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Premium Balkans in Depth

Unlock the cultural treasure chest of the Balkans on an in-depth 26-day Premium adventure from Split to Bucharest. Amazing beaches and sunshine give way to medieval towns and castles as lesser known National Parks provide an incredible mountianous backdrop. Get away from the modern world and in with the locals on the remote and beautiful island of Lastovo, and soak up ancient riches of Transylvania, and discover Tara National Park’s spectacular scenery on foot and riding the rails on a historic steam train. Bursting with culinary delights and cultural wonders - the Balkans has it all.

26 days, from


per person


12 people max


Trip code: ZMPDC
Style: Premium
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  Bosnia And Herzegovina Croatia Romania Serbia
Accommodation: Comfortable Hotel (21 nights), Feature Stay (4 nights)
Transportation: Ferry , Private vehicle , Train
Included Meals:

  • 23 breakfasts
  • 4 lunches
  • 9 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Follow a local guide through Diocletian's Palace in Split, where narrow cobblestone streets are lined with pre-Romanesque churches, Gothic chapels and museums.

  • Immerse yourself in local culture during 3 exclusive Feature Stays. Head out with a fisherman from Lastovo Island, helping to bring in the daily catch and enjoying an on-board lunch of the freshest seafood imaginable. Stay at an Ethno Village created by a famed Serbian film maker, and enjoy a bucolic Romanian mansion in the countryside.

  • Wake up to incredible views of the Adriatic and a picturesque bay from the comfort of your exquisite Feature Stay guesthouse on the unspoiled Lastovo Island.

  • Take a scenic steam train ride through Tara National Park’s forests and mountains on a historic railway that forms part of the famous Ciro trail connecting Belgrade and the Adriatic Sea, a Premium Exclusive Experience.

  • Explore Balkan history, discovering Saxon villages with fairytale scenery, mideivel Old Towns with pretty market squares, and Orthodox monasteries where you'll taste the famous Tvrdos wine made by its monks.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Split

Welcome to Croatia! Your adventure begins today with your arrival in Split. Located right on the Adriatic coast, Croatia’s second-largest city combines stunning architecture with a timeless soul. You will be collected from the airport and transferred to your hotel where you’ll meet your local leader and small group for a 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive early, you might like to visit the Mestrovic gallery, which displays the remarkable work of one of Croatia’s greatest sculptors. After the meeting tonight, get to know your fellow travellers and group leader over dinner at one of Split’s excellent restaurants. Prepare for a culinary adventure as this is a country that takes good food and drink seriously. Perhaps try some brudet, a rustic seafood stew, or some rozata, a creamy custard pudding.

Day 2: Split

This morning meet with a local guide who is an expert on the area and embark on a sightseeing tour of Split. Your guide will provide profound insight as you discover a living textbook on history and architecture. Dating back 1800 years, the city began as a monumental imperial residence for the retirement of the Roman emperor Diocletian. This ancient fortress still makes up half of Split’s old town, and today is an intriguing warren of narrow cobblestone streets where pre-Romanesque churches exist alongside Gothic chapels and a multitude of museums. Stop by the statue of Grgur Ninski and learn how this tenth-century bishop once opposed the pope and introduced the Croatian language into his services. The evening is free for further explorations. Perhaps dive deeper into Split’s booming gastronomy scene - your leader will know some great spots to grab a bite to eat.

Day 3: Split / Lastovo Island

Enjoy a relaxing morning in Split before boarding an afternoon catamaran to Croatia’s most remote island - Lastovo. This little piece of paradise is home to your Feature Stay accommodation for the next two nights. The protected island nature park remains free from the effects of mainstream tourism and has retained its local flair. Without the infrastructure that caters to mass tourism, and with a dwindling population for the same reason, your leader will introduce you to scenes of traditional Adriatic island life as it once was. As a bonus, our sustainable tourism here supports the locals who have decided to remain. Arrive at your guesthouse and let the peaceful nature of Lastovo Island wash over you as the Adriatic Sea gently laps at your doorstep. Views from your spacious room look like they’re straight off a postcard, with charming houses fringing the glittering turquoise bay. This evening, take in the view over a wonderful included dinner with your group.

Day 4: Lastovo Island

Today you will immerse yourself in island life and learn an important local trade as you rise early and take to the seas with a local fisherman, his wife and his crew. Help them to bring in the day’s catch, usually a selection of scorpion fish, mackerel, sardine and bream, then enjoy the fruits of your labour with a delicious seafood lunch prepared on board - it doesn’t get more fresh than that! The captain will discuss their self-sustaining lifestyle and provide unrivalled insight into daily rituals, leaving you with an unforgettable impression of life on this remote island. Return to land and enjoy the rest of the day as you see fit. Perhaps unroll your beach towel and enjoy a few horizontal hours, or explore the peace and quiet of the stone waterfront and tiny port of this slice of heaven lost in time.

