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Orthodox Cultures of The Balkans

The Balkan territory and its turbulent history have been a constant inspiration for many historians and if you are passionate about history this is a perfect journey for you. East meets West in all of these countries. The Eastern parts of the Balkan territory were mainly influenced by Orthodox religion. Our customized tour gives you a great opportunity to travel, explore, and learn about the way this has shaped the sacral monuments, arts, and culture of the region. You will visit some of the most significant Orthodox monasteries while traveling through Serbia, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, and you will hear interesting stories behind the scenes. All sites will be visited with local experts and all our city tours and day tours are private. This means you'll have the guide all to yourself and each day can be entirely adjusted to your own pace.

The services that we include as a part of our comprehensive vacation packages include small and boutique accommodation, city tours, and themed day tours including visits to various monasteries in all three countries. You'll travel between destinations by private transfer, ensuring comfortable, safe, and even educational days on the road.

In addition to the tours included we can arrange a number of excursions based on your own interests. All of our tours are custom, and this is just a sample meant to give an idea of what our trips are like, and the opportunities our destinations provide.

Possible southern extensions to this tour include Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia and the Albanian Riviera or in the north to Budapest and the other delights of Central Europe.

One of our team members in the region will be available to you leading up to and during your trip to answer any questions and arrange additional local services. You will receive access to your Guest Page, with its information on the best these destinations have to offer, including things to see and do, and other inside tips from restaurant recommendations to tipping advice. Upon your arrival, we will provide you with a local cell phone that you can use to reach your local JayWay contact throughout your trip. In all of our destinations, we offer a variety of memorable 3-5 star accommodation options, including boutique hotels, charming B&Bs, and spacious apartments. With our first-hand experience, we can ensure they are all clean, comfortable, and centrally located, with local ambience.

Route for Belgrade, Sofia, Skopje tour

3 Nights in Belgrade

3 Nights in Belgrade

4 days in Belgrade
4 days in Belgrade

3 Nights in Belgrade

Belgrade is an eclectic destination with a big-city feel, friendly locals, tasty cuisine and a very unique history. You’ll find all sorts of interesting architecture here, as well as galleries and museums that will really bring the local culture to life. While it might look a little rough around the edges, that just means there’s a real charm here waiting to be discovered. And discover it you will, from the daytime to the nightlife, as you experience the best this vibrant destination has to offer. While you’re exploring Belgrade, including the military ruins in the center, you’ll want to sample some of the local cuisine, including hearty grilled meats, local cheeses and breads, and vegetables cooked with seasonal herbs. Some of the sites you don’t want to miss include Kalmegdan Fortress, Republic Square and St. Sava Temple. Zemun, a bohemian neighborhood, is particularly rich in restaurants and cafes, and you also have the possibility of taking a food tour that will introduce you to some of the tastiest dishes. You’ll have fun in Belgrade, the perfect place to introduce yourself to this inviting region.

Belgrade is an eclectic destination with a big-city feel, friendly locals, tasty cuisine and a very unique history. You’ll find all sorts of interesting architecture here, as well as galleries and museums that will really bring the local culture to life. While it might look a little rough around the edges, that just means there’s a real charm here waiting to be discovered. And discover it you will, from the daytime to the nightlife, as you experience the best this vibrant destination has to offer. While you’re exploring Belgrade, including the military ruins in the center, you’ll want to sample some of the local cuisine, including hearty grilled meats, local cheeses and breads, and vegetables cooked with seasonal herbs. Some of the sites you don’t want to miss include Kalmegdan Fortress, Republic Square and St. Sava Temple. Zemun, a bohemian neighborhood, is particularly rich in restaurants and cafes, and you also have the possibility of taking a food tour that will introduce you to some of the tastiest dishes. You’ll have fun in Belgrade, the perfect place to introduce yourself to this inviting region.

Day 1

Day 1 - Arrival in Belgrade

When you arrive at Belgrade airport a driver will be waiting for you and will take you to your accommodation.

