Exploring the area of Alexander's kingdom of Macedonia...

 

Overview

Journey through Macedonia, northern Greece and western Bulgaria to uncover Ancient Macedonia - the lost empire of Alexander the Great. We explore a range of cultural landmarks including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Lake Ohrid and the Rila Monastery. We also take a boat trip along the Mediterranean coast to the fabled Mount Athos, visit the mosaics of Pella and walk in the beautiful national parks of Macedonia.

Itinerary

Tour itinerary

Day 1 / Arrival in Skopje

Arrival at the Skopje airport. Transfer to your hotel. Time to get rest from the jet lag. A short introductory tour of the area around your hotel - getting useful hints from your tour guide. Sightseeing tour of the city: visit to the old railway station; The statue of Mother Teresa; The Stone Bridge; The church of St. Spas (Holy Salvation), which is famous for housing one of the region’s most renowned wooden carved iconostasis; The Fortress Kale; Lunch in the old town (traditional macedonian meat rolls-kebapci). We can also organize welcome dinner, where dishes from the Skopje region would be served, along with premium Macedonian wines. Overnight.

Hotel: Skopje
Meals: WD (welcome dinner in restaurant)

Day 2 / Matka Canyon – wonder of nature

After breakfast, check-out and departure to the Matka Canyon, wonder of nature and most famous tourist attraction in the vicinity of Skopje. There is possibility for a light hike along the canyon, and boat trip to the Vrelo cave. Lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon hours we continue to Ohrid – Macedonia’s UNESCO nature and historical heritage site. We follow a scenic drive in western Macedonia, via the Mavrovo National Park. On the way to Ohrid we will stop at the Monastery of St.John the Baptist, one of most famous and most beautiful architectural and religious landmarks of the region. Arrival in Ohrid in the evening hours. Late dinner and overnight.

Hotel: Ohrid
Meals: B, L (Matka canyon), D

Day 3: Ohrid – UNESCO heritage site of Macedonia

Our setting for the next 2 days is simply sublime, with a dramatic mountain backdrop almost encircling the tranquil waters of Lake Ohrid. Founded over 2400 years ago, the city of Ohrid has a wealth of heritage and is today an important cultural and spiritual centre. To help its protection both the town and lake were classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest lakes in the world and allegedly there are some 365 churches, monasteries and other religious sites around the lake. We start with a walking tour of Ohrid that includes a visit to Tsar Samuel’s Fortress and the Roman amphitheatre for sensational panoramic views. It was recently discovered that beneath the Fortress of Samuil there are remnants of much older fortification which is assumed to be built from Philip II of Macedon, Alexander’s father. During our two full days based in Ohrid, flexibility is key to our stay here as there are many optional activities available. Boats run frequent trips across the lake and there will also be an option to walk between two of the villages perched high above the lake. The lakeshore has a good array of beaches should you wish to take it easy at some time during your visit. A good choice of restaurants and old souvenir shops (in the lower town area) also exist. Each year, between mid-July and mid-August, the Ohrid Summer Festival takes place, with concerts and plays held in outdoor venues around town. There’s also the possibility of Macedonian evening program along with the dinner, where the guests can get a glimpse of the Macedonian folclore, customs, traditional dances and food.

Hotel: Ohrid
Meals: B, L (old town), D

Day 4: Ohrid – Monastery of St.Naum

Full day boat trip to the renowned monastery of St.Naum, located next to the border with Albania. Visit of the springs of Crn Drim river, located in close vicinity of the monastery. Short visit of the Museum on water located in Gradishte, replica of neolithic settlement. Return to Ohrid in the early evening hours. Dinner and overnight.

Hotel: Ohrid
Meals: B, L (St.Naum), D

Day 5: Bitola – Heraclea Lyncestis – the city on Via Egnatia ; Stobi

After breakfast, we check out and head for Bitola – Macedonia’s second largest city, once the most important diplomatic and cultural center during the times of the Ottoman Empire, and important trading center during the Ancient era. This morning we visit the ancient site of Heraclea Lyncestis. Founded in the 4th century BC by Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, Heraclea grew to be an important trading town under the Romans, before being sacked by the northern tribes and eventually falling into decay after an earthquake in AD518. We also visit the Museum of Bitola, where important artefacts from the ancient times remain. Stroll along Shirok Sokak (Bitola’s most famous pedestrian street) for coffee break are also “must-do” while we are in Bitola. In the afternoon hours we leave for Greece via central Macedonia. This will provide us with opportunity to visit the ancient city of Stobi, located in the Gradsko area. Visitors can get an insight of the concept of a town from late antiquity (early christianity) by seeing it’s public facilities (baths, palaces, squares..). We head for Greece after finishing the visit of Stobi. We also make a short stop to taste the famous wines of the Povardarie wine region along with late lunch. Arrival in the Thessaloniki area in the evening hours, accomodation at hotel. Overnight.

Hotel: Thessaloniki area
Meals: B, L (wine tasting in Stobi), D

Day 6: Thessaloniki - Pella

After breakfast, we depart for the archeaological site of Pella. Lying on the Macedonia Plain, Pella is most famous as the birthplace of Alexander the Great, who was born here in 356BC. Nowadays the main draw of Pella though is the mosaics depicting mythological scenes in coloured stone. After visiting the town we continue on to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city. Filled with the reminders of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule, Thessaloniki is a vibrant city situated on the Thermaic Gulf. This is where we have a tour of the most important amenities of this beautiful city. Return to hotel in the early evening hours. In the evening we can enjoy Greek evening program along with the welcome dinner in a restaurant close to our hotel, where the guests can get a glimpse of the Greek folclore, customs, traditional dances and food. Overnight.

