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Balkans Explorer Tour

Had a worry free amazing experience from the time we booked the trip till we arrived back home. Definitely recommend using them.

David, Jan 2018

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Balkans Explorer OVERVIEW

TOUR SUMMARY

11 days

Dubrovnik to Athens

From US$2315

$2090 (p/p)

Country(ies): Croatia , Bosnia & Herzegovina , Serbia , Macedonia , Greece

Tour type: Small Group

Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 20

Accommodation: 3 to 4-star hotels

Meals:

Transport: AC minibus/coach

Highlights: Ancient walled city of Dubrovnik, scenic Adriatic & Dalmatian coast, Split beaches & Diocletian's Palace, Sarajevo, Belgrade, Ohrid lake church, Stari Most bridge, Thessaloniki and the Aegean, Delphi, Athens

This 11-day Balkans tour explores the highlights and beautiful scenery of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Greece.

The tour begins by the sea in the ancient walled city of Dubrovnik before heading north up the scenic Adriatic Coast to Split, famous for its beaches and the Diocletian's Palace which we visit. We leave Croatia next and enter Bosnia & Herzegovina where we'll see the famous Stari Most bridge en-route to the country's capital Sarajevo, now a buzzing small city. Our next country is Serbia where we visit the capital Belgrade before crossing into Macedonia and the city of Skopje. While in Macedonia we drive through more beautiful scenery, especially around Lake Orhid, famous for its many churches which led to it being known as the 'Macedonian Jerusalem'.

The tour finishes in Greece, with stops at the coastal city of Thessaloniki on the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean Sea, and the ancient town of Delhi which is host to the Oracle of Apollo and is one of the most popular ancient Greek sites one can visit today. The tour then ends in Athens.

To make the most of your time in Dubrovnik and Athens, extra nights in both locations are available and can be added to extend the tour giving you some free time to explore independently before and after the main tour.

ITINERARY

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Day 1 Arrive in Dubrovnik

Once you arrive in the city known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, you will be met by your guide who will transfer you to your hotel. If you arrive early, you have the rest of the day to explore Dubrovnik at your leisure and take in its fine architecture, rich history and spectacular views.

OVERNIGHT:

Dubrovnik hotel

MEALS:

None

EXTRAS:

Single Room Supplement (CRSGBE)
Extra day in Dubrovnik- pre-tour (EXCRBE)


Day 2 Dubrovnik to Trogir

We start the day with a city tour of Dubrovnik, as we journey along Croatia's southern coastline to take in all its beauty. The old city of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is made famous for its towering stone city walls which we’ll get to see touring a guided walk. We'll also stop to visit the Big Onofrio's Fountain - a circular-shaped springwater fountain built in 1438 by European architect Onofrio della Cava, the 13th century Franciscan Monastery, the Sponza and Rector's Palaces.

Later in the day, we’ll continue along the picturesque Adriatic coastline as we make our way to Trogir - a historic old harbour town which will be our home for the rest of the day.

OVERNIGHT:

Trogir hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 3 Trogir - Split - Mostar

We say goodbye to Trogir after breakfast as we travel to Split - Croatia's second largest city.

We'll explore Split on foot, visiting the Diocletian Palace - an ancient Roman Imperial Palace built for the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the fourth century. The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and covers more than half of the city of Split.

We’ll explore the southern part of the palace, the Bronze Gates as well as the Vestibul of the Emperor's Palace. Also on the agenda are visits to the Mausoleum, St. Dujam's Cathedral, Cathedral Treasury, Temple of Jupiter, St. Martin's Church (Golden Gate) and we'll finish the tour at the fruit square, where we'll venture into the Venetian Castle, Milesi Palace and the Monument of Marko Marulic.

This afternoon, we'll cross the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina and spend the rest of the day in Mostar.

OVERNIGHT:

Mostar hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 4 Mostar to Sarajevo

We start the day with a guided tour of Mostar, the sixth largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina which stretches along a deep valley of the Neretva River.

Mostar was one of the most heavily bombed locations during the Bosnian war but since then, the city has been rebuilt and is currently a UNESCO World Heritage site as well.

