Sofia - 3 nights
Belgrade - 3 nights
Băile Herculane - 1 night
Râmnicu Vâlcea - 1 night
Bucharest - 2 nights

Spendology - Widgets


Covering three countries’ capitals and a kaleidoscope of colours and cultures, this bountiful tour of the Balkans crosses borders and beautiful landscapes, to reveal the ancient sites, artistic treasures, and medieval monuments of Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania

First used in the 1800s to refer to the region, the Turkish word ‘balkan’ means ‘mountain’, an apt descriptive for the landscapes of south-eastern Europe. This is a journey through the splendid scenery of the peaks and valleys, to the awe-inspiring monuments which chart the countries’ history. It begins in Bulgaria, where Sofia straddles the Perlovska River with modern towers and medieval churches, against its Mount Vitosha backdrop; the huge Rila Monastery is secluded on misted mountain slopes; and the six hills of Plovdiv have witnessed every age and culture, with Roman ruins, medieval streets, and Ottoman mosques. In Serbia, a forbidding fortress dominates the city of Nis; Belgrade’s mix of monuments and eras ranges from a medieval castle to Tito’s tomb, and the biggest church in the Balkans; and we visit the impressive Roman site of Viminacium; and the Baroque town of Sremski Karlovci, where it’s said that every street has its own historic story. Romania greets you with Decebal’s Face carved into a cliff on the Danube; and follows with the spa town of Baile Herculane, the haunting sculptures of Târgu Jiu, and the monasteries of Horezu and Curtea de Arges; ending amid the monuments of the capital, Bucharest.

Key Features

Cultural & Countryside Tour
Jules Verne Sightseeing
3 UNESCO Heritage Sites
Local Expert Guides
Central Hotels

Special Events

Capital Drinks

To round off your capital visits indulge in a range of rakias in a stylish communist-era retro bar in Sofia, a cup of coffee and cake at the oldest Kafana in Belgrade and a glass of prosecco with savoury tartlets at a historic restaurant in a quiet, leafy area of Bucharest.

Day 1 Fly from London Heathrow to Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, and transfer to the 4-star Hotel Anel for three nights.

Day 2 Tour to Rila Monastery, built over the tomb of a 10th century hermit. A centre of artistic and spiritual influence in medieval times, the 19th century Renaissance building boasts a frescoed dome and magnificent iconostasis. Return to Sofia for a tour of its splendid churches; the red-brick Rotunda of St. George, the city’s oldest monument, built as Roman baths before becoming a Byzantine church; the iconic, multi-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; picture-perfect St. Nicolas the Miracle-Maker, green and white with golden cupolas, and known as ‘the Russian Church’; and UNESCO listed Boyana, its apt epithet ‘the Old Church’, built in the 10th-11th centuries, and celebrated for the detail and multitude of colours in its 13th century frescoes. End the day with a Rakia tasting. (B)

Day 3 Travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, hemming the Maritsa River with six hills and a captivating Old Quarter. A walking tour includes a visit to the superbly preserved Roman Theatre, still hosting concerts and cultural events; and the 15th century Dzhumaya (Friday) Mosque, one of the oldest and largest Ottoman mosques in the Balkans. (B)

Day 4 Cross the Serbian border to Nis (3 hrs). Rarely featured on tourist routes, it is among the oldest Balkan cities, steeped in ancient history and Celtic legend, the birthplace of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Take a tour of it 18th century fortress, a daunting Ottoman enclave, set by the river and encircling an ancient citadel within its sturdy walls. Continue to Belgrade (3hrs), the exuberant capital blending Soviet-era severity with grand historic façades, and a thriving café culture. Three nights at the 4-star Belgrade Art Hotel. (B)

