Macedonia Experience ~ June 1 - June 11, 2019
When Apostle Paul was in Troas, he dreamt of a tall impressive Macedonian man who stood in front of him and begged him to “come to Macedonia and help them”. Lydia, of Thyatira and seller of purple, was a foreign woman who became the foundation member of the Philippian Church. Macedonia was also home of Alexander III the Great, the King of Macedonia and conqueror of the Persian Empire and considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times.
Now, you as well can leave your footprints in Macedonia and see this beautiful land that has inspired so many mighty men and women throughout the centuries of time. Today Macedonia is a thriving, modern and vibrant country still hidden from the touristy crowds. We can experience the natural untouched beauty and culture as it should be.
The guides and tour planners from Macedonia Experience craft their trips carefully, and always combine them with culinary, wine, art and cultural immersions, with the locals themselves promoting the customs and traditions of their areas. It is their hope to not only nourish your soul, but to turn you into the engine that drives their dream of letting the world know about the beauties of Macedonia. “You are our future ambassadors – the link between Macedonia and the rest of the world.”
Departure date from USA is June 1, 2019 (departures available on May 31
Bags are packed and we are off for an adventure of a lifetime.
-“Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ~Gustave Flaubert
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” ~Henry David Thoreau
Tour Description: Guided cultural, food and wine discovery tour of Macedonia
Driver and guide: Yes
Land Dates: June 2 -11, 2019
Group size: 14-16 people
Day 1 (Sunday, June 2, 2019) Arrival in Skopje
Welcome to Macedonia!!!! After we go through customs and collect our luggage we will have a meet/greet with the tour leader at the Skopje International Airport, followed by transfer to the hotel. Skopje is the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, the City that lies in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, at the crossroad of important communications, a city with a 2000 years old tradition. Skopje is a modern city with population of almost one million and presents Macedonia’s major political, economical, educational and cultural center. It continues to be a focus for new residents, economic development, construction and refurbishment. Take time to rest and unwind from the flight. A tour briefing followed by a welcome dinner are arranged at a local restaurant within walking distance from hotel. Overnight in Skopje.
Hotel: Skopje Alexandar Square (https://hotelalexandar.mk/)
Meals: (local restaurant)
Day 2 (Monday, June 3, 2019) Exploration of Skopje and the Matka canyon
After breakfast we will have an exploration of the old and new part of Skopje, including visit to of one of the green markets. Morning sightseeing tour which includes visit of the most important amenities of Skopje: The old railway station – the first railway station of the Balkans; the Memorial House of Mother Teresa (she was born in Skopje); The Stone Bridge – a monumental construction in the centre of the city and symbol of Skopje; The Church of St Spas (Holy Salvation), which was built at the end of the 17th century and which is famous for housing the remains of the great Macedonian revolutionary Goce Delcev (1872-1903). The Fortress Kale – an outstanding tourist attraction of Skopje. We will finish the morning with visit of Bit Pazar, oldest and largest green market of Macedonia, and one of the largest in the Balkans.
We will continue our exploration in the Matka canyon, located 20 km away from Skopje. In the area of the canyon we will visit the Monastery of St. Andreja (est. 14th century), on of most prominent amenities in the area. The frescoes painted on the walls of this church differ from any others by their stylistic and artistic qualities and their iconography peculiarities. After the visit of the monastery, we will embark on boats for picturesque boat trip along the Matka lake, all the way to the “Vrelo” cave, another unique highlight. The cave is easily accessible for tourists. Lunch is arranged at outdoor location inside the canyon, where our guests will enjoy the beautiful nature and the tranquility of the canyon.
Return to Skopje in the late afternoon hours. For dinner we will head to Debar Maalo, bohemian district of Skopje, where another selection of traditional local dishes awaits us to be combined with premium wines from the Skopje wine district. Overnight in Skopje.
