Croatia and the Balkans

Valid for all trips departing January 1st, 2014 - December 31st, 2014 Last Updated:
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Introduction

The Balkans are just getting noticed as a great European travel destination - we can’t believe it took so long! Situated on the balmy shores of the Adriatic and home to some of the most wondrous landscapes, monuments and villages you’ll ever see, this part of the world still feels like a well-kept secret. This adventure showcases the region’s compelling history and scenery and allows time for outdoor pursuits like kayaking and hiking. You may not know much about Croatia and the Balkans now, but once you’ve been, you’ll be hard-pressed to stop talking about them.

  • Kayak to tiny islands in the crystal waters of the Bay of Kotor
  • Wander the medieval streets of old Dubrovnik
  • Hike to an undersea winery on the Dalmatian island of Hvar
  • Explore the ancient Roman palace of Diocletian on a guided tour
Duration: 15 days
Start/Finish City: Budapest to Split
Service Level: Standard
  • Great value, reasonable prices, quality experiences
  • Comfortable and varied tourist-class accommodations chosen for location and character
  • Mix of public and private transport for the best overall experience
  • All the top highlights included, plus plenty of time to explore on your own
Physical Grading: 2
There'll be some light walking and hiking. Suitable for most fitness levels. Nothing too challenging.
Travel Style: Classic
The trips we've built our reputation on.

Designed for maximum variety, these trips are geared towards travellers searching for a healthy mix of active exploration, uncommon landscapes, amazing wildlife and local cultures.

Trip Type: Small Group
Group trips average 12 travellers per departure, depending on the adventure. The maximum is usually no more than 16, but some can be smaller or bigger, depending on the trip. Check individual trips for details.

Itinerary

Route map for Croatia and the Balkans (EJBT)

Day 1 Budapest

We recommend booking pre-accommodation to fully explore this breathtaking city. As your fellow travellers are arriving throughout the day, there are no planned activities until your welcome meeting this evening, so check-in to the hotel (check-in time is approx 3pm) and enjoy the city. Check the notice boards or ask at reception for the exact time and location of the group meeting. After the meeting, you can head out for a meal at a local restaurant with the group (optional).

Please make every effort to arrive on time for this important welcome meeting. If you are delayed and will arrive late, please inform us - contact numbers are provided in these notes. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will then leave you a message at the front desk informing you of where and when to meet up.

We will depart early on Day 2, so if you would like time to explore this beautiful city, we recommend arriving a day or two earlier.

Situated on a beautiful stretch of the Danube, Budapest consists of two parts: Buda and Pest. Buda is the older and more historical part of the city, with old narrow winding streets and medieval buildings. Here you can find Buda’s most ancient sights: the Royal Palace, St. Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion and Castle Hill with its old town. Across the Danube is grand Pest with its vibrant streets such as Váci Utca, which is the bustling main street of Budapest.

Day 2-3 Belgrade (2B)

Travel to the capital of the Republic of Serbia known as the 'White City'. Belgrade is emerging as a tourist destination as it recovers from a turbulent past. Stroll through the Kalemegdan, former Belgrade Fortress-turned central park. Here you can see the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers as you mingle with the locals.

Walk down the pedestrian street of Skadarlija and continue to Republic Square to visit the National Theater or National Museum. The city offers a wealth of churches and cathedrals as well as an interesting Etnographic Museum for a chance to learn more about Serbian culture, traditions, costumes and tools used throughout history.

Estimated travel time: 7 hours

Day 4-6 Sarajevo (3B)

The capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautifully unique city famed for religious and cultural diversity. A place where Bosnians, Croats and Serbs are trying to live peacefully together setting examples for the rest of world. Visit the 'Tunnel of Life' which played a crucial role in the survival of the people of Sarajevo during the fairly recent civil war.

Walk around the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town while taking in the architecture of diverse places of worship. The Latin Bridge is worth a visit as it is a direct link to history. This is the sight where the Archduke of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated, leading to the beginning of World War I.

