Macedonia North

North Macedonia in 3 words: stunning, tasty and cheap!

Be fair. How many times have you thought “Gee, I would love to see Macedonia”. Probably not even once. I’m not judging you, I’m guilty od it as well. And it makes me feel so ashamed because Macedonia is the most beautiful part of the Balkans I’ve ever seen! So if you are looking for inspiration for an unobvious holiday destination, with insane views, outstanding food and … wallet-friendly, this is the article for you!

This post will be specific: I spent a few days in Macedonia and squeezed out the maximum amount of shopska salad and Alexandria wine, and what Macedonia could bottle like the mentioned wine and successfully sell: stunning views!

What will you find in this post?

  1. What places to see: so as not to waste time and see the true essence of North Macedonia
  2. Where and what to eat, where to sleep, how to get to other places (buses, car etc)
  3. How many days per each place – thanks to this, you can easily organize your own trip <3

But let’s start from the beginning, from the capital – because that’s where I started my trip around North Macedonia with my team. Quite a logical train of thought would be to ask: why not from the South? Well, because there is none :d After the breakup of Yugoslavia, one of its republics declared its independence, calling itself the Republic of Macedonia. Until 2019, it existed under this name, Macedonia, but not everyone was happy with this name. The Greeks were deeply indignant that the country was using a name that for them had been used to describe a region in Greece for centuries… The explanations that Macedonia basically includees a bit of this ancient region were useless, Greece was stubborn. After many years of verbal skirmishes, the name North Macedonia was officially introduced in 2019, so that neighbours wouldn’t fight anymore :d Rumour has it that the Macedonians wanted togive the Greeks nose flick and peppered the capital with statues vividly reminiscent of those in Greece. And everything would be fine, if not for the fact that these statues are the epitome of the meme “Can it be done cheaper?” …

Let’s stay in the capital…

STEP ONE: SKOPJE: a city hailed as the ugliest capital of Europe

Anyone who says that has obviously never been to Pristina… Skopje is an adorable mix of cultures. The fact is, it can give the impression of chaos, but in my opinion, it was the reluctance to understand it that coined this unflattering and not fair term for the city. Quickk delving into the history of Skopje will be enough to understand its chaotic nature. The city passed from hand to hand, was under the influence of the Roman, Byzantine, Bulgarian and Turkish empires, only to be burnt down by the Austrians, and then, being at the end of its former glory, found itself under Serbian rule, and soon became part of Yugoslavia. .. Macedonia regained its independence in 1991 so please don’t tell me that Skopje is a chaotic freak. It’s a miracle that it survived.

What is worth seeing in Skopje?

Certainly, just walking around the city provides many oh’s and ah’s! The city is peppered with statues, monuments and … monuments. It’s as if the city’s budget had a separate “Monuments” tab and was almost inexhaustible! I was amazed that there were enough national heroes and important figures to whom these monuments could be dedicated :d In addition to counting the monuments, it is also worth seeing the old railway station in Skopje, where the huge clock stopped exactly at the time when the earthquake in 1963, recognized the most tragic in the history of Yugoslavia. Now there is a museum with an exhibition dedicated to this quake.

The most picturesque part of the city is definitely Stara Čaršija  the Old Bazaar in Skopje, located on the other side of the Vardar River. The bridge that leads to it dates back to the Ottoman times and, apart from being a link between the old and new parts of the city, it was once a place of execution.

Stara Čaršija is the largest bazaar in the Balkans, because of how huge it is, it almost feels like going to another city! Interestingly, more than half of the inhabitants of the Cair commune where the Bazar is located are Albanians! Only 1/4 are Macedonians. And these Albanian elements are easily visible! The Bazaar itself is a mixture of different cultures and a real feast for the eyes. Gold, silver, lace, handicrafts mix with restaurants and tiny cafes pushed against logic between other buildings. It is an extremely atmospheric place, where it is worth being especially in the evening and taking a walk in the labyrinth of streets.

STEP TWO: MOTHER CANYON without which your Macedonia trip does not count!

