This is a must if you have or haven’t been to the region and explains why the Balkans is really unfinished business. Serbia and Kosovo are at loggerheads and the threat of unrest in Bosnia has resurfaced. But all of this should have been done and dusted years ago. The tour explains why and how a long-term peace has eluded the region. Great food and some stunning scenery to boot.

DATES3 – 14 June, 2023
DESTINATIONPristina, Kosovo – Belgrade, Serbia – Sarajevo, Bosnia HZ
Led by Nicholas Wood
DURATION11 nights
All AccommodationMeals and Water
Local TransportationExpert Guide
Single supplement: £TBC

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Nicholas Wood, founder and director of Political Tours,  leads this 11-day journey through the Western Balkans – dramatic scenery, great food, and a complex mix of politics await.

As Communism began to collapse across Eastern Europe it took an awful turn in Yugoslavia. Slobodan Milosevic used Serbian nationalism to retain power and five wars ensued from 1991 to 2001. NATO forces intervened twice in Bosnia and then later in Kosovo, and ultimately Milosevic found himself in the Hague accused of war-crimes.

Today, over twenty years later, Kosovo and Serbia are at loggerheads and Serbs in Bosnia threaten a breakaway state. Meanwhile Russia is accused of fermenting trouble. We explore these divides and ask what the key to a longer-term peace could be.

Starting in Pristina, Kosovo and ending in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. You can to find flights from Vienna, Frankfurt and Zurich for both cities.


As with all of our expert-led tours, we ensure that our groups remain small and intimate, and will not exceed 14 people.

As with all of our tours the itinerary focuses on current affairs, and owing to the dynamic nature of politics means that local conditions may lead us adjust the final schedule.

COVID-19: We won’t go to a country unless it is safe to do so- we remain guided by the UK Foreign Office travel advice.  For this reason some dates may change depending on the situation on the ground.

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Day 1

Saturday 3 June: Pristina

Meet at 7pm for an introduction to the week ahead with Political Tours. Overnight Vilnius Overnight Pristina.
Day 2

Sunday 4 June: Pristina

Our first three days are in Kosovo where we look at the break- up of Yugoslavia, and then UN intervention in the Kosovo conflict. The last day looks at the present-day government and continued tensions with Serbia which refuses to recognize the state.  In many ways the break-up of Yugoslavia began here just outside Pristina. It was here that Milosevic, sent in 1986 to quell a local split between Serbs and Albanians, realized that Serbian nationalism was a potent force. By 1989 he was holding a rally for a million Serbs just outside Pristina. The war broke out within 18 months. A decade later the Serbian army forced almost a million Albanians to flee their homes. We explore the rise of Serbian nationalism and the road to war in the province with people who witnessed it. Pristina – Gazemestan – Gracanica.  Overnight Pristina, Kosovo (2) 
Day 3

Monday June 5 – Pristina - Mitrovica

March 1999 NATO’s intervened ultimately forcing Serbian forces to withdraw – but at a high costs. An estimated 10,000 people died, most killed at the hands of Serbia troops and paramilitaries.  The UN established an interim-administration and Kosovo ultimately got its own government, parliament, and police force. In 2008 it declared independence – a move recognized by most of the world, but with fervent opposition from Serbia. We look at those developments but also the continuing divide between Kosovo’s Albanian majority and Serbian minority.  That continued opposition is no-more apparent than in Mitrovica.  Divided since the end of the war, this city remains the focal point for ethnic divisions. We walk across bridge to the Serb dominated north of the city. Meeting Serbian representative in the north. Walk around city. Talks with Serbian refugees who have come to live in north. Dinner in Pristina.  Overnight Pristina, Kosovo (3)
Day 4

Tuesday June 5 – Pristina

Fifteen years after it declared independence – Kosovo’s economy remains in a fragile state.  Youth unemployment is stubbornly high.  Serbs are by far from the only minority – Croats, Bosniaks, Turks, Gorani, Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians make up the rest! We look at conditions that minorities face, notably the Romany groups, long the underdogs of most Balkan societies.  Close relations with the EU would solve many issues. We look at why that has failed.   Gratitude for the west’s intervention has turned to bitterness – many of Kosovo’s former war time leaders are now on trial in the Hague (unlike many of their Serbian counterparts). Worse still at times, the possibility of a conflict with Serbia have been apparent.   We meet with Kosovo’s Albanian leadership and speak to diplomats and review the unlikely possibility of a rapprochement with Belgrade.  Overnight Pristina, Kosovo (4)
Day 5

Wednesday June 6 – Drive to Belgrade

The trip north to Belgrade takes a large part of the day – with a break for lunch on the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity (built in Tito’s day). Arrive in Belgrade early afternoon – break before dinner. En route we get an introduction to Serbia’s government since the fall of Milosevic.  Dinner and overnight in Belgrade (1) 
Day 6 & 7

Thursday , June 7 & Friday, June 8 – Belgrade

We trace the rocky road that Serbia has trod since Slobodan Milosevic was handed over to the Hague (where he died in jail). An assassination of a reformist prime-minister – and then a resurgence of Serbian nationalists – led by Aleksander Vucic, now President.  After initial hopes of closer ties with the EU the country has close ties Russia and has followed a model similar to Victor Orban in Hungary, clamping down on opposition media and the judiciary. Meetings with government – opposition – media – human rights activists. Walk about town – Belgrade has excellent restaurants and bars.Overnight Belgrade, Serbia (2&3)
Day 8