Traipse the Bohemian Quarter

Suggestion to explore on your own

For your first night in Belgrade, we suggest taking an easy walk down Knez Mihajlova street and through the Bohemian quarter of Skadarlija, often compared to Paris' Montmartre. These old areas reflect the local lifestyle and culture at its best. Here you'll experience a blend of classical and modern architecture, together with lively cafeterias, street musicians, outdoor artists, interesting galleries, and shopping. In short, this is a great place to spend a few hours.

Day 2

Day 2 - Your First Full Day in Belgrade

Fruska Gora Monasteries and Sremski Karlovci Private Tour

Fruska Gora Monasteries and Sremski Karlovci Private Tour

Included in your vacation package price.

The slopes of Fruska Gora and Sremski Karlovci attract a wide variety of visitors. Some with a more spiritual bent come for the sixteen living monasteries, while some more hedonistic types visit some of the region's 60+ wineries, or just wish to enjoy the stunning nature offered by the pristine Fruska Gora National Park.


Activity Level : Easy
Duration : 8 hours

Day 3

Day 3 - Your Second Full Day in Belgrade

Serbian Orthodox Heritage Private Walking Tour

Serbian Orthodox Heritage Private Walking Tour

Included in your vacation package price.

Ever wondered Serbs say their monasteries are doors to the world and windows to the heavens? By the time the Romans legalized Christianity in 313, Serbia had already converted. Religion has played an oversized role in this devout country, as shown by the Serbian monarchs who have been canonized as saints. Explore Serbian culture, customs, and traditions. Visit a church with a chandelier made from bullets and sabres. Drink the St. Petka Church's healing holy waters. Visit one of the world's largest churches, inspired by the Hagia Sophia. Delve into the differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, and learn why there is a Russian Church in Belgrade's center. Trace the evolution of architectural styles over the centuries, and learn the legends of the great men buried within Belgrade's churches.


Activity Level : Light
Duration : 4 hours

Visit Belgrade's Museums

Suggestion to explore on your own

As a capital of Serbia, Belgrade has more than a few museums, but three stand out and are especially worth seeing.


Having finished 15 years of renovations, the National Museum of Belgrade has now opened all of its doors to visitors. Here, guests can explore a massive collection encompassing everything from the Paleolithic period to 20th century art.

Our second recommendation is the Nikola Tesla Museum. Its highlights are the valuable insights it presents into Tesla’s life, presented in an ingenious, thoughtful matter. You'll explore his often fantastical inventions, and unusual approach to life.

Finally, be sure to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. Its "permanent" exhibition actually changes every three to five years. As a rule, though, it's based on reconstructions of historical periods, movements, tendencies, and individual phenomena in the Yugoslav art space. The last display comprised of 160 works of Yugoslav art originating from 1900-1981 period, and was structured as a number of mini exhibitions.

Day 4

Day 4 - Traveling to Sofia by Private Transfer

It's time to head to Bulgaria! Your driver will meet you at your accommodation and take you on a scenic drive. To break up the journey, and make it more interesting, you'll make a stop at the Manasija and Ravanica Monasteries, where you'll have guided tours. You an also enjoy lunch or coffee. The total duration of this trip is about eight hours.

Sofia by Private Transfer with Stops at the Manasija and Ravanica Monasteries

3 Nights in Sofia

3 Nights in Sofia

4 days in Sofia
4 days in Sofia

3 Nights in Sofia

A city of gorgeous architecture, rich history, and a vibrant contemporary cultural life, Sofia is a gem. The historical center is nicely compact, so everything is within walking distance, giving this cosmopolitan city a quaint feel. It’s the perfect walking city, where you can enjoy stunning tourist attractions and also make your own itinerary, reveling in the lovely restaurants and cafes, and hidden surprises around every corner, including Roman and Byzantine ruins. The restaurants in Sofia are particularly impressive, with a mix of hearty traditional fare and creative twists on modern European cuisine. But there’s much more to do here than eat. Taking a tour with a local guide will help you get acquainted with all the city has to offer. When you’re ready to go a little farther afield, a day trip to one of Bulgaria's UNESCO sites is definitely worthwhile. Bulgaria’s past will come alive for you in these incredible destinations, which are popular with tourists and yet still feel very authentic. These short day trips will also give you a chance to explore the majestic landscape of Bulgaria as you leave the big city for more historic sites. Combining an alluring history with impressive architecture and world-class gastronomy, Sofia is a perfect destination for a fun, indulgent vacation.

