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The Balkans Real Food Adventure


Treat your palate to the culinary highlights of the Balkans on this nine-day foodie adventure. Dine on homemade meals and share stories with your hosts in North Macedonia, meet the makers behind famous Njegusi smoked hams in Montenegro and sample the charcuterie of Croatia. Take guided walks in Prizren and Skopje, exploring the cities where Balkan cuisine comes to life, and have ample free time to discover local markets and bazaars. With an expert local guide providing all the restaurant recommendations you could ask for, your Balkans adventure will not leave you hungry!

9 days, from

$2,403

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: ZKZM
Style: Original
Theme: Food

Details

Countries Visited:  Croatia Macedonia, Republic Of Montenegro Kosovo
Accommodation: Hotel (8 nights)
Transportation: Private Vehicle
Included Meals:

  • 4 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • 2 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12
Minimum Age: 15

  • Experience an authentic taste of the Balkans and a look at local life when you dine in family homes in Ljuta, Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Dihovo.

  • Get hands on with local village women in Janche for a cooking class focused on making local flaky pastries, and enjoy a cooking demonstration in Dolno Dupeni.

  • See behind the scenes of local produce when you visit a centuries-old smokehouse, an olive mill, an apple farm, and meet a local beekeeper for a honey tasting.

  • Throughout your culinary escapade, explore the stunning landscapes of the region, discovering the Painted Mosque, Matka Canyon, Mavrovo National Park and Lake Prespa.

  • Try the most iconic foods of Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, including smoked and barbecued meats, cheese, gjomleze and locally produced wine.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Dubrovnik

Dobro Dosli! Welcome to Dubrovnik, a beautiful stone town surrounded entirely by fortifications. Although it experienced devastation in the early 1990s, the restored Old Town remains as charming as ever. With the sparkling water of the Adriatic in the background, Dubrovnik is picturesque, full of character and easily covered on foot. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6.30 pm today, but if you happen to arrive early, why not take a walk inside the city walls. After your important meeting, head out for an included dinner with your group. Croatian cuisine varies between regions, but an unwavering favourite is the charcuterie. Traditionally created with pork, charcuterie involves using a lot of specially prepared meats, all of which showcase flavours specific to their preservation process. If the option’s there, definitely give it a try.

Day 2: Kotor

After breakfast, head south to the Konavle region, characterised by its verdant agricultural land, where grapes and olives grow. Your first stop is the lovely little village of Ljuta where you’ll have the chance to wander its scenic streets, then it’s off to a local family’s home for a traditional lunch and a tasting of the wonderful wines and liqueurs they have produced themselves. Later in the day, cross into Montenegro and arrive in the beautiful coastal town of Kotor, where you’ll spend the evening.

Day 3: Kotor

This morning, visit the town of Njegusi, known around the country for its famous smoke-dried hams and cheeses. Stop at a smokehouse, where your leader will explain their production process, dating back for centuries, and will also take you for a tasting of their famous Njegui smoked hams, cheeses and grape brandy. Afterwards, visit an olive farm in the village of Tici, located in the Lustica Bay area near Kotor. Discover the art of olive pressing as your hosts share their second-generation organic olive oil production techniques. Wander through the beautiful olive groves before arriving at an ancient stone olive mill, where olives were once milled by hand. A guided tasting will give you an insight into what makes for good oil. Back in Kotor, with free time later in the day, consider getting lost in the town’s crooked walkways, or perhaps climbing the hills behind the city to experience Kotor’s ruined fortification walls. With a free night, perhaps have an optional dinner at a Kotor wine bar.

Day 4: Prizren

Say goodbye to Montenegro and head to Kosovo. The first stop on the journey is Rozafa Fortress, Albania, one of the last strongholds of the allied Christian forces against invading Ottomans in the 15th century. In the afternoon, arrive in Prizren, the second largest city in Kosovo. This picturesque location remains the most culturally and ethnically diverse in all of Kosovo. On arrival, enjoy a guided tour with your leader. The abundance of orange rooftops makes for an interesting sight, as do the impressive mosques and churches in the city. Pass by the sights, smells and sounds of the bazaar, with a whole range of specialties on offer, including stuffed peppers, which are a big hit. After visiting the bazaar, you are free to explore Prizren at your own pace.