Hotel: Skopje Alexandar Square(https://hotelalexandar.mk/) : Meals - local restaurant
Day 3 (Tuesday, June 4, 2019) Skopje to Ohrid via Mavrovo National Park
After a relaxed breakfast and checkout – we head west to Mavrovo. Exploration of Mavrovo National Park, which represents one of the most attractive tourist areas of Macedonia. We will explore the southern areas of the national park, where we walk to the Duf waterfall, afterwards enjoy traditional lunch at family home in the nearby village of Rostushe. After lunch, we will transfer to Ohrid. Enroute we will visit the Bigorski Monastery, one of most famous of the region. Accommodation and dinner take place in the old town of Ohrid.
Hotel (http://vilamalsvetikliment.com/)Orhid Vila Mal Sveti Kliment
Meals: B (hotel), L (family home), D (local restaurant)
Activities: Walk to Duf waterfall; lunch at family home in Rostushe; visit of Bigorski monastery
Day 4 (Wednesday, June 5,) Ohrid - the “Pearl of the Balkans”
After breakfast we will enjoy our morning with a guided, walking, sightseeing tour around the UNESCO protected old town of Ohrid (visit of St. Sofia, King Samuil’s Fortress, Perivlepta, the Theatre, King Samuel’s Fortress, the National Gallery of Icons), followed by short panoramic boat trip and lunch at family owned restaurant in the old town. Free afternoon in Ohrid. In the evening we transfer to the nearby village of Kuratica for dinner at the family home of Goran. Overnight in Ohrid.
Hotel: Ohrid - Vila Mal Sveti Kliment (http://vilamalsvetikliment.com/)
Meals: B (hotel), L (local restaurant), D (family home in village of Kuratica)
Activities: Sightseeing in old town of Ohrid; lunch at family restaurant in Ohrid old town; Dinner at family home in the countryside; Panoramic boat trip around the old town of Ohrid
Day 5 (Thursday, June 6, ) Exploring the surroundings of Ohrid (boat cruise to St. Naum, the Bay of Bones and Trpejca)
We will enjoy breakfast together before heading out for more adventures. Today we enjoy a morning lake cruise (pontoon boat) along the eastern shores of the beautiful Ohrid lake, from Ohrid to the monastery complex of St. Naum. We will make en-route boat stop at 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 is one of most remarkable amenities of the Ohrid area, unique for its architecture, artistic and historical legacy. Guests also have the option to take short boat trip in the nearby springs of St. Naum and explore this unique wonder of nature.
Lunch is arranged at Nikola’s fish restaurant located at the waterfront in the small coastal village of Trpejca, where the guests will have the opportunity to try the famous Ohrid trout and enjoy the scenic view. Return to Ohrid in the late afternoon hours. The rest of the day is free, while for dinner we will head to restaurant in the old town to taste some of the long forgotten traditional dishes of Ohrid. Overnight: Ohrid
Hotel: Ohrid - Vila Mal Sveti Kliment (http://vilamalsvetikliment.com/)
Meals: B (hotel), L (local restaurant), D (local restaurant)
Activities: Boat cruise to the Monastery of St. Naum; boat trip in the springs of St. Naum; visit of the village of Trpejca
Day 6 (Friday, June 7,) Ohrid to Bitola / Heraclea Lyncestis/ beekeepers of Dihovo
Enjoy a free morning in Ohrid, followed by checkout and transfer to the city of Bitola, where we visit Heraclea Lyncestis - city founded by Philip II of Macedon and explore other amenities in the Old Bazaar of Macedonia’s second biggest city. For lunch we transfer to the village of Dihovo, where we will be given presentation of traditional and modern beekeeping by our friends Bale and Naco, while lunch is arranged in their family home. The afternoon is free in Bitola, while for dinner we will visit traditional restaurant located on the “Shirok Sokak” alley, most famous amenity in the center of Bitola. Overnight in Bitola.
