Matka Canyon Guide

Complete Matka Canyon Guide: Perfect Day Trip From Skopje

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Table of Contents

Interesting Facts About Matka Canyon
How To Get To Matka Canyon From Skopje
1. OPTION: Bus From Skopje To Matka Canyon
Bus Schedule To Matka Canyon (From Skopje)
2. OPTION: Taking A Taxi To Matka Canyon
Top 6 Things To Do In Matka Canyon
1. Matka Canyon Boat Trip
2. Visit Vrelo Cave
3. Go Kayaking With Vrelo Cave Visit
4. Rock Climbing
5. Hike To The Monasteries Around Matka Canyon
6. Relax At Matka Canyon & Go Swimming
Tips & Tricks For Your Visit To Matka Canyon
Organized Tour To Matka Canyon
More Tips For Traveling In North Macedonia

Matka Canyon is one of the most stunning natural spots in North Macedonia. It makes it the perfect half- or day trip from Skopje. It’s actually not a natural phenomenon. After the dam construction in 1938 on the River Treska, this lake was created between the mountains.

Nowadays, it’s the oldest artificial lake in North Macedonia. It attracts 77 different butterflies, so try to find at least half of them during your visit. To make the most out of it, take this Matka Canyon guide with essential information, ways to get there, prices, and top things to do.

Interesting Facts About Matka Canyon

  • It’s an artificial lake created after dam construction on the River Treska
  • Has 77 kinds of butterflies in its valley
  • Hosts 10 caves, and the most impressive one is Vrelo Cave
  • Vrelo Cave in the Matka Canyon is 8000 years old
  • It has the deepest cave (Vrelo) in the Balkans, the second deepest in Europe, and the third deepest in the world
Matka Canyon Guide kayak
Matka Canyon Guide

How To Get To Matka Canyon From Skopje

The best way to get to Matka Canyon is from the capital of North Macedonia, Skopje. The easiest way is to rent a car, either for your entire North Macedonia road trip or just for the day.

If you don’t have the chance to rent a car or you’re traveling solo, you have 2 options: take a bus or a taxi.

1. OPTION: Bus From Skopje To Matka Canyon

Taking a bus is very easy on the way there. Go to the main bus station in Skopje and get on bus number 69, which will drive you near Matka Canyon (next to the Fresh Lounge Bar). From there, it’s only a 10-minute walk to the Matka Canyon. However, if you travel there on the weekend or in the middle of the day, the bus might not go directly to the Bar (it’s the last stop).

The last part of the journey is covered by a very tiny road, and many cars pass by. Therefore, there is no chance for a bus to drive through, leaving passengers at the beginning of the road. It’s still some 5km to walk, which is a lot. So in case you travel to Matka Canyon after 11:00, and especially on the weekend, I recommend not taking a bus. Instead, get a taxi.

Best Way To Get To Matka Canyon

The best option is to get the first bus at 7 am from Skopje bus station. This way, you can be sure it’ll drive you directly to the last stop, near Fresh Lounge Bar. Moreover, you can enjoy the day to the fullest as there are fewer tourists in the morning, and you’ll have the whole Canyon pretty much for yourself.

The bus drive costs only 50 dinars (one way) and takes between 50 minutes and 1 hour from the central station in Skopje to Matka Canyon.

Bus Schedule To Matka Canyon (From Skopje)

  • Skopje to Matka Canyon on weekdays: 5:50 / 7:45 / 9:40 / 11:20 / 13:05 / 14:55 / 16:25 / 17:45 / 19:20 / 21:00
  • Skopje to Matka Canyon on a weekend: 7:00 / 8:45 / 10:30 / 12:10 / 13:50 / 15:30 / 17:10 / 18:45 / 20:15 / 22:30
  • Matka Canyon to Skopje on weekdays: 5:50 / 7:45 / 9:40 / 11:20 / 13:05 / 14:55 / 16:25 / 17:45 / 19:20 / 21:00
  • Matka Canyon to Skopje on a weekend: 7:45 / 9:40 / 11:20 / 13:00 / 14:40 / 16:20 / 18:00 / 19:30 / 21:00

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that the bus timetable might change depending on circumstances. As I mentioned in this article, sometimes the bus doesn’t drive directly to the last/first stop (next to the Fresh Lounge Bar) because of the tiny road. So if there is no bus, don’t be surprised. Be flexible and take a taxi or hitchhike.

