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Treasures of the Balkans

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Tour Pace: Comfortable
Dubrovnik, Croatia
Tour Style: Premium
19 Days from $3,533 per person

This is where the sway of the Mediterranean meets Central Europe and blends with the exotic East. From the Danube to Dracula's castle, the layers of history are evident at every turn.

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  1. Board your overnight flight to Europe (not included).
  2. Transfers depart Henri Coandă International Airport at 12:00, 14:00 & 16:00 for your hotel, which is one of the city's most sophisticated and prestigious landmarks. Later, join your Tour Director for a Welcome Reception and a pleasant evening of dinner and wine.
    hotel:Hilton Athenee, Bucharest.
  3. Sightseeing in the morning with a Local Expert, includes views of University Square and the former Communist Headquarters, as well as a visit to the immense Parliament Palace, one of the largest buildings in the world. Then head up through the Carpathian Mountains to the charming medieval city of Brașov, founded in 1211 by the Teutonic Knights.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Aro Palace, Brașov (2 nights).
  4. Join a Local Expert for a stroll around the Town Hall Square, lined with beautiful red-roofed houses and dominated by the Black Church. Now imagine a horse and carriage careering up a wet mountainous road – thunder and lightning illuminating the medieval fortress guarding the Transylvanian border. Discover if this popular image of Dracula's castle is true or, like the vampire story itself, only a myth, as you visit Bran Castle – said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's book.
    hotel:Aro Palace, Brașov.
  5. Drive along the Prahova Valley to the elegant alpine resort of Sinaia. Visit Peles Castle, former summer residence of Romania's first royal family. Admire the lavish rooms filled with art, armour and tapestries, before crossing the Danube into Bulgaria. 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.
    meal(s):BB, SE
    hotel:Yantra, Veliko Tarnovo.
  6. Join a Local Expert for a stroll along Gurko Street with its cascade of restored old houses and enjoy unparalleled views down to the Monument of the Assens - symbol of the city. Climb up to the ruined Tsarevets Fortress, a reminder of the town's former imperial status. At the UNESCO listed village of Arbanassi, visit a traditional 17th century merchants' house and hear the acoustics in the Church of the Holy Nativity. Now cross the Balkan Mountains to Bulgaria's modern day capital of Sofia, the ‘city that grows, but never ages'. 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.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Grand Hotel, Sofia (2 nights).
  7. This day is at leisure, to relax or explore. Perhaps take an optional experience to the Rila Monastery. Enjoy a fascinating insight into the the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria?
    hotel:Grand Hotel, Sofia.
  8. Cross the border and continue to the Macedonian capital of Skopje, an ultra-modern city with an ancient bazaar, where Turkish influences can still be seen and felt. Then head for mountain-ringed Lake Ohrid, its shores dotted with monasteries and villages.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Belvedere Hotel, Ohrid.
  9. In the morning, sightseeing with a Local Expert will show you the narrow streets of Ohrid's Old Town. Afterwards, cross into Albania and journey to Tirana, renowned for its unfailingly friendly locals. Meet a resident expert at the landmark Skanderbeg Square for an insider's look at the Albanian capital.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Sheraton Hotel, Tirana.
  10. Drive through the spectacular scenery of Montenegro to the old town of Kotor, perched beside the only European fjord outside of Norway. Then continue over the Croatian border to the fortified port of Dubrovnik. Enjoy free time exploring the old town, bustling with street artists, cafés and restaurants.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik (3 nights).
  11. In the morning, join a Local Expert to explore the stone-paved streets within the 16th century bastions. See Onofrio's Fountain and the Rector's Palace, the city walls, as well as 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 Cavtat – a stunning town on the Adriatic coast, where you can stroll the pine forests paths beside the crystal clear sea. At night, within the city's mighty ramparts, choose from a fine selection of restaurants for your Dine-Around evening.
    meal(s):BB, DA
    hotel:Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik.
  12. Another day at leisure in this ‘Pearl of the Adriatic'. Sunbathe by the pool or stroll with friends along the ancient city walls. As the sun starts to set, maybe take a relaxing cruise on the harbour?
    hotel:Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik.
  13. Drive to Mostar and walk with a Local Expert across the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge), reconstructed after being almost completely destroyed during the war. The cobbled old town stretches on both sides of the bridge and is filled with shops selling Turkish style souvenirs. Next, follow the scenic route to Sarajevo. On arrival, visit the Sarajevo War Tunnel Museum. Talk to one of the survivors, for whom the Siege of Sarajevo remains a defining moment in his life.
    meal(s):BB, RD
    hotel:Hotel Bristol, Sarajevo (2 nights).
  14. Start with a morning sightseeing. A Local Expert will show you the Baščaršija, the cobbled old town market where Sarajevo was founded by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Admire Gazi Husrev-beg mosque and Olympic stadium. Next, experience real Bosnian coffee (not for the faint hearted), and learn about the traditional ritual of Bosnian coffee preparation. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
    hotel:Hotel Bristol, Sarajevo.
  15. Head down through the remote villages and spa resorts of the forested Bosnian mountains to Belgrade.
    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Metropol Palace, Belgrade (2 nights).
  16. Join a Local Expert to see the best of Belgrade. St. Sava Church, Terazije Street, the national museum and national theatre in Republic Square. Finish your sightseeing at the Kalemegdan Fortress, situated at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. Enjoy a free afternoon.
    hotel:Metropol Palace, Belgrade.
  17. Head north, past the riverside fortress at Novi Sad, to cross the Province of Vojvodina to reach the Hungarian border. Continue on through the vast wilderness of the Puszta, where cowboys rustle up goulash under the stars. Your destination will be Budapest on the Danube.
    hotel:Corinthia Hotel, Budapest (2 nights).
  18. Venture into the heart of Buda's medieval Castle district with a Local Expert to visit Matthias Church and take in the vista of the immense Parliament building from the Fisherman's Bastion. Cross the Danube to the Pest district to visit Heroes' Square and drive down elegant Andrássy Boulevard. Then enjoy time in the Central Market Hall - its three storeys packed with aromatic food stalls offering Hungarian salamis, spicy paprika and sweet Tokaji wines. In the evening, gather with your friends for a joyous end-of-trip Celebration Dinner at a local restaurant.
    meal(s):BB, CD
    hotel:Corinthia Hotel, Budapest.
  19. Departure transfers arrive Ferenc Liszt International Airport at 07:00 & 11:00.

