Don't have an Account? Sign up now.
Forgotten Password?
Log In
Save $1,000 • Act by 12/31/19

Ancient Crossroads: Albania, Greece + Macedonia

11 days

Never more than 16 guests

Overall Rating
based on 42 Reviews

Email   Email
Share   Email
Print

Our Distinctive A+R Style

+ Our expert Trip Leader reveals the cuisines and centuries-old traditions that endure in this lesser-visited corner of Europe.
+ Tour the workshop where colorful Venetian Carnevale masks have long been made.
+ Spend time with an Albanian family to learn what life was like during the Communist era.
+ Explore the amazing monasteries of Meteora, built atop pinnacles of rock.
+ An engaging local archaeologist will shed light on Heraclea Lyncestis, the ancient city founded by King Philip II of Macedon.
+ With 10 nights first class and deluxe hotels; 29 meals with wine at lunch and dinner; comprehensive sightseeing; all transfers; and all gratuities except Trip Leader.

Show all itinerary details

Day
1

Welcome to Tirana, Albania

Hotel Plaza - Tirana, Albania

On arrival, you’ll be escorted to the Hotel Plaza. Meet your fellow travelers and Trip leader Alexander over cocktails and dinner. Meals D

Day
2

Excursion to Shkodra

Hotel Plaza - Tirana, Albania

After breakfast, you’ll embark on a full-day excursion to Shkodra. This is one of Europe’s oldest cities, filled with historic landmarks and fascinating stories from centuries past. By special arrangement, your sightseeing begins at a workshop that produces many of the colorful and highly-detailed Carnevale masks that you will find in the shops of Venice; it’s a fascinating visit and a reminder of Shkodra’s historic ties to the famous Italian city on the opposite shores of the Adriatic.
 
Continue to Rozafa Castle. Built on a rocky hilltop, the remains of this ancient stone castle are impressive and on a clear day, its strategic setting offers terrific views of the city and open countryside all the way north to the distant mountains and Serbian border. It’s a great place to enjoy a glass of the local brandy.
 
Heading back to Tirana, you’ll stop in Lezhë, a charming town that traces its roots to the ancient days of Greece when it was known as Lissus. Here you’ll enjoy lunch at Mrizi i Zanave, famed for its finely prepared, organic farm-to-table cuisine. Enjoy the scenic drive back to Tirana where you’ll have time to relax and refresh at our hotel before this evening’s dinner.  Meals B+L+D

Day
3

Exploring Tirana + Krujë

Hotel Plaza - Tirana, Albania

This morning, we’ll travel to historic Krujë. At a centuries-old Dervish monastery, the caretaker will share insight into the beliefs and traditions of ancient Sufism. At the Ethnographic Museum, set in a 200-year-old Ottoman house, we’ve arranged for a private meeting with the curator; enjoy coffee as you learn more about Albania’s history and people After lunch at a restaurant set within the ancient castle walls, you’ll enjoy some free time to explore the old bazaar where you can meet artisans and carpet weavers who belong to local guilds that have functioned since Ottoman times.
 
Return to Tirana for a guided afternoon tour of the Albanian capital including the Blloku district. Enver Hoxha’s villa was located in this neighborhood and during his dictatorship, this area was the exclusive enclave of government officials and the Communist Party elite; other citizens would not have been able to even enter. Today Blloku, or the Block, has become one of Tirana’s most vibrant districts – home to some of the city’s most popular cafes, restaurants and boutiques. It’s the perfect place to gain an understanding of Albania’s Communist-era history and its effect on the country’s modern life and attitudes. This afternoon’s sightseeing also takes you to Skanderbeg Square, where you’ll find many of Tirana’s other notable landmarks including the 18th-century Et’hem Bey Mosque and the statue of Albania’s national hero for whom the Square is named. In the 15th century, Skanderbeg was a warrior and nobleman who defended his native land in battles against the Ottomans. Mingling with residents here in the lively square offers insight into local life and culture. This evening, you’ll dine at Era.  Meals B+L+D

