Crabs, bats and communists, in Cuba's greatest Soviet souvenir.
This is it… the big one. We’re going to cruise across Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina as we tour the Balkans in search of Yugoslav memorials. It won’t just be concrete and steel we’re looking at though – along the way we’ll see mountains and lakes, explore underground tunnels, we’ll stay in ridiculously brutalist hotels and get to know the people who make up this diverse and colourful region of Eastern Europe.
Read on to find out what’s included in this one-off 12-day tour.
€1,550 / 12 DAYS & 11 NIGHTS
20 APRIL-1 MAY 2017
Here’s what you can expect to find included in the price:
Transport. Over the course of these 12 days we’ll travel more than 2,200km, and through three very different countries. Comfort is a priority – so we will have our own private bus for the journey, a modern, air-conditioned vehicle with a professional driver.
Hotels. All 11 nights of accommodation are included. Sometimes we’ll stay at modern 4-star resorts, while other nights we’ll be immersed in retro hospitality at brutalist-style 1970s hotels. Some of these buildings are as interesting as any monument we’ll see.
Food. The price of the tour includes a daily breakfast, usually a full breakfast buffet at our hotel.
The Tour. All entry fees related to the tour are included in the cost. In addition to a dedicated driver there’ll be two guides on hand throughout: myself and a local colleague, who between us will be able to answer your questions, share stories, provide translations and generally make sure your needs are being met.
DAY 1 / THURSDAY 20th APRIL
We meet in the morning, then head out for a walking tour of Belgrade before lunch. In the afternoon we’ll take an underground tour through tunnels and bunkers beneath the streets of the Serbian capital.
Our accommodation – Hotel Jugoslavija – is located in the Novi Beograd district, famed for its brutalist and modernist architecture. We’ll explore here a bit, before settling down for a traditional Serbian dinner.
SLEEP: Belgrade, Serbia
DAY 2 / FRIDAY 21st
Our bus collects us from the hotel, stopping first at the ‘House of Flowers’ [pictured]: to pay our respects at the tomb of Marshall Josip Broz Tito.
After that we’ll drive to the Jabuka Memorial Park, then head on towards the Croatian border. Once on the other side we’ll visit the Vukovar Spomenpark, and then drive on to our final stop at Slavonski Brod – where we’ll take a stroll round the 18th century Brod Fortress, and sample some local cuisine.
SLEEP: Slavonski Brod, Croatia
DAY 3 / SATURDAY 22nd
First, we’ll drive an hour to Jasenovac – to the Stone Flower monument, and the concentration camp museum.
Heading north, we’ll stop at the ‘Monument to the Revolution of the People of Moslavina,’ just outside Podgarić, and then we drive on to Sisak to see the partisan monument in the forests on the edge of town [pictured]. By evening we’ll be in the capital, ready to sample the vibrant nightlife of Zagreb.
SLEEP: Zagreb, Croatia
DAY 4 / SUNDAY 23rd
Sunday morning will be spent getting to know the Croatian capital. We’ll take a walking tour, absorbing the history, architecture, graffiti and street food of Zagreb.
By the afternoon we’ll be on the move again, this time driving south to see the largest monument of this tour – the colossal memorial house on Petrova Gora [pictured]. After that it’s a 90-minute drive to our final stop, a cosy guesthouse in the Plitvice National Park.
SLEEP: Plitvice, Croatia
DAY 5 / MONDAY 24th
Today, you’ll have the whole day to yourself. Our hotel is located just a stone’s throw from the famous Plitvice Lakes: and if you haven’t heard of them, just check out these images. Alternatively, you could come with me to explore (access allowing) the nearby Željava Air Base, an abandoned tunnel complex hidden deep beneath a mountain on the Croatian-Bosnian border [pictured].
We’ll all meet up later, for dinner at a local grill restaurant.
SLEEP: Plitvice, Croatia
DAY 6 / TUESDAY 25th
Crossing into Bosnia & Herzegovina, we’ll stop soon after at the Garavice Memorial Park. From there we’ll drive to Mount Kozara, visiting the memorial tower built on the site of a WWII battlefield.
By late afternoon we get into Banja Luka: the largest city in Bosnia’s ‘Republika Srpska’ region. We’ll have time to explore the city, as well as visiting the grand socialist-realist mausoleum that rises on a nearby hilltop [pictured].
