Welcoming you at the Skopje airport. Transfer to Ohrid and accommodation in a hotel. After short rest, our local guide will take you for a brief orientation city walk. Tonight we have our first together dinner in one of the national restaurants in the town. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 2 Ohrid city tour (30 km) (B, D)
Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we start our tour from the heart of the medieval Tsar Samuel’s kingdom capital - Ohrid, today a town of UNESCO, one of the oldest in Europe, full of history with traces of four thousand years of civilization. The first stop will be the fortress of Tsar Samuel, up in the hill of Ohrid. From here, Tsar Samuel spread up his kingdom covering the present territories of the Republic of Macedonia, Northern Greece, two thirds of Bulgaria, Serbia, including Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania… In the medieval history, this kingdom remains the biggest one created on the Balkan Peninsula. We continue exploring Ohrid by visiting the ancient Macedonian-Roman theatre, the famous untouched medieval churches, take sail by small boats on the way back to the center. On the way, you get an explanation about the history of the biggest open-air museum of the Byzantium. Small break in the city center. Later in the afternoon, we take a boat to the unique reconstruction of a prehistoric settlement on water from the bronze age. Explanation by the professional curator about the open-air reconstruction of a Neolithic lake dwelling based on artefacts found on the surrounding lake bed. Back to Ohrid. Dinner in a national restaurant, including traditional Macedonian folk songs and dances, a chance for you to learn few simple steps together with the folklore group. Overnight in the hotel.
Day 3 Ohrid – Bitola – St. Achilles island (GRE) – Ohrid (310 km) (B, L)
After the breakfast, our bus will first take us to Bitola, an important diplomatic town in 19th century. The town itself was founded in 4th century B.C. by Philip the Second, the father of Alexander the Great. Due to these reasons, we will visit the local archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, an ancient Macedonian town with an important strategical position during the Hellenistic period. We continue to Greece down to Prespa Lake, shared among Greece, Albania and Macedonia. Here we visit one of the most important islands – St. Achilles island, an early capital of Samuel and a place where in 10th century was buried Tsar Samuel in the basilica of St. Achilles. We will take a walk around the island, being able to visit his grave and the ruined basilica. In the afternoon, we stop in a local fish restaurant in the neighbouring village to taste the famous Prespa carp. After a short free time, we take the bus back to Ohrid. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 4 National Park Galichitsa – Island of Golem Grad – Prilep – Strumica (270 km) (B, L, D)
After the breakfast, we depart to the Macedonian site of Lake Prespa. Driving via the National Park Galichitsa, we make stops to enjoy the magnificent views over the two lakes, Ohrid and Prespa. Down to Lake Prespa, we take a boat to the island of Golem Grad. Although today uninhabited, the island in the past was a part of the early capital of Tsar Samuel and beside the ruins from that period, we will see many others from the late antiquity. The island is also known as the island of snakes and birds. You can see pelicans and cormorants, sometimes in large groups. We make a lunch break on the shore of the lake, tasting some traditional Macedonian meals. Later in the afternoon, we continue to the town of Prilep. This was where Tsar Samuel died of a heart attack in 10th century, witnessing the sight of his 14.000 soldiers blinded by the Byzantines in the battle of Belasica. The town itself was the capital of the last Christian king in Macedonia in the late 14th century - King Marko. Strolling through the central streets of the town, in a distance we will be able to see King Marko’s Fortress, the monument of Alexander the Great, the Leaning Tower from 19th century. Coffee break and driving to Strumica. Accommodation in a hotel and organized dinner.
Day 5 Strumica – Belasica waterfalls – Samuel’s Fortress in Petric (BUL) – Tsar’s towers – Strumica (105 km) (B, L, D)
This morning we head to the mountain Belasica, first to experience the natural beauty of the area. After a short driving, we continue on foot to visit two local waterfalls, Smolare and Koleshino. We will also visit the village of Mokrievo, where part of the battle happened according to some Macedonian historians. On the way back, we will have a chance to mingle with the local peasants from the villages around and take our home-made lunch in some of the guest houses in the area. Then we go on to the neighbouring Bulgaria, close to the town Petrich, to visit the memorial place of the last battle of Tsar Samuel against Byzantines, on the mountain Belasica. Today this place is known as Samuel’s Fortress. The tsar himself participated in the battle, while 14.000 of his soldiers were captured alive and later on blinded. Each 100th of them was left with one eye to lead the other blinded soldiers in front of their king. They headed marching to Prilep, where Tsar Samuel hid away. Not being able to stand this sight, the tsar died of a heart attack. We go back to Strumica and we will see the city fortress called Tsar’s towers and after that we will take you to the medieval monastery St. Leonthius – Vodocha, where local citizens believed that the blinding happened and named the village Vodocha, meaning “pulls eyes”. We will also visit the nearby monastery Holy Mother Merciful in Veljusa, dating back from the 11th century. Organized dinner.
Day 6 Strumica – Skopje (152 km) (L, D)
Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning, we start our journey to Macedonia’s capital, Skopje. After the accommodation in the hotel and a short break, we take you on a walking city tour starting from the centuries old Kale – Skopje fortress. We will continue to the Old Turkish Bazaar, mingling with the locals, meeting different cultures and religions, old forgotten crafts. The second part of the afternoon we visit museums – the Museum of Macedonian struggle, the Archaeological museum of Macedonia with one of the biggest ancient coins collection in the world exclusively from the Macedonian territory. We walk across the Stone Bridge, the landmark of the city and stop in front of the monument and fountain of Alexander the Great and monument of Tsar Samuel, sitting on his throne. The next stop will be the Memorial House of Mother Teresa. She was born in Skopje in 1910. The late afternoon is a time on your own to explore more of the capital. Tonight we have a farewell dinner in a national restaurant.
Day 7 Skopje – Airport Skopje (25 km) (B)
Breakfast in the hotel. Today, before the flight, according to your wish and time, we may take you in some of the modern city malls, or the old city bazaar for shopping or simply for chatting with the local people and find out more about their everyday life and culture. Next, we take you from the hotel to the Skopje Airport, two and a half hours before your flight. We hope that you truly Experience(d) Macedonia!