The best of London Belgrade Budapest Split Istanbul Skopje Nis and Novi Sad
I need help with hotels, budget for accommodation is moderate.
I need help with flights - Starting point would be London, United Kingdom.
Also - transportation.
I am traveling with family - 3 people. 65, 59, 19.
This is the second leg of the trip from Split in Croatia to Istanbul and then back to London. Following are the sights and experiences you can expect to have in all the destinations that are a part of this journey. Take a look!
İstanbul sunset (Source: Atilla1000)
At the crossroads of modern Europe and the Oriental East, lies the city of Nis in south-east Serbia. Packed with history, teeming with culture, Nis is a traveller's paradise. Have a look at the city's topmost attractions.
Nis by dusk (Source: access.denied)
This 18th century Turkish fortress stands at the banks of the river Nišava, overlooking the ruins of an ancient Roman town, which was then known as Naissus. It is reminiscent of the Turkish style of architecture and provides wonderful insights into the city's history.
SDIM0018 (Source: Vanbest)
The Skull Tower was built in the 19th century by the Turkish kings who invaded Split. The limestone structure originally had 952 human skulls embedded within it, of which only 58 remain today. The structure is housed within glass walls in a small chapel.
Skull tower (Source: Martijn.Munneke)
Mediana in Split was the birth place of the great king Emperor Constantine. This Roman legacy is a throwback to the days when Split was a part of that great empire, and to one just has see the legacy of grandeur left behind from those times to feel 'royal' himself.
P1020178 (Source: liako)
On the hill in Bubanj, just south of the city center, the three massive fist-shaped structures are a tribute to the Serbs, Romanies and Jews killed during the Nazi times. The memorial is a celebrated piece of art. Nearby, the Red Cross Concentration Camp at Lager Nis is the first camp of its kind to be built in former Yugoslavia.
WO2 Concentratiekamp (Source: Martijn.Munneke)
Nis Spa or Niška Banja is a famous retreat in the valleys, where mildly radioactive springs and the rejuvenating atmosphere is claimed to be a successful treatment for heart diseases and rheumatism. Even you are not in for the treatment, do visit for the famed scenery and the vistas.
SDIM0006 (Source: Vanbest)
Novi Sad in the autonomus region of Vojvodina in Serbia, is a treasured cultural center and a lovely place to visit. Situated on the banks of the picturesque Danube, this city has much to offer. Read on for our suggestions for what to do in the city.
Novi Sad (Source: texx1978)
The fortress at Petrovaradin has remained impregnable over countless assaults. The Danube flows gently on its right bank, and its interiors now house a museum where all artefacts found in the region- from prehistoric era till today- have been stored.
Petrovaradin (Source: Chung-chieh Shan)
The Synagogue on Jevrejska street in the central part of the city is a beautiful and enduring symbol of faith and a must visit for everyone who comes to the city.
The synagogue, Novi Sad (Source: luigig)
The manor house of Dvorac Dundjerski is a wonderful and lavish structure that was born out of pure obstinacy on the part of its owner - a local landlord named Bogdan DunÄ‘erski. The 65 acres of this complex include a watch tower, a chapel dedicated to St. George and stables renowned to be the best in this part of Europe.
Hotel Fantast (Source: Ujka Kevin)
Serbia has always been a country with strong agricultural roots, and this culture stands fast even today. Serbs like to work through the day and have a hearty meal in the late afternoon. Partake of this ritual like dining that is part and parcel of Novi Sad's agrarian society- you will love it!
Here's a video that will hopefully help you decide your menu while in Novi Sad:
Views: 636Rating: 4.5Duration: 241 secsSerbian Gastronomy - Food in Serbia!
Skopje, located on the banks of Vardar River is the capital city of Macedonia, which is also the largest and the most the diverse city in the country of Macedonia. The city was destroyed by the earthquake in 1963 and much of it has been rebuilt. However, the testament to the many empires that ruled the city such as Byzantine churches, monasteries, Roman sites and Ottoman buildings and mosque still remains today.
Skopje (Source: David Bailey)
Between the Old Bazaar and the Stone Bridge in Skopje, there's the Daut Pasha Hamam (National Art Gallery) housing a modest collection of modern artwork and artifacts. The building itself is astonishingly beautiful and a must-visit for a history and art buff (well, in fact, even if you aren't one!). See this picture gallery.
