Tour type: Small Group
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 20
Accommodation: 3 to 4-star hotels
Transport: AC minibus/coach
Highlights: The Acropolis, Meteora monasteries, Tirana, ancient Budva, spectacular Bay of Kotor, walled city of Dubrovnik, scenic Adriatic & Dalmatian coast, Split beaches, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Ohrid lake church, Stari Most bridge, Delphi
This 16-day Balkans tour takes you on a historical and cultural journey through seven different countries - Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia.
We'll start in Greece, browsing through its capital city of Athens, visiting some of its popular attractions such as the Panathenaic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian's Arch, the Parliament buildings as well as a visit to the Acropolis. After spending time in Athens, we'll head to Meteora to take in the beauty of 24 mountaintop monasteries, six which are still being used today.
The next stop on our seven country journey through the Balkans takes us to Albania, where we'll explore the Ottoman town of Gjirokastra and its capital city of Tirana. From Albania, we make our way to the small country of Montenegro, visiting its ancient towns of Budva and Kotor and driving around the spectacular Bay of Kotor.
We'll cross the border once more as we head to Croatia - visiting the walled city of Dubrovnik, which offers beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea and excellent cuisine. Our time in Croatia also takes us along the scenic Dalmatian Coast to the town of Split, famed for its 4th century-old Diocletian's Palace - a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Croatia, we make our way to Bosnia and Herzegovina, seeing the Stari Most bridge en-route to the small, but vibrant capital city of Sarajevo, situated on the Miljacka River. A short stay here sees us head to Serbia, as we make our way through its capital city of Belgrade - where ancient history merges with medieval times, which again merges with the contemporary age.
Our busy journey through the Balkans then sees us head to Macedonia's capital city of Skopje, which lies at the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, before we make our way to Ohrid, a small resort city on the hilly shores of Lake Ohrid in Macedonia's southwest. Orhid is packed with old churches and has been known as the 'Macedonian Jerusalem'.
After spending time in Macedonia, we go full circle as we return to Greece, firstly to the port city of Thessaloniki, situated on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea. We'll also visit the ancient town of Delphi - home of the Oracle of Apollo, one of the most popular ancient sites and destinations in Greece before we make our way back to Athens to end our Balkans adventure.
Upon arrival at Athens Airport you will be met by one of our representatives and transferred to your hotel situated in the heart of the Greek capital. Depending on when you arrived, you have the rest of the day free to settle in after your flight and explore the city independently.
Extra day in Athens - pre-tour (EXGR2S)
Single Room Supplement (GRSGDB)
You have the day free to explore Athens at your leisure. There is a myriad of activities to delve into, from experiencing the delicious traditional food of Athens to shopping or immersing yourself in the ancient history and culture of Athens.
Be sure to visit some of Athen's most iconic sites, such as the Acropolis - a citadel which houses some of the greatest architecture of the classical world, the Temple of Athena Nike which was built around 420 BC, the Erechtheion and also the Parthenon - a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the goddess Athena.
Optional guided tours are available to the Acropolis or the Corinth Canal.
We begin our day by bidding farewell to Athens as we travel to Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Meteora, which literally means 'middle of the sky', 'suspended in the air' or 'in the heavens above' is one of the largest and most important complexes of Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second only to Mount Athos.
After spending some time in Meteora, we'll enjoy an evening in the traditional Greek village of Kalambaka, which is situated at the foothills of the towering Meteora rocks.
Leaving Greece behind, we begin our journey towards the capital of Albania - Tirana. Along the way, we will indulge in a relaxing break at the Drilon Springs, a national park which includes a unique lake with an island in the middle.
There are several restaurants in this area as well as rentable boats which allow you to explore this beautiful little lake. We then continue our journey to Tirana where we will be spending the night in a four-star hotel.
This morning, after breakfast we begin our travels to Kotor, stopping along the way in Budva, Montenegro. Famous for its historic monuments, bay islands and stunning beaches, Budva is a treasure chest of culture and history.
Budva Old Town lies on the small peninsula, crossed with narrow streets and squares and filled with iconic buildings such as the Churches of St Trojica, St. Ivan, St. Bogorodica and St. Sava.
