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Lyuba Tours 2007 Privacy Policy
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Available tour dates:
24 September - 7 October 2023 (available)
Our Wild Balkans just got wilder! This year we are spending more time in Kosovo, a night in a Greek village on the Albanian Riviera, and we explore much more of Albania and Macedonia. This tour will open many windows: to how people live and dream, how they've organised their life, how they relate to their neighbours from across the border, across the village or even across their garden fence. History, culture and nature are vital to understanding this region, and all feature strongly in this tour. We focus on areas off-the-beaten trail: beautiful Korce in Albania; Krushevo in Macedonia; Janjevo in Kosovo; Novi Pazar in Serbia. We take back roads. We use little known border crossings where only local people cross. Every stop is a memorable experience, and it brings you closer to Balkan culture as lived.
MACEDONIA: OHRID LAKE / 1 night - KRUSHEVO/1 night - TETOVO - SKOPJE /1 night
Day 1, Sunday
Welcome to the Balkans!

Arrive in Belgrade. We will pick you up at the airport. On the way from the airport we will stop to have a look at the very interesting Aviation Museum, with hundreds of airplanes exhibited inside a large geodesic dome. Transfer to our trendy hotel in the heart of old Belgrade. We will meet in the afternoon for a tour of Old Belgrade, then head to nearby Zemun, where we will have our welcome dinner at a unique chic restaurant housed in an apartment in a common residential building. Welcome to the Balkans!
If you decide to start (and end) your tour in Sofia, Bulgaria, we offer a transfer from Sofia to Belgrade, on the way stopping at Nis, Serbia's third largest city, and exploring a bit of southern Serbia, off the beaten trail. Please check our website's section Day Tours for more information, or get in touch with us. 

Overnight in Belgrade, Serbia, at Square Nine hotel, one night. Dinner.
Day 2, Monday
Topola-Novi Pazar

We will start early after breakfast. We will drive south, stopping to see Tito's old Blue Train, then a unique socialist monument, on top of a hill, dominating the landscape. Our next stop will be the Aleksandrovic winery, near Topola, for a wine tour and tasting. Then we continue south to Novi Pazar, in the heart of Sandzhak, a Bosnian-Muslim town near the borders with Kosovo and Montenegro. In the outskirts of Novi Pazar we will have a look at the Petrova crkva, a stunning medieval church that's inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. We will stay at a cosy new hotel in Novi Pazar. Before dinner we will take a walk along the narrow winding streets of Novi Pazar - it can't get more Ottoman than this! Let's have a glimpse at the old Ottoman hamam, and then have dinner in a local Bosniak Muslim eatery.

Overnight in Novi Pazar, Serbia, at Elements hotel, one night. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 3, Tuesday
Kosovska Mitrovica-Pristina-Gračanica
In the morning, after a really good breakfast, we depart to Kosovo. In about hour and thirty minutes we will reach Kosovska Mitrovica, the divided Serbian-Albanian town. We will walk the bridge that once saw a lot of action during the Kosovo conflict. It’s a unique bridge - that both divides and unites the communities. Both Albanian and Serbian-Kosovar police and NATO troops stand on the bridge, guarding the peace. After Kosovska Mitrovica we depart to Pristina, Kosovo’s young capital. We will have a walk, stopping at the stunning library and the Bill Clinton statue, before grabbing lunch in a popular restaurant. In the afternoon we will continue to nearby Gracanica, where we will check in at the comfortable modern Gracanica hotel. Some free time to rest, and then we will have a cosy dinner at the hotel restaurant. 

Overnight in Gracanica, Kosovo, at Gracanica hotel, two nights. Breakfast, dinner. 
Day 4, Wednesday

We will have a late morning. Then a short, 15-minute drive to the village of Janjevo, which is a sizeable Croat minority lives. We will have a tour of what is Kosovo’s prettiest village, including the school, the former vineyards, the mosque and the Catholic church. We will have a home-cooked lunch in Janjevo. On the way back we will have a tour of the stunning Gracanica monastery, a UNESCO-World Heritage Site. Dinner, and a concert at our hotel by a local Gypsy band.  

Overnight in Gracanica, at Gracanica hotel, second night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5, Thursday
Prizren-Koman lake-Tirana.