Saturday, June 10 – Fly to Sarajevo

We leave for the airport for our flight to Sarajevo.   Please book your own flight that best suits the itinerary- contact us for more information. Bosnia arguably suffered the worst of all former Yugoslav states. From 1992 Serbian backed forces besieged the capitol Sarajevo and pursued a systematic campaign against Bosnia’s Muslim and Croat populations – giving rise to the terrible phrase ethnic cleansing. Our journey to Bosnia both recaps the start of the war – but also looks at how divisions were frozen in aspic at the end of it in 1995. Dinner in Sarajevo and an introduction to Bosnia today.  Overnight Sarajevo, Bosnia (1)
Day 9

Sunday, June 11 – Sarajevo

Brief walk through old town with our guides who lived and worked in Sarajevo during the siege. From here one can see how easy it was to besiege Sarajevo.Tunnel Museum + Bus Tour of Front Lines  A former Bosnian soldier and now journalist gives guided tour of the former front line. Includes a visit to the tunnel under the airport that acted as a conduit for food and supplies into the besieged city. Today it is a small museum owned by the Kolar family whose backyard was used for tunnel entrance. Visit to National Library Destroyed in December 1992 by Serbian shelling. The library was a symbol of multi-ethnicity in Bosnia and housed collections of Bosnian, Serbian, and Croat literature and records dating back to early Ottoman times.Srebrenica is too far for us to visit in a day – but understanding that happened that and how it ultimately prompted western military intervention is critical. We recap what happened with survivors and their relatives – and astonishingly look how Bosnia’s Serbian leadership deny it ever took place. Bosnia’s High Representative has tried to outlaw such declaration.Over Dinner we look at the Dayton Agreement – the peace-treaty signed by Milosevic and Bosnian leaders to bring the war to an end.  Overnight Sarajevo, Bosnia (2)
Day 10

Monday, June 12: Sarajevo

We spend the day looking at Bosnia today – it’s complex government structure and get an introduction to current political crisis.  Briefing at Office of the High Representative in Grbavica with an OHR representative, the main body that has overseen the Dayton Peace Accords and Bonn powers.  War Crimes Court Visit State Court and Prosecution, war crimes departments. Meet with court and the prosecution officials, possibly president of the Court and one prosecutor, visit courtroom possibly during a hearing.  Research & Documentation Centre Research and Documentation Centre (RDC), an NGO that made database about victims of war, giving exact number of war victims (very interesting presentation when they explain the method they developed for this purpose).Overnight Sarajevo, Bosnia (3)
Day 11

Tuesday, June 13 – Sarajevo - Mostar

Mostar icon bridge was destroyed during the war by Croat forces (a reminder that the war in Bosnia was a three-way conflict) and later rebuilt. It is a UNESCO sight. Young men dive off the bridge into river deep below. We travel there and back for lunch.  Later back in Sarajevo we ask What next for Bosnia and the region. Thirty years after the war – it seems incredible the Bosnia’s Serb Republic (Republika Srbska or RS)  is now calling for Bosnia’s dissolution and has adopted an increasingly aggressive stance – holding military parades. Sabre rattling it may be, but it underlines how little progress has been made. We look at Serbia’s backing for the RS – relations with Russia – and the apparent failure of Western powers to achieve a long-term settlement. Final dinner and review of the trip. Overnight Sarajevo, Bosnia (4)

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What’s Included

All of your accommodation and meals with water are included, as well as local transport (except during your free time).

Flights are not included in the price and need to be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent.

Following the news

Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly.

This tour starts in Pristina, Kosovo and ends in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Getting to the Balkans

You can  find flights from Vienna, Frankfurt and Zurich for both cities, amongst other options.

COVID-19: We won’t go to a country unless it is safe to do so- we remain guided by the UK Foreign Office travel advice.  For this reason some dates may change depending on the situation on the ground.


Group size

As on all our expert-led tours the groups are deliberately small and will not exceed 14 people. Frequently we travel with 10-12 people. Limited spaces are available.


Some passport holders may require a visa. It is always good to check with the embassy in your country for latest advice regarding visa requirements.

FCO Website – Travel Advice

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.

Medical Requirements

Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit



The Euro is the currency in all 3 countries. ATM’s are readily accessible, and cards can be used for payments in a wide variety of places.



Weather in the Balkans is somewhat similar for each of the three countries. Summers are warm but do not get very hot. Winters are long and cold, with below freezing temperatures.

What to wear

Dress is casual and  comfortable. Shoes suitable for walking over cobbles are recommended. We suggest taking layers as the weather is different in the various regions. Rain showers are not uncommon too so please ensure you pack a rain jacket.

Men: Will need a jacket and tie for some of the meetings.

Women: You will need smarter dress for one or two meetings.


European 2 round pin plug socket, standard 230v.

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More on Nicholas Wood

Nicholas Wood is Political Tours’ Director. He set up the company in 2009 after tens years working as a reporter in the Balkans. Most recently he was the New York Times Correspondent for the region from 2003-2008. Previously he worked for the BBC, The Guardian, The Observer, The Washington Post and as a consultant for CBS’s 60 Minutes.

He covered the 1999 refugee crisis in Kosovo, the fall of Milosevic, the 2001 inter-ethnic conflict in Macedonia, the 2004 Kosovo riots, and build up to Kosovo’s independence. Prominent themes in his reporting include European integration and foreign policy, war crimes, justice and post conflict development. (

Nicholas is a regular speaker on the region and has given talks at The John F Kennedy School of Government, Havard, and New York University Journalism program (Prague) among other universities and schools.

He lived and worked in Kosovo between 1999 and 2004, before moving to Slovenia. He returned to the UK in 2009 where he now lives with his wife, Karen Wood, who is also a director of Political Tours.  Together they have run tours in over 35 countries.

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Balkans Reading List

We are compiling an extensive reading list with a wide range of books.   It is optional!  Please contact us for more details.

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