Being in the heart of the Balkans, decorated with mountains, lakes and rivers, inhabited with millennial cities raised by world’s largest civilizations, Serbia & North Macedonia are destination where you will cherish unique moments, different than all you have ever experienced and more inspiring than you expected.
With the unique architecture of their villages, the most delicious homemade food and the exciting history of every ruin spanning from the Ancient to the Communist era, these charming countries meet the needs of the most curious globetrotters. A trip filled with passion and laughter, an experience that everyone will remember.
Day 1: Arrival/ Belgrade-the city between the East and the West, Serbia
Belgrade has it all! No matter if you like exploring historical architecture, trying delicious Serbian cuisine or dive into its tradition and culture, the city truly is modern European metropolis. Upon arrival, our guide will take to a half-day in Belgrade with sightseeing including Kalemegdan Fortress, one of the most important strongholds of the city. This 600 year old former fortress was invaded throughout the history more than 100 times. Today, it’s a place of peace and relaxation. Knez Mihajlova, a lively pedestrian boulevard lined with coffee bars, restaurants, food stalls and fashion brand shops. One can enjoy street artists’ performances, country’s unique souvenirs and admire the beauty of the historical buildings. On the way to Skadarlija, today`s most famous restaurant area of Belgrade, we will stop to see Republic Square. At Skadarlija, you will have free time to lunch at one of the many old bistros (kafana) and restaurants to try the local Serbian specialties and taste the best rakija in the world (according to the locals :). Overnight in Belgrade area.
Day 2: Belgrade - Novi Sad - Sremski Karlovci - Belgrade (Serbia)
Today you will spend a day exploring the surroundings of Belgrade in this excursion to Novi Sad and Sremski Karlovci. You will tour the lively city of Novi Sad - once the border area during the great Austro-Ottoman war, the second-largest city in Serbia today is cultural, economic, and trade centre. Here, we will visit the Greek school and the Old Matica Srpska Library and Gallery (from outside), before viewing the intricate and iconic art inside the Orthodox Cathedral. You will admire the beautiful scenery while discovering Petrovaradin Fortress, the best preserved fortification on the Danube River built during the reign of the Queen Mary Theresa with an iconic clock tower and a network of tunnels. Later on, you will continue on to romantic village Sremski Karlovci for historical and artistic sightseeing and a tour of town`s beautiful baroque centre with its remarkable Patriarchal Residence, St. Nicolas Church, Gymnasium and The Fountain of Four Lions. In the afternoon we will visit s local winery for wine tasting with delicious lunch. Overnight at the hotel in Belgrade.
Day 3: Day off/ relax in Belgrade by the deep blue Danube and exploration on your own
Day 4 : Nis, the Emperor Constantine birth place
Nis, somewhat off the beaten tourist trail, is well worth visiting offering wonderful surprises with a long and legendary historical past. Suffice it to say that in 274 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great was born her, famous for being credited with converting the Roman Empire to Christianity. City tour will follow after breakfast including the most important cultural and historical attractions, Mediana – a large 4th-century Roman estate; Niš Fortress – the best-preserved Turkish fortress in the central Balkans, the Skull Tower (Ćele Kula). After two hours drive, we will reach the capital of North Macedonia, Skopje, for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Matka Canyon & Skopje, the Macedonian mix: from the ancient to the modern
After the breakfast, we depart towards Matka Canyon, the hidden gem of nature and crystal green waters just next to the capital of North Macedonia. We will visit the monastery of St. Andrew at the very entrance of the canyon captured by breathtaking scenery. An ideal place for coffee break or a light lunch. After this nature fill, we will have a guided city tour of Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. The tour will start by visiting the Museum of Mother Theresa, the Saint proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church and Nobel Prize awardee, born in Skopje. The Museum offers unique presentation of her personal belongings and her life devoted to the poor in Calcutta. Afterwards, we will continue the city tour by foot towards the Ottoman Stone Bridge, Medieval Fortress Kale, passing thru the newly built baroque Macedonia Square, and the Alexander the Great statue. The most recent buildings of the Skopje 2014 project, all resembling the great baroque style settled along the main capital Square Macedonia and justifying the title of our day as “Macedonian Mix” will also be a part of our walking Skopje tour with an excellent chance for an unforgettable photos. After this unique experience we will enter into Old Bazaar of Skopje experiencing the Ottoman legacy of the country. Here we will enjoy in narrow streets restaurants a delicious lunch and free afternoon for shopping local souvenirs close to the everyday life of different ethnics. Overnight in Skopje.