We start, after breakfast, to the nearby town of Prizren, perhaps Kosovo’s most charming and liveliest town, in the foothills of the Shar mountains - the same mountains that we will also see from Skopje! We will have a walk in central Prizren, taking a drink, and we continue to cross the border with Albania, at the small and remote Qafe Morine - Gjakova crossing, that sees very few tourists and locals! We will drive to the hamlet of Fierza, from where we will board the local ferry across Koman lake. We will have our picnic lunch onboard the ferry. Most of the other travellers on the ferry will be locals, getting off or boarding at various hamlets along the shore. This is one of the world’s most unique boat rides! About two hours and thirty minutes from the start it ends at the Koman dam. We will use local transport to get us down to the nearest village, where our minibus will wait to drive us to Tirana. We will have dinner in a fabulous Albanian restaurant on the way - in this way letting the rush hour in Tirana pass (or we will be stuck for another hour or more in traffic). We will arrive in Tirana in the evening. We will check in at the ultra comfortable high-rise Plaza hotel, right in the heart of the city, offering the best views in town. 

Overnight in Tirana, Albania, at Plaza hotel, two nights. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. 
Day 6, Friday

A late start today - have a good sleep, enjoy the views from your room, or take a morning walk around the hotel. We will have a walk along the Skanderbeg Square, having a look at the Et’Hem mosque and the House of Leaves, Tirana’s most intriguing museum, housed inside the former secret police quarters. Then we will head to the outskirts of town to have lunch in a lively local (simple but tasty!) restaurant, and stopping at Bunk’Art, another fascinating museum, housed inside Enver Hoxha’s secret bunker. Bunk’Art offers a unique perspective on the dramatic past (and present) of Albania. In the afternoon we will be back at our hotel. Free time to rest or explore the city (perhaps visit the History Museum on the central square, just two minutes on foot from our hotel?). In the evening we will meet for a walk and dinner at the trendy Blloku neighbourhood, which once housed Albania’s political elite and was beyond limits to ordinary citizens. Blloku is now where the cool girls and boys hang out. 

Overnight in Tirana, Albania, at Plaza hotel, second night. Breakfast, lunch.
Day 7, Saturday
Berat - Albanian Riviera

This will be day with the prettiest and most dramatic scenery, as we go along the Adriatic coast. First we will stop in Elbasan, Albania's most polluted town - with remnants of Maoist-era built industries, now mostly in ruin. We will then drive through Albania's oil fields, and stop for a walk and a light lunch in the town of picturesque town of Berat. We will then stop for a walk and drink at the charming modern seaside town of Vlore. Then we leave the highway, and ascend the mountains, before dropping down to sea level once again. The vistas will be dramatic! We will stop at several traditional villages. At Himare village, populated mostly by Albanian Greeks, we will have a look at the old castle and church of St John on top. Afterwards we will check in at a new modern hotel by the water. Enjoy a couple of hours to go for a swim, walk, or rest. We will have dinner in a local Greek tavern.

Overnight in Himare. Breakfast, lunch.
Day 8, Wednesday

After breakfast we continue along the coast, stopping at Porto Palermo to have a look at the old naval (submarine) bunker in the distance. We will stop at the ruins of ancient Butrint, one of the most spectacular Greek-Roman-medieval cities in the Adriatic and Mediterranean. We will take the short cable ferry, have lunch in a local tavern, and then depart for Gjirokaster, our last UNESCO Site in Albania. We will check in at a comfortable, central hotel, and visit one of the famous fortified houses in Gjirokaster. A couple of hours free to walk to the fortress or go shopping for local crafts (this is the place in Albania!). We will have dinner at a superb small local restaurant. 

Overnight in Gjirokaster, at Argjiro hotel, one night. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 9, Thursday

After breakfast we continue north-east. We drive across the mighty Viosa river (which we also crossed yesterday near Vlore on the coast) to the mountain town of Permat, where we will enjoy a little walk. This is the most untouristy part of Albania, and it is also one of the prettiest. We will enjoy some spectacular vistas on the narrow road to Greece. We will cross at the Three Corners border, to enjoy a walk and lunch at a very cosy wildlife resort, before continuing to Korce, one of Albania's most charming towns - still almost untouched by mass tourism! We will drive through one of the prettiest, and most isolated parts of Albania. There is plenty of interesting historic sights on the way. We will check in at the new Hani-i-Pazarit hotel in Korce. We will have some time to rest, and then enjoy dinner in this really interesting town.

