Church of St. John at Kaneo

Balkan Explorer

10 days
from
£1,599
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Activity level:
Leisurely
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
ATO
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–14
Ages:
16+

Discover North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Kosovo on this cultural highlights journey across the southern Balkans.

Discover the rich history of Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Kosovo, where influences from the East and the West collide. This trip showcases some of the cultural highlights of the central part of the Balkans, famous for ancient civilization traces, UNESCO world heritage monasteries and churches and the vibrant, laidback capital cities of Sofia and Skopje. Having been under numerous influences throughout the ages, both Bulgaria and North Macedonia have an eclectic history where different cultures have all left their mark. But a visit to this region of the Balkan Peninsula would not be complete without experiencing the contrasting natural beauty it has to offer: national parks, high mountains, fertile valleys, famous wine regions and the peaceful, alluring Lakes Ohrid and Prespa – they are all part of this comprehensive itinerary.

Highlights

  • Discover Skopje and Sofia- two of the Balkan's most vibrant capitals
  • Bulgaria's UNESCO world heritage Rila Monastery
  • North Macedonia's Tikvesh wine region and alluring Lake Ohrid
  • Visit Prizren, Kosovo's culture capital
  • Natural beauty, ancient sites and traditional Balkan cuisine

Key information

  • 9 nights comfortable hotels, all rooms en suite
  • Group normally 4 to 14, plus leader. Min 16 yrs.
  • Travel by private air-conditioned minibus

 

  • Countries visited: North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Kosovo

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • Transfers for group flights

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas & vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

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  • Day 1

    Start in Sofia, Bulgaria. After the meeting with the leader, we go for a welcoming dinner.

    Our trip commences in the late evening at the hotel in Sofia, when after the main briefing you’ll have a chance to get to know the group and the leader over a meal.

    Note: Those travelers using the group flight will be picked up at the airport and transferred to the hotel.

    Hotel Sofia Palace or similar

  • Day 2

    Transfer to Melnik stopping at UNESCO sites Boyana Church and the famous Rila Monastery en route. Free afternoon upon arrival into Melnik.

    After breakfast, we begin our transfer towards our second stop, the picturesque town of Melnik. En route we first visit the Boyana Church, a small mediaeval orthodox church listed as a world UNESCO cultural heritage site, located in a suburb of Sofia. Despite the church's small size, its frescoes are historically significant and part of an artistic achievement that started the technique illustrating biblical figures with emotions, and placing them alongside local aristocracy.

    The second UNESCO world heritage site we visit is perhaps the most famous in Bulgaria, the Rila Monastery (approximately 2 hour transfer from Sofia). The monastery is a must-see sight for anyone who visits the region and is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments. The combination of arcaded balconies, unique frescoes (the work of one of the most famous Bulgarian Revival Period artists), the gilded iconostasis, and the fabulous mountain views make a visit to this 10th Century monastery truly extraordinary. During our visit, your leader will be able to tell you its history and there will be plenty of time to explore with the option of lunch at one of the restaurants near the monastery complex.

    After lunch, we transfer to the small town of Melnik, the smallest Bulgarian settlement with a city status, known for its historic architecture. We have a quick visit to Kordopulova house, the biggest house from the Revival Period built in 1754 by the Kordopul family. Here we will become familiar with old Melnik traditions and architecture. The rest of the day is free to explore Melnik.
    Hotel Melnik or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Transfer to North Macedonia. After lunch we visit the ancient city of Stobi and enjoy wine tasting over dinner in a winery of the famous Tikveš wine region.

    This morning, after breakfast, before we depart for North Macedonia, we’ll have a visit to Kordopulova house, the largest house from the Bulgarian Revival Period, built in 1754 by the Kordopulos family. Here we will become familiar with old Melnik traditions and architecture.

    Then we bid farewell to Bulgaria and head to North Macedonia and the area of Strumica, in the southeastern region of the country. After 1,5hrs our first stop will be the carnival city of Strumica where we’ll stretch our legs, as we go on a short walk around the centre. In Strumica we’ll have our first encounter with the North Macedonian cuisine over a lunch in a nice restaurant.

    In the afternoon, we move to the famous Tikveš wine region. Here, we will visit the spacious archaeological site of Stobi, the largest one in North Macedonia. The ancient city of Stobi was mentioned for the first time in 197 B.C, but its history starts some 5 centuries earlier, developing from a Paeonian town to the capital of the Roman province Macedonia Salutaris. The preserved buildings include a large theatre, luxurious palaces with fountains, peristyles and mosaics (worked in soft green, deep blue, ochre and reddish tones), Roman thermae, ancient temples and the oldest Christian church in the country.

