14 Day Majestic Balkans

Gate 1 Travel
3.7 . Great
68%
Travel Style: Array Mixed
Physical Level: All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value (3*)
14 days
From: $ 4,019 $ 287 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights (Bullets)

  • Enjoy an extended visit to romantic Peles Castle, former summer residence of Romania's first royal family
  • Visit the Patriarchal church of Bucharest, considered one of the most beautiful cathedrals of Romania
  • Special dinner with a guest lecturer who enlightens you on Romania's turbulent history
  • At a beautiful 17th century Bulgarian church, a magical performance by an esteemed local choir
  • Walk along the cobbled streets of Plovdiv, Europe's oldest city
  • Ascend to the 10th century Rila Monastery, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Explore the historic streets of Skopje’s Old Town, stopping at the House of Mother Teresa
  • Wine tasting and vineyard tour in Stobi, a city in the Republic of North Macedonia at the crossroads of civilization
  • Discover lively Tirana, the beating heart of Albania, with its vibrant café culture and funky art
  • Visit Kruje, where the hero Skanderbeg defended Albania from the Ottomans
†Transfers are available for purchase for land only or on alternative flight dates

Short Description

3 Bucharest, 1 Plovdiv, 2 Sofia, 2 Skopje, 2 Ohrid, 2 Tirana

Style Small group tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value (3*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions All internal ground transport
Start City N/A
End City N/A

Destinations

N/A

Attractions & Cities Visited

Bucharest Romania Skopje Sofia Tirana

Activities & Interests

N/A

N/A
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Itinerary

DAY 1, Friday - Depart for Romania
Depart for Romania

DAY 2, Saturday - Arrive in Bucharest
Arrive in the bustling Romanian capital of Bucharest known for its wide, tree-lined boulevards and glorious Belle Époque buildings, affectionately named "Little Paris." Time to settle in at the hotel before tonight's orientation meeting at approximately 6 PM with your Tour Manager on the fascinating journey to Romania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Albania that lies ahead, followed by a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers to celebrate your arrival in Romania. We recommend that you select flights which arrive in your destination no later than 4 PM or earlier, if possible
Overnight: Bucharest
Meals: Dinner

