UNCOVER THE PEARLS OF THE BALKANS: BULGARIA & MACEDONIA
12 days / 11 overnights
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 Ochrid lake, The Galichica National Park,The Prespa Lake, Macedonian Wine region of Tikvesh, theSmolarski waterfall, Melnik, The Rozhen Monastery, the Pirin Mountain, Bansko, Sofia
Countries: Bulgaria, Macedonia
Price from: request
They say that the Balkan peoples’ twisting history is a lot to bear. The Balkan countries form an unrivaled in diversity patchwork of cultures sewn together through the centuries. We welcome you to discover these lands where the Slav literacy was born and where some of the most powerful ancient civilizations raised and fell to leave us an incredibly rich cultural heritage that cannot fail to fascinate you!
Bulgaria and Macedonia are sister – countries in the heart of the Balkans. The fact that they were isolated from the Western World during the communist era makes them even more interesting today, true unspoiled cultural pearls that have so much to surprise and to fascinate you with! Apart from the warm and welcoming nature of its people, the motherland of Alexander the Great, Macedonia strikes with extraordinary natural beauty and diversity that remained in the shadows for so long! Bulgaria captivates with its preserved traditions in the cozy inviting villages tucked in the majestic Rila and Pirin mountains, the endless fine sand beaches along the Black sea coast, and the charismatic west-meets east feel of the vibrant capital Sofia!
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. (lunch, diner)
Bulgarian Panagyurishte Treasure - the National History Museum, Bulgaria
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 Osgovo Mountain. For dinner we will indulge in local fish specialties in a traditional tavern nearby the monastery.
Overnight at St Joakim Osogovski Monastery. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
St.Joakim Osogovski Monastery, Macedonia
DAY 3 / THE CAPITAL SKOPJE AND THE "MATKA"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 return to 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. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
The spectacular Canyon “Matka” carved by the Treska River, Macedonia
DAY 4 / WEST MACEDONIA AND THE ST/JOVAN BIGORSKI MONASTERY
This morning 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 (‘Colourful’ 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.
Overnight at the St.Jovan Bigorski Monastery. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
DAY 5 / TRADITIONA IS STILL ALIVE IN THE VILLAGE OF VEVCHANI AND OHRID
Today’s adventures start with an invigorating morning walk from the monastery to the nearby village of Rostuse where we will enjoy a homemade cottage breakfast – a traditional cheese pastry called “banica” along with some freshly made yogurt. Then we will travel to the village of Vevchani where we will have the chance to observe the traditional wooden water-mills which are still used for wheat and corn grinning and have some time to grab of cup of aromatic coffee. Next on our agenda is a visit of the picturesque town of Struga located the banks of the Ohrid Lake, where we will also have lunch featuring delightful local specialties. In the late afternoon we will arrive in the city of Ohrid to enjoy a breathtaking sunset at the The Church of St.John the Devine “Kaneo” and to take part in workshop for paper making and learn how to use the unique technique from the region. Before dinner we will enjoy some free time to explore the Old town of Ohrid on our own. Overnight in Ohrid. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
DAY 6 / 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 citywhile we learn about its glorious past and get acquainted with its unique present-day character. Then we willrelax on an hour boat cruise in the Ohrid Lake from where the view of the city is just captivating. Afterlunch in a local tavern in the fishermen’s village of Trpejca, situated at the south bank of the lake, we will visit the imposing St. Naum Monastery Complex, a refuge of tranquility 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. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
Тhe Ohrid Lake, Ohrid, Macedonia
DAY 7 / THE GALICHICA NATIONAL PARK - THE PRESPA LAKE - MACEDONIAN WINE REGION OF TIKVESH
Today we will first explore the Galichica National Park, situated in the Galichica Mountain, less than an hour drive away from Ohrid. En route to the village of Negotino, we will make a stop for a refreshing cup of coffee at the green village of Otesevo. To get to the village of Negotiono, we will travel through Tikvesh-the largest and most famous wine region of Macedonia, where wine production has been the main occupation for the local population since ancient times. We will visit Negotino’s best wine cellars to taste the delicious wine varieties and learn why the local people say “If it is good wine, it must be from Tikvesh”. After lunch we will travel to the southeast part of Macedonia and the town of Strumica, an important agricultural centre producing peanuts, sesame, tobacco, and various fruit.
Overnight in Strumica. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
DAY 8 / THE SMOLARSKI WATERFALL IN MACEDONIA AND THE TOWN OF MELNIK IN BULGARIA
Our first stop today will be the Monastery of Veljusa renowned for its unique marble iconostasis and frescos from 11th and 12th century. Then we will travel to the 39-meters high Smolarski waterfall, a Monument of nature located on the northern slopes of Belasica Mountain at 600 metres above the sea level. A 20 - minute walk will take us to the waterfall which lies deep within the forest over several handmade bridges surrounded by 100-year-old beech trees. Then 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. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
Melnik - the smallest Bulgarian town, Bulgaria
DAY 9 / THE ROZHEN MONASTERY, MELNIK AND BANSKO
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 early afternoon we will travel to the town of Bansko, a popular winter resort with preserved ancient quarter dotted with galleries, hand-made souvenir shops and welcoming traditional taverns. For dinner we will enjoy mouth-watering regional Bulgarian specialties.
Overnight in Bansko. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
DAY 10 / THE PIRIN MOUNTAIN
Bansko is also known as the gate to the most beautiful and the only alpine-relief mountain in Bulgaria, Pirin, which we will not miss to explore. In all seasons Pirin Mountain strikes with the splendid beauty of it’s more than 160 crystal-clear mountain lakes, the hundreds of acres of dense pine forests and the second highest peak on the Balkan Peninsula, Vihren (2914m). We will devote our last day in the mountains to this UNESCO classified natural phenomenon. We will travel to the Vihren Cottage (1950m), the starting point for all extreme hiking trails. From this point on, there will be two options for spending the day in the mountain – one for the more extreme hiking enthusiasts and another for those of us who would like to have a less intense outdoor day. In the evening we will return to the town of Bansko for an evening at a local family’s home. Overnight in Bansko. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
Pirin Mountain - the most beautiful and the only alpine-relief mountain in Bulgaria
DAY 11 / THE BEST OF SOFIA
Today 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 hot 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. (breakfast, lunch, diner)
DAY 12 / 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! (breakfast)
WHAT IS INCLUDED:
- 12 days / 11 overnights
- Countries visited: Bulgaria & Macedonia
- Tour starts: Sofia, Bulgaria
- Tour finishes: Sofia, Bulgaria
- 10 breakfasts (B), 10 Lunches (L), 10 dinners (D)
- 11 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
- 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
- The Galichica National Park in Macedonia
- Tikvesh- the largest and most famous wine region of Macedonia and Negotino’s best wine cellars
- The spectacular the 39-meters high Smolarski waterfall in Eastern Macedonia
- 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