    In the late afternoon, we check in at our hotel-winery, located in an area full with vineyards, outside Demir Kapija and spend an evening tasting a selection of premium North Macedonian wines over dinner. North Macedonian wines have taken a central role in society since the ancient times, when the kings and emperors favored its grapes. Thanks to an abundance of sunshine, Mediterranean and Continental breezes and rich soil, the grapes thrive in North Macedonia.

    Hotel Popova Kula or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Drive to Bitola to visit the archaeological site of Heraclea and enjoy a walking tour of the city with free time in the evening.

    After a relaxed breakfast, surrounded with vineyards, we head towards the city of Bitola (2hrs drive).

    Our first stop is the ancient city – now an archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, located on the outskirts of Bitola where we have a tour of Bitola’s predecessor. Heraclea was founded by King Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC after he had incorporated the surrounding region of Lyncestis into his kingdom of Macedon. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles, whom Philip considered his ancestor. With its strategic location, it became a prosperous city. Each object, each stone, each pedestal is shrouded in mystery from the mists of 10 centuries of its existence.

    In the afternoon we do a sightseeing of Bitola, the second largest city of North Macedonia. Historically it was a major political, economic and cultural centre of the Balkans in 19th and early 20th century. Many foreign countries had their consulates in Bitola, therefore it is also known as the 'City of Consuls. After a lunch in a local restaurant, your leader will take you on a walk in the centre of Bitola, showing you the landmarks, including the famous Širok Sokak Street, the Clock tower, Ottoman mosques, Christian churches and the Old Bazaar’s paved streets.

    After checking in to your hotel, in your free time, you may wish to visit the rewarding National museum, walk the promenade in the near-by park, or enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafes and learn about the coffee culture of Bitola and the significance it has had on this city over the ages.

    Hotel Teater or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Pelister NP walk, Beekeepers farm and lunch in Dihovo, transfer to Lake Ohrid via Lake Prespa and Galičica NP.

    This is a day to enjoy the nature. In the morning we go to Pelister National Park, in Bitola’s vicinity, to walk “The Path of the First World War” through forests of Molika pines and to learn about the history of the area during WW1. Given that Bitola was on the front-line of the Macedonian front during the Great War, it witnessed the times of madness, and remnants of the war can still be found in the surrounding mountains

    Then we go to the nearby village Dihovo, where we have the opportunity to explore the fascinating world of the Macedonian honey bee (Apis mellifera macedonica) as we join one of the local beekeepers. During the demonstration, protective clothing will be provided and there will be a chance to taste honey from the comb as well as an opportunity to purchase some if you wish to.  The lunch is arranged in the garden of a local family home in the village.

    In the afternoon we continue to Ohrid, enjoying a ride via Galičica National Park. We’ll stop at Lake Prespa and enjoy the tranquility of this Ramsar Wetland, before we start driving the scenic road through Galičica Mountain with short en route stops to enjoy the fascinating landscapes of both Ohrid and Prespa lakes. Driving along the coast of UNESCO listed Lake Ohrid, valued as a world heritage since 1979, we’ll reach the city of Ohrid, where you’ll have free time upon arrival.

    Hotel Royal View or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    A full day in Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage city. Dinner in a family home in Kuratica village.

    This morning, after breakfast, we do a walking tour of some of the famous sites in Ohrid, the pearl of the Balkan Peninsula. Built on a large hill above the lake, the Old town is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe with traces of its 3 millennia of existence visible everywhere. Overlooking the blue waters of the unique lake, Ohrids’s artistic and historical importance is maybe most apparent through its vast collections of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Icons and fresco paintings and by being the site of the oldest Pan-Slavic university, founded by Saint Clement, the patron saint of the city in the 9th century. Ohrid region is one of few only in Europe which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage by both Natural and Cultural criteria.

    The sightseeing will take us through the winding, cobbled stone streets, with traditional houses and many Byzantine style churches, including Hagia Sophia cathedral, the Holy Virgin Peribleptos and St. John at Kaneo. We will see the Upper Gate, visit the Tsar Samuel's Fortress and the Ancient Theatre. Ohrid boasts with preserved handicrafts, precious jewelry, traditional restaurants, lakeside cafes and historic monuments which all contribute to the charming atmosphere. You will have a free afternoon to explore, visit some of the museums, enjoy a panoramic boat ride, or maybe take a swim in the lake.

