Epic Balkans
from $3271
Duration: 18 Days
Get a true taste of the Balkans on an epic adventure from the Pearl of the Danube, Budapest, down the Adriatic coast to the island of Corfu. On this 18-day journey, you'll travel to Belgrade for a taste of a European city on the up, learn about the war years in Sarajevo, stop by the famed Old Bridge of Mostar and discover the beachside gems of Budva and Dhermi Beach. Discover epicurean delights, political history of Albania’s capital, lay beachside on the Albanian riviera and wind up sun-kissed on the beaches of a Greek island. There’s battle zones, beaches, bunkers and bars all together, and by melding the past with the present, the historic with the euphoric, this is a trip that ticks all of the boxes.
  • Immerse yourself in the edgy street scene of Belgrade's Bohemian Quarter, then dance the night away in one of Europe’s nightlife hotspots.
  • Learn about the dark history and rebuilding of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, with a walk up to the White Fortress overlooking the city.
  • There is no shortage of medieval influences on this tour. Discover the walled cities of Dubrovnik, Kotor and Stari Bar, teeming with history from a bygone era.
  • Descend into one of the world’s most peculiar contemporary art museums in Tirana, housed in an underground bunker built for the Albanian political elite.
  • Lay by the shimmering Adriatic waters and soak up the sun in Croatia, on the Albanian coastline and off the island of Corfu.
  • Rakija Tasting with Locals
  • Hike to Yellow Bastion & White Fortress Viewpoints
  • Bunk'Art Bunker Exhibition Visit
  • Pellumbas & Black Cave Day Trip
  • Zekate Tower House
  • Gjirokaster Local Guide
  • Blue Eye Spring
  • Turkish Coffee 'on the Stone'
  • Day 1 Location: Budapest
    Szia! Welcome to Budapest, Hungary's intoxicating capital on the banks of the Danube River. Things kick off with a welcome meeting this evening at 6 pm, after which it'd be rude not to grab your new friends and leader for dinner and a night walk along the Danube. With the buildings and bridges lit up in the evening, Budapest is a beautiful city to explore by night, and be sure you don't miss the city's trending ruin bars – bars found in formerly abandoned buildings that are filled with eclectic furniture, street art and young locals.
    Day 2 Location: Budapest
    Join your leader on a short orientation walk this morning if you wish. Afterwards, you have a full free day to explore the city known as 'The Pearl of the Danube'. Split by the river into Buda and Pest, this city united under one name, Budapest, in 1873. It's a great city to explore by foot or from the water, or perhaps catch a funicular up to Buda castle for some seriously spectacular views of the skyline, dominated by the Hungarian parliament building. Continue exploring the cobblestones of the Castle District, or maybe hire a bicycle and head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the Iron Curtain fell. Other highlights include the State Opera House and the Hungarian National Museum, and one unmissable activity is a long soak in the healing waters of one of Budapest's hot thermal baths – there's a reason it's called the City of Spas.
    Day 3 Location: Belgrade
    Today, take the journey to Belgrade. Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe, sitting at the intersection of the Sava and Danube rivers, and is an important hub between Eastern and Western Europe. As a result of this, you'll experience an energetic mix of progressive and conservative customs as you spend time exploring the city as you please. Perhaps begin with a wander around the city's wide streets and squares to the historic Kalemegdan Park. The park is home to Kelmegdan Fortress, which has kept watch over the Danube for centuries. You’ll also get the chance to taste the traditional rakija (a fruit-flavoured brandy) with the locals. Ziveli! In the evening, perhaps head down to Skadarska Street, in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, to sample some authentic local food, soak up the lively atmosphere and witness an area where Orthodox churches coexist near grungy nightclubs.
    Day 4 Location: Belgrade
    Ease into the day with an optional 90-minute cruise along the Danube River, passing the Kalemegdan Fortress, Pancevo Bridge and the artist suburb of Zemun. Make sure you visit the imposing Hram Svetog Save (St Sava Church) today as well. If markets are your jam, the Zeleni Venac food market will keep you occupied for hours, or perhaps take a stroll through the Nikola Tesla Museum to learn about the life and work of Serbia's greatest inventors. Otherwise, the 36-metre Gardos Tower is perfect for views and photos of the city and the Danube. In the afternoon, perhaps head to Ada Ciganlija beach on the Sava River, a popular river beach with the young city crowd. Take a swim or soak up the sun with a cocktail in hand, and if you happen to be visiting in the summer months then there is probably a variety of musical and cultural events taking place. The beach is a great place to stick around into the night, being one hotspot of Belgrade’s legendary nightlife. Floating bars, restaurants and nightclubs line the Danube and Sava rivers – the envy of many cities right around Europe.
    Day 5 Location: Sarajevo