A city of gorgeous architecture, rich history, and a vibrant contemporary cultural life, Sofia is a gem. The historical center is nicely compact, so everything is within walking distance, giving this cosmopolitan city a quaint feel. It’s the perfect walking city, where you can enjoy stunning tourist attractions and also make your own itinerary, reveling in the lovely restaurants and cafes, and hidden surprises around every corner, including Roman and Byzantine ruins. The restaurants in Sofia are particularly impressive, with a mix of hearty traditional fare and creative twists on modern European cuisine. But there’s much more to do here than eat. Taking a tour with a local guide will help you get acquainted with all the city has to offer. When you’re ready to go a little farther afield, a day trip to one of Bulgaria's UNESCO sites is definitely worthwhile. Bulgaria’s past will come alive for you in these incredible destinations, which are popular with tourists and yet still feel very authentic. These short day trips will also give you a chance to explore the majestic landscape of Bulgaria as you leave the big city for more historic sites. Combining an alluring history with impressive architecture and world-class gastronomy, Sofia is a perfect destination for a fun, indulgent vacation.

Day 4

Day 4 - Arrival in Sofia

Your driver will bring you straight to your accommodation in the center of Sofia.

Stroll the Streets

Suggestion to explore on your own

Get a feel for Sofia's spirit and vibes by walking from the NDK subway station down Vitosha Boulevard towards the Palace of Justice and Saint Kyriaki Cathedral. On your way, have a quick stop on this pedestrian boulevard to enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of its numerous bars and outdoor terraces. From St. Kyriaki, head down Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard towards Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the world's largest and most impressive orthodox cathedrals in the world. On your way, you'll pass several landmarks, including the National Art Gallery, Sofia Synagogue, and Opera House. After taking some nice photos of the cathedral, you can head to the nearby Sense Hotel Rooftop Restaurant for dinner and a panoramic view over Sofia.

Day 5

Day 5 - Your First Full Day in Sofia

Sofia Private Walking Tour

See Sofia on a Private Walking Tour

Included in your vacation package price.

Did you know Sofia is Europe’s second oldest city? Sofia played a role as an important trading center in the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Ottoman Empires. We can arrange for you to explore the city’s main attractions on foot with an expert local guide, taking in highlights such as the National Library, Sofia University, the Parliament, St. Alexander Nevsky Patriarchal Cathedral and Sofia's oldest building, St. George Rotunda, which dates from the 3rd century. You’ll also get a chance to explore the city’s bustling main shopping streets.


Activity Level : Moderate
Duration : 3 hours

Explore the Past in Sofia's Museums

Suggestion to explore on your own

Sofia has almost 30 museums where you can see most Bulgarian national treasures and learn about the ups and downs of Bulgarian history. If you have only limited time in Sofia, here are two recommendations:

With its nearly 700,000 objects in its collection, the National History Museum is the biggest museum in Bulgaria and one of the largest on the Balkan Peninsula. You will travel through time from prehistory through the magnificent ancient golden treasures to the latest history. The museum is housed in the massive residence of Bulgaria's communist dictator.


Step inside a former mosque and you will be able to feel the awe of the archaeologists unveiling the past of the country piece by piece. The National Archaeology Museum hosts various thematic exhibitions dedicated to different historical periods or specific ancient findings.

Explore the Past via Sofia's Museums

Day 6

Day 6 - Your Second Full Day in Sofia

Rila and Boyana Private Day Tour (UNESCO Heritage)

Rila and Boyana Private Day Tour (UNESCO Heritage)

Included in your vacation package price.