Overnight in Korce, at Hani i Pazarit hotel, two nights. Breakfast, lunch.
Day 10, Tuesday
Korce and around

Morning is free: you can have a late breakfast, or explore more of Korca. The city is incredibly beautiful and interesting, and has two fantastic museums to explore - the Gjon Mili Museum of photography, and the National Medieval Art museum. At lunch we will meet, and drive to the nearby village of Voskopolje, where we will have a simple but hearty lunch in a local tavern. We will visit two of Voskopolje’s medieval churches, dating back to when this sleepy hamlet was a booming trade town - before it was raided and destroyed, around 250 years ago. Late afternoon back in Korce. We will walk to a local restaurant for dinner (you can join us, or go to an alternative place, including the Korca Brewery). 

Overnight in Korce, at Hani i Pazarit hotel, second night.
Day 11, Wednesday
Prespa-Ohrid lake-Ohrid

After breakfast we start towards the Macedonian border. We cross the quiet border at beautiful Prespa Lake, and descend to Ohrid lake (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We will stop at the Monastery of St Naum, where we will take a rowing boat ride across the crystal clear springs of Ohrid. For lunch we will continue to the town, enjoying a walk along the lake promenade, having a look at one of the town’s historic 365 churches. Check in at our comfortable villa, and some free time to enjoy the town or take a dip in the lake. Dinner on your own. 

Overnight in Ohrid, Villa Ohrid, one night. Breakfast.

Day 12, Thursday

We won’t have breakfast at our hotel, but instead go out for a traditional fish soup breakfast on the lake shore. Then we will do a tour of the town, including the fortress and the university, and the famous church of Kaneo. Check out from our hotel, and we head across the mountains to Bitola, Macedonia’s second city, where we will enjoy lunch and see the Roman ruins of Heracleia, and Krusevo, Macedonia’s highest town, located at 4429 feet above sea level. At Krusevo we will check in at a comfortable and memorable hotel that offers unparalleled views of the town below - watch out for the dramatic sunrise over town the next morning! We will walk down (or take the minibus) to a popular local tavern serving tasty, simple local food. Let’s join the fun, this is the real Macedonia! 

Overnight in Krusevo, at Montana Palace Hotel, one night. Breakfast, dinner.

Day 13, Friday

We start after a late breakfast. We will go and see the Makedonium monument, dedicated to the anniversary of the Illinden anti-Ottoman Uprising of 1903. That monument is one of the most unusual socialist-era spomeniks, or memorials. Then we continue north, towards Skopje. We will stop at the town of Tetovo, which has one of Macedonia’s largest ethnic Albanian populations. We will have a look at the colourful central mosque, perhaps the most beautiful mosque Yuri has ever seen. We will grab lunch nearby in a local byurek bakery - with some of the tastiest Albanian-Macedonian-Balkan byurek! In the afternoon we will arrive in Skopje, Macedonia’s capital. We will check in at our modern and stylish Solun hotel right off the central Macedonia square. Some time to rest, and in the late afternoon we will head out to have a tour of Skopje (when the big earthquake destroyed much of the city), including some of the recent redevelopments of the city, and the market. Time to visit one museum in town. We will have dinner at a local hip brewery.  

