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Bulgaria & Macedonia & Greece – enjoy the discovery!

Route: Sofia, the Rila Monastery, St. Joakim Osogovski Monastery, capital Skopje, the “Matka” Canyon, the St. Jovan Bigorski Monastery, the village of Vevchani, Ohrid, the Ohrid lake, Bitolia, Thessaloniki, Chalkidiki, Athos, Kavala, Philippi, Melnik, The Rozhen Monastery, Sofia
Transport: Coach
Countries: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece
Price from: T/A

Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece – three gems embedded in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula which will not fail to surprise and fascinate you with their centuries-long Thracian, Roman, Byzantine, Slav, Proto-Bulgarian and Turkish cultural heritage, the unmistakeable east-meets-west feel, the unspoiled natural scenery and the sense of an off-the-beaten track adventure!
Apart from the warm and welcoming nature of its people, the motherland of Alexander the Great, Macedonia strikes with its dramatic mountain ranges, studded with breath-taking lakes, and threaded throughout with crystal-water Rivers! Bulgaria captivates with its preserved traditions, the charismatic monasteries tucked in the majestic Rila and Pirin mountains and the mouth-watering homemade dishes! The least we say about the ancient Greek civilization, the better- there are still so many mysteries to unveil and lessons to learn from its remains that dot the stunning Mediterranean coast of modern Greece!
Enjoy the discovery with us!

Day-to-day Itinerary


Day 1: Welcome to Sofia!
Our guide will meet you at the Sofia Airport upon your arrival and escort you to the hotel. Then it will be just the right time to start creating memories! Today we will explore the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Our guided tour will reveal the colourful blend of numerous ancient sites and modern-day landmarks that shape the face of the city and add to its vibrant character. At the foot of the Vitosha Mountain in the outskirts of Sofia we will visit the National History Museum and the UNESCO classified Boyana Church with its stunning 13th - century frescoes. In the evening we will invite you to a welcome dinner where you will have the chance to get to know your fellow travellers who will share the amazing experience with us.
Overnight in Sofia. (D)

Day 2: The Bulgarian Rila Monastery and the Macedonian St. Joakim Osogovski Monastery
The highlight of this morning will be the Rila Monastery - a true architectural masterpiece of its time fascinating with its distinguished works of art. Next we will say “Goodbye” to Bulgaria and explore the charismatic St. Joakim Osogovski Monastery, nested peacefully among the green slopes of the Osogovo Mountain.  For dinner we will indulge in local fish specialties in a traditional tavern nearby the monastery.
Overnight at St. Joakim Osogovski Monastery. (B, L, D)

Day 3: The capital Skopje and the  Matka River Canyon
Today we will continue our journey to the Macedonian capital Skopje, the most important cultural, administrative and economic centre in the county. En route we will stop to explore the spectacular Canyon “Matka” carved by the Treska River fascinating not only with its extraordinary diverse flora and fauna but also for the great number of native butterfly species, 84 of which can only be seen here! We will also take a small walk to the Medieval St. Andrea Monastery while for the enthusiasts a more challenging guided tour of the Matka canyon will be available. After we enjoy a picnic lunch at the banks of the Treska River, we will continue our trip  to the Macedonian capital Skopje for a panoramic sightseeing tour that will reveal the numerous traces of the dramatic history of the ancient city settled on the crossroads between Western and Eastern civilizations. Throughout the centuries Skopje was conquered, destroyed by earthquakes, levelled to the ground by invaders but always revived in an even grader splendour. Today numerous monuments remind of its glory and power.
Overnight in Skopje. (B, L, D)

Day 4: West Macedonia and the St. Jovan Bigorski Monastery
Today we will set off towards the west part of the country where the traditional village lifestyle is still preserved. Our first stop will be Tetovo and the unique “Sharena” Mosque (‘the painted Mosque). Next we will drive through the Mavrovo National Park, the biggest national park in Macedonia. We will enjoy a picnic lunch within the territory of the park after which we will visit one of the nearby villages to try some local homemade sweets with coffee and learn how the traditional Macedonian white cheese is made. In the late afternoon we will explore one of the most beautiful Macedonian Orthodox Monasteries – the St. Jovan Bigorski Monastery, built back in 1021. In the late afternoon we will arrive in Ohrid where we will have dinner provided in a cosy restaurant in town or in the hotel.
Overnight in Ohrid. (B, L, D)

