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This tour combines some of the lesser known countries on the Balkans; Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro, by trying to show the best of each country`s offer. Albania offers a mixture of cultural elements with 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a rich archaeological legacy. Macedonia offers some of the most excellent religious relics, with Ohrid having the biggest Icon museum in the region as well as many beautiful churches. On top of that there is an ancient wine production tradition and culture. This theme is carried over into Kosovo where we also combine religious monuments with tasting of wine and local foods. The tour will end up in Montenegro which has made a name for itself based on its wild natural beauty.

 

DAY 1: Arrival in Skopje

Meet at airport and transfer to Skopje for a visit of the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, which is a great introduction to the history of the country and its people. Afterwards take a driven tour of the major sites of Skopje, including The Parliament, The Government, The National Theater, the bridges of Vardar River, The Cathedral Church St. Clement etc. We continue with sightseeing of Skopje. We will go for a walk through the center of the Capital. The city itself is divided in two halfs, the old town and the new town by the river Vardar (the biggest river in the country, flowing north-south towards Greece and the Egean Sea). We will visit the Old Bazaar area full of old architecture, mosques, churches, museums, interesting old shops where the traditional crafts are still nurtured. There we will visit the Mustafa Pasha mosque and the Holy Saviour church. On the way to the new town we cross the Stone Bridge, which is the oldest bridge here. We walk along the main square called Macedonia where the biggest fountain in the state was erected in 2011, dedicated to the most famous Macedonian – Alexander the Great. Then we visit the Mother Teresa`s Memorial House and the Museum of the city of Skopje.

 

DAY 2: Skopje – Stobi – Ohrid

After the breakfast, drive to Stobi which is one of the most important archaeological sites in Macedonia. Lying in a fertile valley just a few steps off the central north-south highway that connects Macedonia with Greece, the ancient city of Stobi was a vital trade route in its days. Visit the excavation sites with beautiful remains such as a 2nd century amphitheatre, the Theodosian palace and early Christian ruins with extensive and ornate mosaic floors.

Stobi is located in the Tikves Wine District. It is the largest and most well-known wine region in Macedonia. Located in the very heart of the country and stretches along similar latitudes as the Bordeaux region in France, Tuscany region in Italy and the Napa Valley region in California. With nearly 12,000 hectares of vines, the Tikves wine region represents around one third of the all grapes grown in Macedonia. The summers are long and hot and the winters mild and rainy with an average annual rainfall of 460 mm. The vineyards are located at an average of 300 metres above sea level, protected by mountains and highlands on three sides, channelling the gentle north winds and Mediterranean climates, creating ideal grape growing conditions. There are over 20 different grapes varieties grown in the Tikves region including many indigenous and international varieties such as red varieties including Vranec, Kratosija, Kavadarka, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah in addition to Žilavka, Župljanka, Graševina, Plavec, Smederevka, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, R’kaciteli and Riesling for the whites. Lunch in some of the nearby wineries with winetasting.

Afterwards depart for Bitola. Bitola is one of the largest cities in Macedonia. During the Ottoman rule of Macedonia it was the administrative center of the Balkans and was known as the city of Consuls, because of the 12 consulates opened by the western countries here. Today in this city we can see the mixture of the modern and the traditional and experience the spirit of this place preserved in the local way of life and the culture of the people. This place is pulsating day and night down the pedestrian street called “Shirok Sokak” (The Broad Street), where everyone comes to see and to be seen. Continue to Ohrid. Overnight.

 

DAY 3: Ohrid

Departure by foot for sightseeing of Ohrid. Ohrid is the city called the Pearl of Macedonia and the Jerusalem of the Balkans. The city abounds with churches, monasteries, ancient excavations and sites, museums and old traditional workshops. After breakfast we visit: Church “St. Sofia”, built between the 11th and 14th century, was the seat of the Archbishop. “St. Mary Perivleptos”, a classic Orthodox Byzantine church, dominating the Old Town, demonstrates the link between Byzantine and Italian Renaissance art. At “Plaoshnik”, in the 9 the century, St. Clement of Ohrid founded the first University of Europe and educated 3.500 students, "St. John" at Kaneo, stands alone on a small promontory which juts out into the Lake at the western end of the Old Town, and provides spectacular panoramic views of the Lake and surrounding mountains, Samuil fortress, etc. Overnight in Ohrid.