    In the evening we will check out the vicinity of Ohrid by having a dinner in Kuratica village (approximately 30 mins away), where a local family will prepare a delicious, home cooked meal in their family home, using organic local products.

    Hotel Royal View or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 7

    Transfer to Kosovo via Tetovo and Šar Planina NP. Lunch in Varvara and a walking tour in Prizren.

    After breakfast, we check out from the hotel and travel from Ohrid to Prizren in Kosovo. We make a stop in Tetovo (approx. 2hrs drive), to see the Colorful Mosque, one of the most notable Islamic monuments in Europe, due to its unique decorative style. From here we head to the nearby village of Varvara, where the local village community will prepare a traditional lunch on their beautiful terrace overlooking the Polog valley.

    Then we continue to Kosovo, where after the border we’ll have a scenic drive (two more hours) through Šar Planina National Park in order to reach Prizren, a historical and vital city, surrounded by incredible nature. This mediaeval capital is known for traditional handicrafts, its gastronomy and wines, and a wonderful mix of Serbian and Ottoman monuments. The leader will take us for a walk around the city to see the most famous sites, including Shadirvan square, Sinan Pasha Mosque, the Orthodox and the Catholic Cathedrals, Gazi Mehmet Pasha’s Hammam and the 14th century Our Lady of Ljeviš (part of a World heritage property).

    The evening is at your disposal to enjoy a meal or the sunset view from Kalaja - the Fortress of Prizren.

    Hotel Classic or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Visiting the UNESCO’s Gračanica Monastery before arrival to Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, followed by a walking tour of the city.

    We leave Prizren in the morning. Our first stop is King Milutin’s final endowment, Gračanica Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, located in the eponymous village, in the heart of Kosovo, close to Priština, the capital of this disputed territory. The masterfully built monastic church was finished and fresco decorated by 1321 and still is a bastion of Orthodox Christianity, since Gračanica is one of the few remaining dominantly Serbian populated areas in Kosovo.

    Then we head back across the border to Skopje, the North Macedonian capital. We arrive in Skopje after approx. 2hrs drive and in the late afternoon we have a sightseeing tour Skopje’s downtown. Skopje valley has been continuously inhabited since Neolithic times and the city has experienced Roman, Byzantine, Slavic and Ottoman rule through the ages. Today it is a bustling and modern metropolis thanks to the redevelopment after the catastrophic 1963 earthquake. The mixture of various period sites and architecture styles makes it sometimes surreal, however, if you delve beneath the surface you will discover a city with a complex history and fascinating sights. Some of them are the Stone Bridge, Macedonia square and street, Mother Theresa memorial house, the Old Railway Station, Stara Čaršija quarter (the Old Bazaar) – containing numerous buildings from the Ottoman period and Skopsko Kale - the mediaeval Fortress.

    Bushi Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Osogovo monastery visit while transferring back to Sofia for a city tour and a farewell dinner.

    Today’s drive is dedicated to completing the circle back to Sofia. We’ll break this long drive (4hrs approximately) with a stop before the border at Osogovo monastery near Kriva Palanka, to visit this historical place in fascinating settings and to have a lunch.

    We return to Sofia in the late afternoon. There will be a walking sightseeing tour (approx. 2 hours) of some of the main sights of the Bulgarian capital. Nestled under Vitosha Mountain, Sofia is a laid back city with an eclectic mix of sites, reflecting its 2000 years of history and various Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman influence. Capital of Bulgaria since 1879, today it is known for its diverse landmarks, communist architecture, orthodox churches, manicured gardens and vast boulevards.

    The walking tour will include central Sofia's notability, like Sveta Nedelya Square, Independence Square with the St. Sofia monument, excavated Roman ruins of the ancient Serdica, the Council of Ministers and the former House of the Communist Party, Rotunda of St.George, the National theatre, the Russian orthodox church, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Bulgarian Parliament and the monument to the Tsar Liberator.

    In the evening it’s time to have a farewell dinner at a local restaurant where traditional dishes of Sofia are served.

    Sofia Place Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    End Sofia.

    In the morning you have free time to walk around Sofia and say goodbye. The group flight passengers will be taken to the airport in time for their early afternoon flight. 

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Macedonia

No visa required for British Passport holders.

Kosovo

No visa required for most nationalities, including UK passport holders, most other EU nationalities, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Vaccinations

Macedonia

There are no specific health risks.

