14-night Balkans Explorer & Dalmatian Coast Guided Walking Holiday

The Old Bridge in Mostar
Duration: 14 nights
Type: European Multi-Centre
Walking Grade: 2 & 3

Enjoy two different itineraries back-to-back for a wonderful two-week walking holiday in the Balkans. In the first week the focus is on visiting Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. There’s an exhilarating journey into the wilderness by 4x4 jeep to walk around Montenegro's tranquil Biograd Lake and a walk following the River Uvac to admire the Uvac Canyon and spot soaring Griffon Vultures. In Serbia there's a walk to the summit of Mount Cuker and a scenic ride on a heritage railway. Passing back through Montenegro there's a visit to a beautiful mosque, walks along the Tara River and around the forest-lined Black Lake. There's also a day exploring the Durmitor Ring by vehicle and on foot to enjoy the mountain scenery and traditional villages before moving on to Bosnia & Herzegovina. Here, the star attraction is the city of Mostar with its famous re-built Ottoman stone bridge. From Mostar you’ll be transferred to the small coastal town of Baška Voda in Croatia via Dubrovnik airport. From Baška Voda, enjoy marvellous walking options along the mainland coast, on the delightful island of Brac and around the yawing chasm of the Cetina Gorge. There’s a boat trip to the coastal town of Omis and walks in the foothills of the Biokovo Mountains.

Holiday Highlights

Balkans Explorer 

  • Visit Uvac river canyon with its meanders and circling Griffon vultures
  • Ride the Šargan Eight historic railway through pretty Serbian landscapes
  • Walk in the Biograd Lake National Park and return by jeep safari
  • Explore Mostar’s sights including the famous bridge and Turkish houses

Dalmatian Coast

  • Walk the Cetina Gorge, then taking a boat trip to the town of Omiš
  • Stop at charming coastal resorts for a dip in the turquoise waters of the Adriatic 
  • Evening boat ride to Makarska to enjoy the town lit up at night
  • Outstanding waterfront hotel, right on the beach at Baška Voda
  • Free day opportunities to visit the ancient city of Split and the medieval town of Trogir

What’s included

  • A full programme of guided walks with 2 options every walking day
  • All transport to and from the walks
  • The services of experienced HF Holidays' leaders
  • "With flight" holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers
  • 14 nights accommodation in en-suite rooms
  • Transport between the two destinations
  • Half Board - continental breakfast and evening meal

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDF’s for each holiday, please click the button below to find the right trip notes for your departure date.

You will be met at Dubrovnik airport for the transfer to Kolasin resort, driving through the beautiful canyon of Moraca River to enjoy the contrast between the steep, dark cliffs and the light-green river. We'll stop at the Moraca Monastery, one of the oldest orthodox monasteries in Montenegro.

After breakfast, we take a jeep safari to Bjelasica Mountain, reaching a height of 1,750m where small wooden cabins serve national cuisine. After lunch we take a walking tour of Lake Biograd, located in the heart of Biogradska Gora National Park. Lake Biograd is the biggest and most attractive of seven glacial lakes scattered across the national park. We'll return to the hotel by jeep.

This morning we proceed to Serbia with a stop at Uvac Special Nature Reserve where we walk to a viewpoint overlooking the Uvac Canyon. We continue walking along the bank of the River Uvac, an area famous for its Griffon vultures, which we'll undoubtedly spot during this walk. There is also a huge variety of local birdlife along the way. Later, we transfer to Zlatibor.

Today we enjoy a walking tour to the summit of Mount Cuker (altitude of 1,359m). From the top, we'll have spectacular views of Zlatibor and Ribnicka Lake. After lunch, we enjoy a train ride on the Šargan Eight, a narrow-gauge heritage railway in Serbia before returning to our hotel.

Breakfast is followed by a transfer to Zabljak, stopping along the way to visit Husein-paša's Mosque in Pljevlja, regarded as one of the most beautiful sacral monuments of Islamic architecture in Montenegro. We take time for a walking tour on the Tara Djurdjevica Bridge, a concrete arch bridge spanning the Tara River (2km). After settling into our hotel in Zabljak, our group will take a walk around the Black Lake.

