Archaeological Tour of North Macedonia Description
Thousands of years of history in the Republic of North Macedonia have left behind a treasure trove of culturally and historically significant monuments. Join us on this tour as we explore some of the most important archaeological sites in North Macedonia. An archaeologist will be with us throughout the tour, aiding us in our explorations, and answering any and all questions we may have throughout our 11 days in North Macedonia. Also accompanying us will be a full-time English-speaking guide. Our journey will bring us to several impressive and important sites, such as Kokino, Skupi, Skopje Fortress, Heraclea Lyncestis, and Stobi. In addition to these famous archaeological sites, we will see monuments from the Medieval, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. This tour, designed for the curious traveler striving to explore North Macedonia in depth and with substance, promises to be an experience of a lifetime.
2021 pricing, please contact us for an estimate anytime
2020 Land Cost Per Person (double occupancy)
Available Anytime – $3275
Single Supplement – $698
This tour operates with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 16 travelers. Other rates available on request. Please contact us for a current price estimate.
- Archaeo-astronomical site of Kokino
- Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region
- 10 nights at 4* hotels with breakfast
- All lunches and dinners mentioned in the program
- Private English-speaking tour guide
- Full-time archaeological expert for large groups
- Transportation throughout the journey
- All entrances fees
- Wine tasting
- Arrival and departure transfers
- All activities mentioned in the program
Price Does Not Include:
- Airfare (unless otherwise arranged)
- Departure and custom fees
- Gratuities and individual daily expenses
- Additional beverages
- Travel insurance
- Trip cancellation
- Medical and luggage insurance are recommended for coverage against all unforeseen circumstances
Day 1: Skopje
Arrive in North Macedonia at Skopje’s Alexander the Great Airport. Meet and assist by your professional Macedonian guide and transfer to your hotel. Skopje is the capital of the modern day Republic of North Macedonia. It is the country’s largest city and the political, cultural, economic, and academic center of the country. After check-in we start with a walking tour in the city center beginning with the Old Rail Station. Today it is the home of the city museum of Skopje with permanent exhibits representing the history of Skopje. We will visit the Memorial House of Mother Theresa opened January 30, 2009, on the same location where the old Catholic Church “Sacred Heart of Jesus” stood and where she was baptized on the 27th of August 1910. We are already on the pedestrian street “Makedonija” and nearby are the main square with many monuments representing the old and rich Macedonian history. The famous Stone Bridge is the symbol of the city connecting the main square with the Old Bazaar. According to certain data the Stone Bridge was built in the 6th century. We will have dinner at a restaurant in the city center. Overnight in Skopje. (D)
Day 2: Skopje
After breakfast we depart to the archeological site of Skupi, where we will start our day tour. Skupi is one of the largest Roman towns dating from the Late Antiquity. Situated about 5 km northwest of Skopje, the site contains various structures, which date from the first to the sixth centuries, including a structure supposed to have been an early Christian church and tombs around it. It is estimated that the territory of Skopje has been inhabited for at least 4000 years with evidence of Neolithic settlements found in the Kale Fortress in the city center. During the era of Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander, Skopje became more important during their expansion of ancient Macedonia. On the eve of the first century under Roman rule it became a legionary camp. After the ninth century Skopje became a significant Byzantine seat for the Orthodox Church in Macedonia. In 1392 it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks for the next 500 years. Returning to Skopje we continue the tour at the strategic Kale Fortress, the Church of St. Spas with its intricately carved walnut iconostasis, and the Museum of Ilinden Uprising (1903). At the Old Turkish Bazaar we explore the Ottoman monumental architecture of the beautiful Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Visit the old Turkish baths Kurshumli Han and Chifte Hammam, which now function as art galleries. We will visit the Museum of Macedonia which has archaeology, ethnology, history and art departments. We will stop for a lunch at an authentic medieval Oriental inn. In the afternoon we depart to the Matka Canyon, which is a protected nature reserve and home to several medieval monasteries, amazing caves, and a wide variety of plants and animals. We will visit the church St. Andrea built in 1389. The important frescoes are particularly valuable and interesting in that they are very realistic and not typical of other frescoes of the same period. We will take a boat trip visiting the Vrelo Cave. In the late afternoon we will enjoy the picturesque lake from the terrace of the restaurant. After dinner transfer back to your hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 3: Skopje – Staro Nagorichane – Kokino – Skopje
