Planning a trip to North Macedonia? You are on the right website! North Macedonia is a really unique place to visit. It has an interesting culture, history and many beautiful places. We hope this article helps you create your itinerary, so you will experience the best trip ever!
Why Macedonia? Well, it was actually Radek’s idea to travel there. I have never paid much attention to this underrated travel destination. We both love places that are not so “popular” and crowded with other travelers and also places, that are relatively cheap or have similar prices to the Czech Republic.. so Macedonia was the right choice.
When did we travel?
We visited North Macedonia in July 2019. If you are planning similar dates, be prepared that the weather is extremely hot! Don’t forget your sunscreen.
We started our trip in our favorite city – Budapest, Hungary. We found really cheap flights from there. So we took a direct bus from Prague and spent a half day in this beautiful city. Things got interesting before we even bordered our flight. Wizzair staff got a little bit carried away.. and literally measured everybody’s backpacks. People had to pay .. and our flight got more than one hour delay because of that :-))
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A few short tips that you should know before visiting North Macedonia. We hope you will find them useful!:)
1. It’s not a part of the European Union
One thing that you should definitely know is, that North Macedonia is located in Europe, but it is not a part of the European Union. When we travel within the borders of the European Union, we can surf on the internet, send text messages or call our loved ones with the same conditions as in the Czech Republic. So be careful when using the internet or you will be facing a hefty bill after your trip.
Download offline maps to your phone. You can try the Mapsme app, it was very helpful on our travels.
2. North Macedonia has it’s own currency
North Macedonia has its own currency which is a Macedonian Denar (MKD). We didn’t have any chance to exchange money in the Czech Republic, so we exchanged our money to euros and then looked for the nearest exchange office.
3. Get ready for some body language – no english at all:)
We kinda love places, where it is not so easy to communicate. I know it sounds weird, but we love challenges and this really is fun! Most of the people in North Macedonia were really trying, but didn’t speak english at all. For us it was better to use Czech language + our hands and legs.
4. Get a Skopska card for public transport
If you are planning to stay in Skopje for a few days, we highly recommend getting a “Skopska card”. This is the only way to use public transportation. The city centre is small and everything is close, but if you want to visit Matka Canyon or Millenium Cross, this is a better option than taking a taxi.
You can get this card in small stands (newasgent’s / tobacconist’s) along the road. Skopje is using old german and english buses 🙂 The funniest thing is, that they weren’t even bothered and left old advertisement for german erotic dating website still on the bus.
If you are looking for a very nice place to stay, try Goran’s accommodation on Airbnb. It is about 1 km from the city centre.
Skopje – The capital of North Macedonia
Small, but very cozy capital city. We were really surprised! Skopje is divided into two parts by a river – muslim and orthodox. I would say it is a great mixture of the east and Europe. You won’t find many historical sites there, because most of them were destroyed during an earthquake in the 60’s. Most of the sites look like they are old ( intentionally), but they are quite new.
We felt really safe in Macedonia. The only thing you should be careful about are intrusive Albanian kids close to the main square. We were actually warned by Macedonians that we should keep an eye on our stuff all the time.
PLACES TO SEE IN SKOPJE
1. Old muslim quarter
Visiting the muslim quarter and the Bazaar is a unique experience. We loved the atmosphere. You can find there many mosques, the best known is Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Sit down and get yourself a Turkish tea in one of the cozy cafés.
2. Kale Fortress
If you are in the old town, definitely visit Kale Fortress. Situated on a hill above the city centre. We went there during the sunset and this place had a mystical atmosphere.
3. The “modern” part of Skopje
Definitely visit the modern part of this great capital. The main point is “The Macedonia square” with big fountain of Alexander The Great. You can see many statues within the city, which commemorate different historical events, important people or just regular life.
In the city centre you will find many beautiful churches like Church of Saint Clement of Ohrid. Macedonia even has it’s own something like a “triumphal arch” called Macedonia Gate.
There are plenty of places to see like The Millenium Cross, Memorial house of Mother Theresa, Stone Bridge, Kuršumli An, museums …
DAY TRIPS FROM SKOPJE
1. Matka Canyon
Canyon Matka is situated near Skopje, about 30 km away. We went there by bus from the main bus station in Skopje. The journey took about one hour, because the bus has many stops. I am not sure if I remember it correctly, but I think it is the last stop. After you get off the bus it is about 10 – 15 minutes walk to the canyon.
We highly recommend visiting the canyon in the morning. It is a very popular place among the locals. It is a very nice walk which took us around half an hour – you can actually walk only on one side.
What else can you do? You can rent a kayak for a very good price, you can go on a boat tour (also very cheap).. the options are endless 🙂 If you forget your snack there is a restaurant with reasonable prices.
The best thing about this canyon is a Hike to St. Nikola Sishevski monastery. Seriously, if you go to this canyon you definitely shouldn’t skip this hike! We recommend good shoes. It’s about 30 minute very (seriously very!) steep walk..but the views are great and the feeling after you make it to the top is priceless. You have to pay a boat man for taking you to the other side of the canyon (close to the entrance). I believe it was around 40 cents.
Always check the weather before you go. We literally had to run down the hill because a really bad storm was coming.
2. Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid – a really nice place.. If we had more time, we would definitely spend a night there. It is situated by (literally) the borders with Albania. The borders actually go through the lake. If the visibility is good, you can see Albania on the other side of the lake.
We booked our tickets on Skopje’s main bus station. They didn’t sell any return tickets, so that was the first thing we did when we got to lake Ohrid (we booked our way home).
Places to see:
- Church of St. John at Kaneo
- Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon
- Samoil’s Fortress
- Church of St. Sophia
Did you know, that the capital of Kosovo is situated only 90 km away from Skopje? That would be a shame not to go! So we decided to take advantage of this short distance and went on an amazing day trip.
You can read more about this trip in our article about Kosovo.
Travel dates: 30.6. – 5.7. 2019 (6 days)
Bus to Budapest: 13,60 EUR
Return flight from Budapest: 42,8 EUR
Accommodation: 43,9 EUR
Trips: 23,3 EUR
Flight from Budapest to Prague: 27,2 EUR
= 150,8 EUR per person in total – Not bad, right?
+ of course some extra money for food, water etc. North Macedonia is quite cheap, the prices were cheaper than in the Czech republic.
We hope you enjoyed this article! Have you ever visited Macedonia? Do you plan to go there when the world is OK? Let us know in the comments below.
Last Updated on February 17, 2021 by Míša & Radek