(Source: Rilind Hoxha)
To have a fun and interesting experience (and see the city), visit the Millenium Cross on Mount Vodno by a cable car. Its an awesomely enjoyable experience; culturally enriching and slightly offbeat (and overall fun!).
Check out this video of the cable car ride to Millenium Cross -
Just outside of Skopje (about 30 minutes driving distance) lies the stunning Matka Lake and gorge. There's loads to do and explore around at the Matka canyon; there are nature walks and hiking trails, ancient churches, boats to ride on the lake, shopping for souvenirs etc.
Lake Matka (Source: Jason Rogers)
Ohrid, rich with history and culture has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This picturesque lake resort lies on the shores of the lake with its namesake and is known as the jewel in Macedonia's crown. Even so, the town has numerous budget accommodations which draw many travellers to this beautiful place. Filled with vacationers, summertime is vibrant with parties.
Ohrid (Source: Jason Rogers)
You can easily get to Ohrid from Skopje by bus. Buses run every few hours and takes three and a half hours to reach. There is also an international airport in the town.
The Universal Hall in Skopje at Bul Partizanski Odredi (bb New Town), is famous for the Jazz Festival it hosts every year in December. On a regular basis though, belly dancing performances and other enthralling shows keep happening here. So on a night out in town, do not forget to catch a show here.
(Source: Chris Willis)
Istanbul, the capital city of Turkey is a city as wonderful as it's old. And yet, it carries the legacy of tradition easily, moving into the new age silently while retaining it's soulful charm. Here's a list of the best attractions in the city that you can savour on your days here.
Galata Tower... (Source: Kıvanç Niş)
Begin your trip by a visit to the Majestic Blue Mosque or the Sultan Ahmed mosque. One of the true beauties of Istanbul, this elegant mosque is famous for its blue coloured domes which stand tall amidst the city skyline. An architectural delight too, the design of the mosque is characteristic of the rare culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church. All in all an absolute must on any visit to this amazing city.
Lonely Planet provides an apt insight:
Its curves are voluptuous, it has more minarets than any other Istanbul mosque (in fact, there was consternation at the time of its construction that the sultan was being irreverent in specifying six minarets the only equivalent being in Mecca) and the courtyard is the biggest of all the Ottoman mosques. The interior is conceived on a similarly grand scale: the blue tiles that give the building its unofficial name number in the tens of thousands, there are 260 windows and the central prayer space is huge. No wonder its picture graces a million postcards!
Source: Lonely Planet)
Address: Sultan Ahmet Camii (Blue Mosque) At Meydani (Hippodrome) 21, Sultanahmet
Tel: +90 212 4587107
Open Hours: 09:00 - 18:00
Entry Fee: $7.03 per head
Going to Istanbul and not visiting its greatest market would be an absolute crime. Grand Bazaar as we know it , is one of the largest covered markets in Istanbul. Dedicated to the memory of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror this bazaar was built in 1461 and is one of the oldest operating shopping centres in the world. The complex houses 4,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and half a million visitors daily. The bazaar is known for its fine jewellery, leather goods, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. The epitome of shopping in Istanbul, this place is a must visit.
A big maze, it's the ideal place for shopping in Istanbul. The shopping lovers have everything there, their companion may enjoy the site. Much more organized than the Islamic souks, the place keeps the oriental touch, and bargaining is the general sport. Don't miss it.
Address: Grand Bazaar Cankurtaran Mh., Tevkifhane Sk 1
Tel: 0212 522 3173
The Topkapi Palace is the home of the Ottoman dynasty who ruled for over 500 years ,Sultan Mehmet II had this palace constructed just after he conquered Constantinople in 1453.The Ottoman sultans resided in this palace till the 19th century. A great example of Turkish architecture, it is a museum today housing many of the artifacts of the Ottoman empire. Hiring a guide here is a must for a detailed account of the history.
Here's a snippet:
Topkapi Palace was the primary residence of the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire for some 400 years. Construction began in 1459, and it was renovated many times over the years, eventually able to house some 4000 people, and becoming its own self-contained city with mosques, bakeries, hospital, and a library. When the Ottoman Empire ended, the Palace became a museum, which is very popular due to its amazing collection, including the Prophet Muhammad's cloak and sword.
(Source: Patrick G)
We arrived quite late, after lunch, in December. Visited the harem first, then queued to see the relics (Moses' staff! Abraham's cooking pot!). The tilework and architecture of the Circumcision room was beautiful, and the views over the Bosphorus were stunning. By the time we visited the treasures, the queues had almost vanished, so I got to view the Spoonmaker's Diamond at close range for some time! Words cannot do justice to this amazing palace. Will have to go back to visit the kitchens and a number of other places that we didn't manage to visit in time!
