Discover a part of Europe that few travelers have visited as we explore the treasures of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Formerly part of Yugoslavia, these independent countries are a fascinating microcosm of Western and Eastern, European and Ottoman Turkish, Christian and Islamic influences. Their architecture, art, customs and cuisine reflect this rich diversity. Visit Belgrade on the confluence of the Danube River, the beautiful town of Novigrad – designated the European Capital of Culture in 2021, the magnificent Studenica and Sopocani monasteries, Sarajevo and other historic places – many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. An expert guest lecturer will illuminate the history of this storied region.
- Pricing from
Risk-free reservations! Full refund of deposit until July 23, 2021
- Trip Type
- Group Travel Tour, International Ocean & Sea Voyages
- Departure Dates
Sep 22, 2021 - Oct 4, 2021
Fine hotel accommodations: three nights at the Hotel Moskva in Belgrade; two nights at the Hotel Crystal, Kraljevo; two nights at the Hotel Europe, Sarajevo; one nights at the Hotel Pansion City Star, Mostar; three nights at the Hotel Regent Montenegro, Tivat.
OPTIONAL EXTENSION TO DUBROVNIK
Extend your exploration of the Western Balkans by visiting Dubrovnik for two days. Set on a rocky peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is one of Europe’s best preserved and loveliest medieval cities, and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within its ramparts the city contains landmarks of great beauty.
Dr. Helen C. Evans
Dr. Evans has curated the award–winning exhibitions The Glory of Byzantium (843-1261) in 1997, Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) in 2004, Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition in 2012, and most recently Armenia! in 2018. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Apollo Magazine and others have praised the exhibitions as among the most important cultural events of their years.
HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS
At Thalassa Journeys, we share in the universal joy of the arrival of vaccines proven effective against Covid-19, and we look forward to a time when their widespread distribution allows us to return to travel free of concern. Because our primary interest will always be the safety and well-being of our travelers, we continue to implement strict health and safety protocols. We highly recommend that our travelers receive a vaccine before joining the program and to provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test. We also require an agreement to follow specified
protocols during the trip, which include wearing a face mask in social settings. Working in concert with our hotels and ground providers overseas, we ensure that recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and other governing bodies are strictly followed. Guests will be pre-registered at hotels to avoid lines at check-in, and luggage will be disinfected upon arrival. All hotels follow strict protocols of cleanliness and frequent disinfection. Tour vehicles carry less than half of their seat capacity. Drivers and Tour Guides wear face masks and have been tested for Covid-19. The temperature of guests, guides, drivers and field staff will be taken each morning, and while on excursions, guests will be provided with a sterilized whisper audio device that aids not only in hearing the tour guide but also in practicing social distancing. All of the restaurants on our program have been certified by local authorities as Covid-19 safe and will offer outdoor dining in many circumstances. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions, and know that as conditions evolve, we will continue to place your safety first.
CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS: Deposits will be refunded in full on cancellations received by July 23, 2021. Cancellations received between July 24 and August 22, 2021 are subject to a 40% cancellation fee (60% refund). Cancellations received on or after August 23, 2021 are subject to a 75% cancellation fee (25% refund). Requests for cancellations must be made in writing. No refunds will be made for any part of this program in which you choose not to participate.
DEPART THE USA
Depart the United States for Belgrade, Serbia.
Arrive in Belgrade. The capital of Serbia and the former Yugoslavia, Belgrade commands a superb strategic position at the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers. The site on which the city stands has been inhabited since the Neolithic Period. Greeks, Illyrians, Celts Romans, Byzantines, Ottoman Turks and many others dominated the city through its long history. Today, Belgrade is a vibrant city of broad tree-shaded boulevards and fashionable boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Accommodations for the next three nights will be at the historic Hotel Moskva. Enjoy a welcome dinner in the evening.
BELGRADE/NOVI SAD/ SREMSKI KARLOVCI/BELGRADE
Drive to the city of Novi Sad, driving through beautiful country of gentle rolling hills planted with vineyards. Designated the 2021 European Capital of Culture, the first non-European Union city to receive this coveted prize, Novi Sad, founded on a bend of the Danube, played an important role in Serbian history. Star ting in the 18th century, it became a major cultural and learning center, earning the nickname as the “Serbian Athens.” Tour the picturesque old section and the huge Petrovaradin Citadel, which towers over the Danube. The hill on which the citadel stands was originally fortified by the Romans and then the Byzantines. The present structure dates from the 17th century, and has been called the “Gibraltar on the Danube.” Also visit the Matica Gallery, the oldest Serbian cultural institution, which houses art treasures. On the return to Belgrade, stop at Sremski Karlovci, one of the prettiest small towns of Serbia, whose squares and streets are lined with impressive old buildings.
Tour in the morning the imposing Kalemegdan Fortress, built on a hilltop, that affords fine views of the Danube River. Continue to the Old Town to visit the Palace of Princess Ljubica, perhaps the city’s finest building dating from the Ottoman period; the Nikola Tesla Museum, dedicated to Nikola Tesla, one of the most prominent scientists of the of the modern era, known for his pioneering work on wireless communications, alternating electricity supply, X-rays and many other fields; and the royal compound in Dedinje, with its Royal and White Palaces that feature beautifully decorated rooms and halls. The residences of King Peter II, after WWII the palaces were taken over by the communist regime of Yugoslavia and used as official residences. In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Yugoslav History, whose collections chronicle the eventful history of Yugoslavia. Enjoy free time to discover the city’s vibrant café life.
