I am having an excelling experience driving through the Balkans for the last few days and already more than halfway through my road trip. This afternoon after two hours driving from Pristina just arrived in Skopje located in the center of the Balkan Peninsula. Over time it has experienced Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule. One of the main attraction in Skopje is to walk around the Vardar river, Mother Teresa Memorial House, exploring the Old Bazaar and the historical Kale Fortress.

Since I am staying here for a little less than 2 days, therefore without wasting much time quickly check in to the hotel so that can head towards the old town to utilize the rest of the day sightseeing.

Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, Skopje

Helpful Information

I have visited Skopje between Late May and early June. The weather was fantastic, the mountains surrounding the city were lush green, and the temperature during the day was comfortable with lots of sunshine.

Therefore the best time is spring and autumn to be more specific, be there between early May and the end of June for gorgeous weather while dodging the summer crowds. Not to mention that Hotels are going to be still a bargain.

By Air

The Skopje International airport (TAV) is the largest airport in the country. Only 23 km from the Skopje city center. You will find plenty of international and domestic flights operating to the capital of Macedonia. You can also rent a car from the airport but may need to book it in advance.

By Bus

If you are in Ohrid, then the best way to get to Lake Ohrid is to get on a bus for those who are not driving. The 3+ hours bus ride is comfortable, and costs are reasonable check schedule here. Taxis from Ohrid airport to Skopje is also available for a reasonable price.

By Car

The majority of travelers prefer to visit Skopje by car from neighboring countries. The newly built 38 miles long (60km) highway from Pristina to the border of North Macedonia is excellent and can be at the border crossing in 30+ minutes. so from Pristina to Skopje door to door took me not more than 2 hours including wait at the border crossing.

From The Airport

The city center is only about 14 miles (23 km) from Skopje Airport (TAV) and you will find 24hr taxi service to and from the airport. The 20 minutes taxi ride will cost you not more than 1220 MDK (20 €). Price is regulated and exhibited at the exit of the airport. You can hire a taxi all the way to Ohrid at the cost of 5800 MDK (95) €, 200 km driving distance (2.5hr)

A bus is a cheaper option (180 DMK one way) to get to the city from the airport. Click here for the bus timetable.

In The City

The old town of Skopje is compact most of the major attractions are easily accessible on foot without needing public transportation.
I was driving my rental car, and from my own experience, I found that having a car has some advantages. It is the easiest way to getting around a few out of town attractions and getting to a few day trip locations. The rental vehicle is available from Skopje International Airport.

Taxis are available in Skopje, and it’s a convenient way to go places difficult to reach or find parking, particularly in the old town. I found it exciting and saw may people enjoy riding a bicycle in Skopje. Ask your hotel usually; they also offer bicycle rental.

Skopje is small and compact, a great weekend getaway from Pristina, Kosovo, Sofia Bulgaria or from Lake Ohrid. There are so many things to do in Skopje such as exploring the old town, Old Bazaar and the millennium cross by cable car. Definitely need to plan a day trip to the Matka Canyon.

I was there for two days and found it more than enough to cover my interest. 

Macedonia has its own currency called Denar (MKD); the current exchange rate is US$ 1 = 55.48 MKD. ATMs are widely available, and I used my debit card to withdraw local currencies without any issue.

The shops in the historical Old Bazaar of Skopje closes early so plan accordingly.

Exploring the Skopje Bit Bazaar and climbing up to the historical Kale Fortress require quite a bit of walking, so having a tourist map handy will save you a few unnecessary hiking.

Best Things To Do in Skopje

In my opinion, Skopje may have been underrated and misinterpreted by many travelers, but to me, it’s a fascinating capital. In fact, every city has it’s own charm and uniqueness. It is definitely a beautiful weekend destination because not only for its historical heritage but also for a place to relax. There are quite a few excellent restaurants along the Vardar river also you will find a few traditional restaurants in Old Bazaar. As part of sightseeing here are a few activities you may consider doing during your trip.

First Stop – Visit Memorial House of Mother Teresa

The Memorial house of Mother Teresa is very close to Macedonia Square or from the hotel, I was staying. So I decided to start my day 13 from here. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, Macedonia. The Nobel Prize winner’s work has been recognized worldwide, to pay her respect, the memorial house of Mother Teresa is dedicated to her.

House of Mother Teresa
House of Mother Teresa

Next Stop Macedonia Square in City Center 

Macedonia Square is located in the city center by the Vardar River. It is a huge square, a meeting place for locals, and ideal for political and cultural activities. Most of the attractions are surrounding this place. The square is also famous for the enormous statue of Alexander the Great at the center of the square.

