the History Museum, the Sarajevo War Tunnels and Sniper Alley, or learn about the struggles of the city's Jewish population at the Jewish Museum. The Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a chance to get a little cultured, or why not return to Bascarsija to snack on burek, or head to Park Princeva for views of the city. In the evening, the Pivnica HS Brewery is a great place to try some award-winning brews and hearty local food.
Mostar / Budva
Rise early to take the train from Sarajevo to Mostar (approx. three hours), a beautiful town in the high mountains of Herzegovina. You may well have heard of Mostar because of its famous Stari Most (Old Bridge), from which young men traditionally jump into the Neretva River. It's thanks to this river that the city was able to develop in an otherwise barren landscape, and Mostar quickly became the region's trading centre before being heavily bombed during the war. It has since been rebuilt and its World Heritage-listed Old Town is a maze of alleys and cobblestones waiting to be explored, or perhaps post up next to river and watch the brave divers hurl themselves off the bridge. We don't recommend that travellers jump as the bridge is very high and the water is absolutely freezing. Later in the afternoon the group will continue to Budva (approx. four hours), where you'll spend the night.
Wake up in Montenegro's prime beach resort, Budva. Take a quick walk around town with your leader to orientate yourself, then enjoy free time to explore or laze by the beach for the rest of the day. f you feel more energetic why not head by bus to the beautiful Bay of Kotor, Europe's most southerly fjord. Kotor is a 5th-century, World Heritage-listed town, sitting in the shadow of towering peaks in a secluded bay. The picturesque Old Town is quinessential Eastern Europe – winding, cobblestone alleys, orange roofs, ancient fortifications and, of course, cats. So many cats.
Leave Montenegro for the beautiful southern coast of Croatia, arriving in Dubrovnik after approximately two-and-a-half hours. Today is free for you to explore Dubrovnik, one of Europe's most popular destinations, as you see best. A walk along the city walls is a must-do, especially if you happen to be a Game of Thrones fan. From here you'll not only recognise scenes from the TV series, but also enjoy ridiculous views of the glittering Adriatic (don't forget your camera). Other sights include the 13th-century Franciscan monastery and the Sponza and Rector's palaces, which were the only Renaissance buildings to survive an earthquake and fire in 1668. If you've seen enough, why not look for the hole-in-the-wall bar where you can relax on the rocks, drink a cold beer and spend some time swimming. There are also several beaches on which to unwind. This is the last night of your trip, so why not get your group together for a final meal and, if you feel like it, hit the town's bars and clubs.
Today your adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time. As there is so much to do in Dubrovnik you might like to extend your stay here.