Macedonia can quickly be labeled as one of the most fascinating yet underpublicized places in the world. A part of erstwhile Yugoslavia, this tiny country lies tucked between Bulgaria, Albania, and Greece on the Balkan Peninsula.
In fact, Macedonia is so small that regarding size it is just about bigger than Vermont! Its reputation as a modern-day melting pot of Soviet, Serbian, Ottoman, Roman, Greek, and Persian flavors has given rise to many places to visit in Macedonia that are sure to enthrall the tourists.
Friends can spend long hours over coffee in outdoor cafes amidst the throaty Slavic chatter, clinking glasses of rakija and curls of cigarette smoke.
Orthodox Christian churches with their rounded domes jostle for space with Muslim mosque towers in the skyline, quiet villages have limestone-crusted mountains in the backdrop, and glittering lakes punctuate the wild countryside.
Although the place is easy to access and has the complete repertoire of all the comforts that the Western world has to offer, the Republic of Macedonia is one of the best-hidden treasures of the European continent.
Apart from its natural beauty, Macedonia points of interest also include the tour of entirely modern cities that place marvelous luxuries right at one’s fingertips. Size is probably the only issue why Macedonia is overlooked as a possible tourist destination. Here is a look at some of the best places to visit in the country.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Quick facts and Macedonia travel tips
- 2 Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Macedonia
- 3 Are you on Pinterest? Pin these for later read!
Quick facts and Macedonia travel tips
Quick facts about Macedonia?
- Capital City? Skopje
- Currency? Macedonian Denar
- Language(s)? Macedonian, Albanian
- Where is this country located? The Balkans, Southeast Europe
- What is Macedonia famous for? It has the oldest lake in the world (Ohrid) and worlds deepest underwater cave
- Best time to visit Macedonia and seasons? The peak season is in Summer (June to September) and is also a good time to visit if you don’t mind the crowd. However, Spring (April to May) and Autumn (October to November) are also good times to visit as the weather remains warm during the day and cool during the night but there will be fewer crowds and possibly cheaper accommodation and tours.
- Transportation in Macedonia? Bus and trains run around the country
- International Airport(s)? Skopje International Airport (SKG)
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right-hand side
- What is the electricity plug type? Types C and F. 230V. Read our travel adapter reviews!
- Neighboring countries? Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece
Do you need a visa for Macedonia?
Citizens from the EU, the USA, and Schengen area can enter Macedonia with no visa and can stay up to 90 days within six months period.
Citizens from Argentina, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Malta, Monaco, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia, Peru, Serbia, Uruguay, New Zealand, Kosovo, Peru, Panama, Montenegro and Venezuela can travel to Macedonia without a visa if they stay less than 90 days.
Other countries not mentioned above need a visa to enter Macedonia. Alternatively, if you’re visiting multiple countries in Europe, it is best to apply for a Schengen visa and you’re free to enter Macedonia for up to 14 days.
You can read our guide on how to apply for a Schengen visa – read it here.
Where to book your flights to Macedonia?
Check our handy-dandy guide on how to find the cheapest flights around the world – read it here.
Do you need travel insurance for Macedonia?
Remember this: anything can happen! Read our take on why you need travel insurance and how it can save you money when things go unplanned – read it here.
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Macedonia
The capital city of Macedonia, Skopje is also the cultural hub of Macedonia country. Tourists should ideally spend a minimum of a couple of days at this stopover point. The place offers a taste of what the state has done to embrace the modern European way of life while not forgetting the values of its ancient past.
The Skopje Stone Bridge, one of the significant Macedonia tourist attractions, perhaps best illustrates this combination of new and old as it links the traditional Ottoman quarter and the current side of the city. The crossover from a neighborhood that boasts condos and modern office buildings to the Old Bazaar is as good as travel back in time.
The other Macedonia points of interest in Skopje include the 6th century Kale Fortress that stands like a towering guard over the city and Skopje Central Square.
The Mother Teresa Memorial House is another of the favorite Macedonia points of interest built in commemoration to one of the most famous citizens of Skopje Macedonia who dedicated her entire life towards the benefit of the poor and the needy.
Located 17 kilometers to the southwest of the capital city of Macedonia, Canyon Matka offers a beautiful day trip from Skopje. Dramatic gorge with steep walls surrounds it, and that makes for the perfect outdoor experience for those who love finding themselves in the lap of Nature.