After our stop in Budva, we continue our journey to Kotor which nests on the incredible Bay of Kotor - a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kotor offers a myriad of sites to see, such as the well-preserved Old Town and its city walls that you can walk along, providing you with a stunning vantage point of the city.
Kotor is also home to the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon which was built in 1166. We spend the night in the city of Kotor.
Continuing our adventures, we journey along the breath-taking Southern coast of Croatia to the city of Dubrovnik, another UNESCO World Heritage.
Dubrovnik is famous for its well-preserved stone walls and is known as the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. Additionally, this beautiful city is synonymous with the popular television series Game of Thrones, as it was one of the main filming locations.
On arrival in Dubrovnik we will enjoy a guided walk along the iconic city walls, indulging in scenic views of the glistening Adriatic Sea. We will also visit Big Onofrio’s Fountain which was built in the 15th to supply water to the city.
After this, we will pay a visit to the 13th century Franciscan monastery as well as the Sponza and Rector’s Palaces. This afternoon we drive along the Adriatic coast towards Trogir where we will be spending the night.
We begin our morning by heading towards Split after breakfast. After the short journey to Split, we will enjoy a walking tour of the city where we will visit Diocletian Palace, a Roman imperial palace and UNESCO World Heritage site.
Walking along the southern parts of the palace, we will see the Bronze Gates, Vestibul of the Emperor’s Palace, The Mausoleum, St. Dujam’s Cathedral, Cathedral Treasury, Temple of Jupiter, St. Martin’s Church and then finally the Venetian Castle, Milesi Palace and the Monument of Marko Marulic.
This afternoon, we continue our Balkans adventure towards Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
We begin our morning in the beautiful city of Mostar with a guided tour of the city’s most iconic sites. Mostar was heavily bombed during the war but has since been rebuilt and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We will take you to visit the famous Stari Most Bridge which was built in the 16th century by the Ottomans. After this, we travel to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where we'll overnight.
Sarajevo is a culturally mixed city proudly known as the European Jerusalem – within a very short walking distance you will come across Orthodox and Catholic churches, synagogues and mosques.
We start off our morning with a guided tour of Sarajevo, a city which is slowly asserting itself as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities after it was heavily devastated by the war. Sarajevo comprises of a mixture of east and west as it is filled with mosques, bazaars, minarets and the enveloping aroma of coffee.
This evening, we encourage you to enjoy a delicious meal in Bascarsija which is Sarajevo’s old bazaar. Try out the local speciality of ‘bosanski cevapi’ which consists of grilled minced meat mixed with mild spices. Optional tours of the Tunnel of Hope and Vrelo Bosne are available for this afternoon.
This morning we head towards the Serbian capital of Belgrade which is known for its magnificent Orthodox churches and museums. Once we arrive, we will enjoy a guided tour of Belgrade and visit the city’s beautiful boulevards and squares as well as the historic, green heart of Kalemegdan Park.
Kalemegdan Park is also home to the Kalemegdan Fortress, which was built as a defensive structure on a ridge overlooking the confluence of the Sava and the Danube rivers during the 2nd to the 18th century.
Today is a free day and we encourage you to explore the sights and sounds of Belgrade. A good option would be to make your way down to Skadarska Street which is in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija. Here, you can sample some of the local delicious food, enjoy the vibrance and culture of this unique place where Orthodox churches are situated next to fashionable nightclubs.
For those looking for something a little more structured, there are optional tours available of Novi Sad or Sremski Karlovci.
This morning we bid farewell to Belgrade and head towards the capital of Macedonia, Skopje. From there, we will enjoy an afternoon walking tour of the city center and pay a visit to Kale Fortress and the Church of the Holy Savior and its iconostas, the pinnacle of traditional walnut wood carving.
We will also explore the Old Bazaar and Stone Bridge before spending the night in Skopje.
We begin our morning by driving to Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site which is known as the ‘Macedonian Jerusalem’ because of its myriad of churches. It is situated along the shores of a large lake that is renowned for its crystal-clear waters.
From here, your guide will show you Ohrid's most popular attractions. We will pay a visit to the 11th century church of St. Sofia, a prominent medieval monument in Macedonia, known for its incredible Byzantine fresco painting. Next, we will see the St. Clement Church, with its icon of Annunciation and then we will spend the night in this amazing treasure chest of culture and history.
