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GRAND BALKANS

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25 days grand balkans from $5999*pp

DISCOVER THE HIGHLIGHTS OF 9 INCREDIBLE COUNTRIES
VISIT GREECE, TURKEY, CROATIA, SLOVENIA & MORE

INCLUDES RETURN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS

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  3039 Grand Balkans map


The mysteries, legends and wonders of the Balkans are yours to discover on this 25-day trip through nine incredible countries. Travel through Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Slovenia, Turkey and Montenegro and tick off the bucket list along the way as you immerse yourself in the highlights of each country. 

Begin your trip with a city tour in vibrant Istanbul; visit Ephesus, one of the most well-preserved ancient sites in the world; and take in the magnificent acropolis of Pergamon, along with the historic battlefields of Gallipoli. Enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of Sofia in Bulgaria; experience jaw-dropping Meteora, a complex of monasteries built atop towering rock pillars; and explore UNESCO-listed Vergina in Macedonia. Lap up the beautiful landscapes of Ohrid, Budva, Dubrovnik, Mostar, Split and Zagreb, and visit Ljubljana Castle and Lake Bled, plus so much more. 

With return flights with a premium airline, 22 nights 4-5 star hotel accommodation, 42 meals, English-speaking tour leader and guides and more, get ready to experience this beautiful part of Europe.


 

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ITINERARY

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Day 1 New Zealand – Istanbul, Turkey

Today depart from Auckland or *Christchurch for Istanbul, Turkey! Fly with airlines such as Etihad Airways, Emirates, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, or Swiss Airlines to name a few. (subject to availability).

Meals included: In-Flight


 

Day 2 Welcome to Istanbul

Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the hotel for check in. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Overnight: Ramada Plaza Istanbul City Centre / Golden Horn Hotel or similar, Istanbul 
Meals included: None


 

Day 3 Istanbul City Tour

Following breakfast this morning you will be picked up from the hotel for a day tour of old Istanbul. Visit Topkapi Palace, the great palace of Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries, which houses an exquisite collection of crystal, silver and Chinese porcelain. Robes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury, miniatures, the Holy Mantle, and enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed are also featured. 

Next you will see Sultan Ahmet Imperial Mosque, built in the 16th century by the architect Mehmet. It is perhaps more commonly known as the Blue Mosque, due to its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles. Afterwards you will see the ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races, with the three monuments; the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. After lunch you will visit the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar). The air here is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice. This evening you have the opportunity to join an optional evening cruise (not included). 

Optional activity: Bosphorus Dinner Cruise - $100 NZD

This evening join a dinner cruise and see sights such as the Bosphorus Bridge, which runs from Europe to Asia. Also see the Imperial Gardens of Royal Yildiz Palace, Ciragan Palace, Camlica Hill, Kempinski Hotel, Dolmabahce Palace, Rumeli Fortress and Beylerbeyi Palace.

Overnight: Ramada Plaza Istanbul City Centre / Golden Horn Hotel or similar, Istanbul 
Meals included: Breakfast


 

Day 4 Istanbul - Bursa, Uludag Ski Centre, Turkey

After breakfast, depart to the Uludag Ski Center in Bursa. Located approximately 4 hours from Istanbul, Uludag is the most popular ski resort in Turkey and offers an abundance of attractions no matter the season. The mountain has different levels of runs to suit beginners as well as experienced adults. Equipment will be available for rent (not included) for those wishing to hit the slopes. Upon arrival, enjoy a short Bursa city tour, before checking into the hotel for the evening.

Overnight: Sheraton Bursa Hotel or similar, Bursa 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 5 Bursa - Sirince Village Tour - Kusadasi

After breakfast, depart to Sirince (approx. 5 hours). On the way, visit one of the famous leather production centres of the region, where you will have the opportunity to get a good factory rate. Upon arrival, have some free time for lunch (not included) before enjoying a tour of the village in Sirince. Sirince is a pretty village that mostly dates back to the 19th century with original white painted houses. Sirince also has a fantastic reputation for producing some of the best wines in Turkey - especially fruit wines. Visit a vineyard and learn how to make fruit wine with Turkish wine makers. Afterwards drive to Kusadasi for the night.

