Balkan Heritage Tour
Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia
Day 1: Ljubljana (D)
Arrival in Ljubljana, Slovenia, transfer to hotel and check in. Ljubljana sightseeing. In the heart of Slovenia, in the valley of the river Ljubljanica lies beautiful capital of Slovenia. Having that entire modern metropolis should have, Ljubljana kept relaxed and cosy atmosphere of a small town. Built on the site of the ancient Roman Colonia Emona, through its history Ljubljana was long part of the Habsburg family and typical middle European appearance joined with influence of Italy is visible in town’s architecture. Take a walk through the old town with many bridges on River Ljubljanica Canal over which the Old Castle still guards and enjoy beautiful scenery.
Day 2: Bled – Postojna – Zagreb, Croatia (B, D)
Departure from Ljubljana to Bled Lake. Situated under the Julian Alps this glacier lake and its surroundings have a fairytale-like nature. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumption built in 17th ct. (on the same place where the first church was built in 12th ct.) appears to float in the middle of the lake. Take a traditional boat drive to the idyllic island and walk 99 steps to the church. Enjoy the breathtaking view on Bled’s castle that stands on a rock about 100 m above the lake; ring the “bell of wishes” and learn about an interesting legend.
Then drive to Postojna to visit the Postojna Cave, one of Slovenian top tourism sites. The caves were created by the Pivka River. A fantastic 20, 5 km long web of tunnels, passages, galleries and halls display the astonishing diversity of karst features. Enjoy a ride with a special train, which will take you to the beautiful underground world full of playful limestone sculptures. Continue drive to Zagreb, capital of Croatia for your overnight stay.
Day 3: Zagorje – Zagreb (B, L)
An hour drive to Zagorje. North part of Croatia is characteristic for its beautiful green hills, thermal spas, castles, museums and Baroque churches. You will visit the Old village of Kumrovec – the largest open-air ethnological museum in Croatia. Life, customs and crafts of Zagorje village in the late 19th ct. are represented through more than 35 authentic buildings and old cottages, together with the birth house of Josip Broz Tito. After the tour of the village, see the demonstration of making wooden toys, the old handcraft which is inscribed in UNESCO Intangible Heritage list of Croatia.
In the nearby village of Desinić discover beautiful Veliki Tabor castle-fortress which dates from 15th ct. and is the best preserved and most representative of its kind in Croatia’s inland. Here some interesting legends related to its history. On the way back to Zagreb, enjoy local restaurant specialties with dish characteristic for the area and enjoy local wines.
In the afternoon Zagreb sightseeing. At the base of Medvednica hill lies Zagreb, in his appearance a typical Central European city. Zagreb has grown up from two neighboring hill-settlements in middle Ages – Gradec (secular) and Kaptol (ecclesial) that are nowadays called Upper Town. In 19th and 20th ct. the city experienced strong development and became social, cultural and economic center of Croatia. In his old town, his parks and central part, Zagreb didn’t part with the beauty of the past centuries that is harmoniously joined with modern, urban face of the city. Enjoy the sightseeing walk and get introduced to the stories of the past and present.
Day 4: Plitvice Lakes – Zadar (B, L, D)
Drive towards NP Plitvice Lakes. Enjoy visit to this magnificent nature phenomenon, with breathtaking views of waterfalls, lakes and forests. Croatia’s first and the largest National park was established in 1949 and covers nearly 300 km2, ranging in altitude from 367 m to 1279 m above sea level. The park was inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979. The sixteen lakes are famous for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue, depending on the quantity of minerals in the water and the angle of sunlight.
Journey continues towards the Adriatic coast and the beautiful city of Zadar. Hear the turbulent history of this city, fighting off the Venetians, crusaders, and Turks over the centuries. Zadar gained its urban structure as early as Roman times which is still clearly visible. Among beautiful architectural heritage, the symbol of the town is the Church of St. Donat, the largest Pre-Romanesque building in Croatia from 9th ct. and one of the most impressive churches of centralized type of the Carolingian period in Europe. Discover creative modern installations – the Sea Organs – experimental musical instrument which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes located underneath a set of large marble steps; and Greeting to the Sun comprised of three hundred multi-layered glass plates that absorb the Sun’s rays.