Hotel: Bitola - Teatar (www.hotelteatar.com)
Meals: B (hotel), L (family home), D (local restaurant)
Activities: Beekeeping presentation in village of Dihovo; visit of Bitola and Heraclea Lyncestis
Day 7 (Saturday, June 8,) Stobi / Tikvesh wine region
We will Checkout after breakfast followed by transfer from Bitola to the Tikvesh wine region, largest in Macedonia and the Balkans. Our first stop today is the Stobi archaeological site. The oldest written sources of Stobi is found in Titus Livius with mention of the victory of Philip V, king of Macedonia, over the Dardanians in 197 BC. According to archaeological data the city was built in the Hellenistic period, but not long before the reign of Philip V. It is assumed that the city was founded in 359, the BC At 168g. BC, the Romans victory over King Perseus, Macedonia was divided into four areas. Stobi then becomes the center of trade in the third district. In 148, the BC Macedonia became a Roman province. During the rule of Augustus (31-14 BC) the city spread west and south, as witnessed by the 55 graves from the western necropolis from the time of Augustus. The expansion of the city are linked to raising the status of the city to the rank of municipium, 69BC. when starting to mint coins with the inscription "Municipium Stobensium". Stobi has beautifully preserved ruins which depict how life was lived in Macedonia during the Roman Empire.
In the wine region of Tikves we are joined by our wine specialist Ms. Ivana Simjanovska (also critic and wine judge), who will guide us in this beautiful region of Macedonia. Wine culture has taken a central role in Macedonia since the Roman times, when the ruling emperors favoured its grapes. Since the times of the Roman Empire it has been written that Macedonia produces amazingly powerful wines with scent of the south, the taste of songs and laughter of the people living in this region. Thanks to an abundance of sunshine, Mediterranean and continental breezes and rich rocky soil, wine grapes thrive in Macedonia. We will arrange wine tasting over lunch and dinner. Overnight at Tikvesh winery.
Hotel: Tikves - Queen Marija
Meals: B (hotel), L (winery), D (wine tasting)
Activities: Wine tasting in Tikvesh; visit of Stobi archaeological site
Day 8 (Sunday, June 9,) Tikvesh to Kratovo via Stip
After breakfast, we will depart this beautiful wine region for yet another day of discovery. We will have a transfer from Demir Kapija to Kratovo, one of the oldest towns of the Balkans. Enroute a stop will be made in the city of Stip, where we will visit the old fortress called “Isar”, afterwards have “pastrmajlija” pie for lunch (typical traditional food in this area). We will also do enroute visit of the famous medieval monastery of Lesnovo, perhaps the best preserved endowment of a Serbian noble of the 14th century, with superb and excellently preserved frescoes. Its historical importance, above all as a literary center, is of equal importance.
Upon arrival in Kratovo, guests will be given short walking sightseeing tour in the center, and afterwards will be shown how “kcana” salt (traditional crushed salt unique to Kratovo) is made. Dinner is arranged at local restaurant in Kratovo. Overnight in Kratovo.
Kratovo - Hotel Kratis
Meals: B(hotel), L(local restaurant),
Activities: Visit and traditional lunch in Stip; visit of Monastery of Lesnovo; sightseeing and “kcana” salt production presentation in Kratovo
Day 9 (Monday, June 10, 2019) Kratovo to Skopje via Kuklici and Osogovski monastery
Free morning in Kratovo before transferring to Skopje. Our first destination today is the area of Kuklici, famous for its geological rock formations. Highlight of the day is the Monastery of Osogovski located in the small town of Kriva Palanka. Arrival in Skopje in the late afternoon hours, followed by checkin and farewell dinner. Overnight: Skopje
Hotel: Skopje - Alexandar Square (https://hotelalexandar.mk/)
Meals: B (hotel), L (monastery restaurant), D (local restaurant)
Activities: Visit of Kuklici rock formation; visit of monastery of Osogovski
Day 10 (Tuesday, June 11, 2019) Departure
We will enjoy breakfast together, amazed that our journey of exploration in Macedonia has gone by so quickly. So much history, culturefood, wine, new friends and memories that we will cherish forever.
We will have a morning airport transfer to Skopje Airport for our return flight home..
