AUTHENTIC Experience

Western Macedonia Familiarization Trip

29 August - 5 September 2021

organized by

Western Macedonia (Greek: Δυτική Μακεδονία, romanized: Dhitikí Makedhonía, [ðitiˈki makeðoˈnia]) is one of the thirteen regions of Greece, consisting of the western part of Greek Macedonia. Located in north-western Greece, it is divided into the regional units of Florina, Grevena, Kastoria, and Kozani.

The region of Western Macedonia is situated in north-western Greece, bordering with the regions of Central Macedonia (east), Thessaly (south), Epirus (west), and bounded to the north at the international borders of Greece with the Republic of North Macedonia (Bitola, Resen and Novaci municipalities) and Albania (Korçë County).

Although it covers a total surface of 9,451 km2 (3,649 sq mi) (7.2% of country’s total), it has a total population of 283,689 inhabitants (2.6% of the country’s total), thus it is a low-density populated region (30 per km², as compared to the country’s 81.96 per km² average). This is mainly due to the mountainous nature of the region, as 82% of the total surface are mountainous and semi-mountainous areas. This is also reflected in the population distribution, as a majority of the population (56%) lives in rural areas. The capital of the region is Kozani with 53,880 inhabitants. Other main towns are Ptolemaida (37,289), Grevena (17,610), Florina (19,985) and Kastoria (16,958).

The Egnatia motorway via Egnatia (Trans – European Network) that crosses the Region, along with its two vertical National Roads, form a network that dramatically improves the transport conditions in the Region and alter its traditional “isolation” image, mainly due to its mountainous landscape.

The telecommunication network has dramatically improved over the last decade, providing the regional population with adequate services and modern facilities.

The last years the region is being developed in tourism mainly on winter. It is the only Greek region without sea coast, but there are a lot of lakes, mountains, villages and two big ski centers in Florina (Vigla) and Grevena (Vasilitsa) and one other under construction in Kozani (Velvendos).

The modern region of Western Macedonia roughly corresponds to the ancient Greek regions of Orestis, Elimiotis, Eordaea, Tymphaea, part of Lynkestis, of Upper Macedonia. Hatzopoulos and other scholars suggest that the Argead Macedonians wandered from Orestis to Lower Macedonia where they founded the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon. Three of the most important Hellenistic dynasties originated from Upper Macedonia: the Lagids from Eordaea, the Seleucids from Orestis and the Antigonids from Elimiotis.

preliminary program

Final program will be announced closer to the dates. Both the itinerary and accommodation are subject to change. However, every change made will always reflect the same high level of service included in the agreed programme.

Arrival in Thessaloniki & settling in at the Hotel

Settle in at the Hotel / Familiarization

19:00 – 21:00 Dinner by the Sea

Dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city overlooking Thermaikos bay. Sunset views in Greece’s most romantic city, as southern Greeks love to call it, will be adding a scarlet tinted backdrop to a fulfilling experience.

21:00 Free time

A night walk on the longest esplanade in the Balkans to get a feeling of the Urban Pulse, while merging with the locals. A way to live and breath the greatest city of Northern Greece.

08:30 – 10:00 An authentic 5star breakfast with endless sea views

Enjoy your Greek breakfast or choose from an International tastes buffet with a variety of fresh hand-made pastry suggestions.

10:00 Departure for Vergina.

11:30 Visit the Royal burial cluster of Philip II (father to Alexander the Great)

The museum of the tumulus of Philip II was built over the tombs leaving them in situ and showing the tumulus as it was before the excavations. It is one of the most impressive museums one will get to visit during their stay in Greece.

13:00 – 14:00 Midday break (Greek iced coffee/Frappe/green tea/ traditional pies)

Greek iced coffee or Frappe is a Greek novelty. Though readily available literally anywhere in Greece, it’s almost unknown to anyone who hasn’t visited Greece or has no Greek relatives. A refreshing note to your break.

15:00 – 18:00 Wine Tasting at Ktima Kir – Yianni

Enjoy the breathtaking views of the Kir-Yianni vineyards nestled on the rolling slopes of mount Vermion, stroll amid Xinomavro vines, taste the wines right in the place where they are produced, and get acquainted with the Boutaris family legacy.

The varied topography, the wide range of altitude and the diverse soil types create different mesoclimates, where Xinomavro, the indigenous grape variety of the area with the amazing ability to reflect its terroir, gives very different expressions of its potential.

19:30 Arrival at La Moara guesthouse

La Moara is a member of the Historic Hotels of Europe and an imposing mansion with unique characteristics such as its “messandra” bathrooms. The guesthouse is characteristic of the renowned old mansions in all their splendour and authenticity. Its interior combines the glittering tradition with the most modern comforts. It is surrounded by a large alpine meadow, gardens and spruces

20:30 Dinner at “Thomas” restaurant/tavern

At “Thomas” the expression “spoilt for choice” is taken to a whole different level. With more than 40 different dishes daily and a selection of more than 30 cheeses and 520 different wines you will definitely get to taste what will become your favourite Greek dish ever.