Day
4

Durrës + Apollonia + Gjirokastra

Hotel 2 Kalemi - Gijtokastra, Albania

Just 21 miles west of the vibrant capital, Durrës is a historic Adriatic port – one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Focusing upon its wealth of ancient landmarks, our guided tour this morning includes the ancient Byzantine Walls and the spectacular Roman Amphitheater. Built in the 2nd century to accommodate up to 20,000 spectators who came to witness Gladiator combats, this is one of the largest ancient Roman arenas in the Balkans. Surrounded by modern high rise buildings in the heart of town and only partially excavated, it is nonetheless an impressive site! We’ll also visit the ancient Roman Baths and the Venetian Tower, a 15th-century addition to the much older Byzantine Fortress that was one of the most powerful defensive buildings along the western Adriatic.
 
After lunch, we’ll visit the Ardenica Monastery, situated on a remote hilltop surrounded by a vast sweep of Albanian countryside. Originally founded by a 13th-century Byzantine Emperor, this revered landmark is home to splendid interior frescoes. But it’s also a living religious community and special arrangements have been made for us to meet with one of the resident monks. This experience promises a chance to learn about religious life in Albania since the fall of Communism.
 
We’ll continue to Apollonia for a tour of its remarkably preserved ruins. Set in a region of gently rolling terrain and forest, this picturesque archaeological site was once home to an estimated 70,000 people who lived inside its ancient city walls. Among its impressive landmarks are the remarkable 2,000-year-old Odeon and the Monastery. Guided by one of the site’s archaeological directors, our afternoon visit promises a rich look into the ancient world. Late in the day, we’ll continue to Gjirokastra and check in to the Kalemi 2 Hotel, a charming 12-room hotel in the heart of Old Town. You’ll have time to refresh before we dine this evening at Arra.  Meals B+L+D

Also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, Gjirokastra is a splendid town perched along the slopes of the Drino Valley. Clustered around the ancient 13th-century citadel is an outstanding collection of homes typical of the Balkans… Turreted homes reflect the city’s 17th-century Ottoman heritage while other buildings show the architectural and cultural influences of later eras, especially the early 19th century. With our expert guide, you’ll explore along Gjirokastra’s steep cobblestone streets, learning about the region’s history and culture as we visit notable landmarks including two museums set inside the fortress walls. Then spend time with the matriarch of a Balkan family for deeper insight into the city’s enduring traditions – as well as what life was like during Albania’s Communist era.
 
In the afternoon, a literature professor from the local University will share some readings from the works of Ismail Kadare, the Nobel-nominated author who used this historic town as the setting for many of his stories. Continuing your tour of Gjirokastra, our specialist guide will bring Kadare’s literary works and characters to life as he ties various local sites to the passages you’ve just enjoyed. It’s a fascinating and entertaining way to learn more about the town and one of the country’s most beloved authors. This evening, you’ll enjoy traditional Albanian cuisine and a performance by Iso Polifonia, an internationally acclaimed polyphonic choir.  Meals B+L+D

Day
6

Onward to Ioannina + Kalambaka, Greece

Amalia Hotel - Kalambaka, Greece

Departing Gjirokastra this morning, we’ll travel across the border into northern Greece to Ioannina. Founded by the Emperor Justinian along the shores of beautiful Lake Pamvotis, this historic castle town is now the vibrant capital of Epirus. Our city tour reveals a rich multicultural heritage with ancient Christian, Jewish and Islamic influences, from the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece to the impressive Aslan Pasha Mosque, built in 1618.
 
After lunch at a charming lakeside restaurant, we’ll continue our journey to the modern town of Kalambaka – the gateway to one of the world’s most awe-inspiring architectural assemblages. Here in a region of seemingly inaccessible sandstone peaks, medieval monks settled upon these towering pinnacles from the 11th century onwards. In the 1400’s, overcoming enormous logistical and engineering challenges, twenty four monasteries were built atop these “columns in the sky.” A century later, their remarkable frescoes heralded a key state in the development of post-Byzantine art.
 