An included day trip to charming Mostar showcases the beautiful reconstructed Ottoman-style bridge that links the historic section of the city that is separated by the Neretva River. If you get lucky, you might see divers taking the plunge off the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mostar has a wealth of shops, restaurants and museums to explore.

Estimated travel time: 7 hours

Day 7-9 Herceg Novi (Bay of Kotor) (3B)

Continue to Montenegro and travel to the Bay of Kotor, a region that is listed as a World Heritage Site. On your free day opt to visit the city of Kotor, a picturesque town surrounded by a walled fortress built by the Republic of Venice. The city has a Mediterranean feel to it and the bay offers a stunning backdrop for the budding photographer. The bay is one of the finest natural harbors in Europe and therefore a fitting area to explore by sea kayak. Take a guided tour perfect for admiring the lush landscapes that surround you.

If relaxing is more your style, the beaches of Herceg Novi offer a great escape. There are also local mud therapy spas nearby to test the natural healing properties of the area's sand.

Estimated travel time: 7 hours

Day 10-11 Dubrovnik (2B)

Known as the 'Pearl of the Adriatic' on the Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik has been an important maritime town in the region for centuries. Surrounded by medieval walls, Dubrovnik is rich in history and an attractive city to explore filled with stunning architecture, museums and fountains.

The best starting point for exploration is the Old Town, passing by Roland's Column, the Bell Tower and Sponza Palace. Stroll the Placa Stradun to get a feel for cosmopolitan life in the city. Make a stop at Big Onofrio´s Fountain where locals and tourists gather together at the well-known city meeting spot.

A trip to Dubrovnik isn't complete without walking the city walls, 2km long, you can choose to take a tour or explore on your own. HIghlights along the city walls include Fort Minceta, Fort St. John, Fort Lawrence, Fort Revelin, and St. Luke’s Tower. There are 3 main entrances to the city walls, the principal one is located by the Inner Pile Gates.

Escape the city on a ferry ride to Lopud Island, part of the Elafiti Islands and home to one of Croatia's most stunning beaches, Plaza Sunj.

Estimated travel time: 1 hour

Day 12-13 Hvar (2B)

Located in the Adriatic Sea off of the Dalmatian coast, the island of Hvar is one of Croatia's most populated and scenic islands. Filled with sunshine, the beautiful island is known for its lavender fields and vineyards in the interior and detailed Venetian-inspired architecture in the towns.

On Day 13 enjoy a scenic boat ride around the famous Pakleni islands, offering a great escape for those wanting to spend a day relaxing on the beach.

Estimated travel time: 3 hours bus, 30 minutes on a ferry, 30 minutes bus

Day 14 Split (1B)

Croatia's second-largest city, Split is an attractive place famed for the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace is basically a city within a city as Split has been built around these impressive Roman ruins. Enjoy a guided tour of the palace.

Also worth a visit, St. Duje's cathedral is said to be the oldest cathedral in the world, built around 305 AD. A climb up the bell tower provides excellent views of Split and the surrounding port area.

For other spectacular views of the city make sure to visit Marjan's peak. The area has nice hiking and biking trails for those that want to embrace nature and escape the port town.

Estimated travel time: 1 hour by catamaran

Day 15 Split (1B)

Depart at any time. We recommend staying an extra day or two to fully experience all this lively city has to offer.

What's Included

Kalemegdan Fortress visit (Belgrade). 'Tunnel of Life' tour (Sarajevo). Mostar day trip. Sea kayaking trip (Bay of Kotor). Beach time in Hvar. Scenic boat ride around Pakleni islands. Diocletian's Palace guided tour (Split).

Highlights

Kayak to tiny islands in the crystal waters of the Bay of Kotor, wander the medieval streets of old Dubrovnik, hike to an undersea winery on the Dalmatian island of Hvar, explore the ancient Roman palace of Diocletian on a guided tour

Dossier Disclaimer

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Important Notes

1. It is important to note that in Europe, all guiding is based around local guides all of whom are licensed to work only in a particular city. As such, our leaders are able to provide orientation walks which will show you the layout of each town and city as well as the location of local services such as post offices and laundromats, but are unable to legally share historical facts and figures in public places.