    Travel by bus through some beautiful countryside to Sarajevo. It's about an 8-hour trip, so enjoy the views, chat with your fellow travellers or load up on music for the journey. Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is slowly asserting itself as one of Europe's most interesting destinations, following the end of a devastating war. It has a similar vibe to Istanbul, in the sense that it mixes east and west and is dotted with minarets, mosques, bazaars and that rousing coffee smell. You can join an optional guided tour on arrival to learn a bit about the city's culture and history – this is one of the few cities in the world featuring an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and a mosque within close proximity. In the evening, why not grab your crew and head to Bascarsija, the city's old bazaar, for a delicious meal, then check out the city's nightlife. Your leader can point you in the right direction to some popular bars.
    Day 6 Location: Sarajevo
    This morning join your leader and head up to the viewpoints next to the Yellow Bastion and the White Fortress, both located in strategic positions overlooking the entire valley and Sarajevo's old town. Then enjoy a free day in and around Sarajevo. Perhaps jump on the newly reopened cable car up Trebevic Mountain, or head out to Ilidza, the source of the River Bosna, where green parks and thermal springs are the order of the day. Perhaps discover more about Sarajevo's history with a visit to the History Museum, the Sarajevo War Tunnels and Sniper Alley, or learn about the struggles of the city's Jewish population at the Jewish Museum. The Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a chance to get a little cultured, or why not return to Bascarsija to snack on burek. In the evening, the Pivnica HS Brewery is a great place to try some award-winning brews and hearty local food.
    Day 7 Location: Mostar / Budva
    Rise early to take the train from Sarajevo to Mostar (approximately 3 hours), a beautiful town in the high mountains of Herzegovina. You may well have heard of Mostar for its famous Stari Most: the Old Bridge from which young men traditionally jump into the Neretva River. It's thanks to this river that the city was able to develop in an otherwise barren landscape, and Mostar quickly became the region's trading centre before being heavily bombed during the war. It has since been rebuilt and its World Heritage-listed Old Town is a maze of alleys and cobblestones. Make sure to post up next to river and watch the brave divers hurl themselves off the bridge. We don't recommend that travellers jump as the bridge is super high and the water is absolutely freezing. Later in the afternoon, you and your group will continue to Budva (approximately 4 hours), where you'll spend the night.
    Day 8 Location: Budva
    Wake up in Montenegro's prime beach resort, Budva. Take a quick walk around town with your leader to orientate yourself, then enjoy free time to explore. Budva has a beautiful Old City and a stunning coastline, so have a look around and be sure to relax on the beach and take swim in the azure Adriatic Sea. If you are feeling more energetic, why not head by bus to the beautiful Bay of Kotor, Europe's most southerly fjord. Kotor is a 5th-century, World Heritage-listed town, sitting in the shadow of towering peaks in a secluded bay. The picturesque Old Town is quintessential Eastern Europe – winding cobblestone alleys, terracotta roofs, ancient fortifications and, weirdly, cats. So many cats.
    Day 9 Location: Dubrovnik
    Leave Montenegro for the beautiful southern coast of Croatia, arriving in Dubrovnik after approximately 2.5 hours. Today is free for you to explore Dubrovnik, one of Europe's most popular destinations, as you see best. A walk along the city walls is a must-do, especially if you happen to be a Game of Thrones fan. From here you'll not only recognise scenes from the TV series, but also enjoy views of the glittering Adriatic, so don't forget your camera. Other sights include the 13th-century Franciscan monastery and the Sponza and Rector's palaces, which were the only Renaissance buildings to survive an earthquake and fire in 1668. If you've seen enough, why not look for the hole-in-the-wall bar where you can relax on the rocks, drink a cold beer and spend some time swimming. There are also several beaches just outside the walls on which to unwind. In the evening, why not get your group together for a delicious Mediterranean meal and, if you feel like it, a few drinks at one of the town’s bars.
    Day 10 Location: Dubrovnik
    Spend free time in Dubrovnik, one of Croatia's most bewitching seaside cities. Continue to explore the charming Old Town, or simply enjoy the city's lively outdoor cafe culture. Alternatively why not rent a sunbed and umbrella at the city beach, or the beaches south of town.
    Day 11 Location: Dubrovnik / Kotor / Stari Bar
    This morning, take a local bus to Kotor in mighty Montenegro. Spend some free time exploring this terracotta-lined medieval town, perhaps walking up Kampana tower to see the surrounding turquoise waters and limestone cliffs or finding one of the many churches dotted around the relatively small town. Continue on to Stari Bar – the old town of Bar. Stepping inside the walls, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time, so spend the night like a medieval ruler. Perhaps try the area's typical drink, beer or wine with pomegranate juice, before exploring the compact town and its surroundings.