Day 5: Korcula Island

It’s time to bid farewell to Lastovo, but keep your watch set to island time. Transfer back to the port of Ubli, where you will board the mid-morning ferry bound for the delightful island of Korcula. Disembark and transfer to Korcula Town. Arrive in Korcula Town for an orientation walk and wind through endearing red-roofed houses huddled closely on marble streets. Your leader will give you a glimpse into the past as you stroll streets lined with Renaissance and Gothic architecture. Enjoy a free evening in this stunning seaside town. Perhaps continue your explorations of the Old Town, taking in the stocky Revelin Tower and impressive defensive walls before stopping for dinner in one of the island’s many restaurants.

Day 6: Peljesac Peninsula / Dubrovnik

Today begin the journey to Dubrovnik, making some interesting stops along the way. Take a short ferry ride from Korcula to the Peljesac Peninsula. The star of this region is its wine, which you’ll experience first-hand during a visit to a lovely family winery. Sample some of the local drops, along with light cheese and smoked ham. Next, visit the town of Ston, known for some of the world’s most delectable oysters, and enjoy time to explore or partake in an optional lunch. Continue on to Dubrovnik where your leader will explain the city’s history as you explore Stari Grad, the tightly packed Old Town. Restored to its former glory since the damages of the 1991 conflicts, Dubrovnik surprises at every turn, and the best way to experience the city’s soul it is to walk its streets. Stop in time to enjoy the sunset views from the famous city walls.

Day 7: Dubrovnik

The day is free for you to explore at leisure. Dubrovnik offers a wealth of experiences to cater to every taste, so be sure to ask your leader for some suggestions. Perhaps visit the historical Rector's Palace to marvel at the ornate Venetian-Gothic architecture, or sip a beer on the terrace of one of Dubrovnik’s teetering cliff bars. In the evening meet join your leader and group for a final dinner. Head to a splendid restaurant just outside the city, set in the grounds of an ancient mill on the banks of the Ljuta river. Indulge in a range of classic Croatian dishes made with generations-old recipes before raising your glass to the end of an adventure.

Day 8: Dubrovnik

Enjoy another free day in the jewel of the Dalmatian Coast. Perhaps take a ferry to explore the Elafiti Islands, swimming in crystal clear water and exploring quaint fishing villages on foot. In the evening, you'll meet new additions to your group at a welcome meeting. Next, head for dinner at a local restaurant showcasing Croatia’s traditional cuisine.

Day 9: Dubrovnik

After breakfast, drive from your hotel to the Konavle region south of Dubrovnik. The region is known as the Golden Valley of Dubrovnik as it has the most fertile grounds in the area and is filled with vineyards and fruit trees. Visit the small town of Cavtat with its beautiful architecture, ancient history and pebble beaches. After exploring the town, you’ll head further into the Konavle region for a traditional ‘peka’ lunch featuring lamb and other meats cooked under an iron bell. No meal in this region is complete without a glass of Croatian wine, so toast your hearty meal with a glass of Grk or Plavac Mali local wine. On your return to Dubrovnik, the rest of the day is yours to enjoy your way, perhaps with a walk around the city walls or a swim in the sparkling Adriatic Sea.

Day 10: Mostar

Today you’ll cross the border and travel into Bosnia & Herzegovina, stopping at several beautiful destinations in the Herzegovina region along the way. Your first stop is Trebinje where you’ll join your leader for a walking tour that takes in the compact Old Town and its pretty market square, followed by a stop at an Orthodox monastery to taste the famous Tvrdos wine. After you’ve quenched your thirst, your trip continues to Stolac where you may like to join your leader for a walk to visit the old medieval fortress high on the hill. After you’ve explored the sights of Stolac, you’ll arrive in Mostar in an hour. Here you’ll join an expert local guide for a guided tour around town that reveals why there is such a strong connection between the locals and coffee.

Day 11: Sarajevo

Leave Mostar and travel towards Sarajevo, but not without a stop at Konjic where you’ll discover one of the best-kept secrets in former Yugoslavia, Tito's nuclear bunker. The military bunker was built to protect Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito and hundreds of his top military personnel and has only recently opened to the public. Go back in time on a guided tour of the bunker and learn about Yugoslav history and how life used to be in not-so-distant past. After touring the bunker, continue to Sarajevo and settle into your hotel before heading out to explore the city with an expert local guide. Tonight you may like to join your group for dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 12: Sarajevo

Today is yours to explore your way. Taste your way through the market stalls of Bascarsija, visit one of the museums dedicated to the Yugoslav war or perhaps take a cable car up Trebevic mountain to enjoy magnificent views over the city. You’ll finish the day with a memorable home-cooked meal shared with your hosts Mustafa and Mersiha who proudly claim their kitchen has the best view over Sarajevo. Your night begins learning how Bosnian pita is made before a hearty meal of sogan dolma (stuffed onions) and dolam (stuffed paprika). Of course, you’ll get to try the freshly made pita too.