Day 5: Janche

Continue onwards to Pristina today, Kosovo’s capital and largest city. Take some time to explore the historic Gracanica settlement, which serves as the home of one of the few dominantly Serbian populations in Kosovo. A special experience awaits with a delicious Kosovo-Serb barbecue, prepared by the local hosts who serve sausages and other pork delicacies from their personal smokehouse. Afterwards, leave Kosovo behind and travel into North Macedonia. Your first stop is the Painted Mosque – built in the 15th century and reconstructed in the 19th century after a fire, the mosque is famed for its intricate floral and geometric ornamentation. After your visit, travel to the village of Janche, located in the south part of the beautiful Mavrovo National Park, where you will spend the night.

Day 6: Ohrid

Tuck into a delicious village breakfast, which will include local jams and cheese. Afterwards, set off to explore the southern part of the Mavrovo National Park. This region serves as the home to an indigenous community of Macedonian Muslims and, as a result, the area is culturally and ethnically different from the rest of the country. Take a stop at the nearby St Jovan Bigorski Monastery (St John the Baptist), which is widely renowned as the most spiritual monastery in North Macedonia. Return to the village of Janche for a hands-on cooking class with the local women. This class will teach the skills required to make local pastries with wild porcini mushrooms, considered to be a specialty of this region. After lunch, drive onward to Ohrid where you will spend the evening.

Day 7: Ohrid

Ohrid is Europe’s oldest lake and, as one of the oldest human settlements in the world, it’s got a wealth of historic sites and religious monuments to discover. The town is said to have once been home to 365 churches, one for each day of the year, earning it the nickname ‘the Macedonian Jerusalem’. Today is free for you to explore the town’s streets and churches, maybe picking up a bargain or two in the vibrant Old Bazaar. Alternatively, consider joining your leader for an optional day trip to Ohrid Lake and the mystical Sveti Naum Monastery – one of the most important places of pilgrimage in North Macedonia. Take in the ancient Tzar Samoil’s Fortress, which stands on the top of Ohrid Hill and looks across the town, along with a 2000-year-old Roman theatre that was uncovered near its upper gate. The Sveti Jovana Kaneo church, which sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the lake, is one of the most popular in North Macedonia. This evening, head to Kuratica – a village on the outskirts of Ohrid. Here you’ll experience local hospitality and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Your host also brews his own rakija, which you’ll be lucky enough to taste.

Day 8: Bitola

After leaving your accommodation in Ohrid, head down to the green market for a traditional breakfast. You might like to try the best burek in town or enjoy a gjomleze pie, a traditional dish made from an old Ohrid recipe. Drive onward to Lake Prespa, a beautiful area that’s popular with Macedonian holidaymakers. Here you’ll visit a local apple farm and have the chance to taste some of the fresh produce yourself. Then, head to the little village of Dolno Dupeni on Lake Prespa, where you will be invited into a local home for a cooking demonstration and lunch. Then, continue to Bitola, arriving by mid-afternoon. Relax in one of the city’s many cafes or explore the stalls of the Old Bazaar.

Day 9: Bitola

Today you will visit Dihovo, a small village sitting in the foothills of Mt Pelister. A local beekeeper will teach you about the honeybee and you’ll get hands-on with an open beehive demonstration. Afterwards, enjoy a tasting of honey extracted straight from the comb before having a home-cooked meal in a traditional villa. All of the ingredients are organic and come from the family’s private gardens. Return to Bitola in the afternoon. Perhaps choose to take a guided tour of the ancient town and archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, located on the outskirts of Bitola. Heraclea was founded by Philip II of Macedonia in the fourth century BC after he had conquered the surrounding region of Lyncestis. The city was named in honour of the mythological hero Heracles, whom Philip considered his ancestor.

Day 10: Skopje

Start the day with a Turkish coffee, or for the more adventurous, perhaps try a bowl of the local specialty ckembe corba (tripe soup). It is claimed that the soup was once an initiation rite for boys, but today it’s commonly enjoyed for breakfast. Later on, head out to the Stobi archaeological site for a short walk. Stobi, once known as Paeonia, was conquered by the ancient kingdom of Macedon and became the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris. Onwards to Tikves wine district – the production of grapes is prominent in North Macedonia, thanks to an abundance of sunshine and rich, rocky soil. Today’s adventure offers a taste of local varieties at two of the country’s finest wineries. Enjoy a pairing of delicious local cheeses and cured meats next to these wines this afternoon. Arrive in Skopje in the late afternoon where tonight is free to explore – perhaps ask your leader for some restaurant suggestions.

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. Once you've eaten your fill, 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 head back towards Skopje. This evening, the group leader will offer suggestions for a celebratory group dinner, the perfect way to say farewell to North Macedonia

Day 12: Skopje

With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to end! If you wish to spend more time in Skopje, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).