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Treasures of the Balkans

Style: Premium | Pace: Comfortable

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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Overview

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.

  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.

    meal(s):DW
    hotel:Hilton Athenee, Bucharest.
  3. 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 Alpine 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.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Aro Palace, Brașov.
  4. With your Local Expert, take a walk around Town Hall Square, lined with beautiful red-roofed houses and dominated by the Black Church. Then picture a horse and carriage careering up a wet mountainous road, thunder booming and lightning illuminating the medieval fortress guarding the Transylvanian border. Visit Bran Castle, said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's novel and discover if this popular image of Dracula's castle is true or like the vampire story itself, only a myth.

    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Aro Palace, Brașov.
  5. 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.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Yantra, Veliko Tarnovo.
  6. 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. 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. 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.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hilton Sofia
  7. Enjoy the day at your leisure. Perhaps visit the Rila Monastery to enjoy a fascinating insight into the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria?

    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hilton, 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. Cross into Albania and journey to Tirana, renowned for its 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. 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.

    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik.
  11. 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, within the city's mighty ramparts, choose from a fine selection of restaurants for your Dine-Around Evening.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik.
  12. 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 film locations of the award-winning series 'Game of Thrones' and appreciate the enterprising spirit of the Old Harbor? As the sun starts to set, maybe take a relaxing cruise to admire the city and its incredible walls from the water.

    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Hotel Kompas, Dubrovnik.
  13. 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. Savor the warm hospitality and authentic cuisine as you hear inspirational stories about their culture and recent struggles.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Hotel Bristol, Sarajevo.
  14. 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. Experience authentic Bosnian coffee and learn about the traditional ritual of Bosnian coffee preparation. The rest of the afternoon is for you to explore as you wish.

    meal(s):BB
    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
  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.
    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Metropol Palace, Belgrade.
  17. As you journey north, pass the riverside fortress at Novi Sad and cross the Province of Vojvodina to reach Palić on the Hungarian border. See the unusual water tower, and wander down to the lake where you can admire the art nouveau buildings. 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.

    meal(s):BB
    hotel:Corinthia Hotel, Budapest.
  18. 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 flavored 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 savor hearty, Hungarian delicacies accompanied with specially-selected Hungarian wine.

    meal(s):BB, DW
    hotel:Corinthia Hotel, Budapest.
  19. Departure transfers arrive Ferenc Liszt International Airport at 07:00 & 11:00.
    meal(s):BB
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  • 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.

Thank you for your interest in this tour. If no dates are displaying, please call our reservations line at 1-877-622-9109 for more information

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 $1,200 p.p.

Triple Room Discount $110

Gratuities: Option to pre-pay gratuities for Travel Director and Driver $208 per person.

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.

Print 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

INCLUDED QUALITY DINING

17 Buffet Breakfasts (BB) and 10 Dinners with Wine (DW) all with tea or coffee.

Signature Experiences

 

Tirana:

  • A local resident will meet you at Skanderbeg Square and walk you through their home city and explain life in the Albanian capital. 

Mostar:

  • Explore the Old Town and see the Stari Most with your Local Expert.

Sarajevo:

  • Visit the Tunnel of Hope 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.

Bucharest:

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

Bran:

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

Sinaia:

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

Veliko Tarnovo:

  • With your Local Expert, 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.

Belgrade:

  • A Local Expert will show you St. Sava Church, Terazije Street, the national museum, national theatre, Republic Square and the
    Kalemegdan Fortress.

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. 

Budapest:

  • Visit the colourful Matthias Church and gaze out over the Danube and giant domed Parliament from the heights of the Fisherman's Bastion.
Request a Quote
  • 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.

Print Itinerary

Reviews

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Donald Hunter
Service:
Vacation:
Service rating : Everything was fine except the weather.
Vacation : Everything was fine. The tour director and driver were excellent.
Request a Quote
  • 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.

Print Itinerary
  • 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 24 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.

Request a Quote
  • 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.

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.

Brasov

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. We'll visit a local 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.

Brasov

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.

Sofia

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.

Dubrovnik

Cavtat Excursion

Adult Price: € 23.00

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.

Dubrovnik

Peljesac – The Great Wall of Ston, Wine & Oysters

Adult Price: € 48.00

A scenic drive along the beautiful Dalmatian coast takes us to the Peljesac Peninsula. We’ll visit Ston, home to the longest fortress system in Europe and the oldest working salt pans on the Continent! Continue past its steep slopes and age-old vines for a tasting in a small family-owned winery followed by a light lunch of local flavours overlooking the bay of Mali Ston, famous for its designation as the number one producer of oysters and mussels in Croatia!

Dubrovnik

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 we'll moor for another look at Dubrovnik. (Weather permitting. In some cases the cruise may be operated during the day with lunch).

Sarajevo

Bosnian Evening at Inat Kuca, the House of Spite

Adult Price: € 57.00

Join us for a Bosnian evening at one of the landmark and most important traditional houses in Sarajevo. Inat Kuća, the ‘House of Spite’, situated on the Miljacka river opposite the imposing City Hall, will transport you back to Ottoman times as we enjoy a feast of the most typical Bosnian cuisine with drinks while enjoying an evening of local culture & folklore. A wonderful evening in authentic surroundings at the heart of old Sarajevo.

Belgrade

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.

Budapest

Danube Cruise Dinner & Drinks

Adult Price: € 63.00

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.

Budapest

Treasures of Budapest Opera & St Stephens

Adult Price: € 43.00

Discover the real treasures of Budapest, Queen of the Danube. With our local expert, we'll enjoy a tour of the neo-Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House, opened by Emperor Franz Josef I in 1884 during the golden age of the city and considered among the most beautiful in Europe. Then, we'll continue to the Basilica of St Stephen, whose treasures include the miraculous Holy Right hand of the first Christian King St Stephen, the most important relic in Hungary.

Request a Quote
  • 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.

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