Breakfast in the hotel. City tour. Ohrid is Europe’s oldest lake town and as one of the oldest human settlements in the world, it’s got a wealth of historic sites and religious monuments to discover. The town is said to have once been home to 365 churches, one for each day of the year, earning the nickname ‘the Macedonian Jerusalem’. Today we start with an exploration of the town’s streets and churches, maybe picking up a bargain or two in the vibrant Old Bazaar, or the ancient Tsar Samoil’s Fortress, which stands on the top of Ohrid Hill and looks across the town, along with a 2000 year old Macedonian-Roman theatre that was uncovered near its upper gate. We finish at St. John of Kaneo church, which sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the lake, one of the most popular in Macedonia. Back in the center by small boats. This afternoon we head to Kuratica – a village on the outskirts of Ohrid. Local hosts will wait for us there and serve different specialties from traditional Macedonian cuisine combined with homemade wine and traditional alcoholic drink rakia. The bread and some of the pies come directly from an old furnace, so you will be able to observe the whole backing process. Then the hosts will take us to a short donkey safari around the village, exploring the beautiful nature that surrounds the village. Back in Ohrid and overnight.
Day 2 Ohrid – Bigorski Monastery – Janche - Ohrid (179 km) (B, L)
Breakfast in the hotel. This morning we set off to explore the southern part of the Mavrovo National Park. Driving in the canyons of the rivers Crn Drim and Radika, we take a stop at St. John the Baptist of Bigorski Monastery, which is widely renowned as the most spiritual monastery in Macedonia. This 19th-century structure, erected upon both the ruins of an 11th-century church and the slopes of Mountain Bistra is home to a small silver coffin allegedly containing the remains of St John himself. Before we have our lunch, hidden in the mountain, we must see the waterfalls Duf, to listen to the sounds of nature and relax our senses. Continue on to the village of Janche, sitting in the canyon that guides the Radika River. The village is known as one of the oldest in the region – its quaint houses line the hillside. After a quick walk around this village, a hands-on cooking class with the local women will teach the skills required to make local pastries, considered to be a specialty of this region. Ayvar, mushroom stalks, number of different salads, grilled beef chops and dessert will follow. After lunch, drive back to Ohrid.
Day 3Ohrid – Dihovo – Bitola - Ohrid (159 km) (B, L)
Breakfast in the hotel. Today, first we are headed to the National park and mountain of Galitchitsa to admire the nature from few viewpoints in the mountain. On the other side of the National park, we will have another stop to view Lake Prespa with hundreds of species of birds, pelicans and cormorants among them. We drive onward to Dihovo, a little village sitting in the foothills of Mountain Baba and National Park Pelister. Local guesthouse Dihovo is member of the Slow Food organization for healthy food and produces home-made wine, brandy and beer as well as home-made organic food. Our lunch here consists of variety of home-cooked Macedonian specialties, made with fruits and vegetables coming from its own private gardens, followed by domestic brandy and wine in wooden barrels, as well as a range of home-brewed beers. Continue to Bitola, arriving by mid-afternoon. Relax in one of the city’s many cafes, explore the stalls of the Old Bazaar or choose to take a guided tour of the ancient town and archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, located on the outskirts of Bitola. Heraclea was founded by Philip II of Macedonia in the fourth century BC after he had conquered the surrounding region of Lyncestis. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles, whom Philip considered his ancestor. Drive back to Ohrid.
Day 4 Ohrid – Struga – Vevchani - Ohrid (67 km) (B, L)
Breakfast in the hotel. We will pick you up from your hotel or any location of your preference in Ohrid. First we take you to the neighboring town of Struga. We start with a short walking tour through the streets of Struga and visit the lock where the water of Lake Ohrid flows into the river Black Drim. Our next stop will be villages of Kalishta and Radozda, famous of their cave churches and frescos. In Kalishta you will find very rear old wooden icon where the Mother of God is painted in a black robe and with a black face (Black Madonna), and the child Jesus painted in black. The last stop of our tour is village of Vevchani. In this village, we will visit the springs of Vevchani, a beautiful park of nature. In a national restaurant in the village of Vevchani we will have a chance to taste local food, such as ayvar, pindzhur, tavche-gravche (baked beans), variety of salads, grilled mushrooms and peppers, grilled sheep cheese, and home-made wine and rakiya. Vevchani is famous for its Vevchani Carnival. The Vevchani Carnival, which claims a 14 century long legacy, is held every year from 13 to 14 January. Back to Ohrid.
Day 5Ohrid – Elshani - Ohrid (28 km) (B, L)
Breakfast. We prepare for a mountain hike to the village of Elshani, a beautiful mountain village situated in the National Park Galicica with breath-taking view over Lake Ohrid. On the way to this mountain village, we first transfer you to the village of Gorno Koynsko, a place that will get you back a 100 years ago, abandoned old ruined houses with furniture and old tools still standing inside, we might see some elderly villagers, as well. Hiking for about 4 km, we finally get to Elshani village where we spend the rest of the noon in the kitchen together with the family hosts, where they will share their traditional recipes with us. Some of them will be garlic pasta, pie with cheese or meat, stuffed peppers, fresh salads, furnished bread and vegetables stew and inevitable home-made wine and rakiya. Later in the afternoon, we visit the unique prehistoric settlement on water from the Bronze Age – Bay of Bones. The rest of the day is on own, with a chance to enjoy the beautiful sunset over in one of the oldest European towns and lakes. Overnight in Ohrid.