After breakfast we are transported around Durmitor, stopping at Curevac where we can view the Tara River and the deepest canyon in Europe. We then continue via Mala Crna Gora, Susica Lake, Nedajno, Trsa and Sedlo Pass stopping for walking tours along the way back to our hotel.

Today takes us to Mostar for a city tour, including a visit to the well known old bridge spanning the River Neretva. The original Ottoman bridge was built in the 16th century, and has since been re-built, becoming a symbol of freedom. It's considered one of the most exemplary pieces of Islamic architecture in the Balkans. We also visit the Turkish house Biscelica. There's also free time for you to explore Mostar independently. Whatever you choose, a visit to the Karadjoz-Begova mosque is highly recommended. The mosque's large dome and high minaret make it the largest in the region.

You will be transferred between the Hotel Mostar and the Hotel Villa Bacchus via Dubrovnik airport.

Unpack and settle in.

Today our walks start and finish at the hotel to enjoy the foothills of the Biokovo Mountains which rise above the village. Both groups will descend to the coast at the neighbouring resort of Brela. We will then follow the coastline on a promenade through small beach resorts with the opportunity to pause for a drink or swim on our way back to Baška Voda.

Option 1 - Villages, Views and Promenade

Distance: 6 miles (9½ km)

Total ascent: 1,100 feet (330m)

In summary: We explore the mainly abandoned Dalmatian village of Topici before continuing northwest, parallel to the coast, walking through small tourist resorts en route back to Baška Voda. On wide paths with wonderful views this is a popular walk with numerous places to stop after lunch for a swim in the brilliantly clear waters of the Adriatic.

Highlight: Take a dip in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic.


Option 2 - Napoleon’s Road, High Col and Promenade

Distance: 10 miles (16km)

Total ascent: 1,900 feet (570m)

In summary: The harder walk will ascend to a high mountain col. Using a part of the extraordinary Napoleon’s Old Road we ascend to one of the best lunch spot of the week with views in every direction. A stony descent takes us to the coastal promenade for a delightful return to our hotel.

Highlight: The stunning Napolean's Road


The island of Brač lies approximately four miles offshore from the mainland, and is about the same size as the Isle of Wight. The island’s coastline has a series of attractive harbour villages, two of which will be visited on our walks. We travel to Brač by boat from Baška Voda harbour. We will arrive at Sumartin harbour and from here walk to a secluded cove and through olive groves to the equally attractive harbour at Povlja. Here our boat will be waiting for the return trip.

Option 1 - Island coast and harbour villages

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 400 feet (120m)

In summary: After time to explore or enjoy a relaxed morning coffee in Sumartin, we ascend out of the town and enjoy a wide track above the east coast of the island with stunning views across to the mountains on the mainland. At the hamlet of Rasotica we see how the local inhabitants collect water where there are no natural springs, before a possible swim in the nearby picturesque cove. A good track leads us to lunch in the shade of an olive grove before walking to the north coast of the island with its basilica and harbour.

Highlight: The islands beautiful coastline with it's attractive harbour villages.


Option 2 - Island coast, terraces and harbour village

Distance: 9 miles (13km)

Total ascent: 800 feet (240m)

In summary: This coast to coast walk starts by following the route of the easier group with an ascent to a col for our picnic lunch before continuing to Povlja. We will have time to explore the Basilica, before taking a new route on good paths to the small harbour of Ticqa Luka, where in the past, boats moored to load stone from the adjacent quarry. The route continues around the headland with good views of the mainland before returning to Povlja, where we can perhaps enjoy a swim before catching our boat back. 

Highlight: The boat journey from Baška Voda harbour to Brač 


Today's walks use panoramic elevated paths in the foothills of the Biokovo Mountains. The views along the coast and across to the islands are superb throughout. Both walks will visit Vepric Shrine, a wooded Catholic pilgrimage site, before following the coastline along promenade to finish in Makarska.

Option 1 - Hillside villages and Makarska

Distance: 5½ miles (9km)

Total ascent: 1,000 feet (300m)

In summary: Starting at the village of Bast we ascend though the village before contouring south east on a wide path with good views over the coast.Then our descent takes us through scattered pines and olive groves to reach Vepric Shrine. After a short visit we will be transported to Makarska for refreshments and an optional walk around the peninsula.

Highlight: Explore the bustling harbour of Makarska.


