Macedonia to Meteora Self Guided Cycle


    enquire now From NZD $2,950 pp twinshare
    Independent traveller
    Terms & Conditions apply

    North Macedonia and the region of Macedonia in northern Greece are ideal to explore by bike. Our carefully chosen route is equally challenging and rewarding, allowing you to discover an area rich in both culture and history. You’ll cycle along fantastic tarmac roads with little traffic, while marveling at the unspoiled nature and meeting friendly people at every stop. In North Macedonia, take in the beautiful crystal clear lakes of Ohrid and Prespa near the foothills of the Pelister National Park and the historical city of Bitola which during the Ottoman domination was a prominent Balkan commercial city. Once in Greece you’ll pass through Agios Panteleimon, a historic and world class wine region, before arriving in Meteora. The giant pinnacles of Meteora topped with ancient monasteries are one of the most extraordinary rock formations in the world and also a highlight of this cycling holiday.

    Highlights

    • cycling across borders from the UNESCO listed town of Ohrid through to the magnificent monastery topped pinnacles of Meteora
    • enjoying the hospitality of family run hotels
    • experiencing the local cuisine and wine tasting in Agios Panteleimon

    Itinerary

    Day 1 Arrive Ohrid
    Arrive in Ohrid, your base for the next 2 days. An arrival briefing will be held with our representative. At the briefing you will receive maps, route notes and a simple GPS manual. The remainder of the day is at leisure to visit the bazaar in the centre which is within walking distance or a boat trip on one of the oldest lakes of the world, Lake Ohrid. Since 1980, Lake Ohrid has been listed with UNESCO and is partly located in Albania. This unique lake is at an altitude of approximately 700 meters, wedged between the mountains Petrino and Galicica. Dinner is at leisure. (B)

    Day 2 Day at leisure in Ohrid
    The day is free to explore Ohrid. At the end of the day there will be time to check and test the rental bikes. (B)

    Day 3 Cycle from Ohrid to Sveti Naum (55km +450m)
    We begin the cycling trip by heading north through the valley which is best known for its fertile soil and many orchards. We cycle alongside an old volcano and continue along the east banks of the Ohrid lake to the bay of Bones: a reconstruction of an ancient village on the lake, dated back to over 6000 years ago. After passing Trpeja, a small village situated directly along the lake we continue to the 700-year-old monastery of Sveti Naum. The monastery is situated next to the lake near the Albanian border. Overnight in Sveti Naum. (B)

    Day 4 Continue to Otesevo (45 or 55km +800m)
    Today we cycle from lake Ohrid to lake Prespa through the Galicica National Park. The lakes are separated by the Galicica mountain. It starts with a long (4km) gradual climb to an altitude of 1550 meters with stunning views at every turn. After a long descent we finish cycling at Prespa lake. The hotel is located directly on the Prespa lake which is known for its birdlife. Our historic hotel was built in the 1950’s by political prisoners of the old socialistic system. (B, D)

    Day 5 To the historic town of Bitola (45km or 55km, +500m)
    We recommend you wake up early in the morning to spot pelicans and other birds at the lake. Following breakfast, the cycle continues along the lake past orchards to the old town of Resen. After Resen, a gradual climb starts on a partly cobblestone road to reach the pass at 1200 meters. The descent takes us through the countryside with ancient and forgotten villages. Bitola is a vibrant historical city with a long history and previously known as the trading centre of the Balkans. Bitola is also situated at the foothills of the Pelister National Parc, known for its abundance of endemic flora and fauna. (B)

    Day 6 Cycle across the border to Florina in Greece (45km or 65km, +300/800m)
    Today we cross the border with Greece. Florina is the capital of the Florina prefecture and is situated at an altitude of 700m along the river Sakoulevas, surrounded by forests and mountains. This town really got a boost after the construction of the railway to Thessaloniki in 1893. The long version of todays route makes a loop through unspoiled nature with a steep climb. You will reach the summit at an altitude of 1300 meters, with a descent of 600 meters over 10 km. After a beautiful descent through the valley, you reach Florina. (B)