Bulgaria

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Kosovo

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners are included.

Food in the Balkans is quite varied thanks to the many regional influences, particularly Mediterranean combining Ottoman, Oriental and European tastes. Many corners of the Balkans have popular dishes with the same names but often have big differences in taste. Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in many dishes. Grilled meats are very popular with pork and lamb being prevalent in Macedonia and Bulgaria. Pastries, pies, salads and fresh vegetable dishes are a staple of the Balkan diet.

Macedonian wine is incredibly good value, especially wines from the Tikvesh region. Rakija, similar to brandy, is very popular and often locals make their own. Mastika, a liquor, is considered the national drink of Macedonia and is usually poured over ice and enjoyed with a selection of small dishes.

Vegetarian and some special dietary requirements can be catered for but options are limited throughout the Balkans. Please inform the office of any specific requirements upon booking.

Weather

The Balkans enjoy a similar climate to most of Central Europe - hot summers, cool springs and autumns and cold winters with considerable snowfall. We schedule trips May to September, when temperatures will be generally warmer (20-30ºC). However these temperatures will be a little cooler in the mountain areas. In July and August we can easily expect 25-35 degrees Celcius during the day. The weather in this region can sometimes be unpredictable where Mediterranean and Continental Alpine climates vie for supremacy. The result is an extremely unpredictable climate even in summer. Rain can fall at any time of the year, although in mid-summer it is more likely to come as short, sharp thunderstorms.

Sofia

Skopje

Is this trip for you?

The Activity Level of this trip is 1- Leisurely.

This is a cultural discovery trip with some walking, required both to access the sites and to make the most of the trip. The city tours are on foot. Travel is by private bus, generally on good roads and there are some long drives due to the distances covered on the trip.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

Please be advised that the accommodation listed under each day in each location are the standard hotels used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality. 

All hotels have en suite facilities and offer free Wi-Fi. 

Single supplements are available on request.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for private group trips:
020 3885 9103
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed June 2022

    A lot of driving and no photography in churches

    This trip is billing as 1 - Leisurely. However whilst there's not much walking there are a lot of long drives as you cover a lot of ground. Additionally all the hotels are a single night only, apart from 2 nights at Lake Ohrid, so there's little time to decompress and unpack. The trip also covers a lot of churches and monasteries so if that's not your thing, maybe pass on this trip. Frustratingly, despite the amazing and beautiful interiors of the churches, almost without exception you're not allowed to take photos in them.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Lake Ohrid was lovely. Being the only location where we had two nights it gave us a chance to relax, unpack, and decompress. Plus the lake and surrounding area is beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kristina was a great tour leader. She was funny, insightful with the facts and background of the places we visited, and caring when someone on the tour needed extra help. She also caused me to gain several pounds with her love of ice cream and insistence of grabbing one everywhere we went (lol).

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As mentioned, this can be tough with the long drives and mainly single nights in hotels not giving you much chance to relax. A few of the hotels also don't have lifts so you might need to drag your luggage upstairs yourself. Some of the places we visited also contained a large number of stairs too, so bear this in mind if you're not comfortable with that.
  • Reviewed June 2022

    The magnificent seven finally completed 🥳

    The warmest of welcomes from the wonderful Balkans. It felt SO good to be back !!! After falling in love with The Balkans in 2015 visiting Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina on the fabulous Bosnia and beyond tour, four of us chose to travel together again in 2016 on the Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania tour. We were lucky enough to get our tour leader Evelyn again! So I was incredibly happy to be able to 'complete the set ' by finally visiting Kosovo, along with Bulgaria and North Macedonia again. We have visited everything from towns, cities, winery's, a Beekeeper, stunning lake Ohrid, mountain's and monastery's! Drank Wine, beer, cocktails and plenty of Rakia...not forgetting lots of water! As always in the Balkans, the food portions are as big as the welcome you receive so take stretchy clothes as I put on 4lb ! Lol