30 Day Refund Guarantee

We promise you’ll enjoy a stress-free travel experience from the minute you start your vacation planning or we’ll refund your deposit. Make your reservation with a $350 deposit. If you change your mind for any reason within 30 days of booking, we’ll offer you a full refund.

2018 Preview

Preview itineraries and content are based on selected vacations featured in our 2017 Collection, however, items such as (but not limited to), hotels, meals, sightseeing inclusions, trip destinations, transfers and transportation, are subject to change. The final composition of your trip will be published in our 2018 Collection due out in September. By paying your deposit, you are agreeing to accept the finalized version of your trip itinerary.

  • Professional Travel Director Professional Travel Director
  • Sightseeing with Local Experts Sightseeing with Local Experts
  • VIP Access VIP Access
  • Expertly Selected Hotels Expertly Selected Hotels
  • Cultural Enrichment Cultural Enrichment
  • WIFI on Coach and in Hotels WIFI on Coach and in Hotels
  • Personal Flight Options Personal Flight Options
  • Most Meals Most Meals
  • Hotel Tips Hotel Tips


17 Buffet Breakfasts (BB); plus 1 Welcome Dinner (WD), 6 three-course table d'hôte Dinners (DW), 1 Signature Evening (SE), 1 Dine-Around (DA), 1 Restaurant Dinner (RD) and 1 Celebration Dinner (CD) all with wine, plus tea or coffee.

Signature Experiences


  • Walk the cavernous halls of the vast Palace of Parliament, learn some of the history and amusing tales.