Hotel: Thessaloniki area
Meals: B, L (Thessaloniki), WD

Day 7: Vergina – royal capital of Macedonia

Today we head for Vergina, the ancient city of Aigai, ancient capital of the Macendonian kings, it was only discovered in 1977. We will visit the spectacular royal tombs of King Phillip II and the young prince Alexander IV among others during the visit. In the afternoon we can visit a winery to taste the famous Naoussa vintages and have lunch. This day’s tour ends back in Thessaloniki, where guests can enjoy the Archaeological Museum, or just stroll through the city’s pictoresque streets. Return to hotel in the evening hours. Dinner and overnight.

Hotel: Thessaloniki area
Meals: B, L (wine tasting Nausa), D

Day 8: Visiting Athos – boat cruise to the world’s only monastic republic

When it comes to Greece’s landmarks, Mount Athos is right up there with the Acropolis in Athens. Halkidiki’s easternmost peninsula, it’s the world’s one and only monastic republic, ruled over by the black-robed monks of its medieval monasteries. And such, access to it is restricted, with women even forbidden to set foot on its shores. All of which makes this cruise the best way to see it. Sit back and soak up the sun as your boat sails along the peninsula, giving you close-up views over the monasteries perched on its cliffs and wooded slopes. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the monks’ secret world. And make sure you snap photos of 6,500-foot Mount Athos. This huge mountain rises up from the peninsula’s southern tip. We drive from our hotel to the port of Ormos Panagias (in the Sithonia penninsula of Halkidiki), and from there we start our boat cruise to Mt.Athos. The boat will arrive at the beautiful village of Ouranopoli, where you’ll have time for lunch. The bus will wait for us at Ouranopolis, and from there we continue the journey to Kavala. Dinner and overnight.

Hotel: Kavala
Meals: B, L (Ouranopolis), D

Day 9: Visiting the island of Thassos – ancient and medieval monuments, sandy beaches

After the morning sightseeing and coffee break in Kavala, we travel by ferry to Thassos Island where we have a free day to explore the island by foot or local bus, or relax on one of its superb beaches. Around the capital of Limenas there are a number of archaeological sites, including an ancient Roman theatre and a medieval fortress that offer stunning views of the surrounding area.

Hotel: Kavala
Meals: B, L (Thassos), D

Day 10: Philliipi – living witness of the fall of the Roman republic and cradle of christianity in Europe

This morning we leave Greece and head back to Bulgaria. We drive to Bansko via the ancient site of Philippi. Philippi’s fame is twofold. It was the first European city to accept Christianity in the 5th century, but prior to that it was the scene of a decisive battle between two Roman armies in the 1st century AD. On one side the army of imperial Rome, led by Marcus Antonius and Octavian, on the other representatives of republican Rome, led by Cassius and Brutus. The outcome of the battle was a victory for the imperialist and the fall of the republic (not to mention Cassius and Brutus). We will also visit the baptistery of Lydia, if time permits. Arrival in the town of Bansko in the evening hours (lunch break with wine tasting in Gotse Delchev). Welcome dinner in a restaurant in the Bansko square. Overnight.

Hotel: Bansko
Meals: B, L (wine tasting Gotse Delchev), WD

Day 11: Rila Monastery – UNESCO heritage site of Bulgaria

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Rila Monastery is an important religious and cultural centre for the Bulgarian people. Reamining in beautiful condition it has the most stunning brightly coloured frescoes. Originally founded in 927, the monastery served to preserve Bulgarian culture during the 400 years of Turkish rule. Today the magnificent church and its museums house a priceless collection of frescoes, gilded iconostasis, religious art and artifacts and this morning we spend time exploring the monastery complex. This afternoon we complete our journey through ancient Macedonia when we return to Sofia for overnight. On arrival there should be time to explore a little more of this charming city and maybe do some shopping. Dinner and overnight.

Hotel: Sofia
Meals: B, L (Rila monastery area), D

Day 12: Sofia – Monastery of St.Joakim Osogovski

This day is reserved for sightseeing in the city of Sofia, if guest would like, we can also take the cabin lift in the mountain of Vitosha, and enjoy the view of Sofia over a lunch. Departure for Macedonia in the afternoon hours. Arrival at the Monastery of St.Joakim Osogovski. Accomodation at the monastery premises, where guests can enjoy authentic accommodation. Dinner (traditional monastery cuisine) and overnight.

Hotel: St.Joakim Osogovski
Meals: B, L (Vitosha), D

Day 13: Megalithic observatory of Kokino

Breakfast and departure to the area of Kumanovo (Staro Nagorichane), where we will visit the recently discovered Macedonian “Stonehenge”, the Kokino megalithic observatory (ranked between the four oldest observatories in the world, along with Stonehenge, Abu Simbel and Angkor Wat). After Kokino, we stop for lunch in the city of Kumanovo. Departure to Skopje in the late afternoon hours. Arrival and check-in at hotel. Free time for last minute souvenir shopping. Dinner and overnight.

Hotel: Skopje
Meals: B, L (Kumanovo), D

Day 14: Departure

The tour ends in Skopje this morning after breakfast. Departure to the Skopje airport. End of program.

Gallery

Ancient Macedonia:

What's Included

Included:

- Transportation

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

- Traditional Macedonian, Greek and Bulgarian cuisine throughout the journey

- Tour guide (English or other major European languages) 

- All tours and activities mentioned

- Taxes

Not included:

- Transfers to Macedonia

- Single room supplement

- Optional excursions and visits

- Insurance

Dates & Prices

Scheduled dates:

* This is non scheduled tour with flexible dates. 

Number of Participants:

2 - 50

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