North Macedonia Culinary Tour 2020: much can be learned about a country through its cuisine. Simple things like how a dish is spiced can convey the passion and emotions of a region’s inhabitants. The influence of history can be tasted in the characteristics of the local cuisine. Macedonian cuisine reflects its history with culinary influences inherited from Turkish tastes that prevailed during long centuries of Ottoman rule, from neighboring Greece, Albania and the Mediterranean.

Traditional cooking in North Macedonia developed from a rural lifestyle. Fresh ingredients, herbs and spices, olive oil, and an honest yet creative simplicity in the combination of ingredients define the traditional cuisine. A Macedonian dish is not only fresh and inviting, but a peek back into the country’s rich and varied history.

For the Macedonians, sharing a meal with someone is a sign of friendship. Welcoming a guest to the family table is an important part of the Macedonian tradition. In accordance to longstanding and ancient customs of hospitality, an honored guest is offered the best that is available in the home. A glass of rakija (fruit brandy), or home made wine, regional cheese, hot bread, richly spiced meat, an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, a sweet dessert, in short, a traditional yet unpretentious meal.

During our 12 days in North Macedonia, through the country’s cuisine, we will experience its rich and proud history and its warm-hearted, welcoming people. We will get to know a region from its wine, a town from its unique spicing of a dish, and a sheep-fold through its cheese. We will visit food markets, buy fresh food and spices, and have hands on experience as we learn to prepare traditional Macedonian fare. Visit wineries, tour the facilities, and sample the wines. We’ll be wined and dined in traditional Macedonian restaurants. We’ll be guests in a Macedonian home where our host will prepare a traditional Macedonian dish for us. And along the way, we’ll have an opportunity to see some of the history, beauty and majesty of North Macedonia.

2020 Land Cost Per Person (double occupancy)

May 8th, June 12th, September 11th, October 9th – $4470

This tour operates with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 12 travelers. The tour can be arranged anytime for a minimum of two travelers. Special rates apply. Contact us for more information.

Price Includes:

  • 10 nights accommodation at 4* hotels
  • Airport transfers
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned transportation throughout the journey
  • All activities and entrance tickets
  • Professional English-speaking guide
  • All meals where indicated

Price Does Not Include:

  • International 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 unforeseen circumstances

Day 1: Skopje
Meet the group at Skopje Airport and transfer to the hotel in Skopje. In the afternoon we will go to the Old Bazaar where we’ll enjoy a traditional Macedonian lunch. While enjoying the traditional Macedonian cuisine and regional wine, our guide will explain the origins and history of the ingredients that are used to create the cuisine. Later we’ll have an opportunity to explore the Old Bazaar which gets quite lively in the evenings. It’s filled with restaurants, wine bars, pubs and shops. Overnight at the hotel. (D)

Day 2: Skopje: Half-day Culinary Tour
After breakfast at the hotel, we will visit a typical Macedonian market, called a pazar. We’ll be able to browse through a vast variety of local foods, vegetables and spices. This will allow us the chance to become more familiar with the exotic ingredients that create the Macedonian cuisine. With the ingredients we bought at the market, we’ll learn how to prepare three basic Macedonian dishes such as: Makolo, a tasty kind of dipping sauce or gravy; Proja, a type of bread; and Cheese in a Pot. And of course, after preparing all this food, we’ll relax and enjoy our culinary treat. In the afternoon we’ll visit Matka Canyon, a protected natural reserve and home to several monasteries. There, we’ll have a chance to enjoy a boat ride on Matka Lake and dinner at a lakeside restaurant. Transfer back to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 3: Stobi – Demir Kapja – Wine Tasting at Popova Kuladelicious native fruit saladWe depart for Demir Kapja after breakfast. On our way to the renowned winery, Popova Kula, we will stop to visit the ancient city of Stobi. Stobi was founded during the Hellenistic period and became part of the Roman provinces in 148 B.C. Due to its location on the crossroads of important trade routes, it became a very prosperous city. Some noteworthy archeological sites include: a Roman theater, built in the 3rd century AD; the Temple of Nemezis; the Grand Palace, which contains beautiful frescoes. After our visit to Stobi, we’re off to Pova Kula. There, we’ll meet with an enologist who will give us a presentation of the winery, a tour of the facilities and a wine tasting in the cellar. We’ll also enjoy lunch at the winery. We’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon. (B, L, D)

Day 4: Skopje – Mavrovo – Ohrid
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and leave for Ohrid. On our way, we’ll stop for a very special lunch at a restaurant located in Mavrovo National Park. Here, we’ll be treated to several different wild game specialties as well as wines and other beverages from the region. Some of the highest mountain peaks in Macedonia are all found in the National Park of Mavrovo, located in the western-central edge of the country. These mountains provide magnificent visual landscapes. After lunch we’ll continue on to Ohrid. Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980, has a vast history and heritage. The area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, and is without a doubt, the jewel in North Macedonia’s crown. After checking into the hotel in Ohrid, we’ll have some time to relax. We’ll have dinner overlooking the lake on the hotel’s terrace. (B, L, D)