This morning we begin our journey towards Thessaloniki, which is famous for its UNESCO listed Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments situated at the foreshore and lined with restaurants and cocktail bars.
We will then stop off for a break in Bitola, where you will be able to indulge in a tasty lunch at one of the cafes in Sirok Sokak Street or Magnolia Square. There will also be an optional tour of Bitola available.
This morning we head back to Athens. Along the way we will stop in Volos, which is a secret gem situated in Eastern Greece along the Pagasetic Gulf. Volos is overlooked by Mt. Pelion, the home of the Centaurs of Greek mythology.
We encourage you to hire a bike or take a leisurely stroll along the foreshore which is dotted with a myriad of cafes and restaurants. We will then continue our journey back to Athens where we will spend our final night of the tour.
All good things unfortunately must come to an end. After breakfast, you will be collected and transferred to the airport to board your flight back home. Additional nights accommodation are available in Athens if you would like to extend your stay here.
Extra day in Athens - post-tour (EXGR2E)
This tour has small-group departures running every 2 weeks from May until early October to take advantage of the year's best weather. We can also run the tour privately for you on any other dates.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Athenaeum Grand Hotel
The Athenaeum Grand is a new, modern style hotel with 90 rooms, all with unobstructed views over Athens. The location is good, only 5 mins walk from the lively Koukaki area and around 25 mins walk from the Acropolis or the Plaka.
The Athenaeum Grand is a new, modern style hotel with 90 rooms, all with unobstructed views over Athens. The location is good, only 5 mins walk from the lively Koukaki area and around 25 mins walk from the Acropolis or the Plaka. There are bus stops right outside and the hotel also provides a free shuttle bus to and from the Acropolis.
The buffet breakfast is varied, and the hotel also has a restaurant for dining at lunchtime and evenings.
Rooms are comfortable and well appointed with hardwood floors and soft clours. Hairdryers and free toiletries are provided. Some rooms have a balcony or terrace.
The hotel also provides a free smartphone to guests during their stay which can be used for both local and international calls, plus unlimited mobile data.
The Antoniadis Hotel is located in Kalambaka, the gateway to Meteora. Just 3 miles from the Monastery of Agia Triada and 12 miles from the Theopetra Cave. Just a few steps from the hotel youâ€™ll find a selection of shops, restaurants and cafes.
The Antoniadis Hotel is located in Kalambaka, the gateway to Meteora. Just 3 miles from the Monastery of Agia Triada and 12 miles from the Theopetra Cave. Just a few steps from the hotel you'll find a selection of shops, restaurants and cafes.
All 98 rooms include TV's, en-suite bathrooms and balconies. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant, bar and swimming pool.
Tirana International Hotel
Located in the very heart of Tirana, overlooking Scanderbeg Square, the Tirana International Hotel has an enviable position with most of Tirana's attractions within walking distance.
Located in the very heart of Tirana, overlooking Scanderbeg Square, the Tirana International Hotel has an enviable position with most of Tirana's attractions within walking distance. Nearby attractions include Scanderbeg Square, Et-hem Bay Mosque, St Pauls Cathedral, the National Historical Museum and the abandoned Piramida.
All 170 guest rooms feature en-suite bathrooms, free wifi, LCD tv's and minibar. The hotel also offer a wide range of facilities including 2 restaurants, full service spa, fitness centre, bar and an indoor swimming pool.
Located on the banks of the Bay of Kotor in the small town of Prcani, the Hotel Splendido offers guests basic but comfortable rooms many of which feature incredible views of the bay.
Located on the banks of the Bay of Kotor in the small town of Prcani, the Hotel Splendido offers guests basic but comfortable rooms many of which feature incredible views of the bay.
Rooms at the hotel Splendido are traditionally furnished with air conditioning, satellite tv and include internet access. The hotel also features a beautiful outdoor pool area and a small private beach, whilst the on-site restaurant specialises in seafood platters and traditional Montenegrin dishes.
This hotel overlooks Zaton Bay, and is 9km away from old town Dubrovnik. It has 50 ocean-facing rooms with balconies. Facilities include WiFi access, a rooftop pool, a private beach, and a restaurant.