SLEEP: Banja Luka, Bosnia
DAY 7 / WEDNESDAY 26th
Sarajevo is a truly remarkable city. We’ll drive there early (making just one monument stop along the way), then spend the rest of the day getting to know the Bosnian capital.
In the afternoon you’ll have the chance to learn about the Bosnian War, and the 1992-96 Siege of Sarajevo. Survivors of the conflict will share their stories with you, during a walking tour of the abandoned Olympic bobsleigh track which became a front line during the conflict [pictured].
SLEEP: Sarajevo, Bosnia
DAY 8 / THURSDAY 27th
Today might be the hardest choice you’ll have to make all tour. You can either stay in Sarajevo for the day, and explore the city’s many markets, mosques, plazas and coffee shops at your leisure, or join me for a day-trip on the bus.
It’s a four-hour round trip to the Tjentište Monument, located down south in the remote Sutjeska National Park [pictured]. We’ll make it an interesting drive though, stopping at a few extra places along the way.
SLEEP: Sarajevo, Bosnia
DAY 9 / FRIDAY 28th
On Day 9 we bid farewell to Bosnia & Herzegovina – crossing the border back into Serbia, and driving through beautiful landscape to the Kadinjača Memorial Complex near Užice. We’ll have lunch nearby before heading into town to explore.
Užice is a paradise for architecture geeks, and we’ll be staying at ground zero: in the ridiculously brutalist Zlatibor Hotel [pictured].
SLEEP: Užice, Serbia
DAY 10 / SATURDAY 29th
Southern Serbia is densely packed with bizarre, Yugoslav-era monuments. We’ll visit some of the best ones today – stopping at the Mausoleum in Čačak, the Monument to the Strong at Ostra, and the Sniper Monument at Popina.
By early evening we’ll arrive in Niš, heading straight up to visit the Bubanj Memorial Complex [pictured]. After that, we’ve got a table booked at a local restaurant for what might just be the best barbecue you’ll ever taste.
SLEEP: Niš, Serbia
DAY 11 / SUNDAY 30th
For the first half of the day, you’ll have a choice of activities: you can try your hand at paragliding, you could visit the infamous ‘Skull Tower of Niš’ or you could check out the city’s markets and fantastic modernist architecture.
After a late lunch together we’ll hit the highway, and head north to see the partisan monument on Mount Kosmaj [pictured]. From there it’s a short drive to Belgrade, where we’ll have dinner on a floating restaurant in the Sava River.
SLEEP: Belgrade, Serbia
DAY 12 / MONDAY 1st MAY: Tour Ends
Breakfast on Monday will be our last group meal… but the fun doesn’t have to end there. It’s May 1st – International Workers’ Day – a holiday marked with parades, festivities, and barbecues in the park. When you’ve had your fill, Belgrade has one of the best-connected airports in the Balkans, making it easy to plan the next stage of your journey from here.
Testimonials for Previous Tours
The combination of breadth and depth of information, knowledge of hidden places, genuine warmth, and affordable prices is hard to beat. 100% recommended!
Darmon is an excellent guide, and this tour has become one of the highlights of my travelling experiences. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
– David J.
There’s such a huge amount of knowledge, time and love gone into the planning. I saw buildings and monuments that I never thought I would be able to visit… and stood in places that were more moving than I thought possible. It’s a fantastic experience, you should go.
– Matty M.
The Small Print
Still got questions? You might well find the answer below… but if not, feel free to send me a message.
What does the price not include?
Airfares. The tour begins and ends in Belgrade, Serbia. You’ll need to arrange your own transport in getting there.
Travel insurance. You’ll need to sort this out for yourself before you travel.
Meals. Apart from breakfasts, your meals won’t be included in the tour price. You needn’t budget too much for this, though. For example, a good restaurant meal in Serbia will often cost less than €5.
Drinks. I reserve the right to sometimes surprise you with a cocktail… but I’m afraid I won’t be picking up your bar tab!
Paragliding. On the last full day of this tour, you’ll have the option to go paragliding in Serbia. I realise not everyone will want to try it though, and so it wouldn’t seem fair to include it in the price. If you’re keen, the cost is roughly €30 per person.
Other costs. This should go without saying, but just to be clear: I can’t help you with any additional airline charges, Paypal fees, credit card fines or bail payments.
What makes this tour so special?
