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Travelling through the heart of former Yugoslavia, discover four countries that have been shaped by a rich but turbulent history. Against a backdrop of jagged mountain peaks and dramatic coastlines, explore several UNESCO World Heritage Sites and fascinating old towns.
Explore Tour Leader
2 nights simple guesthouse
9 nights comfortable hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in the small, attractive coastal town of Dobrota in Montenegro. It's an ideal spot to take a stroll along the seafront promenade.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 7pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Dobrota at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) in neighbouring Croatia, which is about two hours' drive away. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might like to try a popular local Montenegrin dish for dinner such as pohovani kackavalj - fried cheese or corbast pasulj - a stew made with beans, smoked ribs, salami and sausage. You could also sample a local beer, such as the lager niksicko.
Hotel Marija 2 (or similar)
This morning we travel the short distance to the medieval city of Kotor, lying beneath the slopes of Mount Lovcen. With its engaging mix of European and Byzantine influences, Kotor was once an independent city republic, until the threat of Ottoman attacks saw it join with the Venetians. We'll take a wander through the old city, walking its walls to enjoy the views across the traditional rooftops and out over the fjord from the Ivan Tower. Under the Venetians, Kotor became one of the best fortified cities in the region, boasting walls twice the length of Dubrovnik; walls which today provide us with a fascinating glimpse into its turbulent past.
After lunch, we will take to the waters of Kotor Bay, to explore some of the small islands that occupy the turquoise waters of what is essentially the southernmost fjord in Europe. An inspiration for artists and poets, the bay is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. Its breathtaking mix of rugged mountains and azure waters compliment its rich scattering of charming coastal towns that attest to its former domination by the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks.
This morning's short journey to Budva Town offers a chance to enjoy a swim on the beautiful Budva Riviera - a 35 kilometre-long strip of the Adriatic boasting some of the coast's best beaches. After our swim, we continue to the lovely town of Virpazar on the shores of Skadar Lake, where we will spend the night. The largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula, Skadar stretches for some 44 kilometres, encroaching into neighbouring Albania.
You have the option to explore Skadar Lake and its surrounding national park on a boat trip or on dry land. This area is home to some 270 species of birds, including egrets, spoonbills and one of the largest cormorant colonies on the planet. The park is also a haven for rare plants. What's more, its collection of monasteries, villages and sacred monuments span over nine centuries of Montenegrin history.
Hotel Pelikan (or similar)
Today we drive to Zabljak, on the edge of the Durmitor National Park. Our journey takes us via the monumental 13th century Orthodox monastery at Moraca, as well as the impressive Djurdjevica Tara Bridge. Spanning the gorge over the Tara River, the bridge towers some 135 metres above the river valley.
Zabljak lies among the towering peaks, alpine lakes and high pastureland that is sandwiched between the Tara and Piva Canyons. Durmitor National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that presents us with a magnificent setting for an afternoon walk. On arrival, we will hike up through the thick forest towards the waters of Crno Jezero. Translated as the Black Lake, it is so named because of the dark pine landscape that surrounds it. Of the 18 glacial lakes that pepper this spectacular karst landscape, the Black Lake is probably the most famous and is certainly the largest, feeding the river basins of both the Tara and the Komarnica Rivers. Besides its glacial lakes, the park also features 27 peaks that exceed 2200 metres; five canyons; lush expanses of ancient forest and a labyrinthine system of caves and sinkholes. After exploring these natural wonders, we'll return to Zabljak for the evening.
Hotel Gorske Oci (or similar)
Today we cross into western Serbia and head for the peaks of the Zlatibor massif. Covering some 300 square kilometres, Mount Zlatibor encompasses a range of mountains that stretch for 27 miles and makes up part of the Dinaric Alps.
On today's route, we will stop off at the 13th century Mileseva Monastery near Prijepolje. Founded by King Vladislav between 1234 and 1236, the monastery is one of the country's most important spiritual centres. Guided round by a local priest, we will see some of its superb examples of 13th century fresco painting, including the famous 'White Angel', which depicts an angel visiting the grave of Christ.