Villa Paradiso is located on the Dalmatian coast, overlooking the sea and 9km from Dubrovnik’s old town. It has 50 rooms, each with views of the bay and ocean. The rooms have balconies, TVs, WiFi access, and air-conditioning. There is a rooftop pool with sea views, and the hotel has access to its own beach. It also features a restaurant.
Hotel Slavija is a historic hotel with a great location within the walls of the Diocletian's Palace in Split. It is listed as a National Cultural Heritage building and protected by UNESCO. Rooms are compact but comfortable.
Hotel Slavija is a historic 3-star hotel with an excellent location within the walls of the Diocletian's Palace in the heart of Split. The rail and bus terminals, and airport shuttle bus stop are 300m walk away. The hotel's history and location mean that it is protected by UNESCO and also listed as a Croatian National Heritage building. It is the oldest hotel in the city and can trace its history back to the late 16th/early 17th century. In the early 20th century the Renaissance-Baroque Palace was adapted to the Hotel Slavija and it has hosted many famous poets, artists, athletes and other luminaries over the years.
Rooms are compact but comfortable with all having a phone, cable TV, private bathroom with a shower and a hairdryer and free toiletries. Single, twin, double, triple and quad rooms are available.
The hotel has a restaurant on site plus a rooftop terrace and cooking classes are made available. Free WiFi internet is also available in the hotel.
Hotel Trogir Palace
Hotel Trogir Palace is found in the Croatian city of Trogir, on the island of Ciovo. It has 36 fully-equipped rooms, each with balconies with views of the sea and the old city. It also offers a restaurant, spa, and free WiFi.
Hotel Trogir Palace is found on the island of Ciovo in Croatia, just 200 metres away from the city centre of Trogir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a luxury boutique hotel, featuring 36 rooms, each fully equipped with LCD TVs, aircons, minibars, safes, and WiFi access. Each also has a balcony with views of the sea and old city. There is a restaurant, spa, and 24-hour front desk.
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Located in the centre of Sarajevo in Bascarsije, an area known for its Ottoman architecture. All major tourist attractions are within walking distance and you'll be spoiled for choice with a multitude of shops and restaurants on your door step.
The Hotel Astra is located in the centre of Sarajevo in Bascarsije, an area known for its Ottoman architecture. All major tourist attractions are within walking distance and you'll be spoiled for choice with a multitude of shops and restaurants right on your door step.
The hotel offers 17 air-conditioned rooms featuring satellite tv and minibars. Also at the hotel you'll have access to free wifi in public areas and a restaurant where local Bosnian cuisine is served.
Prime Hotel is found in Belgrade, close to the famous Church of Saint Sava. It features standard rooms and apartments with kitchens. There is WiFi access, a 24-hour front desk, and a breakfast buffet available.
Prime Hotel is a modern hotel located in a quiet neighbourhood of Belgrade. It is close to the famous Church of Saint Sava and Slavija Square, as well as many restaurants and bars. Accommodation is in the form of double rooms and one or two-bedroom apartments, each with air-conditioning, WiFi access, TVs, and hairdryers. The apartments have fully-equipped kitchens. There is a 24-hour front desk and the staff are multilingual. There is an on-site restaurant and bar, and a breakfast buffet is available.
Best Western Hotel Turist
The Best Western Hotel Turist is located in the very heart of Skopje just a few paces away from the famous Mother Teresa House. Macedonia Square with its huge Alexander the Great statue and a short walk from the Old Bazaar and stone bridge.
The Best Western Hotel Turist is located in the very heart of Skopje just a few paces away from the famous Mother Teresa House. Macedonia Square with its huge Alexander the Great statue is just 300 metres from the hotel and the Stone Bridge and Old Bazaar around 500 meters.
Rooms at the Hotel Turist are comfortable with air-conditioning, tv and en-suite bathrooms. Some rooms also feature balconies with lovely views towards the Mother Teresa house.
The Hotel Belvedere offers comfortable accommodation just 2 minutes walk from the clear waters of Lake Ohrid, a great place for relaxation and a swim in the cool waters. The beautiful centre of Ohrid is just 2.5 miles away.
The Hotel Belvedere offers comfortable accommodation just 2 minutes walk from the clear waters of Lake Ohrid, a great place for relaxation and a swim in the cool waters. The beautiful centre of Ohrid is just 2.5 miles away.
