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If it's a gourmet feast you want, a gourmet feast you shall get! This food inspired journey through the Balkans includes visits to salt pans, a truffle farm, wineries, waterfalls, national parks, fishing villages and so much more. Discover why Istria is considered one of the world's leading producers of quality olive oil, eat Dalmatian-style under a metal bell, raise a glass of Slovenian wine or plum brandy with your small group, and shout 'zivjeli!' to the simple, home-style cuisine this region is famous for. Indulge in a traditional barbeque in Kosovo, dine on a home-grown produce in the private garden of a Dihovo family and visit a centuries-old olive press outside of Kotor. Experience next level hospitality on this unforgettable epicurean odyssey.
Day 1: Ljubljana
Zivjo! Welcome to Slovenia. Known as ‘Europe in Miniature’, tiny Slovenia has a huge heart and a wealth of diversity. Best known for hearty, alpine stews, goulash and sauerkraut, Slovenia also boasts wonderful cakes and strudels, not to mention the culinary treasures found in the coastal Karst region, including teran (wine), prsut (air-dried ham) and sensational olive oils. Picturesque Ljubljana is perfect for starting a food odyssey, with a surprisingly diverse food scene that– great local eateries, progressive modern restaurants, street food, cafes and cake shops. After an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, perhaps toast to your trip with a glass of Slovenia's national drink: schnapps (snopec in Slovene). This fruit-based liqueur comes in a variety of flavours, with the local favourite being viljamoka – flavoured with Williams pear. Your leader can then suggest a great place in the heart of the city to sample some delicious traditional dishes.
Day 2: Bled / Ljubljana
This morning, take a public bus to Bled (approximately 1 hour). Situated on stunning Lake Bled at the edge of the Julian Alps, this is a postcard location straight out of a fairytale. You will have a large part of the day here but be sure to taste one thing in particular – a delicious cream cake called kremna rezina (kremsnita to the locals). It’s thought to have been invented in the kitchens of Hotel Park in 1953 by Istvan Lukacevic – chef of the hotel's confectionery store. Since its invention, more than ten million kremsnita have been baked at the hotel's patisserie. Tuck into your own slice to find out what all the fuss is about. Afterwards, perhaps hike up to Bled Castle or visit the 17th century baroque Church of the Assumption, or simply take a stroll around the lake. Return to Ljubljana in the early afternoon. In the evening, head over to a Slovenian culinary workshop in the evening to pick up some tips for creating some traditional Slovenian fare at home, followed by a hearty meal. Your hosts will provide a tasting of typical Slovenian cold starters, so you won't get hungry as you cook!
Day 3: Piran / Motovun
Travel by public bus to Piran this morning (approximately 2 hours). Piran is a coastal town, located near the border of Italy and Croatia. The region is renowned for its production of quality olive oils, wine (especially the distinctive teran and refosk), as well as a cured ham called prsut. This is air-dried in the cold dry wind (known as the bura), which sweeps down to the coast from inland. Take a tasting tour of the township, then venture into a family-owned konoba (restaurant) for lunch and a wine tasting. Everything you eat is grown and prepared on the property. Next, head to the nearby salt pans of Piran where salt is still manually harvested with traditional tools according to a seven centuries' old process. Cross the border into Croatia. Croatia has long piqued the interest of curious travellers searching for sunshine, sand and scenery, with charming cobblestone towns and World Heritage sites. Recently it has gained recognition as an exciting food and wine destination, with the region of Istria leading the charge as the culinary capital of the country. Arrive at your final destination, the Istrian town of Motovun, by early evening. The evening is free for your own food adventures.