Renting a boat to take you around on a tour of the ten surrounding caves is among the most popular activities in Macedonia Canyon Matka after which tourists usually settle for some Macedonia food at the local eateries and restaurants.
The place is also home to over 70 butterfly species with some of them having been discovered only in recent times. The nearby Treska Lake along with the Matka Lake is also famous as kayaking spots thanks to the lush Macedonia scenery and calm waters.
There are also three churches – the Matka Monastery, The Monastery of St. Nicholas Shishovski, and Monastery of St. Andrew where tourists can enjoy the beautiful frescos as part of their sightseeing Macedonia.
Mavrovo National Park
The most prominent National Park in Macedonia, Mavrovo stretches over 192,000 acres right up to the Albanian border from Lake Mavrovo. It is home to the highest peaks in the country and offers skiing as one of the most sought-after activities in Macedonia Mavrovo town.
There are many hotels in Macedonia Mavrovo town for those looking for a skiing vacation. The best time to visit Macedonia for a skiing vacation is from November to April.
Mavrovo National Park turns considerably verdant and lush during the warmer months, and the lake here is the most substantial such artificial water body in the country. The place is a popular tourist attraction in Macedonia during the summer for boating and swimming. Hotels line the lakeshore where tourists often choose to stay for a couple of days.
The submerged St. Nicholas Church is a curious and unusual Macedonia attraction here. The building was flooded on purpose when the lake was dug in 1953 but has become partially exposed after that thus giving rise to an unexpected sight.
Pelister National Park
Pelister is the oldest among the three great Macedonia national parks and is located close to the town of Bitola. Mount Pelister is one among nine peaks that scale up to 2000m in elevation and offer magnificent vistas to tourists who wish to escape from their daily life.
The five-needle pine molica can be found here and is a Macedonia tourist attraction for nature enthusiasts. Red-billed jackdaws, partridges, eagles, chamois, bears, wolves, and roe deer are other attractions for those inclined towards the creations of nature.
There are two magnificent mountain lakes in this national park where tourists can enjoy hiking activities in Macedonia with the Stone River being a favorite trail of crushed rocks that head up towards the mountain slopes.
An old town that was part of the Ottoman Empire, Bitola used to be known as “City of Consuls” since it was a diplomatic center for the area. Sophisticated and elegant, the Turkish mosques and colorful 18th-century townhouses are the most popular Macedonia tourism attractions here.
Sitting on the (Wide Street) Sirok Sokak with a cup of espresso in hand and watching the world unfold itself is one of the most repeated experiences that indeed should not be given a miss. It is the second-largest among all the cities in Macedonia and also the favorite among local people. All thanks to its European atmosphere and café culture.
The Isak Beg Mosque, the Jeni Mosque, the Old Bazaar, and the Deboj Turkish Bath are the best sightseeing Macedonia options in this place.
Some unique things set Prilep apart from the rest. From an agricultural point of view, this is the tobacco capital of Macedonia. It was later called the “city under Marko’s Towers” after turning into the medieval center during the reigns of Kings Volkasin and Marko who put up numerous monasteries and churches all around the town.
Prilep enjoys a distinctive landscape highlighted by huge rocks that are scattered sparsely along the base of a small hill on top of which stand the old ruins of the medieval fortress. Locals also offer a distinct flavor that is visible in their humor and dedication towards preserving the local traditions.
Home to only 10000 citizens, there used to be a time when Krusevo was a republic of its own. The town is often regarded as a symbol of the centuries-old Independence struggle of the country to emerge out of the shadows of the famous Ottoman Empire.
When the age-old revolution was on, and Macedonia seemed to be on the verge of success, Krusevo enjoyed freedom for ten days before the town was burnt to the ground by Ottoman forces who also martyred the national heroes. Makedonim and Mechkin Kaman are two of the country’s points of interest that were built to honor the entire sequence of events.
August 2 is a significant date here, and tourists need to do some exploring to know the reason behind this high point of pride. Krusevo is situated in the beautiful Baba Mountains with its highlights being several churches, monasteries, and some incredible architecture.
Stobi is one of the famous archaeological sites found in Macedonia country and one of the more interesting among places to visit in Macedonia. Founded by the great King of Paeonia during the 7th century, this city had numerous changes of ownership.
