Day 1 Skopje airport - City tour Skopje (25 km) (D)
We welcome you at International Airport Skopje. Today, after the accommodation, we first take you on a walking tour starting from the French World War I cemetery built in 1926 to commemorate the 2.930 soldiers from France and its colonies, including Morocco and Senegal, of which only 930 were identified. Commemorations at the cemetery traditionally take place on 14 July for the French National Day and on 11 November, the date of signature of the armistice that ended the World War I. We continue to the centuries-old Kale – Skopje fortress, and then to the Old Turkish Bazaar, where we visit the Military Museum of Macedonia that follows centuries-old history of wars in this region. Next, we visit the Museum of Macedonian Struggle for Sovereignty and Independence, covering WWI and the department of the victims of the communist regime. We walk across the Stone Bridge, the landmark of the city, and stop in front of the monument and fountain of Alexander the Great. The next stop will be the Memorial House of Mother Theresa (born in Skopje in 1910). Welcome dinner.
Day 2Skopje – Ohrid (170 km) (B, D)
In the morning, we start with some of the natural attractions in Macedonia, and we are getting to one of the most beautiful canyons in Europe - Matka, along with the Treska River. We will first have a small boats ride for 6 km upstream to visit the cave Vrelo, full of cave decorations like stalactites and stalagmites. Free time in the canyon for individual activities. In the afternoon, we drive on to the neighboring town Tetovo to visit the 15th-century mosque, painted in a unique way in the 19th century. The site used to include an Inn as well as a bathhouse on the other side of the river. Abdurrahman Pasha, a great enthusiast of art who was fond of Tetovo, reconstructed the mosque in 1833. In the early evening, we will reach today’s destination. The final destination today is the Ohrid town of UNESCO. After the check in to the hotel, we start a walking tour through the old city of Ohrid, with traces of four thousand years of civilization. We will visit the Ancient Macedonian-Roman Theater, and famous medieval churches – St. Sophia Cathedral, Holy Mother of God Perivleptos and St. John the Evangelist - Kaneo, from where we get back to the city center by small boats. Tonight we have organized dinner in a national restaurant. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 3 Ohrid – Bitola (95 km) (B, D)
We leave Ohrid after breakfast, heading to the National park and mountain of Galitchitsa. On the way there, we stop to visit the unique prehistoric settlement on water from the Bronze Age, called the Museum on Water or the Bay of Bones. Then, we drive up almost to the top of the mountain to admire nature from a few viewpoints. Here, we start exploring the first visible traces of World War I. We take a 2-3 hours hike to follow the tranches and improvised bunkers, drilled in the limestone, to remind us of the once frontline and battles that took place here. On the other side of the National park, we will have another stop to view Prespa Lake rich with hundreds of species of birds, pelicans and cormorants among them. Further, we drive on to the town of Bitola to explore the Ottoman Market, Yeni Mosque, the Clock Tower and the "Wide Alley". Dinner and overnight in Bitola.
Day 4 Bitola – NP Pelister– Bitola (30 km) (B, D)
After breakfast, first, we give a visit to the once military academy, a place where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, finished his military school, today a museum and memorial room of Ataturk. Bitola has always been an administrative, cultural, commercial, and educational centre in the region. As many European countries had consulates in Bitola, this town is commonly known as the City of The Consuls for centuries. However, during World War I, Bitola was one of the most strategic towns in the Macedonian frontline and one of the most bombarded towns in the world. Further, we will visit the French cemetery containing the graves of between 13.262-16.262 French soldiers (of which 6.262 in individual graves) killed in World War I. Later, we will visit the German cemetery of the 3.406 fallen German soldiers in World War I, of the same frontline. In the afternoon, we drive to the National Park Pelister to see the remaining tranches and follow the WWI trail, sightseeing and informative educational billboards. Tonight, we enjoy dinner in some of the central restaurants. Overnight in Bitola.
Day 5Day 5 – Bitola – Mariovo Region – Bitola (110 km) (B)
Today we drive a 4×4 jeep to rural Macedonia, following the once military road used for transportation of ammunition and thousands of soldiers to the battleline. For the locals who live here, even the new generations, a synonym for war remains the WWI. Along the trip, the terrain will vary from deep forest to desert-like places, from valleys to mountains and from inhabited to completely deserted villages. We will also have an opportunity to get a small hike to one of the most beautiful old stone bridges in this region and visit the old watermill near the bridge. We will also witness the rural lifestyle in Mariovo’s villages that are characterized by the unique architecture of the houses, built only of natural materials like stones, mud, timber, etc. Here, optionally, we can taste home-made bread, sheep cheese, honey, dry meat, fresh salad and fruit authentic to this region. Back to Bitola and overnight.
Day 6 Bitola – Dojran (190 km) (B, D))
From Bitola, we are headed to Dojran, practically following the frontline. Dojran and its surrounding was a place where one of the most violent battles of the Macedonian Front took place during the World War I. The British Army had tried to break through the positions of their opponents several times. The Greek and Irish military cemeteries in Rabrovo and the damage to the St. Ilija's church in Star Dojran, testify for the violence of the battles. Near Dojran, in Kala Tepe, trenches and shelters may still be found. During the battles, the population of Dojran was forced to leave. On several occasions, the city was burned down by the British artillery. We stop at the Greek cemetery where around 118 Greek soldiers died during the breakthrough of the Macedonian Front in September 1918 and were buried in the Greek cemetery of Valandovo. Just a few meters away we can see the Irish military cemetery, and the grave of the soldiers part of the 10th Irish division. Following the 4 km land trail, on foot, we will visit the Kala Tepe, close to Dojran, with an altitude of 611 meters. From there, the Bulgarian army was conducting its strategic military operations. Dinner and overnight in Dojran.
Day 7 Dojran– Polykastro–Thessaloniki (80 km) (B, D)
We leave Macedonia and cross the Greek border, heading to Thessaloniki. Just after the border, we make a stop in Polykastro to visit the WWI cemetery with a little over 1,000 graves of British soldiers who died within the period of 1915 to 1918. After checking in to our hotel, today we will explore the Port of Thessaloniki which is over 2.000 years old, and the White Tower which has become the city symbol. In the afternoon, we will visit the Lembet Road Cemetery, the resting place of over 1.600 commonwealth servicemen as well as burials of French, Serbian, Italian and Bulgarian troops. Free afternoon to explore the city on our own and farewell dinner in a Greek restaurant with traditional Greek music.
Day 8Thessaloniki airport (20 km) (B)
Breakfast and transfer to the airport of Thessaloniki.