The Balkans is a region whose recent history is marked more by conflict and civil unrest than by a booming tourist trade.
Thankfully though, the dust has settled after such tumultuous times and travellers are once again discovering the sheer beauty of this diverse destination.
Travel The Unknown is one firm tapping into this rather unloved market, with its “Balkan Odyssey” package offering 15 days across five countries – Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
The first quarter of the trip takes in the rich cultural heritage of Serbia, with a city tour of the capital, Belgrade and visits to the baroque town Sremski Karlovci and the famous Skull Tower in Niš being just some of the highlights.
Although your overnight stay in Kosovo might be brief, you will still have chance to explore the bustling main square in the capital Pristina.
After a short stay in the border town of Prizren, your next port of call will be Skopje, Macedonia, where you’ll find a heady mix of ancient and modern architecture. From there, the adventure continues with a trip to Ohrid, birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet, and the village of Vevcani, a briefly independent nation after the fall of Yugoslavia.
Your stint in Montenegro will be a whistle-stop tour of a nation full of beauty and intrigue. Along with the stunning national parks, the medieval town of Kotor is a real gem you’d be foolish to miss.
The Balkan Odyssey will finish in Bosnia, with the formerly war-torn Sarajevo and Mostar two beauties to have risen from the ashes that you will discover on walking tours with local guides.
Travel The Unknown founder David McGuinness says the trip appeals to “discerning tourists who seek an eclectic mix of history, culture, beauty and adventure in Europe’s hidden corners”.
Judging by the itinerary, it would be hard to disagree.
Dhs11,375 per person. For more information, itineraries and details departure dates, visit www.traveltheunknown.com.
Three Trip Highlights
Sremski Karlovci, Serbia
A picture-postcard town on the banks of the River Danube that oozes charm and was once the seat of Hungarian nobility. Try the local kuglof cake while there.
This “micronation” is a cultural hub that defied the former Yugoslavia and declared itself independent. It’s famous for its springs and annual carnival.
A Unesco World Heritage Site that has become popular with tourists thanks to its waterside location, beautiful architecture and plentiful monuments.