Day 13: Tara National Park

Today you’ll travel onwards to Serbia with a stop in the small town of Višegrad where a magnificent 16th-century bridge dominates the horizon and provided the inspiration for the Nobel Prize winning literary work, The Bridge on the Drina. From Višegrad, you’ll cross the border into Serbia and continue your journey to Tara National Park. Widely regarded as one of the most spectacular destinations in the country, Tara National Park is home to the world’s third largest river canyon and filled with forested slopes and dramatic ravines. Tonight you’ll bed down in Mećavnik in your Feature Stay, a traditional village that Serbian film director Emir Kusturica built for his film Life Is a Miracle. Explore the village before joining your group for a traditional dinner to celebrate your first night in Serbia.

Day 14: Belgrade

This morning you'll take an easy two hour hike through Tara National Park followed by a scenic steam train ride through the park’s forest and mountains. This section of the railway is part of the famous Ciro trail that connects Belgrade and the Adriatic Sea. Rattle along the tracks as the narrow gauge engine and historic carriages takes you through the jaw dropping scenery, with four stops along the way so passengers can take photos of the incredible views. After spending a half day exploring Tara National Park on foot and riding the rails, settle back for the four hour drive to Belgrade where you’ll check into your hotel and enjoy a leisurely evening after a long day of travel.

Day 15: Belgrade

Start your day with a guided walking tour and discover all that Belgrade has to offer including Republic Square, Knez Mihailova Street which is lined with historic buildings and Kalemegdan Park and the Belgrade Fortress where the Danube and Sava Rivers meet. Immerse yourself in the town’s rich history and perhaps ask your local guide for suggestions on where to experience the best night life in the Balkans as Belgrade is known for its party scene. This afternoon is yours to explore your way, perhaps with a visit to the city market or Nikola Tesla Museum or by catching a trolleybus to Zemun - a bohemian, village like neighbourhood that’s known for its cafes and fish restaurants along the riverside promenade. This evening, join your group for a traditional dinner in the bohemian Skadarska quarter to celebrate the penultimate night of your trip.

Day 16: Belgrade

Spend a free day in Belgrade before meeting up with new members of your group. Tonight you’ll meet your local leader and new travellers at 6 pm. Before, check out the city’s many museums – including the one dedicated to Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor known for transforming our understanding of electricity; or get a caffeine fix with a Turkish coffee at a kafana – traditional coffee houses date back to the Ottoman era. Tonight you’ll join the group for dinner at one of the city’s fantastic local restaurants and learn about Serbian produce and cuisine.

Day 17: Timisoara

This morning you’ll travel by private vehicle to Timisoara, crossing the Serbia-Romania border en route. Timisoara is a pretty park-filled city with a remarkable past. It was here that an uprising of local people sparked the Romanian Revolution in 1989, which saw the fall of the country’s Communist regime – reflecting the broader political change seen across Eastern Europe at the time. On a guided walking tour you’ll take in some of Timisoara’s most significant sights – including the grand and aptly named Victory, Liberty and Union Squares – and learn more about the city’s history.

Day 18: Sibiu

Today you’ll make your way to Sibiu, stopping on the way to visit the striking Hunedoara Castle (also known as Corvin Castle). The Gothic-Renaissance building looks like a cross between Hogwarts and something from a German fairy tale, with a huge drawbridge and a cluster of cloud-piercing turrets – you’ll learn more about its history, plus a few hair-raising myths, on a guided tour.

Upon arrival in Sibiu, you’ll get acquainted with the city’s cobbled streets and historic squares on a guided walking tour. Sibiu is something of a cultural heavyweight, known for its creative, bohemian atmosphere, rich history and eye-catching architecture. Explore what remains of the city’s medieval walls and towers, cross the legend-shrouded Bridge of Lies and take in the grandeur of Brukenthal National Museum, comprising numerous ornate palaces.

Day 19: Sibiu

This morning you’ll head to the outskirts of the city to explore ASTRA Village Museum. Set across 96 acres surrounding a sparkling lake, this open air living museum seeks to preserve, showcase and celebrate Romanian folk culture and traditional ways of life. Wander the grounds to discover reconstructed old dwellings, windmills and workshops and learn how Romanian people of centuries past grew food, raised families and made a living.