Overnight: Suhan 360 Hotel & Spa or similar, Kusadasi 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 6 Ephesus Tour

After breakfast, visit Ephesus, one of the most well preserved ancient sites in the world. Here you will visit the Temple of Artemis, Curates street, famous Roman baths, Celsus Library and Grand theatre. After the tour, visit a place which continues to perform one of the oldest arts of Turkey; a carpet weaving centre. During the visit, you will have a chance to see the Turkish women who are working in the factory in action. Afterwards return to Kusadasi for the night.

Overnight: Suhan 360 Hotel & Spaor similar, Kusadesi 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 7 Kusadesi - Pergamon - Troy Tour

Today the tour departs to Pergamon (approx. 3 hours). Upon arrival, enjoy a tour of the magnificent acropolis of Pergamon - its impressive temples and library made it a cultural and political centre at the time. Pergamon is famous for its jewellery, stones and silver, and today you will see this firsthand with a stop at a jewellery centre. After lunch (not included), visit the famous archeological and mythological site of Troy, home of the Trojan Horse and Helen of Troy. Upon arrival, enjoy a tour of the archaeological site, before continuing Canakkale by 6:00pm for dinner.

Overnight: Troia Tusan Hotel or similar, Canakkale 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 8 Canakkale - Gallipoli Tour – Edirne

At approximately 7:30am, depart to Gallipoli to visit the historic battle fields. On the way, enjoy a stop for refreshments, before arriving at Gallipoli around midday. Upon arrival, break for lunch (not included), where you can relax before heading to the battle fields. Visit Kabatepe Museum, Ari Burnu Cemetery, Anzac Cove, Beach Cemetery, Shrapnel Valley and Plugge’s Plateau. Afterwards, drive towards to border to Edrine for the night.

Overnight: Ramada Hotel & Suites Edirne or similar, Edrine 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 9 Edirne, Turkey - Sofia, Bulgaria

After breakfast, check out of the hotel and depart to Sofia, Bulgaria. Upon arrival, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. You may like to explore Sofia city centre, shop in the local markets or enjoy the nightlife at the many bars or Casino.

Overnight: Ramada Sofia City Center / Jasmin Hotel or similar, Sofia 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 10 Sofia City Tour

Today enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the city center. Visit the Alexander Nevski Cathedral - one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in Europe, as well as one of Sofia’s symbols and a primary tourist attraction. Continue to St. George Rotunda, St. Sophia Church, National Theatre, and the former Royal Palace, which now houses the National Revival Art Gallery and the Ethnographic Museum. Tonight, join an optional dinner (not included) at a traditional restaurant with folklore music and dances (available for purchase at checkout. Please note, a standard dinner is available for those who do not wish to join this optional activity).

Overnight: Ramada Sofia City Center / Jasmin Hotel, Sofia or similar 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 11 Sofia ,Bulgaria – Thessaloniki, Greece

After breakfast, depart to Thessaloniki, a busy port town in the north of mainland Greece. Upon arrival, enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure. You might like to sample some traditional Greek food at a local Taverna.

Overnight: Ramada Plaza Thraki, Thessaloniki or similar 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 12 Thessaloniki – Vergina - Kalambaka

After breakfast, drive to Vergina, the first capital of the Kingdom of Macedonia, and a UNESCO world heritage site. The most important remains are the monumental palace, lavishly decorated with mosaics and painted stuccoes, and the burial ground with more than 300 tumuli, some of which date from the 11th century B.C. One of the royal tombs in the Great Tumulus is identified as that of Philip II, who conquered all the Greek cities, paving the way for his son Alexander and the expansion of the Hellenistic world. After lunch (not included), drive to Kalambaka, the gateway to Meteora.

Overnight: Antoniadis, Kalambaka or similar 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 13 Kalambaka, Greece – Ohrid, Macedonia

After Breakfast, depart on a half day tour of Meteora and Theopetra Cave. Meteora is a monumental rock formation that hosts one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, built atop towering natural rock pillars. The Theopetra cave is an important archaeological site located in Meteora that was inhabited by humans approximately 130,000 years ago. After time for lunch (not included), drive to Ohrid, Macedonia where you will check in and enjoy dinner at the hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Tino or similar, Ohrid, Macedonia 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 14 Ohrid, Macedonia – Durres, Albania

After breakfast, enjoy a half day city tour of Ohrid. Ohrid is a UNESCO recognized city, with beautiful landscapes, Byzantine frescoes and icons of traditional architecture. Visit the Hadzi Turgut Mosque, Old Bazaar, Zeynel Abidin Pasha Tekke, Krst Dazmija and more. The Hadzi Turget Mosque was built in 1466 by the Turkish Empire, and is believed to be the oldest in town. After free time for lunch (not included), depart to the resort city of Durres, Albania for the night.

