Days
11
Price from
$1,780USD

Get ready for the ultimate adventure from the Balkans to the Mediterranean.

Climb aboard and get ready for one heck of a ride through Eastern Europe. Kick off in Budapest, the city of spas and piping hot goulash stew, before rambling south through Belgrade’s (in)famous nightlife and Skopje’s quirky streets. Like a bolt from Zeus, touch down in Greece and catch some waves in chilled out Nei Pori, then chase down the perfect souvla in the streets of Athens. Whether it’s palinka, rakija or ouzo, these Balkan states know how to have a good time in any language. Just come prepared for a hearty three-kiss hello.


Start
Budapest, Hungary
Finish
Athens, Greece
Countries
Greece, Hungary, Macedonia, Serbia
Code
GEBE
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18 , Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Is there any better way to see Europe than by rail? Not only is it an environmentally-friendly and comfortable way to travel, you and your friends get to see the incredible scenery pass right outside your window.

  • Budapest’s charming bridges and criss-crossing streets were made for walking. Enjoy a breathtakingly scenic walk through this romantic city and see the Danube – Europe’s second longest river!

  • Wander through Belgrade’s Bohemian quarter and grand 19th-century boulevards, before launching yourself into its animated nightlife.

  • Sitting alongside its Ottoman past, the Macedonian capital of Skopje has reinvented its centre with gleaming neo-classical monuments and buildings, adding a new layer to this fascinating city.

  • Uncover thousands of years of civilisation in Athens with a visit to the world-famous Acropolis and the ancient Agora.

  • There's nothing quite like dining on rich and hearty moussaka or grilled lamb and tzatziki in a traditional Greek tavern. Just wash it all down with a shot (or two) of ouzo.

Is this trip right for you?

  • You'll mostly travel by train, which means you can avoid traffic jams and arrive right in the city centres. European trains are comfortable and always have toilets, but they can be quite busy at times. Remember that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so try not to exceed our weight and size recommendations (see the 'Packing' section of the trip notes for more details).

  • This trip is for travellers who appreciate a bit of independence. You'll get plenty of free time in each location to make your own choices and do your own activities. Your leader will always be there to give you tips and suggestions.

  • Cobblestones are so charming and romantic, until you need to wheel a suitcase across them. It's a generally a good idea to bring a backpack instead.

  • As accommodation on this trip is multi-share, single travellers will share a room with (an)other traveller(s) of the same gender, mostly twin, triple and quad share. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can! Hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but two single beds that can be pushed together/apart. Please also note that most of the accommodations used on this trip offer shared bathrooms, rather than ensuite facilities, and rooms can seem rather small by American or Australian standards.

