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Balkan Tour Packages: 6 Balkan Tours worth taking

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Looking for best Balkan tour packages or escorted Balkan tours? You are in the right spot.

In our recent trip to the Balkan nations, we did a mix of guided tours, independent travel (aka leisurely wanderings), and went through a long list of transportation options (from buses, ferries to private transfers). So, here are the top 6 small group Balkan tour packages that you must consider booking.

Balkan Tours: Top 6 Balkan Tour Packages to book this year

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The Balkan peninsula is located in the southeastern part of Europe. The Balkans comprises the countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia.

  • Countries - 4
  • Days - 12
  • Age: N/A
  • Countries - Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Albania
  • USP - Offbeat places covered
  • Countries - 5
  • Days - 10
  • Age: N/A
  • Countries - Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro
  • USP - Best Value, Lonely Planet Experiences
  • Countries - 6
  • Days - 18
  • Age: 18 to 39 years
  • Countries - Greece, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro
  • USP - Extensive Balkans, Young travelers

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Companies providing small group tours Balkans

All the tours mentioned in this post are via Intrepid Travel and GAdventures. Both companies have great reviews when it comes to small group tours.

Intrepid travel works better for us as they provide accommodation in hotels, and have an open age requirement. On the other hand, G Adventures is great for budget travelers enjoying multi-share accommodations, and most of the tour activities are for 18 to 39-year-olds. 

Intrepid Travel is a leader in responsible ethical travel, especially in small group tours. They have a wide selection of tours to choose from. Should your travel plans change, you can easily cancel the tour and request a full refund, if canceled 21 days before the scheduled departure. 

Keeping in mind, with today’s new normal, Intrepid Travel have reviewed their Health & Safety policies and are following/implementing recommendations from the World Health Organization and WTTC.  

GAdventures is a Canadian tour company that also offers small group travel for all ages. They have also updated Health and Safety protocols for travelers and employees on all of their escorted tours. 

You can also book their tours with confidence, as tours departing before December 31 2020, can be cancelled upto 14 days of departure, and those departing between January – June 2021 can be cancelled and rebooked upto 30 days prior to departure. 

They also have tons of departure dates to choose from. 

Both of the companies are proponents of responsible travel and have small group tours to choose from. For the Balkans, Intrepid Travel has a better selection of tours, here are our top picks for escorted tours of Balkans.

12 days – Escorted tours of Balkans (western region)

If you are looking for an off-beat travel experience MINUS the transportation hassles (buses, long overnight border crossings – we have done that, it’s not fun), choose this guided tour from Intrepid Travel. 

They will guide you from Skopje to the stunning city of Dubrovnik in 12 days. If you are flying from the USA or Canada, we recommend booking a return flight to Zagreb (or Dubrovnik) and then head to Skopje in North Macedonia to commence the tour.

Wandering Old town Dubrovnik itinerary 3 days

When the tour concludes, you will be in Dubrovnik (or in Croatia) and can fly back home from there. This will also allow you to explore more of Dubrovnik, and take day trips from there to the islands or even to Split

In this 12-day Balkan tour package, you will explore the highlights of some of the hidden gems in the Balkans like Prizren (Kosovo), Ohrid (North Macedonia), Kruja (Albania), and of course the popular and known cities like Tirana (Albania) and Dubrovnik (Croatia).

Here are some of the tour highlights

  • 4 countries covered. Destinations include
    • North Macedonia – Skopje,  Matka Canyon, Ohrid boat cruise
    • Kosovo – Prizren 
    • Albania – Berat, Tirana, Kruja
    • Croatia – Dubrovnik 
  • Special guided tours including a boat cruise, city walls exploration, castle tour, authentic Balkan dinner experience
  • Hotel and transportation is included

Why take this tour?

  • Offbeat places covered, in the Balkans
  • Exploring these countries in an escorted tour is highly recommended if you are planning to use public transportation to get to these places. 
  • This tour makes sightseeing effortlessly easy, with a local tour guide in tow

10 Day Budapest and Balkan Adventure

This is one of the affordable Balkans tour packages, that covers the Hungarian capital Budapest and central Balkans countries from Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro.