Day 4: Motovun
Motovun is one of the best preserved medieval Istrian towns in Croatia, with houses scattered all over the hill and a spectacular view of Mirna River Valley. Motovun Forest is the best place for hunting the famous Istrian truffle, and the nearby village of Livade is considered the truffle capital of Istria. Take a walk through the woods with an experienced truffle hunter and learn about this intriguing vocation. Perhaps sniff out a truffle of your own! Then enjoy a tasting of regional specialties including olives, honey and (of course) truffles. Arrive to the romantic Croatian town of Rovinj, one of the best-kept towns on the Adriatic Coast (approximately 1 hour). Among Rovinj's qualities is the beautiful, architecturally intact old town centre, with a relaxed Mediterranean feel. Through the centuries, Rovinj’s character has enchanted many an artist or writer, including Jules Verne. Take an orientation walk through the old town. For fans of oysters, a cruise on Lim Bay is highly recommended. Stop into an oyster farm and taste freshly shucked bivalves straight from the ocean. Spend the evening at your leisure and perhaps seek out a local Mediterranean restaurant.
Day 5: Plitvice National Park / Rakovica
Take a private transfer to the stunning World Heritage-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park (approximately 4 hours). It’s the largest national park in Croatia and known to be one of the oldest in southeast Europe – full of waterfalls and spectral blue lakes. The waters tumble from a high, tree-lined ridge down through the valley before skirting dense forests of beech, spruce and pine. The Upper Lakes are in the dolomite cliffs, where rushing water weaves in and out of the karst before dropping dramatically down to the forest, grottoes and steep cliffs of the Lower Lakes. After taking in this unique landscape, head onwards to Rakovica village where you’ll stay the night. Dinner includes a delicious home cooked meal provided by your hosts – a hearty serving of traditional Croatian kotlovina. This mixed meat dish consists mainly of pork schnitzels and sausages, traditionally made in a cauldron (which translates to kotlovina) for large groups of people, feasts, holiday celebrations or just parties. The hosts will let you witness firsthand how the meal is prepared before you tuck in, enjoying the robust flavours and hints of spice.
Day 6: Pag Island to Zadar
Farewell your hosts and then travel by bus to nearby Pag Island (approximately 2 hours). The karst island of Pag is home to sheep and a determined group of islanders who wring themselves a living from the barren, rocky landscape. Settled in pre-Roman times, the island has been at the mercy of the shifting fortunes of various Dalmatian rulers, and today, reminders of its prosperous salt-mining past lie in the main town. Meet a producer of the island's renowned cheese: paski sir. This artisan sheep's milk cheese has long been a valued commodity of the island. Discover more about the production process and enjoy a tasting. There will also be an option to enjoy a specialty dish of the region – lamb cooked peka-style – beneath a metal bell. Continue on to the walled city of Zadar (approximately 1.5 hours). For centuries, Zadar was the capital city of Dalmatia, and the city's rich heritage is visible at every step. It’s also celebrated for many culinary treasures, including fresh seafood, the sheep and goats that are reared for their meat and milk in the mountains to the north, and the wonderful fresh produce that is grown in a broad belt of land surrounding Zadar. Don't forget to try the famous liqueur, Maraskino, made from locally grown maraschino cherries according to a centuries' old secret recipe. This unique drink was a favourite at European imperial and royal courts and has been produced in Zadar since 1821.
Day 7: Split
Rise early for a stroll through Zadar's vibrant fish market. The fish market is built into the city ramparts at the spot where the trawlers land with their catch. This will also give you an opportunity to see some of the produce grown in the area. Depending on the season, you may find citrus fruits and kiwis from the islands, fresh and dried figs and home-made olive oil. The city is also home to a vibrant café culture. Afterwards, travel by public bus southeast to Split (approximately 3-4 hrs), arriving in the late afternoon. Take in vistas over vineyards, olive groves, bays, beaches, steep cliffs and islands along the way. The evening is free for your own food adventures – your leader will have plenty of local suggestions.
Day 8: Split
A vibrant mixture of golden history and present-day delights, the city of Split grew out from the remains of Diocletian's Palace – some of the most impressive ruins on the Mediterranean. Today you’ll get the chance to learn more about the sights and flavours of the city as you embark on a walking tour of the city with a local foodie. Take Diocletian's Palace and wander the district's winding streets, before heading into the green market to learn about Croatian agriculture. Taste some artisanal olive oil, pick some mouth-watering local sweets (orancini and lemoncini) before finally paying a visit to the finest chocolatier in town. Finish with a lunch of beer and burek. The rest of the day is free for you to explore. Perhaps take in the fantastically preserved basements under the city, along with the Cathedral in Docletian’s Peristyle and Jupiter’s Temple. As the evening rolls in, you may choose to take another cooking class or put your feet up and relax over a hearty Croatian meal.
