- Depending on where you're coming from, it can be pricey to get to North Macedonia, but once you're there, it's very cheap!
- Smoking is allowed almost everywhere, including restaurants. It's definitely part of the experience, but it might get a little smokey.
- Transit is ok, taxis are also good but might charge a bit extra, but hiring a driver can also be a very reliable and still relatively cheap option.
- There is some ATM fraud, so just watch your card, or go to a bank when in doubt.
Vodno & Hiking ($)
Take the cable car to the top of Vodno. If you want to escape the urban jungle, there is no better place than the neighboring mountain towering above the city of Skopje.
Either walk, cycle, or just enjoy the views at the top of the hill. North Macedonia has an abundance of religious monuments and artifacts, so you’ll find a captivating church almost anywhere you turn. If you want to take the easy way up, just follow the asphalt road and you’ll get to a location called Middle Vodno, where this secluded church awaits.
The Old Bazaar (Free - $)
The Old Bazaar, located on the eastern bank of the Vardar river, is one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans. It has been the main centre of trade and commerce in Skopje since the 12th century.
It was during the 16th and 17th century when the Old Bazaar reached its economic peak and has one of the largest and most significant old bazaars in the Balkans. This is where all of the social elites of the capital would have mixed and mingled at that time.
These days, it’s a protected national landmark and has many old craft shops. Age-old traditions are still kept alive here, by coppersmiths, cobblers and goldsmiths. You can also find plenty of museums and galleries, as well as great restaurants offering local food at affordable prices.
Kale Fortress (Free)
The Kale Fortress was built in 6th century AD on a land that was inhabited during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages (roughly 4000 BC onwards). Steep in the history of this old and beautiful fortress as you stroll around. Enjoy even more views of this unusal city and stay as long as you'd like. The Fortress is also very close to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Brewery "Old Town“ ($)
A highly recommended watering hole, even by locals! The vibe is great, somewhere between a lodge, a hip bar, and the classically Easter European feel. There's lots of places to sit, both inside and outside, and it does get fairly full (for Skopje) on an average night. You'll sometimes find love music here, as well as a number of delicious craft beers on tap. Get a whole flight for an insanely cheap price (~$15 for 6 large pints). Great food is also available until late into the night.
Lake Ohrid Day or Overnight Trip ($-$$)
The city of Ohrid is a true treasure of North Macedonia. With its mountainous views and sparkling blue Lake Ohrid, it’s no wonder that many visitors flock to this historical Macedonian city, especially during the summer. Ohrid would be a great place to spend a few days but if you’re based in Skopje like we were, Ohrid makes for a great day trip.
Buses or private tours would be the best ways to get there. This is a very popular trip, so there are a ton of options at very affordable prices. It's about a 3 hour drive, but very scenic.
Stop in the town and wander around for a while. The cobblestoned town is adorable and is very home-y. There is a little pottery studio by the main area that's worth a look.
You can swim in the lake, hire a boat to go around the clear blue water, or stop in at a waterfront cafe. Have a cocktail and just listen to the breeze run across the lake or dine out and dig in while gazing at the mountains of Albania in the distance. It’s not overpriced and it’s great food.
Church of St. John at Kaneo (Free)
This beautiful Macedonian Orthodox church situated on the cliff over Kaneo Beach overlooking Lake Ohrid in the city of Ohrid, North Macedonia. Archaeologists believe that the church was constructed some time before the rise of the Ottoman Empire very likely in the 13th century. Restoration work in 1964 led to the discovery of frescoes in its dome. The views are stunning, and you can even see neighbouring Albania across the lake in the distance.
Hotel Tino Sveti Stefan ($$)
If you opt to stay overnight at Ohrid, which I recommend (although it's still just as great as a day trip), Hotel Tino SS is your way to go. There are many other options, including more budget options, but at around $50-70 a night, it's great value for the quality. There's a pool, a great restaurant, and clean, cozy rooms. This is just a personal recommendation.
Stobi Archaeological Site ($)
Take the alternate route back to Skopje, but stop for the night in Stobi or the very closely neighbouring village of Gradsko. Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia, later conquered by Macedon, and finally turned into the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris. It is located near Gradsko, North Macedonia, on the main road that leads from the Danube to the Aegean Sea and is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in North Macedonia.
There's a ton of history here, especially if you're interested in archealogical digs, ancient pottery, mosiacs, and frescos. There are a number of tours you can take, and also a small museum where you can even buy some of the original or restored pottery.
Popova Kula Winery ($$)
You absolutely have to try Macedonian wine. The oldest archeological findings proving that people in this area have grown vineyards and have made wine date 13 century BCE. This particular winery not only has many amazingly delicious wines, but also a multi-course meal to go with it with the most flavourful feta cheese. The views here are something else. You can see the vinyard in the valley, and watch the sunset from the open air dining room at the top of the tower while sipping different Macedonian wines. There's a cute hotel onsite as well that I would recommend spending the night in after all your wine.
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