Macedonia Square - the main square of Skopje

Macedonia Gate

The iconic 69 feet (21 m) high Macedonia gate is located on Pella Square a short walk from Macedonia Square. There are a few souvenir shops there and the best thing is that you can take the stairs or elevator up to get to the roof from where you will have a beautiful view of the main square and the Vodno Mountain.

Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje, Macedonia

Old Bazaar of Skopje

It is one of the nicest place to visit in Skopje, soon you cross the stone bridge over the Vardar river you will see the cobblestone street leading to the bazaar. There are so many nice restaurants I was having hard time deciding which one to choose, but regardless they all serve delicious food. I did not buy anything from the bazaar but noticed there are all kind of interesting shops.

Old Bazaar of Skopje

Strolling through the Turkish Bazaar in the old quarter

It is worth to check out Old Bazaar that ranked the 2nd largest in Europe after Istanbul and experience the real Skopje. I enjoyed the evening and early morning walk through the narrow cobblestone street crowded with lots of shops on both sides. After dark, the bazaar comes to life with a completely different atmosphere and reminds the historical past.

Old Bazaar of Skopje
Old Bazaar of Skopje

Visit Ishak Bey Mosque

The Ishak Bey Mosque was built between 1438-39 by the Ottomans. It is located in the Bit Pazar (green market) at the northern entrance to the Old Bazaar.

Ishak Bey Mosque

Next Stop The Historical Kale Fortress

The next stop for today is the historic Skopje Fortress also locally know as Kale is located on a top of a hill next to the Vadar River. From the fortress wall, you can have a beautiful view of the city and the surrounds. I walked uphill from the Old Bazaar to get to the fortress entrance but people can also drive all the way up. Visiting this 6th-century fortress (believed to be) is one of my must-see recommendations while visiting Skopje.

Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje, Macedonia

Ride the Cable Car to Millennium Cross

Next, I drove up to the cable car station parking lot from where I accessed the cabal car to get to the top of the Vodno Mountain’s highest summit. It was raining when I visited this place so not able to get a clear view of the capital city of Skopje but I heard it looks beautiful on a clear day. I definitely believe that from a hight of 3497 feet (1066 feet) the view must be outstanding. I noticed the 217 feet Millennium Cross was fading away into the cloud and creating a beautiful view on a rainy day.

Cable Car to Millennium Cross, Skopje
Cable Car to Millennium Cross, Skopje

Day Trip to Matka Canyon

Matka Canyon is a great day trip location from Skopje, only 17 km from the city center. I drove there on holiday, so not much traffic on the way, and it took me only about 35 minutes. Actually, I didn’t expect the canyon will be that beautiful otherwise I would have planned an overnight stay at Matka Canyon hotel. A perfect place to escape the city for a peaceful natural environment. There are a lot of fun things to do there, like boat ride, exploring caves and waterfalls, swimming, hiking and try out delicious local food.

Matka Canyon, Macedonia
Matka Canyon, Macedonia

There are so many things to do in Matka Canyon that you can easily spend the whole day here. Boat ride through the canyon and to the cave is one of the big things usually visitors do. There are shared boat rental price is 400 Dinner.

It's Hard to Miss Statues in Skopje

Anywhere you go one of the things you will notice is the statues all over. Whether you like it or not, that’s how Skopje is, and the city is well known for it. I found them interesting and took quite a few photos for my record.

statues in Skopje
A lot of Statues on the street of Skopje

Where Did I Stay in Skopje, Macedonia

Late afternoon, just arrived here at the hotel after two hours of driving from Pristina, so I have the enter afternoon on my disposal. The Hotel is on the main street, and the hotel staff parked my car at a nearby parking garage.

Hotel Alexandar II, Skopje

I loved the location of this hotel and definitely the clean and spacious rooms with 3 single bed for a solo traveler. 

Hotel Alexander II, Skopje

A view of Hotel Alexander II, Skopje

Have Local Food in Old Bazaar

Snoshti Minav, Skopje, Macedonia

This restaurant is right at the center of the old bazaar, a great barbecue place for local flavor, plenty of indoor and outdoor sitting. I have tried local Lasko beer, shopska salad, kabab and sausages. 

My Opinion and Last Word

Have you been to Skopje, Macedonia? Any cool tips to share?

I loved being to this Fairy tail country and want to go back again. Hope my story have motivated you to visit. 

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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