Spend memorable 13 days exploring the immense cultural treasures  and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Macedonia, Northern Greece, Western Turkey and Bulgaria..

 

Overview

The Balkan Peninsula for many is one of the last undiscovered corners of Europe. Cultural and natural variety abound here, forged over the centuries by numerous political changes and imperial influences from the Byzantine to the Ottoman. We contrast Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria with their traditional towns, villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and places of untouched natural beauty. Each country offers a different culture, cuisine and tradition to discover, each growing as an independent nation in its own right and taking its place in the modern world. This is a rare chance to see the re-emergence of places kept off limits until relatively recently.

Itinerary

Tour itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Macedonia

Arrival at Skopje Airport, followed by transfer to Ohrid. Enroute stop is Wizz Air od Oslo). Drive from airport to Ohrid, with enroute stop at the St. Jovan Bigorski monastery. St. Jovan Bigorski is a 19th century monastery standing on the slopes of Debar’s Mt. Bistra, above the banks of the River Radika. While relatively new, St. Jovan was constructed over the remains of an older church dating from 1021. Built on a steep slope surrounded by dense woods and rocky hills, St. Jovan is reminiscent of the cliff top monasteries of Mt. Athos in Greece. Since the monastery is dedicated to St. Jovan the Baptist, worshippers believe that icons with his image are blessed with a miraculous healing power. The monastery has a small silver coffin containing alleged relics of St. Jovan. The monastery complex includes a dining room and an old monastic dormitory, tower, charnel house and two fountains over spilling with fresh mountain water. Dinner and overnight in Ohrid. D

Day 2 Macedonia - Ohrid and St. Naum

Morning walking tour of the UNESCO protected old town. The road leads from “Dolna porta”, the entrance to the old town. Next we will visit and enter church St. Sofia - the former cathedral church of Ohrid archbishopric. This church from the XII century is impressive for its construction as well as the frescoes - Byzantine style of painting cultivated in the former capital, Constantinople. In this tour the ages are mixed because Ohrid is one of the rare towns with continuous living for more than millenia. What follows is visit of the ancient amphitheatre, built in I century BC, accidentally discovered and revived again today, for holding plays and concerts. Plaosnik - a place that is spiritual and cultural center of the city Lychnidos (Ohrid), complex which consists of an old Slavic church and university, is also included in our tour. The whole site was rebuilt in 2002 following the example of ancient sanctuary. Tsar Samuel's Fortress, the fortress which dominates the town is visited afterwards. The tour continues to the church St. Jovan Kaneo and Kaneo area, from where one gets the most wonderful view of the entire city, the lake with the whole coastline. Lunch is arranged at restaurant in the old city.
In the afternoon we transfer from Ohrid to St.Naum. En-route visit of the Museum on water located in the Bay of Bones in Gradishte (replica of neolithic fishermen village recently discovered in the coastal waters). The St.Naum monastery complex, one of most remarkable amenities of Macedonia, is important for it's architecture, artistic and historical legacy. Guests also have the option to take short boat trip in the springs and explore this unique wonder of nature in the Ohrid area (also spot the endemic Ohrid trout). Return to Ohrid in the early evening hours. B/L/D

Day 3 Macedonia to Greece - Ohrid to Thessaloniki via Bitola, Pella and Vergina

Early transfer to Greece. Enroute stop is made in the city of Bitola. The city has been known since the Ottoman period as "the city of the consuls", since many European countries have consulates in Bitola. It is also one of the oldest cities on the territory in the Republic of Macedonia. During the Ottoman rule the city together with Salonica were the two reigning cities of Ottoman Rumelia.
We will include a visit to the ancient town and archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, located on the outskirts of Bitola where we enjoy a private tour. Heraclea was founded by Philip II of Macedonia in the IV century BC after he had conquered the surrounding region of Lyncestis and incorporated it into his kingdom of Macedon. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles, whom Philip considered his ancestor. With its strategic location, it became a prosperous city. Each object, each stone, each pedestal is shrouded in mystery.
We will also make enroute visits of two of the most famous archaeological sites of Greek Macedonia - Pella and Vergina. In Pella, the ancient capital of the Macedonian Empire and native town of Alexander the Great, we will see the archaeological site with the marvelous mosaics, while in Vergina we will visit the most important remains of the monumental palace of the Ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, lavishly decorated with mosaics and painted stuccoes, and the burial ground with more than 300 tumuli, some of which date from the 11th century B.C. One of the royal tombs is identified as that of Philip II of Macedon, who conquered all the Greek cities, paving the way for his son Alexander and the expansion of the Hellenistic world through the Macedonian State. Arrival in Thessaloniki in the evening hours. B/L/D