(Source: Lonely Planet)
This is one of the must-sees on any trip to Istanbul. You would need at least 3 hours on the most American-style whirlwind tour. The architecture is unique, and the complex is very interesting. Volumes have been written on the historical significance, so I will stick with logistics because it was a little confusing. You need two tickets to see the whole complex. But you must buy the palace ticket before you enter, and then wait in a separate line inside to buy a ticket for the Harem. You should not miss the Harem, it is the bulk of the more interesting rooms available to tour in the palace. A few warnings the lines for the religious icons like Moses's staff and Mohamed's footprint are very very long and crowded, as is the line to see the crown jewels. We were there in the middle of the day, so I'm guessing if you get in those lines very early they may be less crowded. Oh, and treat yourself to some fresh Pomegranate Juice- it is amazing!
Address : Binbirdirek Mh., Terzihane Sk 7, 34122 Istanbul Province, Turkey
Tel :+90 212 512 0480
Hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
(During tourist season, calling ahead is recommended due to very busy schedule)
Entrance fees: Between $10 to $15 depending on the exchange rate.
Entrance fee for the Harem section: Additional $10 (Only guided tours are allowed in Harem section.)
Those Byzantine emperors surely knew how to build mesmerizing buildings! Basilica Cistern is an extraordinary subterranean structure which was built by Justinian in 532 and is now the largest surviving Byzantine cistern in Ä°stanbul.
One of Istanbul's most popular tourist attractions, it’s a great place to be, specially at the time of your visit; that with the summer on, its cavernous depths will remain blissfully cool.
Basilica Cistern, Istanbul (Source: John Picken)
There are over 20 beaches in Istanbul. With a patch of sea-sand in practically every corner of the city, choosing the best ones can get difficult. While all of them definitely have a charm of their own, you might want to check out the True Blue Beach (Fener KalamÄ±ÅŸ Cad, Marina KarÅŸÄ±sÄ±, Fenerbahçe | Tel: 0216 550 51 95); spectacular views, azure waters and perfect Mediterranean sands and the Solar Beach (Eski Turban Yolu 4, Kilyos | Tel: 0212-201-25-80) -
At over 30.000m2, Solar Beach is one of Turkey's largest private beaches and open-air performance areas. With its expansive seashore, concert and performance stages and endless sports activities, Solar Beach keeps you busy from the minute you arrive till the minute you have to leave. The beach is 1km long, which means it can compete with the best beach clubs of Antalya or Izmir. The beach club also features a Beach Bar, Solar Bar, BBQ Corner, 6 extra bars and 4 extra eating areas used primarily during special performances, Kids Club for families with kids, enough chaise lounges and cushions for 3000 guests, 9 sunbathing terraces and of course showers and dressing rooms. The sporty types can partake in windsurfing, jet-skiing, banana-boating and inner-tubing.
(Source: Senol Demir)
Apart from the mainstream attractions there is a lot to see in Istanbul as it spearheads the cultural and traditional spirit of Turkey. One of the best ways to experience this is to witness the Dance of Colours. This traditional dance is native to Turkey and is a spiritual performance which is nothing but ethereal in nature. A perfect way to see the cultural heritage of this rich nation0
What a spectacle of color and spirituality it is! You may not be able to understand the purpose behind sema - a Sufi ceremony aiming at a mystical union with God and religious purification - but you will certainly be hypnotized with the whirling fabric, communal recitation, controlled ecstasy, and spiritual fervor that's the inevitable part of the rite. The usual venue for Sema is Galata Mevlevihanesi, which, sadly enough, is currently closed for restoration. For the time being the Dervishes perform on Sundays at 6 pm at the Muammer Karaca Tiyatrosu just north of the Netherlands Consulate, and trust us, this is something you would not want to miss!
(Source: Whirling Dervishes Ä°stanbul)
Addess : Divanyolu Caddesi, ÇemberlitaÅŸ Tram Stop (Column Constantine)
Tel : +90 554 797 26 46
Fax: 00 90 212 516 41 08
Time : 7.30 pm
Days : Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
Duration : 1 hr. 15 mins
Click here for more information
The Bosphorus ferry ride during night hours is one of the most romantic activities in the city compounded with a feeling of adventure. You can enjoy the view of the old city behind you with its twinkling lights while searchlights of passing ferries mesmerize you as you look ahead.
