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Activity: BIKE and HIKE
Difficulty: Moderate
Duration:
13 days
Accommodation:
12 nights in family-run and boutique hotels.
3* or 4* hotels in the bigger cities "
Meals:
All meals included
Price:

Available on request

Start planning your trip
  • 12 Nights
  • Max 70km cycling per day
  • Max 16km hiking per day
  • Moderate 
  • 3 days hiking, 8 days cycling 
  • June to October

Overview

Explore South Balkans on bike and on foot: we have picked the best cycling routes and hikes that connect four countries on this tour. In the region where the Dinaric Alps connect with the Rhodope Mountain massif, and the Continent with the Mediterranean – the undiscovered part of Europe with spectacular natural beauty, rich history and traditions, and mouth-watering dishes. 

Highlights

See Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia and Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria 

Explore national parks Mavrovo and Galicica in North Macedonia and Bredhi I Drenoves in Albania

Ohrid and Ohrid lake – both on the UNESCO World Heritage list

Kayaking to Cave Vrelo in Canyon Matka – home of over 130 species of butterflies

Discover the hidden alleys of Kastoria – the noble lady of Greece

Hike to mystical Treskavec monastery, surrounded by vertical granite rocks and boulders

Melnik – the town surrounded by sand pyramids

The 5* thermal spas in Sandanski 

Taste the famous Balkan cuisine

Difficulty Grading

CYCLING MODERATEup to 75km / 46mihilly terrain with moderate uphillsRegular cyclists, who are used to longer rides and are happy to take an uphill, or two along the way
HIKING
EASY / MODERATE
up to 18km / 11mi
3-6 hours
Terrain may be rugged, with some hills, but not too strenuous.Suitable for fit and active people, with some hiking experience

Map

tours/map BIKE HIKE THE BALKANS

ITINERARY

DAY 1: WELCOME TO NORTH MACEDONIA

Meet Macedonia Travel guide at Skopje airport, transfer to your hotel in Skopje. Explore Skopje in the afternoon: Mother Teresa memorial house, the monuments and fountains on Macedonia square, and walk over the old Stone Bridge into the maze of narrow cobblestoned alleys of the old town, lined with small colorful shops, cafés and restaurants. End the day with dinner in a reconstructed inn from Ottoman times. Overnight in Skopje. 
Total drive: 24km / 25min

DAY 2: HIKE & KAYAKS IN CANYON MATKA

Start the day with a cable car ride to the Millennium Cross on top of Mount Vodno. As you reach the peak a 360 ° panorama opens in front of you: the valley of Skopje, the mountains in the North bordering with Kosovo, the Central mountain massif in the South, and on the West - the ridgeline path leading you to Canyon Matka, home to the bald eagle, endemic plant life and over 130 different types of butterfly. In 3-4 hours walk you will reach a 13th century Orthodox monastery standing on the cliff above the canyon - enjoy the spectacular view from here before you reach the lake and the boat that will take you along the canyon to one of the deepest cave in teh world: Cave Vrelo. Or, take a kayak and explore the canyon at your pace. Late afternoon transfer from Canyon Matka to the national park Mavrovo. Overnight in Mavrovo. 
Hike: 10,5km, 150m D+, 822m D-
Total drive: 97km / 1h 45min

DAY 3: CYCLING IN NATIONAL PARK MAVROVO

Today we start cycling by Lake Mavrovo and through a gorge following River Radika. At the end of the ride, we hike to the beautiful Duff Waterfall, we enjoy a picnic lunch there and head to one of the most important shrines in the country - Rajcica monastery, with the remains of the hand of St George from 4th century, embeded in gold-plated silver. Overnight in a village guesthouse where we will taste some locally smoked meat and homemade wine over a true village feast. 
Ride: 53,6km, 596m D+, 1.127m D-
Total drive: 63km / 1h 15min

DAY 4: EXPLORE THE CAVE CHURCHES

Enjoy the village breakfast on the balcony of the guesthouse and take a short walk to the springs of Vevchanska River, and to your bike. Today we ride to the cave churches built by monks centuries ago in the rock overlooking Lake Ohrid. Then, we cycle along the lake on a  bicycle path to the town of Ohrid. 
Ohrid and Lake Ohrid are both declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Ohrid for its great history heritage, and the lake being the oldest and deepest lake in Europe with great biodiversity. Next two nights we will stay in Ohrid. 
Ride: 58 km, 293m D+, 455m D-
Total drive: 0km