    Day 7 Cycle through the Agios Panteleimon wine region (65km, +500m)
    Today you will cycle north towards a cluster of lakes, with the largest one: Vegoritida lake.  The lakes are interconnected with each other through a variety of channels and tunnels. The Vegoritida lake is a haven for rare birds and is a protected area. The first 25 km are almost flat through a wide valley with farmland and small villages. After that the road gradually starts ascending to an altitude of 950 meters. The last part of the ride is along the lake to Agios Panteleimon, in time for a refreshing dip in the pool with a stunning view over the Vegoritida Lake. Later we will visit the Alpha Estates, one of the best wineries in the country for a wine tasting. (B)

    Day 8 Pass several unspoilt lakes en route to Kastoria (80km, +600m)
    Today the cycle takes us southwest for one of the longest rides of the trip, past vineyards and the village of Amindeo. We take a break for a refreshing ice coffee before we cycle along Chimaditida Lake, with lots of birds species. After a long climb of over 10 km with an altitude difference of approximately 500 metres, you reach the top. Stunning views over the valley with lake Kastoria on the horizon. After a long and smooth descent you will reach the ancient town of Kastoria. Our hotel for the next 2 days is situated near the lake. (B)

    Day 9 Rest day Kastoria or short optional cycle (35km)
    Kastoria is a delightful old town which lies partly on a peninsula surrounded by a large lake which is surrounded by plane trees. During the optional bike trip across the peninsula, you will pass the caves of the “dragon” (tou Spileo Drakou). This 300m deep cave has several lakes and remnants of bears that lived here 10,000 years ago were found in the cave. Kastoria is home to many beautiful mansions and Byzantine monuments, on the promenade along the water, you will find terraces and restaurants. (B)

    Day 10 Cycle through sleepy villages to Grevena (85km, +1000m)
    We leave Kastoria behind and cycle south to arrive after about 20 km at the ancient town of Argos Orestiko with its narrow streets, squares and neoclassical buildings. After about 25 km the landscape becomes hillier and the route continues through one of the most important natural areas of Greece. The route continues through an undulating landscape along streams and villages with several short climbs before reaching the provincial town of Grevena, located on the banks of the river Doxaniti Greveniti. This lively city with numerous bistros and restaurants played an important strategic role during the ancient Byzantine period and was also known as the trade centre in the region. (B)

    Day 11 Continue to Kastraki at the foot of Meteora (64km, +800m)
    After leaving Grevena you are immediately riding through a vast natural landscape with stunning views and often circling birds of prey in the distance. After 10 km the road gradually rises for the next 15 km. You will reach the summit of the climb, followed by a long descent to the valley, with the river Pinios. Soon after you arrive at your final cycle destination in an amazing landscape: Meteora. This truly stunning area is characterised by the monasteries built on high rocky pillars. Once this plain of Thessaly was an inland sea and the rocks were formed over millions of years by wind and water erosion. The overnight location for the next two days is literally next to the rock formations and waking up to this view is a feast for the eyes! (B)

    Day 12 Rest day or explore Meteora and the Pinios valley (58km, +400m)
    Enjoy your last optional bike ride with a beautiful cycle along a high road amongst these gigantic limestone rock formations with the impressive monasteries precariously built on top. At present, there are six monasteries that are all on display and are true works of art. The second part of this ride goes through the wide river valley with beautiful views of Meteora. This area is also a perfect location for hiking trips. (B)

    Day 13 Transfer to Thessaloniki
    After breakfast we transfer by taxi to the second city of Greece, Thessaloniki. This city has something for everyone: culture, history, architecture, and last but not least, good food and drinks! In order to explore the city properly it is best to start at the White Tower, standing near the harbour. Near the White Tower stands the statue of Alexander the Great on his horse. From the White Tower you can walk west on the boulevard, to see a lot of ouzeri, cafeterias and restaurants, and then Aristotelous Square. Slightly further westwards you will find Ladadika which used to be a trading place in olive oil. Today, this neighborhood is where you will find many traditional restaurants. (B)

    Day 14 Trip concludes
    Following breakfast at the hotel, the trip concludes. (B)

    Inclusions

    • 13 breakfasts
    • 1 dinner
    • 13 nights accommodation in 2-4 star hotels on a twinshare basis with private facilities
    • 24 speed rental bike with helmet and pannier – ebikes available, supplement applies
    • Transfer to Thessaloniki on day 13
    • Luggage transfers
    • Information pack including GPS Tracks and maps (one per room)

    UTX-MMT

    Images courtesy of Utracks