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Hidden Gems
Via Dinarica in North Macedonia

Via Dinarica in North Macedonia

Overview

The Via Dinarica is a mega trail that extends from Albania to Slovenia and traverses the largest karst field on Earth. One of the most challenging but also most rewarding stretches of the Via Dinarica follows the Šar mountain range in North Macedonia. Located just two hours drive from the capital Skopje, this itinerary will reveal to you one of the region’s best mountain sceneries and let you enjoy the local hospitality and authentic cuisine. This programme is suitable for avid and experienced walkers who want to enjoy the best hiking North Macedonia has to offer.

Highlights

  • Šar mountain range
  • Titov Vruh (2748 m)
  • Mount Ljuboten
  • Matka Canyon

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Skopje, drive to  Popova Sapka

Arrival and meeting our representative at Skopje International Airport. Complimentary transfer to the Popova Shapka mountain resort (1800 m) where you will stay for overnight.

Day 2: Hike to Titov Vruh (2748 m) | 21 km

Today you will explore the central and most spectacular part of the Šar mountain range and hike to its highest peak Titov Vruh. If you are in good physical condition, we recommend you to take the ridgeline route. It is a demanding but also a very rewarding hike that will take you through few “smaller” summits: Sin Vrv (2550 m), Karabunar (2600 m) and Bakardan peak (2702 m). An easier option is also possible.

  • Accommodation: Konak Mountain Hut, private en-suite rooms
  • Included meals: breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Walking for the day: 21 km, 8 hrs, ↑1811 m ↓1811 m 

Day 3: Ljuboten Peak (2498 m) | 14 km

A transfer takes you to the starting point of today’s hike. Mount Ljuboten (2498 m) is an impressive summit with a pyramidal shape dominating the far background seen from Skopje Valley. The sights during the hike are amazing, to the east, you can see mount Skopska Crna Gora and Vodno, the southern views open the whole Šar ridgeline with dozen of peaks towering above 2500 m, to the west are the Kosovo and Albanian mountains and to the north the plains of Kosovo.

  • Accommodation: Vila Ljuboten, private rooms, shared facilities
  • Included meals: breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner
  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 7 hrs, ↑1870 m ↓888 m 

Day 4: Šar Mountains Ridge | 16 km

Today you will explore an amazing ridgeline. Taking you southwards, the route traverses the eastern side of Ljuboten peak, passing by Kozja Stena (goat’s wall), a notable rocky landmark amidst the steep slope seen even from Skopje. You will pass through a rocky section with small boulders, where you will have to watch your feet and try not to get distracted by the surrounding views. After passing the Shija saddle, you will see Livadicko Lake, just 200 vertical meters below, situated in a rocky cirque at 2137 meters, its waves have carved an overhanging rock over its western shore – a rare natural phenomenon.  As you get closer to Belovishte village, you will hear the roaring sound of several creeks and rivers. You can award yourself with a trout for lunch and a well-deserved swim at the swimming pool in the shadows of chestnut trees at the local restaurant. A transfer will take you to Skopje for overnight.

  • Accommodation: Ibis Skopje City Center Hotel or similar, private en-suite rooms
  • Included meals: breakfast, picnic lunch
  • Walking for the day: 16 km, 6 hrs, ↑945m ↓1708m 

Day 5: The Millennium Cross & Canyon Matka | 15 km

Today’s hike starts from Skopje to the Millenium Cross on Mt Vodno, revealing a 360° panorama of the city and the mountain chains of North, Central, West and East Macedonia. Afterwards, you will descend to Canyon Matka. We recommend you to start early today if you wish to have enough time to explore the canyon, home to bald eagles, endemic plant-life and over 130 different types of butterflies, as well as few 13th-century monasteries hidden in the rocks. A transfer will take you back to Skopje.

  • Accommodation: Ibis Skopje City Center Hotel or similar, private en-suite rooms
  • Included meals: breakfast
  • Walking for the day: 15 km, 6-7 hrs, ↑977m ↓994m 

Day 6: Departure

Complimentary transfer to Skopje airport after breakfast or extension upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in mountain huts, a family-run guesthouse and a welcoming 3-star hotel. All places have private rooms; you will have en-suite facilities on 4 nights and shared facilities on one night. 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, lunch boxes are provided on days 2, 3 and 4, and dinner is included on days 1, 2 and 3. On the remaining days, it will be possible to get food from the local restaurants or grocery shops.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers in good physical shape. The walking is mostly on mountain paths. Daily distance varies between 15 and 20km / 6-7 hrs (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 holiday 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 in private en-suite rooms (4 nights) and private rooms with shared facilities (1 night) as described in the itinerary
  • Airport transfers (one per group)
  • All transfers as described in the itinerary
  • All baggage transfers as described in the itinerary
  • Meals, as described in the itinerary: 5 x breakfasts, 3 x picnic lunches, and 3 x dinners
  • Route navigation materials: maps, route book (one set per booking) and GPS tracks
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Plane tickets
  • 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

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