 

DAY 4: Ohrid – Elbasan – Berat

After breakfast we depart for Struga, famous for its wall of water where the Black Drim River flows out of Lake Ohrid on its way to the Adriatic. In August, the famous international poetry festival is staged on the bridge over the Black Drim. After a short visit continue on to the city of Berat. On the way we drive through rural villages with wonderful countryside landscapes. We stop at Elbasan for a visit of the castle. We proceed to Berat. It`s one of the most visited and characteristic towns in Albania under the protection of UNESCO as a patronage of humanity for its architectural uniqueness. We visit the Castle and the Onufri Museum. Berat castle is of particular interest as people still live within its walls in their traditional houses, as have their ancestors for centuries. The castle used to have over 40 churches of which 7 still remain including St.Mary’s church turned into Onufri Museum. Onufri was a famous Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece, using a special red colour. Berat is also known for its close ties with religious practice as two of the oldest bibles in the world have been found here. One dates back from the 6th century AD and the other from the 9th century AD and are internationally renowned for their theological importance. We have a homemade lunch in one of the houses in the castle. Just below the castle we visit the Leaden Mosque, the King's Mosque, the Bachelor's Mosque and the Alveti Tekke completing a tour of this town’s religious tolerance. Overnight in Berat in the old district of Mangalem in beautiful old houses turned hotels.

 

DAY 5: Berat – Gjirokastra

In the morning we depart for Gjirokastra a museum town under the protection of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site with beautiful and very distinct architecture. In Gjirokastra we visit the fortress part of which was turned into a political prison for dissidents of the communist regime and an Arms Museum. Visit to the Ethnographic Museum, which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in, as well as a 300 year old house next to it, where the grandeur of Gjirokastra’s master builders can be observed. Overnight in a Gjirokastra House turned hotel, an interesting and unique experience.

 

DAY 6: Gjirokastra – Mesopotam Monastery – Saranda

After breakfast depart for Saranda. On the way we stop at the Mesopotam Church where carvings of mythological beasts can be admired on the outer walls making this a distinct church where mythology and religion combine in a place of worship. Afterwards we proceed to Saranda. It is one of the most important tourist attractions of the Albanian Riviera. It is situated on an open sea gulf of the Ionian Sea in the central Mediterranean. Near Saranda are the remains of the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

DAY 7: Saranda – Butrint – Vlora

Check-out and proceed to Butrint, just 14 km from Saranda. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of passing civilizations, giving archaeologists the possibility to study continuity through time. It is situated on a beautiful peninsula among dense vegetation. The site has been occupied since at least the 8th century BC, although myths associated with its origins speak of the city’s foundation by Trojan exiles. After a thorough visit of the site we continue to Vlora through the spectacular Albanian Riviera with its traditional villages. At the Llogara National Park we stop at around 1100 metres where spectacular views of the Ionian Sea can be admired. Overnight in Vlora.

 

DAY 8: Vlora – Appolonia – Tirana

After breakfast we depart for the archaeological site of Apollonia one of the most important ancient centres in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. Due to its fame and importance it was known as Apollonia Prima built to honour Apollo. Caesar chose to send his nephew Augustus Octavian to study oratory in Apollonia which is testimony to the importance of this ancient city. Visit the city and an Orthodox monastery turned into an archaeological museum. After the visits continue on to Tirana where we overnight.

 

DAY 9: Tirana

In Tirana first we visit the National Museum of History which is a great introduction to the history of the country and its people. Afterwards take a driven tour of the major sites of Tirana, including the colourful buildings for which the Albanian capital is now known. The dull grey communist architecture buildings have been transformed into modern art canvases through splashes of bright colours and abstract shapes. An ingenious way of uplifting the facades and the moods of the inhabitants. Overnight in Tirana.