Day 9: Korcula
Enjoy a free morning in Split before catching a ferry to Korcula (approximately 3.5 hours). Upon arrival, embark on an orientation walk to get a feel for this historic fortified island town, including the Cathedral of St Mark, the 15th-century Franciscan monastery and the massive fortifications surrounding the city. Whether or not this can be proved (the Venetians have a similar claim), Korcula is steeped in a long history that’s resulted in Greek, Slav and Roman settlers – resulting in a romantic and evocative cultural old town. What's more, there are plenty of warm beaches to relax on if that's more your speed. You might like to take a swim, walk around the bays and villages near Korcula town, pay a visit to the Marco Polo Tower, go shopping, or just soak up the ambience. Later in the evening, you will have the option to make the short journey by local bus (approximately 30 minutes) to the tiny village of Pupnat in the interior of the island. Consider dinner in the village, enjoying a meal made entirely from local produce. Perhaps you can drink your wine like the locals do – mixed with a bit of water.
Day 10: Korcula
Relax into island life in the morning before heading to Zrnovo village for a hands-on cooking class. You’ll learn how to make zrnovo makaruni (a local hand-rolled pasta), and you’ll enjoy this with lunch with some included local wines. One of these wines is Grk – a curious drop. The wine cannot replicate itself as it only has female parts and needs to be planted with another male grape variety in order to pollinate. It seems like a lot of work to make a wine, but the end result is a glass of acidic white, featuring a robust aroma and hints of pine that has been loved around the country for ages. In the afternoon, return to Korcula town for some free time – beach, anyone?
Day 11: 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 pm today, but if you happen to arrive early, why not walk inside the city walls, or head further afield to one of the Elafiti Islands. There's Lopud – a quiet island with lovely hikes, clean beaches and castle ruins, sleepy Kolocep that has walks for every fitness level, and Sipan with its renowned wine and laidback vibes. After your important meeting, head on 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 12: Kotor
After breakfast, head to the Peljesac peninsula, stopping along the way. Take some time to explore the long city walls of Ston before watching the production of sea salt at the local salt panels, then continue on your 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 a local konoba (Croatian tavern). Today’s meal at the konoba includes several traditional home cooked dishes and drinks along with fruit liqueurs, olive oil and local wine. A main course of veal or lamb under the bell, with potatoes, local bread and salads is your first option; another being the freshly grilled ‘catch of the day’ with olive oil and garlic for that authentic Croatian flavour. Transfer to Kotor later on, where you’ll spend the evening.
Day 13: Kotor
This morning, visit the town of Njegusi – known around the country for its famous smoke-dried hams and cheeses. Stop into a smokehouse, where the owners take you on a tour and 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. A 1.5-hour hike up the stone steps, to the Fortress of Sveti Ivan at the top rewards you with views across the Bay of Kotor. With a free night, why not have an optional dinner at a Kotor wine bar.
Day 14: 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 as the most culturally and ethnically diverse in all of Kosovo. 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. If you’re feeling game, a 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. A guided sightseeing tour is on the cards with your group, and you can choose to continue wandering through the streets on your own as the sun goes down and Prizren’s nightlife takes charge.
Day 15: Prizren
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, round out a big meal by taking a short trip to the World Heritage-listed Gracanica Monastery – built upon the ruins of a sixth-century Christian basilica by Serbian king Stefan Milutin in 1321. Return back to Prizren for another night at leisure.