Itinerary

Welcome to Budapest! Since the collapse of Communism, Budapest has experienced something of a renaissance. Glamourous and glitzy shops and restaurants now sit alongside old-world architecture and groomed boulevards. One unmissable activity is to soak in the city’s hot thermal baths. There are loads of these around the city centre and they range from classy and elegant to simple outdoor types. Some even have chess boards (so you can keep your brain busy while your body relaxes).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Urban Adventures - Buda Castle Explorer - EUR44
  • Urban Adventures - Bites & Sights - EUR63
  • Urban Adventures - Happy Hour Budapest - EUR58
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check with the hotel reception or the hotel noticeboard for where and when this meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you might want to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, just let the hotel reception know. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so be sure to have these ready for your leader.
This morning you have the option to join your leader on a short orientation walk of the city. Afterwards you have a free day to spend in Budapest. Exploring the historical Buda castle is definitely one way to do it. Forget about the bustling city and lose yourself in the history of Buda castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings. The winding streets of the Castle District date back to the 13th century. Plus there’s an old, mid-19th century local pastry shop there! Alternatively, join your leader on a trip to Szimpla Kert, one of Budapest's famous ruin bars. They originated as squats hidden in inconspicuous side streets, and have since become an inherent part of Budapest's night life. In the evening, board an overnight train to Belgrade.
Accommodation
  • Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Visit to Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar
Optional Activities
  • Hungarian National Museum - HUF1600
  • Budapest Central Market - Free
  • Parliament Tour - HUF5200
  • Bike Ride - HUF6000
  • House of Terror - HUF2000
  • Hungarian State Opera House Tour - HUF3000
  • Transport and Entry to Statue Park - HUF5000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Wake up in Serbia in time to see the train pull into station. Also known as the ‘White City’, Serbia’s capital takes pride of place straddling the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers. Settle in at the hostel and then get to know the surrounding area with an optional orientation walk with your leader. After that it’s open slather. The bohemian quarter of Skadarlija is the perfect place to let your hair down and try some local food, or you can walk the ramparts of the imposing Kalemagdan Fortress. At night there’s no shortage of trendy clubs and smoky bars to visit where you can shout a hearty ‘zivjeli’ while drinking rakija with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a sleep in (you deserve it) and then tackle a second big day in Belgrade. The day is all yours to explore, so ask your leader for some insider tips on how to spend your time. Perhaps sign up for a cruise along the Danube River, passing Kalemagdan Fortress, Pancevo Bridge and the artist village of Zemun. Maybe check out the Nikola Tesla Museum and learn about the life and work of Serbia's greatest inventor. Travelling in summer? Pack a towel and join the locals at Ada Ciganlija beach, where you can swim, take part in water-sports or simply soak up the sun with a cocktail. For dinner pick up a plate of cevap (little meat sausages) and prebranac, a Serbian take on baked beans. Continue exploring Belgrade’s nightlife by visiting one of the floating bars on the river.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Nikola Tesla Museum - RSD500
  • Military Museum - RSD150
  • Ethnographic Museum - RSD150
  • Danube River Cruise - RSD500
  • Guided Tour Belgrade - EUR60
  • Sveti Sava Church - Free
  • Tito’s Mausoleum (House of Flowers) - RSD400
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning hop onto another train to Skopje, Macedonia's capital city (approximately 3 hours). Devouring gozleme and baklava is probably at the top of your list but take the time to check out one of the city’s 30 mosques, innumerable caravanserais and hamams. Failing that, eat your gozleme while simply walking through the narrow lanes of Carsija, Skopje's most atmospheric neighbourhood. The Museum of the City of Skopje, which is housed inside an old railway station, is also worth seeing for its unusual, partially ruined facade (the result of an earthquake in 1963). The clock on the outside is stuck at 5:17, the exact moment the earthquake struck.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is another free day in Skopje, so why not venture out of town and check out Matka Canyon – a deep ravine cut into the Suva mountains by the Treska River, 15 kilometres southwest of the city. Here you’ll find caves, 70 different species of butterflies (count ‘em, we’ll wait) and several medieval monasteries. There is also Vrelo cavern nearby, a water-filled cave with incredible stalagmites and as-yet unchartered depths. Some experts believe it might even be the deepest underwater cave in the world. If caves and stalactites aren’t your thing, you can also tackle one of the many nature walks in the canyon. In the evening, grab your crew for dinner in the Old Bazaar or at the restaurants in the Debar Maalo area.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kale Fortress - Free
