On this dramatic road trip across Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, we’ll explore the Balkans in search of Yugoslav memorial sites. Scores of these wonderfully unique monuments lay scattered across the hills and mountains of the region, vast Modernist effigies raised to commemorate the deeds of anti-fascist partisans and revolutionaries. Once upon a time, these striking sites were busy with tour buses and school children, but ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia, the visitors have dwindled. Over the course of this one-of-a-kind adventure, we’ll visit around twenty of these remarkable monuments—known locally as spomeniks—and treat them to the well-deserved attention that they’ve been largely missing for these past few decades.
This trip takes an organic and pluralist approach to the complicated history of the region, and in addition to your regular guides, you’ll be hearing more perspectives from a range of different guest speakers over these two weeks. We’ll consider Yugoslav monuments not just as political symbols, but also in their role as extraordinary works of art commemorating events that should never be forgotten. However, it won’t just be concrete and steel we’re looking at—along the way we’ll see mountains and lakes, explore underground tunnels, stay in Brutalist hotels, dig into local cuisines, and get to know the people who make up this diverse region of Southeast Europe.
The listed price of the trip is per person based on double occupancy.
You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you:
Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You'll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.
Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $620. When booking, please select the single room package option.
Belgrade has one of the best-connected airports in the Balkans. You should plan to arrive by 4 p.m. on Day 1 and depart anytime on Day 13.
This trip is suitable for guests of all ages (18 and above) and is not very physically strenuous—just be sure to pack your walking shoes, your flashlight, and your sense of adventure. Be aware that this trip also involves a good amount of driving time, so dress for comfort.
Sometimes we’ll stay at modern 4-star resorts, while other nights we’ll be immersed in retro hospitality at Brutalist 1970s hotels. Some of these buildings are as interesting as any monument we’ll see.
Over the course of these 13 days, we’ll travel more than 2,200 kilometers (1,367 miles) and through three very different countries. We'll have our own private bus for the journey, a modern, air-conditioned vehicle with a professional driver.
Funny you ask—turns out, no one can really agree on the exact answer to that question. (See: What Language Do People Speak in the Balkans, Anyway?) Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are all recognized as distinct and separate languages, though in practice they are more similar to one another than some dialects of the English language are (say for example, English as it is spoken in Texas vs. Scotland). Croatia uses the Latin alphabet, Serbia primarily uses Cyrillic, and Bosnia uses a mixture of the two. We’ll share with travelers a set of phrases that will prove useful in all three countries.
We’ll encounter three different currencies during this tour: Serbian dinars (RSD), Croatian kuna (HRK) and Bosnian marks (BAM). These units vary considerably in value (one U.S. dollar will buy you approximately 100 RSD, 6.20 HRK or 1.60 BAM) and so there’s just no way around it—this is going to get complicated at times. We’ll make a gas station stop before each border, in case people have leftover money they want to exchange for drinks and snacks, and after crossing each border, we’ll stop at the first ATM we see in order to stock up on the next currency. Teamwork can help too. For example, you might lend someone the last of your kuna at a souvenir shop in Croatia, and they’ll repay you later in Bosnian marks.
Great question! For starters, we recommend reading our guide Darmon’s article on the subject, “The Misunderstood History of the Balkans’ Surreal War Memorials,” which gives a great introduction to the complexities at play. If you’re ready to dig deeper, be sure to check out “Spomenik Monument Database” by Don Niebyl, a photographic compilation of over 75 of these striking monuments. You can also browse this Place List of spomeniks in the Atlas Obscura database.
In addition to contributing to local economies in under-touristed areas, your trip helps preserve an important part of the region’s artistic and cultural heritage: the remarkable Spomeniks—abstract Modernist war memorials—that form the center of our itinerary. After decades of being largely ignored, many of these monuments have fallen into disrepair, but recent interest from art institutions, researchers, and a segment of the international travel community is providing new incentives to protect and restore these monuments, and to celebrate their artistic and cultural value.