Day 6: Mavrovo National Park, Radika River Canyon, Mijaks
After the breakfast, you will have free AM hours to explore the hidden gems of Skopje on your own or simply relax in the city center and the Old Bazaar with some coffee or tea. Later on, our journey continues with indulgence in the story of the western parts of Macedonia. From the urban jungle of Skopje, you will move to the intact nature of Mavrovo National Park resting your senses on its biodiversity, colors and sounds. Down through Radika River Canyon we will visit one of the most important sanctuaries in the country, the Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski, built in XI century and in the foothill of the monastery, you will taste traditional local meal in Mijak peoples` restaurant, enjoying one of the best features of this ethnic`s community culture. Following the stream of the beautiful Black Drim River, we will drive down to Ohrid for accommodation and overnight.
Day 7: Ohrid, the “Jerusalem of the Balkans”
The most beautiful city in Macedonia, The Jerusalem of the Balkans as it is called, Ohrid, is our destination to discover whole day long. We`ll start with the most rewarding city tour and visit just a few out of more than 365 churches, Samoil King Fortresses, ancient sites, museums, UNESCO protected monuments of nature. The Lake Ohrid is an attraction itself as it glows out of the depths, for more than 2 million years. You will be chanted by Ohrid Old town narrow alleys full of history and mysterious legends. We will visit the charming monastery at Kaneo enjoying the breathtaking scenery, the birthplace of the Slavic literacy at St. Clements University at Plaoshnik built in X century, we will see the Golden mask from VII century BC in Robevi House. You will experience exhibited shops with local arts, crafts and the most unique piece of jewelry, 150 years old Ohrid pearls, handmade by only two old Ohrid families who keep the secret of its making. Luckily for us they will share its passion and devotion in making this unique and one of a kind pearl out of the Ohrid fish skin in a half hour presentation. The rest of the day is free to explore hidden corners of the city, to walk onto Via Egnatia, a 168 BC road built by the ancient Romans connecting Rome to Constantinople (Istanbul) or just relax and lunch at many by the shore restaurants and bars. Traditional Macedonian dinner at restaurant with national songs and dances will follow. Guests are invited to dance!
Day 8: Day off/ relax by the Ohrid Lake or explore on your own
Day 9: Boat trip to Monastery of St. Naum, Ohrid
We`ll sail out of the city port of Ohrid to the rocky cliff where we will visit the monastery of St. Naum, a refuge of tranquility, a unique 9th century complex that brings the Macedonian experience to a dramatic culmination. The monastery complex and church of St. Naum were built originally by the Saint with the same name; Macedonians believe you can still hear the saint’s heartbeat by pressing an ear to his stone coffin inside the church. Numerous orthographical mistakes on the church walls indicate that they were written by Slavic- speaking local monks. Other inscriptions in the church make up some of the oldest epigraphic evidence of Slavic literacy. Here, set amidst lush verdure where the Drim River springs tumble into the Ohrid Lake, surrounded by the breathtaking natural scenery, you will enjoy your free time to lunch in one of many restaurants or you can try the famous Ohrid Menu including original Ohrid trout and other lake fish specialties. After this divine experience, we`ll sail back to Ohrid. On the way back, from the boat, the group will be able see the pre-historic Bay of Bones, a water settlement - one of its kind in entire Europe.
Day 10: Bitola, rural North Macedonia
Early in the day, a transfer to Bitola, the town where the founder of Modern Turkey - Kemal Attaturk, spent his cadet years will follow. In Bitola, we will explore the mosaic of this former Ottoman Capital, including the most famous Shirok Sokak Promenade, visit of Kemal Ataturk-the founder of Turkey museum, Bitola`s protected architecture, Consulates, the Clock Tower and the oldest official archaeological site in Macedonia – Heraclea Lynkestis. To rejoin our strength, we will have homemade lunch at family-owned village B&B in Dihovo, at the foothills of National Park Pelister. On our way back to Ohrid, we will stop at a private folklore museum and rakija tasting at Jone`s house. A geniuine refreshment shot.
Day 11: Departure
Departure from Ohrid, Skopje or Tirana Airport.