Things to do in Skopje, Macedonia
Posted on: 04 September 2017 by Burt C.
Deciding to visit Macedonia as a traveling destination, while it might seem unorthodox to others, made all the sense to me. I’ve read about Skopje, Ohrid and small towns like Mavrovo, Berovo and Struga, and wanted to give this Balkan country a shot.
When it comes to having a fulfilled holiday, sitting on a beach and gazing at the sun is not what I usually have in mind. I’m more keen towards adventure, outdoor fun, and hours well spent. Instead of doing nothing for the better part of the day, I want an agenda, one day different from another, and lots of new discoveries along the road. It helps me have a rich and fulfilled experience, and remember my holiday for years to come. Deciding to visit Macedonia as a traveling destination, while it might seem unorthodox to others, made all the sense to me. I’ve read about Skopje, Ohrid and small towns like Mavrovo, Berovo and Struga, and wanted to give this Balkan country a shot.
Macedonia is located right between Greece and Serbia on the map, with population of 2.2 million people. It is a country rich with tradition and cultural heritage, and home to more churches than the rest of the neighbors combined.
I visited Ohrid first, and explored the cultural heritage of the town, with each day having a different traveling agenda. Lots of monasteries and churches, fun at the lake, and some of the best gastronomic experiences I’ve ever had…
On my way to Skopje, I stopped in Mavrovo and made a small D-tour to Popova Kula – an old style winery you’ll definitely enjoy. After the tour and some delicious wine tasting, we headed towards the capitol.
Skopje is definitely one of the most vibrant cities in Eastern Europe
We stayed in Skopje for about 3 weeks, which is just about enough to explore the city back to back. The people are very friendly and the climate is pleasant. Summer time, as far as I can tell, is when you visit Skopje (though some might not enjoy the heat around July).
The fact that one third of the population lives in Skopje, is enough to understand why it is so crowded. People are living dynamic lives, always on the move, and you’ll feel like you’re in a wester country far more than being in a Slavic one.
Things to do in Skopje
As I’ve written at the beginning of this article, doing nothing while holding my feet up in the air, is not my definition of a holiday well spent.
And Skopje, luckily, had enough to offer.
The great thing, you’ll also come to love and appreciate, is the fact that everything is in general proximity to something else. Accommodation is relatively affordable, and transportation is very cheap.
You’ll spend around half a dollar for a one-way ticket, and a monthly pass will set you back for about $26. Busses are swarming the streets, so expect to get from point A to point B in minutes.
That being said, you can explore the city on foot as well. While not everything is within walking distance, you’ll still be able to reach most destinations without a problem. Remember to take a bottle with you, for summer temperatures can really spike around noon.
Groceries are super cheap, and supermarkets are packed full with everything you’ll ever need. There are ATMs all over the place, and restaurants are cheaper than you can imagine… Knowing all of this, let’s talk about what you can do in this wonderful city.
Visit the Old Bazar
The old bazar is probably the last strong remainder of ottoman rule. The Ottoman Empire controlled Macedonia for about 500 years, and the cultural mix is apparent. The old bazar is a true testament of ottoman influence, where you can find traditional handicraft shops, leather shops, jewelry stores and lots of small family restaurants.
You’ll taste the most delicious Burek (traditional ottoman dish), and visit old wineries for an unforgettable experience on the cheap end. Traditional Macedonian music can be heard at night, and you’ll often hear bands performing live, within each traditional restaurant.
The fortress was built well before Ottoman rule, and served as a prison afterwards. It is a classic medieval-style fortress, from where you can take panoramic shots of the city.
Very close to the old bazar, you can combine the two for a one-day long experience, witnessing cultural mix and ottoman influence.
Overlooking the city, mount Vodno is where outdoor junkies meet. You can hike to the top, cycle, discover hidden cross country mountain bike trails, or take a cable car and relax while enjoying the view.
The summit includes a huge metal cross, from where the entire city can be seen. Definitely worth visiting!
Probably the most scenic destination that is in close vicinity to the city of Skopje, canyon Matka is an unforgettable sight. You can visit the restaurant that has a spectacular view, go to the monastery, or hike down the canyon. You can also hire a boat or take up kayaking, enjoying the crystal green lake that stretches for miles down the canyon.
Some local guides can help as well, connecting the Matka and Vodno experience into one, but do note that this requires physical conditioning on your end.
Nightlife in Skopje
If you are here in summer, you’ll definitely enjoy the nightlife. Prices are ridiculously low, and the people are very friendly and know how to put a good party. The old bazar has dozens of small and hip places where cool music is being played till early in the morning.
A city tour
You can board one of the two-story busses that go around the city, and discover the beauty of Skopje in half an hour. The city square is interesting and controversial in its own right, and you’ll definitely want to check the area around the city park.
Macedonia offers an unforgettable experience. It is rich with cultural heritage, churches, mosques, traditional venues and unforgettable cuisine. You’ll discover old wineries, scenic and lush landscape, and friendly people you’ll want to come again because of. The prices are affordable and the climate is pleasant with more than 300 sunny days within a single year. If you want a unique and unforgettable holiday experience, do not hesitate to visit this lovely place.