    Day 12 Location: Tirana
    Get your car games ready for a drive across the border into Albania. Once in Shkoder switch to a public bus to Tirana. Upon arrival, take a leader-led orientation walk around the city to get your bearings. Included for today is a visit to a history and contemporary art museum, Bunk’Art. This museum is quite the experience actually just to get to, as you’ll head through a long, dark tunnel in the hillside that leads you to the entrance, on the side of a still-active Albanian military base. From here, you’ll descend into 3000 square metres of underground space, which was originally meant as a bunker in the 1970s for Albania’s political elite. Now, it houses different exhibitions of Albanian modern history and contemporary art pieces. Afterwards you have time to explore this eclectic city. Perhaps head out to the Block for drinks.
    Day 13 Location: Pellumbas / Tirana
    Time to get your hiking shoes on with a hike out of town to Pellumbas, Black Cave and Erzeni River. Firstly, drive out of Tirana to Pellumbas: a small village around 25 kilometres southeast of Tirana, where you’ll pass through villages in the epicurean Erzeni Valley, passing the hilltop Petrela Castle. Once arrived, start hiking to the Black Cave and up Erzeni river canyon, where you’ll find that nature creeps up quickly – think tweeting birds, streaming rivers, and possibly the occasional turtle poking its head out. Continue into the huge entrance of Black Cave and explore the cavern with its spectacular stalactites. Afterwards, prepare for a descend to the rocky Erzeni River down a very steep forest trail. You’ll be rewarded with cool water pools flowing among giant boulders and trees. Later on head back to Tirana for the night.
    Day 14 Location: Tirana / Dhermi Beach
    You’ll have a free morning in Tirana before taking our private minibus to Dhermi Beach: a stunning stretch of Albania’s coastline. You’ll have time to laze on the golden beaches and swim in the shimmering waters of the Adriatic. Spend some time at one of the beachside bars with your group – a night of good food and good company is definitely on the cards.
    Day 15 Location: Dhermi Beach
    Wake up on the calming shores of Dhermi Beach, with your day being as clear as the blue waters of the surrounding seas. There’s a range of optional activities that might take your fancy: think hiking, sea kayaking, or even a boat excursion to the Karaburun Peninsula. The best thing is that there’s no need to rush – go as fast or as slow as you want! Today, you call the shots. If you want some more recommendations on what to do, hit up your group leader – they know the ropes.
    Day 16 Location: Blue Eye Spring / Gjirokaster
    Leave the sparkling Adriatic shores behind and take private transport to Gjirokaster, stopping at Blue Eye Spring en route. This feat of nature has to be seen to be believed – a kaleidoscope of blues and greens pulsating from a natural river spring from a depth of more than 50 metres. Take the time to explore the surrounding parks and take in the different vantage points of the spring. Onwards to Gjirokaster: a well-preserved Ottoman town in Albania’s south. Once arrived, visit one of the traditional tower houses with a local guide and taste their traditional coffee 'on the stone', roasted on the fire right in front of you. If you are lucky you may even get your fortune read. You’ll spend the night here, so explore the quaint cobblestoned streets and perhaps find some speca me glize (stuffed peppers) to have for dinner.
    Day 17 Location: Corfu
    Hop on a local bus south to Saranda – a coastal resort town near the Albania-Greece border. Then, take a hydrofoil ferry to Corfu, an island off Greece’s northwest coast in the Ionian Sea. Corfu is known for its mountainous landscapes that extend to the shores, and its cultural heritage, spent under rule from Venetian, French and British influence, before being united with Greece in 1864. Your group leader will take you on an orientation walk near where you’re staying to direct you to the best places, and afterwards, the afternoon is free for you to explore every corner of the island, or simply pull up a towel on one of the island’s many beaches.
    Day 18 Location: Corfu
    With no activities planned and no accommodation organised for tonight, you’re free to leave at any time. But, if shorelines and souvlakis are still on the cards, you don’t have to leave just yet! If you would like to spend more time on Corfu, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    16JUL2020
    Return Date:
    02AUG2020
    3555NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    13AUG2020
    Return Date:
    30AUG2020
    3555NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    10SEP2020
    Return Date:
    27SEP2020
    3555NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    20MAY2021
    Return Date:
    06JUN2021
    3635NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    17JUN2021
    Return Date:
    04JUL2021
    3635NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    15JUL2021
    Return Date:
    01AUG2021
    3635NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    12AUG2021
    Return Date:
    29AUG2021
    3635NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    09SEP2021
    Return Date:
    26SEP2021
    3635NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    20 Feb 2020

