Top 7 Reasons to Visit North Macedonia on Your Next Vacation

Although the Republic of North Macedonia is so small, you could probably tour the entire country in three to five hours. However, when you Visit North Macedonia, you will find out that this small country contains wonders on every corner.

You may have many questions; Is North Macedonia an excellent place to visit? Why visit North Macedonia? How can you enjoy your vacation? What fun spots are there to enjoy? All these questions we have provided answers to in this article.

About North Macedonia

North Macedonia is a small country in Europe and Southeastern Europe. It shares borders with other countries in the Balkan region like Serbia, GreeceBulgariaKosovo, and Albania. Their official languages are Macedonian and Albanian. Other regional languages include; Romani, Bosnian, Turkish, Serbian, and Aromanian. With a population of 1.83 million people and a land mass of 25,713 sq km (9,928 sq mi), North Macedonia is one of Europe’s smallest countries.

Besides all else, North Macedonia has a vibrant history. Christians would be familiar with the name, seeing how it is mentioned a few times in the bible. It is also one of the places where Christianity thrived in its earliest stages. As a result, this country has much to explore, especially for tourists looking for a budget-friendly vacation.

7 Reasons You Should Visit North Macedonia

There are lots of reasons to visit North Macedonia today. From astonishing landscapes to important historical sites, there is so much you can learn from a few days or weeks of traveling the country. However, let us limit ourselves to seven (7) reasons.

#1. Budget Tourism

Everyone deserves a vacation, regardless of their financial status. So, where you don’t have the financial capability to visit Madrid or Paris, North Macedonia offers the much-needed change of environment at lower prices. The Balkan region, particularly, has a reputation for low standards of living compared to most European countries.

Don’t be surprised to get a decent hotel room for around 25 – 30 EUR per night. The most expensive city in North Macedonia is Skopje, which is still relatively cheap by your standards.

#2. Do You Like Gypsies?

If you’re European, you’ve most likely heard of Gypsies. If you’re not, there’s a chance you heard of them while watching BBC’s “Peaky Blinders”. This Romani-speaking tribe is one of the most discriminated against minorities in Europe. However, in North Macedonia, Gypsies are a well-accepted tribe; they even have their region and government.

Suppose you want to explore the Gypsy culture. In that case, you should probably start planning to visit North Macedonia sometime in the future.

#3. Poetry

You might not know this, but North Macedonia is big on poetry. The country hosts a significant yearly poetry event called the “Struga Poetry Evenings”. Poets deliver breathtaking performances, and the best performer is awarded the Golden Wreath trophy. So, if you’re a lover of poetry, that’s another reason to plan toward the season and visit North Macedonia.

#4. Beautiful Landscapes

North Macedonia has Europe’s fourth highest average elevation; 741 meters (2431 ft). Despite being a small country, they have over 30 mountains higher than 2000 meters (6562 ft). These mountains provide an incredible eagle-eye view of the landscape, making you want to sit there and keep staring.

One of the mountains in North Macedonia is one of the earth’s earliest space observatories.

#5. Rich History

As we’ve already said, North Macedonia is rich in its history. Some of its most significant eras have been the time of Alexander the Great (when it was called Paeonia), the Roman Empire (when it was called Second Macedonia), and early Christianity. When you visit North Macedonia, there are signs of this history to see if you know where to look.

#6. Great Climate

One of the best things about North Macedonia is that it doesn’t experience extreme climate conditions. Summers and Autumns are warm but not burning hot, while winters are cold but not stone-cold. They get a fair amount of what each season brings.

#7. Incredible Dishes

If none of the other things mentioned could convince you to visit North Macedonia, perhaps the cuisine will. Being a multi-cultural society, their food combines the best of many worlds into several sumptuous meals. The shopska, burek, Skara, ajvar, skarmi, etc., are some of the popular dishes you will find there. Some of these dishes you can find in other Balkan states. However, others are a blend of Turkish spices or recipes and Balkan cuisines. You’ll be longing for more.

Places to Visit in North Macedonia

North Macedonia is generally a beautiful country. However, there are specific experiences you’ll want to take home with you. If you spend only a short time there, you can only visit so many places. So, here are some of the most breathtaking places to visit in North Macedonia.