The afternoon is yours to explore. You could gaze at the incredible interiors and towering dome of the Orthodox Cathedral, or admire the slightly less imposing (but equally magnificent) Gothic Lutheran church. Alternatively, grab a covrigi (a tasty Romanian pretzel), wander the old town and snap photos of the colourful, Wes Anderson-style architecture.

Day 20: Coltesti Village

Depart Sibiu and head to Alba Lulia, one of the oldest cities in Romania. It is home to an 18th-century citadel with a history that dates back to Roman times. Shaped like a seven-point star, the fortress features a collection of ornate gates and vantage points, as well as numerous museums and cafes. Wander the cobbled streets with an expert guide to hear more about what went on within these ancient walls over the last two millennia.

Next, take a drive into the Trascău Mountains to reach Coltesti and check in to Szekler Mansion, your exclusive feature stay. Freshen up in your room – decked out with local textiles and hand-painted decorative furniture – before enjoying a traditional dinner, which could feature hearty bowls of borsch or goulash, locally-made cheese and sarmale (smoky, meat-filled cabbage rolls).

Day 21: Sighisoara

Prepare for an unforgettable underground experience as you make your way to Turda Salt Mine. The gargantuan subterranean space was renovated and opened to the public in the early 1990s and resembles an alien planet or a Bond villain’s lair. Don’t forget to pack a sweatshirt – it gets chilly 119 metres down. Once you resurface, you’ll discover plenty of choices when it comes to your optional lunch – including a nearby winery.

This afternoon, travel to Unesco-listed Sighisoara – your home for the next two nights, and birthplace of Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure and inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Day 22: Sighisoara

This morning, explore the colourful streets of Sighisoara’s old town on a guided walk. You’ll visit the 14th-century Clock Tower that dominates the skyline (and offers 360 views from the top), and climb the 176 creaking covered steps that connect the upper and lower parts of town to reach the so-called Church on the Hill.

Drive to Malancrav to share lunch in a bucolic setting. The Saxon village was once owned by one family, the Apafis, and populated with German farmers. Highlights here include Apafi Mansion and a 14th-century church with the largest Gothic fresco in Transylvania. After your meal you’ll swing by the neighbouring World Heritage site of Biertan and its spectacular fortified church before heading to Medias – known for its medieval fortifications and wine (‘Golden Mediasch’ is even mentioned in the novel Dracula). Enjoy some free time before making your way back to Sighisoara for the evening.

Day 23: Brasov

After breakfast you’ll make your way to Brasov, making a pitstop at hilltop Rupea Fortress. The restored citadel’s steep and rocky pathways spiral up to the highest point, offering broad sweeping views over the surrounding green fields. This afternoon you’ll reach Brasov and embark on a guided walking tour to get your bearings and learn about the city’s most notable sights – including what’s left of the old medieval fortifications, the Black Church that was charred in the Great Fire of 1689 but since restored, and the wedge-shaped Council Square, lined with historic buildings. Tonight you’ll enjoy dinner together at a quality local restaurant.

Day 24: Brasov

By now you’ll have spotted the fact that Brasov has its own Hollywood-style sign, perched high on the slopes of Mount Tampa. This morning you’ll join the group on a cable car ride to the top, where you’ll enjoy sensational views of the town below. The journey only takes a few minutes – but if you’d prefer to hike up or down, the steep journey takes around an hour each way. This afternoon enjoy some free time – opting to explore more of Brasov itself (perhaps seek out tiny String Street, which is 44 inches at its narrowest point) or indulging in some Romanian sweet treats such as kurtoskalacs, a cinnamon-sprinkled delight known as chimney cake, or papanasi, a sweet cream doughnut topped with blueberry jam. Still not fortressed out? Take a trip beyond the city limits to soak up more history and views from Rasnov Fortress.

Day 25: Bucharest

Today you’ll head south, packing in plenty of action before reaching your final destination, Bucharest. First stop: Bran Castle, perhaps Romania’s most famous attraction, given its associations with the tale of Count Dracula. Vampire myths aside (it was never actually host to Vlad the Impaler or Bram Stoker) the forested surroundings and lofty location of this 14th-century castle will have you hypnotised. Stop for lunch in the Prahova Valley, where you’ll tour a local winery – known for its sparkling rose – in the mountain town of Azuga. You’ll squeeze in one last castle in Peles, but this one is somewhat more modern. Built in the late 19th century, the neo-Renaissance creation is even more extravagant on the inside than it is on the outside. Hit the road one last time, reaching Bucharest by early evening.

Day 26: Bucharest

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you’d like to spend some more time in Bucharest, let us know in advance – we would be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).