DAY 3, Sunday - Prahova Valley, Sinaia Monastery, Peles Castle
Heading north along the Prahova Valley arrive at the elegant mountain resort of Sinaia. Here, visit the impressive 17th century Sinaia Monastery named after St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai. The monastery features religious treasures and beautiful frescoes. After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll truly be enchanted by a visit to romantic Peles Castle, former summer residence of Romania's first royal family. The castle is a masterpiece of German Neo-Renaissance architecture. Its 160 rooms are decorated with the finest examples of European art Afterward, return to Bucharest for dinner and overnight
Overnight: Bucharest
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4, Monday - Discover Bucharest, Palace of Parliament, Patriarchal Cathedral, Special Dinner & Guest Lecturer
The day begins with a view of Bucharest's Arch of Triumph, an impressive replica of the French Arc de Triomphe, built to commemorate the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI. Then, as you travel along Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue), the city's oldest and most fashionable street, gaze at some of the most stunning architecture, including the splendid National Museum George Enescu housed in the Cantacuzino Palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in Bucharest, named a historical monument. Its sumptuous entrance in Art Nouveau style, emphasizes the luxury and refinement of the era. Next, at historical Revolution Square, understand how the last Communist dictator in Eastern Europe was overthrown. Visit the gigantic Palace of Parliament, the second largest building in the world (after the Pentagon) with over 3,000 rooms, then visit the wondrous Patriarchal Cathedral, set atop one of the city's few hills and known as the centerpiece of the Romanian Orthodox faith since the 17th-century. Spend the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Tonight, a special dinner featuring a renowned guest lecturer who enlightens you on Romania's turbulent history
Overnight: Bucharest
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 5, Tuesday - Veliko Tarnovo, Tsarevets Hill, Arbanassi, Choir Concert, Plovdiv (Bulgaria)
Depart Bucharest for Veliko Tarnovo, the 'City of the Tsars', where houses cling to the cliffs of the River Yantra, making it one of the country's most beautiful towns in Bulgaria. Here, take an orientation walking tour that features views of the Tsarevets Hill, the inescapable symbol of the city. This reconstructed medieval fortress dominates the skyline and is one of Bulgaria's most beloved monuments. The former seat of the Tsars, it boasts the remains of more than 400 houses, 18 churches, a royal palace and more. Continue to picturesque Arbanassi where you leisurely savor a delectable lunch of traditional Bulgarian favorites. After exploration of the quaint village, arrive at the 17th-century church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel. A superb afternoon of beautiful sounds awaits you. Listen to the magical voices of a local choir, surrounded by magnificent frescoes. The day ends in Plovdiv, a millennial town with a tumultuous history. Dinner is at the hotel
Overnight: Plovdiv
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6, Wednesday - Plovdiv's Old Town, Sofia
A delightful exploration of Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria. Walk along the cobbled streets lined with art galleries and bohemian cafes -- this city has an exuberant spirit! In the Old Town, lovingly restored to its mid-19th-century appearance, admire the Thracian, Roman, Byzantine and Bulgarian antiquities. Visit the impressive Roman Amphitheater* best preserved in the Balkans, now used for performances. The day ends in Sofia, Bulgaria's lively capital, with dinner at the hotel and overnight
*In case the Roman Amphitheater is closed, the Ethnographic Museum will be visited instead
Overnight: Sofia
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 7, Thursday - National History Museum, Alexander Nevsky Church
In magical Sofia, the morning tour starts with panoramic views of golden Ottoman domes dotting the skyline. Visit the National History Museum with its exhibits of Bulgarian lands spanning 8000 years and glimpses of unique gold and silver treasures dating back to Thracian times. View, St. Sofia Church and across the square visit the impressive neo-Byzantine golden-domed Alexander Nevsky Church, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. Next, view the 4th century Roman Rotunda, a red brick building transformed into the present day St. George Church, the oldest architectural monument in Sofia and St. Joseph's Cathedral. Leisure time this afternoon to stroll the lanes of the city on your own and perhaps linger at one of the lovely cafes along Oborishte Street to just people-watch. Tonight, enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant
Overnight: Sofia
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 8, Friday - Rila Monastery & Museum, Skopje (Republic of North Macedonia)
After breakfast, ascend to the 10th century Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, considered one of the greatest centers of literacy and religion in Bulgaria, playing a key role in preserving Bulgarian culture and language. Visit the monastery's church and view the astonishing frescoes, painted by famous Bulgarian artists. Continue with a visit to the monastery's museum. Afterward, descend from these lofty peaks and drive to Skopje, the capital of the Republic of North Macedonia, accented by a historic hilltop fortress overlooking monumental modern architecture. Tonight, enjoy a delightful dinner at a local restaurant
Overnight: Skopje
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 9, Saturday - Discover Skopje's Old Town
In the morning visit the moving Holocaust Museum that commemorates the all but lost Sephardic Jewish culture of North Macedonia through a range of photos and video displays. Explore the historic streets of this eclectic capital's Old Town, stopping at Macedonia Square, Porta Macedonia, the 15th century Turkish Stone Bridge and the 6th century Byzantine Fortress, that dominates the skyline of the city. At the House of Mother Teresa, you're reminded that the famed Catholic nun of Calcutta was born here in 1910. Perhaps time to bargain for wondrous treasures at the old Turkish Bazaar. The afternoon is free for individual pursuits
Overnight: Skopje
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 10, Sunday - Ancient Stobi, Wine Tasting & Vineyard Lunch, Lakeside Ohrid
The ancient city of Stobi is revealed today. Lying in a fertile valley, this ancient city was part of a vital trade route and was the crossroads of civilization with a rich legacy of palace ruins, bright mosaics, and religious relics. Enjoy a tour of a local winery along with a tasting of the fine wines, followed by appetizers including assorted local Galichnik cheese, smoked meats, and lunch. Afterward, on to the town of Ohrid, a jewel of the Balkans, set beside a pristine lake and topped by a medieval castle. During your leisure time here, discover the picturesque architecture and verdant crystal-blue waters of the lake. Perhaps walk along the waterfront, relax on a secluded beach or wander along the winding lanes to the Roman amphitheater. Tonight's dinner together is at a local restaurant
Overnight: Ohrid
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11, Monday - St Naum Monastery, Boat Cruise on Ohrid Lake
Drive along the shores of Lake Ohrid to reach St. Naum Monastery with its world-renowned priceless icons and religious paintings. Then, take a relaxing boat tour through the springs of the Black Drin river, often referred to as the Springs of Sveti Naum, the main water supply of Lake Ohrid. Afternoon tour of the Old Town named the "Jerusalem of the Balkans". A town of vast history and heritage, Ohrid was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. A stop at the statue of St. Clement, before continuing to the lower gate, the National Museum, Church of St. Sophia, the Roman Amphitheatre, view St. Clement's Church and Tsar Samoil's fortress. Later, relax on a boat cruise on Lake Ohrid, ringed by mountains, attractive villages, and beautiful beaches. Dinner is at a popular restaurant on your last night in Macedonia
Overnight: Ohrid
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 12, Tuesday - Elbasan, Tirana (Albania), Skanderbeg Square, Mosque of Et'hem Bey
This morning, depart North Macedonia for Albania, stopping en route at Elbasan, one of the largest cities in Albania in the central part of the country. Later, arrive in lively and colorful Tirana, the beating heart of Albania, known for its vibrant café culture and funky public art. This relatively new city, situated on the site of a Byzantine fortress, has been the capital of Albania since 1920. Visit famous Skanderbeg Square, dedicated to Albania's national hero, home to the Opera House and the National Historic Museum adorned with a gigantic mosaic mural known as 'The Albanians'. Pause at the small and elegant Mosque of Et'hem Bey, one of the oldest buildings left in the city before proceeding to the Clock Tower and the towering statue of G.K. Skanderbeg. Continue with a visit to Bunk'Art 2, an ex-nuclear bunker that was conversed to a museum featuring photographs and equipment that illustrate the political persecution of some 100,000 Albanians from 1945 until 1991. Tonight, enjoy dinner together
Overnight: Tirana
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 13, Wednesday - Kruje, Ottoman Style Bazaar
Step back in time on your visit of Kruje, the hero Skanderbeg's hometown where 500 years ago he defended the town from the Ottomans. At the Ethnographic Museum, see a typical 18th-century Ottoman house that once belonged to an affluent family. *Afterward, a stroll through the Ottoman style Bazaar, the best place for souvenir shopping with its lanes of antiques, gems, and handicrafts. Watch as women use looms to make kilims (rugs) - you can purchase the finished products! A spirited end to the day as you attend a performance of a local musical group who will serenade you with Albanian tunes. The rest of the day is at leisure in Tirana. At your Farewell Dinner, bid farewell to your newfound friends and share wonderful memories of your journey together through the Balkans
**During certain dates between March and October, visit to the Ethnographic Museum will be replaced with Skanderbeg Museum
Overnight: Tirana
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 14, Thursday - Depart Albania
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight
Meals: Breakfast

