Essential Bulgaria & Northern Macedonia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Day 1
Arrival | Plovdiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Upon your arrival into Sofia, you will meet your driver-guide for your transfer to Plovdiv – the second largest city in Bulgaria after the capital. Upon checking into your hotel, you may spend the remainder of your day at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver-Guide (Up to 8 Hours)

Hotel: Residence City Garden

Day 2
Plovdiv | Plovdiv

Today your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel to begin your overview walking tour of the historic Old Town.

The first settlement on this place was founded by the Thracians and was later conquered by Philip of Macedonia – the father of Alexander the Great, who named it after himself – Philipopolis (the town of Philip). The Romans came here around the turn of the first millennia and further fortified the city, also building streets, towers and aqueducts. You will have a chance to see the famous Roman amphitheater and the Roman Stadium, which were also built in that period (2nd Century AD). The amphitheater could seat at that time 6,000 spectators and was probably the site of bloody gladiator fights. It is still used today for performances and cultural events.

You will stroll along the cobble-stoned streets of the Old Town and admire its beautifully restored Baroque houses. Mostly built in the 19th Century, these houses typically feature overhanging upper floors with jutting eaves, porticos with colonnades, and brightly colored facades. The interiors usually include a salon, one or more drawing rooms, and bedrooms featuring finely carved woodwork, wall decorations, ornamental niches, and mid- 19th-Century European furniture.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver-Guide (Up to 8 Hours)

Hotel: Residence City Garden

Day 3
Plovdiv to Bansko | Plovdiv to Bansko

Continue your journey towards the mountain region and the town of Bansko. On your way, you will visit the majestic Rila Monastery. It is believed that the monastery was founded by the hermit St. John of Rila (Ivan Rilski), whose name it bears, in the 10th Century. The hermit lived in a cave not far from the monastery’s location, while the complex was built by his students, who came to the mountains to receive their education. Ever since its creation, the Rila Monastery was supported with large donations by the Bulgarian rulers, gradually turning the monastery into a cultural and spiritual center throughout the centuries under Ottoman authority.

The monastery museum houses a rich collection of valuable ancient manuscripts, coins, and weapons. After visiting the museum’s historic treasures, you will visit the main church.

In the afternoon, continue towards Bansko. Upon arrival, you will enjoy the remainder of the evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver-Guide (Up to 8 Hours)

Hotel: Kempinski Bansko

Day 4
Bansko to Melnik | Bansko to Melnik

Today you will begin your transfer to Melnik. This journey will take approximately 1.5 hours depending on traffic and the number of stops you make along the way.

Arrive at Zornitsa Estate, where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure. This property offers stunning views of the Melnik Sand Pyramids, as well as the surrounding landscape. The hotel also features one of the best wine collections in the area. We recommend experiencing a special gourmet dinner prepared by a Michelin star chef (payable locally).

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver – Guide (Up to 8 Hours)

Hotel: Zornitza Estate

Day 5
Melnik to Skopje | Melnik to Skopje

Begin your journey to Skopje today.

Along the way, you will explore the Tikves wine region. Visit the Popova Kula Winery and enjoy the beautiful views. Then, head to the archeological site of Stobi, one of Macedonia’s best-preserved sites.

Afterwards, continue your journey to Skopje. Located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula and Macedonia’s capital, Skopje has been at the crossroads of the region’s history for nearly two millennia. From Roman to Byzantine, Ottoman to Yugoslav and now Macedonian rule, this city has an incredible array of architectural styles and historical sites.

Upon arrival, you will spend the remainder of your day at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver-Guide (Up to 8 Hours)

Hotel: Marriott Skopje

Day 6
Skopje, Pristsina & Matka Valley | Skopje, Pristsina & Matka Valley

This morning you will begin walking tour of the historical center of the city. On your tour, your guide will take you through Skopje’s Old Bazaar; one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in The Balkans. As the city’s center for commerce and trade since the 12th century, the bazaar’s winding cobblestone streets are a treasure trove of excellently preserved Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. From here, make the short walk to Skopje Fortress, commonly referred to as “Kale” (Turkish for “Fortress”).

Finally, cross the ancient stone bridge over the Vardar into the totally rebuilt Macedonia Square and meet your driver for the transfer to Pristina, capital of Kosovo. Pristina acts as the administrative and cultural hub of Kosovo and, much like Skopje, has been a human settlement since the Paleolithic Age.

This afternoon, you will explore the area outside of Skopje. You will first head to the mountain of Vodno for gorgeous views and scenery. Afterwards, make the drive to Treska Canyon and the Matka Valley and enjoy a walk in the Matka National Park. Here, you may also take a boat ride on the lake and visit the Sveti Andrey Church.

Upon your arrival back into Skopje, you may spend the remainder of your evening at your leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver-Guide (Up to 8 Hours)

Hotel: Marriott Skopje

Day 7
Departure | Skopje

Today your driver will transfer you to the airport to board your departing flight onward.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer

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