So when you are in Skopje, it’s a must! It’s very close to the city, about 20 minutes by car, and you can easily get there by public transport and the admission is free. After passing the dam, which is located at the entrance to the canyon, soaring rocks, bottle-green water and stretches of forest appear in front of you! It gives an almost surreal feeling of being in another world! A picturesque path stretches along the canyon, the route is very easy, although at times it takes your breath away at the view of the abyss gaping under your feet and a narrow passage along the rock wall. Nevertheless, the route is well prepared and will not be difficult for you! Well, unless you decide to do it all, it’s 10 km long, then reserve a whole day for it. If you have a more limited time, like me, a few kilometers into the depths will allow you to enjoy the beautiful views.

The canyon offers a lot of exploration possibilities: you can take a boat to the Vrelo cave, rent kayaks or pedal boats, look for hidden churches or spot kayaks suspended on a rock. In other words, you won’t be bored there 🙂

Where to eat in Skopje :

La Terrazza : a must! An outstanding restaurant with insane gnocchi, Scottish salad and wine. It’s delicious, atmospheric and … cheap! We liked it so much that we went there twice 😀

Old Bazaar : Pcela, similar: tasty and cheap

Psst! When you are in Macedonia, be sure to try the Skopska salad, tomatoes with cucumber and onion covered with a fluff of grated white cheese and the Macedonian salad, i.e. tomatoes with grilled peppers, I ate both BY KILOGRAMS!

Where to sleep:

Hostel Inbox, a very interesting hostel, one of the best I’ve stayed in!

From Skopje we decided to go to…

STEP THREE: OHRID where Disney fairytale becomes the reality!

Called the Jerusalem of Macedonia and the Pearl of the Balkans, picturesquely situated between the mountains, on Lake Ohrid with crystalline, azure water. After this description, do you have the impression that the characteristic Disney logo is drawn in front of your eyes? I hope so because Ohrid is a truly fabulous city!

Walking along the Macedonian Boulevard, the main shopping street of Ohrid, we head towards the lake. The boulevard is a typical tourist place: there are plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, ice cream parlors and that climate straight from the most typical holiday destnation by the sea

However,only a few steps from the Boulevard and you will see the old part of the city. Old Ottoman houses, cobblestone streets leading to the castle overlooking the city. Walking them, we can come across the remains of the Greek theater, well preserved! and find the Church of Saint Sophia. But what I think will make you love Ohrid as much as I do is the tour to the Church of Saint John the Theologian in Kaneo. A wooden bridge along the rocks meanders along with the rope of the lake and walking along it you can see how crystalline the water in the lake is! Once you reach your destination, it’s easy to lose track of reality. SUCH views don’t seem real!

It is true that you can take the route outside the Orthodox church, but our goal is to see the lake from a different perspective: the boat. The cruise on the lake that we decided on was 30 minutes – I travel on a budget – and it was an epic experience! If you only have 7/8 euros to spare, be sure to go! In Ohrid you can also rent bikes and go around the lake, that must be a great option too!

Where to eat in Ohrid?

Le Petit Bistro Lihnidos on the Lake is a more budget option and offers more culinary variations

Liquid : a beautiful bar right on the lake, literally, with coffees from all over the world!

Kadmo: my favorite spot in Ohrid! Outstanding coffee, beautiful interior with wisteria flowers instead of the ceiling and a cat, a regular visitor, 12/10, <3

How to get there? By bus from Skpoje (about 15 euros) you will get there in about 3 hours

For how many days? Oh, at least two! There is no way to get bored there, and just sitting by the lake is an attraction in itself: d

What else can you do in Ohrid?

Buy yourself a new passport! Where? In Vevchani!

Nowadays it is a small town hidden between the hills, with 2,300 inhabitants, but once it was … a country! The Independent Republic of Vevchani! That independence lasted only for a few weeks, but you can still buy a passport and banknotes of this small country with great aspirations :d It’s worth going there to see this tiny village with your own eyes and enjoy the beautiful nature. Where to eat, what exactly to see and how to get there, you can read in a separate entry.

The weather in Ohrid only spoiled us for one whole day, but even so, I am in love with North Macedonia and will definitely return there to make up for years of living in ignorance of how much this country has to offer! If you are looking for a budget destination, but one where you will not be bored, spend your time actively or have a good time, and eat epic food, Macedonia is the country for you!

Let me know how you like “my” Macedonia! Who of you is going there? Waiting for your comments, ciao!

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