Option 2 - Bast village high tracks and Makarska

Distance: 10 miles (16km)

Total ascent: 1,500 feet (450m)

In summary: Starting at Bast, this walk gradually ascends on a higher broad track on the flanks of the Biokovo mountains, initially in shaded forest before the views open out over Makarska. We can see the locations of walks earlier in the week on Brač and high above Makar before descending to Vepric Shrine and onto Makarska to join the easier group at the harbour.

Highlight: Superb views down to the coast and across to the islands. 


Each week there is a free day when no guided walks are offered. This is an ideal opportunity to relax around the hotel, walk independently or visit local places of interest. Some options for your free day may include:

Makarska: A relaxing option is to walk along the coast to Makarska. This is a generally straightforward walk, taking around two hours, with plenty of opportunities for swimming along the way. In Makarska you may want to have lunch in one of the waterfront cafés, before returning to Baška Voda on one of the regular local buses.

Split: Split is the capital of the region and is located 50km northwest of Baška Voda. The city can be reached by local bus, and the initial approach to the city through rows of dilapidated apartment blocks appears unpromising. At its heart, however, is an enthralling old town of narrow streets and ancient buildings. The principal sights are the cathedral of St Domnius and the remains of Diocletian’s Palace with its spectacular gates, museum and temple.

Trogir: A little further away is the equally impressive city of Trogir. Built on an island, this beautiful walled city has a maze of narrow medieval streets, elegant waterfront cafés, a wide waterfront promenade and dramatic fortifications. The city is also the best example of Croatian cultural life on the Dalmatian coast. The magnificent cathedral inspired UNESCO to name the town a World Heritage Site in 1997.

Krka National Park: The Krka River and its wonderful waterfalls define the landscape of Šibenik-Knin country and are the focus of the Krka National Park. The Krka waterfalls are a Karstic phenomenon. A popular option is to combine a visit to Trogir with the spectacular waterfalls in Krka National Park; your leaders will organise this if there is sufficient interest.


Both walks will start at the village of Makar, which sits on the hillside not far from Makarska, commanding superb views of the coast below, making their way via differing routes to Tučepi.

Option 1 - Botanical gardens, villages and Tučepi

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 500 feet (150m)

Total descent: 1,200 feet (360m)

In summary: On mostly good paths, this gentle paced walk reveals the contrasts between the traditional life at the base of the Biokovo range and the welcoming facilities of an attractive coastal resort. We visit old churches, small villages and botanical gardens along the way.

Highlight: Take a seat in the botanical gardens and admire the view out to the islands of Brač and Hvar.


Option 2 - Into the Biokovo Mountains

Distance: 7 miles (11km) 

Total ascent: 2,200 feet (660m)

In summary: The most challenging walk of the week ascends on a remarkably constructed former mule track before contouring in welcome shade high above the coast. A slightly rougher descent takes us to a traditional café.

Highlight: An exhilarating mountain day with spectacular views.


The Cetina Gorge is an impressive natural feature that has been carved through the limestone of the Biokovo Mountains. We start inland at the village of Kostanje, behind the coastal mountain range.

Option 1 - In to the Gorge

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 800 feet (240m)

In summary: Enjoying contrasting scenery to the coastal region, an easy morning through quiet villages takes us to a dramatic lunch spot with views to the Cetina River below. From here we follow a well-graded path through trees leading us to our boats which take us to a historic mill for refreshment, and through the gorge to Omiš on the coast.

Highlight: The delightful boat journey through the gorge to the coastal town of Omiš.


Option 2 - Above the Cetina Gorge

Distance: 8 miles (13km)

Total ascent: 900ft (270m)

In summary: We will take an alternative route to the easier route to visit a church for lunch with distant views high above the morning’s path, and then rejoin the path down to and into the gorge.

Highlight: Marvel at the Cetina Gorge; an impressive natural feature that has been carved through the limestone of the Biokovo Mountains.


We hope to see you again soon.

Balkans Explorer Itinerary Map
Baska Voda Itinerary Map

Hotel Bianca Resort & Spa, Kolasin - Balkans Explorer

Our holiday starts in Kolasin in the Hotel Bianca. This exclusive resort provides all the sophistication and comforts of a world-class hotel combined with a chalet ambience and the elegance of a private residence. All rooms are en-suite and have Wi-Fi, a telephone, radio, TV, safe, hairdryer, minibar and complimentary toiletries.