Day 5: Šibenik – Trogir – Split (B, D)
Enjoy this beautiful “Croatian UNESCO Day” – exploring 3 UNESCO sights. First stop will be at Šibenik. A town rich in cultural and historical monuments; the most representative among them is the famous Cathedral of Saint Jacob entirely built of stone and inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Construction lasted over 100 year (1431- 1536) in Gothic and Renaissance style. Surrounding buildings – the Town Hall form 16th ct., the four wells – reservoirs from 15th Ct. together with old stone places complete one of the most beautiful old town cores in Croatia. The four preserved Renaissance fortresses – one on the sea and three on the coast – were built for protection from Ottomans.
Drive and a visit to Trogir, one of the most beautiful small towns on Croatian coast. A town-museum in the very meaning of the word as well as favorite tourist destination. The unique historical core is known as one of the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complexes in Central Europe but features the architectural styles from Old Greek to Baroque period. The souvenir of the town is a relief of Kairos – old Greeks’ god of “the right moment”. The whole old town core is protected as UNESCO Heritage site.
Next follows a visit to Split – vivid, colorful, the largest city and urban, cultural and traffic center of Dalmatia. A city with a 1700-year old tradition keeps a variety of archaeological, historical and cultural monuments, among which the well-known Palace of Diocletian from 305 AD, inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List. This unique complex combines beautiful architecture: Romanesque churches from 12th and 13th C’s, Middle-Age fortress and palaces from different periods, including Temple of Jupiter and Diocletian’s’ Mausoleum. Enjoy beautiful Dalmatian coast’s scenery, wonderful heritage, and characteristic spirited mentality of the locals together with numerous shops, restaurants and cafes, full of tourists from all over the world.
Day 6: Medjugorje – Dubrovnik (B, D)
Drive along beautiful Adriatic coast toward Medjugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina where in the summer of 1981 Our Lady has started to appear to the six children from the village with giving messages to the world. Since then, this peaceful village became one of the most visited Marian shrines in the world, with millions of pilgrims and visitors each year. Visit the Church of St. Jacob and walk on the Apparition Hill of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In the afternoon we will arrive in Dubrovnik. The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List and today one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Dubrovnik had interesting history as independent republic throughout middle Ages till the beginning of 19th ct. throughout centuries Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. The most recognizable feature are intact city walls, which run uninterrupted for 1940 meters encircling the city with five fortresses that give to its visitor’s unforgettable view of the town.
Day 7: Kotor – Cetinje – Budva, Montenegro (B, L)
After breakfast drive the Republic of Montenegro and wonderful Bay of Kotor. Natural and Culture-Historical Region of Kotor has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The bay is about 28 km long from the open sea to the harbor of the city of Kotor and was called Europe’s southernmost fjord. Kotor sightseeing, a town museum which was inhabited from the times of the Illyrians and the Romans. A walk through the city takes us back to medieval times, as most of the monuments are from the 14th to 18th C’s, among which the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, St. Luka Church and St. Michael Church.
A scenic drive up the mountain gets us to Cetinje, capital of Montenegro during the Njegoš era, with natural stone protections. The town was founded in 1482, when Ivan Crnojević, the last ruler of the medieval country of Zeta, built here a palace and church.
Back to the coast and small town of Budva, one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. Today the top tourist destination of Montenegro, with Old Town mostly of Venetian design, encompassed by stone walls, surrounded with restaurants and cafes with a view on the port.
Day 8: Radimlja site, Počitelj – Blagaj – Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (B, L, D)
Morning drive through picturesque mountains into Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the day is reserved for visiting beautiful sites that are under UNESCO protection and on the tentative list of the World Heritage sites.
A first stop will be near small town of Stolac, where we will visit Radimlja location – a necropolis of “stećak”– medieval tombstones characteristic for Old Bosnian Kingdom. The Radimlja necropolis is one of the most valuable monuments of its kind. Most of the tombstones date from the 15th and 16th C’s; 63 stones are decorated, and the finest examples are tall with engraved figure of dukes (inscribed on UNESCO WHL in 2016).
The road leads us to another beautiful place – Počitelj. It is supposed that the fortified town was built by Bosnian King Stjepan Tvrtko I in 1383 and evolved over the period from 16th to 18th C’s. There is a beautiful complex of architecture from Ottoman period: the Hadži-Alija Mosque, the Šišman-Ibrahim pašina medresa (school), the Gavran Kapetanović house, and the stone-built Sahat-kula (clock & watch tower).
