🌎Currency: Macedonian Denar (MKD)
🌎Zone: + 1 GMT
🌎Phone Code: +389
🌎Best time to visit: August to November
🌎Must eat: Shopska salata
🌎Must drink: Turkish coffee
🌎Don't miss: The old Bazaar in Skopje
Travelling to Macedonia is not as simple as it may seem if you coming from far away. It's currently not yet in the European Union, this making it more difficult to establish transport connections. There are a number of direct flights from neighbouring countries and recently also some low cost airlines have started flying there from UK, Germany, and Scandinavia. Popular airlines to travel by air to Macedonia are Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Swiss. Best prices to get there can be found with low cost airline Wizzair.
There is no need for a visa for Macedonia, and immigration doesn't even stamp passports for Europeans. Getting a flight from Europe is the best option. But if you coming from far away, you will need at least one stop and make a connection flight.
There is only one airport operating in Macedonia, therefore there are no domestic flights. Also there is no national airline.
Once in the country transportation relies mainly on road infrastructure. Busses are more popular to travel to other cities and also other countries. Only in the main capital, is public transport more reliable.
Macedonia is subject to harsh winter's and hot summer's. It has a moderate warm autumn and cool spring. It's very continental, so you may experience varied weather factors. However, a lot of the time it can be cloudy as it's around mountains and high above sea level. Temperatures can be around high 30's in the summer but below freezing in the winter. Visiting Macedonia, (Skopje), is best during the Autumn or the summer, when warmer weather can be enjoyed.
Macedonian cuisine is a mixed style, blending Balkan and Mediterranean flavours.Turkish influences inherited from centuries of Ottoman rule are also evident.During summer, markets are well-stocked with fresh produce, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce and onions as well as watermelons, apricots and peaches. All the excess is then jarred and made into spreads. You will find at a traditional dinner table, Meze, a selection of small, creamy vegetable spreads, is usually served with bread to start and is often followed by a main dish of grilled chicken or pork, freshwater fish, stuffed pastry or stew.
You can find the following specialities in Macedonia: Pindžur, a spicy roast pepper and aubergine relish. Kifli, a half-moon-shaped bread roll filled with feta cheese and topped with sesame seeds. Gravce tavce, a chunky bean stew cooked in a skillet and flavoured with spices including paprika. Shopska salata, a mixed salad made by combining tomato, peppers, cucumbers, onions and crumbled feta cheese. Kebapči, minced meat sausages typically served with flatbread, kajmak (a type of clotted cream) and onions. Ajvar, a ubiquitous relish made from roasted red bell peppers, paprika and garlic. Burek, a flaky pie filled with combinations of ham, cheese, spinach and ground beef. Selsko meso, a thick stew of meat, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and carrots cooked in a clay pot. Kačamak, a porridge-esque cornmeal mixture often sprinkled with feta cheese. For dessert you can find Tulumbi, fried dough rolls covered in honey and nuts.
As for drinks: When it comes to drink, sugared Turkish coffee is the order of the day, though milky, Italian-style coffees, such as cappuccino and lattes are becoming increasingly popular. For drinking you can find Rakija, a potent fruit brandy made from grapes.
The capital of Macedonia was invaded several times, first by the Ottoman Turks in 1392, then with the Balkan Wars in 1913 it became part of the Yugoslavian Kingdom and finally in 1991 Macedonia gained it's independence. Unfortunately in 1963, Macedonia suffered a terrible earthquake which destroyed 80% of the city and brought it to rubble.
During it's history, it was ruled under Communist Parties, which is represented, specially by its huge governmental buildings and monuments which were erected after the earthquake to show the strength and determination of survival of it's people. Currently Skopje is undergoing a lot of restoration and development, little by little the city is growing and becoming more international with many Hotels, restaurants, and shops surrounding the centre now. So rain or shine, you should find something to do in Skopje. Not forgetting to stop by the famous Turkish Old Bazaar!
Arriving to Skopje by air is the best way, after you clear immigration, the arrivals process is quite simple. There are busses which take you into the city centre.The bus is operated by Vardar Ekspres and it costs 175 Denars. (£2.50) one way trip.
Once in the city, you will soon identify the public busses, as they look a lot like the double decker busses in London. You need to get tickets in advance before you board or can also pay the driver as you get on, this being slightly more expensive. Each ticket costs 30 Denars bought at a kiosk.
If you stay within the city centre there is no need to get the public transport as everything can be found in walking distance.
At a first glance, there might not seem much to see and do in Skopje, but as you start exploring you will find plenty to occupy tour time with. From culture and museums, to art, shopping and entertainment.Not forgetting the Old Bazaar located within walking from the centre.The main attractions in the city are: Macedonia Square,is the main square of Skopje.It is located in the central part of the city, and it crosses the Vardar River. Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Sovereignty and Independence - Museum of VMRO, is a museum of the Victims of the Communist Regime. The Stone Bridge, which connects the old and the new part of the city, it's of importance as it was destroyed several times over history. It's a symbol of the unification of the city and independence of Macedonia.The Millennium Cross, located on the top of Vodno Mountain. Good views are obseved from here to the city and the sorroundings. To get there you need to go by bus from the Bus Station (next to the main international bus station) and take a bus with dicrection to Millennium Cross, which leaves every 30min from 8.30 to 15h. Once you get to the the top there is a cable car which takes you to the cross. Be aware the last cable car goes down at 16h and soon after the bus back to the city.Museum of the City of Skopje, Founded in 1949, it is located in a former railway station that was partly destroyed in the 1963 earthquake. The Macedonian Orthodox Church. Porta Macedonia is a triumphal arch located on Pella Square in Skopje, completed in January 2012.
The best idea for shopping and spending a nice afternoon is to go to the The Old Bazaar, situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava river.You will all kind of curious shops, souvenirs and cafes.Nearby you will find points of interest like the Mustafa Pasha Mosque and the Tvrdina Kale Fortress, easy to reach, offering great views over the city and river. Inside the ruins, there are two mini museum. Also near by the Museum of Macedonia is a national institution and one of the oldest museums in the country.
In Skopje it's not a problem to find reasonable.Hotels, apartments and also Airbnb. Prices are more competitive, due to the low currency. However quality is not as good as other European countries, therefore it's important to compare and look at reviews online. A 3 star hotel in Macedonia could be a 1 star in Europe. You can find Hotels for £20 per night in the city centre area.
Staying closer to the city centre is also recommended , as transportation can be difficult to understand at the beginning.
TIP: Skopje is safe, however always lock your luggage after leaving. On the street don't expose valuables nor over dress. Do not look as a tourist, try to dress in darker clothes and don't wear any excessive jewellery.
Essentially the city centre and it's surroundings can be seen in one day. However if you prefer to learn a bit more about the culture, visit museums and walk around then 3 nights would be ideal. As part of travelling through Macedonia many people make it a transit stop, so connecting to other capitals might be a good idea, and stay in Skopje a couple of nights.