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We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarah@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.


September 29 - October 11, 2019
13 Days • $5210 per person single or double occupancy*
beginning in Belgrade, Serbia and ending in Skopje, Macedonia
Airfare Additional
*Discount of $400 per person for double occupancy


Day by Day Itinerary

September 29 Arrive Belgrade, Serbia

Welcome to Serbia! Arrive in Belgrade. A transfer is included from the BEG airport. On the way from the airport we will stop to have a look at the very interesting Aviation Museum, with hundreds of airplanes exhibited inside a large geodesic dome. Transfer to our trendy hotel in the heart of old Belgrade. Meet in the afternoon to walk along the banks of the Sava River where it flows into the Danube, and have a look at the Contemporary Art Museum - another very interesting building that houses a large collection of Serbian and Balkan art. Enjoy our welcome dinner at a unique chic restaurant housed in an apartment in a common residential building. Welcome to the Balkans! Overnight in Belgrade, Serbia. (D)

Townhouse 27 Hotel ****

September 30 Belgrade

After a late breakfast have a walking tour of the Belgrade fortress and old town, and then take lunch in a hip restaurant in Skadarlija, the heart of Belgrade. Our afternoon is free to explore the town on our own, rest, or perhaps join Yuri at the Museum of Illusion that just opened its doors. In the late afternoon we will take a tram ride to one of New Belgrade’s iconic brutalist buildings, looming over the city. How do people live in it? Let’s have some tea and cake with them, and find out. Then we will follow our hosts to a quirky local restaurant for dinner. Overnight in Belgrade, Serbia. (B-D)

Townhouse 27 Hotel ****

October 1 Belgrade -Topola
Tuesday Cacak - Novi Pazar

Start early after breakfast. Drive south, stopping at a unique socialist monument, on top of a hill, dominating the landscape. Our next stop will be the amazing Aleksandrovic winery, near the historic town of Topola and Oplenac, for a wine tour and tasting. Then we continue to the town of Cacak for a light walk, trying to spot its Roman and Austro-Hungarian heritage, and a light lunch. The coach will drop us off in the old part of town. We catch a glimpse of the Roman ruins, then the 19th century town, the Yugo modernism, the busy market, and we end up in about 25-30 minutes at a restaurant, in a wooden house, surrounded by socialist residential buildings. So many contrasts in such a short walk! And a glimpse of rural Serbian life. We continue south to Novi Pazar, in the heart of Sandzhak, a Bosnian-Muslim region on the borders with Kosovo and Montenegro. In the outskirts of Novi Pazar we will have a look at the Petrova crkva (Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Ras), a stunning medieval church that’s inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. We stay at an utterly unforgettable socialist-era hotel, with some of the wackiest architecture and layout you can imagine, right in the heart of the old town. This is probably the most interesting hotel in Serbia. Some free time to rest after the journey. Before dinner take a walk along the narrow winding streets of Novi Pazar - it can’t get more Ottoman than this! Let’s have a glimpse at the old Ottoman hamam, and then have dinner in a local Bosniak Muslim eatery. Overnight in Novi Pazar, Serbia. (B-L-D)

Vrbak Hotel ****

October 2 Novi Pazar
Wednesday Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo
Prishtina - Gracanica

In the morning, after a socialist-styled breakfast in the Tito-styled restaurant, we depart for Kosovo. In about an hour and thirty minutes we reach Kosovska Mitrovica, the divided Serbian-Albanian town. Welcome to Kosovo! We will walk the bridge that once saw a lot of action during the Kosovo conflict. It’s a unique bridge that both divides and unites the communities. Both Albanian and Serbian police and NATO troops stand on the bridge, guarding the peace. After Kosovska Mitrovica we depart to Prishtina, Kosovo’s young capital. Have a walk, stopping at the interesting library and the Bill Clinton statue, before being given time to grab lunch, if you choose, in a popular restaurant. In the afternoon continue to nearby Gracanica, where we will check in at the comfortable modern Gracanica hotel: the only hotel in Kosovo, which includes Serbian, Albanian and Roma staff. Some free time to rest, and then we will have a look at the Gracanica Monastery, a UNESCO Site next door to our hotel. Enjoy a cozy dinner at the hotel restaurant. Overnight in Gracanica, Kosovo. (B-D)

