This tailor-made, twin-centre itinerary combines the historic and cultural attractions of North Macedonia’s capital with charming Lake Ohrid, one of the world’s oldest lakes. Skopje is a wonderful city in which to spend a few days exploring. With the River Vadar dissecting the compact capital into a predominantly Muslim half to the north, and Orthodox Christian side to the south, the city’s Ottoman and Byzantine influences are very much in evidence. In the Turkish area known as Caršija, the large daily bazaar, Turkish trading inns, ornate mosques and ancient fortress' provide a fascinating insight into the city’s history. Be sure to visit Mustafa Pasha Mosque, the largest and most ornately decorated mosque in the city, and the Daut Pasha Baths National Gallery - a 15th century bath house which now houses a gallery of contemporary art.
The jewel in North Macedonia’s crown is undoubtedly its beautiful countryside and stunning rural monasteries, and an ideal base to explore these is the picturesque town of Ohrid. The UNESCO-protected town in the southernmost part of North Macedonia was the cradle of Slavonic literacy, which brothers Cyril and Methodius, and later their disciples St. Clement and St. Naum, spread from the Ohrid Literary School, the first Slavonic University in the Balkans, long before Bologna. Ohrid is a city museum with an abundance of archaeological treasures including early Christian basilicas and beautiful churches, the most famous of which is the church of St. John at Kaneo, perched dramatically on the cliffs above the lake. From Ohrid it is also possible to explore stunning Galicica National Park which extends from the lake into the mountains, and offers endless pristine landscapes.
This itinerary is based on good 4-star boutique hotels with private transfers between Skopje and Ohrid.
Fly to North Macedonia’s compact capital. On arrival, transfer to your Skopje hotel for three nights.
Enjoy the day at leisure in Skopje. Admire the Warrior on a Horse statue and fountain in the centre of Macedonia Square, thought to depict Alexander the Great, or visit hilltop Kale Fortress, built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, for stunning views over the city.
Spend the day at leisure in Skopje. Venture over the Stone Bridge to the old bazaar where the streets are lined with shops selling traditional crafts and restaurants emitting the aromas of Tavche Gravche (traditional Macedonian baked bean dish) and Burek.
Transfer by private car down to Ohrid (2.5 hours) and check in to the hotel for four nights. Alternatively transfer via Mavrovo national park where en-route you can visit Sveti Jovan Bigorski Monastery, one of North Macedonia’s finest monasteries, and Jance village for lunch at the Hotel Tutto; a pioneer of North Macedonia’s slow food movement.
Explore the charming town of Ohrid at leisure. Discover incredible ancient churches, many adorned with vibrant frescoes, and look out for the numerous artisan workshops where a wide range of handmade arts and crafts can be found including delicate handcrafted jewellery using Ohrid pearls.
Spend the day at leisure. Consider booking an optional excursion to the towns of Struga, Kalista and Vevcani, on the other side of the lake. In the evenings perhaps relax with a glass of delicious North Macedonian wine and freshly caught Ohrid trout, watching the sun set over the lake.
Spend the day at leisure in Ohrid. In the summer months take a boat trip to Sveti. Naum Monastery at the other end of the lake near the border with Albania, to stroll in its beautifully manicured gardens where peacocks roam. Or visit the Bay of Bones museum for a glimpse of what local life was like in the Bronze and Iron age.
Transfer back to Skopje airport for the flight back to the UK this evening. (B)
Please be aware that prices are likely to be much higher in July/August as flight prices can double due to high demand.
We loved Macedonia and there is little doubt that it will become a major holiday destination in the not too distant future. Skopje is a vibrant city full of life and interest. Lake Ohrid is superb with its magnificent backdrop of mountains. The arrangements by Regent Holidays were excellent.
Service from both hotels was excellent. Hotel Duvet - the owner have up a morning to drive us around Mt. Vodno! At Villa Sveti Sofija guests should know that the bedrooms are on the 2nd floor but everything is fine! Excellent service from Regent Holidays! On the travel tips - useful for visitors to Macedonia to obtain on arrival small denominations of denars as 1000MKD not readily acceptable in shop!