This afternoon, we’ll visit the Holy Monastery of Great Meteora, the largest and oldest of the monasteries. We’ll begin our tour in the lovely courtyard – embellished with remarkable frescoes from the 16th century. Inside this 700-year-old monastery, you’ll also see the original sacristy and fascinating exhibits of ancient icons and centuries-old codices and manuscripts. As the sun dips towards the horizon, our guide will lead you to a prime vantage point to take in the spectacular panorama of the sun as it sets over the Meteora hills. We’ll enjoy dinner and a tranquil overnight at the lovely Amalia Hotel.  Meals B+L+D

Day
7

Meteora Monasteries + Heraclea + Skopje

Marriott Hotel - Skopje, Macedonia

Seemingly suspended in the air, only six of the original twenty four ancient monasteries remain. This morning, we’ll visit one of the most spectacular. Perched on a steep and magnificent rocky outcrop, the Holy Trinity Monastery is reached by a staircase that ascends from the foot of the sandstone pinnacle. The main cathedral of Holy Trinity was constructed in the 1400’s; its fabulous interior frescoes are the work of two monks who painted them in 1741. Also of great interest is a small circular rock-hewn church embellished with fine paintings from the late 1600’s.
 
We’ll of course have a chance to take in the spectacular view from the Monastery before we continue onward to Florina, a charming Greek town close to the Macedonian border. We’ll savor the rich bounty of the region at a local restaurant renowned for its fine farm-to-table cuisine before continuing across the border. At Heraclea Lyncestis, a local archaeologist leads our exploration of this ancient city – founded by King Philip of Macedon in the 4th century BCE. Even long after King Philip’s reign, the town retained its wealth and importance due to its strategic location on an important route connecting Rome and Constantinople; among its impressive sites is an amphitheater built by Emperor Hadrian in the first century. Indeed, Heraclea Lyncestis continued to thrive through the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, and our specially guided tour reveals an ancient city that endured in wealth and power across centuries and empires.
 
Early this evening at the Tikves Winery, we’ll sample their fine vintages before sitting down to a congenial dinner with selected wine pairings. Tonight finds us at the deluxe Marriott Hotel in Skopje.  Meals B+L+D

Day
8

From Skopje to Ohrid, Macedonia

City Palace Hotel - Ohrid, Macedonia

After breakfast, we’ll embark on a sightseeing tour here in Skopje, the inviting Macedonian capital. A construction boom over the past decade has graced the city with a new abundance of fountains, buildings, bridges and statues, but there are still plenty of centuries-old landmarks that attest to Skopje’s long and rich heritage - encompassing Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Notable among the landmarks we’ll see this morning is the imposing 5th-century fortress, dramatically situated on the city’s highest point overlooking the Vardar River. We’ll stand upon the monumental 600-year-old stone bridge that spans the river in the heart of town and visit the Memorial House of Mother Teresa, dedicated to the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who lived here from 1910 to 1928. We’ll also meet with a young city artist to hear their personal insight into the city’s rapid growth over the past decade and its emergence as one of Europe’s most unique capitals. Before lunch, you’ll have time to explore the cobblestone streets and browse the colorful markets of the sprawling Old Bazaar, which has existed here since Ottoman times.
 
In the afternoon, we depart for Ohrid where we’ll check in to the inviting City Palace Hotel, ideally situated on the lakefront promenade close to the landmarks of Old Town. You’ll have time to relax or explore along the promenade before we enjoy the fine Macedonian and Continental cuisine of Belvedere, a charmingly decorated restaurant along the shores of Lake Ohrid.  Meals B+L+D

The captivating lakeside town of Ohrid is one of the oldest in all of Europe. The Cyrillic Alphabet was created here in the 9th century, a key development that allowed the missionary brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, to continue their missionary work throughout the Slavic world. Indeed, for the next thousand years, Ohrid was regarded as the cultural heart of the Slavic world.
 