Tonight's accommodation is in the mountain-side village of Sirogojno - home to a remarkable open air museum that was declared a national monument back in 1983. Upon arrival, we will take a tour of this museum. Covering nearly 15 hectares, it contains a collection of traditional 19th century wooden buildings that have been assembled here from across the region, including a bakery, an inn and a dairy. All are authentic and provide a fascinating glimpse into Serbia's rural past. We will be accommodated in small historical mountain houses. Each house has two to five beds, but they are in separate rooms rather than being dormitory style. So for example a house with five beds would usually have three bedrooms. Every house has a shared bathroom.
Staro Selo Ethno Village (or similar)
Sirogojno is known for its authentic high quality and handmade knitted sweaters. They've been featured in fashion shows all over the world including London, Paris and New York and are highly sought-after. This morning before leaving we will be shown how the jumpers are made and have the chance to try our hand at knitting.
Later this morning we drive to Mokra Gora, which in English translates to 'wet mountain' and is a green and beautiful mountain valley. Here we board the historic narrow gauge railway, Sargan Eight. The line is part of the former track that once ran between Sarajevo and Belgrade, until it was closed in 1974. The section over the Sargan Pass was renovated by the Serbian government to recapture something of its 1920's heyday and reopened in 1999. It was once admired around the world as a piece of world-class construction, for it allows the train to make the steep climb through the mountains in a figure of eight weaving through 22 tunnels and covering just over 15 kilometres. Although as the crow flies, the distance between the stations of Mokra Gora and Sargan is a mere 3.5 kilometres.
From here we continue our drive to Kustendorf. This distinctive mountain village was built by the international film director, Emir Kusturica, for his movie 'Life is a Miracle'. Everything here is constructed from wood and he wanted to recreate a traditional Serbian village, with the exception that all the streets are named after famous film directors. Now days, it is his home, a hotel and also home to an annual international film and music festival. We stay tonight in this unique location. As well as the chance to enjoy the fantastic mountain scenery, here there is also a gym, indoor swimming pool, restaurant, bar and small art gallery exhibiting local Serbian artists.
Hotel Mecavnik (or similar)
Crossing into Bosnia Herzegovina this morning, we drive to Visegrad on the Drina River. Here, we will find the inspiration for Nobel Prize-winning author, Ivo Andric's novel, 'Bridge over the Drina'. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has been an iconic symbol of the region for generations and was the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian War.
Later, we continue our journey to Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina's vibrant capital, which is located on the Sarajevo plain and surrounded by mountains. Famed for its diverse religious heritage and often called the Jerusalem of Europe, we can look forward to a two night stay here.
This afternoon we will take a walking tour of some of its highlights. Although it was a major settlement during the Middle Ages, it was the Ottoman Empire that founded much of the Sarajevo we know today, transforming a collection of villages into the largest city in the region. Annexed by the Habsburgs, Sarajevo became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1908, going on to become the scene of the catalyst for the start of World War I, when Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated here on 28th June 1914.
During the time of the Ottoman occupation, the city was home to Muslims, Catholics and Jews and Eastern Orthodox and many of its religious monuments have survived the city's turbulent past. Our tour will take in the beautiful old Serbian Orthodox Church of Saint Michael and Gabriel and the stunning 16th century Gazi Husrev Bey Mosque. Considered the most important Islamic building in the country, this is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture anywhere in the world. We'll also see the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral and its pseudo-Moorish styled Town Hall - a particularly grandiose building that dates back to the Austro-Hungarian period.
Hotel Hecco (or similar)
Today is free for you to relax and further explore Sarajevo. A stroll through the centre of Bascarsija, in the heart of old Sarajevo, offers a chance to browse the city's markets. The alleys that radiate out from the market square reflect the Ottoman tradition of naming streets after the traders who practised there and among these winding alleys and covered markets you can find bargains galore.
Our perhaps you'd like to join a tour to discover the Sarajevo Tunnel, which was the only way in or out of the city when the longest siege in modern military history took place here during the war of the 1990s. The tunnel took six months to build and covered 800 metres. A small section of this hand dug tunnel has survived today and is now part of the Tunnel Museum.