In this private tour you will discover two of the most famous Bulgarian monasteries and understand their importance for local and world culture. Rila Monastery, founded in the 10th century, is the most-visited UNESCO site in Bulgaria and an absolute must see. The arched balconies, unique frescoes, and the fabulous mountain views make this place truly special. Next stop is Boyana Church, which frescoes brought epochal changes to the mural painting style and are considered predecessors of the European Renaissance. 


Activity Level : Light
Duration : 6-7 hours

Day 7

Day 7 - Traveling to Skopje by Private Transfer

Today you're off to North Macedonia! Your driver will meet you at your accommodations, then stop at Osogovski Monastery, one of Macedonia's oldest monasteries. A guide will make sure you see all the main sights, and learn the place's history. The total duration of the trip is six hours.

3 Nights in Skopje

3 Nights in Skopje

4 days in Skopje
4 days in Skopje

3 Nights in Skopje

The birthplace of Mother Teresa, Skopje is a city that reveres its past. You’ll find numerous landmarks and tributes to Mother Teresa here. But the statues in Skopje aren’t like those you’ve seen elsewhere. Several years ago, the government built monuments to many local historical figures. As a result, Skopje is like a living museum where the region’s culture and history come alive before your eyes. Skopje's atmosphere is unique, combining a little of the energy of Las Vegas with Eastern European charm. It’s really like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Some of the decorations are a little over the top, but the city is a must for visitors to the region. As you explore the sites you should try the excellent local wine and food, which combines flavors from Balkan and Greek cuisines. Skopje’s Old Town is reserved for pedestrians, so its traditional atmosphere has been preserved. This is the best place to explore the Muslim influence on the region, as the city center features various bazaars and cozy alleyways. You’ll definitely feel like you’ve stepped back into a more traditional age, in contrast to the modern monuments throughout Skopje. But the city isn’t all there is to explore. The fortress on the hill is impressive and well worth the hike. About 20 minutes away you’ll find Matka Canyon, which offers spectacular outdoor activities including boating, kayaking and hiking. For another point of view on Skopje, take the funicular up to the famous cross that overlooks the city. This is an ever-changing and exciting destination that always offers visitors something new and never disappoints.

The birthplace of Mother Teresa, Skopje is a city that reveres its past. You’ll find numerous landmarks and tributes to Mother Teresa here. But the statues in Skopje aren’t like those you’ve seen elsewhere. Several years ago, the government built monuments to many local historical figures. As a result, Skopje is like a living museum where the region’s culture and history come alive before your eyes. Skopje's atmosphere is unique, combining a little of the energy of Las Vegas with Eastern European charm. It’s really like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Some of the decorations are a little over the top, but the city is a must for visitors to the region. As you explore the sites you should try the excellent local wine and food, which combines flavors from Balkan and Greek cuisines. Skopje’s Old Town is reserved for pedestrians, so its traditional atmosphere has been preserved. This is the best place to explore the Muslim influence on the region, as the city center features various bazaars and cozy alleyways. You’ll definitely feel like you’ve stepped back into a more traditional age, in contrast to the modern monuments throughout Skopje. But the city isn’t all there is to explore. The fortress on the hill is impressive and well worth the hike. About 20 minutes away you’ll find Matka Canyon, which offers spectacular outdoor activities including boating, kayaking and hiking. For another point of view on Skopje, take the funicular up to the famous cross that overlooks the city. This is an ever-changing and exciting destination that always offers visitors something new and never disappoints.

Day 7

Day 7 - Arrival in Skopje

Your driver will bring you directly to your accommodation in the center of Skopje.

Taste Macedonia

Suggestion to explore on your own

While you’re in Skopje you’ll certainly want to taste some of the delectable local cuisine. You’ll want to try at least one of the most famous dishes. Tavche Gravche is beans cooked with special spices in a delicious sauce. Ajvar is a tangy spread made from red bell peppers, eggplant, garlic and chilli. Kashkaval is a yellow sheep’s milk cheese made locally. All three dishes are uniquely flavorful comfort food.