Take A Taxi Back To Skopje

I highly recommend taking a taxi on the way back to Skopje. There is no guarantee that the bus will leave from the last/first station next to the Fresh Lounge Bar. The reason is the same as the road is very tiny and the bus won’t drive through.

Even though the bus is scheduled to depart at 1 pm, it might not arrive because it leaves 5km from the actual station. What you can do is come on time to the bus station (near the Fresh Lounge Bar), and if there is no bus even 20 minutes after 1 pm, take a taxi instead.

2. OPTION: Taking A Taxi To Matka Canyon

Taxis are pretty cheap in North Macedonia as well. Even better is you can find other people who can share the cost with you. A taxi ride only takes between 20 to 30 minutes and costs 600 dinars per taxi.

Try to bargain the price, you might get it even for cheaper (unless you want to support local taxi drivers). For you, it’ll still be cheap, and they’ll be happy they earned more.

Top 6 Things To Do In Matka Canyon

Matka Canyon offers a range of activities, including organized boat tours, or kayaking (if you like to enjoy it privately), climbing, walking, and visiting monasteries on the way. Even if you don’t feel like doing a lot, it’s still an incredible place worth spending some time and soaking up its unique atmosphere. Below, I am giving you a list of things you can do during your visit.

  1. Make Matka Canyon boat trip
  2. Visit Vrelo Cave
  3. Go kayaking with Vrelo Cave
  4. Rock climbing
  5. Hike to monasteries
  6. Relax and swim

1. Matka Canyon Boat Trip

One of the most popular things to do in the Matka Canyon is to take a boat or a kayak and cross it towards the Vrelo Cave. Taking a boat tour is a great way to enjoy the canyon without thinking about anything. The boat is quite big, so there will be other people with you (around 10 to 15pax per boat).

The journey takes around 20 minutes until you reach the Vrelo Cave. Then, the boatman will stop the boat and show you the way to the cave. After, he leaves some time for the entire group to go inside and see it.

It isn’t a guided tour, so the boatman will only drive you there, shows you the way to the cave, and leaves you to explore it alone. Once the whole group comes out of the cave, you’ll hop on the boat again and drive back to the point where you started.

You can hop in the boat near the St. Andrea Monastery.

Matka Canyon Boat Trip Price

The price for the entire boat trip is 400 dinars per person (return ticket).

Matka Canyon Guide boat tour through Matka Canyon and Vrelo Cave visit
Matka Canyon Guide: Me and my friend on a boat tour through Matka Canyon and visiting Vrelo Cave

2. Visit Vrelo Cave + Interesting Facts Barely Anyone Tells You

Matka Canyon has 10 caves, with Vrelo being the most famous one altogether. It is around 8000 years old. Divers were trying to dive from the canyon to the cave.

However, there is a spring running from the cave, filling the canyon with water. This prevented them from making their way inside the cave as the spring has immense pressure.

Another reason why it’s difficult to dive into the cave from the canyon is that the cave is very deep. They first dived 250m deep and still didn’t manage to pass to the cave. After, they tried again, but the water pressure stopped them.

Until now, nobody has managed to dive from the canyon inside the cave. The cave is slightly deeper than 350m.

The cave and the passage to the canyon are the deepest in the Balkans, the second deepest in Europe, and the third deepest in the world.

A visit to the Vrelo Cave is free of charge, regardless of taking a boat or visiting it on your own from your kayak.

Vrelo Cave
Me exploring Vrelo Cave

3. Go Kayaking With Vrelo Cave Visit

Alternatively, you can rent a kayak and do a self-guided tour. Go kayaking if you like more adventure or want to take a private tour to the Vrelo Cave with your partner. This way, you’ll get the chance to connect more with the canyon.

You’ll also be slower, which creates more opportunities for you to properly soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful place, see the nature around, and even spot some butterflies. If you have more time, I highly recommend you rent the kayak. It’s an incredible experience.