22:00 Return to La Moara guesthouse

08:30 – 10:00 Traditional breakfast with locally sourced produce

La Moara owners and kitchen staff, will have you drooling over their recipes. Traditional pies and homemade comfits are always the order of the day.

10:00 – 13:00 Visit Arcturos Bear Sanctuary & Village Tour

Seeing brown bears in forested enclosures, where bears rescued from poor captive conditions can spend their remaining years in a natural environment, is a rare and fulfilling experience.

A purpose- built tour to introduce the history, architecture and culture of the Nymfaio village and its people. The “waymen”, guardians of the most important Imperial road, the Via Egnatia, who turned into the most prominent silversmiths and goldsmiths in the Balkans and later on into Tobacco merchants left their mark on the finely decorated mansions, the magnificent Saint Nicholas Church and the monumental Nikeios School, the likes of which could very rarely be found, if at all, in the whole of Greece.

13:00–14:30 MIdday break (tsipouro & mezes/pies/herbal tea/coffee)

A midday break – under the shade of a tree in the summer or in a cozy place in the winter – accompanied by high quality Tsipouro (strong distilled spirit, usually offered as an aperitif and accompanied by olives, fresh onions, cucumbers and various local meze – nibbles) is an old Greek tradition that can be traced back to the 14th century.

14:3017:00 VIP Wine Tasting at Alpha Estate

Alpha Estate is the biggest winery in Greece and broadly represents “The new beginning”, the “birth” of a new era in the world of Greek wine. Our VIP wine tasting session will give you the chance to sample more than 14 different wines. Angelos Iatridis (the winemaker) was nominated for Winemaker of the Year 2014 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine!

17:00–18:00 Rest & relaxation

18:00–20:00 Dinner at “Kontosoros” Restaurant/Tavern

The late Nikos Kontosoros – owner and chef – had been running one of the best restaurants in Greece off the tourist trail but just a stone’s throw away from where we will be staying. His wife and daughter have now taken over determined to protect his unique approach to re-inventing traditional Greek recipes. Dinner at Kontosoros makes for a truly unforgettable tasting experience.

21:00 Return to La Moara guesthouse

08:30 – 10:00 Traditional breakfast with locally sourced produce

La Moara owners and kitchen staff, will have you drooling over their recipes. Traditional pies and homemade comfits are always the order of the day.

10:00 – 12:30 Truffle/Mushroom foraging

Depending on the season, we may be able to go truffle or mushroom foraging in the nearby forests, explore the best ways to use them and learn how to cook a heavenly delicacy.

12:30–14:00 Delicious Truffle/Mushroom feast

Time to taste that gourmet delicacy you just foraged.

14:00 –15:30 Travel to Kastoria

15:30 – 18:00 Byzantine Kastoria – Guided Tour

The Belgian historian Henri Grégoire once said that “if the Byzantine tradition is ever lost, the city of Kastoria is enough to recover it.”

A tour designed to uncover the natural, historic and architectural secrets of the “lake’s byzantine princess”. The tour will take us from the Neolithic era, through the classical antiquity, through the Byzantine era and, finally, to modern day kastoria.

18:00 Return to Orologopoulos Guesthouse – freshen up

19:30 – 21:30 Dinner by the lake

Kastoria is full of aromas and traditional dishes, with fresh seasonal ingredients. Take your time indulging in the moment, while tasting dishes that carry the truth of culinary traditions dating back to the city’s glorious Byzantine past.

21:30 – 23:30 Kastoria by night – optional (first drink courtesy of Joysters)

08:30 – 10:00 Traditional breakfast with locally sourced produce

Sideris, the owner of Orologopoulos guesthouse takes great pride in his homemade pies and local cheeses.

10:00 Departure for Prespa Lakes

11:30 Arrival at Prespa Lakes

Retreating glaciers and a series of seismic phenomena have created a magical world of unmatched beauty, Prespa lakes (Great Prespa & small Prespa), the two highest tectonic lakes in the Balkans.

11:30–14:00 Guided Tour (Psarades village – boat tour – Agios Achilleios island)

Our tour will take us to the northmost Greek village of Psarades, where we’ll catch a boat to hermitages and retreats with frescoes painted on the steep rocks. 60% of the lake belongs to North Macedonia, 22% to Greece and 18% to Albania. The most important hermitage in the area, Panagia Eleousa (1409 AD) is one of the hidden gems in the area. A 650 m floating footbridge connects the mainland with Saint Achilleios – only the second inhabited island in a lake after the Ioannina islet – where the three-aisled Basilica of Saint Achilles dating from the late 10th century AD dominates the scenery.

14:00 –15:00 Midday break (local Herbal Tea/ pies / Greek coffee with spoon sweet)

A midday break – under the shade of a tree in the summer or in a cozy place in the winter – accompanied by a piece of local homemade pie and local herbal tea – is all you need to replenish your energy and revive your spirits.

