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Treasures of the Balkans

Dubrovnik, Croatia
19 Days from $3,723 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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Tour Pace: Comfortable
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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.

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Let our Air Specialists handle your air reservations. We have direct access to the most current airfare routes and prices, so you’ll get the best value available when we book your flights. We never charge a booking fee and you’ll enjoy the flexibility to pay for air 60-90 days prior to departure.

  • 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 AvailabilityPrice
30 Apr 17 18 May 17 checkmark $3,925pp
14 May 17 1 Jun 17 checkmark $4,050pp
28 May 17 15 Jun 17 checkmark $4,050pp
$4,050 pp
11 Jun 17 29 Jun 17 checkmark $4,050$3,746pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28
$4,050 $3,746 pp
25 Jun 17 13 Jul 17 checkmark $4,050$3,746pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28
$4,050 $3,746 pp
9 Jul 17 27 Jul 17 checkmark $4,025$3,723pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28
$4,025 $3,723 pp
23 Jul 17 10 Aug 17 checkmark $4,025pp
$4,025 pp
6 Aug 17 24 Aug 17 checkmark $4,025$3,723pp Early PaymentPay by Feb 28
$4,025 $3,723 pp
20 Aug 17 7 Sep 17 checkmark $4,025pp
$4,025 pp
3 Sep 17 21 Sep 17 checkmark $4,175pp
17 Sep 17 5 Oct 17 checkmark $4,175pp

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.


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