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 4,019
Price Per Day: $ 287 per day

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Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

745 Gate 1 Travel Travel Reviews & Ratings

68%
3.7 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 455
Great 26
Average 30
Disappointing 29
Terrible 205
Value
3.7
Guide
3.7
Activities
3.7
Lodging
3.7
Transportation
3.7
Meals
3.7

14 Day Majestic Balkans

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Company Reviews

THE ABSOLUTE WORST

1.0
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THE ABSOLUTE WORST. Dishonest, incompetent, fraudulent.

We booked a trip to Europe with them, and it was a mess from start to finish. The flight that we paid extra for (it's worth the extra money for me to fly nonstop) was changed by the airline to include a stop, but Gate 1 wouldn't refund the extra amount they charged me for it. They also refused to call Delta about the flight change - even though Delta told me that all Gate 1 had to do was call to request the change back to a nonstop flight for me (at no extra charge). After I called Gate 1 out on this, they suddenly claimed that they HAD called Delta, but that they didn't know when and didn't know who they spoke with, and they couldn't call with me on the line.

They also promised me a $450 credit to make up for the extra night of hotel I could not be used because of their incompetence, and said they would apply it to my account. However, they did not actually issue that credit. When I brought it up, they told me that since I'd made final payment prior to their issuance of the credit, they weren't going to give it to me anymore. Excuse me, but YOUR inability or failure to do what YOU promised to do is not my fault or my problem. This is further evidence of incompetence, dishonesty, and fraud.

Gate 1 clearly does not care one bit about their customers or their reputation.

