Are you ready for a new Balkan adventure? Imagine yourself cruising the Danube during the early May bank holiday in 2018.
Level of Activity:
Duration: 8 days
Dates: 5 May 2018 – 12 May 2018
Having researched this trip in the spring, we’ll be taking you to a very special place on the border between Serbia and Romania, to hike and explore nature and history, including prehistoric settlements dating from 9500 BC.
Although we love to hike most of all, we also like to enjoy ourselves and relax, so one of our bases for this trip is the thermal spa town of Baile Herculane in Romania. If the healing properties of the thermal waters were good enough to relax Hercules, they should do the trick for tired Londoners.
You will also be able to see the hip capital of Serbia, Belgrade, one of the four European capitals that lies on the River Danube. The Danube has its source in the mountains of Germany and ends in the Black Sea in Romania.
The Danube’s Iron Gate is considered to be one of the most spectacular sections of the river. Early human settlements can be found in this section, and archaeologists have identified the Iron Gates Mesolithic culture, which existed here between 13000 and 5000 BC.
So if you want to experience two different countries, see the first ever settlements in southern Europe, relax in thermal spas, eat amazing food and drink wines that the Romans appreciated – and do some hiking, of course – then this is the right trip for you. Spring is the best time to visit this area and enjoy its lush forests and warm sunshine.
Day 1: We arrive at Belgrade airport just after midnight to meet our guide Mio, who will take us to the Holiday Inn in the centre of Belgrade.
Day 2: After a late breakfast at 9am, we leave Belgrade to head towards the town of Donji Milanovac. This transfer will take about two and a half hours, but we will stop at Golubachka fortress (the Dove fortress) and have a short walk around it.
We will stop for lunch at one of the many good fish restaurants close to the River Danube before proceeding to our next stop, Lepenski Vir, a neolithic site from 9500 BC, said by archaeologists to be the “first city in Europe”.
After arriving in Donji Milanovac in the afternoon, we will take a mini-cruise on the Danube to the village of Tekija. This is the most attractive part of the Danube in the area between Romania and Serbia, known as the Iron Gate, a name given to it by the Ottomans because of the natural formations around the river. We will have dinner on the riverbank before checking into our hotel.
Day 3: Breakfast and then a short transfer to the starting point of our hike. Our hike today is a circular one, with the highest point being Strbac peak, a viewpoint overlooking the Danube and the Iron Gate. The total walk today is 14km (9mi), with 750m (2460ft) ascent and 750m (2460ft) descent. We will have a packed lunch and a picnic during the hike. In the evening we will go to the “Captain Mising Breg” eco-village, which is 6km (4mi) away from Donji Milanovac.
Day 4: After breakfast we will take our luggage to the van, as we are now leaving our accommodation and continuing towards the spa town of Baile Herculane in Romania.
We should be ready to start our hike after checking out of our accommodation. The transfer will take an hour and a half, and we will be crossing the border across the dam on the River Danube.
Today we are hiking to the summit of the Domogled Mountains, a national park. This is a circular walk, and we will be joined by a ranger from the national park, who will tell us more about the indigenous plants and animals that live there. We will be doing 11km (7mi) of walking, with 1,020m (3346ft) of ascent and 1,000m (3281ft) of descent. We will stay overnight in the Hotel Aphrodite, which used to be an elite hotel during the communist era. The exterior of the hotel is still just like it was in communist times, but the interior has been modernised and the hotel is now offering spa services and has one of the best restaurants in the town of Baile Herculane.
Day 5: After breakfast we will set off hiking, this time to the peak of Valea Lui Stan in the Domogled National Park, on a circular walk with 1,100m (3609ft) of ascent and descent, which can be extended to 20km (12.5mi).
Today we will have lunch with a local family, to meet Romanians who live in this border area and taste their local cuisine. In the evening, we will go to the Hotel Roman, which has a Roman-style spa and swimming pool. After relaxing in the spa we will have dinner and go back to our hotel.
Day 6: Today we are hiking in the Domogled National Park again, accompanied by a ranger. This national park is nested in the southern Carpathian mountains, in the basin of the River Cerna. It has many waterfalls and caves, but the section where we are hiking is ideal for spring, because it is lower in altitude and very pleasant in May.
We will have a circular walk, 16km (10mi) long and with 750m (2460ft) of ascent and descent. We will have dinner in one of the many restaurants in the spa town.
Day 7: After breakfast we will be leaving for Belgrade, stopping for lunch along the way. We will not reach Belgrade until the afternoon, as this is our longest transfer on this trip. We are staying in the same hotel as before, the Holiday Inn, which has recently been refurbished and is in the centre of Belgrade. The hotel is perfectly located for us to have a short stroll and get to know the city better before dinner. We will have dinner in the old bohemian part of Belgrade, called Skadarlija, which has many authentic restaurants.
Belgrade literally translates as “White City”, and is often described as adventurous, outspoken and audacious. While it hurtles towards a brighter future, its chaotic past unfolds before your eyes: socialist blocks are squeezed between art nouveau masterpieces, and remnants of the Habsburg legacy contrast with Ottoman relics. “Kafana’s” coffee houses, ice-cream parlours and smoky dens all find their rightful place along Knez Mihailova, a lively pedestrian boulevard flanked by historical buildings that runs all the way to the ancient Kalemegdan Citadel, crown of the city.
Day 8: After breakfast we will have a guided tour of Belgrade and visit Kalemegdan, a fortress with amazing views of the rivers Sava and Danube.
Belgrade is one of the four European capitals that lie on the River Danube, and its citizens enjoy spending their free time by the river. We will have lunch in the Question Mark restaurant, which is almost 200 years old. We will leave for the airport before 4pm to catch our flight at 6.50pm.
The cost of this trip is £765, based on two people sharing a room.
A single room supplement is available at £150 extra.
What is included?
• 7 nights bed and breakfast at 3 and 4 star hotels
• Minibus transfers from and to airports (for the recommended flights only)
• All transfers from and to the cities/sites and spas that we will be visiting
• All guided hikes with an English-speaking Serbian or Romanian mountain guide/ranger
• Lunch packs on hiking days
• A boat cruise on the Danube river
• Travel/health insurance – please arrange your own in order to be able to join this trip
• Flights – you need to purchase your own flights to and from Belgrade
• Lunches and dinners in restaurants
• Personal expenses for drinks or souvenirs
• Spa admission
• Museum admission
• Lunch with locals, which costs £10 per person
Wizzair flight from London Luton to Belgrade
Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 21:20, arriving in Belgrade at 00:55, flight number W6 4002
Wizzair flight from Belgrade to London Luton
Saturday, 12 May 2018 departing at 18:50, arriving at 20:50, flight number W6 4001
Book early to get the best flight price!
You can book this trip by clicking the BOOK NOW button on our web site or by sending us an email. Please book the recommended flights after you receive our confirmation of availability. We provide transport from and to the airport for the recommended flights only.