One of the main reasons to visit Mostar is to see its iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), a reconstructed medieval arched bridge built by the Ottomans in the 16th century. Stari Most was the brainchild of an architect called Mimar Hajrudin, who wanted to defeat a seemingly impossible mission to cross the Neretva River with a single-span stone bridge.

Later in the day we leave Mostar behind and travel to Sarajevo - the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina which lies in a narrow valley of the Miljacka River at the foot of Mount Trebević.

OVERNIGHT:

Sarajevo hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 5 City tour of Sarajevo

Today is all about exploring Bosnia and Herzegovina's capital city and we start things off this morning with a guided tour.

It's been over 20 years since the Bosnian War and Sarajevo is slowly coming out of it shell - becoming one of the most stunning cities to visit in Europe. Travellers will be enthralled by its minarets, mosques, bazaars and quaint little coffee shops.

There's plenty to do here at night as well, travellers to Sarajevo can enjoy a simple but tasty meal in Bascarsija - Sarajevo's old bazaar. Be sure to also try a popular local dish called 'bosanski cevapi' (grilled minced meat mixed with mild spices).

We can arrange optional tours of the Tunnel of Hope and Vrelo Bosne this afternoon. We'll overnight in Sarajevo once more.

OVERNIGHT:

Sarajevo hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 6 Sarajevo to Belgrade

After an eventful day in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s capital, we reluctantly bid it farewell this morning and cross the border into Serbia, as we make our way to its capital city of Belgrade - famed for its Orthodox churches and museums.

This afternoon, we head out on a guided tour of Belgrade, taking in the city's wide boulevards and squares and we'll also explore Kalemegdan Park, which is home to the Kalemegadan Fortress, which has overlooked the Danube River for centuries.

OVERNIGHT:

Belgrade hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 7 Free day in Belgrade

You have the day free to explore Belgrade at your own pace. Some suggested activities are trying some local dishes in Skadarska Street which is known as the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija or book an optional activity with us - we have tours to Novi Sad or Sremski Karlovci available.

OVERNIGHT:

Belgrade hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 8 Belgrade to Skopje

We leave Belgrade early today as we cross the border once more, this time into Macedonia as we travel to its capital city of Skopje.

This afternoon, we'll explore Skopje on foot, visiting the Kale Fortress which is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. We'll also make our way to the Church of the Holy Savior with its iconostas, which is one of the best examples of traditional walnut wood carving as well as the Old Bazaar and the Stone Bridge.

OVERNIGHT:

Skopje hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 9 Skopje to Ohrid

After an eventful day in Skopje, we make our way to Ohrid, a small resort city located on the edge of the crystal clear waters of Lake Ohrid.

Ohrid is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is commonly referred to as the 'Macedonian Jerusalem' due to its sheer number of churches.

Your guide will lead your journey through this wonderful city, visiting the Church of St. Sofia - one of the most important monuments of North Macedonia, housing architecture and art from the Middle Ages, most notably its magnificent Byzantine fresco paintings and St. Clement Church with its icon of Annunciation.

OVERNIGHT:

Ohrid hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 10 Ohrid to Thessaloniki

We cross the border again today as we make our way into Greece, until we reach the port city of Thessaloniki, famed for its UNESCO listed Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments and its bustling foreshore which is dotted with cafes, cocktail lounges, bars and restaurants.

We'll have a break in Bitola, eating at one of the cafe’s in Sirok Sokak Street or Magnolia Square. We can also arrange an optional tour of Bitola available if you would like to do some more exploring. We'll spend the night in Thessaloniki.

OVERNIGHT:

Thessaloniki hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 11 Thessaloniki to Athens

After spending the night in Greece’s second largest city, today we make our way to its capital city of Athens.

As we make our way to Athen's, we'll stop at Volos, which is something of a hidden gem in Eastern Greece located on the Pagasetic Gulf.

Volos is overlooked by Mt.Pelion, which is home to the Centaurs of Greek mythology. You can hire a bike here or stroll around the city on foot where there are lots of cafes and restaurants to enjoy.

