Explore Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia foodie hubs from Dubrovnik to Skopje.
Immerse yourself in the culinary delights of the Balkans on a twelve-day tour through Croatia, Montenegro and Macedonia and experience next level hospitality on this unforgettable foodie adventure.
Day 1: Dubrovnik
Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Croatia. Your adventure begins this evening with a group dinner in the old city. Croatian cuisine varies from region to region, but a countrywide traditional favourite is the charcuterie. (D)
Day 2: Kotor
This morning’s breakfast plans are yours for the choosing – a good idea would be to bask in Croatia’s fantastic café culture. Afterwards, depart from Dubrovnik to the Peljesac peninsula, taking a few stops along the way. Take some time to explore Ston, then continue on the panoramic drive along the bay. Spend some time passing the local vineyards before reaching the small village of Putnikovic. Enjoy a visit to a local farm to learn more about regional production and harvesting techniques before eating lunch at the local konoba (Croatian tavern). Transfer to Kotor in the late afternoon hours, where the group stays for the night. (L)
Day 3: Kotor
After breakfast, visit the town of Njegusi on the outskirts of Kotor – known around the country for its famous smoke dried hams and cheeses. Continue on a short trip to an olive farm in the village of Tici, located in the Lustica bay area on the outskirts of Kotor. Discover traditional and contemporary techniques of producing this staple Mediterranean ingredient as the friendly hosts share their second-generation organic olive oil production techniques with the group. With free time later in the day, consider getting lost in the town’s crooked walkways, checking out the boutiques and cafes, or perhaps climb the hills behind the city to experience Kotor’s ruined fortification walls. (B, L)
Day 4: Prizren
Say goodbye to Kotor in the morning as you depart for Kosovo. The first stop on the journey takes you to Rozafa Fortress, Albania – one of the last legendary strongholds of the allied Christian forces (Albanians, Montenegrins and Venetians) against the invading Ottomans in the 15th-century. By the time the early afternoon rolls in, you’ll arrive in Prizren, the second largest city in Kosovo. An optional lunch at the old bazaar offers your first chance to enjoy the Kosovan cuisine. There’s plenty on offer at the bazaar as it teems with life, smells and sounds, yet the Kosovan gastronomic challenge lies in a strange delicacy – deep fried lamb brains. After visiting the bazaar, you are free to explore Prizren at your own pace. (B)
Day 5: Prizren
Depart from Prizren on to Pristina, Kosovo’s capital and largest city. Take some time to explore the history nearby settlement of Gracanica settlement, which serves as the home of one of the few dominantly Serbian populations in Kosovo. A special experience awaits here with a delicious Kosovo-Serb barbecue, prepared by the local hosts who serve sausages and other pork delicacies from their personal smokehouse. Afterwards, round out a big meal by taking a short trip to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gracanica Monastery – built upon the ruins of a 6th-century Christian basilica by Serbian king Stefan Milutin in 1321. Return for Prizren where a free evening of exploration awaits. (B, L)
Day 6: Leunovo
Today marks your last day in Kosovo – enjoy breakfast before checking out of the hotel and departing towards Macedonia. Pass through the Brezovica National Park, taking in the steep cliffs and rugged mountain scenery as you pass by en route to Skopje. Travel through Tetovo to the nearby village of Varvara, enjoying a delicious Macedonian lunch of beans and pork dishes for which the area is famous for. Then loop back to witness the beautiful Painted Mosque of Tetovo. This mosque is famous for its intricately decorated facade and internal painted decorations, of which more than 30,000 eggs were used to prepare the glaze and paints that now adorn the interior walls. Arrive in Leunovo in the early evening to meet the host family, who will share their home and stories of their life over a traditional home-cooked dinner.