Delving into these rarely-studied chapters of history and showcasing remarkable cultural treasures of the Byzantine, Renaissance and Slavic eras, our full-day sightseeing begins with important city landmarks like the 11th-century Fortress ruins that overlook Lake Ohrid and the city’s rooftops. With 18 guard towers and long sections of its massive walls still intact, it’s easy to comprehend why this was considered to be one of the most impregnable strongholds in the Balkans. In the medieval church of St. Sophia, you’ll marvel at centuries-old frescoes widely hailed as among the finest examples of Byzantine art in the Balkans. As you explore the town with our expert guide and stroll in the bustling Old Bazaar, you’ll also learn firsthand about the region’s rich artistic traditions – including fine silver filigree work, woodcarving, and famous Ohrid Pearls.
 
We’ll end our morning on a relaxing high note with a cruise on Lake Ohrid, the perfect way to take in the beauty of the city and its surrounding region – including the mountain slopes of Galicia National Park. For lunch, we’ll enjoy the traditional Balkan cuisine of Dalga, a charming restaurant situated on the lakefront in the heart of Old Town. After a bit of free time to relax or to stroll the evocative ancient streets of Ohrid at your own pace, we’ll depart on an excursion that takes us along the eastern shores of the lake into the beautiful landscapes of Galicica National Park. Our destination is the Monastery of Saint Naum, dramatically set on a rocky outcrop where the Black Drim River flows into Lake Ohrid. Our tour of the monastery reveals a wonderful Byzantine treasure, originally built more than 1,000 years ago – but renewed and enlarged over the centuries. Inside, its wonderful icons and frescoes date mostly from the 16th and 17th centuries. But earlier etchings from the Byzantine Greek era can also be seen. After dinner at a nearby restaurant, we’ll return to the City Palace Hotel in Ohrid.  Meals B+L+D

After breakfast, we’ll depart Ohrid and make our way across the border back into Albania. In the quiet village of Labinot, we’ll stop to experience a slice of rural Albanian life. We’ll also visit small museum where residents have gathered and preserved relics of the Communist era. In Elbasan, we’ll sit down to lunch at a charming restaurant situated within the massive walls of the town’s historic 15th-century castle. After lunch, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the castle grounds including the King Mosque; built in 1482, this is the oldest active mosque in Albania. We’ll also visit St. Mary’s, an Eastern Orthodox church and monastery that also dates back to the 15th century.
 
We’ll continue our journey back to Tirana for another night at the deluxe Hotel Plaza. You’ll have time to relax and refresh before we get together for our Farewell Dinner.  Meals B+L+D

Day
11

Depart Tirana

Transfer to the airport for your onward journey. Meals B

Extend Your Trip

Journey to Croatia + Montenegro

The mountains, sea and stories of this pristine region are showcased in one of our most unique small group journeys – and presented with insight and passion by our expert Trip Leader.

Show all itinerary details

Day
1

Welcome to Zagreb, Croatia

On arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted at the airport and escorted to the Hotel Esplanade.  Situated in an elegant 1925 landmark building originally constructed to accommodate passengers on the storied Orient-Express Train, our deluxe hotel offers a sophisticated welcome in the heart of this vibrant city. This evening, you’ll gather with your fellow travelers for a congenial welcome dinner featuring fine regional cuisine and local wine.  Meals D

Day
2

History+ Culture of Northern Croatia

Set on the southern banks of the River Drava, the charming town of Varazdin is one of the highlights of Northern Croatia. Accompanied by our engaging guide, you’ll travel here this morning for a pleasant walking tour – the perfect way to experience Varazdin’s immaculately preserved Baroque and medieval architecture, its handsome town square and charming cobblestone streets. After a lunch of Croatian specialties, you’ll continue your sightseeing at Trakoscan Castle, originally built in the 13th century on a wooded knoll overlooking a tranquil lake. Now meticulously restored, this imposing castle and its lovely park-like grounds offer a fascinating look into Croatia’s history and cultural traditions. Your guided visit also showcases its impressive interiors - with fine Baroque furnishings and displays of weapons and other artifacts from the 15th through 19th centuries. Back in Zagreb, the evening is yours to enjoy and dine as you wish.  Meals B+L