Day 5: Ohrid – Sightseeing
After breakfast we leave the hotel for a guided walking tour of Ohrid. Among the highlights of the tour will be: the Church of St. Sofia, a striking example of medieval architecture; Plaoshnik Monastery, one of the most beautiful Byzantine churches in Macedonia; the 11th century ruler, Tzar Sauel’s Fortress, once one of the most impregnable strongholds in the Balkans; the Ancient Theater, a marvel of Greco-Roman construction, and where you can still see the names of seat holders engraved in the stone; the Church of St. Jovan Kaneo, built in the 13th century on a cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid. We’ll stop for lunch in Ohrid’s old part of town where we’ll experience more of Macedonia’s traditional cuisine. After lunch we’ll explore the old Ohrid bazaar, one of the liveliest parts of town, its shops are sure to tempt. We’ll also visit a uniquely rare workshop, one of only seven in the world, where paper is still made the original Chinese way, dating back to the 2nd century BC. And for those looking for a special gift, we’ll have an opportunity to see Ohrid pearls. These pearls are created from the scales of the Plasica fish, endemic to Lake Ohrid. Only two families in Ohrid hold the secret to creating these pearls. We’ll return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 6: Ohrid – Culinary Experience and Boat Ride
After breakfast we will go to the local market, the pazar. Once there, we’ll shop for the ingredients needed to prepare our lunch. On the menu: Selsko Meso (a favorite Macedonian pork and mushroom dish) and Pastrmajlija (an extremely popular specialty made with dough and ground meat). Back at the hotel, we’ll all be involved in the preparation and cooking of these dishes. There’s truth to the saying: You learn by doing. After lunch, we’ll spend some leisure time on the lake. Our private boat ride will give us the opportunity to experience the beauty of Lake Ohrid. The oldest lake in Europe, it is also one of the deepest and has a unique aquatic ecosystem with more than 200 endemic species. The lake was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. Dinner will be at a traditional Macedonian restaurant, where we’ll be entertained with live Macedonian folk music. Overnight at the hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 7: Ohrid – Bitola – Krusevo
After breakfast we check out of the hotel, our destination is Krusevo. But first we’ll stop in Bitola, the second largest city in North Macedonia. Known during the Ottoman period as a city of the councils, that reputation still holds true today. Countries that have their consulates in Bitola include: Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, Romania and Serbia. Our destination is the most famous street in Bitola, the Shirok Sokak, where all the cafes, boutiques, casinos and bars are located. It’s the place to see and be seen! We’ll have lunch there and sample different dishes and wine from the region. Later in the afternoon we’ll depart for Krusevo. After checking into the Hotel Montana Palas in Krusevo, we’ll be regaled with a feast that includes a special culinary delight created solely for the hotel’s dining room. The evening’s menu has been designed to complement the wine tasting we enjoyed earlier in the day. Along with the hotel’s culinary dish, we’ll have Sarma, a specially spiced minced meat rolled in cabbage leaves which is specialty of the region. The hotel’s dining room has a wonderful view of the city’s lights. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 8: Krusevo
This morning we’ll be treated to a special buffet breakfast that the hotel will prepare just for us. After breakfast, we’ll walk through the small town of Krusevo. Known not only for its traditional architecture and cultural sites, the town’s high elevation makes it a perfect spot for enjoying winter sports. Krusevo is also the site of the great 1903 Ilinden uprising against Ottoman domination. Though the rebellion failed, its memory is still revered by Macedonians today. We’ll visit the Makedonium, monument to the rebellion, and the Museum of the National Liberation War. For lunch, we’ll be treated to traditional Krusevo cuisine, which blends Balkan and Mediterranean characteristics and was influenced by the Turkish tastes that prevailed during Ottoman rule. After lunch, we’ll visit a traditional shop where we’ll watch a presentation of the authentic process of making sweets. In the evening, we’ll have another extraordinary culinary experience at the Hotel Montana Palas. We’ll have a special presentation of homemade wines from accomplished local producers in the Prilep region. Along with the wine tasting, we’ll sample Krusevo’s famous sausage. The secret of the special flavor lies in the mastery of mixing the spices! Also on the evening’s menu will be fruit rolled in prosciutto, Pohovana Zdenka, a special Macedonian version of chicken fingers encrusted in sesame seeds, salad, and dessert. (B, L, D)

Day 9: Krusevo – Kavardaci – Berovo
After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and go visit a North Macedonian home. Our host will show us how to make a traditional Macedonian dish. We’ll also have the opportunity to sample different pies made with leeks, cabbage, spinach and local cheeses. After our visit, we leave for Tikvesh Winery, the oldest winery in North Macedonia. Established in 1885, Tikvesh Winery is well known throughout the country for its quality wines. We’ll have a walking tour of the vineyards, visit the wine cellars and meet with an enologist who will give us a presentation of the wines produced at Tikvesh. And of course, we’ll sample the different wines. We’ll also enjoy lunch at the winery. After lunch we depart for Berovo. Located in the Maleshevo Mountains, this small town retains its traditional culture, historical heritage, music and crafts. After settling into the hotel, we’ll meet on the ‘cardak’, one of the hotel’s summer terraces. Built in the traditional Macedonian style, the cardak has a bakery where we’ll make our own dinner, using local, organic ingredients. (B, L, D)

Day 10: Berovo
After breakfast we’ll go to nearby Lake Berovo where we’ll have an opportunity to meet some local people. We’ll have a chance to learn more about the customs of the region, see some of their handicrafts, musical instruments, and watch and listen to traditional songs and dances that are centuries old. Lunch will be a rare opportunity to see and experience more rural traditions. We’ll visit a sheep-fold hut in the mountains, and our meal will be prepared from local ingredients. In the afternoon we’ll return to the hotel, and have some time to relax. Dinner will be at the hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 11: Skopje
After breakfast we check out and depart for Skopje. Some sightseeing and overnight in Skopje.

Day 12: Departure
We depart for the airport after breakfast. (B)

Note: Due to local events such as seasonal festivals, holidays, etc., the order of activities is subject to change.

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