The 89 rooms offer lake or forest views and feature air-conditioning, satellite tv, minibar, en-suite bathrooms and private terraces. We highly recommend visiting the centre of Ohrid in the evening, however if you prefer to remain at the hotel you'll find a selection of restaurants offering a good choice of cuisine.
This hotel is a renovated old tobacco house in the Greek Port city of Thessaloniki. It is a 4-star hotel featuring air-conditioned rooms with all necessary amenities. Facilities include a restaurant, free WiFi, bar, and room service.
Tobacco Hotel is a 4-star hotel in the Greek port city of Thessaloniki, located in the city centre. It is a renovated former tobacco house. It features several different room types, each with safes, minibars, TVs, hairdryers, and other modern amenities. Free WiFi access is available, as well as 24-hour reception, a laundry service, and beauty treatment (on request). There is also a bar, restaurant, and parking area.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.
We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.
It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.
All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).
You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...
You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.
Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.
If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.
If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.
IMPORTANT: We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour. If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.
It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.
General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.
You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.
Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.
Our tours visiting the Balkans we use a range of hotels mainly at the local 3 and 4-star level though some more boutique style properties or guesthouses may be used at times. Please check the Accommodation section for more information on the normal hotels used on this tour. This list is given as a guide though and hotels may change from time to time to others of a similar standard.
Accommodation levels and hotels may be slightly different in this region to those you are accustomed to at home. We regularly inspect all the hotels we use to ensure that the service you receive is as close as possible to your expectations. Please check your hotel room when you first arrive (hot water, cleanliness etc.), as our rep will wait in the hotel reception for around 15 minutes to help in case of any problems.
We will contact you with your arrival hotel details normally a couple of weeks before departure.
Rooming Arrangements: Single, Twin, and Double bedded rooms are available in all of the hotels used on these tours. Single travellers will need to pay the additional single room supplement; though we will always try to pair you up with another traveller of the same sex if this is your preference. In instances when a share is arranged the single supplement will not be payable, however if a share cannot be arranged the single supplement will be added to your reservation.
Check In Times: Official hotel check-in times are between 14.00 and 15.00. However, we do always try to ensure that if you arrive early, you can check into your room as soon as possible. We can nearly always get you into your hotel rooms by midday, but please understand that it is out of our control if the hotel is full and it takes a little longer. You will have full use of the hotel facilities while you wait if there is a short delay.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you're really experiencing the country you're travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. The distances involved when travelling around the Balkans mean that we use private vehicles and tourist coaches throughout this tour.
Our tours in the Balkans include your arrival and departure airport-hotel transfers and all other transfers.
Your airport transfers are only included on the first and last day of the set tour itinerary, plus on any additional days if you book your hotel room with us. If you make your own arrangements for additional accommodation at either the beginning or the end of the tour then you will need to arrange your own airport transfers on these days.
We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.
Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour.Please check your your itinerary carefully for more information on where you should book your international flight into and out of as many of our tours start and end in different locations.
We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There's no point in us providing great guides if you';ve got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won't ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set our group departures in the Balkans to have a maximum of 20 travellers.
On these tours we provide a fully trained, local English-speaking guide for all of the sightseeing tours. Our local reps in some of the towns and cities en-route are also at your service. At Encounters Travel we try to use local guides and reps as much as possible. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.
Please note that as we offer multiple tours in the Balkans you may be joined by new passenger part way through the tour or some passengers may only choose to day a part of the tour. Therefore the group size may change mid-way through your tour.
Our Small Group tours in the Balkans do not include entrance fees to the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. We do however normally include these in prices for Tailor-Made and Escorted tours. Please check the Inclusions and Exclusions section below the tour itinerary for details about your tour and the amount you may need to budget. This amount is subject to change and will be reconfirmed at the start of your tour.
Greece Hotel Residence Fees: The Hellenic National Tourism Organization has announced that a residence fee will be applied on all hotel accommodation, starting from 1st January 2018. The fees must be paid by guests directly to the hotel before the end of their stay and are therefore not included in the tour price. Fees are per room per night (not per person) and have been set at EUR 1.50 for 3* hotels, EUR 3.00 for 4* hotels and EUR 4.00 for 5* hotels.