Gate 1 should go out of business. I'm reporting them to the various state agencies for their dishonest business practices.
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Poor customer service

2.0
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Activities2.0
Lodging2.0
Transportation2.0
Meals2.0
It has been about 7.5 years since I traveled with Gate 1 Travel. In the past, customer service was exceptionally great! Now I am appauded with the unprofessional and uncaring “attitude” demonstrated by Supervisors. What I surmised by the comments expressed is that it is my problem so do not bother me. Sure, I acknowledge that life is imperfect. However, where does empathy and compassion come into the professional world? When a customer states a concern and requests assistance, it soothes the complexion of the customer’s experience by possibly using statements such as “ I know you are stressed about the matter. Sorry that you are having to deal with this matter 8 days before departure. I will try to contact another person who can better help you.” These Supervisors present to be bothered by having to listen to my complaint and concern. They do not care if I am unable to go on my trip. Despite being advised that someone will call me today, I doubt that I will hear from someone. I was informed to contact them via Contact Us email. Well, I have tried that before but I only get a response 50% of the time. Then there are the representatives in the Philippines who do not know what they are doing. I end up calling back Gate 1 Travel and request to talk with a Supervisor. When I ask for the name of a person in management in order to write a letter about how Gate 1 Travel personnel has diminished the quality of service, not one Gate 1 employee will disclose the name of a professional in upper management. I find that odd.
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One star is way too many

1.0
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One star is way too many. I got a return ticket and wanted to change outbound one. Gate1 was nowhere to be found and there was no way of changing the flight. So I bought a new one on that day and did I no show on the old one. Surprise suprise happened when I tried to fly back. Was told at the airport that the agent froze the ticket bc I didnt show up on the outbound. Whats most ridiculous about it that they never notified me about it!!!! And as per my airline app nothing looked like there was anything wrong with my flight. Airline couldnt do anything about it and as a result I had to buy a new flight :)
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I already wrote a couple of bad reviews…

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I already wrote a couple of bad reviews during my last trip to Mexico with Gate 1 Discovery Tours—my aunt and her husband from Texas is currently doing the very same 13 Day Mexico Mayan and Aztec Illumination Tour two weeks after we did ours, and it was just confirmed based on the same Xochimilco tour that they took on their first day that alcoholic beverages and Mariachi Band was included in Gate 1 Budget during the boat tour but our tour manager and guide, MANUEL JURADO, decided it would be better for him to pocket the money that was supposed to be spent on our group to make our discovery tour with Gate 1 experience more enjoyable and memorable! This was based on the photographs provided by my aunt and uncle! Furthermore, I was just informed that water, coffee and tea were provided during lunch and dinner aside from one alcoholic beverages or juices.

The very bad experience we had on our most recent trip to Mexico was because of the third party tour company and tour manager that Gate 1 employed—for a big company like Gate 1, offering travels all over the world, this Mexico trip being our 9th with them, I expected more! The tour manager’s actions is a reflection of how bad Gate 1 was with regards to their travel quality control. They should check each hotels, restaurants, foods, and activities before going to any third party tour companies!
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Awesome Kenya Safari

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Christopher Musyoka was an outstanding tour guide, who went the extra mile for us. We saw all the animals we wanted to see. He was always concerned for our safety and comfort. The accommodations were outstanding! I only wish he would have been accessible during our stay the Ark! Thank you again, Gate 1, for a wonderful experience!
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Update to my earlier review - Stay away from Gate1 until they change their ways

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Our first trips with Gate 1 were great. The tour guides really took care of us and we didn't spend excessive time on the bus. Our latest tour to Greece was awful. The tour director did not communicate well. Telling us we would have a free lunch - when she meant to say we would be free for lunch on our own. We found out after we had to pay for the meal. Our hotel in Mykonos had a large pool of water in the bathroom. It was coming from the room above and there was black mold on the ceiling. It was reported (twice) and the solution was to give us more towels to place on the floor. Nobody seemed to care about the mold. One hotel didn't have hot water for the showers. This was reported to the front desk and the tour director. Writing to Gate 1 did no good. They send their generic "thank you for your input" email and nothing gets done - even when you ask them to call you. I assume they have changed management since our first trips and no longer care about the travelers as long as they get their money. Finally got a response from Gate1. The hotel with cold showers said it was never reported. The hotel with the mold and wet floor said they offered to move us to a different room. That never happened - they gave us lots of towels to soak up the water. Gate1 offered us $100 off of our next trip.

Gate 1 replied with another "customer service will contact you" message. To date that has not happened. Horrible company and horrible customer service!!
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Details

Flight & Transport Inclusions

All internal ground transport

Group Size

Small Group - 24 max

Additional Information


Additional Information:
Land only price does not include arrival/departure transfers.

Trip ID#:

gate1-DSCV-RO-BG-MK-AL-14DBLKN-PKG-22

What's excluded

Not Included:Gratuities.
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