After breakfast we depart to the city of Kumanovo, explore the region in the northeast part of the country where various ancient archaeological sites are located. We will visit the cave dwelling of the ascetic St. Joakim Nagorichane who lived in the 12th century near the village of Staro Nagoricane. Continue to the Archaeo-astronomical site of Kokino northeast of the town of Kumanovo. The megalithic observatory discovered in 2001 was determined to be around 3,800 years old. The oldest archaeological finds from the site date back to the Early Bronze Age. Volcanic activity from the lava at the crater peak created rocks that became major markers for the purpose of following the cycles of the Sun and the Moon and measuring time. It is believed to be the oldest ancient observatory in Europe, and Macedonia is actively promoting to have it listed as a UNESCO site. It is ranked fourth on the list of old observatories by NASA. We will have a late lunch in a traditional village restaurant with local dishes. Transfer back to the hotel. (B, L)
Day 4: Skopje – Tetovo – Ohrid
After breakfast we check out from the hotel and depart to Tetovo. The city of Tetovo is located in the northwestern part of Macedonia in the foothills of Shara Mountain at an elevation of 500 meters. The town lies at the intersection of several trade routes. Archaeologists have found evidence of human settlement dating back more than six thousand years. In Tetovo there is an old fortress dating back to 1820 and many beautiful churches and mosques. We will visit the Aladza Painted Mosque with its beautifully-decorated exterior located in the old part of Tetovo on the River Pena. The mosque was built in 1495 and is example of early Constantinople style, adorned with a unique elaborate painted facade and interior, making it unique in Macedonia. We continue our drive to the National Park of Mavrovo. We will stop for a coffee break in a restaurant which has amazing views of Mavrovo Lake. On the way to Ohrid we will visit the Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski, or St. John the Baptist, founded in 1020. Inside the church we’ll find unique works such as The Miraculous Icon of St. John the Baptist, more than 12 centuries old. The main attraction is the priceless awe-inspiring wood carved iconostasis depicting biblical scenes. The monastery is rich in icons painted from the 16th to 20th centuries and is a synthesis of Byzantine, Renaissance, and Baroque influences. Arrival in Ohrid. Dinner and overnight. (B, D)
Day 5: Ohrid – St. Naum
After breakfast our day begins with a panoramic cruise around the old town and across the lake. The resort town of Ohrid is one of the oldest settlements in North Macedonia dating from before the Slavic period. Ohrid is a UNESCO site located in the Ohrid/Prespa region near Galicica National Park. It has a long rich history but is perhaps best known for the missionary brothers Cyril and Methodius who arrived in Ohrid in 886AD and made Ohrid a leading center of Slavic culture and literary activities. The brothers are credited with the creation of the Cyrillic Alphabet which helped them spread their missionary work in the Slavic world. After our journey on the lake we continue sightseeing on foot strolling through the picturesque alleys of the old town, discovering the craftsmanship of the rich tradition of silver filigree, wood carving, and Ohrid’s Pearls. Visit the protected archaeological museum and the House of Robevc. Visit the first renaissance frescoes in the church of St. Sophia and continue to the Mother of God Church Perivlepta with the apocryphal scenes in rich frescoes from the life of the Virgin. Stop at the Classical Theatre, built 2000 years ago and still used today. At Plaoshnik tour the excavations of the Monastery of St. Pantelejmon, seat of the first Slavic University in Europe founded by St. Clement. Time for lunch of Ohrid trout prepared fresh from the lake. After lunch drive along the coast to the Monastery of St. Naum, built in 900 AD and situated in a protected nature preserve on the shore where springs feed the lake. A statue of the saint carved in walnut greets you at the entrance. The structure, rebuilt after a devastating fire, is the earliest monastery of the era of Sts. Clement and Naum. After ten centuries the interior icons are still vibrant. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. The dinner will be organized at a typical restaurant with live Macedonian folk music. (B, L, D)
Day 6: Ohrid – Galicica – Kurbinovo – Brajcino
After breakfast depart for a very unique archaeological attraction located just off the shore of the lake called the “Bay of Bones.” The settlement was built on a platform placed on wooden piles attached to the bottom of the lake and is a replica of an authentic fisherman’s village from the Neolithic era. The first underwater archaeological research in Macedonia was initiated here in 1997. Housed in a museum on the shore are numerous ceramic artifacts and stone tools. We continue driving across Galicica National Park situated on Mt. Galicica where the mountain separates the two big Lakes of Ohrid and Prespa. Time to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Mt. Galicica with magnificent panoramic views of both lakes (weather permitting). The park has become a protected breeding ground for many species of birds. In the village of Kurbinovo in the northeast part of Prespa Lake visit the small church of St. George with the frescoed masterpiece of the Annunciation from the Byzantine era, painted in 1191. In the village of Branchino, an example of the typical rural architecture of the region, we’ll tour the village meeting the locals and enjoy a meal in a village tavern with real homemade treats. After lunch a short nature walk to the Monastery of St. Petka. Back to Ohrid in the evening. Dinner at the hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Ohrid – Bitola