We can look forward to spending today and tonight in historic Mostar. Set on the banks of the Neretva River, this is the largest and most important city in the Herzegovina region. Also, one of the most beautiful towns in the entire country, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is divided by the Neretva, with Croats on one side and Muslims on the other, reflecting its rich cultural heritage.
Founded by the Turks during the 15th century and expanded by the Habsburgs 300 years later, the town and its historic old bridge (the Stari Most) were badly damaged during the Balkan conflict of the early 1990s. The old Ottoman bridge was rebuilt after the war and much of the old city has also been restored to its former glory. The five year-long programme of reconstruction went a long way to restoring peace to this shattered region, with international and ethnic co-operation helping to rebuild cultural as well as historic bridges.
Today, the city is host to a number of international festivals, including prominent music and traditional dance events, as well as the annual bridge jumping festival. After a tour of the city the rest of the day is free to explore this lovely old town at your own pace.
Hotel Vila Fortuna (or similar)
Heading back towards the Adriatic, we pay a visit to the charming 15th century Tvrdos Monastery, located on the cliffs above the town. Belonging to the Serbian Orthodox Church, the monastery has endured a somewhat violent past, having been destroyed by Turks, Venetians and a massive earthquake in the 17th century. The building we see today was reconstructed during the 1920s and is the headquarters of the bishop of Herzegovina, as well as being home to a number of monks who still live behind its monastic walls. It is particularly famous for its wine cellar and there is the opportunity to enjoy a wine tasting during our visit.
We will spend the rest of today and tonight in Trebinje and can look forward to exploring the old city independently on foot. Lying along the banks of the Trebisnjica River, just across the border from Dubrovnik, this town once commanded the road between Ragusa and Constantinople and its environs are scattered with old mills and bridges. The attractive Ottoman Arsalangic Bridge is of particular note. Built in the 16th century, it is considered by many to be one of the finest of its kind in the country.
Hotel Viv, Trebinje (or similar)
This morning we set out on your journey to the beautiful city of Dubrovnik. Regarded as one of the finest examples of a fortified medieval town anywhere in the world, it was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. The old city is a wonderful mix of monasteries, museums and red-tiled buildings that hark back to the glory days, when it was one of Europe's greatest maritime cities.
A guided walking tour will give us a feel of the layout of the town and its wealth of architectural masterpieces. Fully restored to its former grandeur following the Siege of Dubrovnik (1991-92), the old medieval town still exudes a unique atmosphere and charm. George Bernard Shaw once wrote, 'those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik'. So, in the company of a local guide, we will discover the majesty of its Pile Gate, the city's Dominican church and the great Franciscan monastery, as well as the old port and the Rector's Palace.
This afternoon is free to continue exploring in your own time, perhaps taking a walk around the city walls to take in the views across the twisting alleyways and the glittering waters of the Adriatic. Later, we will transfer to the beautiful coastal town of Cavtat, a picturesque fishing village that once found favour among the wealthy families of Europe. The old town still retains much of its endearing charm and it is a fitting place in which to enjoy our last evening of the trip.
Tonight we will be staying in one of number of private pensions (guesthouses). Each guesthouse and bedrooms within it are unique, so the size and decor of the rooms will vary. Most rooms are en suite but some do have shared facilities.
Cavtat Pension (or similar)
After enjoying breakfast in a local pastry shop, our trip ends in Cavtat this morning.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Cavtat at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day then luggage storage facilities are normally available at your guesthouse, but please liaise with your Leader regarding this. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Dubrovnik Airport (DBV), which is 10 minutes' drive.
Depending on the time of your flight or if you're extending your stay by a night then you might like to return to Dubrovnik today for some additional free time exploring the city. It's easy to reach from Cavtat by public bus or boat, which usually run around once an hour and the journey time is about 30 minutes. Depending on what you'd like to visit then you may find that purchasing a Dubrovnik Card offers a saving on a number of museum entrance prices.
