About Gateway to the Balkans
Explore this fascinating country, full of historic cities, stunning valleys, ancient monuments and memorials to its more recent tragedies.
Activity code: BOFD01
Duration: 10 Days
START / FINISH - Dubrovnik (or Sarajevo or Tuzla)
Take the chance to visit Bosnia & Herzegovina with the ease of starting and finishing in Dubrovnik. In just over one week you can explore much of the country travelling in a circuit that includes Mostar, Sarajevo, Jajce, Visegrad and Trebinje before returning to Dubrovnik.
** The alternative would be to take flights to either Sarajevo or Tuzla and have your whole holiday within Bosnia & Herzegovina.
The exploration begins straight away on this holiday as you can pick up your hire car directly from the airport and then you are free to enjoy the views of the coast and the old harbour of Dubrovnik from the open coast road almost immediately. In Ston, even for just 24 hours, you can try the local oysters, walk the walls and also head up the beautiful Peljesac Peninsula to Orebic and even Korcula Island; it's quite incredible how much of Croatia you can squeeze in before crossing the border into Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Mostar may be a day trip destination for many holidaying in Croatia but its stunning bridge, which was lovingly reconstructed after the war in the 1990s, and the old town's atmosphere is well worth the overnight stay. Our suggested route around the country takes in some of the most scenic roads and beautiful vistas imaginable in the whole of Europe, there are canyons, mountains, lakes and waterfalls galore - these include the Neretva & Drina valleys, Jablanicko & Ramsko lakes and the Skakavec and Kravice waterfalls. There are historic villages, huge monuments from the communist era, ancient sites and castles around almost every corner - these include Pocitelj, Jajce, Travnik, Foca and Visegrad.
In the middle of your trip you get to spend a full day (or more) in the capital Sarajevo which has so much to offer enquiring visitors, not just its historic heritage and the legacy of the Olympic Games but the memory of the siege that lasted almost 4 years. We've also included a night in the lovely small town of Trebinje to break the journey where an early morning walk along the river is a delightful start to the day.
We feel that the best finale to this holiday is a few nights in Dubrovnik where you can relax, enjoy some activities and sightseeing without your car as the local buses and cable car offer an excellent service.
Option 1 - arrival in Sarajevo - suggested route would be Sarajevo, Tuzla, Visegrad, Trebinje, Mostar, Jajce & back to Sarajevo.
Option 2 - arrival in Tuzla - suggested route would be Tuzla, Visegrad, Trebinje, Mostar, Jajce, Sarajevo & back to Tuzla.
Accommodation: the hotels in this itinerary are generally small, independent or family-run, properties which add significantly to your travel experience in this fascinating country (in the list below we have included our main recommendations together with suggestions for "boutique" hotels and deluxe options, please do not hesitate to request alternative hotels).
Transport: To take the stress out of arriving and departing we offer a private airport (or port) transfer service, we can then deliver and collect your hire car from your hotel (if preferred). All our vehicles have a/c and we provide driving directions and parking information for all accommodation. Almost all roads in Bosnia will be quiet and a pleasant alternative to the major highways for sightseeing and travelling at a gentler pace.
Extra Information: all our holidays have a recommended route with suggestions for sightseeing and we include the most up-to-date ferry schedules and tariffs; we are also able to book activities and specialist sightseeing in a number of locations - such as cycling, kayaking, wine-tasting, etc.
NB: Flights available with a range of airlines, from various UK airports. All holidays which include flights booked through us include ATOL cover.
Click on the location to view our whole selection.
Arrive into Dubrovnik Airport and collect your hire car. Drive up the coast with a possible visit to the arboretum at Trstenik en route to Ston. Here you might like to try the local delicacy - oysters.
** alternative if you wish to stay in Bosnia from Day 1 - Hotel Stanica Ravno - 1 night on B&B basis
Option A (from Ston): In the morning you have time to take a drive along the beautiful Peljesac Peninsula then you have a choice of routes inland into Bosnia & Herzegovina to the historic town of Mostar.
Option B (from Ravno): Very close to your starting point is the cave system of Vjetrenica, afterwards we suggest driving towards Mostar via Hutovo Blato Nature Park or Stolac with its ancient necropolis.
