Day 1Arrival at Thessaloniki Airport (GR) – Kavala (GR) (155 km) (D)
Arrival at the airport of Thessaloniki, pick up from the airport and transfer to Kavala, once called Neapoli. After the Macedonian call of Apostle Paul in Troas, in the winter of the year 49 A.D., he started his journey to Europe, choosing Neapoli as a first stop, after traveling for two days. He had already begun his tour aiming to increase and boost the construction of churches. We check-in to the hotel, we visit the Monument Apostle Paul – Church of St. Nicholas, with a beautiful mosaic of the story of St. Paul arriving in Kavala. Walking by the ancient aqueduct, we enter in the castle of Kavala to explore the ancient city. Tonight, we have a welcoming dinner in a restaurant on the Mediterranean Coast. Overnight.
Day 2Kavala– Phillipi – Mount Athos – Thessaloniki (GRE) (160 km) (B)
We leave Kavala in the morning and drive to the ancient city of Phillipi. During the stay of Apostle Paul and his companions at Philippi, the first Christening on European ground took place. It was Saturday when they left the city to visit a place near the Zygaktis River. There was a tradeswoman of Tyrian purple dye, Lydia of Thyatira (Asia Minor). She was a pious woman who accepted the sermon of Apostle Paul and became a Christian. Lydia the Macedonian was the first Christian from Europe, who was baptized along with her family at the banks of Zygaktis River. She also had the Apostle Paul and his companions stay at her house, and helped him spread the word of Jesus Christ all over Europe. We will visit the place where she was baptized and the church of St. Lydia next to it. We drive on to Ouranoupoli port. We take a cruising boat to observe from the seaside the Holy Mount of Athos, the epicenter of the Eastern Orthodox monasticism and the home of 20 medieval monasteries, served by thousands of monks. In the evening, we finish the day in Thessaloniki. Check-in to the hotel and free evening.
Day 3Thessaloniki (GRE) (10 km) (B, D)
This morning, we follow the footsteps of Apostles Paul and Silas in Thessaloniki. In the fall of the year 49 A.D., they found the city completely different from what they had seen until then, being Roman-free since 168 B.C. There was a synagogue close to the port, where Apostles Paul went for three Saturdays.
We take a tour in the Anopoli or the upper city, being able to visit St. Paul Church and St. Demetrius Church. We will visit the Museum of Byzantine Culture and in your spare time, you can visit the Jewish Museum or the White Tower Museum. We will have dinner in a traditional Greek restaurant tavern, with traditional Greek live music. Overnight.
Day 4Thessaloniki – Veria – Vergina - Meteora – Kalambaka (GRE) (250 km) (B, D)
In the morning, we drive to Veria (71 km), the next stop of Apostle Paul and Silas. Veria was a busy city with a great population and had a flourishing synagogue. As soon as they got there, Paul and Silas visited the synagogue. It is said that the Jews of Veria heard with great interest Paul preaching the Holy Gospel. The spot in Veria where it is said that Paul stood and preached, the so-called "Apostle Paul's Podium", is now an imposing monument and our main attraction in this town. In the spare time, depending on the closing hours, we may visit some of the many churches in the area. After that, we go back to аncient times to visit Vergina (14 km) and the Мuseum of Royal Тombs in Aigai from the famous dynasty of Alexander the Great. Lunch on your own. Later, we drive to Meteora (165 km), the second biggest center of the Eastern Orthodox Church in Greece. The area of Meteora was originally settled by monks who lived in caves within the rocks during the 11th century. Today, only 6 of the monasteries in Meteora are active and we will visit two of them, depending on the day of the visit. Check-in to a hotel in Kalambaka. Organized dinner. Overnight.
