Macedonia is a landlocked Balkan nation of mountains, lakes and ancient towns with Ottoman and European architecture. The capital, Skopje, is known for its sprawling Old Bazaar quarter and historic buildings turned museums, including the National Gallery of Macedonia, housed in a 15th-century Turkish bath complex. The southern city Ohrid, on a lake of the same name, has a medieval townscape and hilltop castle.
HOW TO GET THERE
Skopje airport is one of the most frequent airports in the south east Europe , many flight connection with European cities like Barcelona, Oslo, Paris,London ,Munich ,Milano , Budapest ,Istanbul and many more with Wizz Air for 20-25 euros one way trip to and from Skopje. Many people use this option to get here. One of the Europeans main highways passing through Macedonia connecting Greece with rest of Europe. Also many train connection via Belgrade with rest of the Europe. Getting to Macedonia is easy and cheap so this produce over milion tourists coming to this amazing country per year.
WHAT TO SEE AND WHAT TO DO
Plenty of things can be seen and do in Macedonia, from urban life to outdoor adventure, from ancient ruins to magnificent lakes. People are friendly and has always many things to offer including hosting you if you dont have arranged place to stay. Lets go through some of the most iconic place in Macedonia.
Capital Skopje is a city with over 800 000 population vibrant and busy city with lot of clubs, bars and nice restaurants. From one side you have many monuments showing the history of the country build recently and from the other side you have Old Bazaar place where you can seat and eat nice traditional dish or drink a tea, coffee or Rakija ( domestic homemade alcohol) with locals.Kale fortress overlooking the Old Bazaar surrounded with iconic old churches like Saint Spas and many old mosques. On the other side of the city you can see mount Vodno from where you can have a nice Ariel view of the city. Further west you can go to one of the most beautiful canyons in the balkan area- Matka . With caves and lovely scenery this is place that you must visit if you are in Macedonia.
Around 40 km from Skopje on the border with Serbia is one of the oldest megalithic observatory in the world ( according to NASA 4th in the world 3200 years old) Kokino. Located in an amazing scenery this amazing masterpiece follow precise all astrological events. Has a 4 thrones that are align presicely with every eclipse that is going through the year. Also there is a markers that follow Pleiades . In this area North East of the country you can also find some volcanic shaped hills and old stones forms from ancient time. Also this area is clean and you can find some nice organic fish farms where you can enjoy in a nice meal.
North West from Skopje is Tetovo and Shar Planina place where you can enjoy in skiing during the winter and hiking on the trails during the summer. Further down if you go you will get to Mavrovo one of the National Parks in Macedonia and place where you can see some authentic traditions, amazing food and breathtaking scenery from lovely canyons along the Radika river , fantastic view in Mavrovo Lake to mystical deep forests in the Bistra mountain.Mavrovo is famous place for skiing in winter and nice hiking in the summer.
If you continue to the south west you will get to one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and UNESCO Heritage place – Ohrid. Ohrid lake is one of the biggest lakes in Europe and one of the lakes that have lot of endemic fish like Trout and Eel that coming to Ohrid lake to gave a birth traveling from Mexico to Ohrid lake for that. City of Ohrid have a lot of tradition ancient city with 365 churches once was center of mighty King Samoil kingdom – Macedonian kingdom and center of first university in Europe – Ohrid university . Ohrid was also place where Cyrillic alphabet was born and where Kiril and Metodi work.
During the summer Ohrid is full with tourist relaxing on the beaches and enjoy in the night life.Ohrid is also center of the club and cultural scene during the summer , plenty of concerts and parties held there. City is surrounded with mountains and some nice hikes can be done during the summer.
On the other side of the Galicica national park is another beautiful lake Prespa. This amazingly clean lake and forest around are great for camping relaxing on the beach and having fun outside of the cities. Near by Resen is not that big as Ohrid so less fun there but Resen is famous for the great quality apple that they produce there. On the border with Albania is Stenje village idyllic place with some breathtaking scenery .
On 40 km from Prespa is one of the most beautiful cities- Bitola. During the ancient time this city was named Heraclea, old ruins still stay there , later on in the Otoman time Bitola was a consular city so from that period city has distinguish city culture , nice old city architecture that can be seen in the city center and many museums like for example Ataturk museum . One of the most respected Turkish hero was born and study in Bitola. Also few hundred Jews left in the city they have their own Synagogue. Near the city center is Baba mountain and national park Pelister. Place where you can enjoy in lovely hike and see some great scenery. Mountain lakes , rare animals like lynx .
Continue to the central Macedonia you will pass by Prilep place that is surrounded with some old monasteries like Treskavec who stood on the top of the hill.
Kavadarci and Negotino as well as Demir Kapija are wine regions and there you can taste some great wine . Near Kavadarci is Kozuf mountain streching from there to the border with Greece. Famous Alshar is in this area place where some rare gemstones can be found like lorendid.
Stobi is an ancient city near Veles. Stobi was important city during the Romans and was existing 280 years BC . Many old buildings are found and many artefact’s that explaining Macedonian rich history.
Veles is one of the transport hubs in the country near the city you can see old pre- Christian cave churches and small canyon on the river Babuna. On the other side of the city you can enjoy in amazing view in Veles Lake.
East part of Macedonia has its own beauty, mountains and ancient ruins as well as some amazing waterfalls. Overlooking the city of Stip , Isar fortress is one of the cities landmark, Astibo ruins show the distant past of the city, from the ancient time of the Paeonian Kingdom this area was populated with people since 3 000 years ago .
At the south east corner of the country Strumica city is located , one of the centers of Paeonian Kingdom and later on center of Samoil kingdom. Place where some epic battle takes place between Samoil and Vasilie the Byzantine tzar . Samoil fortress overlooking the city , near by Belasica has plenty of beauty hidden inside . Two wonderful waterfalls Kolesino and Smolare are must see things in Strumica. City is rich with churches and ancient monuments.
In the East of the country is beautiful place of Berovo , surrounded with amazing mountains and Lake , home of spa`s like Aurora resort this place offer great relaxation and mystical deep forest.
South of Macedonia is place where smallest lake is located, Dojran is a small city on the border with Greece place where during the summer you can enjoy in the warm lake water and nice beaches. Also place where people who like to play casino will have a chance to enjoy. Dojran is also famous for unique way of catching and preparing the fish.They use ancient metod of using birds ( Cormorant) to catch fish and bring to the fisherman in their mouth.
Depend from the style and time of the year you can find different type of accommodations. In Skopje you can find many hostels backpacking style from 12 euro bed to 25 euros private room. In mid range hotels price is usually around 35-40 euro private double bed room. Expensive ones like Holiday Inn or Alexander Palace are more expensive ( over 100 euro ) Many guest houses and mountain lodge also offer accommodation during the whole year. Summer months are most expensive because of the season. Have on mind that Ohrid is almost booked in the summer and price is higher a bit that spring or winter. Private accommodation is also available during the whole year.
BEST TIME TO GO
Spring is the best time to go when everything is green and temperature are around 25. In the summer is around 35 and winter is between -2 and 5 , in some areas can get to -10 in the winter.
Young people speak english most of them so is easy for communication, older generation not much english speaking people. Public transport is cheap and good. One euro is 61 denars, drink in a bar is around 1,5 euro alcoholic ( beer , glass of wine ) 1 ,1 euro juice , 1 euro coffee. In Skopje might be bit higher .Taxi will cost you around 1 euro per km. Be aware of non official taxi cars they took a bit more.
There is plenty of other things to say about this wonderful place but i dont have that much space 🙂 See you in my lovely country one day 🙂