Gracanica Hotel *** 1/2

October 3 Gracanica - Prizren
Thursday Koman Lake, Albania - Tirana

We head, after breakfast, to the nearby town of Prizren, perhaps Kosovo’s most charming and liveliest town, in the foothills of the Shar Mountains - the same mountains that we will also see from Skopje! Have a look at the 1307 Church of Our Lady of Ljevis, damaged in the Kosovo War, which still has some remarkable frescoes. We have the privilege to be guided by one of the few Serbs that still lives in Prizren, father of the local priest. After this we walk in central Prizren, enjoying perhaps a drink before continue to cross the border with Albania, at the small and remote Qafe Morine - Gjakove crossing, that sees very few tourists and locals! Welcome to Albania! We will drive to the hamlet of Fierza, from where we board the local ferry across Koman lake. Have a picnic lunch onboard the ferry. Most of the other travelers on the ferry are locals, getting off or boarding at various hamlets along the shore. This is one of the world’s most unique boat rides! About two hours and thirty minutes from the start it ends at the Koman Dam. We will use local transport to get us down to the nearest village, where our minibus will wait to drive us to Tirana. Arrive in Tirana in the evening and check in at the ultra comfortable high-rise Plaza Hotel, right on the main square of the city, offering the best views in town. Some time to rest before we go out to a trendy restaurant across the street for dinner. Overnight in Tirana, Albania. (B-L-D)

Plaza Hotel *****

October 4 Tirana

A late start today - have a good sleep, enjoy the views from your room, or take a morning walk around the hotel. We will have a walk along the central Skanderbeg Square, having a look at the Et’Hem mosque and the House of Leaves, Tirana’s most intriguing museum, housed inside the former secret police quarters. Then we head to the outskirts of town to have lunch in a lively local (simple but tasty!) restaurant, and stopping at Bunk’Art, another fascinating museum, housed inside Enver Hoxha’s secret bunker. Bunk’Art offers a unique perspective on the dramatic past (and present) of Albania. In the afternoon we will be back at our hotel. Free time to rest or explore the city (perhaps visit the History Museum on the central square, just two minutes on foot from our hotel). In the evening we meet for a walk and dinner at the trendy Blloku neighborhood, which once housed Albania’s political elite and was beyond limits to ordinary citizens. Blloku is now where the cool girls and boys hang out. Overnight in Tirana, Albania. (B-L)

Plaza Hotel *****

October 5 Tirana - Himare
Saturday Qeparo - Gjirokaster

This will be the longest day on our tour, but also the one with the most beautiful and most dramatic scenery, as we travel along the Adriatic coast. After an early breakfast we set south. The first two hours will be rather uneventful as we drive along a busy highway through mostly flat agricultural lands. We will stop for a walk and drink at the charming modern seaside town of Vlore. Then we leave the highway, and ascend the mountains, before dropping down to sea level once again. The vistas will be dramatic! We will stop at several traditional villages. At Himare village, populated mostly by Albanian Greeks, we have lunch in the local Greek tavern, and then have a look at the almost abandoned hill-top village, with the old castle and church of St. John on top. Then we continue along the coast, stopping at Porto Palermo to have a look at the old naval (submarine?) bunker in the distance. We will stop at another stunning old abandoned village, Qeparo, for a walk. After Qeparo we drive a bit more along the coast, and then turn inland, towards Gjirokaster. We expect to arrive in the late afternoon. We check in at our plush hotel in the heart of the UNESCO-inscribed old town. Some time to rest, and we will head out for dinner at a lovely nearby restaurant. Overnight in Gjirokaster. (B-L)

Argjiro Hotel ****

October 6 Gjirokaster - Permet
Sunday Melissopetra, Greece - Korce

After breakfast we will have free time to explore the well-preserved Ottoman town: go along the little streets to find some good shops and cafes, or perhaps hike Ali Pasha’s fortress, looming above Gjirokaster. At 11 AM we will depart north. Our first stop will be the mountain town of Permet - complete non-tourist territory! - for a chance to stretch our feet, and take a drink in a local cafe. Then we continue on narrow windy roads with barely any other vehicle in sight, to the Greek border. We cross the border, across the mighty Viosa river (which we also crossed yesterday near Vlore on the coast) to the sleepy Greek village of Melissopetra, where we will take lunch in a good local restaurant. Then we head back to Albania, continuing to Korce, one of Albania’s most charming towns - still almost untouched by mass tourism! We will check in at the new and sleek Life Gallery hotel. Some time to rest before dinner, and dinner at the nearby Korce brewery - Albania’s largest brewery. Overnight in Korce. (B-L)

