Tours

The Balkans Region & Mediterranean Cruise

Tour departs: 9 July 2018
Tour length: 29 Days

It is time to return to this very special region of Europe after a series of successful tours just a few years ago.

Overview

Tour Departs: 9 July 2018

Tour Length: 29 Days

In 2018, we are again repeating this tour a very special region of Europe. While 20 years ago, the very word “Balkans” translated into ethnic strife and civil wars, today, the region welcomes and enthrals visitors with its rich, though often turbulent history, charming multicultural towns, impressive monasteries and citadels dotting the hillsides, mighty mountains, beautiful forests and lakes, and hundreds of kilometres of pristine coastline.

We start our journey in Athens, Greece, before joining our coach to journey up through Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia Hercegovina, Slovenia and finally to wonderful Venice in Italy. It is from here that we complete the odyssey with a relaxing 7-night cruise aboard the magnificent Celebrity ship “Celebrity Constellation” which takes us down the Dalmatian coast and into the Mediterranean and the Greek Islands before concluding in Rome.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Athens for 3 nights
  • Corinth, Delphi, Monasteries of Meteora
  • Lake Ohrid, Tirana.
  • Magical Dubrovnik
  • Mostar and historic Sarajevo
  • Split including day cruise to Hvar
  • Plitvice Lakes & Lake Bled

 

MEDITERRANEAN CRUISE

  • 7 nights aboard “Celebrity Constellation”
  • A choice of Ocean View or Balcony Staterooms
  • Commencing in Venice
  • Visiting the islands of Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos
  • Naples and concluding in Rome

 

Itinerary

Monday 9 July

Home – Hong Kong

We commence the tour with the daylight flight to Hong Kong. On arrival this evening, we are met and transferred to our hotel for an overnight stay.


Tuesday 10 July

Hong Kong – Rome – Athens (B.D)

This morning, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Hong Kong Island. We take the tram to Victoria Peak for panoramic views over the island and then visit Repulse Bay and the fishing village of Aberdeen for a short cruise around the harbour by sampan. This is some free time this afternoon with rooms held for late checkout. This evening, we enjoy dinner together, Chinese style, before we are transferred back to Hong Kong Airport in time to join the late evening flight to Rome.

 


Wednesday 11 July

Rome – Athens (B,D)

We arrive into Rome this morning and transfer immediately to the short flight to Athens. On arrival early afternoon, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 3 night stay. This evening, we enjoy dinner together.


Thursday 12 July

Athens (B,D)

This morning’s tour will show us the highlights of this busy cosmopolitan city which was once the centre of the world for arts, learning and philosophy. Number one on our itinerary is the immortal Acropolis which dominates the city and offers spectacular views. Other highlights include Syntagma Square, the most important square of the modern city and its political and social hub, Parliament, Hadrians Arch, Temple of Zeus and the Panathenaic Stadium which hosted the first of the modern day Olympics in 1896.  The afternoon is at leisure and this evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.


Friday 13 July

Athens (B)

Our tour this morning takes us to the Corinth Canal which connects the Aegean Sea with the Ionian Sea. We visit the ancient town of Corinth where St. Paul lived and preached for two years. The remains of the city, which include the Agora (market place) and Apollo’s Temple (6th century B.C.) clearly show how rich and important Corinth was in ancient times.  We make a short stop at the site of the ancient Port of Cehries, where St. Paul disembarked before returning to Athens.


Saturday 14 July

Athens – Delphi – Kalambaka (B,D)

After breakfast this morning we depart Athens and drive to Delphi, which in ancient times was considered the centre of the known world, the place where heaven and earth met. It is known as the centre of worship for the God, Apollo, son of Zeus, who embodied moral discipline and spiritual clarity. Delphi was to become a home to the Pan-Hellenic games, the precursor to the modern Olympics. We visit the Sanctuary of Apollo and the museum before continuing to Kalambaka for an overnight stay.


Sunday 15 July

Kalambaka (Meteora) –  Ohrid (B,D)

This morning we visit the region of the amazing monasteries known as Meteora – which means “in the air” – incredibly perched on top of pinnacles of rock. The monastic history dates back to the 11th century. This afternoon, we continue our journey north across the border into Macedonia on to beautiful lakeside Ohrid for a 2 night stay.


Monday 16 July

Ohrid (B,D)

Nestled between high mountains and the magnificent lake, Ohrid is Macedonia’s jewel with stunning Byzantine churches, small cobblestoned streets, a 2000 year old Roman amphitheatre and varied architecture. This morning we enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town and the waterfront park dominated by the monument to St Clement of Ohrid. The afternoon is free, time to relax lakeside or enjoy time among the market shops.


Tuesday 17 July

Ohrid – Tirana – Durres  (B,D)

We head further north and across the border into Albania and its vibrant capital, Tirana. A local guide will show us the highlights of this colourful, sometimes chaotic city which has undergone a transformation since losing the shackles of the austere communist rule in the early 1990s. Look for the different architectural styles reflecting Ottoman, Italian and Communist past. We continue on to the coastal city of Durres for an overnight stay.