    Trip title

    Epic Balkans

    Trip code

    ZMYCC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Get a true taste of the Balkans on an epic adventure from the Pearl of the Danube, Budapest, down the Adriatic coast to the island of Corfu. On this 18-day journey, you'll travel to Belgrade for a taste of a European city on the up, learn about the war years in Sarajevo, stop by the famed Old Bridge of Mostar and discover the beachside gems of Budva and Dhermi Beach. Discover epicurean delights, political history of Albania’s capital, lay beachside on the Albanian riviera and wind up sun-kissed on the beaches of a Greek island. There’s battle zones, beaches, bunkers and bars all together, and by melding the past with the present, the historic with the euphoric, this is a trip that ticks all of the boxes.

    Style

    Basix

    Themes

    18 to 29s

    Transport

    Train,Public bus,Private vehicle,Metro,Taxi,Ferry

    Physical Rating

    2

    Joining point

    Marco Polo Top Hostel

    Nyár Utca 6

    Budapest

    HUNGARY

    Phone: +36 14132555

    Joining point description

    Marco Polo Top Hostel is centrally located in the heart of Budapest, within walking distance to many major sights and the famous ruin bars, and close to metro stations and tram stops. The front desk is open 24 hours. All rooms are non-smoking rooms equipped with fire/smoke detector system, have Wi-Fi connection and individual lockers. The hostel also provides public areas for socialising, giving it a real international hostel atmosphere.

    Joining point instructions

    Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (airport code BUD) is located 16km southeast of Budapest. Metered taxis are available from arrivals at all terminals. Alternatively you can catch frequent bus number 200E to the metro station at Kőbánya-Kispest, and then continue by metro line M3 to Astoria metro station. Bus 100E is another option, delivering you right in the city centre at Deák Ferenc Tér, from where you can walk to the hotel (15 minutes), or change to metro line M3 for one stop to Astoria metro station. From here it is just a 5-10 minute walk to Marco Polo Top Hostel. Exit the metro station and walk along Rakoczi Utca (on the left side of the street, moving away from the city centre). After 500 metres turn left into Nyar Utca. The hostel will be on your left after an additional 100 metres. If using public transportation and you change from a bus to the metro you will need a transfer ticket (2 physical tickets, validated one by one as you enter the bus/metro station). Make sure you validate your ticket as ticket checks on the metro are common. If in doubt about which ticket type to choose at the vending machine you can also buy your ticket at the tourist info in the airport's arrival hall. Pre booked arrival transfer from Budapest Airport (BUD): If you have pre booked an arrival transfer your transfer driver will be waiting in the arrivals hall, holding a board with the Intrepid Logo or your name on it. In case of flight cancellations, changes, if you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +36 302 801 219.

    Finish point

    Hotel City Marina

    15 Donzelot St

    Corfu

    GREECE

    Phone: +30 26610 39505

    Finish point description

    Hotel City Marina is a 3* star hotel located in Corfu Town (also called Kerkyra) near the port, and within walking distance of the commercial and historical center of town. The hotel offers a 24-hour reception desk and free Wi-Fi access in all areas including the rooms. The 54 rooms are of various styles, but all are spacious and comfortable for a relaxing stay, and all have a fridge, air-conditioning and en-suite bathroom facilities.

    Finish point instructions

    Corfu's airport (airport code CFU) is only 3 km away from the hotel, with hourly bus connections from outside the old city walls. The ride takes about 20 minutes. Taxis are cheap, can readily be booked through reception, and it takes only about 5 minutes for the short drive. Pre booked departure transfer to Corfu Airport: You will be collected at the hotel reception. In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able to find the driver, please contact the emergency phone number listed in the emergency contact section in these trip notes.

    Important information

    SINGLE SUPPLEMENT A single supplement is not available on this trip.

    Group leader

    All Intrepid group trips in Europe are accompanied by one of our local European group leaders. ’Local’ in this context means a leader who is European or lives in Europe. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader takes care of logistics, will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we also aim to support local guides in the individual cities or locations we travel to. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend an optional local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/safety-guidelines

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

    SCAMS Common scams operating in Europe include ploys to get you fined on the metro without a validated ticket. Ensure that you always travel with a validated ticket (have your ticket stamped). Another common scam is used by children who distract you with a map or a newspaper and while you are attending to them, steal your valuables. You may also come across players offering you to participate in the so-called "shell game". This is a scam and you will most certainly lose your money.