Life Gallery Hotel ****

October 7 Korce - Voskopoje
Monday Korce

Breakfast at the hotel. Then we will have a tour of Korce’s unique mixture of architecture styles, along its peaceful alleys. We will then explore the large busy market, and take lunch in a local cafe. Afternoon free to explore the town on your own, and perhaps visit the new art museum. In the later afternoon we will head to nearby Voskopoje village - once a mighty prosperous town and cultural centre, ravished by Ali Pasha’s troops in 1788. We will visit a couple of the old churches that have survived (the churches we will visit depend on the keys we can find!), with stunning frescoes dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Then we will have dinner in a local restaurant, and head back to Korce, around sunset. Overnight in Korce. (B-D)

Life Gallery Hotel ****

October 8 Korce - Prespa
Tuesday Ohrid, Macedonia
Bitola - Krushevo

After breakfast we start towards the Macedonian border. Once again we will avoid the busy border crossings, and head for a small, remote border where the scenery is spectacular: this time along the Prespa lakes. We cross the border, and then head to the Ohrid lake (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) - with some dramatic views as we descend! Welcome to Macedonia! We will stop at the Monastery of St Naum, where we will take a rowing boat ride across the crystal clear springs of the lake. Then we continue to the town of Ohrid, where we will take lunch and a short stroll along the lake promenade. After lunch we will see the church of St John Kaneo, the prettiest and most photographed view of Ohrid lake. Then we leave Ohrid, as it’s the most touristy place in Macedonia, and head across the mountains to Krushevo, Macedonia’s highest town, located at 4429 feet above sea level. On the way we will stop at the ruins of the Roman town of Heracleia Lyncestis (near Bitola), boasting some of the most impressive Roman mosaics in the Balkans. At Krushevo we will check in at a comfortable but strange (and memorable) hotel that offers unparalleled views of the town below - watch out for the dramatic sunrise over town the next morning! We will walk down (or take the minibus) to a popular local tavern serving tasty, simple local food, and a bar downstairs with some live folk music. Let’s join the fun, this is the real Macedonia! Overnight in Krushevo, Macedonia. (B)

Montana Palace Hotel ****

October 9 Krushevo
Wednesday Tetovo - Skopje

We start after a late breakfast. Perhaps if the chairlift going up the mountain works, we can take it for a ride. If not, we will go and see the Makedonium monument, dedicated to the anniversary of the Illinden anti-Ottoman Uprising of 1903. That monument is one of the most unusual socialist-era spomeniks, or memorials. Inside the monument they usually have some good local art - let’s have a look! Then we continue north, towards Skopje. We will stop at the town of Tetovo, which has one of Macedonia’s largest ethnic Albanian populations. We will have a look at the colorful central mosque, perhaps the most beautiful mosque Yuri has ever seen. We will grab lunch nearby in a local byurek bakery - with some of the tastiest Albanian-Macedonian-Balkan byurek! In the afternoon we will arrive in Skopje, Macedonia’s capital. We will check in at our modern and stylish Solun hotel right off the central Macedonia square. Some time to rest, and in the late afternoon we will head out to have a tour of post-1963 Skopje (when the big earthquake destroyed much of the city), including some of the recent redevelopments of the city. We will have dinner at a local hip brewery. Overnight in Skopje, Macedonia. (B)

Solun Hotel ****

October 10 Skopje

After a later breakfast, we will have a tour of pre-1963 Skopje, especially the old and Albanian quarter of town, and the busy market. We will have lunch in a traditional restaurant near the market, enjoying some hearty food. Afternoon will be free to enjoy Skopje on your own - you will be armed with a list of recommendations. In the evening we will meet for our farewell dinner. Yuri still doesn’t know where this will be. There are some amazing restaurants in downtown Skopje, but his heart tells him to go to Vodno, the hills near Skopje, with some fine views of the city below. If the restaurant I have in mind is indeed as good as I think it is, we will have our last dinner there. The restaurant must be a special place, with a deep, playful and wild soul - like the Balkans we just visited. Overnight in Skopje. (B-D)

Solun Hotel ****

October 11 Depart Skopje

Tour ends after breakfast. Transfer to the airport in time for your flight. (B)

B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner


(All photos this page by Yuri Boyanin)


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