 

DAY 10: Tirana – Skodra – Budva

After breakfast proceed to Shkodra, the centre of Roman Catholicism in Albania and a town with long historic roots, and the only mentioned capital of the Illyrian Kingdom. Visit the pedestrian area with Italian influences and the Castle thought to exist from Illyrian times. Lunch is recommended to be had in a village where organic tourism is promoted. After lunch we continue to Budva. On the way, a photo stop at Sveti Stefan renowned for its celebrity residents from the music and the movie industry. Overnight in Budva.

 

DAY 11: Budva – Kotor – Budva

After breakfast drive to visit The Old City of Kotor a well preserved urbanization typical of the Middle Ages, built between the 12th and 14th century. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor an UNESCO listed “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site”. Cetinje is a town of immense historical heritage, founded in the 15th century. It became the centre of Montenegrin life and both a cradle of Montenegrin and an Eastern Orthodox religious center. It is because of its heritage as a long term Montenegrin capital that it is today the honorary capital of Montenegro. Return to Budva in the afternoon and walk in the old town of Budva. Overnight in Budva.

 

DAY 12: Budva – Cetinje – Podgorica  Kolasin – Peja

After breakfast we continue on a panoramic drive to Cetinje, a town of immense historical heritage, founded in the 15th century. It became the centre of Montenegrin life and both a cradle of Montenegrin and an Eastern Orthodox religious centre. Later on, we continue to the capital of Montenegro. We will take a driven tour of Podgorica and proceed to Kolasin, which is Montenegro's most famous ski resort. A long drive follows, through magnificent natural beauty of Montenegro and North West Kosovo, taking us to Peja. Overnight.

 

DAY 13: Peja – Decan Monastery – Rahoveci Wine Tour – Prizren – Pristina

After breakfast we drive to visit the Decani Monastery. This monastic complex is a wonderful example of the Orthodox religious architecture and art part of the UNESCO`s World Heritage Sites. It is a must see place for anyone visiting Kosovo. We continue and take a short tour of the Rahoveci renowned wines; Stone Castle and Podrumi i Vjeter, where a traditional lunch/snack with the nice local wines will be served. We proceed to Prizren afterwards. Prizren, a true open air museum, one of the most beautiful towns of Kosovo. It is situated on the slopes of the Sharr Mountains and on the banks of the river Bistrica. The craftsmen of Prizren are well known for their beautiful gold and silver articles and other folk handcrafts. From all the cities of Kosovo, Prizren has best preserved the architectural style of the past. Drive to Pristina. Overnight in Pristina.

 

DAY 14: Pristina – Ulpiana – Gracanica Monastery – Skopje

After exiting Prishtina visit of the 1389 Kosovo Battlefield and Sultan Murat’s grave. Next stop is the wonderful Gadima Cave (both about 15 min away from Prishtina). Visit Ulpiana an ancient Roman site also named Justiniana Secunda. Under the Roman Empire, Ulpiana flourished and it is mentioned as a glorious city "urb splendidissma". Ulpiana suffered numerous attacks from barbarian tribes (Huns, Goths), it was destroyed in 479 by the Goths. A final blow came when an earthquake struck in 518 AD and destroyed what remained of Ulpiana. Next we proceed to the Gracanica Monastery which was constructed on the ruins of an older 13th century church of the Holy Virgin, which was built on the ruins of a 6th century early Christian basilica. Of the former monastic compound, only the church has survived. Arrive in Skopje. Overnight.

 

DAY 15: Skopje Airport

After breakfast check-out from the hotel. Free time depending on the flight. Transfer to the Airport Alexander the Great – Skopje.

 

End of program.

 

 

 

Price List

The price depends from the size of the group, the period of the year, quality of accommodation and other factors. 

Ask for a quotation here: info@vispoj.com.mk