Abstract:A fascinating touring experience over 8 full days which includes unspoilt countryside, scenic railways, an array of cultural and historical monuments, vibrant cities and meals featuring organic food & great wines. Find out for yourself why “Lonely Planet” called Serbia one of “Europe’s best kept secrets”, recently naming it one of their top 10 places in Europe to visit….
Activities:Šargan 8 vintage railway
Sirogojno open-air Museum
Tara National Park
River Drina Gorge
Oplanac Royal Complex & Winery
Novi Sad highlights
Day 1 Sunday - arrival day, Belgrade to Zlatibor
Fly to Belgrade Airport where you will be met by your tour manager and transferred to Zlatibor, Serbia's oldest mountain resort perfectly situated at 1,500 meters. On the way, enjoy a brief stop for refreshments at Ovcar-Kablar Gorge, a stunning natural site dubbed the “Serbian Holy Land”, where picturesque Christian Orthodox monasteries are densely packed along river Morava. Arrive at Mt. Zlatibor for late dinner and accommodation at 4* spa-hotel “Mona”, our comfortable holiday base for next 4 nights.
INCLUDES: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 2 Monday Mokra Gora, Šargan 8 vintage railway, Mećavnik village
We depart the hotel for a scenic ride on the “Šargan 8” narrow-gauge railway which once linked Belgrade and Dubrovnik. Experience breathtaking landscapes of Mokra Gora mountain from this vintage train that is quite unusual in yet another way: in order to make a rapid accent, the train passes through 22 tunnels in just over 15 kilometres making a “figure-eight“ - hence its name! Our journey ends at “Mećavnik2 village (a.k.a. “Drvengrad”), initially built as a movie set by the renowned film director Emir Kusturica for the movie “Life Is A Miracle”. Today it operates as a holiday resort featuring traditional timber built Serbian houses. Film festivals are also hosted here. The visit includes an al fresco lunch (weather permitting). Return to Zlatibor after lunch for an afternoon and evening at leisure exploring the resort’s delights, including a traditional outdoor market offering local products
INCLUDES: Breakfast, Lunch * Šargan 8 railway journey * Mećavnik village tour
Day 3 Tuesday Uvac Canyon, Sirogojno open-air Museum
This morning we will experience the outstanding beauty of the Special Nature Reserve where the river Uvac weaves in spirals through rugged limestone cliffs and wild woodland, famed as the habitat of the rare eagle and griffin-vulture bird species. Our excursion includes a short scenic boat trip exploring the river and entrance to the stunning caves with its 7km long underground network of amazing stalactite and stalagmite formations. Morning at Uvac ends with free time spent on the riverbank and a chance for a leisurely picnic or snack in a local restaurant.
Continuing by bus to Sirogojno village to see authentic 19th century Serbian homesteads originating from the region of “Staro Selo” (Old Village). This village is a fully operational open-air museum, also renowned for producing quality knitwear like jumpers and coats. Traditional early dinner featuring exclusively organic, home-made produce from the area is served on-site prior to the return to Zlatibor.
INCLUDES: Breakfast, Dinner * Uvac boat trip and caves visit * Sirogojno village tour
Day 4 Wednesday Tara National Park, River Drina Gorge & Lake Perućac
Our day commences by traversing picturesque mountain plains before reaching Tara National Park for a scenic woodland trek. According to old tales, this mountain was named after the Slav god Tar who settled here because of the area's fascinating natural beauty. A gentle hike to a vantage point will reward us with beautiful views of the Drina River as it meanders through the valley watched by grazing cattle. We then transfer to the River Drina for a two-hour cruise through narrow gorges and across stunning Lake Perućac. Our day ends at a vantage spot with one of Serbia's most photographed natural scenes – a solitary house perched on a rock right in the middle of the river.
INCLUDES: Breakfast, Dinner * Tara National Park guided walk * River Drina cruise
Day 5 Thursday Zlakusa Potteries, Oplanac Royal Complex & Winery
Leaving Zlatibor we follow the valley of river Đetinja to the village of Zlakusa, renowned for its hand-made pottery traditions. Here, numerous family-run shops daily produce huge varieties of pottery items using a 400-year old technology which is passed on from generation to generation, involving slow and skilful hand wheel clay shaping and baking of goods in open-fire ovens.
