The Balkans are the eternal crossroad for people, cultures, armies, religions. The road from East to West and the connection between Europe and Asia. Every civilization, which passed through the Balkans over the centuries, left a piece of its own culture, customs and beliefs. And we kept them all for the world to see. The Balkans conceal the secrets of Orpheus, the gold of the Thracian kings, the coins of the Roman emperors and the mosques of the Ottoman sultans. Be the one to explore this treasure chest full of cultural and natural wonders, which can be found only here. Live the mystery and enjoy the shared and peaceful living of Muslims and Christians for centuries. Follow the European conquests of the Ottoman Empire from Vienna back to Istanbul and taste the exquisite Balkan delights.
Day 1 : Arrive in Vienna
Morning arrival at Vienna international airport. Meet with the tour leader and transfer to the city. Sightseeing tour of Vienna – the capital of Austria and the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire, hosting the world famous Opera and Symphony, Maria-Theresien-Platz, the St. Stephan Cathedral and many more. Visit and opportunity to pray at one of the city’s 19 mosques. Optional lunch and chance to taste one of the culinary symbols of Vienna – the Sacher cake (Sachertorte). About 14h00 – check-in at hotel. Time at leisure. In the afternoon – visit to the palace of Schoenbrunn, the imperial summer residence of the Habsburg family with 1441 rooms and exquisite gardens. In the evening – back to the hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Vienna (Austria).
Day 2 : Vienna - Zagreb
Breakfast. 08h00 – departure to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Optional lunch on the way. About 14h00 – arrival. Sightseeing tour of the city – Ban Jelacic Square, St. Mary’s Cathedral, the market place, Tkalciceva Street, Stone Gate and Upper Town. Visit and opportunity to pray at Zagreb Mosque – the largest one in Croatia – hosting the Islamic secondary school “Dr. Ahmed Smajlovic” and the Islamic Cultural Center. Free time. About 19h00 – check-in at hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Zagreb (Croatia).
Day 3 : Zagreb - Sarajevo
Breakfast. 08h00 – departure to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. About noon – stop over in the city of Jajce (260 km), famous with its waterfalls and medieval citadel. Visit of the waterfalls, short walking tour and free time to explore the old town. Optional lunch. Continue to Sarajevo (160 km). About 19h00 – arrival and check-in at hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Sarajevo (Bosnia).
Day 4 : Sarajevo - Mostar - Trebinje
Breakfast. 08h00 – sightseeing tour of Sarajevo. Visit and opportunity for prayer at Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque – the largest historical mosque in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the best preserved Ottoman structures on the Balkans. Free time for shopping and exploring the Baščaršija (15th century old market). Optional lunch. About noon – departure to the medieval town of Mostar (130 km). Arrival about 15h00. Walking tour and visit of the largest in the region of Herzegovina Karagöz Bey Mosque. Free time to explore the old town with the famous Old Bridge listed in 2005 in the UNESCO World Heritage sites. About 18h00 – departure to Trebinje (120 km). Arrival in the evening. Check-in at hotel and dinner. Overnight in Trebinje (Bosnia).
Day 5 : Trebinje - Dubrovnik - Kotor - Budva
Breakfast. 08h00 – departure to Dubrovnik (30 km) – the pearl of the Croatian coastal line. Arrival about 09h00. Sightseeing tour of the medieval town of Dubrovnik, included in 1979 in the UNESCO World Heritage list, starting point for pilgrimage to Mecca in the past and one of the filming locations of Game of Thrones nowadays. Free time. Optional lunch. After lunch – departure to the towns of Kotor and Budva (Montenegro). About 16h00 – arrival in Kotor (90 km) – one of the most visited places on the Adriatic coast, with its medieval old town and fortifications also listed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Walking tour and time at leisure. About 18h00 – continue to Budva (30 km) – another pearl on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. Arrival in the evening. Check-in at hotel and dinner. Overnight in Budva (Montenegro).