With only 20 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a continental climate for the most part, with cold winters and warm summers. There is a chance of sporadic rain in spring and autumn, though generally it is in the form of short showers. Thunderstorms can occur in summer, generally helping to cool the air. In spring to autumn the temperatures are normally in the low to mid 20's (in °C). Much of the country is mountainous or hilly, rising to a height of 2,386 metres and winter snow lies for long periods in the higher regions. Mostar is set back from the coastline on a plain, which has a hotter Mediterranean climate with temperatures averaging in the mid to high 20's (in °C) in spring and autumn and July and August in the low 30's (in °C) - although sometimes temperatures here can get up as high as 40°C.
2 Pin Round
Islam (mainly Sunni) and Christian (mainly Serbian Orthodox)
Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian
The Croatian Adriatic has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, dry, sunny summers. There is a chance of sporadic rain in spring and autumn, though generally it is in the form of short showers. Thunderstorms can occur in summer, generally helping to cool the air. Hvar Island gets the most sunshine in summer with 10-12 hours each day, followed by Split, Korcula Island and Dubrovnik with around 7-8 hours. Temperatures from May to October are generally in the low to mid 70's (in °F), but can reach into the 30's (in °C) in July and August. Trip itineraries with boat cruises can occasionally be disrupted due to bad weather.
Montenegro's coastline has a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild winters, whereas the more mountainous inland areas have a sub-alpine climate with warm summers and very cold winters with frequent snowfall. There is a chance of sporadic rain in spring and autumn in the coastal areas, though generally this is in the form of short showers. In the mountains rainfall tends to be more frequent including around the Bay of Kotor. Temperatures from May to October are generally in the low to mid 20's (in °C), but can reach into the 30's (in °C) in July and August.
Christian (mainly Serbian Orthodox)
Serbia has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. There is a chance of sporadic rain in spring and autumn, though generally it is in the form of short showers. Thunderstorms can occur in summer, generally helping to cool the air. Temperatures from May to October are generally in the low to mid 20's (in °C), but can reach into the 30's (in °C) in July and August - although sometimes warm air currents from Africa can reach here and push the temperatures as high as 40°C.
Skadar Lake: 2.5 hour boat trip on the lake €18.00 plus €5.00 entrance fee to the park. Tvrdos Monastery and wine tasting: €2.00 per tasting. Sarajevo Tunnel Tour: €19.00 entrance plus €7.00 transfer to the Tunnel Museum from the city centre.
July and August are the hottest months, but early and late in the season go prepared with clothing to suit drops in temperature and the odd shower. Please note air conditioning may not available is some accommodations.
Comfortable shoes/trainers plus sandals for relaxing.
One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
A torch, water bottle, insect repellent, suncream (at least factor 15), good quality sunglasses and a lipsalve with sun protection.Also bring a swimsuit for swimming opportunities on the trip.
Bus, Boat, Train
On day 5 of our trip we will be staying in the mountain-side village of Sirogojno, which is home to a remarkable open air museum. It covers nearly 15 hectares and contains a collection of traditional 19th century authentic wooden buildings. We will be accommodated in small historical mountain houses. Each house has two to five beds, but they are in separate rooms rather than being dormitory style. So for example a house with five beds would usually have three bedrooms. Every house has a shared bathroom. In Cavtat on day 11 you will be staying in one of number of private pensions (guesthouses). Unfortunately it isn't possible to specify the exact guesthouse name that you will be staying in ahead of your arrival, but they are in the same area and of a similar standard. Each guesthouse and bedrooms within it are however unique, so the size and decor of the rooms will vary. Most rooms are en suite but some do have shared facilities. If you decide to extend you stay at the end of your holiday then our local agent will endeavour to make the booking for you in the same guesthouse as you stayed in on the final night of the trip. The majority of hotels used on this trip don't have a lift.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Croatia: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Bosnia Herzegovina: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Serbia: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Montenegro: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
On this holiday we use two minibuses rather than one large bus enabling us to get to places the larger busses can't reach. The Explore Leader always gives a whole group briefing and relevant information about the area before or after travelling so you all receive the same information.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend being up-to-date with your routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK including protection against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Tick-borne encephalitis protection is recommended by some medical sources at certain times of the year. Ticks are most active between spring and late autumn. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.