Day 8

Day 8 - Your First Full Day in Skopje

Skopje Private Walking Tour

Scoping out Skopje

Included in your vacation package price.

This walking tour of Skopje includes all of the highlights of this fantastic city. You'll start with the old railway station, one of the most striking buildings in the Balkans. You'll also get to see the monument to Mother Teresa, the house of Mother Teresa and the Stone Bridge which is known as the most imposing monument in Macedonia. Another part of the tour takes you to Skopje's Old Town, with a walk through the Skopje Bazar, and finally a visit to a gorgeous church. You'll see the most interesting sights of this unique destination and get a real feel for its culture.


Activity Level : Light
Duration : 3 hours

How Bazaar!

Suggestion to explore on your own

Skopje’s Old Bazaar is the oldest part of the city, and also one of its most atmospheric. You’ll find it on the eastern bank of the Vadar River, from Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar, and from Skopje Fortress to the Serava River. A merchant’s quarter since the 12th century, the Old Bazaar is packed with local shops and salesmen with a little of everything.This is a unique place where you can really see the local culture and also find everything from crafts to curios, local produce and baked goods. Don’t forget to haggle!

Bone up on Macedonian History

Suggestion to explore on your own

One of Skopje’s best museums is the National Archeological Museum, a brand new building on the river built in an eclectic mix of modern and classic styles. It’s impressive from the outside and even more incredible when you see the collection. Here you’ll find an incredible assortment of artifacts that attest to the history and culture of Macedonia. This is the best place to get an in-depth insight into what makes Skopje unique. This is a place where the past truly comes to life. It will give you a new point of view on everything else you see in Skopje.

Day 9

Day 9 - Your Second Full Day in Skopje

Ohrid and St. Naum Private Day Trip

Ohrid and St. Naum Private Day Trip

Included in your vacation package price.

Explore Lake Ohrid, and the history and architecture that makes it special (in addition to its own natural beauty). Continuously inhabited since ancient times, you'll visit the town's landmarks and best views, then delve further into the past. At the "Bay of Bones," you'll visit a replica of the Neolithic settlement that once safely sat on piles above the lake. Continuing along the picturesque lakeshore by boat, you'll come to the St. Naum Monastery. Situated in the lush area where the Black Drin river flows from the lake (a kilometer from the Albanian border), this is one of the region's highlights.


Activity Level : Light
Duration : 10 hours

Day 10

Day 10 - Departure Day

Today, a driver will pick you up at your accommodation and bring you to the Skopje airport for your departing flight.

What's Included

Here are all the services provided as part of your complete vacation package. See what every JayWay trip includes.
Please let us know if you'd like to upgrade any transfers or add any additional tours or excursions to your itinerary.

Belgrade

3 Nights Accommodation
Breakfast (hotels only)
Belgrade Airport Transfer
Fruska Gora Monasteries and Sremski Karlovci Private Tour
Serbian Orthodox Heritage Private Walking Tour
Belgrade - Sofia Private Transfer with Manasija and Ravanica Monastery Stops

Sofia

3 Nights Accommodation
Breakfast (hotels only)
Sofia Private Walking Tour
Rila and Boyana Private Day Tour (UNESCO Heritage)
Sofia - Skopje Private Transfer with an Osgovski Monastery Tour

Skopje

3 Nights Accommodation
Breakfast (hotels only)
Skopje Private Walking Tour
Ohrid and St. Naum Private Day Trip
Skopje Airport Transfer
The package excludes:

  • Flights to and from Europe.
  • Tips for Tour Guides, Drivers and Local Reps.
  • Meals (other than breakfast if included in room rate and meals listed as included in food tours and excursions, unless explicitly stated otherwise).
  • Parking fees for your Rental Car (if you are booking one with us) unless otherwise indicated. Some hotels provide free parking facilities.
  • Travel Insurance. See the insurance link on our website
Benefits of Traveling with JayWay

A JayWay vacation is more than the sum of its parts. Our team work tirelessly to ensure your experience is memorable for all the right reasons. Your trip is personalized to maximize your enjoyment. You're taken care of every step of the way.