DAY 5: OHRID

Our layover day in Ohrid will start with a guided tour of the old town: you will see the most photographed church in the Balkans, walk on the Tsar Samoil city walls and see the ancient theatre built over 2.200 years ago - today it is still used for outside performances. The afternoon is yours to explore the hidden alleys of the old town, visit the workshop for handmade paper, shop for world-famous Ohrid pearls, or just sip a drink staring at the lake... Overnight in Ohrid. 
Ride: 0km
Drive: 0km

DAY 6: CYCLING TO ALBANIA

Early transfer from Ohrid to the pass of Galicica Mountain. This is the best spot for photos of Ohrid Lake and the mountain peaks and ridges that surround it. Here we get on our bikes, and we ride down on the other side of the mountain to the villages and beaches by Prespa Lake. We'll cross the border with Albania here, and continue to a small Albanian village for lunch, and for a short boating tour to the tiny island in Prespa Lake - the kingdom of pelicans and cormorants. Late afternoon drive to the town of Korce, a small town set on a high plateau between the mountain ranges of southeast Albania. Overnight in Korce.
Ride: 40 km, 449m D+, 1.174m D-
Total drive: 68km / 1h 40min

DAY 7: HIKE IN BREDHI I DRENOVES – ALBANIA

We explore the busy bazaar of Korce, where street stalls are piled high with all manner of goods - get a feel of how this bustling trade town must have been during Ottoman times. Than we head to Drenove national park forest, or 'Bredhi i Drenoves' (the forest of fir trees) as Albanians call it, for a 4 hours hike through the bottom of the valleys. Our picnic lunch will be by one of the many natural springs with drinking water here. Later we drive over the border in Greece, to the lovely town of Kastoria placed on a small peninsula in Orestiada Lake. Taste the famous Greek cusine in a small taverna by the lake. Overnight in a hotel in the old town of Kastoria. 
Hike: 10,8km, 420m D+, 780m D-
Total drive: 90,5km / 1h 50min

DAY 8: KASTORIA & ORESTIADA LAKE – GREECE

They call Kastoria the noble lady of Western Macedonia. This romantic town was center of fur trade and embroidery since 18th century, when large numbers of Jewish furriers came here because of the abundance of beavers. The wealth of its inhabitants can be still seen in the manor houses in the old town, built by the renown stone masons from Epirus. Kastoria is also home to over 70 Byzantine churches, dating from as far back as the 9th century up to the 19th. Today we explore the lake shore by bike, and the old quarters of Kastoria on foot. Overnight in Kastoria. 
Ride: 35km, 384m D+, 375m D-
Total drive: 0km

DAY 9: CYCLING TO BITOLA – NORTH MACEDONIA

A 30min transfer will take us to the pass of Vitsy mountain, at 1.780m height. From here we ride down the mountain and along the fields of Western Macedonia of Greece, where we cross the border into North Macedonia. Today our ride ends in Bitola, the second largest city in Macedonia that has managed to maintain its 18th and 19th century architecture in the center of the town. These romantic, neoclassical buildings tell of the former glory of the town, when every major European country had a consulate here. Join the evening promenade along the main pedestrian street “Shirok Sokak” (the Wide Alley) before the dinner in one of the many restaurants along the street. Overnight in Bitola.
Ride: 65,3km, 350m D+, 1.512m D-
Total drive: 24km / 30min

DAY 10: TRESKAVEC

Start the day with visit of Heraclea Lyncestis, the ancient city founded in 4th century BC by Philip II (the father of Alexander the Great). See the preserved courtrooms, the Roman theater and residences and basilicas from Early Christian period with world-renown mosaics. From here we head to the medieval walls and towers above the city of Prilep, where we start a moderately easy 5 hours hike. Our target is the 12th century remote monastery  - Treskavec, hidden between the boulders of the Golden Mountain. We explore the tiny Orthodox church inside the monastery walls with its faded brick facades and Byzantine frescoes before we head down and continue into the wine region of North Macedonia, where we overnight in a charming winery hotel. 
Hike: 16km, 683m D+, 683m D-
Total drive: 140km / 2h 30min

DAY 11: CYCLING TO BULGARIA

Today we cycle to the 4th country on this tour - Bulgaria. Starting from Strumica, we cycle through the last villages of North Macedonia before we cross the border and continue into the Bulgarian countryside where we stop for homemade organic lunch at grandma's Rukie's house. From here we continue towards the smallest city in Bulgaria, Melnik, nestled between beautiful sand pyramids. It is classified as an architectural reserve where 96 of its buildings are cultural monuments. Overnight in Melnik.  
Ride: 66,9km, 773m D+, 858m D-
Total drive: 65km / 1h