  • Visit the imposing medieval castle guarding the old Transylvanian border and embrace its stories, myth and legend - from Dracula to romantic Queen Marie.


  • Witness the opulent and sumptuous décor in Peles Castle, the fairytale Royal summer residence, at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains.

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.
  • Visit Arbanassi, one of Bulgaria's most beautiful sites. The frescoed churches and fortified dwellings offer a unique insight into the former wealth and spiritual commitment of the settlement.


  • Hear a first hand account a city under siege. Visit the ‘Tunnel of Hope', and talk directly with a resident who lived through the 44-month blockade and was privy to the city's secret lifeline.


  • Visit the colourful Matthias Church and gaze out over the Danube and giant domed Parliament from the heights of the Fisherman's Bastion.
  • Definite Departure
Depart Date Return Date Price Discount Availability Price
3 Sep 17 21 Sep 17 checkmark $4,175pp Call 1-877-622-9109
17 Sep 17 5 Oct 17 checkmark $4,175pp Call 1-877-622-9109
29 Apr 18 17 May 18 checkmark $3,925$3,533pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
13 May 18 31 May 18 checkmark $4,050pp Call 1-877-622-9109
27 May 18 14 Jun 18 $4,050$3,645pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
10 Jun 18 28 Jun 18 checkmark $4,050$3,645pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
24 Jun 18 12 Jul 18 checkmark $4,050$3,645pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
8 Jul 18 26 Jul 18 $4,025$3,623pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
22 Jul 18 9 Aug 18 $4,025$3,623pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
5 Aug 18 23 Aug 18 $4,025$3,623pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
19 Aug 18 6 Sep 18 $4,025$3,623pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
2 Sep 18 20 Sep 18 $4,175$3,758pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now
16 Sep 18 4 Oct 18 checkmark $4,175$3,758pp Early PaymentPay by Jan 11 Request Quote Book Now

Price is per person and is based on two people sharing a twin bedded room. Single rooms are available at a supplement.

Single Room Supplement: from $1,100 p.p.

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $158 per person.

Early Payment Discount: Pay in full to save the amount listed above. For details, click here.

AARP Members are entitled to an exclusive Member Benefit Discount on all Grand European Travel vacations. Plus receive a free travel gift!  Call Toll Free: 1-866-847-3858 for details.

Past Travelers: Save an additional 5% off the Land Only price of the vacation.

  • U.S. citizens traveling to Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania must have a current passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip. You can find information on how to apply for a passport here, and how to renew a passport here. No visa is required for U.S. citizens entering these countries.

  • Each country on this itinerary uses a different currency. In Romania it is the Leu, in Bulgaria it is the Lev, in Serbia it is the Dinar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is the Convertible Mark, in Hungary it is the Forint, and in Croatia it is the Kuna.

    While it’s a good idea to bring some money for when you first arrive in Europe, you’ll usually find a better exchange rate in your destination.  The most convenient way to obtain cash is to use your ATM card at local banks in each country. We recommend you also bring a valid credit card for purchases while you are traveling.  It is important that you inform your financial institutions of your travel plans before you leave home so they don’t flag your purchases as potentially fraudulent charges.

  • Romanian dishes are delicious and rustic, and are heavily influenced by Turkish, Slavic and Germanic culinary traditions. Many meals begin with a soup course; so, if you’re adventurous, why not try the local soup specialty ciorba de burta – tripe soup.  The national dish is sarmale, cabbage rolls stuffed with spiced pork and rice. The country also has a growing wine industry, in particular near the Black Sea.

    Bulgaria is well-known for its fresh produce and quality dairy products.  The cuisine includes familiar Mediterranean flavors, including plenty of grilled meats, crisp salads and spiced soups.

    Serbian cuisine is hearty and generously spiced with an emphasis on barbeque – frequently pork, though beef and lamb are also common. Serbia is also known for kajmak, a mildly fermented cream often served with grilled meat. For dessert try palacinke, crepe-like pancakes filled with chocolate or honey.