Day 6 : Budva - Stari Bar - Tirana
Breakfast. 08h30 – free time to explore the tiny old town of Budva. Departure to the city of Bar (50 km). Visit of the old town of Bar (Stari Bar) – a place that attracts with its narrow and steep streets, ancient fortress, many pleasant souvenir and coffee shops (please mind comfortable shoes!). Walking tour and visit of the medieval Omar Bashi mosque. Optional lunch. About 15h00 – departure to Tirana (Albania/140 km). Arrival in the evening. Check-in at hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Tirana (Albania).
Day 7 : Tirana - Ohrid
Breakfast. 08h00 – sightseeing tour of Tirana with visit and opportunity for prayer in the famous Et'hem Bey Mosque decorated with rare Islamic art from the Ottoman era. Free time. Optional lunch. After lunch – departure to the town of Ohrid (Macedonia). About 17h00 – arrival in Ohrid, a picturesque town situated on the northern shores of Lake Ohrid. Walking tour and time at leisure in the old town. Check-in at hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Ohrid (Macedonia).
Day 8 : Ohrid - Skopje - Sofia
Breakfast. 08h00 – departure to Skopje – the capital of Macedonia (170 km). Arrival about noon. City tour and visit of the Mustafa Pasha Mosque – one of the most important Islamic monuments in Macedonia from the Ottoman era. Optional lunch. Free time. About 15h00 – departure to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria (250 km). Arrival in the evening. Check-in at hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Sofia (Bulgaria).
Day 9 : Sofia - Plovdiv
Breakfast. 08h00 – sightseeing tour of Sofia – city that “grows, but never grows old” – a 2000 year old settlement steeped in history, yet youthful and exotic with its fusion of roman ruins, golden churches, Ottoman mosques and stubborn Red Army monuments. Visit and opportunity for prayer at the Banya Bashi Mosque – the largest and the only active mosque in Sofia and one of the oldest mosques in Europe. Free time. Optional lunch. About 13h00 – departure to Plovdiv – the second largest city in Bulgaria regarded as one of the world’s oldest ones. About 15h00 – arrival in Plovdiv. Sightseeing tour including the old town and the ancient remains from Roman times. Visit and opportunity for prayer at the famous Dzhumaya Mosque (Cuma Camii). Check-in at hotel. Dinner at a traditional restaurant with folklore program. Back to the hotel. Overnight in Plovdiv (Bulgaria).
Day 10 : Plovdiv - Edirne - Istanbul
Breakfast. Departure to Istanbul. On the way – stop over in the town of Edirne (180 km). Arrival about noon. Optional lunch. Sightseeing tour with visit and opportunity for prayer at the Selimiye Mosque – an impressive Ottoman imperial mosque commissioned by Sultan Selim II and built by the famous architect Mimar Sinan between 1569 and 1575. About 15h00 – continue to Istanbul (240 km). Arrival in the evening. Check-in at hotel. Dinner. Overnight in Istanbul (Turkey).
Day 11 : Istanbul - City Tour
Breakfast. 08h00 – Istanbul sightseeing tour – a panoramic and walking tour of the 3000-year old metropolis, capital of 3 empires, final stage of the legendary Silk Road. You will experience a living history and breeding culture from ancient to modern times and will enjoy an architectural triumph of 3 millennia which miraculously remained untouched over centuries of ups and downs. The tour includes the Topkapi palace (seen from outside), historic Sultanahmet Square with the magnificent Blue Mosque, the Egyptian Obelisk, the Column of Constantine, the Serpent Column, as well as visit to St. Sofia (Hagia Sofia) monument built in the 6th century as a church, later turned into imperial mosque, now a museum. Free time for shopping or prayer at some of the magnificently decorated Istanbul mosques. Optional lunch. Later we will cross the Golden Horn Bay, take a look of the Bosphorus and explore the area of Teksim square, where you can enjoy the lovely cafes and the heritage of Asian and European cuisine. In the evening – dinner at a restaurant with entertaining program including oriental dances. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 12 : Departure from Istanbul
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport. Departure to home.