Overnight: Premium Hotel Beach or similar, Durres 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 15 Durres, Albania – Budva, Montenegro

After breakfast, enjoy a Half Day City Tour in Durres. Visit the National Archaeological Museum, Roman Amphitheatre, Venetian tower, Town Hall Square and the Promenade, all with historical significance. Enjoy time at leisure for lunch (not included) before departing for Budva, Montenegro for the night.

Overnight: To be confirmed, Budva 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 16 Budva - Full Day City Tour

After breakfast, enjoy a Budva Town City Tour. Budva is the metropolis of Montenegrin tourism due to its sandy beaches, stunning landscapes and nightlife, however its historical monuments are just as exciting. Visit the historic Old Town, Ballerina and Mogren Beach, the Ancient Necropolis, Slovenska Plaza and more.

Overnight: To be confirmed, Budva 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 17 Budva, Montenegro - Dubrovnik City Tour - Dubrovnik, Croatia

After breakfast, enjoy the short scenic drive to the walled city of Dubrovnik for a city tour. See this UNESCO protected pearl of the Adriatic and its Cathedral, Rector’s Palace, Fransican Monastery, Clock Tower and Orlando’s Columns. Afterwards check in to your accommodation for the night.

Overnight: Hotel Neptun, Dubrovnik or similar 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 18 Dubrovnik - Day at leisure

Today is yours to relax in the Old Town, swim in the crystal waters or perhaps take a day trip to the Elaphite Islands (not included).

Overnight: Hotel Neptun, Dubrovnik or similar 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 19 Dubrovnik – Croatia - Mostar - Bosnia

After breakfast travel to Mostar. Known for its iconic Stari Most (Old Bridge), a reconstructed medieval arched bridge, Mostar was developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman Frontier town, and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Enjoy a short scenic tour of the town before enjoying free time for lunch (not included) and shopping. The evening is at leisure.

Overnight: Hotel Bristol or similar, Mostar 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 20 Mostar, Bosnia – Split, Croatia

After breakfast check out hotel and drive north to the Bosnian Pyramids near Visoko. After a short visit and lunch (not included), continue to Split on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.

Overnight: Split Urban Rooms or similar, Split 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 21 Split - Zagreb

Enjoy the morning at leisure before departing to Zagreb at midday. Enjoy a late afternoon city highlights tour, including the upper and lower town, the majestic Cathedral and Archbishops Palace.

Overnight: Double Tree by Hilton or similar, Zagreb 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 22 Zagreb, Croatia – Ljubljana, Slovenia

After breakfast, travel to Ljubljana. On the way stop at Plitvice National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the 16 crystal-blue lakes cascading into 92 spectacular waterfalls. Walk on the wooden promenades providing magnificent views of the waters, where every turn leads to a breathtaking scenery and yet another waterfall. Surrounded by dense woods, Plitvice Lake is a natural phenomenon of rare and unique beauty. Afterwards continue to Ljubljana, where you will check in to your accommodation.

Overnight: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Ljubljana or similar, Ljubljana 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 23 Ljubljana – Lake Bled

After breakfast, enjoy a city highlights tour. Take a walk around the historic centre before visiting to the Ljubljana Castle, which has been standing atop a hill above the city for 900 years. The Castles Outlook Tower and ramparts offer some of the best views of the city, while the castle itself houses a museum exhibition on Slovenian history. Afterwards, enjoy a short scenic drive to Lake Bled in the Julian Alps. Here you will have time at leisure to explore on your own. In the evening, return to Ljubljana for the night.

Overnight: Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Ljubljana or similar, Ljubljana 
Meals included: Breakfast;Dinner


 

Day 24 Ljubljana,Slovenia - New Zealand

Today at the appropriate time you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to New Zealand.

Meals included: Breakfast;In-Flight


 

Day 25 Arrive in New Zealand

Please note: some flights may arrive in New Zealand +1 days later.


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TERMS AND CONDITIONS

*Prices are per person (pp) in NZD, twin share based on lead in season. All care is taken to promote correct pricing at time of publication but is dependent upon availability and will be confirmed at time of reservation. Valid for sale until sold out. Airfares not included unless specified. Offers are subject to availability and can change without notification due to fluctuations in charges and currency. Credit card surcharges apply. For full terms and conditions please contact a World Travellers consultant.