most beautiful places in north macedonia travel guide

Most Beautiful Places In North Macedonia: Travel Guide

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Most Beautiful Places In North Macedonia: North Macedonia Travel Guide

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North Macedonia is one of the most interesting countries within the Balkan peninsula. Its rich history makes the country different from other states. However, as history changed from generation to generation, North Macedonia lost its importance and pride. The surrounding countries have taken land from it and even part of its history. Now it’s your turn to visit some of the most beautiful places in North Macedonia and make your mind about this country.

This North Macedonia travel guide will introduce you to the most beautiful places in North Macedonia, ways to get around the country, give you a glance into its economy, the budget you’ll need, and also dishes you have to try during your visit.

 

 

List Of The Most Beautiful Places In North Macedonia

  • Skopje
  • Lake Ohrid
  • St. Naum Monastery
  • Bay of Bones
  • Matka Canyon
  • Bitola
  • Mavrovo National Park

 

 

Most Beautiful Places In North Macedonia: Choose A Destination Based On Your Interests

North Macedonia, like other Balkan countries, used to be part of Yugoslavia until 1991. Back then, the country was called the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. It was the only state that got its independence peacefully, without any war and fighting.

However, ever since, they’ve been having disputes with Greece, who named their northwestern region ‘Macedonia.’ Therefore, Macedonians weren’t able to name their country the same way and got the name ‘North Macedonia’ only back in 2019.

Unfortunately, Macedonians claim that the Greeks stole some of their land and even the proper name of their country. They also say that other countries, like Bulgaria, steal their history (e.g., such as Cyril and Methodius and the origins of their teachings).

Nevertheless, North Macedonians keep their history and culture and is an independent country within the Balkan peninsula. It has remained some of its national pride and stunning places. Let’s explore its beautiful places inside this travel guide. You can choose your destination based on your interests.

most beautiful places in north macedonia travel guide Samuel's Fortress, Ohrid
Most beautiful places in North Macedonia: Samuel’s Fortress, Ohrid

 

Skopje

The capital of North Macedonia offers a variety of things to do. It’s one of the most diverse cities in Europe. Moreover, it’s the cheapest capital in Europe, so you have no more excuses to visit these beautiful places.

Skopje got a nickname as the city of thousands of statues. The first activity you can do is just walk around and try to spot as many of them as possible. Count them with your friends, and whoever spots the most of them, the one wins. The statues are literally everywhere. The most important ones are:

  • The Equestrian Warrior
  • The Beggar
  • The Two Girls
  • Tree Man
  • Girl with Guitar
  • The Pirate Ships of Skopje
Most beautiful places in North Macedonia Skopje main square
Skopje main sqaure: Most beautiful places in North Macedonia, statue of Alexander The Great

What you can’t miss is to walk through the Old Bazaar with many shops, traditional places, where you can taste Turkish coffee and eat delicious food. It perfectly reflects Macedonian culture with Ottoman influence from the past.

Skopje is also the birthplace of Mother Teresa. Go inside the Memorial House and learn about her life, things she did, and ways she contributed to the world.

The spectacular main square – Porta Macedonia – with the most important statue of Alexander the Great offers many restaurants and cafes to eat and drink, enjoy spectacular views, and soak up the atmosphere of this city.

 

Sightseeing In Skopje

  • Stone Bridge over the River Vardar
  • Porta Macedonia – main square
  • Old Bazar
  • Fortress in Skopje
  • kafanas
  • Birthplace of Mother Theresa

 

If you plan to visit Skopje and need some inspiration for top accommodation, check out my North Macedonia road trip.

Skopje old bazaar the most beautiful places in north macedonia
Most beautiful places in North Macedonia: Skopje Old Bazaar

 

Lake Ohrid

One of the most visited spots in North Macedonia is, without any doubt, Lake Ohrid. It attracts visitors not only for its vacation vibes but also thanks to its rich history.

The Cyrillic alphabet was invented by two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, right here in the monastery on the shores of Lake Ohrid. Right from here, they spread the alphabet to Central Europe and started their teaching.

Today, you can visit the monastery and learn more about Cyril and Methodius in the area of St. Naum Monastery. It is a bigger area, where you can also relax on the beach, swim, buy some souvenirs, or do a boat tour to the Ohrid Lake Springs.

Another highlight on the shores of Lake Ohrid is the town of Ohrid. Stroll through its tiny streets, have a good lunch, and walk up to its fortress for the best views of the entire lake and its surroundings.

This town is also known for its 365 monasteries, and locals say each monastery was for one day in a year. The most famous and spectacular one is the Monastery of Saint John.

 

Half-Day Tour Of Ohrid

I recommend you do a walking tour or Ohrid town, within which you’ll see all the highlights. It’s the best way to learn about rich history of this place and its attractions.

