FROM TIRANA: KOSOVO AND NORTH MACEDONIA 2-DAY TOUR
Tucked away in a little visited corner of Europe lie Kosovo and Macedonia, two charming and delightful countries that few people know much about. Wander through Ottoman citadels and travel through traditional villages where the rhythm of life has changed little over centuries. Visit spectacular Roman ruins, long abandoned cities and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and wander through picturesque historic towns with lively bazaars. Are you ready to witness the differences between the modern, lively and vibrant Pristina on one hand and the authentic, picturesque and traditional Prizren and modern city of Skopje? This private 2-day trip to the two main points to visit Kosovo and North Macedonia, will allow you to discover the best kept secret on the Balkans.
DAY 1: TIRANA – PRIZREN – PRISHTINA – SKOPJE (350 KM)
Start with pickup from your hotel or accommodation in Tirana at 8:00 AM. Travel for approximately 2 hours to the first destination of the two-day excursion, the city of Prizren, Kosovo. Prizren, considered to be the cultural capital of Kosovo, is a charming and vivacious town surrounded by mountains. It is an authentic and little-known treasure hidden in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula. Throughout your walking tour you’ll enter the Sinan Pasha Mosque, the UNESCO-listed Church of Our Lady of Ljevis, the Museum of Prizren League, and the Ottoman Old Town, which is known for its gold and silver filigree craftsmen. Afterwards, continue the journey to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, which will take approximately 40 min drive. When you reach Pristina, we will explore the highlights of the city after which you will travel to the cultural capital of the country. First, visit Monastery Gracanica, and then arrive in Pristina where you will start a tour of Pristina. Your first stop in will be the Kosova National Library, an example of modern architectural design. Then make your way to the open-air archaeological park with artifacts from the Neolithic period and Kosova Museum built by Austrians for the Turkish army in 1898, which has an extensive collection of archaeological and ethnological artifacts including the Neolithic Goddess on a Throne terracotta. Head to Çarshi Mosque, the oldest building in Pristina constructed in the 15th-century by the Turkish Sultan Bajazit. Afterwards, head to the Academy Building, a 19th-century Ottoman konak style private houses. Visit the Fatih Mosque or Imperial Mosque built in 1461 under the Turkish Sultan Mehmed II Fatih and the Great Hammam – bath complex built in 1470 graced with 15 domes with small holes to let light stream in. Lunch in Prishtina and then we will drive to Skopje, the Capital of North Macedonia, (1 hour drive). Free evening. Overnight is Skopje.
DAY 2: SKOPJE – OHRID – TIRANA (300 KM)
After breakfast we walk around the city center of Skopje. Skopje is the capital of Macedonia. During this walking tour, you will have the chance to explore the city and its rich history and culture. We will begin our walking tour at Skopje Fortress where you can admire the wonderful view of the city. The next site you will visit is the Church of the Holy Savior, home to fantastic iconostasis. From there you will continue towards Sultan Murat Mosque and the Old Bazaar, where you can witness the remnants of the Ottoman Period and Skopje’s history as one of the main trade centers in the Balkans. After we will cross the Vadar River to start your exploration of a new part of the city. Here you will visit the new neo-classical square and continue to Mother Teresa memorial house. The walking part of your tour will end at the newly built triumphal arch Porta Macedonia and then we will drive to Ohrid.
The drive from Skopje to Ohrid takes about 2 hours. Upon arrival in Ohrid you’ll start a tour with a visit to the church of St. Sophia, which dates back to the 11th century. The you’ll go up to the Roman amphitheater, which dates back to the 3rd century B.C. Afterwards you will continue walking to the Icon Gallery, home to a range of some of the most famous and valuable icons in the world, right after the ones on Athos and in Russia. In the vicinity of the gallery is the Church of St. Clement’s, or the Church of the Holy Mother of God Most Glorious, which dates back to the 13th century and possesses some of the most beautiful and valuable frescoes from the 13th century not only in this country but in the whole of the Balkans. After that you will carry on walking to Tsar Samoil’s Fortress, named after the first tsar of the Macedonian Slavs, who, having conquered Byzantium, brought most of Macedonia under his rule. Then you will walk to Plaoshnik, where you will visit the newly built St. Clement’s Monastery Church. Dedicated to St. Clement – the patron of Ohrid – and St. Panteleimon, it stands beside the original site of St. Clement’s University, the first university of the Macedonian Slavs, founded in the 9th century A.D. Inside the church you can also see the tomb with St. Clement’s relics. Beside the church you can see the foundations of the 5th-century basilica with beautifully preserved mosaic floors and some swastikas also discovered on the floors. From here you will head towards the Church of St. Jovan at Kaneo, which was built at the end of the 13th century, and is one of the most frequently visited churches in Ohrid because of its beautiful location on the cliffs directly above the lake. After these two intense but fantastic days we will return to Tirana where our service ends.