Leave Belgrade in the morning for the monastery of Manasija. Built in 1406-18 in a forested valley, Manasija became soon after its construction an important cultural and literary center. Massive defensive walls and imposing towers surround the monastery, which is dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The interior of the church is decorated with expressive frescoes. Nearby is the Resavska Cave, a large cave that was carved into the limestone by subterranean rivers some 80 million years ago. Considered the country’s most important cave, it is renowned for its fantastic display of multi-color stalactites, stalagmites and tone waterfalls. Continue to the attractive town of Kraljevo, where we will stay for the next two nights.
STUDENICA & SOPOCANI MONASTERIES
Drive through magnificent scenery to explore two medieval monasteries that are considered Serbia’s best. Studenica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, begun in 1190 in a spot of high mountains and dense forests, consists of three churches, the most important of which is the one dedicated to the Virgin Mary. An elaborately carved doorway leads to the church’s interior, which is adorned with frescoes are among the best to survive anywhere from the Byzantine period. After lunch in the picturesque town of Novi Pazar, visit Sopocani, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built around 1260, and decorated by painters from Constantinople. It prospered for several centuries until it was destroyed in 1689, later meticulously restored. Return to our hotel in Kraljevo in the late afternoon.
KRALJEVO/VISEGRAD/ SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Leave Kraljevo in the morning to enter Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the pretty village of Visegrad we see the magnificent bridge that spans the Drina River, built in 1571, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bridge was celebrated in the novel, Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andric, who won the Nobel Prize for literature, in 1961. Continue to Sarajevo, the fabled capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, one of the loveliest cities in the Balkans. Built around a wooded highland and along the banks of a river, the area around Sarajevo was inhabited since deep antiquity, followed by Romans, Byzantines and Slavs. In 1428, it fell to the Ottoman Turks, who held it until 1878, when it became a possession of Austria-Hungary. It was under the time of Turkish rule that Sarajevo became a prosperous and multiethnic city, as attested today by its mosques, churches and synagogues.
Sarajevo suffered during the 1990s war, but the damage has been repaired and now the city’s restored old historic center is as vibrant, attractive and welcoming as ever. Explore the Old Town in the morning, with its covered markets and maze of stone streets, alleyways and squares, lined with workshops of coppersmiths and other artisans, cafes and restaurants. Visit the Svrzo House, an outstanding example of 16th century Turkish architecture, its rooms furnished as they used to be; the Gazi-Husrevbey Mosque, built in 1531 for the governor of Bosnia Gazi Husref; the City Hall, the city’s finest building of the Austro-Hungarian era (1898); and the spot where, in 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Habsburg throne of Austro-Hungary, an event that started World Wat I. The afternoon is free to make your own discoveries of this fascinating city. You may wish to visit the new War Childhood Museum, which portrays the experiences of children during the 1990s conflict.
Leave Sarajevo in the morning for Mostar, driving through beautiful mountainous scenery and along the Neretva River. Taken over by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century, Mostar, built along the banks of the Neretva and surrounded by high mountains, and with its cobbled alleyways and characteristic architecture, is Bosnia-Herzegovina’s most picturesque town. The centerpiece of the town is its world-famous stone bridge that spans the river in one arch, originally built in 1566. During our overnight stay in Mostar we will admire the bridge and its surroundings, and explore the town’s old section, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the Kajtaz 4House, Mostar’s most historic house.
MOSTAR/BLAGAJ/STOLAC/ TREBINJE, Bosnia-Herzegovina/ TIVAT, Montenegro
Leave Mostar in the morning for Montenegro, driving through the wine country of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Stop at Blagaj, a town set in a spectacular setting below a ruined 14th century castle, and Stolac, a village built on a steep bank, and Trebinje, where we will have lunch before continuing to Tivat in Montenegro. Founded in the Middle Ages on the shore of the spectacular Bay of Kotor, the only fjord-like waterway in southern Europe, Tivat is a lovely town of old stone mansions and a profusion of sub-tropical trees and flowering plants.
Accommodations for the next three nights will be at the Regent Montenegro, a beautiful hotel, which faces the bay.
Spend the morning at leisure to relax and enjoy the hotel’s grounds and facilities. Leave the hotel for lunch at one of the area’s best restaurants, a converted old stone mill, in the seaside village of Morinj, that has been in the same family for the past 200 years. Following lunch, explore the shore of the bay and its historic towns. Drive by Risan, the oldest settlement in the bay, founded by Greeks around 400 BC, later becoming a prosperous Roman town, and continue to Perast, a valuable possession of Venice starting in the early 15th century, where old imposing mansions and churches reveal the wealth it attained as a maritime city. Drive along the inner shore of the bay to Kotor, located at the head of the bay beneath towering mountains. Certainly one of the most striking and unspoiled old coastal towns, Kotor, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is enclosed within its formidable walls. Explore its stone-paved streets, lined with impressive palaces and other buildings.
Drive south in the morning to Sveti Stefan, perhaps Montenegro’s quintessential spot. A small island surrounded by the deep blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, now connected to the mainland by a causeway, Sveti Stefan was a charming fishing village that was founded in the 15th century. About 60 years ago the entire island, with its cluster of stone houses lining the narrow alleyways, has been converted to a resort hotel. Continue to Budva, a pretty seaside town, whose old quarter is enclosed by walls. The town’s main square is fronted by the churches of Sveti Ivan and Sveti Trojica (Holy Trinity). The Archaeological Museum exhibits artifacts from Budva’s ancient Greek and Roman past. Return to the hotel to spend the afternoon at leisure. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant in Tivat.
Transfer in the morning to the airport of Dubrovnik, only a few miles away, for the return flight home.
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