The Balkans is a sprawling peninsula that derives its name from the Turkish word meaning 'a chain of wooded mountains’. Those mountains are the Balkans, a place where farming first reached Europe way back in the Neolithic era.To the west is the Adriatic Sea, with the Mediterranean Sea to the south and the Black Sea to the east. It is perhaps easier to think of the Balkan States as “South-eastern Europe”.
Wholly or partially on the peninsula, the region is made up of many fascinating countries - most of which were once part of Yugoslavia. Our small group tour includes seven countries–Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia. They are easy to get around mainly because of their size –each being relatively small. Their polyglot nature has been forged in turn by the Greeks, Romans and Slavs, and even fell part of the Ottoman Empire in the16th Century. A genuine cultural crossroads, the Balkan region was where Orthodoxy met Christianity, and Christianity met Islam.
While many of the towns and cities have been synonymous with political turmoil in modern history (Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914, sparking the First World War), the current reality is a collection of countries and cultures now relishing their own identities, and enjoying a resurgence of interaction with the outside world. They are all very much worth visiting –for different reasons. While many towns still have dramatic mediaeval fortifications in place, the food, language, lifestyles and attitudes all differ.
This will become evident as you listen to local guides outlining their different versions of the history –both ancient and recent.While typically characterised by peaceful mountainous terrain, many of these Balkan destinations feature pristine coastlines and seascapes plus lake regions andfarming land, affording dazzling variety as you travel from one country to another. Many of the places within the seven countries we visit are not yet popular with tourists, but this will change.
There are dozens of highlights on this small group tour. Croatia’s famous Dalmatian coast and islands are really as good as the postcard. As are the pristine, crystal clear Plitvice Lakes. Macedonia’s Lake Ohrid is stunning with its picture-perfect backdrop and cobbled stones streets. On a clear day, Montenegro’s famous Bay of Kotor will leave you breathless. Slovenia’s Lake Bled is an unbelievably beautiful, peaceful haven and the country’s small capital city - Ljubljana is like a postcard from the medieval times. Albania’s quirky capital Tiranna is, well, a little strange with its former soviet ties and brightly painted old buildings. The old fortress at Belgrade’s river junction, where the Savva and The Danube meet, makes for great people- watching. Bosnia’s Mostar bridge –famous for the wrong reasons - is stunning since being totally re-built. These are just a few highlights. The list goes on... and on. Grab your camera and join us.
- Fairytale town of Mostar including the famous Mostar Bridge
- Outstanding natural beauty of Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
- Lake Bled with its emerald-green lake, picture-postcard church on an islet, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff
- Split and its fascinating Roman Diocletian Palace
- Dubrovnik's Old Town is arguably one of the prettiest cities in Europe with its red rooftops, sea views and white cobblestoned streets
- Lake Ohrid - Monestary of St Naum is an imposing sight on a bluff near the Albanian border
- Lake Matka: Lovely lake in spectacular gorge in Skopje