  • Matka Canyon Boat Ride - MKD139
  • Museum of the City of Skopje - Free
  • Holocaust Memorial Centre - Free
  • Daut Pasha Hammam - MKD50
  • Mount Vodno Cable Car to Millennium Cross - MKD100
  • Day Trip to Matka Canyon - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Catch a bus ride this morning and arrive in cosmopolitan Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece! Thessaloniki is largely considered the cultural capital of Greece, with plenty of shopping, nightlife and entertainment. After settling in, head out to the waterfront and visit the White Tower or check out some of the city’s many Ottoman and Roman ruins. Thessaloniki’s food scene combines 2,000 years of history to create an intriguing mix of French, Balkan and Mediterranean flavours (plus a dash of Eastern spices too). There are plenty of eateries to try around the Roman Agora, so why not try an authentic souvlaki for dinner and wash it down with a Mythos beer. Thessaloniki has a large student population, which means there are plenty of thumping bars and nightclubs to explore come nightfall.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Urban Adventures - Tastes of Thessaloniki - EUR40
  • Urban Adventures - Hidden Markets of Thessaloniki - EUR27
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After a short train ride (approximately 1 hour), arrive in the laid back beach village of Nei Pori. Check into the hotel before taking a short orientation walk, including a visit to Nei Pori’s Old Town. After that, the rest of the day is free to do as you please. Get into a swimsuit and perhaps while away the day on Nei Pori’s white sand beaches.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Make the most of a second day in relaxing Nei Pori. Perhaps head out to Mount Olympus, Greece's first national park. It is the highest mountain in Greece and the second highest in the Balkans, with a height of 2918m. The mountain is famous in Greek mythology as it is the dwelling of the twelve Olympian gods, headed by Zeus. Mytikas peak was the gods' meeting place, and Stefani peak was the Throne of Zeus from where he was said to have displayed his mighty power by throwing thunderbolts. Head out for a hike along the lush forested ravines and ridges of the mountain - there are several options from 3 to 6 hours. Your leader will be able to help you arrange transport. Back in Nei Pori you’ll find a range of differently flavoured ouzo and tispouro in the many shops, so pick up a bottle to share this afternoon or take back home. After more lazing on the beach, get ready for a night out at Nei Pori’s beach bars or head to the nightclubs in nearby Platamon.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning catch yet another train to arrive in Athens, the heart of Greece and centre of the ancient world. This incredible city was given a face lift in the lead up to the 2004 Olympics, which means it has updated streets and architecture plus all the Old World charm of the Acropolis, Pantheon and more. All of the highlights can be easily seen on a walk of the city, so don’t forget to check out the original Olympic Stadium and swing by Syntagma Square to see the changing of the guards (featuring a very dramatic and pom-pom filled walk). Another highlight is the Acropolis Museum, where you can walk over ancient ruins encased in glass. Later tonight, why not enjoy a farewell meze dinner with your crew. Toast the end of this railway adventure with a shot (or two) of ouzo.
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Lycabettus Hill - Free
  • National Archaeological Museum - EUR7
  • Acropolis Pass for 5 Sites - EUR20
  • Day Trip to Delphi - EUR33
  • Numismatic Museum - EUR3
  • Dora Stratou - EUR15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This adventure comes to an end today and there are no activities planned. You are able to depart at any time. There’s so much to see and do in Athens so we don’t blame you if you’re planning on sticking around a little longer. We can arrange additional accommodation for you on request (subject to availability) and also set you up on one of our Urban Adventure day trips, such as ‘Taste of Athens’ or ‘Markets, Ruins and Ancient Athens’. Please enquire at the time of booking.
Optional Activities
  • Urban Adventures - Taste of Athens - EUR68
  • Urban Adventures - Walking Athens - EUR55
  • Urban Adventures - Bohemian Tales of the City - EUR70
  • Urban Adventures - Twilight Athens - EUR91
  • Urban Adventures - Total Athens - EUR169
  • Urban Adventures - Locals on Tap - EUR25
  • Urban Adventures - Markets, Ruins & Ancient Athens - EUR58
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

5 breakfasts

Transport

Train, Overnight sleeper train

Accommodation

Hostel (8 nights), Hotel (1 night), Overnight train (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Visit to Szimpla Kert Ruin Bar

Dates & availability

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Important notes

START AND END TIME
This adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6:00pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.

ITINERARY
You don't have a lot of time in Athens at the the end of the trip, so if you're keen to explore this spectacular city in depth we recommend you add on a few days after the trip. Please ask a Geckos Travel Consultant for more information.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.