a VirtualTourist member from Chicago
I'm in the really early stage of seeing if I can pull off a summer trip, hubby wants to do a swim race in Istanbul in July (hot, hot, hot I imagine) but it's not confirmed yet. I wanted to see a little of Serbia and/or Bosnia since Serbia is one major omission from my travel map. I've found that we can fly between Istanbul and Belgrade for not too much but if we were to continue on to Sarajevo from Belgrade, is it best just to fly? I see that there were trains and buses that take a good chunk of the day but if it's a scenic ride or if there's an interesting stop between the two, maybe we would do that instead of flying. Any thoughts?
I would fly since the most convinient train Belgrade-Istanbul via Sofia (last of the Orient Express route) is no more since Dec 9 2012. You have two options Turkish airlines or their budget of shoot Pegasusairlines http://www.flypgs.com/en/default.aspx Once in Belgrade recomend atleast two nighst, look on my Belgrade page for tips. All time fav stay is floating hostel/hotel ArkaBarka on danube with amazing views over Kalemegdan fortress and old city. Take bus http://www.bas.rs/ to just about anywhere in Serbia or Europe indeed. Now during the summer there are two major music festivals one in Novi Sad in Petrovaradin fortress-EXIT http://www.exitfest.org/sr and another one my fav Gucha bras bend festival http://www.guca.rs/ if I have choice I will take guca. There will be dedicated buse going to Uzice and onwards to Dragacevo, but you can organize your own transport specially if you are coming from Bosnia. There are numerous buses from Sarajevo and such . You can also visit the famous Shargan eight railway deep into the Mountains for scenic views zeleznicesrbije.com/active/s... or sarganskaosmica.rs/page10.ht... Also if you are into Nature visit Gjerdap NP on the Danube close to the Romanian border Erin VT member Tayloretc [original VT link]">[original VT link] spend few months there on my recomendation and I think she had fab time. You can also rent bikes and do some biking from Golubac to Donji Milanovac http://www.golubac.rs/ Let me know if you need more info or suggestions
I was going to ask about Pegasus, is it a reliable airline? The flight from Istanbul to Belgrade was really cheap and it was on Pegusus. Do they have luggage restrictions like Ryan Air etc?
Trains in the Balkans are a bit of an adventure. I speak from experience. In this case, a longer one that you might wish. Deutschebahn is showing 1 train daily that takes 32 hours and 42 min. You change trains in Zagreb with a 15 hour layover.
I'm checking on flights. Right now I'm not finding anything, but I will poke at some other routing. Flying in the Balkans isn't that easy.
I stand corrected. JAT flies BEG/SJJ non-stop, as does BH. JAT is the former national airline of Yugoslavia and BH is the Bosnia-Hercegovina airline. I'd have no trouble flying either, but would prefer JAT.
I have flown with them from Skopje to Istanbul as I did with Turkish. They are more than OK, I like them as they are similar to Jet2 in UK and Easyjet. OK I always travel with small up to10kg hand luggage. Ryanair thought me to pack efficiently. Pegasus rules for hand luggage are >This is baggage taken onto the plane by the passenger. Each passenger is permitted one item of carry-on baggage measuring 20 cm x 40 cm x 55 cm, and weighing a maximum of 8 kg. The following are allowed to be carried on board without subjected to extra cost. If there is no room in the cabin for these items, then they will be stowed in the hold and carried as checked baggage. Also allowance is 20kg or one bag of checked baggage free of charge. But as I go to Istanbul for few days to visit friends one bag hand luggage is enough. For you is much better as you are flying from the States and you need your luggage or space for souvenirs to take back ;) I am looking now, & they have offers for €50 per leg all in, which is not that bad. but I am also getting Turkish airlines alerts and they do have some extremely good deals.
To follow up, those BH flights are run by JAT so is the same either way LOL
I would do following: Fly to Istanbul, take Pegasus to Sarajevo (plenty flights) few days in Sarajevo, with side trip to Mostar, might have time to hit Vishegrad too, which is on the bus route to Uzice/Chahcak for Dragacevo and Guca Festival. Once the festival is over, day or so around Shargan 8 railroad. From there bus/tran to Belgrade. Couple of nights in Belgrade with side trip to Sremski Karlovci, lovely small town with Austro-Hungarian feel to it on the Danube, also day trip to Novi Sad or Smederevo.. bus to NIsh day and night back to Belgrade via Donji MIlanovac, take flight with Pegasus back to Istanbul...The last one (Nish) can be easily ommited if you dont have time. But if you did, than from Nish you can tke bus to Sofija in Bulgarija, day and night there than bus/train to Istanbul (just t let you know the route Sof-Ist will be very looooong drive, best part f 13-14hrs) for that istance only I would consider flying out back from Belgrade.
32 hours???? I was seeing quotes in the 7-8 hour range, maybe that was for a bus. And even that is more than I want to do unless the scenery is really spectacular!
Thanks Sally and Valentina! You've given me some place to start from, I have been to Sofia in the last few years so that wouldn't be part of a trip but I will take a look at the other suggested towns.
Hey Dabs have you any idea how long you have for Bosna/Serbia visit? That will give me idea so i can give you time Trave advice. Nowdays with lowbudget Airlines like Pegasus or wizzair is much easier to Travel, but bus and train are still staple transport around theBalkans which does take time. Balkans are best saivoured with lots of time to Travel.
we're sort of limited to 9-10 days maximum for a trip, we're self employed and can only leave the office behind for so long, that might actually make it so we have to fly between Belgrade and Sarajevo especially with Istanbul thrown into the mix. I may rethink it and do the Serbia/Bosnia visit in September as a separate trip and combine Turkey with some other place like Armenia or Georgia.