Further stop at one of nature’s phenomena the Buna river spring, by Blagaj kasaba (village-town), one of the largest and most beautiful springs in Europe. Blagaj is one of the most valuable historical urban-rural structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 15th to 16th C’s. Next to the spring the Ottoman sultan built the tekija – a house – monastery for the Dervish cults. This is still one of the most mystical places in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A short drive and Mostar sightseeing – Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (“most” meaning bridge) who in the medieval times guarded the Old Bridge over the Neretva. The Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th Ct. (reconstructed after the war), is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most recognizable landmarks protected as UNESCO Heritage site. It is considered one of the most exemplary pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. A stroll through the narrow medieval style old bazaar with Ottoman Islamic architecture. Drive to Sarajevo for the overnight.
Day 9: Sarajevo – Višegrad – Zlatibor (B, D)
After breakfast – Sarajevo sightseeing. The capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina is nestled within the Sarajevo valley, surrounded by beautiful mountains of Bjelašnica, Igman, Jahorina and Trebević. The city is famous for its traditional cultural and religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism coexisting there for centuries. Due to this long and rich history of religious and cultural variety, Sarajevo was often called the “Jerusalem of Europe”. From 1992 to 1996, the city suffered the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare during the Bosnian War for independence. Enjoy town diversities, walk on banks of the river Miljacka, visit Baščaršija – Sarajevo’s old bazaar and the historical center of the city that was built in the 15th ct. when the town was built by Ottomans, that charmingly blends with 19th ct. “Habsburg” part of the city.
Departure towards Višegrad. Nestled at a particularly beautiful viewpoint Višegrad, just like Mostar, has a famous stone bridge from Ottoman era – the “Mehmed paša Sokolović” bridge, which is on the UNESCO Heritage List. The bridge in Višegrad was designed by the famous Ottoman architect Sinan and completed in 1571. The bridge was inspiration for the novel by Ivo Andrić “The Bridge on the Drina”, which got him in 1961 the Nobel Prize for Literature. Passing the border and entering the Republic of Serbia, we will continue to Zlatibor Mountain for the overnight.
Day 10: Zlatibor – Studenica Monastery – Belgrade, Serbia (B, L, D)
Morning drive through beautiful mountain region of Zlatibor intersected by rivers, streams and ravines that is part of the Dinaric Alps, the name meaning “Golden Pine”.
Our next stop is beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site of Monastery Studenica – the crowning achievement of medieval culture and art in Serbia. The Studenica Monastery was established in the late 12th century by Stevan Nemanja, founder of the medieval Serbian state, shortly after his abdication. This is the largest and richest of Serbia’s Orthodox monasteries. Its two principal monuments, the Church of the Virgin and the Church of the King, both built of white marble, enshrine priceless collections of 13th and 14th C’s Byzantine painting. Drive to Belgrade for the overnight.
Day 11: Belgrade, departure (B)
Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, situated on the mouth of river Sava into the Danube, is the largest city on the tour, where you can feel the encounter of western and eastern Europe. Enjoy sightseeing tour: Terazije, Republic Square, Knez Mihajlova Street and Skadarlija, with beautiful buildings, monuments and vivid city pulse. Fortress Kalemegdan includes well-preserved artillery structures dating from the 18th Ct, acropolis with original ramparts, gateways, towers, some Turkish monuments and some older, from Roman times. Here you can see the beautiful view where River Sava complements Danube River. Transfer to the airport, departure.
Included: overnights with breakfast in 4*/3* hotels, lunch and dinners in restaurants / hotels; tickets & admission fees, tour leader, local guides, van/small-bus/coach touring
Not included: travel insurance package (recommended!), personal orders & expenses, tips & gratitude
For price and further options please send us a request.
Photo Gallery : www.slovenia.info: 1 Ljubljana, 2 Jost Gantar, Bled, 3 Postojna Cave; CNTB: 4 Ivo Biočina, Zagreb, 5 Luka Esenko, Plitvice, 6 Ivan Čorić, Split, 8 Luka Esenko, Dubrovnik; NTO Montenegro: 9 Boka Bay, 10 Lovćen Mausoleum; TB Hercegovina: 7 Medjugorje, 11 Mostar, 12 Radmilja UNESCO site