    Croatian cuisine is hearty, fresh, and flavorful, and is a mix of local traditions and neighboring influences. Meals often begin with bread, cured meats and cheese.  Along the Dalmatian coast you’ll find a variety of seafood dishes and Mediterranean flavors like rosemary, oregano, sage, lemon, and olive oil. For an authentic coastal meal try octopus peka and scampi na buzaru (scampi cooked in garlic, tomato and white wine). Further inland you might like to try the rich Štrukli (baked cheese in pastry dough). Pizza and pasta dishes are also ubiquitous. For dessert, try palačinka, a kind of crêpe served with jam, chocolate sauce, and other decadent fillings. Croatia also produces high quality lagers and a selection of good wine.

    In Hungary you’ll find hearty specialties including goulash, winter salami, pork stew, and chicken paprikash.


  • We suggest packing a variety of lightweight clothing items that can be layered to save space in your suitcase and give you more options for how to dress. It’s important to bring comfortable walking shoes and a waterproof jacket. Keep in mind that your shoulders and knees should be covered while visiting religious sites.  For more helpful information please refer to our Packing Tips & Packing List.

  • When dining out it’s appropriate to leave up to 10 percent gratuity for good service at restaurants, if a service charge has not already been added to your bill.

    At the end of your guided vacation, it’s customary to offer your motor coach driver and Travel Director a gratuity.  We recommend €3.00 per person/per day for your driver and €5.00 per person/per day for your Travel Director.  Recommended gratuity for a Local Host and Local Specialist is 1-2 euros per person, paid at the conclusion of each guided visit.  A convenient option is to prepay your tips before your departure.

  • Baggage on our trips is restricted to one large suitcase per person with dimensions not exceeding 30x19x10 inches and a maximum weight of 50 pounds. You are also permitted one piece of hand luggage, which should be small enough to fit under your coach seat or on the small overhead shelf compartment. Please note that luggage with an adjustable handle and wheels will not fit in the overhead compartment of the coach. Hotel porterage is included in your vacation.

  • You will need to be comfortable on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours in various weather conditions.  All of our vacations involve walking, often on cobblestone and uneven surfaces in historic city centers.  In order to get the most out of your vacation you need to be able to comfortably walk 1-3 miles unassisted in one day, be in good condition and be able to keep pace with the group. 

    If you need any medications, it is important that you bring enough to last you the whole trip and keep them in your carry-on bag while you travel.

  • We highly recommend our optional Travel Protection Plan, which allows you to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours before departure. The plan also includes trip interruption, baggage loss or delay, and medical and emergency assistance. Click here for a summary of coverage details, terms and conditions.


Trip not yet reviewed

Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.


Traditional Dinner in the Transylvanian Alps

Adult Price: € 55.00

Join us for gorgeous views of Brasov and the Carpathians as we journey deep into the Transylvanian Alps to Poiana Brasov, one of the best preserved mountain areas in Eastern Europe. This well-known winter resort has long been reserved for the rich and powerful. Visit the ancient parish church before enjoying an evening of traditional Romanian cuisine. Grilled appetisers will be served by an open fire in the garden while a local band entertains us with traditional music in this atmospheric setting.

Dinner And Entertainment

Adult Price: € 53.00

Romania boasts a varied and delicious culinary tradition, layered over the centuries by waves of different cultures. Visit a traditional Transylvanian restaurant in Brasov for an evening of delicious Romanian delicacies with music, dancing and wine. You'll also enjoy a short guided tour of the wine cellars with a wine tasting.


Bulgarian Folklore Show With Dinner

Adult Price: € 53.00

Take your seats for a fun-filled evening of wine, traditional entertainment and hearty Bulgarian cuisine. Expect delicious dishes prepared according to age-old recipes, an authentic atmosphere and a colourful folklore show featuring traditional dancers, musicians and songs. You'll also the celebrated Fire Dancing.

