Slovenia to Macedonia Real Food Adventure
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 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.
Your Fly, Stay & Cruise Package Includes:
- $2700 flight credit per person
- 21 night Slovenia to Macedonia real food adventure with Intrepid, Ljubljana to Skopje
- Arrival transfers
- Accommodation: Hotel (15 nights), Apartment (5 nights), Guesthouse (1 night)
- 12 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 5 dinners
- Cooking classes in various cities
- Farm visits
- Wine tastings
- Home cooked meals
- City tours
- Schnapps tasting
Pricing is per person twin share and based on travel 13 July - 3 August 2024
Solo traveller pricing available. Please speak to one of our travel consultants for more details
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 – great local eateries, progressive modern restaurants, street food, cafes and cake shops. Your adventure officially kicks off with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. After this, perhaps toast to your trip with a glass of Slovenia's national drink: schnapps (zganje 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 the city of Bled, on stunning Lake Bled at the edge of the Julian Alps. 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
This morning, travel by public bus to Piran – 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. 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. More recently, it’s 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 where you’ll be free to create 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 even sniff out a truffle of your own! Our host will then prepare fritaja - a traditional dish of eggs and truffles. Enjoy tasting this local favourite along with local olives and honey. Arrive at the romantic Croatian town of Rovinj, one of the best-kept towns on the Adriatic Coast where you’ll enjoy an orientation walk through the old town. 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. Return to Motovun and spend the evening at your leisure, perhaps seek out a local restaurant to taste more of the fantastic local produce.
Day 5 / Plitvice National Park / Rakovica
Take a private transfer to the stunning World Heritage-listed Plitvice Lakes National Park – 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. Take in this lush environment on a walk and boat trip through the park. 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 / Zadar
Farewell your hosts after breakfast and then travel by bus to the walled city of Zadar. 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. Before exploring this beautiful city, visit a Benedictine nunnery which is renowned for its wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables that are turned into delicious jams, pickles and preserves. Learn about the lives and work of the residents from our host, perhaps picking up some gardening or pickling tips along the way! Back in Zadar you’ll have free time to explore the city. Be sure to stop by the ‘Sea Organ’ on Zadar’s waterfront – musical steps that celebrate the city’s relationship with the sea. Otherwise, enjoy strolling the marble streets of the Old Town, discovering Roman ruins and medieval churches. Your dining options are plentiful – lamb in red wine, fresh fish, njoki – be sure to ask your leader for their recommendations.
Day 7 / Split
Rise early this morning for a stroll through Zadar's vibrant fish market. The fish market is built into the city ramparts at the exact spot where the trawlers land with their catch. You’ll also get an opportunity to see some of the produce grown in the area this morning. Depending on the season, you may find citrus fruits and kiwis from the islands, fresh and dried figs and home-made olive oil. Afterwards, travel by public bus southeast to Split, 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
You may like to live like a local this morning, strolling out to find breakfast at a local cafe, sipping coffee and watching the city come to life. If you're not a breakfast person, enjoy a lie in before discovering the vibrant mixture of golden history and present-day delights in the city of Split which grew out from the remains of Diocletian's Palace. After you’ve admired some of the most impressive ruins on the Mediterranean, soak up the sights and flavours of the city on a walking tour with a local foodie. Wander the district's winding streets before heading into the market to learn about Croatian agriculture and cuisine. Taste produce like local fruit, veggies, dried orange peel (a typical snack in Split) and finish with a lunch of soparnik, a traditional bakery treat made from finely ground wheat flour. 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. Upon arrival, embark on an orientation walk to get a feel for this historic fortified island town. Korcula is steeped in a long history and has been home to 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 even try drinking 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), which you’ll enjoy with lunch and 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
Travel to Dubrovnik by catamaran. With the sparkling water of the Adriatic in the background, Dubrovnik is picturesque, full of character and can easily be covered on foot. With no activities planned once arrived in Dubrovnik, you are able to explore the Old Town at your leisure. The next stage of your trip will begin with a welcome meeting at 6:30pm. After this meeting, head out 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 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 13 / 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 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 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 15 / 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 16 / 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 17 / 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 18 / 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 19 / 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 20 / 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 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. 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 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).
* Conditions apply. Offer is limited, subject to availability and change without notice. Promotion is correct and valid at the time of publication. Booking and full supplier terms and conditions apply. Valid for new bookings only and not combinable with any other offer (unless stated).
Prices listed are per person in Australian/New Zealand Dollars, based on twin occupancy, including all discounts unless otherwise stated. Fares are capacity controlled and are subject to change at any time without notice. Prices/Offers are correct as at 8 September 2023 and can be withdrawn without notice. Hotels may charge resort fees not included in this package, payable direct upon check in. Visas are not included. Flight credit is applicable on airline of choice, subject to availability and subject to the carriers’ flight schedules and conditions. Payments made by credit card will incur a surcharge.