Wednesday 18 July

Durres – Kotor – Dubrovnik (B,D)

Our drive today takes us north along the sparkling Adriatic coastline into Montenegro. Budva and Kotor are tourist meccas because of their natural beauty, the bay islands and beaches as well as the old town located on a small peninsula and a treasure trove of history. Then on to the magnificent walled city of Dubrovnik for a 2 night stay


Thursday 19 July

Dubrovnik (B)

Dubrovnik has to be the most beautiful medieval city on the Mediterranean with a history dating back to the 7th century. We spend a day in the city and tour the old town including a visit to the Rectors Palace located inside the walls. There will be time for lunch at one of the many outside cafes and to visit the bazaars for bargains. Dubrovnik is certainly the ‘Jewel of the Adriatic’. George Bernard Shaw once said, “those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik”.


Friday 20 July

Dubrovnik – Mostar – Sarajevo (B,D)

We leave the coast this morning and cross the border into Bosnia Hercegovina through the gorge of the River Neretva to our first stop at Mostar where we can walk across the famous Stari Most (old bridge) which was reconstructed after suffering severe damage during the war. Here, the city is divided with predominantly Muslim on one side of the river and Christian on the other. Then its on to the city of Sarajevo for a 2night stay.


Saturday 21 July

Sarajevo (B)

A diverse number of events have cemented Sarajevo’s place in history including most notably the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 which sparked WWI; the 1984 Winter Olympics (remember Torvill and Dean), and the longest post-WWII siege during the Balkans war of the 1990s. Often referred to as the “Jerusalem of Europe” because of the presence and tolerance of diverse faiths, the city is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains. Our guided sightseeing tour this morning shows us the Bascarsija, the cobbled old town market where the city was founded in the 15th century. We see Gazi Musrev-begs Mosque and the Olympic Stadium before visiting the War Tunnel Museum that was the city’s lifeline during the siege of Sarajevo.


Sunday 22 July

Sarajevo – Split (B,D)

It’s time to return to the Adriatic coast as we cross back into Croatia and reach the seaside town of Split for a 2 night stay. This afternoon, a local guide will walk us through the historic inner city built around Emperor Diocletian’s 4th century palace, a well-preserved fortress and a living part of the old town. Split’s Roman heritage is very evident at Peristyle Square, in the underground cellars and the Temple of St. Jupiter. This evening, why not take a stroll along the ocean promenade.


Monday 23 July

Split  – Hvar Island Cruise (B)

Surrounded by the blue Adriatic, we make our way to the lavender island of Hvar and its glittering port of Hvar town. Make sure you have your camera ready to capture the gorgeous harbour and stunning Fortica fortress, which sits high above the town to guard its many treasures. Enjoy a walking tour of this memorable town and learn about the heritage and history of the entire island. There will be free time to explore the town at your leisure before we continue our cruise and make a stop in Milna, a seaside village on the island of Brac. After enjoying a day on these sun-kissed Croatian islands, relax and enjoy a lovely cruise back to Split.


Tuesday 24 July

Split – Plitvice Lakes (B,D)

From Split, journey north to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia’s most visited attraction and granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. Within the boundaries of the National Park, 16 crystalline lakes tumble into each other through a series of waterfalls and cascades. This afternoon, we take a walk through the park absorbing the beauty of the natural surroundings and the lakes. Keep your eyes open for wildlife as you tread the boardwalks. There is a boat that takes you across the lake as well as shuttle coaches for those that don’t want to walk too far but still enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. Our hotel is located close to the park.


Wednesday 25 July

Plitvice Lakes – Lake Bled (B,D)

Today, we cross the border into Slovenia and head for Ljubljana, its capital and rated as one of Europe’s “greenest” and most livable cities. Car traffic is restricted in the centre, leaving the leafy banks of the emerald-green river to flow through the city’s heart, free for pedestrians and cyclists. In summer, cafes set up terrace seating along the river. After a tour of the city, there will be time to lunch there before we continue to beautiful Lake Bled for a 2 night stay.


Thursday 26 July

Lake Bled (B)

With its emerald-green lake, picture-postcard church on an islet, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff and some of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps as backdrop, Bled is Slovenia’s most popular resort. Today, we take a trip into the Julian Alps region. Within yodeling distance of Austria and Italy, the Slovenian mountainsides are laced with hiking paths, blanketed in deep forests, and speckled with ski resorts and vacation chalets. Beyond every ridge is a peaceful alpine village nestled around a quaint Baroque steeple. Enjoy stunning high-mountain scenery, whitewater rivers, rustic rest stops, thought-provoking WWI sights, and charming hamlets. We will lunch at one of these villages before returning to Lake Bled and some free time.


Friday 27 July

Lake Bled – Venice (B,D)

Our last stop in Slovenia is Postojna Caves, one of the largest cave systems in Europe where we can explore by miniature electric train some of the 20km of underground passages, chambers and galleries that have entranced millions of visitors for almost 200 years.  Then it’s on across the border into Italy and romantic Venice for an overnight stay.