Overnight in Skopje, at Solun hotel, one night. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 14, Saturday
Tour over after breakfast. Transfer to the airport in time for your flight. If you rather decide to drive to Bulgaria, we offer a day tour/transfer to Sofia, starting after breakfast. The day will include a visit to the town of Kratovo (inside the crater of an old volcano) famous for its tower houses; the old church in Staro Nagorichane and the Monastery of St Joachim of Osogovo. Please check our Day tour section for more information, or get in touch with us.
€3140 per person, sharing double or twin room, €580 single supplement.
The number of travellers is limited to 10.
Price includes
  • Accommodation in carefully selected hotels in Belgrade, Novi Pazar, Gracanica, Tirana, Himare, Gjirokaster, Korce, Ohrid, Krushevo, Skopje.
  • All meals according to program. Tips for the waiters included, alcohol mostly not included.
  • Transportation with an air-conditioned minibus, with all border and toll taxes and bribes, parking fees, daily allowance and accommodation for the driver.
  • English speaking guide throughout the tour, including guide-accommodation and daily allowance.
  • Local tour guides in (tips included) Tirana, Skopje, and possibly at other places/sights, too.
  • Tickets for all museums and sights according to the itinerary.
  • Ferry ride on Lake Koman.
  • Mineral water on the bus.
  • A welcome pack including maps, brochures, gifts, etc.
Price does not include
  • Personal medical/travel insurance.
  • Tips for driver and guide.
  • Any other additional personal costs: laundry, phone calls, etc.
  • Independent meals according to the itinerary
  • Flights in and out of the region
Important information and booking conditions
Reservations and payment

Please fill in the Reservation Form with all details needed and send it to or A deposit, upon booking, at the amount of €500 per person is required to assure your place. The final payment is to be made no later than three months before the tour.

Extra nights in Belgrade, Skopje and transfers

If you want to spend an extra night or two or more prior or after the tour, we can make a reservation for you or you can make a direct arrangement with the hotel. We can also recommend a nearby hotel which may be cheaper. Please note that we have included airport transfers in the price - advice us of your arrival and departure times. We are happy to organise transfers to and from Sofia, at the beginning of end of the tour, if you decide to fly to Sofia instead.


We love arranging flights, but in this case, we won’t. You are responsible for booking your flight ticket. We can always help you with an advice. We’ve flown on all the airlines, and we’ve made all the airport connections, so we can share some tips, if you need them. You may find more or cheaper flights flying to Sofia. Belgrade has direct flights to New York City.

Tour information

Once we get your deposit, us folks at Lyuba Tours will immediately send a confirmation of space by e-mail. We will also send reading materials, music and more information about the country: what to bring, what to expect, money, weather, food and other wise. We will send all this by snail mail or email. About a month before the tour, we will send you hotel and rooming lists, emergency numbers and any last-min- ute notes. We will be happy if you meet payment and document submittal deadlines to insure we have time to post your materials. Upon arrival in Serbia, you will find even more stuff awaiting you: maps, phrasebooks, postcards, and more.

Customs and entry requirements

For this trip you require a passport with at least six months validity following the last day of the tour. That pass- port should have a blank page for a stamp. No visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania for fewer than 90 days. If you don't happen to be a U.S. citizen, please make sure you have whatever documents are necessary to enter (and exit) Bulgaria. We can help with this as well. Regulations are subject to change, and we will try to inform you of the latest changes.

Travel insurance

We strongly advise you to have a travel insurance for the trip. Situations may arise, voluntarily or involuntarily, in which the traveler cancels. We can recommend a comprehensive travel insurance plan, if you don't have one already. Insurance should cover trip cancellation, lost or damaged baggage, medical needs, and certain trav-
el-related accidents. We highly recommend trip-cancellation insurance. Although please do read the insurance company's fine print, especially the section on 'pre-existing conditions'.

Ground transportation

We will travel across the Balkans in a comfortable, air-conditioned private minibus. Smoking is NOT permitted on the vehicle. We may also use some local means of transport.

Health regulations

No inoculations are required. Please see the CDC's website for recommendations: We suggest you check with your doctor for medical advice regarding the trip and your health. It is also suggested you discuss updating your tetanus and diphtheria booster.

Health considerations

To get the most out of a tour, a traveler should be in good physical and mental health, able and willing to walk, climb steps, and participate in group events. This trip requires moderate walking, sometimes over uneven or cobbled streets or paths. If assistance is needed, a participant should travel with a companion. You must also be able to carry your own hand luggage, so please go light! Any physical or mental disability requiring special help or assistance must be noted in writing on the reservation form.