Day 5 A morning tour of the city visits the medieval Kalemegdan Castle ruins, overlooking the confluence of the rivers Sava and Danube; Republic Square, hemmed by the National Theatre and museum, and centred by a statue of Prince Mihailo on horseback; the enormous St. Sava Cathedral, a marble icon, eighty years in the making, with 49 bells and 18 gold-plated crosses topping its towers and domes; and the Tito Memorial Centre, the mausoleum of (Marshal) Josip Tito, president of former Yugoslavia. His tomb, in the House of Flowers, is one of three buildings forming the Yugoslav Museum. Complete the tour with coffee and cake at a kafana. (B)

Day 6 Drive to Sremski Karlovci, known as a town of ‘wine, culture and spirituality’, and enjoy a tour of the gorgeous Baroque centre, focused on Branko Radicevic square, its photogenic buildings including the Patriarchal Palace, Orthodox St. Nicholas Cathedral, and Catholic church of the Holy Trinity. Enjoy a wine tasting before continuing to Novi Sad, to visit the 17th-18th century Petrovaradin Fortress on a bluff above the Danube, and the Gothic architecture of its Stari Grad old town, on the opposite riverbank. (B)

Day 7 Travel to Viminacium, a major Roman city from the 1st to the 4th centuries AD, now an amazing archaeological site with temples, baths, an aqueduct, pantheon, theatre, and the Emperor Hostelian’s tomb. Travel along the Danube’s banks (3hrs) to the ‘Iron Gates’, marking the border between Serbia and Romania, to view the 40m-high sculpture of King Decebal’s Face, carved into the rock beside the river. Continue to Baile Herculane, a modern spa town with bags of history too, where legend has it that Hercules bathed in its thermal springs. Overnight at the 3-star Afrodita Hotel. (B)

Day 8 Drive to Târgu Jiu, inhabited since Paleolithic times, but now famed for 20th century sculptures by a pioneer of modernism, Constantin Brâncusi, whose memorial to the fallen of two world wars is an ensemble trio, the limestone Silence Table, marble Gate of the Kiss, and cast-iron, 30 metre-high, Endless Column. Continue to Horezu to visit the UNESCO listed, 17th century monastery complex revered for its paintings and architectural purity. According to legend, its name is taken from ‘huhurezi’ (the eagle owl nightbird), as the builders, fearing to be seen by Turkish occupiers, worked only at night. Continue to Râmnicu Vâlcea for overnight at the 4-star Grand Hotel Sofianu. (B)

Day 9 Travel to Curtea de Arges to visit the monastery, an iconic Orthodox cathedral and place of pilgrimage, founded in the 16th century, heavily restored in the 19th, and housing the tombs of Romanian royalty. Continue to the broad boulevards, Belle Epoch buildings, and charismatic old town of Bucharest, for two nights at the 4-star Hotel Cismigiu. (B)

Day 10 A tour of the capital includes the huge white edifice of the Palace of the Parliament (as deep as it is tall, with eight of its twenty storeys underground); the 17th century Metropolitan Church (aka the Patriarchal Cathedral); the Romanian Athenaeum concert hall with its Baroque cupola; the Arch of Triumph, commemorating WW1 with more than a nod to its Paris equivalent; and the open-air Village Museum in Herastrau Park, recreating traditional rural life. Enjoy a drink at an historic restaurant. (B)

Day 11 Transfer to Bucharest airport for the return flight to London Heathrow. (B)

  • Key
  • B - Breakfast
  • L - Lunch
  • D - Dinner


per person in a twin/double room
British Airways from Heathrow

Date Price
June 19 £1775
September 24 £1755


Click here for 2024 departures

Supplements per person

Single Supplement

Single supplement £445

Flight Options

British Airways Club Europe - On request

Extension Options

Extension - Brasov & Bucharest
2 nights £350
Single supplement £80

Extra Nights – Sofia
Hotel Anel
(per night) £60
Single supplement £55

Extra Nights – Bucharest
Hotel Cismigiu
(per night) £75
Single supplement £55

Tour Only

Save £200
Arrival transfer add £35
Departure transfer add £25

Price Includes
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 10 nights’ accommodation, breakfast daily, itinerary as described, services of guides and local representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.

Not Included
Travel insurance, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.

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