Day
3

Plitvice Lakes National Park + Zadar

This morning, you’ll discover the breathtaking beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Over thousands of years, flowing waters over limestone and chalk have left behind travertine barriers. These natural dams have, in turn, created a remarkable series of 16 terraced lakes that tumble down the hillside. Ranging in hue from azure and emerald to steely grey, they’re connected by rushing cascades that continue the geological processes that originally created them. Today, well maintained trails and unobtrusive wooden walkways allow you to behold and experience the majestic beauty of these pristine lakes and their beautiful forest setting. You’ll also enjoy a short cruise across the largest of Plitvice’s lakes before continuing to the Dalmatian Coast. Arriving in the ancient town of Zadar, check in to your sea-view room at the wonderful Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Iadera.  Meals B+D

Day
4

Zadar to Sibenik, Trogir and Split c

Discover the Roman glory and Habsburg elegance of this charming seafront town before traveling to Sibenik, where the 15th-century St. James Cathedral bears witness to the cultural exchange that flourished between Italy and Dalmatia during the Renaissance. Tour the town’s medieval quarter, little changed over the centuries, and then travel to the Roman-Gothic town of Trogir for a guided stroll including the Cathedral. Enjoy a wine + brandy tasting and dinner at a local winery before continuing on to the Hotel Luxe in Split. Meals B+D

Day
5

Ancient Wonders of Split c

Your tour of Split’s ancient landmarks begins with the magnificent palace of Emperor Diocletian  . Built between the late 3rd and early 4th centuries, the outlines of this vast palace form the heart of the Old City today. A startling portion of the palatial complex is remarkably well preserved, and it is the most valuable example of ancient Roman architecture on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. Your tour also includes Peristil Square; now the city’s popular main square, this was in Diocletian’s time, the entry hall to his palace and it was here that the Emperor would address Roman citizens. 

After sightseeing, enjoy lunch on your own and a free afternoon to continue exploring at your own pace. Outside the Palace, you will find charming piazzas and a beautiful waterfront with inviting restaurants and cafes. This evening you’ll dine at one of our favorite restaurants here in Split.


 Meals B+D

Day
6

Mostar + Sarajevo

Journey across the border into Bosnia & Herzegovina to explore the historic town of Mostar. Set against a rugged mountain backdrop along the meandering Neretva River, Mostar grew from a simple riverside crossing into an important settlement and provincial capital of the Ottoman Empire. Delve into the region’s complex and often turbulent history as you explore the town’s historic quarter, graced with finely restored Ottoman-era buildings including the 500-year-old mosque. You’ll also see the celebrated Stari Most (Old Bridge), originally built in the 16th century and then reconstructed after its near total destruction in 1993. Continue to the inviting Bristol Hotel, set along a riverside promenade in Sarajevo.  Meals B+L+D

Day
7

Get to know Sarajevo

Join your guide after breakfast for a guided city tour including the Latin Bridge, also known as the Princip Bridge. Built by the Ottomans, it was here that Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip in 1914. This of course sparked a war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia which then escalated into World War I. You’ll also see the Emperor’s Mosque, built in 1457 after the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia, and the Franciscan Monastery of St. Anthony. The Sarajevo Freedom Tunnel Museum offers a sobering yet inspiring look at how residents survived the Siege of Sarajevo. Originally extending for nearly 900 yards, this hand-dug tunnel supplied arms and food during the 3-year siege. Much of the tunnel has since collapsed, but this fascinating museum includes a 65-foot section of the original tunnel as well as the shell-pounded house that hid the tunnel entrance.  Meals B+D

Day
8

Durmitor National Park c

Depart Sarajevo this morning and embark on a jeep expedition into magnificent Durmitor National Park, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its breathtaking landscapes. Formed by glaciers and traversed by rivers, the park is covered with dense pine forests interspersed with clear pristine lakes.  This stunning Alpine region is also home to no fewer than 48 peaks which soar to altitudes over 6,500 feet. Enjoy lunch amidst this scenic beauty and then behold Tara Canyon, the deepest in Europe. Continue to Kolasin, a charming town cradled by forests and mountains. Arrive in time for dinner at the Bianca Resort & Spa, where you’ll enjoy two wonderful nights surrounded by the chalet ambience and casual sophistication of this deluxe mountain retreat.  Meals B,L,D