Day 16: Leunovo
Enjoy some breakfast before travelling towards Macedonia. Pass through the Brezovica National Park, witnessing the steep cliffs and rugged mountain scenery. Onwards through Tetovo to the nearby village of Varvara, enjoying a delicious Macedonian lunch of regional specialties. Afterwards, loop back to see the beautiful Sarena Dzamija, or the Decorated Mosque of Tetovo. This mosque is famous for its intricate facade and internal painted decorations. Arrive in Leunovo in the early evening, to enjoy a meal typical of the Mavrono area at a local restaurant. Considered to be a division of Balkan cuisine, Macedonian dishes reflect influences taken from both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures. The relatively warm climate allows for excellent growing conditions for vegetables and fruits, along with fragrant herbs. Macedonian dairy products, wines and local alcoholic beverages, such as rakija, have gained considerable notoriety for the variety and quality of flavours they offer. However, 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, and mastika – a liqueur seasoned with resin gathered from the mastic tree.
Day 17: Ohrid
Have a delicious breakfast of fresh and hot mekici (Macedonian doughnuts) and pancakes, traditionally served with some local jams or 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 Macedonia. This 19th-century structure, erected upon both the ruins of an 11th-century church and the slopes of Mt Bistra, is home to a small silver coffin allegedly containing the remains of St John himself. Continue on to the village of Janche, sitting in the canyon that guides the Radika River. The village is known as one of the oldest in the region – its quaint houses line the hillside. After a quick walk around this village, a hands-on cooking class with the local women will teach the skills required to make local pastries, considered to be a specialty of this region. After lunch, drive onward to Ohrid where you will spend the evening.
Day 18: 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 Macedonia. Take in the ancient Tast 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 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 19: 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. It is a fairly plain dish, but it’s the added condiments that truly make this pie shine. Drive onward to Dihovo – another little village sitting in the foothills of Mt Pelister. A local beekeeper will teach you about the honeybee as they share their secrets – 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. Continue to Bitola, arriving 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. 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 20: Skopje / Tikves
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. It is considered to be the most famous archaeological site in Macedonia, with its carved basilica, stone columns and ancient theatre. Onwards to Tikves, where you’ll meet an international wine writer and critic responsible for the first guide to Macedonian wine. The production of grapes is prominent in Macedonia, thanks to an abundance of sunshine and rich, rocky soil. This has been the case since Roman times, where wine production was conducted in monasteries. Tikves continues to play an important role in the country’s wine production and is home to many of the country’s finest wineries – today’s adventures offer a taste of local varieties at two of these estates. Enjoy a pairing of delicious local cheeses 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 21: 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 head back towards Skopje. This evening, the group leader will offer suggestions for a celebratory group dinner – the perfect way for say farewell to Macedonia.
Day 22: 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).
- Ljubljana - Snops Tasting
- Bled - Day Trip by Public Bus
- Bled - Kremsnita Tasting
- Ljubljana - Slovenian Cooking Class
- Piran - Tasting Tour and Lunch
- Motovun - Truffle Hunt and Tasting
- Rovinj – Day Trip
- Plitvice Lakes - National Park Visit
- Rakovica: Home-cooked Meal
- Pag Island - Cheese Tasting
- Split - Old Town Food and Culture Tour
- Ston - Town Visit
- Putnokovici - Local Farm Visit
- Njegusi - Smokehouse Visit & Tasting
- Lustica - Olive oil farm visit
- Prizren - Walking Tour
- Albania - Rozafa Fortress
- Shkoder - Rozafa Fortress visit
- Kosovo - Sightseeing Tour
- Pristina - Gracanica Monastery Visit
- Gracanica - Traditional Lunch
- Leunovo - Painted Mosque of Tetovo Visit
- Leunovo - Traditional Home Cooked Dinner
- Janche - Cooking Class
- Mavrovo National Park Visit
- St Jovan Bigorski Monastery Visit
- Kuratica - Local Home Cooked Dinner
- Dihovo - Beekeeping Masterclass
- Ohrid - Green Market Visitbr/eakfast
- Dihovo - Villa Dihovo Lunch
- Tikves - Wine Tasting
- Bitola - Stobi Archaeological Site Visit
- Matka - Matka Canyon Boat Cruise
- Skopje - Green Market/Picnic
16 Breakfast(s) Included
11 Lunch(es) Included
5 Dinner(s) Included
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Question: Is Airfare Included in the Price?
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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