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The undiscovered capital cities of the Balkans!

Looking for an off-the-beaten track adventure and would like to learn more about the cultural heritage and the history of the three of the yet undiscovered gems on the Balkan Peninsular? Don’t hesitate to join us and explore the intricate cultures of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo at the very heart of the Balkans, where east-meets west! Let them surprise you and enchant you with their centuries-long cultural heritage and unspoiled natural beauty!
We will start and finish our trip in Bulgaria – a country that seems to have it all – fine sand beaches, plenty of hot mineral water springs, mighty mountains, delicious wine and a vibrant capital city that never sleeps! Our taste of the not less interesting republic of Albania, we will get in its lovely capital Tirana – “the beating heart of the country”, where this tiny nation's hopes and dreams coalesce into a vibrant whirl of traffic, brash consumerism and unfettered fun!  The Motherland of Alexander the Great will reveal to us the charms of its proud capital Skopje, the splendid little villages where time seems to have stopped, the magnificent Ohrid Lake and the stunningly-decorated monasteries! To top it all, we will travel deep in the heart of Kosovo to explore Europe’s newest capital city – Pristina! Changing fast and full of the optimism and potential, Pristina will inevitably turn into a cultural hotspot in the near future!
Join us for this exciting discovery!

Day-to-day Itinerary

Day 1: Sofia
Our guide will meet you at the Sofia Airport upon your arrival and escort you to the hotel. Then, depending on your arrival time you will have some free time to explore the city centre on your own and start creating memories! In the evening we will invite you to a Welcome dinner during which you will have the opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and share your first impressions from the Bulgarian capital!
Overnight in Sofia. (D)

Day 2: Sofia – BG/MK Border - Osogovo Monastery – Skopje
Today we will head south-west towards the Bulgarian/Macedonian border. Then we will say “Goodbye” to Bulgaria and travel to the charismatic St. Joakim Osogovski Monastery, nested peacefully amongst verdant green forests in the Osogovo Mountain in North-east Macedonia. In the late afternoon we will reach and explore the Macedonian capital Skopje, the most important cultural, administrative and economic centre in the county. Our sightseeing tour 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, leveled to the ground by invaders but always revived in an even grader splendor. Today numerous monuments remind of its glory and power. We cannot miss to walk around the memorable KALETO Fortress and to take our first impressions of the capital which opens at every step one of its great “Seven Gates”.
In the church of Sveti Spas church, on the foot of Old Town in Skopje, there is one of the most beautiful iconostasis on the Balkans, completed in 1824; its carving of priceless historic and superior art value stuns and delights all of us. We visit after the authentic “charshia”.
We reach the New Town of Skopje through the famous Stone Bridge, built in 15th century, where we see the new 30 meter high Statue of Alexander the Great, the fundaments of the House of Mother Teresa (She was born in Skopje) and more.
Dinner and overnight in Skopje. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Skopje – Pristina
Today we will travel to the capital of Kosovo. After crossing the Macedonian/Kosovian border we will spare some time for lunch following which we will start our sightseeing tour in the exciting Pristina - a city changing fast and one that feels full of the optimism and potential that you'd expect from Europe's newest capital city. Far more provincial town than great city, Pristina's vibe is laid back and frequently unpredictable: the UN and EU both have huge presences here and Pristina feels rich and more sophisticated as a result.We will see some of the top sights here – the Kosovo Museum, the Independence House of Kosovo, the National Library, the beautiful mosques dotting the city centre. Before dinner we will have some time at leisure to take in the city’s vibe on our own.
Overnight in Pristina. (B, L, D)

Day 4: Pristina - Tirana
We will dedicate the afternoon to the Albanian capital. Our sightseeing tour will show us the true Tirana – a lively, colourful town and the beating heart of Albania, where this tiny nation's hopes and dreams coalesce into a vibrant whirl of traffic, brash consumerism and unfettered fun. Having undergone a transformation of extraordinary proportions since it awoke from its communist slumber in the early 1990s, Tirana is now unrecognizable, with its buildings painted in horizontal primary colours and public squares and pedestrian streets a pleasure to wander.
Visit the National History museum and get a general explanation about the long and troubled history of Albania. Walking tour in the afternoon - Skanderbeg square, Tanner's bridge, Ethem Bey Mosque, the rezidence of Enver Hodzha and the governmental buildings.
Dinner and overnight in Tirana. (B, L, D)