Rila Monastery With Lunch

Adult Price: € 54.00

Rising out of a forested valley, the magnificent Rila Monastery is the largest and most important symbol of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Founded in the 10th century, it has lasted in various incarnations throughout the ages. From the outside, the monastery looks like a fortress, yet once through the gates you are bedazzled by a series of kaleidoscopic frescoes and red-and-cream striped brickwork, set against the vertiginous green mountains. A local expert explains the apocalyptic artwork beneath horseshoe shaped arches, while black-robed monks go about their business. A truly wonderful day out with lunch included.


Cavtat Excursion

Adult Price: € 21.00

The road to Cavtat overlooks the steep coast of the Adriatic sea and presents several opportunities for postcard perfect views. Continue to Cavtat, one of the most enchanting seaside resorts in Croatia - a Mecca for the rich and famous who come every year to moor their yachts at the entrance of Cavtat Bay.

Peljesac – Land of Oysters and Wine

Adult Price: € 48.00

A scenic ride along beautiful Croatian coastline takes us to the Bay of Mali Ston, the home of oyster farming in the Adriatic. We’ll visit Ston, famous for its fortifications and ancient Salt Pans and continue to the peninsula of Peljesac, with its steep slopes and age-old vines. A light lunch of Adriatic oysters and mussels are served in the small, family-owned winery. Learn how local wine is produced and we’ll round up the outing with wine and grappa tasting.

Scenic Cruise and Lunch/Dinner

Adult Price: € 57.00

Sit back and enjoy a relaxing cruise around the fabled bay of Dubrovnik. The mighty city walls rise straight from the cliffs that once upon a time were part of yet another island of the Adriatic. Enjoy a typical Dalmatian coast dinner, washed down with local drinks (wine and grappa being the most famous). Then moor in the old town harbour for another look at Dubrovnik. (Weather permitting. In some cases the cruise may be operated during the day with lunch).


Tour of Old Sarajevo

Adult Price: € 39.00

For centuries Sarajevo has been a place where East meets West, where different peoples and religions lived side-by-side. Start with a guided visit of the biggest Mosque in the Balkans. Enjoy a light lunch in the old Bascarsija quarter before visiting Brusa Bezistan to see the legacy of tolerance and how Sefardies found a new home in Sarajevo after expulsion from Spain. Then a unique experience! Visit the oldest brewery of Sarajevo and taste the Sarajevo beer, a very precious drink in the country where alcohol is not a part of everyday culture

Home-Hosted Dinner

Adult Price: € 49.00

A unique and rewarding insight into the local way of life. Small groups of 5 or 6 guests 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.


Serbian Heritage With Dinner

Adult Price: € 57.00

Drive south through the picturesque Sumadija region to Topola, birthplace of the Serbian Revolution against the Ottomans in 1804. Perched high above the town, visit the amazing Church of St. George, burial place of the Karadjordjevic Royal Dynasty. Don't be fooled by the white marble exterior - inside nearly every inch is bejewelled with stunning mosaic frescoes. Nearby, memorabilia of the royal family is on display at the summer home of King Alexander and Queen Maria. Now head for the spa town of Arandjelovac to enjoy a lavish dinner of local specialties and drinks in a top local restaurant.


Danube Cruise Dinner & Drinks

Adult Price: € 61.00

The most leisurely way to discover this fairy-tale city is a private cruise on the Danube with a glass of fine Hungarian wine in hand. See Margaret Island, the Houses of Parliament, Castle Hill with its Fisherman’s Bastion, the Royal Palace, the Citadel and the University. While cruising, enjoy a lavish, gourmet buffet meal of Hungarian specialties and unlimited drinks.

Excursion To Szentendre With Micro Museum

Adult Price: € 27.00

A fascinating excursion takes you past the remains of the Roman settlement of Aquincum and alongside the Danube, to the picturesque riverside village of Szentendre. An orientation walk through the cobbled streets leads to the main square – an excellent place from which to explore. Szentendre houses a delightful array of craft-shops, art museums and galleries. Included is a visit to the Micro Museum, where impossibly tiny sculptures can only be viewed under a microscope. Ever seen a camel go through the eye of a needle?

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