    Visas

    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking Visas for Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Albania and Greece are not required for passport holders of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. All other nationalities should check with the relevant authorities.

    Why we love it

    Immerse yourself in the edgy street scene of Belgrade's Bohemian Quarter, then dance the night away in one of Europe’s nightlife hotspots.

    Learn about the dark history and rebuilding of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, with a walk up to the White Fortress overlooking the city.

    There is no shortage of medieval influences on this tour. Discover the walled cities of Dubrovnik, Kotor and Stari Bar, teeming with history from a bygone era.

    Descend into one of the world’s most peculiar contemporary art museums in Tirana, housed in an underground bunker built for the Albanian political elite.

    Lay by the shimmering Adriatic waters and soak up the sun in Croatia, on the Albanian coastline and off the island of Corfu.

    Is this trip right for you

    Don’t let the heat keep you from exploring the world! Summer temperatures can be very high in the Balkans (over 40°C), which can make things uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat, and drink plenty of water. Please note that only some of our hotels will have airconditioning, and is virtually non-existent on public transport. As accommodation on this trip is mostly twin-share, (some triple or quadruple share where stated), single travellers will share a room with other travellers of the same sex. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. Please note that a single supplement is not available on this trip. Space is at a premium in Europe and your hotels are no exception. Rooms are often small, but usually the central location makes up for that. For those travelling as a duo, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together. In some cases, bathroom facilities will be shared rather than ensuite.

    Health

    All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. VEGETARIANS Vegetarians might find the menu selection in Europe less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own. BREAKFASTS There are some continental breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar).

    Money matters

    CURRENCY The local currency of Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF), in Serbia it is the Serbian Dinar (RSD), in Bosnia & Herzegovina the Bosnian Convertible Mark (BAM), Croatia uses the Croatian Kuna (HRK), Albania uses the Albanian Lek (ALL), and Greece is generally happy about the Euro (EUR). After independence Montenegro has also adopted the common currency of the European Union, the Euro, even though they are not a member of the EU. CASH The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money in Europe is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can withdraw local currencies easily at airports, major train stations and most city centres, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. We recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). BUDGET Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest EUR 500.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. TIPPING If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: In local markets and basic restaurants and cafes - round your bill up to the nearest €1. In more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides. You may also have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers. You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €4-€5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

    What to take

    PACKING On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

    WATER BOTTLE Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation or simply refill with tap water (your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination). When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

    On some of our trips in Europe it is possible to purchase responsibly sourced reusable water bottles. Thirty per cent of the cost of each bottle is donated to the Intrepid Foundation, specifically to the Support to Life project, which offers humanitarian assistance to Syrian Refugees in Turkey. Please ask your leader for further information regarding this initiative and the availability of the bottles.

    Climate and seasonal

    SUMMER Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season. SHOULDER SEASON In contrast, weather in shoulder season can be unpredictable, and snow is not unheard of at higher altitudes. If you travel at the start or towards the end of the European season please pack accordingly with warm and/or waterproof clothes (preferably layers). The advantage of travelling during this time is that there are less tourists around.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Feedback

    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ If you have booked an arrival transfer, and you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find to the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly on the number listed in the joining point instructions in the section above. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Operations Team can be reached on the number listed below: Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller DRESS CODE In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches, monasteries or other religious sites modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted, for both men and women.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Intrepid 18-29 style of travel. Our first accommodation choice is always as close to the main attraction of the destination as possible, however, sometimes we are not in the right centre of action, which means you may need to hop on a public transport to get to the city centre. Please note that service and accommodation in Europe may be different to the standards you are used to. Your accommodation will not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges and in particular destinations, rooms may be rather small. OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own. SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT Please note that on our 18 -29 trips in Europe we do not provide a single room supplement option. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

    Transport notes

    TRANSPORT IN EUROPE Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a train in Spain, cycling past a historic chateau in France, or encountering the world's most extravagant public transport system on the Moscow Metro. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action. LONG TRAVEL DAYS As we cover lots of ground on this trip, expect some long travel days on local trains and buses. This is an opportunity to mix with the locals and enjoy the scenery out the window. Travel schedules are known to change with little notice. Not all transport may have air conditioning.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. This only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis. Please note that no single supplement is available for this trip, however should a single room become available at the time of check in, there may be the option for you to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. MUSEUM VISITS & OPENING TIMES Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays (and sometimes even Tuesdays). We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where required/possible.

    Accommodation

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