Day 5: The city of  Ohrid and Ohrid Lake
The morning we will dedicate to the Old Town of Ohrid fascinating with its authentic atmosphere and traditional spirit! Our guided sightseeing tour will take us to all the significant landmarks of the city while we learn about its glorious past and get acquainted with its unique present-day character. We will not miss the beautiful Church of St. John the Devine “Kaneo” from where stunning scenery of the lake is revealed. Then we will relax on an hour boat cruise in the Ohrid Lake with yet another captivating view of the city of Ohrid and the crystal waters of the lake. After lunch in a local tavern, we will visit the imposing St. Naum Monastery Complex, a refuge of tranquillity set amidst lush verdure where the River Crn Drim tumbles into the lake. The rest of our day will be at our disposal to enjoy on own.
Overnight in Ohrid. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Bitola, The ancient town of Heraclea Lynkestis and the Greek port of Thessaloniki
Our first stop on today’s agenda will be the second biggest Macedonian city – Bitola, which is also one of the oldest cities within the territory of the country. We will stroll down the preserved authentic Boulevards of the Old Town of Bitola, lined with Renaissance and Neo- Barock facade houses and take in the lively atmosphere of the old shopping street known as “charkha”. For lunch we will enjoy regional specialties in a restaurant in town.
Our afternoon will be dedicated to the ancient town of Heraclea Luncaestys (4th century BC), located near Bitola. According to the popular belief King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, founded the town in the middle of 4th century BC, after he had conquered the surrounding region of Lynkestis and incorporated it into his kingdom of Macedonia. The city was named after the mythological Greek hero Heracles - a legendary hero and father of the Macedonian royal dynasty of Argeadae.  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. Some of the best preserved mosaics on the Balkans dating back from the late 5th   - early 6th century are part of this historical site.
In the late afternoon we will cross the Macedonian- Greek Border and arrive in the picturesque coastal town of Tessaloniki where we will have our first taste of the Greek cuisine.
Overnight inTessaloniki. (B, L, D)

Day 7: Tessaloniki
Today we are going to explore the second largest city of Greece - a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character, which give it a special beauty and charm. Our sightseeing tour today will include the ancient Roman  forum dated to the late 2nd or the early 3rd century AD  with squares, porticoes, additional buildings and mosaics of exquisite art brought to light in excavations and surveys; the basilica Agios Dimitro – an enormous 5th-century structure built in honour of Thessaloniki’s patron saint  and today home to the city’s finest church mosaics; the central Aristotelous Square, surrounded by monumental buildings and picturesquely open to the waterfront; the 15th century White Tower  which has become the hallmark of the city; one of the best the Turkish bathhouses in town  - the Yahudi Hamam. We will not miss strolling down the early 20th century traditional markets - the Modiano, housed in an distinguishing glass-roofed building. The afternoon will be on our disposal to enjoy the city on our own. A “must see” is the Museum of Byzantine Culture, loaded with works of art and memorabilia attributed to the times of the Byzantine Empire.
Overnight inTessaloniki. (B, L, D)

Day 8: Halkidiki, Athos and Kavala
The enchanting peninsula of Halkidiki, shaped like Poseidon’s trident and sticking out into the Aegean Sea, is the most popular tourist destination in northern Greece. It is actually a peninsula with three small peninsulas, known as the three legs of Halkidiki. Our destination today is Mount Athos, situated on the third, eastern and most beautiful peninsula of Halkidiki - the peninsula of Athos. It is the only place in Greece that is completely dedicated to prayer and worship of God. Mount Athos or Agion Oros, as it is locally known, is the oldest surviving monastic community in the world. It dates back more than a thousand years, to Byzantine times and today includes 20 monasteries. It is a unique monastic republic, which, although part of Greece, is governed by its own local administration. The mountain is dedicated to the Holy Mother of God and no female may set foot on the peninsula. Most of its inhabitants are Orthodox monks living in the monasteries. Because of its isolation Mount Athos has remained one of the most unspoiled parts of Greece. The landscape is stunning and wild, with small green valleys and gorges, well wooded peaks interspersed with precipitous ravines and an inaccessible coastline. Small streams of crystal clear water run free under the deep shade of the chestnut trees. Here and there in this wilderness are the fortified walls of the monasteries, with small vegetable plots around them, encircled by a silver-green sea of the olive groves. It is a land where myth is entwined with history, miracles mingle with reality. For spiritual seekers Athos has the appearance of heaven on earth.
From the town of Ouranoupoli at the edge of the frontier between the Holy Mountain and the rest of the world we will take a scenic cruise around this mystic peninsula and embrace its charms and natural beauty.
In the afternoon we will travel to the coastal town of Kavala. We will have free time to stroll down the narrow cobbled streets of ancient Kavala, to marvel at the beautiful scenery of the bay from the ancient Citadel, built ages ago on the highest point of the city and take a cup of aromatic coffee in one of the numerous cafes at the waterfront or in the Old Town.
Our dinner today will be in a traditional Greek tavern.
Overnight in Kavala. (B, L, D)