After breakfast depart Ohrid for the ancient archeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, just 2.5 km south of the modern town of Bitola. Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, and it was founded by King Philip of Macedon in the middle of the fourth century BC after he had conquered the surrounding region of Lynkestis. The city was named after the Greek Hero Heracles. In the middle of the second century BC the Romans conquered the city. Heraclea retained its importance due to its location on the Via Egnitia, the route connecting Durres in Albania to the Bosporus. The Roman Emperor Hadrian built the impressive ancient theatre which was both a stage for theater and an arena for performing animals. In later centuries the city was important as a Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman center. Bitola, founded by the Slavs, is the second largest city in Macedonia. It’s definitely worth a stroll downtown because Bitola is noted for its unique centuries old preserved architecture with beautiful balconies and the usage of rich ornaments. Until 1912 the many European Consulates were located in Bitola, and it was once called the City of the Consuls. Visit the museum in the Old Barracks Military Academy with the memorial room dedicated to Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, who studied in Bitola as a young man. Continue by foot in the old town center with the Clock Tower from the 17th century and the Church of St. Dimitri built in 1830 with the a lavishly decorated interior. Lunch in a typical restaurant with local specialties. In the afternoon walk along the History Trail in the National Park Pelister. Back to Ohrid in the evening. Dinner at the hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 8: Ohrid – Vevcani – Struga
After breakfast on our way to the resort town of Struga we will visit several caves on the rocky western shores of Lake Ohrid once inhabited by monks during the medieval period. There are cave churches with frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries at the Monastery of Kalishta and in Radozda with frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries. Since 1962 local Macedonian poets have memorialized brothers Konstantin and Dimitar Miladinov who published a collection of folk songs. Famous as a town of poetry, Struga now hosts the world’s largest poetry gathering every August. Several Nobel Prize poetry winners such as Pablo Neruda and Seamus Heaney have attended the celebration on the Bridge of Poetry. The Black Drim River flowing from Lake Ohrid runs under several bridges as it passes through the city. We visit the Nezlobinski Museum of Nature with fauna from around the area, some of which are now extinct. After lunch at a typical restaurant with local dishes we stroll through the Struga Bazaar. Later in the afternoon drive to the nearby village of Vevcani for a walk through the village to the springs of the local river and stop to admire the beautiful view. Learn about local customs and traditions of the village and enjoy dinner at a village restaurant with homemade local specialties. Return to Ohrid for overnight.(B, D)
Day 9: Ohrid – Prilep – Kavadarci – Demir Kapija
After breakfast we check out from the hotel and depart for Prilep, the center of the tobacco growing region. We stop at the old quarter Varosh and visit the small but beautifully-frescoed church of St. Nicolas. If your tour is during the summer, we can include a visit to the Monastery of Treskavec. We continue to the wine region of Tikvesh which is the largest wine region in North Macedonia. On our way we will pass through the towns of Negotino and Kavadarci, both known for their vine growing and wine production. Arrival at Popova Kula winery and check in. A short tour of the winery premises will be organized together with an enologist. After lunch we will have free time. For those willing we can organize a bike tour of the surrounding area. Overnight (B, L)
Day 10: Demir Kapija – Stobi – Skopje
After breakfast check out from the winery and transfer to Skopje. On the way will visit the ancient city of Stobi, at the intersection of the Via Militaris and the Via Diagonalis. Located between Veles and Negotin, Stobi is the most important archeological site in North Macedonia, once the biggest Roman city in the Balkans. Archaeologists have discovered traces of the Paeonians, an ancient Macedonian tribe, as well as traces of the Hellenic, Roman, and early Christian periods. At the time of Philip of Macedon it was already an important strategic military center and also a significant cultural, trade, and communication center. Stobi maintained its status under the Roman Empire and experienced major growth. We will walk through the site and view basilicas, palaces, the Forum, Theatre, ancient synagogue, casino, and the museum. After we arrive in Skopje we will take a cable car to visit the Millennium Cross, a 66 meter-high cross situated on the top of the mountain. It is one of the biggest crosses in the world, constructed to serve as a memorial of 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world. Here we will visit the monastery of St. Panteleimon, which contains remarkable frescoes of a great artistic value of a non-static but more emotional style of Byzantine Art. Late lunch will be organized in the monastery restaurant with Macedonian music. Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight. (B, L)
Day 11: Departure
After breakfast transfer to the airport.(B)
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