2. In Europe it is very rare to find elevators in train stations, hotels or other public places. We use public transport on this trip, which means you will need to carry your luggage from platform to platform, in and out of trains and buses etc. and also possibly up several flights of stairs. You will also need to be able to stow your luggage safely on trains and buses. It is therefore essential that you pack light and bring luggage which is compact and lightweight, and which you can easily transport. The carrying of your luggage remains your responsibility at all times. We highly recommend travelling with a backpack or duffel bag over any wheeled luggage options.

3. Depending on the lunar cycle, Ramadan will fall between June 28 and July 27, 2014. Please note that Ramadan is a month of fasting observed by Muslims throughout the world, during which time the followers of Islam should not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. There may be some limitations to services and disruptions to schedules during Ramadan in Muslim areas, but generally our tours still operate effectively during this period and food is available to non-muslims throughout the day. It is very important to display increased cultural sensitivity during Ramadan. Please wear loose fitting clothes, that cover knees and shoulders, and try to avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public out of respect for those who can't at that time.

Group Leader Description

This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They 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 countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.

Group Size Notes

Max 16, avg 12

Meals Included

14 breakfasts.

Meals

Eating is a big part of traveling. G Adventures understands the importance of breakfast to start your day, we strive to include a basic breakfast wherever possible. A typical breakfast may include toast, coffee and tea, however this may vary depending on the city. Should breakfast not be included, your CEO can suggest some local options.

Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip.

For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.

Meal Budget

Allow EUR335-440 for meals not included

Transport

Train, public bus, ferry, taxi, tram, walking

Solo Travellers

We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.

Accommodation

Hotels/pensions (14 nts).

About Accommodation

It is important to note that accommodation in Europe tend to be quite different to other areas of the world you may have travelled in. Buildings and rooms are generally old and may not have been renovated or maintained to the highest standard. Downtown hotels in Europe were not built to be hotels but rich owners houses, which have been changed into hotels. Therefore unusual room sizes are common as large rooms have been partitioned in the past, resulting in rather "thin" walls. Reception areas, rooms and bathrooms tend to be very small as they were often added into an existing room, and may have a hand nozzle rather than a conventional shower head.

On this trip you can expect to stay in small family-run hotels or pensions (with the exception of the start and finish hotels, which are often larger city hotels), which will vary a little in standard and facilities: some may not have elevators, air-conditioning or English-speaking staff, but most importantly all are locally-run, with some traditional character, and in excellent central locations to give you maximum time for exploring the sights. You can expect to find clean, safe, simple accommodation in convenient locations.

Staff can occasionally demonstrate less than perfect customer service. As accommodation is in short supply, especially during the summer months, hotels can charge a premium and there is sometimes little motivation to improve facilities

Joining Hotel

Cotton House Hotel
Jokai Utca 26
Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36 1 354 2600
hotel@cottonhouse.hu

Joining Instructions

Cotton House Hotel

From Budapest Ferihegy airport:
For 1-2 people, the official airport shuttle buses can be arranged here http://www.airportshuttle.hu/en/
For 3 or more people it works out cheaper and quicker to get a Zona taxi from the front of the airport.

If you are arriving into Budapest by train into Nyugati station:
From the main exit at the front of the station, cross the street directly in front of you and over the tram tracks. Walk left along the street and take the first left onto Jokai Utca - this is almost opposite the front of the station. Follow Jokai Utca for around 200m and you will see the Cotton House Hotel on your left hand side.

If you are arriving by train into Deli or Keleti train stations:
We recommend arranging a taxi in advance, the two cheapest companies are: TAXI PLUS nr 0036 1 8 888 000 or FŐTAXI 0036 1 2 222 222. They should cost you around 2000HUF /car (7EUROS) from Keleti station.

If you prefer public transport, the nearest underground station is Nyugati Palyaudvar on Metro line 3 (the blue line). From either Deli or Keleti, take the underground and change at Deak Ter. You will need a single metro ticket (Vonaljegy) ticket for this journey costing 320 HUF. You may want to consider a 24hr or 72hr public transport ticket costing 1550 HUF or 4500 HUF respectively.