That might be better idea, you can fly to London and pick up wizzair from London-Luton to Belgrade, that will give you better optimazation on your time. Georgia or even northen ( Kurdish) Iraq is very easy reachable with Pegasus airlines. Or you might consider flying with them down to Ismir ( izmir.world-guides.com/izmir... ) and renting car for few days, visit Troy, Galipoly Cheshme and few other interesting Spots. Might be able to make it to Pamukkale..http://www.pamukkale.net/
Now that I've actually booked the airfare, I have to get going on the details, we are flying into Istanbul and out of Belgrade. We have 9 nights total and we can do the following:
-fly Istanbul SAW to Belgrade on Pegasus allocating 4-5 nights (3 1/2-4 1/2 days) in Istanbul and 4-5 nights (3 1/2-4 1/2 days in Belgrade), flight arrives in BEG at 11:30am and is only $60 PP
-fly Istanbul SAW or IST to Sarajevo on Pegasus or Turkish allocating 4 nights Istanbul, one night Sarajevo, 4 nights Belgrade. The flight into SJJ gets in at 8am and leaves the next morning at 6:30am
-fly Istanbul SAW or IST to Sarajevo on Pegasus or Turkish allocating 4 nights Istanbul, 2 nights Sarajevo, 3 nights Belgrade. The flight into SJJ gets in at 8am and leaves for Belgrade at 6:30am. We could also take the bus but that is 7-8 hours and in July I'm guessing it's pretty hot to ride a bus?
I'd like one day from Belgrade to visit Novi Sad and I'm thinking a couple of days to see the actual city so 3 days is just about right?
My question is this: is Sarajevo different enough from Belgrade to warrant the extra plane ride and the extra expense which right now is about $187 per person. We have been to Istanbul before but it was probably at least 10 years ago so I'd like to revisit a lot of what we saw last time.
I haven't totally eliminated flying from Istanbul SAW to Izmir and trying to see Pergamum (have already visited Ephesus although quite a few years ago) and/or Pamukkale but Mr. Dabs isn't excited about driving in Turkey again and while public transport to Pergamum is achievable, Pamukkale would make for too long of a day (I think it was 4 hours each way?). And flying from Izmir to Belgrade is a long flight, you have to transfer back through SAW and it's 4-5 hours
Thanks for any thoughts you might have Valentina/Sally (or anyone else!
To start with driving in Turkey/Istanbul, if you can avoid, please do!
Now if you already been to Istanbul than I suggest after a night to rest fly/take bus to Izmir. Base there for few nights and explore ( rent a car there) and hit Troy, Chesme, Çannak Kale... I think there is an flight with Pegasus from Izmir to Belgrade, if not you can fly to Skopje,( for this one I know the is an flight) than take train to Nish, get out there, visit the City and just outside is Cele Kula.
Bus/ train to Chuprija and local bus/ taxi to monastery Manasije. back to Chuprija, and From there Belgrade.
www.arkabarka.net arguably best budget hotel/hostel on a floating barge on Danube with *amazing* views of old Belgrade and the Kalemegdan fortress.
Also walking distance (300meters) is Resto KONOBA, serves best river fish , try Alaski Som ( catfish) and they have one of the best fish soups I have ever tried.
Get yourself Ljubica Chorovich guide of Belgrade €10 , has 10 walks around BG each lasting about 3 hrs. My favs are the one of Kalemegdan fortress and one of Zemun...( I have done them all)Book can be bought at the numerous book shops on Knez Mihajlova st ( pedestrian equivalent od Oxfors St.)
You can rent a car for a day and spend half day in Novi Sad and afternoon in Sremski Karlovci. Both are on the same stretch of motorway.
Now you can take the night bus to Sarajevo, cheaper so you don't need fly if it is expensive , and spend 3 days in Sarajevo including day trip to Mostar. Fom Sarajevo ger Pegasus back to Istanbul and your flight home..
This is quick turn around, you will see bit of Serbia. if you omit Izmir, you can do the same from Itanbus. Or you can fly IST-BG and rent car, going to Manasija, and than Nish , than going maybe towards Donji Milanovac at the German NP near Romanian border, back to BG, 2 nights there, extra day for NS and Sremski Karlovci, back to BG, than fly or Bus to Sa and do rest as suggested..
ope this gives you some ideas. If you want more info just yell I am here to help!
Oh I forgot, you can contact city greeters and you can have Belgradian showing you his city. Is free, we had somebody showing us NYC when we visited there. But you need to contact them now. Same for Sarajevo..
Thanks Valentina! I had read about the Belgrade greeters and will be sure to contact them as soon as I know when we will be there.
We have to stay in Istanbul for the first few days, arriving on Friday, David is swimming on Sunday in a race in the Bosphorus so we wouldn't want to leave until Monday at the earliest. And I really would like to spend a couple of days in Istanbul seeing the sights, it's been many years since we've been.
David does not want to drive if we picked the Izmir option so we would be reliant on buses. Very cheap flight from SAW to Izmir. We could easily see Bergama (Pergamon) which is 2 hours each way from Izmir, Pamukkale is too far I think at 4 hours each way and Ephesus we have already seen. There is a cheap flight from Izmir to Belgrade but because it transfers back through Istanbul it's over 5 hours and it's the middle of the day which makes it unattractive. The more expensive Turkish air flight leaves at 5am so we wouldn't waste a day but would cost over $200 per person.