Hotel Mona, Zlatibor - Balkans Explorer

Hotel Zlatibor Mona is surrounded by beautiful pine trees, located in the very centre of Zlatibor. All rooms are ensuite with a TV, safe, minibar, hairdryer, telephone and WiFi. Zlatibor is a mountain region situated in the western part of Serbia. The name means 'Golden Pine' ('zlati' - golden, 'bor' - pine) and you'll see why, from the many pine trees in the local area.

Hotel Polar Star, Zabljak - Balkans Explorer

The hotel Polar Star has been designed in a traditional mountain style, surrounded by unspoilt wildlife, meadows and mountain ranges. Renovated in 2015, the hotel features a wellness and spa centre and all rooms feature a TV, ensuite, haridryer and minibar. The hotel is located in Borje, 4 km from the centre of Zabljak, on the road to the famous bridge on Tara.

Hotel Mostar, Mostar - Balkans Explorer

This newly built 4 hotel is the perfect finish to your holidays. Located a 15 minute walk to the Old Town, the hotel features a fitness centre with jacuzzi and spa, and a Turkish hammam. Rooms are ensuite with WiFi, TV, telephone, minibar, hairdryer and safe. Mostar is the cultural capital of the Herzegovina region, located in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also known as the city of flowers, so there is plenty of colour to enjoy when out exploring.

Hotel Villa Bacchus - Dalmatian Coast

The 4-star Hotel Bacchus is located on the seafront, overlooking the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea and the island of Brač. There is a peaceful pebble beach in front of the hotel where sun loungers and beach towels can be hired.  Built in 2003, Hotel Villa Bacchus is owned by the Divic family, and guest have rated the accommodation, meals and service very highly. Winner of three HF Hotel Awards in 2018 based on guest feedback.  

Essential Information

Passport Requirements

You may need to renew your British passport if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021.

On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:

  • have at least 6 months left
  • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

Use the government website to see if your passport is valid for this holiday

EHIC cards

The UK government has officially launched the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which will replace the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). UK residents can now apply for one of the GHIC cards, which will gradually replace the EHIC cards as they reach their expiry dates. Every family member travelling requires a GHIC. You can make an application for yourself and on behalf of your partner and any dependent children under the age of 16. Both cards will offer equivalent protection for emergency and medically necessary healthcare needs when in the EU on a temporary stay, which includes holiday, study and business travel. Necessary healthcare includes things like

• emergency treatment and visits to A&E
• treatment for long-term or pre-existing medical conditions
• routine medical care for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring
• oxygen and kidney dialysis

The public only need to apply for their free GHIC cards when their current EHIC expires. The process is likely to take two weeks. For more information visit https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-health-insurance-card-ghic/.

The GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. We advise all holidaymakers to also invest in travel insurance that covers healthcare, so they are covered for other issues that may arise, as well as cancellations and lost luggage.

Essential Equipment

To enjoy walking/hiking comfortably and safely, footwear, clothing and equipment needs to be suitable for the conditions. Safety and comfort are our priorities, so our advice is to come prepared for all eventualities.

  • Footwear with a good grip on the sole (e.g.Vibram sole) is the key to avoiding accidents.
  • Walking/hiking boots providing ankle support and good grip are recommended (ideally worn in), and specialist walking socks to avoid blisters.
  • Several layers of clothing, which can be added or removed, are better than a single layer (include spares).
  • Fabrics (lightweight and fast drying) designed for the outdoors are recommended.
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof over trousers.
  • Warm hat and gloves. 
  • Denim jeans and capes are not suitable on any walks.
  • Rucksack with a waterproof liner.
  • Thermos flask for hot drink.
  • Water bottle (at least 2 litre).
  • Spare high-energy food such as a chocolate bar.
  • Small torch.
  • First aid kit – your leader’s first aid kit doesn’t contain any medication or blister kits (such as Compeed).
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Sun cream.

Optional Equipment

  • Walking poles are useful, particularly for descents.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Camera.
  • Gaiters.

Guest Reviews

14 nights
European Multi-Centre
Walking Grade:

Fully Booked

020 3974 8865

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