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We took an optional boat trip on Lake Ohrid to the Bay of bones. 9 people went and it was 20 euro pp. We were out for approx 3 hours. Stunning views of the shore. Lovely captain on the boat giving us facts and pointing out various birds. The visit to the Beekeeper was my favourite part . You saw how the hives worked, got to taste amazing honey ( which lots of us bought) and ever saw a bee being born! Then we had lunch at his house. Fabulous home cooked food. Dinner at the private house was lovely too. We came out and did some stargazing as the sky was so clear! We saw the international space station pass over us ! Also our leader knew a great restaurant for our evening in Skopje. Near to the fountain in the main square.Fabulous food and lots of different choices that suited everyone's taste. I had squid ink risotto and it was one of the best meals I've ever had. Wine tasting at the winery was fun. We had a light 3 course meal with several wines.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Kristina Pesheva-Dinovska was fantastic. Always punctual, happy, laughing, full of energy. A real 'pocket rocket' . An encyclopedia of knowledge on history and politics in the region. Always tried to get the best deal for our group. Very sociable. Very respectful of the different religions and cultures we came across on the trip ( we visited churches, cathedrals, monasteries and mosques) Was very welcomed by our hosts and our captain on the optional boat trip on Lake Ohrid. Also our driver, Iko, was excellent. Would happily travel with both of them again and would highly recommend them.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This tour is marked as leisurely but I have advised Exodus to change their trip notes. There is only one hotel you stay in for more than one night so you are constantly on the move. Most of the hotels DO NOT have lifts, so even though your bags are carried to your room you are not! And there are stairs EVERYWHERE! Also some of the places you visit have old cobbled streets which are slippery. We had 3 people on the trip who had reduced mobility and had to either miss out on some things or get taxis to places because the walk and/or climb was too arduous. They all said had they known before hand they would not have chosen to book this particular tour . I also think some people are not booking it because it's classed as leisurely. I'm 5"10 and was walking approx 10,000 steps per day, often more than that.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The weather is very changeable so read the packing list! We had rain both times in Sofia but was incredibly hot and sunny elsewhere. Ideally have an umbrella which will protect from rain and sun! The food is 'hearty' .Carb loaded with white bread, rice , potatoes and pasta . There's lots of meat and cheese, including for breakfast. There is fresh fish in places, like lake Ohrid, but if you are a fussy eater ( we had one and nothing was ever right!) I'd advise you to read up on what to expect. Even the salads and some meat dishes come covered in cheese! Vegetables will usually be corgette and aubergine.
  • Reviewed June 2022

    Great Trip

    A really enjoyable and leisurely trip. The distances covered aren’t long which makes for a more leisurely pace. Almost all the accommodation exceeded expectations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really enjoyed staying at two wineries Views over lake Ohrid.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    She was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All the hotels were great except for one which I wouldn’t use again if I were Exodus.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Vivien Urban

    Great way to explore the region

    This is a very nice trip, with no time to get bored. We visited 3 counties in 10 days from the biggest to the smallest cities in the region. It was an interesting contrast. We explored several, churches, monasteries, mosques, UNESCO sites and restaurants. This part of the world is not yet so discovered, it often felt we are the only tourists from abroad. We learn a lot about the history of the area thanks to our skilled leader and tried some local food specialties. The portions are huge there! We had a lovely group that added to the positive experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every place we visited had its own charm. Lake Ohrid was fantastic. It is beautiful yet not so crowded. We had some free time there and I had the chance to go for a short swim in the lake. I was very pleasantly surprised by Skopje. It is beautiful!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nebojsha was very knowledgeable, calm and friendly. He liked to socialise with the group which was appreciated.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a waterproof jacket, the weather can be unpredictable, and a swimming costume to take advantage of the spa hotel in Skopje and/or to swim in Lake Ohrid. Make sure you have enough space on your memory card.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It is worth practising the Cyrillic alphabet before you travel.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Roz Hampson

    Great trip

    As the trip title suggests, this is great way to explore Macedonia, with a couple of days in Bulgaria and a day in Kosovo thrown in. The trip took in a good mix of cities, small towns, national parks and lakes (and a lot of churches, monasteries and mosques!) and included local visits to wineries and a beekeeper's; all well guided/hosted. Although the trip is a leisurely one, the itinerary is very full which was great for the amount we saw and did in 10 days, but did mean that we had less free time than other trips I've been on. The trip was well planned and organised with only a couple of longer drives (needed to see as much as we did) and all the staff and local guides were great. Overall it was a great trip through some beautiful and fascinating countries and I would love to go back to the region.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to choose from such a full trip but my personal highlights were Rila Monastery , Lake Ohrid (and the cathedral tortoise), the morning/lunch at the beekeeper's and the night at the winery.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nebojsha was a great; friendly, organised and incredibly knowledgeable.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    We had limited time in Sofia and Skopje so if I were to do the trip again I would consider adding an extra night or two to the trip to have more time in one or both cities. Be prepared for the very generous portion sizes - you will not be hungry on this trip!

Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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