Day 4 Greece - Thessaloniki

Morning sightseeing tour of Thessaloniki. Begin the tour with a panoramic drive around the White Tower, the main landmarks of the city, the Galerius Arch, the Rotunda monument, the Old Town (Ano Poli) and the City Walls, from where you will have a marvelous view of Thessaloniki. Your professional expert guide will provide you with all the information about Thessaloniki’s history old and new as you look at these stately buildings.
During the tour, there will be a short stop at Agios Demetrius Byzantine church which is the most important church of Thessaloniki for religious, historical and artistic reasons. The most famous and interesting part of the church, is the underground ancient "Crypt". The crypt was re-discovered after the fire of 1917 and was finally restored as an exhibition/museum in 1988. According to the Christian Tradition, the saint was imprisoned here and died in 303 A.D. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Archaeological Museum which it holds and interprets artifacts from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, mostly from the city of Thessaloniki but also from the Greek part of Macedonia in general.
The afternoon is free to enjoy Ladadika - the Bohemian quarters of Thessaloniki and taste delicious local dishes and wines. B/L/D

Day 5 Greece - The Meteora Monasteries

A unique and unforgettable experience during your stay in the Thessaloniki area is a visit to the Meteora Monasteries. Meteora is a geological miracle, which one must see for himself in order to believe. Nowadays, only six monasteries are well preserved and four of them are still inhabited. Metéora is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Departure early in the morning for Kalambaka. Arrival at Kalambaka city and visit the famous Meteora, geological formations unique in their kind, on which the Monasteries are perched; they were built in the 14th century and they are rich in precious testimonies of Byzantine art. We shall visit 2 of these fabulous monasteries, built high upon the steep rocks. Each monastery owns a vast richness of frescoes and icons. Afterwards, we will make our lunch break, in Kalambaka. Our last stop will be in the Valley of Tempi, and then we return to the city of Thessaloniki. B/L/D

Day 6 Greece - Kavala and Philippi

Checkout and morning transfer to Kavala. A visit of the beautiful city of Kavala gives you the opportunity to follow into St. Paul’s footsteps, which will introduce to you the Ancient town of Philippi and the modern city of Kavala. But first we will visit Amfipoli and see the famous Lion of Amfipolis. Lunch will be arranged in the area of Phillipi.

Then we leave to the Ancient town of Filippi, a settlement founded by Alexander the Great’s father, where we shall visit the basilica, the theatre, the Roman forum, the cell where Apostle Paul was imprisoned but also the Octagon Church-the first Christian church of Europe.
Later we will arrive in Kavala, the amphitheatrical town, where we have a couple of free hours for shopping, for a walk or for a visit of the old fortress, the aqueduct or to see Muhammad Ali’s house. The rest of the day is enjoyed in Kavala. B/L/D

Day 7 Greece to Turkey - Kavala to Edirne

Free morning in Kavala followed by noon transfer to Turkey, to the city of Edirne. A sublime destination perfect for a vacation, Edirne is no ordinary city. Filled with diverse arenas that cater to different tastes of different travellers who visit. Visit this alluring city and you'll be stunned with the array of attractions it offers. We will try to make the most of our short stay in the city by visiting the top attractions that the city has on offer, such as the Selimiye Mosque, Beyazid Ii Kulliyesi Health Museum, Eski Cami. Free afternoon and evening in Edirne. B/L/D

Day 8 Turkey to Bulgaria - Edirne to Plovdiv

Free morning in Edirne, followed by transfer to the city of Plovdiv in Bulgaria. Afternoon sightseeing of Plovdiv, one of the oldest cities of the Balkans. Plovdiv is one of the oldest European towns contemporary to Troya and Mikena. It has existed as a settlement for 8000 years and became a town some 3000 years ago during the Trojan war. In 342 BC, it was conquered by Philip ІІ of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, who renamed it Philippopolis or "the city of Philip" in his own honor. With the establishment of Bulgaria in 681 Philippopolis became an important border fortress of the Byzantine Empire. In 1364 the Ottoman Turks seized Plovdiv and called the city Filibe which comes from "Philip". In the historic heart of the city you will see beautifully decorated 19th century houses, the ancient fortress-wall, the Roman forum and stadium and magnificent churches.

In the center of Plovdiv we'll make way to the old town on the cobblestone streets where you'll visit some houses, the church, the Roman theater and the stadium. At the beginning of your walk, stop at an old house where you can see the local production of alcohol drinks and rose oil products. We will also have free time to explore the commercial part or have lunch or coffee along the main pedestrian street. Our next site is the Asen Fortress. This beautiful medieval fortification will allow us to learn some history and take wonderful pictures from the top. Accommodation at hotel in the old town of Plovdiv. B/L/D

Day 9 Bulgaria - Plovdiv to Sofia via Koprivshtica

Checkout and visit of the charming town of Koprivshtitsa and explore its fascinating history and authentic 19th-century Bulgarian architecture. Koprivshtitsa was a center of the heroic 1876 April Uprising and the site of the first resistance against Ottoman domination. The town still preserves the atmosphere of the 19th-century National Revival period and boasts over 380 architectural monuments from the time, most of which have been restored to their original appearance.