As far as I know this tour is one of a kind… and what’s more, I think it’s important. Tour buses used to arrive at these memorial sites every day of the year, but ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia they stopped coming. Over the course of 12 days, we’re going to visit 16 of these remarkable monuments and treat them to the well-deserved attention that they’ve been largely missing for these past few decades. We will honour them not as political symbols, but rather as extraordinary works of art commemorating events which should never be forgotten.
Why isn’t lunch or dinner included in the price?
On my 7-day Bulgaria tours, I have really enjoyed offering evening meals as a part of the inclusive package. I’ve taken the group to some of my favourite restaurants, always booking ahead to arrange particular speciality dishes or platters for sharing. This time around though, it just isn’t practical.
We’ll be crossing three borders on this tour, which means more than a quarter of our evening meals would need to be arranged from a foreign country. Given that this is a longer tour, I’m also assuming that people will likely want some time to themselves sooner or later – so I don’t want to lock you into the same dining arrangement for 11 nights in a row. This way you can opt for room service and a movie one night, without feeling as though you’re losing out on the deal.
Will I be sharing a room with someone?
Yes – for the standard price you’ll be sharing a twin room with someone else. Naturally, I’ll try to pair you with someone you get on with… or if you’re travelling with a friend or partner already, then that’s even easier.
Alternatively, if you’d like a room to yourself just let me know. There’ll be an additional €275 charge for having your own single room throughout the tour.
Will I have a chance to take photos?
I’ve been on a few of those tours in the past where groups are rushed from one place to another so fast that there’s barely time to set up a tripod. This isn’t going to be like that, though. If you follow this site then you’ll already know that I’m passionate about photography – and there’s no way I would bring you to places this photogenic, without ensuring you’ve got plenty of time to capture the experience.
Can I go off exploring on my own?
Sure. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from heading out on your own some days, if you want to. I can gladly recommend walking routes, shops, markets, museums, parks and various other places of interest. I’ve already factored some down-time into the itinerary, and I’m not going to be offended if you feel like you need a little more.
Just please, keep an eye on the schedule – I’d hate to keep the bus waiting because one of our crew’s gone missing.
But I’ve heard that Serbia/Croatia/Bosnia is dangerous…
It’s understandable – the Balkans doesn’t exactly have a stable history, and some of the places we visit you might only have heard of in association with war-time news stories. But times are changing. Adventure tourism is really taking off in these countries, driven largely by outstanding natural scenery and the very warm hospitality of local cultures. By the end of the tour, I expect you’ll feel as comfortable here as I do.
Am I going to get tired of looking at concrete?
The truth is, there’s so much more to this tour than just the monuments themselves. These objects were typically built in really interesting places: on mountain peaks, in forests, in city centres or right out in the middle of nowhere. As a result, our surroundings will constantly be changing.
Meanwhile, these tours seem to attract a reliably decent bunch of people. We trek through mountain landscapes together, we explore tunnels by flashlight, get lost in forests and generally have a good time. And then there’s the food… to say that we eat well on these tours would be an understatement.
A prior obsession with bizarre architecture will be a bonus – but it certainly isn’t mandatory.
What happens if I need to cancel my place? Can I get a refund?
I don’t want your money if you’re not coming with us… but at the same time, the moment you commit to this tour I’m going to start planning things around you. It’ll cost me money to receive your payment, and so 10% of the tour cost is non-refundable in order to cover these handling fees.
If you want to cancel your place more than a month before the tour starts, then just tell me – and I’ll send you back the full price minus handling fees right away. The closer we get to the tour though, the harder it’ll be for me to fill your place on the bus. For this reason, if you cancel less than a month before the tour starts then I’ll need to hang onto 50% of the amount as security against empty seats.
In the highly unlikely event that it’s me who cancels, then you’ll get everything back – I’ll refund you the whole lot, including any charges incurred during the transfer.
How do I sign up?
Your place on the tour is guaranteed the moment you put down your first payment.
The tour costs €1550 per person. If you want a single hotel room throughout the tour, then it’ll be €1825. I’m also happy to take the payment in two instalments, if you prefer… though in this case there will be additional handling fees to consider, making it two payments of €790 each.
Been on one of my tours before? I’ll be very happy to offer a 10% discount for returning guests.
For any more information, or to talk about reserving your seat, just get in touch.