Day 5: Tirana - AL/MK Border – Ohrid (160 km)
Today we will leave Albania and explore one of the most beautiful lakes on the Balkan Peninsula the Macedonian Ohrid Lake. In the afternoon we will cross the Albanian – Macedonian Border and reach the city of Ohrid situated on the banks of the Ohrid Lake at the South-West corner of Macedonia. The UNESCO listed Old Town of Ohrid is fascinating with its authentic atmosphere and traditional spirit!
Lunch in a restaurant down town, near the Cathedral church of “St Sofia”, the biggest in Ohrid built in the 10th century.
This afternoon we dedicated to a walking tour of Ohrid. Our first visit is the Church of Holly Mother of God Perivleptos from 13th century, situated within the Museum complex Sveti Kliment near the Upper Gate and surrounded by the medieval walls. Perhaps we will have the opportunity to hear the Christian story of Ohrid from the historian Popovska Iana exactly here in this holly church.
We pass along the Roman theatre where we find splendid view over the beautiful “white architecture” of Ohrid Old Town. Our walk continue with the Sveti Kliment and Pantelejmon Church complex at Plaosnik where by the end of 9th and the beginning of 10th century the Slavic literacy, spirituality and culture were founded. A shady path will lead us to small chapel called Sveti Ioan Caneo. It is absolutely necessary to see this most emblematic place from the water which appears in all books and photo galleries when we have Ohrid in mind.
Tonight we will have dinner at a traditional Macedonian restaurant.
Overnight in Ohrid. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Ohrid – Heraclea – Bitola
This morning we will dedicate to the imposing St. Naum Monastery Complex, a refuge of tranquility, set amidst lush verdure where the River Crn Drim tumbles into the Ohrid Lake. We will have lunch nearby the monastery before we continue our trip eastwards. The next stop on our agenda is the ancient town of Heraclea Luncaestys (4th century BC), located just outside the city of 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 518 A.D. Some of the best preserved mosaics on the Balkans dating back from the late 5th   - early 6th century are part of this historical site.
We will spend tonight in Bitola - the second biggest Macedonian city, which is also one of the oldest cities within the territory of the country. Before dinner everyone can enjoy some free time to 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”.
Overnight in Bitola. (B, L, D)

Day 7: Bitola – Stobi – Demir Kapija winery – Sandanski
The highlight of our last day in the Republic Macedonia will be the tasting of some fine wines from the Tikves region.  We will stop first at the historical site of Stobi, one of the best preserved archaeological landmarks in Macedonia, lying in a fertile wine valley of Tikves region, just a few minutes’ drive off the central north-south highway that connects Macedonia with Greece. The ancient city of Stobi was a vital trade route in its high days. This crossroad of ancient civilizations has left a rich legacy of antique theaters, palace ruins, brightly-colored mosaics and religious relics for visitors to enjoy today.
The archaeologists believe that the town has-been inhabited as early as the 2nd B.C. and experienced its highest prosperity in the 3rd and 4th century A.D.For more than a century Stobi has been attracting scientists from all over the world to reveal its secrets.
We will have lunch at the Popova Kula Winery, located on the south slopes of the Grand Hill (Veliko Brdo) in the outskirts of the lovely town of Demir Kapija. Along with some mouth-watering traditional dishes we will taste fine wines produced from typical Macedonian grape varieties, such as Stanushina, Temjanika, Zilavka, Prokupec and Vranec.
We will continue our trip to Bulgaria through the town of Strumica. After crossing the Macedonian/ Bulgarian Border we will reach our Spa hotel, situated in the heart of the town of Sandanski, famous with its healing thermal-water springs.
Overnight in hotel in Sandanski. (B, L, D)

Day 8: Sandanski - Sofia
Today we will travel north and take some time to 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. We will not miss the Banya Bashi Mosque, the recently restored Synagogue, the old Catholic church, the emblematic Aleksander Nevski Cathedral, Church "St Sofia", Martyr Saint George Conqueror Church-Rotonda, and much more.
Before dinner, you will have some time at leisure to stroll down the city centre on your won and find your favorite spots in the “always growing, never aging city of Sofia” as the locals say.
Overnight in hotel in Sofia. (B, L, D)

Day 9: Sofia – Trip finishes
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 picturesque city of Ohrid and the spectacular Ohrid Lake!
  • The proud Macedonian capital Skopje!
  • Tirana – “the beating heart of Albania”!
  • Europe’s newest capital city – Pristina!

Route

Photos


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What Is Included

  • 9 days / 8 overnights
  • 8 breakfasts (B), 7 Lunches (L), 8 dinners (D)
  • 8 nights 3/4 - 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
  • Group Size: T/A
  • Transport: Modern air-conditioned coach
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