Tour Overview, Dates and Details

 
Bustling downtown Kyiv.  We visit on day 14.

Bustling downtown Kyiv. We visit on day 14.

Tour Overview

We offer the tour in three sections.  You can choose any section, any two sections, or – of course – we encourage you to choose the entire tour.

Our pricing section offers full details on pricing, which varies depending on the number of people who choose to participate.

In quick summary, however, the complete 20 day tour ranges from $5995 if we only have 12 participants and then sharply decreasing in cost as the numbers increase, down to a much better $4095 if we end up ‘full’ (we are limiting the tour to no more than 36 people and if we get close to that number, we’ll be using a spacious 48 seater coach so you can still spread out and not feel crowded).

The three partial tour sections are of course less expensive, ranging from a high of $2895 (only 12 people taking the first section) to a low of $1145 (a full second section).

A very Scandinavian looking street scene in Parnu, Estonia.  We visit on day 18.

A very Scandinavian looking street scene in Parnu, Estonia. We visit on day 18.

Tour Sections

For full day by day touring details, please refer to our itinerary section.

Section 1 :  Ten days, counting from the day you arrive into Ljubljana, Slovenia until the morning the tour ends in Belgrade, Serbia.  This takes you through nine countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Serbia).  All travel is by coach.

Section 2 :  Seven days, counting from the day you arrive into Belgrade, until the afternoon your tour ends in Kyiv, Ukraine.  This takes you through four countries (Serbia, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine).  In addition to mainly coach touring, we include an overnight sleeper train from Odessa to Kyiv.

Section 3 :  Seven days, counting from the morning you meet up with the tour in Kyiv until the morning the tour ends in Helsinki, Finland.  This takes you through six countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland).  In addition to mainly coach touring, we include an overnight sleeper train from Kyiv to Minsk, Belarus, and a ferry from Tallinn (Estonia) to Helsinki.  (Note – we recommend you arrive into Kyiv one day early to best meet up with the tour on the morning of the first day.)

Sections 1 & 2 :  Fourteen days, counting from the day you arrive into Ljubljana, Slovenia until the afternoon your tour ends in Kyiv, Ukraine.  This takes you through twelve countries (see lists above).  In addition to mainly coach touring, we include an overnight sleeper train from Odessa to Kyiv.

Sections 2 & 3 :  Thirteen days, counting from the day you arrive into Belgrade, until the morning the tour ends in Helsinki, Finland.  This takes you through nine countries (see lists above).  In addition to mainly coach touring, we include an overnight sleeper trains from Odessa to Kyiv and subsequently from Kyiv to Minsk, plus a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki.

Total Tour :  Twenty days, counting from the day you arrive into Ljubljana, Slovenia until the morning the tour ends in Helsinki, Finland.  This takes you through seventeen countries (see lists above).  In addition to mainly coach touring, we include two overnight sleeper trains and the ferry (details also above).

Custom Tour Option

We’re very flexible, and so you can be too.  You are free to join us on any day you like, and leave us on any day you like.  The tour sections above are suggestions for logical places to join (and leave), but if you’d prefer something different, that’s not a problem.  Let us know what works best for you.

Dates

Here are the dates for the full tour and the three shorter tours.

Starts Ends Note
Full Tour Tues June 11 anytime Sun Jun 30 anytime Leave US at least one day prior
Section 1 Tues June 11 anytime Thu June 20 morning Leave US at least one day prior
Section 2 Tues June 18 anytime Mon June 24 anytime
Section 3 Mon June 24 anytime Sun Jun 30 anytime Suggest arriving a day earlier

 

This will give us long warm dry days (see our weather section for more information on the type of weather we might experience) while allowing us to beat the crush of summer travel that massively detracts from being able to enjoy Europe in a relaxed and uncrowded manner.

Hotels

You’ll be staying in good quality hotels, usually four star, and sometimes going up towards the higher end of the four star range.

We give preference to smaller and characterful hotels, and in the centers of the places we’re staying.  You’ll never be in some generic ugly monstrosity where all the normal coach tours stay, on the outskirts of town by a traffic roundabout!

We negotiate the best rates we can for ‘run of hotel’ rooms.  Sometimes these have double beds and sometimes only twin beds.  If you’d like to be upgraded to better quality rooms, or if you have a special bedding preference whenever possible, we can see what we can secure on your behalf.  As a quick rule of thumb, figure on about $25 per person per night (share twin) to upgrade one level of room standard, and $50 per person per night (share twin) to upgrade two levels of room standard.

In some cases, the hotels include breakfast, which is sometimes cooked and sometimes a cold ‘continental’ style breakfast.

About the Coaching

Although our tour will be small in terms of total people participating, we are hiring a high-quality full-size air-conditioned coach (and professional driver) with large picture windows and smooth riding suspension.  The seats can recline, and the coach has an onboard restroom too.

Yes, we will be spending quite a lot of time on the coach, so yes, we are providing you with an ‘oversized’ high quality coach to ensure your time on board is as comfortable as possible.

There is open seating on the coach; you can sit anywhere you like, at any time.  But there is one exception to this – we have a formal roster to ensure that everyone gets a fair turn in the very front seats.

About the Guides

Almost all the time we will be accompanied by local guides from the countries we’ll be passing through who will give us English language commentary on the places we visit and the sites and sights we stop at and see.

Passport and Visas

If you are a US citizen, you only need a visa for our time in Belarus.  Amazingly (and very fortunately), none of the other 16 countries require visas from US visitors.

You are responsible for getting your own Belarusan visa and the cost of this is not included within the tour price.  Fortunately, it is a fairly easy and straightforward process, and you can choose either between doing it yourself or using one of the many Visa Service companies as an intermediary to ‘help’ you (we use quotes around the word ‘help’ because in our experience, both personally and in helping other Travel Insiders in the past, these companies seldom add value and sometimes seem to interfere and make the process more complicated than it would be going direct to the Embassy/Consulate in question).

If you are not a US citizen, we suggest checking with the Consular advice pages of each country’s Embassy in your country of citizenship for advice on visa requirements.  You can get quick summary information on this site : http://www.visahq.com/visas.php

You’ll need two clear pages in your passport for your Belarusan visa and the entry and exit stamps that will be affixed opposite it.

You will also need spaces for many more entry and exit stamps.  Most of the countries will stamp our passports both when we enter and when we leave.  That could be as many as 32 stamps, and generally it seems they like to put four, sometimes six, stamps per page.

Add this all up and you come to ideally having 2 free pages for Belarus and 32 spaces (ie 8 pages, but they can be mix and matched throughout your passport) for other entry and exit stamps.

If you don’t have sufficient free space in your passport, you have two choices.  Either get a new passport, or ask for extra pages to be added to your current passport.  A standard sized US passport, with 28 numbered pages and 32 pages total including the covers has only 17 pages for visas to start with, and we find we go through them in less than their ten years of validity.  So we ask for the extra sized passports, with 52 pages total and 38 pages for visas – more than twice as many pages.

You might want to do this too, if getting a new passport, because you’ll use up half a standard passport on this one tour (which gives you a great indication of how extensive it will be, doesn’t it!).

More Miscellaneous Information

Please also visit our page of Notes and Details more sundry miscellaneous information and ‘fine print’.

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