If you want to go kayaking and also visit the Vrelo cave, count with approx. 2hours for the entire excursion. To kayak towards the cave will take you around 45 minutes, then you can have 30 minutes to enjoy the cave, and go back other 40 minutes.

You don’t necessarily have to go to the cave. It’s up to you what program you create for yourself. You can also kayak further down the canyon.

You can rent the kayak near the St. Andrea Monastery, from where the boats start their tour as well.

Matka Canyon Kayak Rental

  • Single kayak: 150 dinars (30 minutes)
  • Single kayak: 300 dinars (1 hour)
  • Double kayak: 250 dinars (30 minutes)
  • Double kayak: 500 dinars (1 hour)
Matka Canyon Guide kayaking
Matka Canyon Guide: Kayaking

4. Rock Climbing

Matka Canyon has a spot for climbing lovers. There is a smaller ferrata, even suitable for children. Rent all the equipment there and climb up the rock wall. You can climb one way up, and if you are successful, you’ll get another climb free of charge.

Prices For Rock Climbing At Matka Canyon

1 climb up costs 300 dinars, including equipment. For children, it is 200 dinars. For more adventurous souls, they organized adventure tours, which cost 600 dinars per person. A Minimum of 4 people needs to sign up.

  • 1 climb: 300 diners per adult
  • 1 climb: 200 dinars per child
  • Adventure tour (minimum of 4 people required): 600 dinars per person

5. Hike To The Monasteries Around Matka Canyon

Another thing you can do is to walk alongside the canyon and hike to many monasteries. The most famous ones are St. Nedela-Matka, St. Saviour-Matka monastery, or St. Nikola Šiševsky monastery.

You can have lunch in the Canyon Matka Hotel & Restaurant. They have a huge terrace with views of the canyon. Or even stay overnight in the hotel and enjoy an evening walk alongside the canyon.

6. Relax At Matka Canyon & Go Swimming

If you don’t want to do the entire hike to one of the monasteries, walk on the edge of the canyon. You’ll get beautiful views on the boats and kayaks and take nice photos. Then spot on the way, if you see a bench or just go down to the canyon and try to swim.

Also, you can back towards the Fresh Lounge Bar, next to the bus stop, and cross the bridge to the other side of the river. Lay down in a shadow, or put a hammock on the trees and enjoy the cool temperature there.

Matka Canyon Guide relax and swimming in Treska River
Matka Canyon Guide: Relax & Swimming in Treska River

Tips & Tricks For Your Visit To Matka Canyon

  • Come to Matka Canyon around 8am – you’ll have it for yourself
  • Take a taxi back to Skopje (bus might not drive from the initial station)
  • Carry a jacket with you – in case it gets colder
  • Pack a swimming suit with you – in case it’s hot for the kayak and even swimming
  • Carry Macedonian dinars with you in cash

Organized Tour To Matka Canyon

If you want, you can join an organized Matka Canyon tour to avoid any issues with transportation on the way. What is more, they’ll provide you more information and tell you the in-depth history of this place. Check out the organized tour by Get Your Guide. You can take this Matka Canyon tour from Skopje and just enjoy it.


Matka Canyon Tour

More Tips For Traveling In North Macedonia

This is your complete Matka Canyon guide with the top things you can do when visiting Matka Canyon from Skopje, in North Macedonia. It’s the best day trip you can do from Skopje. As I mentioned above, the best time to come here is at 8 am. You’ll first have the canyon for yourself, avoid too many visitors, later on, have a coffee in the restaurant near St. Andrea monastery, and then take the first boat trip to the Vrelo Cave. It’ll be quiet, and you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

If you have more time in North Macedonia and want to explore more amazing places, check out my North Macedonia road trip for 8 days. It’ll guide you through all the highlights of this stunning country. You’ll learn a lot about history, culture, and eat delicious food.

For other great places in this country, see the article about the most beautiful places in North Macedonia. If you are a water lover and want to explore the oldest lake in Europe, visit Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia and read about the top things to do at Lake Ohrid.

If you plan to travel by bus and taxi in North Macedonia, learn more about the travel system in the article about North Macedonia buses. It will explain to you what the station fee is, why you need it, and what to do if you already have a prepaid ticket or how to buy tickets on the spot.

Happy Travels!