Tipping is common practice in many Balkan countries, and is always appreciated when good service has been provided. For basic restaurants, taxis and local markets, leave the loose change. For more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. We include a 'tipping kitty' in your tour price which your tour guide/leader will use to tip a wide range of people along the way to help ensure the smooth running of the tour. This does not include local guides, your tour guide/leader, driver(s) or transfer staff though.Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. For those you see for at least several days and who are more involved with the group, a tip of around EUR 1-2 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Tour guide/tour leader: If you think you tour guide and/or tour leader has worked hard and provided a good service then s/he will appreciate a tip of a few Euros. How much you tip is subject to your satisfaction with their service and your personal budget. You should not feel pressured to tip any particular amount. As a guideline, we can suggest that for good service, a tip of EUR 3-5 per day for local tour guides or local tour leaders would be fine.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation. EU travellers visiting other European Union countries including Croatia and Greece should also carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as it entitles travellers to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in most European countries.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination.
You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. No additional courses or boosters are normally recommended for this region though you could conside Tetanus and Tick-borne Encephalitis.
More information for the countries included in this region can be found using the following links: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia.
Malaria - there is low to no risk of malaria in this region, none in tourist areas.
Yellow fever certificates are not required.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
Some foreign nationals require a visa to enter the countries included on our Balkan tours, though many do not (including UK, EU, US, CA, AU, NZ). More information for the specific countries included on our tours can be found using the links provided: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia.
The time in Albania is GMT plus 1 hour.
The time in Bosnia and Herzegovina is GMT plus 1 hour..
The time in Croatia is GMT plus 1 hour.
The time in Greece is GMT plus 1 hour.
The time in Macedonia is GMT plus 1 hour.
The time in Montenegro is GMT plus 1 hour.
The time in Serbia is GMT plus 1 hour.
The currency of Albania is the Albanian Lek (ALL), in Bosnia and Herzegovina the Mark (BAM), in Croatia the Kuna (HRK), in Greece the Euro (EUR), in Macedonia the Denar (MKD), in Montenegro they have adopted the Euro despite not being a member of the EU (EUR) and finally in Serbia the Dinar is used (RSD). If you intend on bringing local currency with you on your Balkan tour then the most widely accepted currency is the Euro which can be used in Greece and Montenegro and is easily converted in other countries. Alternatively you can consider withdrawing small amounts of cash from ATM's in each country on arrival, though we would recommend that you check this with your bank first to ensure they don't place any blocks on your card and to check transaction fees.
It is difficult for us to specify the amount of money that you will spend per day, however, as a general rule EUR 25 to 50 per day can provide you with additional meals, tipping, snacks and drinks. Should you wish to purchase many souvenirs or other luxuries, of which there is a diverse range, you will have to budget for these.
Luggage: Suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you on our Balkan tours. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will normally be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips or within the vehicle if you making stops between cities; you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.
Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour, though since you are travelling around a lot we would normally recommend trying to bring as little as possible. Most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.
Clothing: In the region from late March to May, spring brings with it average temperatures of around 15C, though the weather does gradually warm up with sunny days interspersed with rain showers. From May to the end of October, the climate is hot and sunny, getting cooler as the year progresses. By the end of October you can expect the first of the winter snows. So you must pack for cool and potentially wet conditions late in the year. Most of our tours to the Balkans take place during the summer months when shorts and t-shirts will be the general attire.
Other items: We also recommend you bring a sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a basic first aid kit, toiletries, money belt, small torch, camera and charger.
We run regular small-group departures on our Balkan tours between May and October. All departures are guaranteed to run with a minimum of 2 travellers and a maximum of 20. Departure dates and prices for your specific tour are listed on our website.
Discover the Balkans & Country Reviews
Posted 3rd of Jan 2019
We had knowledgeable tour guides who really gave us a the context within which to visit the ancient sites. We were there during the off season, so much less crowded but operating hours for the sites were shorter. Meals and accommodations were all good quality.
Posted 13th of Aug 2018
Hotels and amenities were great. Ours was a small tour group which made it much better because we were older and would have slowed down a large group.
Posted 6th of Jul 2017
Great tour and a great value