Zlakusa visit also includes “Terzica Avlija”, a private museum run by a local family that has spent a lifetime preserving rural lifestyle, culture and customs of Serbia's heartland. We continue our journey to the village of Topola to see the Serbian Royal Residence at Oplenac Hill, where the stunning St. George's Church and the Mausoleum of the Karađorđević royal family stand proudly overlooking serene landscapes. We starts with a homage to the site of the First Serbian uprising against the Ottomans lead by local hero Karađorđe Petrović, who was later to became the patriarch and founder of the Karađorđević royal dynasty.
Moving onto a hilltop situated natural memorial park, royal quarters and a five–domed church will reveal a fascinating blend of Serbian and Byzantine architecture and impressive interior mosaic work. Some of Europe's best secret wines are produced by the Royal Winery, so our tour of Oplenac completes with an on-site wine tasting and a traditional Serbian lunch at a nearby restaurant. Arrival to 3* hotel “Argo” in Belgrade in time for evening snack at your leisure and overnight.
INCLUDES: Breakfast, Lunch * Zlakusa village & Terzica Avlija museum tour * Visit to Oplenac Royal Complex including the church & crypts * Wine tasting
Day 6 Friday Belgrade
Serbia's vibrant, cosmopolitan capital is immersed in history dating back to the Romans. Today it is renowned as a popular short break destination, famed as much for its outstanding value-for-money and night-life, as for its incredibly hospitable people.
We set off for a full day’s sightseeing tour of Belgrade commencing with a leisurely stroll along Knez Mihajlova Street, the main pedestrianised area containing numerous boutiques and cafés; we then continue into leafy Kalemegdan park and fortress, which affords us an opportunity to enjoy some of the best views of the city and the river Sava & Danube confluence. The fortress, which not only boasts monumental proportions, is also an important cultural and historic complex in Belgrade. Explore rich art-deco style state buildings within the city centre and the very masterpiece of Serbian-Byzantine architecture, “Church of St. Sava”, the second largest Orthodox temple in the world. Finally, we discover medieval art at the Gallery of Frescos.
There is an unhurried alfresco lunch awaiting at cobble-stoned “Skadarlija”, Belgrade’s Bohemian quarter, featuring delicious Serbian specialities – a selection of skilfully grilled meats and fresh salads brought from a nearby market, all washed down with delicious local beer and wine. There is ample time to wander in the city-centre at your own pace before returning to the hotel or continuing to see a concert at an unbeatable price!
INCLUDES: Breakfast, Lunch * City guide and entrance fees to main sights
Day 7 Saturday Sremski Karlovci & Novi Sad
Today we depart to visit two the most beautiful places in Vojvodina. This journey includes some of the most scenic stretches of the river Danube, including Fruška Gora National Park, renowned for its baroque towns, picturesque villages and extensive vineyards. Stopping at Sremski Karlovci, a charming bank-side Danube town, for a brief sightseeing tour of the compact centre and “Chapel of Peace“, before wine and honey tasting at a typical local wine producing household.
Enjoy some free time to wander around before continuing by coach to “Petrovaradin” fortress where the Austria-Hungarian Empire established its border outpost against the Ottomans some 300 years ago. We reach its top on foot in just 20 minutes and take in great views of the city and river Danube. In Novi Sad, the cosmopolitan Vojvodina province capital and home to an array of contrasting ethnic cultures, we enjoy a leisurely stroll through Novi Sad’s pedestrianised centre, visiting the main cathedral, the Orthodox Church and national courthouses. Our excursion ends with a visit to a nearby traditional “Salaš“ farm, quite specific to Vojvodina - built at the outskirts of town and consisting of a main building with adjacent barns, and with a patio, home of the “summer kitchen“. We enjoy our farewell dinner in authentic surroundings accompanied by a live acoustic band
INCLUDES: Breakfast, Dinner, Sremski Karlovci town tour and wine tasting * Salaš farm farewell dinner
Day 8 Sunday Departure from Belgrade
Breakfast and departure to Belgrade airport for your homeward flight.