Day
9

Into the Highlands of Montenegro

Enjoy breakfast at your mountain resort before traveling by jeep into the Highlands, learning about the region’s unique cultural traditions and taking in sweeping vistas of the virgin forests that cradle Biogradsko Lake. Experience a slice of daily life as you meet with farmers who live simply in their cottages – making crafts and tending their sheep in the picturesque mountain pastures. Sit down to a hearty lunch of traditional fare in one of these rustic wooden cottages or, weather permitting, enjoy a delightful picnic in a mountain meadow. This evening’s dinner at your hotel features regional cuisine and Montenegrin specialties.  Meals B+L+D

Day
10

Through Moraca Canyon to Kotor

Check out from your hotel after breakfast and journey through the beautiful mountain scenery to visit the historic Moraca Monastery. Founded in the 13th century and surrounded by a lovely courtyard garden, this important Orthodox Monastery is home to magnificent ancient frescoes and painted icons from the 17th and 18th centuries. Continue across Mount Lovćen to Cetinje, the old royal capital of Montenegro, to visit the National Museum and Cetinje Monastery, home to holy relics of St. John the Baptist. Stop in the charming village of Njegusi for a light lunch of the region’s specialty - locally smoked hams and cheeses. Descend from the highlands via a serpentine road with breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor and the only fjord in Southern Europe. Enjoy a wonderful overnight here at the luxurious Hotel Regent Porto Montenegro, nestled on palm-fringed shores in the heart of Porto Montenegro village.  Meals B+L+D

Day
11

Bay of Kotor to Dubrovnik

After a sumptuous buffet breakfast, you’ll embark on a guided cruise onto the tranquil waters of the Bay; it’s the perfect way to take in the surrounding landscape of steep, forested slopes, colorful marinas and charming medieval villages. On a small island in the Bay of Kotor, you’ll step off to visit Our Lady of the Rocks, a lovely 17th-century Baroque Church rich with colorful stories and legends. Continue onward to Dubrovnik for a guided walking tour through its beautifully preserved Old Town, set within impressive ramparts on a stunning stretch of the Dalmatian Coast. Among the landmarks, you’ll admire is the Rector’s Palace, built in the late 15th century in Gothic style and embellished with Renaissance and Baroque flourishes. Then check in to the deluxe Hilton Imperial Hotel for a wonderful 2-night stay.  Meals B+L

Day
12

A Day at Leisure

Hailed as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik was an important Mediterranean Sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1667 and again during the 1990’s by armed conflict, the city has been meticulously restored. Today it is one of Europe’s most beautifully preserved walled cities and it boasts a wealth of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. With a prime location near the medieval city gate, our deluxe hotel makes it easy for you to step out and explore this celebrated gem at your own pace. In addition to exploring the architectural monuments that grace the cobblestone lanes of the Old Town, you’ll want take some time to enjoy its galleries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants! This evening, you’ll gather again with your fellow travelers for a congenial farewell dinner.  Meals B+D

Day
13

Depart Debrovnik

We’ll take you to the airport today for your onward journey. Meals B

Bulgaria + Romania

Accompanied your own personal, expert guide, our original itinerary reveals the rich heritage, colorful stories and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of this often overlooked corner of Europe.

Show all itinerary details

Day
1

Welcome to Sofia, Bulgaria

Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the deluxe Hotel InterContinental, wonderfully situated in the historic heart of the city overlooking the gold and green domes of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Day
2

Discover Sofia

This morning’s privately guided city tour begins with the architectural landmarks of Sofia’s historical core. Chief among these monuments is the impressive Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. With its large gilded domes visible from many areas of the city, the cathedral of the Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch has become one of the city’s most recognized and popular symbols. You’ll also see the round church of St. George, a splendidly preserved Byzantine building, and the impressive Parliament and National Theater. Traveling to the outskirts of the city, you’ll also visit Boyana Church c. a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was built in the 10th century and expanded 300 years later. The interior frescoes date to the 13th century and are considered to be some of the Continent’s most important examples of east European medieval art. Your afternoon is at leisure to explore and enjoy as you wish.  Meals B

Day
3

Rila Monastery + Plovdiv

Depart Sofia this morning and travel with your private car, driver and guide to visit the Rila Monastery c , famed for its impressive frescoes. Originally founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila, the monastery was destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century and rebuilt in the mid 1800’s in classic Bulgarian Renaissance style. It is now recognized as an important symbol of the country’s strong Slavic cultural identity following centuries of Ottoman rule.

