14-Night Balkans Explorer & Montenegro Guided Walking Holiday

The Old Bridge in Mostar
Duration: 14 nights
Type: European Multi-Centre
Walking Grade: 2
from 0pp

Enjoy an extended stay in the Balkans by enjoying two holidays back to back with the second week exploring a different part of Montenegro. In the first week, three Balkan countries are visited: 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. Transferring from Mostar to Petrovac via Dubrovnik Airport, it’s time to see a different part of Montenegro. This coastal town is back by the Pastrovici Mountains and is a perfect place from which to set out each day to enjoy one of two guided walks to explore the beautiful countryside, traditional villages and other points of interest. Highlights include walking in Lovćen National Park for dramatic views of Kotor Bay, a large inlet from the Adriatic surrounded by mountains and historic settlements and a scenic boat ride on the wildlife-rich Lake Skadar. On the free day, an exploration of the twisting streets of Old Kotor is highly recommended.

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

Montenegro

  • Exceptional walking and cultural discovery in Montenegro, the ‘Black Pearl’ of the Balkans
  • Discover stunning Kotor Bay and the Venetian palaces of Kotor’s old town
  • Enjoy wonderful panoramas of bays, mountains and the Adriatic from the Lovćen National Park
  • Stay in Petrovac, a charming seaside town, renowned for its beautiful bay surrounded by dramatic mountains

What’s included

  • A multi-centre tour with a walk every day
  • All transport
  • The services of an experienced tour guide plus local walking guides
  • ‘With flight’ holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers
  • 7 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms
  • Half board – breakfast and evening meal
  • Some entrance fees
  • Two jeep safaris

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

Download Trip Notes

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 Palas via Dubrovnik airport.

Unpack and settle in


On the slopes of the mountains above the coastal highway are numerous small communities, Orthodox monasteries and small farms with summer grazing called katuns. These introductory walks both use panoramic paths close to Petrovac, visit highly decorated churches, and are a great introduction to the area.

Option 1 - Lučice Beach and Gradište Monastery

Distance: 4 miles (6½km)

Total ascent: 700 feet (210m)

In summary: Walking from the hotel we pass the neighbouring picturesque Lučice beach and ascend to historic Gradište monastery, perched on a rocky outcrop. After a pleasant shaded traverse, we descend to a café at Buljarica beach for lunch before returning along the coast to our hotel.

Highlight: The attractive cove of Lučice.

 

Option 2 - An Alpine Katun and St Spiridon’s Chapel

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 700 feet (210m)

Total descent: 2,300 feet (690m)

In summary: An undulating path through trees and flowers along the top of the coastal mountain range takes us to the tiny chapel at Ogradenica for lunch. A rocky descent follows across the flanks of the mountains to a welcoming café with wonderful coastal views to Sveti Stefan, a perfect end to our first day.

Highlight: Superb views of the coast.


The dramatic Bay of Kotor is flanked to the west by the wooded Tivat Peninsula culminating in Vrmac Hill. Among the trees lie the ruined 12th century Slav settlement of Pasiglav and the bucolic 14th century village of Gornja Lastva. Both walks enjoy a delightful path along the wooded slopes of Vrmac, and truly scenic views of the bay, often referred to as Europe’s southernmost fjord, although it is actually a ria. Across the bay, the medieval towns of Perast and Kotor offer a taste of a possible excursion on the free day.

Option 1 - Gornja Lastva to Muo

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,300 feet (390m)

Total descent: 2,200 feet (660m)

In summary: From Gornja Lastva we ascend through trees past the ruins of Pasiglav and continue steadily to the Tivat ridge with excellent views of Croatia and Serbia. An extraordinary former military road zigzags steadily down to the shore of Kotor Bay with views of the old town hemmed in by mountains.

Highlight: the incredible view of Kotor Bay laid out below you.

Option 2 - Gornja Lastva to Muo above the Bay of Kotor

Distance: 9 miles (14½km)

Total ascent: 2,000 feet (600m)

In summary: We ascend on a steep footpath to the Church of Sveti Vid with views to the Adriatic, Croatia and Serbia, before a long steady ascent brings us to the Tivat ridge summit for lunch with more superb views. We follow the ridge to join the Franz Josef Steig and descend the path taken by the easier group to a bayside café.

Highlight: Look out for fabulous views on this walk.

 


Towering over the Bay of Kotor and dominating the northwest of Montenegro are the two summits of Lovcen  the out-of-bounds Stirovnik at 1,749m and Jezerski Vrh, crowned with the Mausoleum of Petar II at 1,657m – the target for today’s harder walk. Both walks finish at Krstac on the boundary of the national park and at the head of one of the most spectacular roads in Europe. Both these walks, at over 4,000ft, may be affected by early season snow.

Option 1 - Cetinje and the Lovćen National Park

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 700 feet (210m)

Total descent: 1,800 feet (540m) 

In summary: After a brief exploration of the former imperial capital of Cetinje we start our walk at Ivanova Korita in Lovcen National Park. A well made former military road leads us past Alpine communities and descends with stunning views over the Bay of Kotor to a welcoming café at Krstac.

Highlight: The local guide bringing Cetinje to life.

Option 2 - Lovćen and the Njegoš Mausoleum

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,600 feet (480m)

Total descent: 2,400 feet (720m)

In summary: High within the Park, we ascend through trees to the summit ridge and viewpoint of Mt Lovćen. Descending steadily on a rough track we rejoin the easier group and descend to Kotor Bay and the hotel.

Highlight: Ascend a mountain summit and visit the mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic Njegos.