It enjoys a strategic location along the age-old trading route that was popular among the Romans which drove its growth as a major hub for all the traders on their way to Greece via Aeagen Sea from the Danube in Serbia. The site can be visited on any day with the town being only an hour’s drive away from Skopje.
Regarded as the top draw among Macedonia tourist attractions, the sunny ambiance of Gevgelija enjoys the reputation of being a fun place with significant times on your Macedonia travel.
The concert venues, galleries, nightclubs, top hotels, and casinos have earned it the moniker of being the Macedonian Las Vegas. Exclusive entertainment opportunities are also present, but anyone can join in the fun. Tourists looking for a break from the buffet and table for blackjack can head over to the Smrdliva Voda which is a spa offering 400 villas and sulfur baths to select from.
Nature can also be found here in full glory, characterized by deciduous and pine forests and a sublime climate that gives rise to its rich heritage of biodiversity.
24000 hectares of vineyard and almost 2000 years of viticulture history of the wine-making industry is one of the most popular Macedonia points of interest for those planning travel to Macedonia. Situated in the deep throws of the highly fertile Vardar Valley is Povardarie that produces wines that are sought after all across the world.
Smederevka and Vranec are the best varieties that should be sampled on a visit. Popova Kula, Stobi Winery, and Winery Tikves are the three most popular wineries here with Popova Kula being ranked as the finest in Macedonia with regularity. There are over 20 varieties of wine produced here while they also offer folklore shows, accommodation, and cooking lessons.
Located in eastern Macedonia, Strumica is home to various Macedonia tourist attractions that are worth a visit. Mount Belasica offers a fantastic hiking experience with other trails leading out to two waterfalls, Kolesino and Smolare.
The tranquil Vodoca and Veljusa are among some of the more stunning monasteries in the area, dating back to the times of the Byzantine Empire with nuns and monks continuing to stay there. St. Bogorodica and St. Leontuis are healing spas belonging to the Roman Therma that was built in the eleventh century and make for the next Macedonia destinations for tourists.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most prominent town on the lake that goes by the same name, Ohrid enjoys a rich heritage and historical background. Topping the list of what to see in Macedonia Ohrid are frescoes that can be found inside St. Clement Church, Ancient Theater, Saint Sofia Church, and the fortress of Tsar Samuil that offers a fantastic view over the lake and the city.
The surrounding area has mountains scale up to 2800m making the place naturally breathtaking alongside giving it tremendous cultural significance. To conclude that Ohrid reflects the best there is to Macedonia country would not be an overstatement. This town is a good option as a base camp from where to explore Ohrid Lake and the surrounding monasteries and villages.
Struga has been given the nickname of “City of the Poetry” and is a great day trip option for tourists who visit Macedonia. It is a beautiful and relaxing place to take a stroll through. Vlado Maleski, who penned the Macedonia national anthem, was born in this town with Struga holding the distinction of being the place where the hymn was sung publically for the first time.
The various activities in Macedonia Struga include a walk down Goce Delcev Street, and a visit to the Halveti Teke, St. George Church and the lively Old Bazaar market.
Kumanovo is among the larger cities of Macedonia and can be found just outside the capital city of Macedonia. This place is a fantastic blend of Serbian and Macedonian culture. The local people are regarded as a feisty group comprising a colorful multi-ethnic mixture of Turkish, Albanian, Serbian, and Roman minorities.
Other places to visit in Macedonia include the Batko Gjorgjija monument, the Church of St. George, and the unique rock formation called Kostoperka Karpa.
Monastery In St. Naum
Sveti Naum is only half an hour’s drive away from Ohrid and stands out as an impressive monastery dating back to the 10th century. The structure can be found on the high outcrop on the lake. It is famous for the frescos and an enjoyable place to rejuvenate and relax in.
The monastery is also home to some of the best religious paintings that the Balkan region has to offer. The lake’s panoramic view is something to take in while a rowboat tour Drim River is another highly recommended experience.
There are many islands nearby that can be visited for dinner and a taste of some delicious Macedonia food.
As the place that encompasses every phenomenally unique aspect of the country, this is one of the best destinations where tourists can end their travel to Macedonia.
With so much to explore and so little known about the best places to see in Macedonia, tourists can enjoy their Macedonia travel to the fullest. It is a safe country, so there is no need to worry about political turmoil or instability. It would be a good idea to check the weather conditions before planning a Macedonia visit to avoid surprises.
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