This combination of Balkans is our absolute favorite, and it will be an enriching experience as you learn about the Austro-Hungarian empire influences, World War remnants plus understand the modern standing of the Balkan nations.

Guide to Balkan tour packages to take

You got FOOD, HISTORY & CULTURE, SUN & SAND – the perfect ingredients for a vacation. 

Here is what is covered in the tour

  • Hungary – Exploring the highlights of Budapest 
  • Serbia – Learning about the capital of erstwhile Yugoslavia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – Admiring Mostar and learning about the outbreak of World War I in Sarajevo 
  • Montenegro – Soaking in views from Kotor Bay
  • Croatia – Visiting the stunning Dalmatian coastline in the historic hotspot of Dubrovnik
  • Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Montenegro, Dubrovnik, Split, Sarajevo, Zagreb 

For this trip, you can fly to Budapest, and book a return flight from there or fly out from Croatia. It is a good idea to extend a day or two in Dubrovnik. 

Why take this tour?

  • This escorted tour is inspired by Lonely Planet Experience
  • It is a great value for money – exploring 5 countries in 10 days for less than $2000. 

18 Days Epic Balkans Tours

This 18-day explorer tour is for 18 to 29-year-olds, covering the city highlights from Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro to Greece.

It is a good value for money, wherein 6 countries are covered, with many local experiences as part of the escorted tour. 

Sarajevo views from Yellow Fortress
Sarajevo views from Yellow Fortress

Hotel and transportation, with 12 meals are covered. Other trip highlights include

  • 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’

Why take this tour?

  • Travel style – This is perfect for solo travelers, under 30 years to meet like-minded travelers
  • Learn and soak in all the charming medieval cities
  • Great value for the 18-day trip, covering 6 countries (and multiple stops in between) 

12 day Balkan Food Adventure

This Balkan tour is perfect for FOODIE LOVERS! As part of Intrepid travel’s Real Food Adventure, this is a unique 12 day guided tour covering the Balkan delicacies from Croatia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania.

Balkan food is unique, and each country has their ‘own’ signature culinary style. The most common and popular food in Balkan is the cevapi, and this dish is served differently in different countries.

Don’t believe us? Take a look

Food in the Balkans

Here is what you can expect from this small group tour of Balkans 

  • Flaky Pastries – Attend a cooking class in the small town of Janche to learn to make local flaky pastries.  
  • Bee-keeping – Have a hands-on experience with a beekeeper and go for a honey tasting
  • The wine scene in North Macedonia 
  • Relish hams and cheeses in a centuries-old smokehouse
  • Learn the ancient processes of making olive oil at a local farm outside of Kotor

While enjoying the delicious cuisines, you will also be admiring the Balkan countryside and learning about the region’s history and their influences on each other’s cultural heritage and culinary delights!

12 day Balkans Discovery

A fun 12-day tour itinerary covering three countries in the Balkan peninsula – Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro. This is a great option if you are flying from overseas.

Book a return trip from Zagreb, as the trip starts in Zagreb and ends in Dubrovnik in Croatia. You can extend the trip if you like or take a bus/fly to Zagreb for a return flight. Zagreb is the largest city in Croatia. 

Sarajevo Balkans Tour

Here are the trip highlights 

  • Explore Zagreb, Plitviče Lakes National Park and then make your way to Split
  • Visit the old town in Split, then make your way to Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Take a guided tour to learn about this stunning city of Sarajevo with a historian (I love Sarajevo so much)
  • From there head to Kotor, stay there and soak in the stunning views of the Kotor Bay and world heritage structures
  • Next, explore Dubrovnik, and discover all the stunning remnants inside the fortified old town. Includes a walking tour!

Why take this tour?

  • A great way to get introduced to the Balkans – NATGEO inspired tour
  • Local experience all the way
  • This tour has history, culture, stunning views and adventure
  • HIGHLY recommend it, especially if you wish to explore these 3 countries, opt for a guided tour that will drive you, and take care of the border crossings

7 day Croatia Exploration

For a short trip to the Balkans, it is a good idea to stick to one country, and hands down – Croatia is our top pick.

In this one week trip to Croatia, you will discover the city highlights from Zagreb, Split to Dubrovnik and also visit some of their best natural wonders like the Plitvice National Park. 