Arrival Complications

We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, as soon as possible please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your CEO (if you are not on a group tour please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier). If you are unable to get in touch with your leader, please refer to our emergency contact details.

Emergency Contact

Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures UK office (manned UK 8am - 8pm)
+44 (0) 2072439878

If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.

Toll-free, from calls within North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from within UK: 0844 272 0000
Calls from within Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from within Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from within New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999

For absolute emergencies after office hours please contact +44 7817 262559
If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, and your call will be returned as soon as possible.

Checklist

Suggested Items:
•Light fleece top
•Light windproof/waterproof jacket
•Small towel and swimwear
•Sun hat
•Personal clothing for mild to hot weather (See also "What to Take" and "Local Dress" sections of this dossier)
•Sturdy walking shoes or boots with good grip
•Sunblock
•Sunglasses
•Toiletries (biodegradable)
•Watch or alarm clock
•Water bottle
•Money belt
•First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, bandaids, anti-histamine,
Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, insect
repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)

Documents:
•Passport (with photocopies)
•Travel insurance (with photocopies)
•Airline tickets (with photocopies)
•EUR cash
•Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
•G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
•Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Both Cirrus and Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. Visa cards are the most widely accepted credit cards. While ATMs are commonly available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work - Check with your bank. You should be aware when purchasing products or services on a credit card, that a fee usually applies.

Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of Euros and cards is best.

Always take more rather than less, as you don't want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.

Hungary uses the Forint (HUF), Serbia the Dinar (RSD), Bosnia and Herzegovina the Convertible Mark (BAM), Montenegro the Euro (EUR) and Croatia uses the Kuna (HRK).

Emergency Fund

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!

Tipping

It is customary in Europe to leave a small tip for service providers, such as waiters, if you are pleased with the service (€1-2 for snacks or 10% of a meal bill). Tipping is an expected - though not compulsory - component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels.
Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO or skipper did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €20-25 per person, per week can be used.

Safety and Security

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. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer 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. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.

Medical Form

Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that, as a minimum, an average level of fitness and mobility' is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our CEOs work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day's activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.

The medical questionnaire can be found online at:

www.gadventures.com/medical-form
.

A Couple of Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.

Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation

Planeterra is G Adventures’ non-profit foundation created to make a positive difference in the communities where G Adventures takes travellers. Planeterra supports sustainable social and environmental solutions in destinations travellers love to visit.

As travellers, it’s natural to want to give back to the places we’ve come to love. But to truly impact poverty, we work to build self-sufficiency, not dependency.

Planeterra partners with grassroots organizations with firsthand knowledge of local culture and true community needs. This ensures that solutions come from the people we support. Then G Adventures brings travellers to visit, fuelling sustainable local income in these communities. This model is helping many rural and marginalized communities on their way to self-sufficiency because they are harnessing the power of the tourism industry as a force for good. G Adventures matches all individual donations and pays all administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation is doubled and goes directly to support our projects. For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit planeterra.org.

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Fifty percent of our planet lives on less than $2/day. For the price of a coffee, you can make every day of your trip count by giving back to the communities you visit through Planeterra.

To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to participate in G Adventures’ Dollar-A-Day program, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking).

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that you'll receive a special discount code for free online prints and we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at customerservice@gadventures.com and we will send it on to you.

Newsletter

Our adventure travel e-newsletter is full of travel news, trip information, interesting stories and contests. To avoid missing out on special offers and updates from G Adventures, subscribe at www.gadventures.com/newsletters/

Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation – Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra's monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.

Travel Forum - The Watering Hole

Be sure to stop by The Watering Hole, our adventure travel forum. If you're interested in meeting others booked on your upcoming trip, check out the Departure Lounge section of our forum and introduce yourself. Otherwise, just drop in at anytime to share some travel tips, ask questions, meet other travellers and quench your thirst for travel. Our forum is located at wateringhole.gadventures.com.