 


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:

Perast and Kotor: If there is sufficient interest your leaders will organise a coach to the picturesque old town of Perast, nestling at the foot of the mountains standing between the two bays of the inner Boka and opposite the Verige Channel, for an opportunity to explore the town and the nearby island of Our Lady of the Rock. The coach will then drive back along the bay to Kotor, whose old city is surrounded by walls that rise spectacularly to the crest of a rocky hillside. Old Kotor is a densely packed triangle of twisting streets, tiny squares, cafés and churches, and is a delight to just wander through and explore.

Budva: Nestling to the west of the lively holiday resort of Budva and to the north of Petrovac, Budva Stari Grad, or Old Town, has existed since before the 5th century BC. When the Roman Empire was divided, the border between it and Byzantium was drawn through Budva. The town has been meticulously restored after extensive damage by an earthquake in 1979. There are many squares, museums, narrow streets and a busy harbour to explore.

Beaches: Within easy walking distance south of Petrovac is the quiet cove of Lučice, perfect for swimming. Café facilities are available here. A little further on is the wide expanse of reedbacked Buljarica beach.

There is an excellent pool at the hotel. Details of other seasonal excursions are available from your leaders and the hotel reception desk.

 


Southeast of Petrovac towards the border with Albania, the Rumija range of mountains separates the Adriatic from Lake Skadar. This is a landscape where mosques sit alongside Orthodox churches and hillside farmers scratch a living. We pass the industrialised sprawl of Bar, the terminal on the Adriatic for the railway from Podgorica, to start our walks near Loška.

Option 1 - Villages below Loška and Stari Bar

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Total ascent: 1,000 feet (300m)

Total descent: 2,100 feet (630m)

In summary: Our path undulates past prosperous farming communities before a steep track leading to a lovely lunch spot at Loška. Passing flower strewn meadows minor roads bring us back to the coach for transport to the fascinating ruins of Stari Bar.

Highlight: Stari Bar is an historic, partially ruined town.

Option 2 - Loška

Distance: 5 miles (8km)

Total ascent: 2,200 feet (660m)

In summary: Starting far inland at the isolated Muslim community of Lunje we walk the first stage of the high level mountain path through myriad flowers to the summit of Loška to enjoy lunch with far reaching views to the Adriatic and Albania. Returning to Lunje we are taken to the old town of Bar for refreshments before continuing to the hotel.

Highlight: Impressive views of the Adriatic and Albania.


Between Petrovac and the capital to the east, Podgorica, lies the National Park of Lake Skadar, a huge wildlife reserve shared between Montenegro and Albania to the south. Surrounded on three sides by Montenegrin mountains, Skadar is one of the largest lakes in Europe with 40 different kinds of fish and 270 bird species. Both walks will explore this beautiful area and have the opportunity to enjoy a boat ride back to Virpazar before the coach journey to our hotel.

Option 1 - Poseljani and Lake Skadar

Distance: 3 miles (5km)

Total ascent: 400 feet (120m)

In summary: On this walk we explore almost deserted Poseljani down to the lake shore before following the river on a stony path passing waterfalls to rejoin the coach for lunch at the historic old bridge café in Rijeka Crnojevica. We then take our scenic boat ride down the river and across Lake Skadar.

Highlight: The boat trip on Lake Skadar with sightings of numerous birds almost certainly including the rare Dalmatian pelican.

Option 2 - Poseljani, Rijeka Crnojevića & Lake Skadar

Distance: 6 miles (9½km)

Total ascent: 1,400 feet (420m)

In summary: After a brief exploration of Poseljani we ascend steeply on a little walked packhorse route to a high open space for lunch, passing old farmsteads as we descend through trees to rejoin the easier group. Our boat ride takes us to the lakeside community of Virpazar with all facilities prior to our return to the hotel.

Highlight: Taking the boat trip on Lake Skadra, watching out for a variety of fauna.


We hope to see you again soon.


Balkans Explorer Itinerary Map
Montenegro 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 Palas - Montenegro

The 4-star Hotel Palas is located on the promenade of Petrovac, a coastal resort town with sandy beaches and hidden coves. The towering Pastrovici Mountains provide a picturesque backdrop to the hotel while in the ground there are attractive terraces and gardens planted with orange and olive trees. The hotel is within easy walking distance of the shops and it owns part of the sandy Lucice beach; hotel guests enjoy private seating. Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.

What to Bring

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

All holidays are subject to availability. Prices are subject to change.
Prices based on two people sharing. Supplements may apply.
Non-member fee: £10 per person.

These departure dates can be booked with flights or as land only holiday options. All packages that include flights are ATOL protected. Advertised flight prices are based on UK flights departing from London. Regional departures and/or connections to London, if available, can be requested. Cabin upgrades may also be available on request.

Date (Start - End) Nights Itinerary Price Status Trip Notes Book
2020
12 Sep - 26 Sep
14 2020 Itinerary £2,348 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
19 Sep - 03 Oct
14 2020 Itinerary £2,348 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
Date (Start - End) Nights Itinerary Price Status Trip Notes Book
2020
12 Sep - 26 Sep
14 2020 Itinerary £2,099 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
19 Sep - 03 Oct
14 2020 Itinerary £2,099 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes

Important Information

  • Flights from London Gatwick are included. Flight supplement from Manchester: £60

Balkans Explorer

  • Single room: £22 per night
  • Holiday is inclusive of coach transfers. 

Montenegro

  • Double room for sole occupancy: £29 per night 
  • Sea view supplement: £10 per room per night
  • Independent travellers can join our transfer from Dubrovnik Airport: £45 single
  • Our airport taxi service operates at this resort: £165 per single taxi journey
Duration:
14 nights
Type:
European Multi-Centre
Walking Grade:
2

14 nights from 0pp

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