St Mark's Church
St Mark’s Church Zagreb

Tour highlights include

  • Exploring the popular destinations in Croatia in one week
  • You can stay back and extend your trip if you prefer
  • Meant for 18-39-year-old, you will enjoy entry into exclusive clubs and capture Instagram-worthy historic lanes of old towns (multi-share accommodation)

Why take this tour?

  • This is an affordable option, and perfect for those who love to travel on a budget (backpackers, hostelers). Solo travelers, ages 18 to 39 years

So those were the top picks for Balkan tours, that you must consider for your guided trip!

Still wondering if Balkan escorted tours are right for you? Read the reasons below why you MUST book one for yourself!

Why take Balkan tours? 

Avoid Transportation hassles 

If you are not joining a Mediterranean cruise or renting a car, consider booking one of the small group tours – you will enjoy your trip so much better. Ease of transportation is the number one reason for taking a small group Balkans tour.

Within Croatia itself, to reach from one major city to another it takes about 4-6 hours, one way drive. Trains take longer, up to 10 hours. So unless you have TONS of time on hand (which we didn’t), you should either fly or let the local guides handle it.

Zagreb walking and Funicular tour

Cost comparison with private transfers, hassles on crossing borders 

In the entire Balkan region, private transfers are a thing. Most day tours offered are like one-way road tripping experiences. Some are expensive, and some not. Lowest day tour from one Balkan state to another was $120 USD (no meals, sightseeing, and round trip or one-way transfer).

Private transfers by itself are expensive – around $550 USD for a party of 3 in a standard car, without sightseeing. So if you are planning to cover more ground like 2-3 days in each major city/tourist attraction and a day in smaller countries like Kosovo or North Macedonia, hands down, book a tour to make things easier.

The cost of taking single day tours, with private transfers here and there, will almost be the same price as these tours. And don’t forget hotels are additional (but the escorted tours to Balkans includes the hotels, transfers, some meals, sightseeing and free time for yourself).  

Latin Bridge Sarajevo one day itinerary
Latin Bridge Sarajevo

Schengen Visa Holders

For Schengen visa holders hoping to travel to the Balkans, remember that not all countries are part of the Schengen zone. They include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

You can travel using a Schengen visa, as long as your visa is approved for multiple entries. Please check visa requirements prior to traveling/booking tours. A letter with your detailed itinerary is required for visa approval (for all types of entries).

Booking a tour, makes it easy to share your itinerary and keep all the paid reservations/bookings in one place. Always take trip insurance like trip cancellations, if the visa is not approved.

Border checks

Now for visa holders or nonvisa holders, as not all the Balkan countries are part of the Schengen zone, it means that border checks are common. Ensure you have your valid passport, and insurance papers to show to Border officials.

Border checks and traffic can slow your road trip plans, especially in peak season. This is something to keep in mind.

Tour operators will usually handle this for you. When we booked our tours, we were asked for our passport numbers. So this is a common way for operators to verify before you pay/book an escorted tour.

Belgrade food Manufaktura

First time traveling to Balkans?

If this is your first time to the Balkans and you just want to have a good time, eat, drink, soak up the sun – let someone else drive you around, and show you the best the country has to offer.

For the most part, you will be touring touristy areas – so do them in style. And get there, without sweating or hassles!

Traveling solo

Make some few friends in a small group tour. These tours are conducted with like minded people 10-15 in number, so you do get a good experience and exposure to local cultures, cuisines and learning.

  • Countries - 4
  • Days - 12
  • Age: N/A
  • Countries - Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Albania
  • USP - Offbeat places covered
  • Countries - 5
  • Days - 10
  • Age: N/A
  • Countries - Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro
  • USP - Best Value, Lonely Planet Experiences
  • Countries - 6
  • Days - 18
  • Age: 18 to 39 years
  • Countries - Greece, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro
  • USP - Extensive Balkans, Young travelers

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So, you see – it is a great idea to get a local guide handle all the sightseeing, driving for you – and all you have to do is sit back, relax and immerse yourself in the Balkan cultural heritage!

Pin: Guide to Balkan Tours Packages

Pin for Balkans tours

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