Explore the town's architecture and visit one of its many museums to admire the vast collections of ethnographic treasures, including ancient weapons, intricate national costumes and stunning jewelry. The beautiful historic town lies atop the Sredna Gora mountains and overlooks the beautiful Topolnitsa River. Enjoy a leisurely lunch by the peaceful waters of Topolnitsa River in the center of Koprivshtitsa before heading to Sofia. Arrival in the Bulgarian capital in the late afternoon hours. B/L/D


Day 10 Bulgaria - Boyana and Rila Monastery

Morning start of a sightseeing tour of Sofia with visit of the only UNESCO World Heritage monument in the vicinity of Sofia - Boyana Church - which is small in size and only takes 30 min to visit, but has an enormous contribution to the world history of art. After Boyana, we move on to the UNESCO protected Rila Monastery.

Rila Monastery is probably the most popular tourist attraction in Bulgaria. The colorful monastery was first established in the 10th century by St. Ivan of Rila. After being destroyed by the Ottomans in the 15th century, the monastery was renovated with the help of the Russian church. It was later destroyed once again by a fire in the early 19th century, after which a group of wealthy Bulgarians paid for it to be rebuilt as a way to build Bulgarian national pride while the country was still under Ottoman rule.

Upon returning to Sofia we will make short walking tour in the center of the city, including the Alexander Nevski Square and it’s large Cathedral, followed by a stroll to the Russian church, the National Theater and its garden, the Rotunda (round church) St.George, the Roman remains and we finish our walk in front of Balkan Hotel (St. Nedelya church square). B/L/D

Day 11 Bulgaria to Macedonia - Sofia to Skopje via Osogovski Monastery

Checkout and morning transfer from Bulgaria to Macedonia. Enroute stop will be made in the region of Kriva Palanka in Macedonia, where we will visit the monastery complex of St. Joakim Osogovski. The monastery of St. Joachim Osogovski is set amongst verdant green woods near the northeastern town of Kriva Palanka. It was founded in the 12th century and rebuilt many times during the ensuing centuries. Its frescoes are especially characteristic of the 19th century.

The monastery complex had always been an important cultural, religious and educational center. It consists of the church of St. Joachim Osogovski, a smaller 14th century church dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, a three-story dormitory, a bell tower with a charnel house at the bottom, a passage building, guardhouse, new dormitories and a residency of the Head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Art colonies, scientific gatherings and seminars are regularly organized in this complex. Arrival in Skopje in the late afternoon hours. B/L/D


Day 12 Skopje - Old Bazaar and Matka Canyon

In the morning we will transfer to the Matka canyon, Skopje’s most famous tourist attraction. Visit of the monasteries and churches of the area, with possibility for boat trip to the Vrelo cave. Lunch is arranged at local restaurant with traditional setting near the canyon. The tour continues with en-route visit of the Monastery of St.Pantelejmon and takes us back to the city center.

In the afternoon hours we will dedicate 2 hours for walking sightseeing tour of the old and new part of Skopje and include some of the most important landmarks: The old railway station – first train station on the Balkan, and in that time was the most beautiful object on the Balkans; The Stone Bridge – monumental building in the center of the city, and the most imposing monument in our country built in the beginning of the VI century; the Skopje Bazaar (Daut Pasha Hammam – monument of the Islamic architecture from the XV century / church St. Spas, built at the end of the XVII century, and place which holds the relics of the greatest Macedonian Revolutionary Goce Delcev (1872-1903) / Fortress Kale). Farewell dinner is arranged in the Bohemian quarters of Skopje. B/L/D

Day 13 Departure from Macedonia

Departure transfer from the Skopje Airport. End of program.

Gallery

What's Included

Included:

- Transportation (car, minivan or minibus; depending on the group size)

- Accommodation in hotels (hotel category and meals can be chosen in accordance with Your request)

- All meals (selection of traditional dishes from locally sourced ingredients, typical for each area; beverages excl.)

- Tour guide (English or other major European languages) 

- Entrance fees in archaeological sites, monasteries, churches and museums

Not included:

- Flights to Macedonia

- Single room supplement

- Optional excursions and visits

- Insurance

Dates & Prices

Scheduled dates:

* This is non scheduled tour with flexible dates. We recommend spring (April-June) and autumn months (September-October) for this tour.

Number of Participants:

2 - 12

Tour grade:

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Prices: 

Confidential prices for TOs available upon request. Price depends on the number of participants.

Additional information: 

- Season: Year round