Saturday 28 July

Venice (B,D)

Commence Greek Islands Mediterranean Cruise

This morning, we enjoy a walking tour of this unique city built on 100 small islands and connected by 400 bridges. Wander the maize-like streets visiting the Basilica of St Mark and St Mark Square, Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. There will be some free time before we are transferred to the port to embark on our cruise.


Sunday 29 July

Dubrovnik (B,L,D)

Lunchtime sees us back in this enchanting walled city. Dubrovnik staked its claim to glory during the 450 years it existed as the independent Ragusan Republic, shoulder to shoulder with mighty forces like Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Today, you have the chance to see things you may have missed or return to the polished limestone streets with their charming cafes, restaurants and shops.


Monday 30 July

Corfu, Greece (B,L,D)

This small Ionian island, only 40 miles long and 20 wide, is a highlight of many Mediterranean cruise itineraries, and it’s not hard to see why. Corfu is one of Greece’s most verdant and picturesque islands. Its lush interior, well-watered by winter rains and smothered in fragrant pine forests and dense olive groves, is studded with charmingly old-fashioned rural villages, Corfu Town on the island’s east coast is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you will find historic fortresses and the vast Spianada Square, the largest public square in the Balkans, as well as intriguing alleyways and spectacular statues and fountains, not to mention excellent shops and lively restaurants.


Tuesday 31 July

Santorini, Greece (B,L,D)

Here on the island of Santorini, you’ll find a classic Greek seascape—whitewashed houses accented by sea-blue roofs. This is a treasure trove for both professional and amateur archeology buffs, with sites that include tombs that date back to the 9th century and the sanctuary of Apollo.


Wednesday 01 August

Mykonos, Greece (B,L,D)

Mykonos is known for its whitewashed villages sprinkled with blue and jade green. It’s also famous for its sophisticated nightlife. The most popular island in the Cyclades is bustling with activity, awash in beautiful alleyways, and home to alluring sandy beaches.


 Thursday 02 August

Cruising – At Sea

Enjoy a day relaxing on board as you cruise the Mediterranean


Friday 03 August

Naples (B,L,D)

As we dock in Naples, look up the hillside to a Norman castle overlooked by a royal palace and above them all, Castel Sant Elmo. Look further and you will see the unmistakable shape of Vesuvius. Over the centuries, Naples was ruled by many European families and many are represented by statues on the façade of Palazzo Reale. The city is home to many architectural highlights and its broad avenues contrast with its narrow alleyways. Naples is a gateway to many key destinations – Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri and Ischia. Don’t forget to try the local pizza.


Saturday 04 August

Rome – Hong Kong (B)

Sadly, this morning, it’s time to disembark at the port of Civitavecchia outside of Rome as our thoughts turn towards home and we are transferred to the airport in time to join the early afternoon flight to Hong Kong.


Sunday 05 August

Hong Kong – Home

We arrive into Hong Kong early this morning and have the full day free. Hotel rooms at the airport are provided for the day to allow for rest and relaxation. This evening, we continue the homeward journey as we join our overnight flight.


Monday 06 August

Home

Arrival time is mid-morning. Welcome Home!


 

 

 

 

Map

Prices

Tour Costs Per Person

Sharing Twin Room / Ocean View Stateroom: $15,950
Supplement for Single accommodation: $4,460

Sharing Twin Room / Balcony Stateroom: $16,580
Supplement for Single accommodation: $5,510

Costs Include
  • Economy Class air travel from Auckland. Upgrade to Premium Economy or Business Class available – price available on request
  • Prepaid airport, government , security, fuel charges (as at 01.09.17)
  • First class or superior grade hotels
  • Ocean View or Balcony Staterooms on cruise
  • First class air conditioned coach transportation
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary – B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary
  • Services of touring guide and local guides as appropriate
  • All tips and gratuities to coach drivers, touring and local guides and cruise staff
  • Baggage handling of one suitcase per person
  • Escorted by a Maher Tours Leader

Costs Exclude
  • Any meals, sightseeing tours and fees not specifically mentioned in the itinerary
  • Shore excursions during the cruise – information and assistance supplied
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone charges etc.

“We have travelled with Maher Tours many times and always enjoyed the variation and contract each tour brings. Accommodation is excellent and in well appointed areas. The luxury coaches are very comfortable.

Every tour we meet new travelling friends who are great company and lots of fun. The experienced tour leader gives you the reassurance of safe travelling and take the worry out of ‘touring timetables’ we enjoy travelling with Maher Tours and look forward to our next adventure.”
– Mark and Joan Wilson

“There were more than a few highlights. A lovely evening on our 50th wedding anniversary, thanks for the drinks. Especially enjoyed Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Split and Hvar, and Lake Ohrid.”
– C&R B

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Need Assistance?

By Phone: 0800 500 518 | By Email: info@mahertours.co.nz