Day 9: The ancient city of Philipi and the smallest Bulgarian town - Melnik
We will start the day with a short trip north from Kavala to the site of the ancient city of Philippi - one of the great cities of the ancient Greek world. Philippi was established by the king of Macedonia, Philip II, in the 4 century BC and has had its share of fame. It was built along the ancient Roman trade route called the Via Egnatia, which stretched from Rome to Constantinople (Istanbul). During the “Battle of Philippi” in 42 BC Mark Antony and Octavian (later the emperor Augustus) defeated Brutus and Cassius, the leading assassins of Julius Caesar. This city was known as being the gateway to Europe and it is not surprising that Philippi played a large role in changing the direction of the Roman Republic. Philippi is also interesting from a Christian perspective. Here you can follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul as Christianity was first spread to Europe through Philippi. Today parts of the ancient road Via Ignatia can be seen, as well as an ancient Theatre built by Philip II in the 4th century BC and seven early Christian basilicas built between the 4th and 5th centuries AD.
In the afternoon it will be time to say our goodbyes with Macedonia and return to Bulgaria. Tonight we will stay in Melnik - the smallest Bulgarian town, which has always been famous for the delicious red wine produced in the 
Overnight in Melnik. (B, L, D)

Day 10: The Rozhen Monastery, Melnik and the best of Sofia
We will start the day with a visit of the Rozhen Monastery built in 1220 in the south part of the gorgeous Pirin Mountain. Then we will enjoy a wine tasting in one of the traditional wine cellars in Melnik and learn about the special wine-aging method used d by the local wine producers.
In the afternoon we will return to the vibrant Bulgarian capital Sofia and spare some time to explore the very cultural heart of the country. We will visit the colourful Women’s market and have some free time to get a taste of the high-paced urban life of the city. Our guide will give you numerous suggestions and insights on the events in the cultural calendar of the city, so that you can get the best of your free time after which we will invite you to a Farewell dinner in a traditional tavern and say a proper goodbye the Balkan way
Overnight in Sofia. (B, L, D)

Day 11: Trip finishes in Sofia 
Today after breakfast, it will be time for us to say “goodbye” but promise to keep the memories we created together during our Balkan Adventure! (B)

 

If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!

Highlights

  • The Bulgarian capital Sofia - a blend of ancient archaeological monuments and modern-day landmarks
  • The Rila Monastery – a masterpiece of its time!
  • The ancient Macedonian capital Skopje
  • The spectacular Canyon “Matka” carved by the Treska River
  • Western Macedonia and the inspiring St. Jovan Bigorski Monastery
  • A scenic drive through the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia
  • The city of Ohrid picturesquely nested on the banks of the Ohrid Lake
  • Thessaloniki - a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character!
  • Mount Athos - the oldest surviving monastic community in the world!
  • The ancient city of Philippi - one of the great cities of the ancient Greek world!
  • The charming coastal town of Kavala!
  • Melnik - the smallest town in Bulgaria and its delicious red wines!
  • The secluded Rozhen Monastery in the South Pirin Mountain!
  • The Old town of Bansko and the gorgeous Pirin Mountain!

Route

Photos


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What Is Included

  • 11 days / 10 overnights
  • Countries visited: Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece
  • Tour starts: Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Tour finishes: Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 11 breakfasts (B), 10 Lunches (L), 10 dinners (D)
  • 10 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis
  • Guided sightseeing tours of all visited cities and sights
  • Escorted services of an experienced guide in the requested language for the whole tour
  • Transport: Modern air-conditioned coach
  • Group Size: T/A
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