If there’s two things you should keep an eye out for in Macedonia, it’s tavce gravce, a traditional dish prepared with fresh beans, pepper and onion, along with mastika, a liqueur seasoned with resin gathered from the mastic tree which is served best with a tarator salad. (B, L, D)
Day 7: Ohrid
Wake up in the morning to the smell of a home-made breakfast wafting in from the kitchen. A delicious meal of fresh, hot mekici (Macedonian doughnuts) and pancakes are served up for breakfast, traditionally coupled with some delicious local jam or cheese. Afterwards, say farewell to your host family and set off to explore the southern part of the Mavrovo National Park, and continue on to the village of Janche, sitting in the winding canyon that guides the Radika River. After a walk around this unique village, a hands on cooking class with the local women will teach the skills required to make local pastries, considered to be a speciality of this region. After lunch, drive onward to Ohrid where you will arrive in the evening. (B, L)
Day 8: Orhid
Ohrid is Europe’s oldest lake and as one of the oldest human settlements in the world, it’ has a wealth of historic sites and religious monuments to discover. Despite being a World Heritage site for over 30 years, the town remains under the radar of visitors.
Today is free to explore the town’s streets and churches, maybe picking up a bargain or two in the vibrant Old Bazaar. This evening, head to Kuratica, a village on the outskirts of Ohrid. Here you’ll experience true local hospitality and enjoy a home-cooked meal of regional delicacies. Your host also brews his own rakija, infused with herbs only found in this region, which you’ll be lucky enough to taste. (D)
Day 9: Bitola
After leaving your accommodation in Ohrid, head down to the Green Market for a traditional breakfast of “gjomleze” pie, served with a selection of delicious local cheeses and homemade sour milk or yoghurt. Drive onward to Dihovo, another little village sitting quietly in the foothills of Mt Pelister. A local beekeeper will teach you about the fascinating world of the honeybee as they share with you their secrets – you’ll get a hands on approach to beekeeping and honey as you don on protective gear for an optional open beehive demonstration. Afterwards, enjoy a tasting of honey extracted straight from the comb before tucking into a home-cooked meal in a stone and wood villa built in traditional Macedonian style. All of the ingredients are organic and come from the family’s own private gardens.
Arrive in Bitola by mid afternoon. Relax in one of the city’s many cafes, explore the stalls of the Old Bazaar or choose to take a guided tour of the ancient town and archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, located on the outskirts of Bitola. (L)
Day 10: Skopje
Start the day with a Turkish coffee at the Old Bazaar and learn about the importance of coffee culture in Bitola. Later in the morning, head out to the Stobi archaeological site for a short sightseeing walk. Stobi, is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in Macedonia – the intricately carved basilica, well preserved stone columns and structures along with the ancient theatre area are all spectacular memoirs of a time of antiquity.
Continue on to the wine region of Tikves, where you’ll meet an international wine writer, critic and author responsible for writing the very first guide to Macedonian wine. Tikves continues to play an important role in the country’s wine production since the 4th century BC and is home to many of the country’s finest wineries – today’s adventures offer a taste of local varieties at two of these acclaimed wine estates. Enjoy a pairing of delicious local cheeses next to these wines in an afternoon of laughter and indulgence.
After immersing yourself in the full flavours of Macedonia’s wine culture, arrive in Skopje in the late afternoon. Tonight is free to explore Macedonia’s capital at your own pace. (L)
Day 11: Skopje
Wake early and enjoy ‘breakfast on the move’ through the streets of Skopje. Pay a visit to the green market to learn more about the ingredients that make up Macedonian cuisine before picking up some items for a picnic lunch.
Travel to Matka Canyon, a fascinating gorge containing a rich complex of medieval buildings, churches, monasteries and the remnants of a fortress. After a short walk to the Monastery of St Andrew, a boat will collect you for a relaxing sail through Matka Canyon and down the Treska River with a picnic lunch stop along the way.
Once lunch is finished, return by boat and depart in the van to Skopje. This evening, the group leader will offer suggestions for a final group dinner – the perfect way for say farewell to Macedonia. (L)
Day 12: Skopje
Your Real Food Adventure concludes this morning. If you are spending more time in Skopje we can help you to book additional nights accommodation.
Images courtesy of the Intrepid Group