Opportunities for adventure

This tour is designed for those interested in learning everything about the Balkans. We will present you with all sorts of perspectives, and you will see many shades of this fascinating part of the world.
Also, this is a moderately active program ('soft' adventure). Since some of the travel will be in remote areas, travel participants need to be flexible concerning time schedules, food and weather. Roads may be bumpy. Don't expect to find things exactly as they are at home! If that were the case, why travel? Occasionally, we may experience delays, alterations in the plans, some discomforts and inconveniences. But we will also experience a different culture and our minds and souls will be expanded! A spirit of adventure and tolerance is absolutely fundamental to participation in any of our tours.

Wandering Policy

We encourage everyone to partake in all the sightseeing and special activities. We've spent months research- ing and preparing a full and exciting program. However, if you would like to venture out on your own, or take personal time for rest or shopping, you may do so. This is your trip! We only ask that you alert our group leader and guide when you will be separating and rejoining the group. Please take extra security precautions with your belongings and yourself.

Changes in itinerary

Every effort will be made to operate this tour in accordance with the itinerary shown, including all activities as advertised. Museums and features are subject to scheduling. Occasionally, changes are made to improve an
itinerary or enhance a certain feature. Unforeseen local conditions beyond our control may prevent the completion of an itinerary or require alterations in an itinerary. These local conditions can include inclement weather, seasonal variations in climate, changes in airline schedules and equipment, government appropriation of hotel space, and other events beyond our control that would jeopardize the traveler's comfort, safety, health, or enjoyment. In these cases, the right is reserved to substitute hotels, and to alter the itinerary for the comfort and safety of the travelers. The right is also reserved to cancel the tour prior to departure.

Cancellations and refunds

Should Lyuba Tours cancel a departure for the reason of insufficient number of participants to operate the tour with no increase in cost, a full refund of all monies paid will be made.
On the participant's part, cancellation or change of date will result in a per person cancellation fee of €500, irrespective of reason up to 90 days before the tour. Cancellation made 89 days to 30 days before the tour will result in a cancellation fee of €750. From 29 days before the tour, the cancellation fee will be at the amount of the tour. Should your cancellation cause the number of participants to fall below the required number to operate the trip, and a replacement member cannot be found, the full portion of the trip will be forfeited. If a person requests a room share to avoid the single supplement and then cancels after final payment is made and a roommate has been assigned, then the person canceling forfeits the single supplement if a share cannot be found.
Should a person cancel a trip voluntarily, and if payment was made by a bank wire, the amount of bank wire expense charged to Lyuba Tours will be deducted from the refund amount.

Once the tour begins, no refund may be claimed for all or any part of the tour fee. Unused or changed hotel accommodations, transportation, or other services or features of the tour are neither refundable nor exchangeable.

Cancellations will only be accepted via e-mail, at or
A large part of what we make goes back to the community. We support disadvantaged kids and isolated, rural communities. We plan to invest even more time, effort and money on this. We also have plans to support, each year, one artist, in return for artwork we can use in our work. And not least, one day, hopefully soon, open a school for disadvantaged kids.
Questions and answers
What clothes should we pack? What will the weather be like?

Weather will be pleasant: this is the best time to travel the region, not too warm, not too cold. Rain and sudden drops in temperatures are still possible, though. Make sure you dress in layers, with a water and wind proof outer layer, and good sturdy walking shoes.

What is the difference between your Wild Balkans and your Western Balkans tour?
The Best of the Wild Balkans, and the Best of the Western Balkans tours are both similar and different from each other. 
The Wild Balkans is a tribute to the wild, spontaneous explorations we used to do years ago with Lyuba to places off the beaten trail; the Western Balkans is a tribute to the cultured, more epicurean trips we made to the region. 
The Wild Balkans is led by Yuri, and it takes place in autumn: when the leaves turn colourful, and the air starts cooling after the long, hot summer.
The Western Balkans is led by Stefan, and it takes place in spring, when everything has just turned green. 
Both tours include Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia.
In addition, the Wild Balkans includes Serbia and a dash through Greece. 
The Western Balkans includes Montenegro and Bulgaria. 
Meet your guide
Yuri is Lyuba's son. Travel is in his blood. He's been on the road since 28 days old. Ever since, he's visited 130 countries on all continents. He is enormously passionate about the world, about art, architecture and history.
He is eager to show you some of the Caucasus' and Central Asia's most splendid and least known corners, which he has explored for years. Yuri has a PhD in History.