DAY 12: SANDANSKI THERMAL SPA

Our last ride on this tour starts from Melnik, and leads us to the town Sandanski in the spa region of Bulgaria. The afternoon is free to explore this little town, or to enjoy the thermal spa waters in our 5* hotel. Our last dinner will be in one of the hotel restaurants with traditional Bulgarian music. Overnight in Sandanski.
Ride: 22km, 460m D+, 535m D-
Total drive: 0km

DAY 13: LAST DAY

Our tour ends today with a shuttle to the Sofia airport.


Total drive: 169km / 2h

When To Go

Possible01 Juni do 15 juni I 15 Oktomvri do 01 noemvri
Recommended15 Juni – 15 Oktomvri
Not availableAll other dates

When To Go

Price

Available on request. 

INCLUDED IN PRICE:

  • Accommodation based on 2 participants sharing double room
  • Meal plan: all meals included (vegetarian, vegan and special requests available)
  • All transports by A/C van / minibus (one group transfer is included from Skopje airport to Skopje and from Sandanski to Sofia airport)
  • Full escort by professional cycling / hiking guide
  • Cable car on Mount Vodno
  • Kayaking in Canyon Matka
    Wine tasting in a home cellar in village Vevchani
  • Winetasting with the dinner in the wine region of North Macedonia
  • Tea & cake break in local home in the wine region of North Macedonia
  • Use of the spa facilities in 5* spa hotel in Bulgaria
  • Entrance fees for national parks and monuments included in the program
  • Organization and full logistics by Macedonia Travel 

    NOT INCLUDED IN PRICE
  • Airplane tickets to/from Skopje / Sofia
  • Personal medical and travel insurance (mandatory)
  • Any extra expenses not mentioned under „included in price“

    OPTIONS & SUPPLEMENTS:
  • Supplement for single room accommodation 
  • Private transfers from Skopje Airport to Skopje and from Sofia to Sofia Airport
  • Extra night in Skopje
    3* hotel: from 26 € / per person sharing double room; Single supplement from 15 €
    4* hotel: from 40 € / per person sharing double room; Single supplement from 20 €
    5* hotel: from 60 € / per person sharing double room; Single supplement from 50 € 
  • Extra night in Sofia 
    3* hotel: from 34 € / per person sharing double room; Single supplement from 20 €
    4* hotel: from 46 € / per person sharing double room; Single supplement from 25 €
    5* hotel: from 65 € / per person sharing double room; Single supplement from 54 €
  • Rent of bike: from 21 € /per day 

Accommodation

From 3*, 4* and 5* hotels in the big cities, to small family run hotels and boutique hotels where available according to your request. 

Arrival & Departure

This tour starts in Skopje (North Macedonia) and ends in Sofia (Bulgaria). Please arrange your flights accordingly, or contact our air-ticketing department to arrange them for you. 

One group transfer from Skopje airport to your hotel in Skopje and from Sandanski to Sofia airport is included in price. Private transfers are available on request.

Bike Information

If you prefer to bring your own bike, we will be happy to take care of your bike box while you enjoy your holiday. 

If it is easier for you to rent it, we can offer Hardtail mountain bicycles or e-bikes. Each bike comes with a helmet, lights, locks and a spare tube, and each group gets: a pump, tire levers, patches and a multi-tool. 

We can also install luggage rack to the bicycle, and provide you with bike bags at an extra cost (2 € / per day)

Why Travel With Us?

LOCAL EXPERTS

Since 2004 we create authentic, high quality tours in the Balkans. North Macedonia is our homeland, we have walked and biked every corner of the country and we make sure that the balance between the activities, the "must see" attractions and the "off-the-beaten-track" experiences gives you the true Balkan - intense, hearth warming and often life changing experience.

SAFETY

* Strict company risk management on each tour that we operate available
* 24/7 for anything from enquiries to emergencies
* Macedonia Travel has liability insurance by Winner - Vienna Group
* "A" licensed by the Ministery of Economy of North Macedonia UP 113-101
* IATA license No. 76-3 2058

FLEXIBLE BOOKINGS

 * Change your travel plans up to 30 days before departure, with no fees.
 *After you pay the deposit, the rest of the amount can be paid any time until 30 days before departure

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