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Hidden Gems
The Highlights of Macedonia on Wheels

The Highlights of Macedonia by Bike

Overview

With its amazing landscapes, remarkable architecture and rich, turbulent history, North Macedonia is one of Europe’s most underrated – and most captivating – travel destinations. Lake Ohrid and its historic town have etched out a place for North Macedonia on the tourist map, but there is much more to see in this country: this is a picturesque land of snow-capped peaks, beautiful lakes and pristine national parks, dotted with ancient monasteries, medieval villages and the architectural legacies of the Greco-Roman and Ottoman empires.

The best way to experience both the natural and cultural riches of North Macedonia is definitely by bike, and we are happy to offer you an itinerary taking in all the highlights of North Macedonia.

Highlights

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Skopje and transfer to Krushevo

As you arrive at Skopje airport, you will be welcomed by our local representative and transferred to Krushevo, a picturesque town in the central mountains of North Macedonia. It is the highest town in the Balkans, famous for the first uprising against the Ottomans and its traditional architecture, local art crafts, and delicious cuisine. Enjoy your first Macedonian meal in one of the best places to taste traditional cuisine and Macedonian local beer.

Day 2: Krushevo – Bitola | 62 km

Starting from the hotel, ride down Mount Busava to the villages at its foothills. You can stop at the village of Obrshani to climb the bell tower for the best view of the surrounding tobacco fields and continue to the archaeological ruins of one of the biggest ancient cities in the region, still being excavated. On the way, it is possible to stop at the local village stores to buy something for lunch. In the afternoon, you continue riding on the old road to Bitola and Heraclea Lyncestis – an ancient city built by the father of Alexander the Great, Philip II. Arrival in Bitola in the afternoon. Bitola is the former city of consulates and embassies, today still one of the most beautiful cities in Macedonia which managed to maintain its 18th and 19th-century neoclassical architecture and monuments.

  • Cycling for the day: 62 km, 5 hrs, ↑171 m ↓813 m
  • Overnight: Hotel Teatar or similar 

Day 3: Bitola – Prespa Lake | 50 km

Start riding from your hotel in Bitola in the morning on the old road to Prespa Lake, to join for a part the ancient Roman road Via Egnatia, built over old Candavian Road some 2.200 years ago. Next, ride up to Gjavato Pass and then make a descent to Lake Prespa, where you can visit a small village with a lovely ethno museum. From here, ride next to the bird reserve of Ezerani and get to the other side of the lake where you can stop for a swim and for overnight in a lakeside hotel.

Day 4: Prespa Lake – Ohrid Lake | 45 km

Ride up Galicica Mountain in the morning on a local asphalt road through Galicica National Park’s dense forests. The ride starts at 860m, and up over Galicica pass at 1590 m, where you can stop to enjoy the amazing view over Ohrid Lake and the surrounding mountains stretching all the way to Albania. You then cycle down on a winding road to Ohrid Lake and following the road by the lake to the town of Ohrid. In case you find the climb up Galicica too demanding, you can book an optional transfer to the highest point on the spot.

  • Cycling for the day: 45 km, 4-5 hrs, ↑980 m ↓1159 m
  • Overnight: Hotel Royal View or similar

Day 5: Ohrid

A free day to explore Ohrid, the UNESCO world heritage town with its 365 Orthodox churches, old town, an antique theatre and the medieval city walls of Tsar Samuil. Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe.

Day 6: Ohrid Lake – Vevchani | 45 km

You will be cycling on the scenic local road along the lake shore all the way from Ohrid to the villages before the border with Albania. A nice stop on the route is the colourful open market in Struga, with big choice of fresh fruit and veggies, as well as houseware and souvenirs. Your last stop before the border is Kalishta monastery. Next to the big church, you will find the entrance that leads you up the stairs to an old cave church and to the few monk cells dug into the rocks centuries ago. Here would be also the place for your last swim in Ohrid Lake before you head to Jablanica Mountain, and to Vevchani village at its foothills, which is your destination for the day.

Day 7: Canyon Matka and Skopje | up to 30 km

After a tasty village breakfast, transfer to Canyon Matka where a guide will be waiting for you and show you the beauties of the nature reserve. Canyon Matka is a significant landmark with several medieval Byzantine monasteries and natural formations – a must-see when you are in Skopje. After the Matka tour, you continue on the bike to your hotel in Skopje through the streets of Skopje or through the Vodno mountain.

Day 8: Departure

Depending on your flight’s timing, you can further explore Skopje, the birthplace of Mother Teresa. You can stroll through the lovely old town with cobblestoned alleys lined with jewellery, antique and souvenir shops, with cosy restaurants and tea-rooms, as well as Ottoman time mosques and hammams. Departure to the airport on your own (not included in the tour price).

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in welcoming 3-star hotels and family-run guesthouses. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days, and dinner is included on Day 6. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the guesthouse you are staying at or at the village inns and restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for experienced cyclists and requires a good level of fitness. You will cycle on average 45 km or 5-6 hours per day, with an average daily elevation gain of 900 m. The cycling is mostly on asphalt roads, and occasionally the route passes through dirt and cobble-stoned roads (read more about difficulty grades). We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from May till the end of October. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date in the season. During the active season, the weather is normally pleasant and sunny. More rain is expected at the beginning and the end of the season, and it gets warmer during July and August.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Skopje. Arrival transfer is included from Skopje Airport.

Inclusions

Included

  • Accommodation as listed in the itinerary, based on two participants sharing a double or twin en-suite room
  • 7 x breakfasts + 1 dinner on day 6
  • Arrival airport transfer from Skopje to Krushevo (single transfer per group)
  • Transfer from Vevchani to Matka Canyon on Day 7 (single transfer per group)
  • Baggage transfers on cycling days
  • Route navigation materials: maps and route book (one set per booking)
  • GPS tracks
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Plane tickets
  • Departure airport transfer on day 8
  • Lunches and dinners (apart from the dinner on Day 6)
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra nights before, after or during the tour
  • Bike rental
  • Half board package
  • Optional transport to Galichica pass on Day 4 (payable on the spot)

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