Ancient Macedonia: Shared Cultural Heritage
3-country Tour in N.Macedonia Bulgaria Greece
N.Macedonia -Bulgaria-Greece-Tour features Ancient Macedonia's rich cultural heritage.
Day 1: London > Sofia – Zemen Monastery – Kyustendil (130 km)
To begin with,we will meet you at Sofia airport and you will proceed by our van & driver to Kyustendil. We will stop over en route, to visit Zemen Monastery. Although less popular than Rila monastery, Zemen Monastery owes its fame to the interesting architecture (11th century) and mostly to the remarkable 14th century frescoes. However, the first layer of painting is dated to the second half of the 11th century.At the end of the day will reach Kyustendil.
B, Overnight in Kyustendil at hotel Ramira 3*.
Day 2: Kyustendil – Skopje (140 km)
Kyustendil now is a quiet small village famous with its hot mineral springs.At the same time it has a rich ancient heritage. Following breakfast, you will visit the ancient Pautalia Roman ruins, Hisarluka fortress (4-5 c. A.D.), history museum or the Art Gallery with the largest collection of the famous Bulgarian artist Vladimir Dimitrov- the Master’s paintings.
Departure to Skopje (2 hrs.) and cross the border at Gyueshevo/Kriva palanka. Arrive to Skopje and check in. Enjoy an afternoon sightseeing tour of Skopje–the old town, the fortress, St. Spas cathedral, modern city center. The most popular person in Skopje is Mother Theresa. Born on August 26, 1910, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu became a symbol of charity; you can read her quotes all over the city. You will visit Memorial House of Mother Teresa museum and learn about her legacy.
B, Overnight in Skopje at a 3* hotel.
Day 3: Skopje – Tetovo – Gostivar – Debar - Ohrid (220 км)
Following breakfast, proceed to Ohrid. Stopover in Tetovo to visit the Painted Mosque (Šarena Džamija). Reach Ohrid for lunch. Check in and time at leisure. Discover and wander around this charming village on your own. Start with the Ohrid Old town with the fantastic Mediaeval Orthodox Churches: Church of St Clement - UNESCO site, Church of St Sofia, Church of St. John Kaneo, Roman Theatre, Fortress of Tzar Samuil.(The walking tour takes about 1,5-2 hrs.) Later in the evening you can walk along the lake shore and visit one of the small restaurants. All are famous for the tasty local cuisine.
B, Overnight in Ohrid at a 3* hotel.
Day 4: Ohrid - St. Naum- NP Galichica (if the road is open) – Bitola(200 km)
After breakfast, continue with exploring Ohrid. Leave for the neighboring St Naum monastery, located in the southern banks of the Ohrid Lake. The monastery was established in the year 900 A.D. by St Naum of Ohrid himself, who is also buried here. St Naum is one of the most prominent disciples of St St Cyril and Methodius, who in 855 A.D. developed the first Bulgarian alphabet (Glagolitic). The beautiful setting - high mountains above the blue lake, makes the monastery the most popular destination in the region.
Proceed up to the mountains. Road winds through Galichica National Park. Enjoy the beautiful panorama over the lakes of Ohrid and Prespa. Drive to Bitola, a town with exquisite Ottoman and Christian heritage, mingled together during the 5-century co-existence.
B, Overnight in Bitola at hotel Teatar 2*.
Day 5: Bitola - Pella - Vergina - Thessaloniki (300 km)
Breakfast at hotel. Visit the ancient ruins of Herakleia Lynkestis. Proceed to Greece. Cross the border with Greece at Negochani/Niky border crossing point and drive towards Vergina (ancient Aigai). Explore the capital of the Macedonian kingdom before its move to Pella in the 4th century BC. See the remarkable painted tombs, displayed in the excellent site museum under the recreated mound which originally covered the burials. Birthplace of both Philip II and Alexander the Great, it is renowned for its exceptional mosaics made from carefully selected natural pebbles. Some of the finest examples are on display in the new museum.
Drive on to Pella, second Macedonian capital which was only discovered in the 1950s. There is a new museum worth a visit. At the end of the day you will reach Thessaloniki. Check in and time at leisure.
B, Overnight at a 3* hotel in Thessaloniki (2 nights)
Day 6: Thessaloniki (N.Macedonia -Bulgaria-Greece-Tour)
Spend the whole day in this eternal city, exploring its Ancient and Mediaeval past. Walking the streets of the old town to view the Arch and Palace of Galerius, Byzantine Museum, Aghios Dimitrios, Aghia Sofia and the Roman forum. The fortifications and upper town of Thessaloniki are included in the List of World Cultural Heritage.
B, Overnight at hotel in Thessaloniki.
Day 7: Thessaloniki –Melnik/Rozhen - Sandanski (160 km)
After breakfast you will leave Thessaloniki and head North to Bulgaria. Cross the border at Promahonas/Kulata Stop-over in Melnik for a lunch-break and a walking sightseeing of this museum village with the famous sand-stone pyramids. Melnik is famous for the wine and the sand stone hills are the best environment for preserving wines.
Drive to the neighbouring Rozhen Monastery. Admire the gorgeous panorama over the sand-stone pyramids and to the majestic Pirin Mountains. Enjoy the peace and tranquility of this spiritual place.
Overnight at St Nikola spa hotel, 3* in Sandanski.
Day 8: Sandanski –Bansko-Dobarsko - Rila monastery - Sofia (320 km)
Should you wish to discover more of the Pirin Macedonia region, go to Bansko. This once small village, now the fastest growing ski resort, is offering typical 18-c. architecture and a lot of history. A detour to Dobarsko, a small village at the foot of the Rila Mountains, will give you an opportunity to visit the old church St Theodore the Tyro and St Theodore the Stratelates. Here you willsee a unique interpretation of the Transfiguration fresco. En route back to Sofia visit the famous Rila monastery, UNESCO cultural site.
You will reach Sofia in the evening. Check in hotel Niky. It is located within a walking distance to all main sites and the pedestrian Vitosha Boulevard.
B, Overnight in Sofia at hotel Niky, 3* (2 nights), or similar, ideally located down town.
Day 9: Sofia
Full day in Sofia to visit more or less-popular, but equally interesting sites. Among the most interesting – Boyana church (11-13 c A.D.) UNESCO site, Kremikovtzi monastery (14-15 c A.D.)
Overnight in Sofia.
Day 10: Sofia – London
Enjoy a breakfast at hotel. Free morning, followed by a transfer to the airport to catch your home-flight .
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