The City of Skopje

Skopje is the Capital city of North Macedonia; over a quarter of the country’s citizens live there. The city is full of wonders and contrasts; beautiful buildings and tarred grounds in one street, muddy streets and broken buildings in the next. It welcomes people of every class and culture in the country. Here, you can visit Macedonia Square with its many sculptures, the St. Clement’s Church in Ohrid and marvel at its architecture, or go for a meal at a Caravanserai.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid is Europe’s oldest lake, estimated to be over four million years old. It is also 300 meters deep; thus, it is one of the deepest lakes in Europe. However, it is long enough to span cities, from Ohrid to Struga. Along the shores of this lake, you can find several beaches to sunbathe and get sand between your toes. It is a truly relaxing experience.

Many churches and monasteries also have a good view overlooking the beautiful lake. Centuries ago, there used to be more, but the coming of the Ottomans reduced their number drastically. Nevertheless, the Ohrid Lake is so phenomenal that UNESCO declared it a world heritage site.

The Three Western Monasteries

The three western monasteries here refer to; the Monastery of St. Bogorodica Prechista (Kichevo), St. Jovan Bigorski Monastery (Gostivar), and St. Jovan Bigorski Monastery (Debar); all located in the Western part of North Macedonia. Rumor has it that these three ancient monasteries contain pieces of wood from the cross Jesus Christ was crucified. It is said that those pieces are in the churches’ foundations, although such is yet unconfirmed.

Even if you are not intrigued by religious lore, the very ancient architecture of these buildings is a beauty to behold.

The National Parks

North Macedonia has four national parks; the biggest of them is the Mavroro national park which is up to three times the size of any other one. It has hundreds of wildlife species living in it; a canyon, a rainforest, beautiful ski slopes during the winter, hiking courses, etc. It’s a fantastic place to go camping when you visit North Macedonia.

The other three parks are Galicia, Pelister, and Sar Mountains. The Sar mountains park spans the Kosovo border and serves as a landmark.

Snake Island

Despite being landlocked, North Macedonia has an island of its own. The island’s name is Golem Grad, but it is more popular as “Snake Island.” It is located in the Galicia national park and is inhabited by snakes, hence the name.

If you happen to stop by the park and think you have the heart for it, you can visit Snake Island, the North Macedonia version.

How to Move Around When You Visit North Macedonia

When you visit North Macedonia, you don’t intend to sit home all day until you become furniture. Since you’ll be moving around a bit, here’s how you get by;

  • Bus: Bus transit is the most popular way to get around North Macedonia. Locals use it for intercity transit. On some days, the bus crowds could be unbearable at the stations. However, you can beat this by going to the nearest bus station and getting a ticket the day before.
  • Taxi: While locals prefer buses, most tourists in Skopje and other cities choose to use taxis. Besides being comfortable, they also allow price bargaining. You can ask a local what could be considered a reasonable rate, so you don’t get tricked. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive around, but you’d be better off with someone more familiar with the roads.
  • Train: Trains are a cheaper, more comfortable, slower alternative to North Macedonia bus transit.

North Macedonia Travel Checklist

Traveling to North Macedonia? Here’s a list of things you should get or confirm that you have as part of your preparation;

  • North Macedonia visa unless you’re an EU citizen or Schengen visa holder.
  • Travel Health Insurance, no matter your nationality.
  • Settled accommodation; a hotel booking, Airbnb, or a willing host.
  • Enough money in your bank to cover the days you intend to stay; you need an average of 60 EUR per day.

Frequently Asked Questions

#1. When is the best time to visit North Macedonia?

North Macedonia is bliss, no matter the time of the year; however, most tourists prefer to visit during spring (April/May) or summer (August/September). This is because the weather tends to be friendliest during these times.

#2. Is North Macedonia the same as Macedonia?

No, it is not. Macedonia is a city in Greece, while North Macedonia is one of the successor states of Yugoslavia. It was formerly known as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (FYROM) or Macedonia. However, due to the conflict of names with the Greek city, the country changed its name to North Macedonia.

#3. Is North Macedonia open to tourists?

Yes, it is. Tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the North Macedonian economy. Apply for the North Macedonia tourist visa to visit the country as a tourist.

#4. Are they any sensitive topics to avoid when I visit North Macedonia?

Yes, there are. The most sensitive topics in North Macedonia involve political relations with Greece. They have a rough history, and you should try to steer clear of such conversations as a foreigner. If you cannot avoid it, do more listening than speaking.

#5. Is North Macedonia a safe country?

Yes, it is. North Macedonia is not currently in any war or terrorist situation. You shouldn’t experience more crime than you will in the next country. Keep your valuables safe, and watch out for pickpockets and street swindlers.

Conclusion

North Macedonia is amazing to visit; even better, you don’t have to break the bank for it. So come visit, take a cup of coffee, move around town, enjoy incredible views, and meet different cultures in a day’s work.

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