15:00 – 17:30 Visit the Watermill in Agios Germanos

Out of 20 watermills in Prespes’ region, the watermill in the village of Agios Germanos is the only one which has been fully restored.

The Society for the Protection of Prespa undertook to create a “living monument” of the region’s industrial heritage as well as reinstate the production of edible flour, which would in turn enhance and support traditional occupations in the village and the cultivation of organic cereals in the surrounding area.

18:00 – 20:00 Dinner in Mikrolimni village

Dinner by the Small Prespa Lake at a traditional tavern, run by a family that takes visitors on a simple, yet delicious local produce tasty trip.

21:30 Return to Orologopoulos Guesthouse (rest & relaxation)

08:30 – 10:00 Traditional breakfast with locally sourced produce

Sideris, the owner of Orologopoulos guesthouse takes great pride in his homemade pies and local cheeses.

10:00 Departure for Ziakas village in the lap of nature

Grevena (regional unit) is a natural paradise. More than 1300 species of mushrooms are grown here! We will be driving through picturesque villages, visiting some of the highest villages in Greece and stopping to take photos at some of the most breathtaking places in the Country, like Dotsiko stone arch bridge, the only one in a village.

13:00–14:00 MIdday break (tsipouro & mezes/pies/herbal tea/coffee)

A midday break – under the shade of a tree in the summer or in a cozy place in the winter – accompanied by high quality Tsipouro (strong distilled spirit, usually offered as an aperitif and accompanied by olives, fresh onions, cucumbers and various local meze – nibbles) is an old Greek tradition that can be traced back to the 14th century.

14:00 –17:30 4Χ4 Road Trip in Grevena

The beauty and tranquility of the natural environment in Northern Greece is such that you can’t resist venturing into exciting activities. What’s more, activities and road trips provide the best ways of experiencing the landscape you’re travelling through. Our road trip will take us to villages such as Ziakas and Spilaio, on 4×4 vehicles and to locations such as the Portitsa stone arch bridge, which takes its name from the Latin word “Porta”, meaning Gate. It literally is the Gate to a ravine.

18:00 – 20:00 Dinner at “Thodoros Tavern”

Thodoros, the owner of the traditional tavern in Spilaio village knows how to

welcome guests with a variety of locally sourced freshly prepared dishes.

21:30 Arriving at the hotel at Meteora – Spending the night under Meteora Rocks

Departure for Meteora, where we will be spending the night, under the spectacular rock formations of Meteora, where one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox Monasteries is built. A worldwide unique monument.

07:00 – 09:00 First light up on Meteora Rocks – visit/photo shoot

Waking up at dawn to capture the sheer beauty of these magnificent geological formations is a rare opportunity. Divine creation meets human ingenuity. Get your cameras rolling!

(Early morning packed breakfast is included).

09:00 – 11:30 Visit Meteora Monasteries

A UNESCO World Heritage site like no other. A vast complex of giant rock pillars with monasteries on top of them which go back centuries, creating a truly surreal landscape found nowhere else in the world!

The monasteries look like they are suspended in the air, which is where the Greek name comes from. It’s one of the few areas in the world where the combination of natural beauty with monasteries and religious traditions makes it an attraction for visitors worldwide!

11:30 Departure for Athens

14:00 – 15:30 Tsipouro & fish mezes by the sea

18:00 Arrival in Athens (1 or 2 stops included)

Pre & Post Tours

To be announced

registration fees

EARLY (until 30/6/21)

280 per person

STANDARD (after 1/7/21)

330 per person

Click on the link below to begin your application.

Please take the time to fill in the application form carefully. 

when confirmed, registration for the fam trip includes

What is not included

➤ International airfares

Travel insurance

Extra beverages or alcoholic drinks during meals

Other expenses of personal nature and tips

partners

Visit Western Macedonia

organized by

Joysters believe in the magnitude of the little experiences that make up the fabric of our lives. For us, a travelling experience is all about exciting your senses, exploring new places, venturing into exciting activities and indulging in exquisite local delicacies.

We have always been moment collectors, true believers in time well spent and we felt it was about time to give you access to our corner of the world and its best kept secrets.
An authentic world only locals with in-depth local knowledge would be able to reveal.

With Joysters

  • You are guided by locals who care, by people who recommend only what they have actually experienced themselves and bring an insight and level of service that nobody else can match in the area.

  • You enter doors closed to the public, you gain insider insights and have the chance to taste true aristocratic 19th century Greek dishes.

  • You enjoy the owners’ full-hearted engagement in the services provided and meet locals who love their country and want to share the authenticity of living in it.

  • You contribute to the sustainability and promotion of local communities and forge everlasting friendships.

  • You discover a world you wouldn’t believe existed

We are passionate about revealing authentic local life moments to Noble Travellers. We are on a mission to show you Northern Greece, that other Greece, that wider, more varied, more unexpected and more authentic Greece.

IMPRESSIVE World is a professional Global MICE planner, congress organizer, event management company, with hands-on experience in destination management & proven track-record in accomplishing challenging projects.

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