Additional places to visit along the way in southern Herzegovina include the historic village of Pocitelj, the pilgrim site of Medugorje and the stunning waterfalls at Kravice.
A full day in Mostar to relax and explore the historic town with its world-famous bridge; you have the option to go walking in the hills nearby. Additional places to visit include nearby Blagaj with its castle and famous Dervish House tucked under the cliff and overlooking the river.
Today you embark upon one of the most scenic drives in the Balkans, along the Neretva river valley with its impressive canyon not far to the north of Mostar. Your route also passes the beautiful lakes of Jablaniko and Ramsko prior to arriving at Jajce.
A full day to relax in this beautiful historic town and to visit the natural and cultural wonders in the area which include waterfalls, castles, watermills, catacombs and Roman temples.
Hugging the sides of the hill just under the spectacular medieval citadel are beautiful Ottoman-style houses which in turn lie above the crashing 27m high waterfalls on the Pliva River. Beneath St Luke's church are the catacombs, where high priests and nobility were buried and nearby is the site of the 3rd Century Temple of Mithras.
Heading north is the Vrbas Canyon - an amazing drive which can be done as a small circuit if you return via Mrkonjic Grad and the Plivsko Lake. In the wide areas of the Pliva you can find many mills that were built during Ottoman times; most of the mills are still in decent shape, and some remain in use.
Drive via a choice of roads, although we definitely recommend passing through Travnik (maybe for lunch by the river) and the Franciscan monastery of Kraljeva Sutjeska, near Kakanj. Once in Sarajevo you can spend the evening taking in the atmosphere of the old town and beginning to appreciate both the history and much more recent turbulent period.
A full day to explore Sarajevo's capital city.
When travelling around Sarajevo you'll feel totally at ease as there is a real, 'welcome to Sarajevo' atmosphere throughout the city. Places to visit include the old town and, in particular, the Bascarsija as well as many fine cultural sites such as the Bosniak institute, which holds various exhibitions on Sarajevo culture and Sarajevo history, the National Theatre of Bosnia and the National Museum. Whilst in the city your curiosity about the War of Independence and the Siege of Sarajevo can be satisfied with a number of sympathetic exhibitions and experiences such as the Freedom Tunnel and we definitely recommend a guided tour to understand what it was like to live here during this turbulent period.
Don't miss an opportunity to visit Jahorina National Park, site of the 1984 Winter Olympics, and, also not far from the city is the second tallest waterfall in Europe (98m), so beautiful that it is worth the short trip. The vegetation surrounding the waterfall contains a variety of rare species.
Yet more scenic routes, east to Rogatica and up the Drina valley to Visegrad with its fabulous 16th century stone bridge. You could opt for an extra night in Visegrad, (or nearby Gorazde) or consider a more direct route, albeit still a scenic one, to Trebinje. This alternative direction out of Sarajevo, southeast, follows the Zeleznica river up-stream and crosses the mountains at the Rogoj Pass (1161m) heading to Foca. This is where the two route options meet.
The final section of the route today involves two mountain passes over 1000m, the Sutjeska National Park and Bilecko Lake as well as so much fabulous scenery in between.
** you may wish to stay an extra night here if you are NOT choosing to end your holiday in Dubrovnik.
A full day in the delightful town of Trebinje in the Republic of Srpska. Trebinje's Stari Grad (old town) is intact and is full of life in the evenings offering locals and visitors alike a choice of bars, restaurants and ice-cream parlours. Trebinje has its own Old Bridge (the Arslanagica) which is worthy of a stroll alongside the river to view and walk over (why not try this as early as possible for some great photos). Return to your hotel and a visit to the traditional market on the main square before heading out of town in the afternoon for the short drive to Dubrovnik.
** or if you have an evening flight you could elect to go straight to the airport and drop off your car directly.
Option 1: If you have stayed an extra night in Trebinje then you'll make the short drive over the hills directly to Dubrovnik Airport, drop off the car and take your flight home.
Option 2: If staying in Dubrovnik you won't need the car so you can explore on foot (and bus/cable car) and we will provide a private departure transfer to the airport on Day 10 or Day 11, depending on how long you wish to stay in Dubrovnik.