OVERNIGHT:

Athens hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

Extra day in Athens - post-tour (EXGR2E)


Day 12 Tour ends in Athens

After breakfast, we'll transfer you back to the airport to board your flight home.

OVERNIGHT:

N/A

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

Extra day in Athens - post-tour


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Included:
  • All accommodation in 3 to 4-star level hotels
  • All transport and transfers in AC non-smoking vehicles
  • 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service in Athens
  • Services of a professional local tour guide for all sightseeing tours
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary (10 breakfasts)
  • Tipping kitty (except driver & guide)

Excluded:
  • International flights (available on request)
  • Visa fees (if applied)
  • Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to sites visited (allow approx. EUR 13)
  • Greece hotel residence tax (see tour notes)
  • Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)
  • Tips for guide & driver
  • Optional tours
  • Any other items not mentioned above

Gallery


Dates and Prices

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.

Start Date
End Date
Price (P/P)
Offer price
Note

8th of May 2020

19th of May 2020

US$2315

US$2090
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22nd of May 2020

2nd of Jun 2020

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5th of Jun 2020

16th of Jun 2020

US$2315

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19th of Jun 2020

30th of Jun 2020

US$2315

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3rd of Jul 2020

14th of Jul 2020

US$2315

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17th of Jul 2020

28th of Jul 2020

US$2315

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31st of Jul 2020

11th of Aug 2020

US$2315

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14th of Aug 2020

25th of Aug 2020

US$2315

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28th of Aug 2020

8th of Sep 2020

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11th of Sep 2020

22nd of Sep 2020

US$2315

US$2090
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25th of Sep 2020

6th of Oct 2020

US$2315

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9th of Oct 2020

20th of Oct 2020

US$2315

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Accommodation

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.

Villa Paradiso

Villa Paradiso

Dubrovnik, Croatia


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Villa Paradiso Villa Paradiso

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

Hotel Slavija

Split, Croatia


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Hotel Slavija Hotel Slavija

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

Split, Croatia


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Hotel Trogir Palace Hotel Trogir Palace

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.

Astra Hotel

Astra Hotel

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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Astra Hotel Astra Hotel

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

Prime Hotel

Belgrade, Serbia


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Prime Hotel Prime Hotel

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

Best Western Hotel Turist

Skopje


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Best Western Hotel Turist 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 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.

Belvedere Hotel

Belvedere Hotel

Ohrid


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Belvedere Hotel Belvedere Hotel

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.

Tobacco Hotel

Tobacco Hotel

Thessaloniki, Greece


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Tobacco Hotel Tobacco Hotel

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.

Athenaeum Grand Hotel

Athenaeum Grand Hotel

Athens


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.

Local rating

Our rating

 Athenaeum Grand Hotel 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. 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.

Options

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you‘re 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.

Single Room Supplement (CRSGBE)

Single Room Supplement (CRSGBE)

Min numbers:


This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

Price from
$375
per person

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

Extra day in Athens - post-tour (EXGR2E)

Extra day in Athens - post-tour (EXGR2E)

Min numbers: 1 person


This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Price from
$60
per person

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Extra day in Dubrovnik- pre-tour (EXCRBE)

Extra day in Dubrovnik- pre-tour (EXCRBE)

Min numbers:


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Price from
$120
per person

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Tour Notes

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.

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  1. Voltage

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.


  2. Accommodation

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.


  3. Transport

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.


  4. Transfers

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.


  5. International Flights

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.

  6. Group Size/Tour Leaders/Guides

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.


  7. Entrance fees, Hotel fees & permits

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.


  8. Tipping

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.


  9. Health and Vaccinations

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.


  10. Passports and Visas

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.


  11. Time

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.


  12. Money

Currencies:
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.

Spending Money:
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.


  13. What to take

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.


  14. Dates & Prices

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.


  15. Booking & Payment

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.


  16. Financial Security

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.


  17. Responsible Tourism

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.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn't make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you're travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).


  18. Follow Us Online

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.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')


  19. Travel Insurance

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.


  20. Before you travel

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.

'Travel Aware' campaign

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