Relax over lunch here in Rila and then continue to Plovdiv where you’ll enjoy a guided walking tour through the Old Town with its cobbled streets and fine examples of National Revival architecture. At the unusual Trakart Museum, you’ll see the amazing restoration of a Roman mosaic floor of the 2nd century. Check in to the Ramada Princess Hotel for the night.  Meals B+L

Day
4

Onward to Kazanlak + Arbanassi + Veliko Tarnovo

Check out after breakfast and travel to the village of Skobelevo. On your guided tour through the Damascena Complex, you’ll see how Bulgaria’s famed rose oil was distilled in ancient times - and watch the modern techniques in use today. The rose was first introduced to Bulgaria by Ottoman Turks in the 1600’s. Within 100 years, large quantities of rose oil were being exported to France for use by French perfume producers. Today, it’s still an important part of the region’s economy.

Nearby in Kazanlak, the Thracian Tomb c is no longer open to visitors - a step taken to protect its Hellenistic frescoes that date from the 4th Century B.C. Next door, however, an educational center offers a remarkably accurate reconstruction of the tomb and its remarkable wall paintings. After this visit, continue to Veliko Tarnovo and check in to the Grand Yantra Hotel. Then join your guide for an afternoon walking tour here in Bulgaria’s former medieval capital. Later today, you’ll enjoy a pleasant evening stroll with your personal guide in the historic village of Arbanassi. Sit down to dinner in a local restaurant and then return to your hotel in Veliko Tarnovo.  Meals B+D

Day
5

Sinaia + Brasov

This morning’s scenic drive takes you across the border into Romania to the charming resort town of Sinaia in the heart of the Carpathian Mountains. Tour the Sinaia Monastery and the spectacular Peles Castle, the former summer residence of the Romanian Royal family. Continue to the fairytale town of Brasov, founded in the 13th century and home to the historic Black Church, so-named after its massive Gothic walls were blackened by a fire that devastated much of the town. Enjoy an evening walking tour in Brasov and a 2-night stay at the deluxe Aro Palace Hotel.  Meals B+L

Day
6

Excursion to Biertan + Sighisoara

Set out after breakfast to the Transylvanian town of Biertan c to visit its fortified church. Dating to the 16th century, it evidences the defensive response of the region’s Saxon communities as the Ottoman Empire began to menace the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Lacking the resources to fortify the entire town, these settlements created fortresses around their churches, enclosing the storehouses to withstand long sieges.

From Biertan, continue to Sighisoara where an impressive silhouette of towers and spires will welcome you to one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns. Your privately guided tour includes the architectural landmarks of Old Town c and the Clock Tower Museum with its fascinating exhibits on medieval weapons and torture. Then tour the medieval fortified church in Viscri c and watch skilled blacksmiths at work - using the traditional generations-old horseshoeing techniques still employed throughout much of this pastoral region. Then return to Brasov where your evening is free.  Meals B

Day
7

Bran Castle + Villages of Transylvania

Start the day with a visit to Bran Castle, originally built in the 13th century as a stronghold of the Knights of the Teutonic Order and later made famous in Bran Stoker’s novel, Dracula. In Zarnesti, you’ll visit the Bear Sanctuary to learn about their work rescuing bears from captivity to live here among the forests and waterways of the sanctuary’s 160-acre tract of land. In the nearby villages of Ohaba and Lisa, you’ll gain further insight into the region’s history and cultural traditions. Then visit the imposing Fagaras Fortress, built in 1310 on the site of an earlier 12th-century wooden fort that was burned by the Tartars in 1241. Continue to the historic town of Sibiu and check in to the comfortable Ramada Hotel for the night.  Meals B