 

 

 

Half-Day Ohrid Tour

Monastery of Saint John, Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia

Boat Tour + St Naum Monastery  + Bay of Bones

You can also do a boat tour from Ohrid to the Monastery of St. Naum and visit the Bay of Bones on the way. It’s a nice excursion, during which you’ll get to see the highlights of Lake Ohrid. It’s quite challenging to get to St. Naum from Ohrid town if you don’t have a car nor want to take a taxi. Therefore, a boat tour will be your best choice.

Get more information about Lake Ohrid in my article about the top things to do at Lake Ohrid.

 

If you rent a car, you can also drive around the lake and visit other famous cities such as Struga or Pogradec in Albania. Find remote beaches and enjoy swimming.

Check out how to cross the border between St. Naum and Pogradec in Albania in my article.

st. naum monastery lake ohrid the most beautiful places in north macedonia
Most beautiful places in North Macedonia: St. Naum Monastery, Lake Ohrid

 

Matka Canyon

Matka Canyon is one of the most beautiful phenomena in the country. It’s also the best day trip from Skopje. You can do many activities including kayaking, rock climbing, a boat tour with a visit to the deepest underwater cave in the world, Vrelo Cave, walk and hike around.

To learn more about Matka Canyon, read my Matka Canyon guide and read how to get there, the budget you’ll need, and all activities with prices you can do there.

 

Matka Canyon Guide

Matka canyon guide macedonia tour
Matka Canyon, Nort Macedonia

 

Bitola

Bitola is the cultural city of North Macedonia, where the European and Ottoman cultures meet together. Here you can also experience the great hospitality from locals whether you go to a restaurant or sleep in a hotel. They are always very welcoming and ready to help.

The city is known as the city of consuls, as it used to be an important political and economic center during the Ottoman era. What is interesting are its Ottoman houses and the Clock Tower. During its construction, locals collected over 60 000 eggs from the nearby villages and mixed them into the mortar to strengthen the construction.

Bitola is also the gateway to the famous Pelister National Park, which offers many outdoor activities for nature lovers. What attracts many visitors is the ancient Greek city called Heraclea, which is located only 10 minutes from Bitola. It was founded in the middle of the 4th century BC by Phillip II of Macedon and used to be a Greek colony living in the south of North Macedonia.

bitola north macedonia the most beautiful places in north macedonia
Clock Tower, Bitola, North Macedonia

 

Mavrovo National Park

Mavrovo National Park is another great place for outdoor and adventure lovers in North Macedonia. You can visit traditional villages and learn how people live here. Visit the Galichnik village as one of the oldest Mijak villages with traditional architecture. Taste local products such as yellow cheese kashkaval or salt brine white cheese ‘’belo sirenje’’.

Mavrovo National Park is mainly famous for its skiing region. It’s a famous winter destination for locals and people from surrounding countries such as Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Greece.

 

These are the top places you can visit in North Macedonia. If you want to visit them all at once or at least a few of them, get my North Macedonia itinerary with accommodation tips, things to do, and logistics. 

 

In North Macedonian Nutshell

Mountain lovers – Matka Canyon and Mavrovo National Park.

For water loversLake Ohrid, Matka Canyon.

Are you a history lover? Check Skopje, Bitola, Lake Ohrid and its monasteries.

Looking for places to relax? – Lake Ohrid is the best places to do so.

Lake Ohrid North Macedonia travel guide Most beautiful places in North Macedonia
Me visiting Lake Ohrid: Most beautiful places in North Macedonia

 

 

Transportation

How To Get Around North Macedonia

North Macedonia, as almost every Balkan country, has a challenging travel system. It doesn’t have trains, and the only way to get around is by bus or taxi. The best way is to rent a car for your North Macedonian itinerary and travel at your own pace.

Even buses don’t have an existing schedule, so it’s difficult to plan. The best way is to come directly to the bus station and ask at the counter about the departure time for the next few days. There is an online platform with bus connections and times, but I can say from my own experience that the departure times are not correct. So always double-check personally at the bus station in advance.

Albania buses travelling in Albania
Me traveling in North Macedonia & taking locals buses

 

Buses In North Macedonia

One thing to keep in mind when traveling by bus in North Macedonia is the so-called station fee. I had no idea something like this existed in Europe, and locals didn’t let me enter the platform at the station.

I was desperate until I realized that you have to pay a station fee and get a paper confirmation to enter the bus platform. Without the station fee, they’ll not let you pass through.

This is especially important if you already have an online ticket. Unlike other European countries, here you have to first go to the counter, show your online ticket, and they’ll check you in. They also tell you how much you have to pay as the station fee.

In Macedonia, it is usually around 35 to 50 denars. Note that it is only at the bigger city stations such as Skopje, Bitola, or Tetovo.

 

Taxis In North Macedonia

Taking taxis is another great way to get around Nort Macedonia. It’s more expensive than buses, but Balkan countries are generally cheap, so it won’t increase your spending drastically. Don’t forget to negotiate with taxi drivers.

