Travel Top things to see and do in North Macedonia

The Republic of North Macedonia is the last wilderness in Europe, a small Balkan state with thousands of years and culture which borders Bulgaria and Greece. Just over three-quarters of a million foreign tourists visited. Though many of them would undoubtedly keep North Macedonia’s treasures to themselves, this extraordinary country is a secret too good not to share. If you want an uncrowded, affordable, short-haul destination for your long-awaited travel escape this year, here are...
June 19, 2021

The Republic of North Macedonia is the last wilderness in Europe, a small Balkan state with thousands of years and culture which borders Bulgaria and Greece. Just over three-quarters of a million foreign tourists visited.

Though many of them would undoubtedly keep North Macedonia’s treasures to themselves, this extraordinary country is a secret too good not to share.

If you want an uncrowded, affordable, short-haul destination for your long-awaited travel escape this year, here are reasons that North Macedonia should rocket to the front of your list.

Skopje’s Old Bazaar

The Old Bazaar has been Skopje’s commercial center since the 12th century. It was close to the Vardar River and on the main trade route between Sarajevo and Athens.

The Ottomans built an extensive network of open and covered market buildings, caravanserais, mosques, monuments, and all the supporting infrastructure that a medieval merchant might need.

Today the Old Bazaar is protected as a cultural heritage. At the same time, two museums, the Museum of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Museum of Modern Art, have been built in this part of Skopje, further enhancing its appeal. Allow plenty of time to wander the historic streets, soak up the atmosphere, and then head to the rooftop bar at Hotel Arka in time for sunset.

Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski

The Orthodox Monastery of St Jovan Bigorski (St John the Baptist) is in Mavrovo in the western part of North Macedonia.

The monastery clings to the hillside and has superb views across the valleys. A community of monks still live here, though they welcome respectful guests. The monastery’s highlights are its spectacular frescoes and wooden iconostasis, and there is also a large collection of sacred relics.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid is a UNESCO World Heritage, and it straddles the border between North Macedonia and Albania. One of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, it is an important biosphere reserve, as well as being an undeniably scenic location to relax.

As a tourist, you are likely to stay in Ohrid or Struga, both of which are right on the lakeshore. Hotel Pela is tucked into the midst of a pine forest in the park, with breathtaking views of the lake, and at Camp Krste Jon in Struga, you can spend the night in a treehouse, ramping up the excitement of your adventure.

Macedonian Hiking Trails

North Macedonia boasts some of the best hiking routes in Europe, with several new trails mapped and developed with EU funding in the past few years. Ema Fildishevska of Macedonia Travel has been at the forefront of trail development, devising options for hikers and mountain bikers alike. She has created more than 20 self-guided one-day hikes, plus a variety of longer routes, including overnight accommodation in homestays. North Macedonia’s most stunning hiking locations include the Sharr Mountains (one of the largest massifs in the Balkans), Lesnica, the Via Dinarica, and Canyon Matka.