Day 5Kalambaka (GR) – Bitola (MK) – Ohrid (MK) (280 km) (B, L)
Today, we cross the Greek-Macedonian border and we drive to Bitola (215 km), or Heraklea Linkestis, as it was called in ancient times, a city founded by Philip the Second of Macedon. We will first visit the ancient city of Heraclea Linkestis and remains of few early Christian churches and their beautiful floor mosaics there. At the beginning of the 4th century, Christianity was officially recognized as a religion, and in that period in the region of Macedonia, were established many episcopal centers. We will have lunch in a local restaurant and visit the church dedicated to the St. Demetrius in Bitola. We finish today’s journey in the city of UNESCO – Ohrid (65 km), called the Balkan (European) Jerusalem. Check-in to a hotel, a short orientation walk and free evening. Overnight.
Day 6Ohrid – Bay of bones – St. Naum - Ohrid (60 km) (B, L, D)
At the end of the 3rd century, Ohrid was already a Christian town, and from the beginning of the 4th century, it became a very important episcopal center. In the medieval period, this town had its own autocephalous (independent) church and even patriarchy. Ohrid itself is a jewel of Macedonia, the city of Macedonian Orthodox churches, with a history dating back over 3.000 years. Both the city and the lake are on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage. In the morning, we walk through the streets of Ohrid to reach the highest point – Samuel’s Fortress, which offers wonderful landscapes of the whole area. We will visit the Cathedral Church of St. Sofia, the Ancient Theater, and from the medieval church St. John the Evangelist, we get back in the center by small boats. At noon, we take a big boat ride to the prehistoric settlement from the Bronze Age, called The Bay of Bones or the Museum on Water. Later, we sail to St. Naum Monastery and the lake springs. In this monastery from the 9th century, we can see the tomb of St. Naum – the student of Cyril and Methodius. According to the legends, we can still hear his heartbeat when approaching the tomb. Today, we have the chance to get a ride by small boats through the springs of the lake. Our lunch will be served at the Springs Restaurant. Back to Ohrid and dinner in a restaurant with a Macedonian folklore dancing group. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 7Ohrid – Mavrovo – Matka – Skopje (MK) (205 km) (B, L)
Today, we drive to the Macedonian capital, Skopje. On the way, we first stop in the famous Macedonian village of Vevchani. It is a place of springs, carnivals, history and delicious organic food. We visit the village springs, a monument of nature. The next stop will be the St. John the Baptist (Bigorski) monastery from the 11th century, to admire the wooden iconostasis and icons and to witness how the monks spend a day there. We are driving throughout canyons in the National park Mavrovo. In the afternoon, we drive to one of the most beautiful canyons in Europe - Matka. We will make a lunch break in the restaurant on the bank of the river, possibly have river trout, and we will sail 6 km upstream by small boats to visit the cave Vrelo, full of natural cave decorations. We will also visit St. Andrew Church from the 14th century. We are going to spend the evening in the capital Skopje. Accommodation in a hotel, a small orientation walk and free evening. Overnight in Skopje.
Day 8Skopje city tour – Millennium Cross – Skopje (15 km) (B, L, D)
In the morning, we start a walking tour from the Old Turkish Bazaar, meeting different cultures and religions and old forgotten crafts. After that, we walk to the modern center of Skopje, across the Stone Bridge, the landmark of the city, and we will visit the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, with many artifacts from the early and medieval Christianity in Macedonia. In the very center, we admire the monument and fountain of Alexander the Great. The next stop will be the Memorial House of Mother Theresa, the most famous Skopje-born citizen. In the afternoon, we drive to the starting point of the cable car in the Mountain Vodno, to visit another landmark of this city – the Millennium Cross. As one of the highest crosses in the world, it was constructed to serve as a memorial for the 2.000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and to honor biblical passages citing the evangelization activities of St. Paul within the region. As a landmark, the cross has turned into a tourist destination with the best observation point to see the panorama of the capital city. Back to Skopje and a farewell dinner in a restaurant. Overnight in Skopje.
Day 9Skopje – Airport of Skopje (20 km) (B)
Breakfast, free time and transfer to the International Airport Skopje.