A Travel Advisor who speaks your language
We will make sure that all your requirements and interests are taken into account in preparing your itinerary.
A totally tailored itinerary for your vacation
Your trip is customized for you by  an experienced trip planner and an expert on the region.
A choice of hand-picked hotels and excursions
We've personally inspected and tested all the hotels and local tour providers we work with to ensure quality.
Detailed pre-trip preparation to make the most of every day
Your Europe-based Tour Manager will be in touch by email and phone a month before you arrive to finalize timings.
On-trip Concierge Service to smooth out any bumps in the road
Our local staff are at your service throughout your journey via the local prepaid cellphone which we provide.
Personalized Guest Page to make sure you're not missing out
Packed with detailed information and recommendations curated by locals on the best things to do, see and eat.

Glowing Reviews from Our Guests

4.9 / 5

Average of our Guest's Ratings of vacation packages including these destinations
Review by Todd & Jennifer

Todd & Jennifer

Ontario

The JayWay Travel experience is customized and personalized. Each trip will be unique to you and it is a wonderful way to ensure you focus on what matters most while travelling (sights, activities, etc.) rather than booking hotels, transfers, etc. that take up so much of your time and energy.

The JayWay Travel experience is customized and personalized. Each trip will be unique to you and it is a wonderful way to ensure you focus on what matters most while travelling (sights, activities, etc.) rather than booking hotels, transfers, etc. that take up so much of your time and energy.

Year : 2019
Visited : Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria
Itinerary : Bucharest, Sibiu, Belgrade, Kotor, Tirana, Ohrid, Skopje, Sofia, Burgas, Constanta
Rating :
4.6 / 5
Year : 2019
Visited : Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria
Itinerary : Bucharest, Sibiu, Belgrade, Kotor, Tirana, Ohrid, Skopje, Sofia, Burgas, Constanta
Rating :
4.6 / 5
Review by Dale, Anne & John

Dale, Anne & John

Arizona

You are the kings and queens of travel!

You are the kings and queens of travel!

Year : 2018
Visited : Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania
Itinerary : Ljubljana, Rovinj, Plitvice, Sarajevo, Trogir, Hvar, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Tirana, Ohrid, Skopje, Sofia, Bucharest, Brasov, Bucharest
Rating :
5 / 5
Year : 2018
Visited : Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania
Itinerary : Ljubljana, Rovinj, Plitvice, Sarajevo, Trogir, Hvar, Dubrovnik, Kotor, Tirana, Ohrid, Skopje, Sofia, Bucharest, Brasov, Bucharest
Rating :
5 / 5
Review by Angela & Bill

Angela & Bill

Nashville, TN

Completely boutique, set up to your wishes, inexpensive, assistance always available, wonderful selection of hotels and English speaking guides. We were absolutely pleased by our mussel tour, our vineyard tour and especially the cooking tour. Everything went off like clockwork. We were able to add our extra side trips without difficulty.  Antonia did a fabulous job and enjoyed meeting her in Dubrovnik.

Completely boutique, set up to your wishes, inexpensive, assistance always available, wonderful selection of hotels and English speaking guides. We were absolutely pleased by our mussel tour, our vineyard tour and especially the cooking tour. Everything went off like clockwork. We were able to add our extra side trips without difficulty.  Antonia did a fabulous job and enjoyed meeting her in Dubrovnik.

Year : 2016
Visited : Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria
Itinerary : Dubrovnik, Kotor, Ulcinj, Tirana, Gjirokastra, Ohrid, Skopje, Sofia
Rating :
5 / 5
Year : 2016
Visited : Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria
Itinerary : Dubrovnik, Kotor, Ulcinj, Tirana, Gjirokastra, Ohrid, Skopje, Sofia
Rating :
5 / 5
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