Here are some reviews :
One of the most enjoyable, and certainly most romantic, night-time activities in Istanbul is to take a Bosphorus ferry. Enjoy the view back to the Old City, the twinkling lights, the fishing boats bobbing on the waves and the powerful searchlights of the ferries sweeping the sea lanes. The best ferry to catch for this purpose is the one from Karakoy (just over the Galata Bridge from Eminonu to Kadikoy. Just go to Karakoy, buy two tokens and walk on board. When you reach Kadikoy you could head into the backstreets and grab a bite to eat. A shorter ride is the one from Eminonu to Uskudar. When you alight in Uskudar, you could have a delicious feed at Kanaat Lokantasi, or turn right and walk around the coast to the cay bahcesis (tea gardens) near the Semsi Pasa Camii (Semsi Pasa Mosque). After a tea or two, continue on the popular waterside promenade past the famous Kiz Kulesi (Maiden's Tower) - a gorgeous walk on a summer's evening.
(Source: Lonely Planet)
Everything is taken care of from transportation to site tickets. In addition to ease of sightseeing, the tour guide is a wonderful source of information about the sites, dinner recommendations, Turkish translator, and any other questions you may have. The boat tour is a great way to see attractions from a different perspective, not to mention tour a very important water way. The service was great. We were served tea and cookies and given blankets if we were cold.
Address :Binbirdirek Mah. Dostlukyurdu Sok. No: 10/8, Sultanahmet, Istanbul.
GSM : +90 532 777 02 64
Fax : +90 212 517 00 09
A really great, authentic cultural experience is the Hamam, or the Turkish bath that you just cannot miss. There are a lot of hamam options to choose from and Sulemaniye hamam is great as far as an authentic experience goes for it is housed in a 450 year old historical building build by the famous architect Sinan. Taking a bath here, you're transported back to the Ottoman period.
(Source: Rafael Gomez)
Here's a review :
This was the last thing we did the night before we left Istanbul. You need to make a reservation through their website before you go. We showed up and were given a walk in changing room of our own. You don't have to worry about your things, you are given a lock to your room. Changed into the wrap for me, bikini wrap for my wife and were taken into the steam/heat room. Sat in there for about 15 minutes, then they came in and washed/scrubbed and slapped us around lol. Overall we were in there for about 90 minutes. After you sit in a small dark cool room and are served drinks - coffee, tea, soda etc. I highly recommend bringing a clean set of clothes for after - otherwise you change back into your dirty street clothes. They gave us a complimentary shuttle van ride back to our hotel when it was all over. We loved the entire thing.
Address : Mimar Sinan Caddesi No: 20 Sulleymaniye , Istanbul
Phone: +90 (212) 519 55 69, +90 (212) 520 34 10
Price : $47
Duration : 90 minutes
Another brilliant way to experience Istanbul is to taste its most lipsmacking cuisine. The Turkish Flavours tour is one of its kind. This amazing tour will take you through an array of Turkish culinary experiences as each delicacy leaves your taste buds asking for more. A brilliant way to experience Istanbul from a different lens altogether, this is a tour I would highly recommend for you.
Here is a review:
We really enjoyed our day with Selin and her colleague. We started with 2 hours in the spice market walking from stall to stall tasing produce. Even though we had been to the spice market at the beginning of our trip to Istanbul, Selin took us to far superior places and given her relationships with the stallholders we were able to sample and from time to time she either offered us the opportunity to buy or bought sampler packs. Selin is a real foodie with a broad international perspective. We then took the ferry to Karakoy - our first trip to the Asian side before another hour wandering the stalls and shops including an outstanding jam and lokum shop called Cafe Erol before having a marvellous lunch at Ciya Sofrasi.
Address: Vali KonagI Caddesi , UÄŸur Apt 14/3
For more information click here
Eurail is still the best way to travel within the mainland Europe. Taking a taxi in Serbia or Croatia to travel within the city is much safer option than taking other public transport. We can find out the taxi details for you, once you finalise which places you would like to visit.
From Split, your journey would take you to Nis, Novi Sad, Skopje and then to Istanbul. From Istanbul you can take a flight back home. On an average, an economy flight back would cost you around 300 pounds per person.
For more travel tips, go here.
Do write back if you would like more information on your trip. We are always glad to help.
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