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Until the beginning of the 20th century Macedonia was part of the Ottoman empire. After the various Balkan wars large parts of Macedonia were taken by Servia, Bulgaria and Greece. The Greek district Macedonia is situated in northern Greece and borders to Albania, the Macedonian Republic and Bulgaria. The Macedonian Republic (in Greek: FYROM) was part of former Yugoslavia and has been independent since 1991.
Both regions belong to the great ‘unknown area’ in the field of cycling. Strange, if you perceive that these regions offer all ingredients for a marvellous biking holiday: a rich cultural history, good roads, pristine nature and a warm-hearted population.
The bicycle routes
All routes lead by paved (asphalt) roads with very little traffic. Most daily stages are in hilly terrain and some days you’ll meet a long ascent until 8%. Per ascent you’ll overcome about 600 meters altitude.
The two stages before and after the rest day in Kastoria are the most demanding with 80km distance and a good amount of altitude difference. The other daily stages you’ll bike 50 to 60 kilometers.
General tour information
The tour starts in Ohrid, ‘the Jewel of the Balkan’. The first 4 days you’ll bike through the Macedonian Republic to the southeast towards the Greek border. The roads take you along the lakes of Ohrid and Prespa to the foothills of Pelister National Parc. Just before the Greek border you’ll pass the historical town Bitola, which was the most important trade centre of the Balkan during Ottoman rule.
Your first overnight stay in Greece will be in Florina on the foothills of the Pelister mountain range. On your way to the lake district near Agios Panteleimon you’ll pass one of the best wine regions in the world. On your way to Kastoria the road takes you along various nature reserves with rare birds.
During the rest day in Kastoria you may relax in one of the many outdoor cafés on the lake front. From there you’ll continue south, along sleepy villages and lovely scenic areas towards the old trade centre Grevena. Grevena is surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and century old forest.
The last part of the tour leads south again through the Pinios river valley towards Kalambaka (Thessaly), on the foot of the Meteora. Meteora is one of the most impressive monuments in the world and makes one of the highlights of the tour. The unique and awesome rock formations with age-old monasteries on top offer a truly surrealistic view.
The tour ends with a visit to the Greek harbour Thessaloniki, called after Great Alexanders sister. Thessaloniki offers lots of historical monuments but also Aristoteles Square with lots of outdoor cafés and the Ladadika neighbourhood with a wide variety of traditional restaurants.