Price Per person Sharing room: $2550.00 / Single Supplement: $300.00
Group Air Available up Request
Pre-tour day arrival into Skopje with transfers, hotel and meals included: $220.00
The price includes:
- Transportation with comfortable minibus as per program
- Single timed arrival and departure airport transfers from Skopje Airport
- English speaking tour leader
- Accommodation at DBL/TWIN occupancy (9 overnights) at nice 3*/4* properties as per program
- All meals as per program (selection of traditional dishes arranged at local restaurants, family homes and outdoor locations; welcome drink included)
- All activities (boat trips, wine tasting..)
- Entrance fees at archaeological sites and national parks
- Trip organization and 24/7 support from Macedonia Experience and Martha’s Travel Corner
- Flights to Macedonia - Can be arranged through Martha’s Travel Corner
- Individual airport transfers
- Single supplement ($300.00)
- Travel insurance - available upon request through Martha’s Travel Corner
- Tips to drivers/guides (detailed tipping guide available upon request)
The restaurants, accommodation and activity providers on our trips are small family owned businesses which were carefully selected for their premium quality and service, and their involvement on our trips is crucial for their existence. By working with these suppliers, we make true local impact and enforce responsible travel around Macedonia and the Balkans
Questions and Answers for travel to Macedonia
1. Question: Is the water safe to drink in Macedonia or should we expect to purchase bottled water?
Answer: Yes, tap water is safe to drink everywhere around Macedonia, however, bottled water is also available.
2. Question: Should I advise people to take extra Euro or Denar to pay for comfort stops along the way?
Answer: No, we'd use the toilets at petrol stations, which are free.
3. Question: Can people use Credit cards at local shops for gifts and such, which ones are acceptable, are there places such as shops that prefer they use cash (in Euro or local currency)
(While we were in Switzerland people tried to use Euro and could not, only Swiss Franc) so should I tell them to bring some Denar as well?)
Answer: Yes, many malls/shops accept the major cards (Visa, Master, Maestro), so You shouldn't be having any issues with payments. Also, once You land at the airport, there is a bank where You can exchange USD or EUR to Macedonian Denars, but there are plenty of exchange offices around Skopje where You can do it. Also, the exchange offices in Macedonia don't have service charge.
4. Question: How do I advise people who want to come on the tour but have limited walking issues, should I tell them this is not the tour for them - or if they cannot walk very far - will they still be ok with something else to do or a place to rest while the rest of us are exploring.
Answer: The tour is very easy and we are able to accommodate people with limited walking issues. Exceptions from this are the walk to the Duf Waterfall on day 3 (it's a 20 minutes walk in one direction) and some parts of the Ohrid old town during the sightseeing on day 4. However, should anybody not feel able to walk on some days, we will find them the perfect spot with a view where they can rest and enjoy coffee:)
5. Question: Also, a big question is always "How is the weather and how should they dress".
Answer: Usually June is very pleasant month to travel with lots of sun. Here's more info on the averages in Macedonia in June: https://www.holiday-weather.com/skopje/averages/june/ Anyway, please advise the people to bring summer jackets in case we get some rain:)
Airlines to Macedonia:
Turkish Air and Austrian Air seem to be the best that I have found.
I like the air schedule with Austrian air, however on the return there is a 20 layover in Vienna so we would not get home until June 12th. I have been informed by Austrian air that the checked luggage would not have to be reclaimed while in Vienna and we can get a hotel for the long layover. We would just have to go through security again when we come back to the airport.
This is the Austrian Air schedule from O’Hare”: I can also check from LAX for those coming from California
June 1, 2019 Depart ORD 4:20 pm arrive Vienna 8:35 am Depart Vienna at 10:10 am and arrive in Skope at 11:45 on June 2nd (full day to enjoy Skope before actual tour begins)
June 11, 2019 Depart SKP at 12:50 pm arrive in Vienna at 2:25 pm - overnight Vienna
June 12, Depart Vienna at 10:30 am - arrive ORD at 1:55 pm
I can hold group air out of Chicago, or if everyone wants to book their own flights that is fine as well, just let me know. Pricing will depend on when I hold the air.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please fill out the form below. A printer friendly reservation form is available upon request.