Even though it’s harder to bargain here than in Albania, you still get always get the ride for much cheaper if you try. Make sure to find the informal taxis, those who don’t even have a proper sign ‘taxi.’ It’s always easier to bargain with these taxi drivers than with those formal ones from real companies.

 

You can learn more about transportation and travel system in the article about North Macedonia buses and how to get around. It’ll explain to you the station fee, give you exact prices for each bus and taxi journey, and also tells you which price you can bargain with taxi drivers instead. It contains all the necessary information for your travels in North Macedonia, so check it out.

 

Prices Of Buses & Taxis In North Macedonia

 

 

North Macedonian Economy & Budget You’ll Need

Interesting Facts About North Macedonian Economy

After the fall of Yugoslavia, North Macedonia was the poorest economy. It faced high inflation and stopped receiving payments from Yugoslavia, which harmed it a lot.

Besides, the long-term disputes with Greece for their northwestern region (where Thessaloniki is located), the war in Bosnia, and the Kosovo crisis in 1999 led to a high economic instability due to the trade embargo. From that time, North Macedonia sheltered more than 350,000 Kosovo citizens.

Labour is quite educative and skilled, but there are no opportunities for them on the local job market. That’s why many people go abroad to study and work. Nowadays, the government is trying to improve the labor situation and increase the employment rate in the country.

The tertiary sector is the most important one in the country, with transportation, telecommunications, real estate, and banking as the most important ones. The service industry is still developing, and tourism is currently booming.

most beautiful places in north macedonia Skopje Fortress
Most beautiful places in North Macedonia: Skopje Fortress

 

Local Currency In North Macedonia

North Macedonia uses Macedonian denar as local currency. It’s one of the strongest currencies in the Balkan peninsula. 62,61MKD is equivalent to 1EUR, and 52.04MKD is 1USD. Please note that the currency rate is always changing, so check the current rate for yourself when you visit the country.

 

Budget You’ll Need To Visit North Macedonia

I’ve put together a table of all necessary costs and the budget you’ll need when visiting North Macedonia. It is one of the cheapest countries in Europe, so you don’t have to restrict yourself a lot. Check out the table below and plan accordingly:

north macedonia budget
Approximate budget you’ll need for your North Macedonia itinerary

 

Budget For A Day In North Macedonia

North Macedonia on a budget  ⇒ plan to spend between 20 to 30 Macedonian denars per day.

North Macedonia with a higher budget ⇒ 30 – 80 Macedonian denars per day.

 

 

Little North Macedonian Food Guide

North Macedonia is one of the top places with the best hospitality of people, which you’ll experience immediately. People are very welcoming, and they want you to try everything. The food is very cheap even in a restaurant. Waiters want to recommend the best local food and offer you rakija many times (local fruit brandy). They want you to feel welcomed and are doing a great job.

Local cuisine uses many local products such as vegetables, beans, and a lot of meat. Gastronomy is also heavily influenced by the Ottomans and what is today known as Turkish cuisine.

You can’t miss going out to the Old Bazaar in Skopje and chatting with the waiter. He’ll explain to you how to drink rakija with onion and what the best dishes are to try when you’re visiting North Macedonia.

most beautiful places in north macedonia gastronomy north macedonian dishes and drinks
Most beautiful places in North Macedonia: Skopje Old Bazaar in a restaurant

North Macedonian Dishes You Have To Try

As mentioned above, North Macedonian gastronomy is inspired by Mediterranean, Turkish, and Italian cuisine. Here are some of them that you cannot miss:

  • Tavče Gravče – national dish, bean stew
  • Sarma – cabbage rolls with rice and meat
  • X – pot-baked beans
  • Pastrmajlija – bread pie made from dough and filled with meat – kind of Macedonian pizza
  • Turli Tava – mixed veggies and meat in a pan
  • Kebab
  • Cevapi

Drinks

  • Macedonian Rakija – fruit brandy, associated with popular events and great for digestion
  • Wine – has an old tradition in Macedonia – red ones are Vranec or Kratoshija, white ones are Zilavka or Temjanika
  • Beer – is very strong in flavour – the most famous one is Skopsko Pivo, or Zlaten Dab
  • Boza – fermented corn and wheat with a very low percentage of alcohol, sweet flavour

 

 

This is my North Macedonia travel guide for you with the most beautiful places to visit in North Macedonia, information about transportation and ways to get around, the economy and budget you’ll need, and dishes you have to try when visiting this amazing country. If you like to have more inspiration, don’t forget to get my North Macedonia tour with a complete 7-day itinerary, which includes everything you need for your visit to North Macedonia. If you don’t have that much time and will only visit Skopje, check out my Matka Canyon Guide for a great day trip from Skopje.

Enjoy Balkan countries and North Macedonia, as one of the oldest places in Europe with so much importance, history, and culture.