Day
8

Sibiu + Cozia Monastery + Bucharest

Once a major Saxon trading center, the 12th-century town of Sibiu retains a distinctly German ambience and still reflects the grandeur of its wealthy past. This morning’s walking tour will take you through the historic district inside the city’s medieval walls. Walk through Huet Square, hear the stories behind the unusually-named Liars’ Bridge, and enjoy a private tour of the Evangelical Cathedral, built in the 14th century,

Then journey to the banks of the Olt River to visit the Cozia Monastery. Built in the late 1300’s, it is considered to be one of Romania’s oldest and most architecturally distinctive landmarks. Continue to Bucharest and check in to the deluxe Grand Continental Hotel for a 2-night stay.  Meals B+D

Day
9

Discover Bucharest

This morning’s privately guided tour of Bucharest’s historic landmarks takes you inside the enormous Palace of Parliament; built during the Ceausescu regime, this is one of the largest buildings in the entire world. From Revolution Square, you’ll be able to take in some of the city’s most impressive sites, including the Romanian Athenaeum – a handsome 19th century concert hall – and the imposing structures which once served as the headquarters for the Communist Party. It was from these rooftops that Nicolae Ceausescu fled by helicopter at the end of 1989. See the imposing Triumphal Arch and head to Herastrau Park to visit the open-air Village Museum where traditional farm houses, churches and windmills have been gathered from all across Romania to showcase traditional village life in the country’s various regions.  Meals B

Day
10

Depart Bucharest

You’ll be escorted to the airport today for your onward journey.  Meals B

Private Tour Add-Ons

Rome

Our 4-day FreeStyle Travel package includes 3 nights in your choice of city-center hotel, daily breakfast, chauffeured airport transfers and city sightseeing with your own private guide

Florence

Our 4-day FreeStyle Travel with a choice of fine hotels, breakfast daily, sightseeing, and private car transfers

Greece tour mapSearch

Save $1,000 Per Couple
+ $500 Solo

Pay in full at time of booking.

Occupancy


Trip Type

!No Single Supplement on All Departures for this tour.

previous next
  • Apr

    2020
  • May

    2020
  • Jun

    2020
  • Sep

    2020
  • Oct

    2020
  • Apr

    2021
  • May

    2021
DepartureReturnFromAvailabilityDeparture Note
21 April 202001 May 2020$4,099Guaranteed
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Guaranteed
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
05 May 202015 May 2020$4,099Available
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Available
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
09 June 202019 June 2020$4,099Available
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Available
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
15 September 202025 September 2020$4,099Available
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Available
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
29 September 202009 October 2020$4,099Available
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Available
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
06 October 202016 October 2020$4,099Available
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Available
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
27 April 202107 May 2021$4,099Available
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Available
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking
11 May 202121 May 2021$4,099Available
AccommodationPriceAvailability
Standard Accommodations$4,099Available
Call for Details PhoneRequest a Quote Booking

Family + Friends

Travel is one of  life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
  • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
  • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
  • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
  • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!

Pay-In-Full

Save $1,000 per couple + $500 solo on all of our Small Group, Small Ship and Private Journeys when you pay-in-full at time of booking.

Similar Trips

Joys of Greece

From Athens, our off-the-beaten-path itinerary brings to life the ancient sites, romantic villages and idyllic islands you thought existed only in history textbooks or on the silver screen! With never more than 16 guests and our expert Trip Leader, you’ll enjoy enriching sightseeing, wonderful meals and authentic cultural engagement.

Bulgaria + Romania

With our engaging native-born guides and a congenial group of never more than 16 guests, our unique itinerary plumbs the rich heritage, colorful stories and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of this often overlooked corner of Europe.
.

Journey to Croatia + Montenegro

The stories and beauty of this pristine, lesser-visited corner of Europe are presented with insight and passion by our expert native-born Trip Leader. Amidst soaring mountains, breathtaking coastal vistas and charming medieval towns, our in-depth sightseeing is enhanced by genuine personal encounters that reveal the true essences of these remarkable lands.