Skopje was one of my (many) cancelled trips in 2020 so I was grateful I had the chance to visit this year, bookending my trip to Serbia with a stay in Skopje. I didn’t have a lot of time and I was pretty tired by my 5th week of travel, so I didn’t make a huge effort to see more of North Macedonia. Everyone told me to visit Ohrid and how it was the best place in the country but it was simply too far away. Nevermind, it gives me an excuse to go back and with the Balkan countries so accessible to one another, you can easily add a stay here in!
Here are best Skope highlights.
- The Old Bazaar
I didn’t go to the old Bazaar until later on in my trip when my tour guide took me for some Salep (a traditional hot drink made with milk and orchid root) in Skopje’s old town. After this initial visit, I couldn’t stay away! It’s one of the most complex and oldest bazaars in Europe. I loved the atmosphere and the winding streets. If you want any souvenirs or shopping (think jewellery, artifacts, even wedding attire), then the Bazaar is the place to be. It’s a lively place with people grabbing a coffee and meeting friends, a great place to get lost in and my favourite place in Skopje.
2. Statue hunting
As part of a big “attract tourists” project in 2010, Skopje built many, many statues. There are literally hundreds around the city of famous Macedonian figures of history, art and literature. It certainly does spruce up the city and give you something to look at. You can try to count them all but you might give yourself a headache. My favourite ones were the Alexander the Great monument in the main square and the Art and History bridges which were lined with important faces.
3. Skopje city park
I was very lucky that the weather was just right during my week in Skopje. Sunny blue skies with just a hint of that Autumn cold. It was a great time to visit the city park, which you can get to by following the path along the river. The park is huge and many people were there enjoying the sun or having a coffee with friends. Inside the park, you can also find a Dinosaur park (yes I have a habit of finding these wherever I go) and a zoo.
4. Skopje Fortress
One of the most prominent attractions in Skopje is the fortress. It gives you panoramic views of the city and it’s free to enter. There’s not much to it but to take a walk around the walls but it’s a good way to see the city from above. You can head there from the Bazaar and also visit a beautiful Mosque which is just across the road.
5. Macedonia Square, Skopje
Although there isn’t technically anything to do in this square, I still had to include it on the list. It was one of my favourite parts of the city- a huge, bright square with one of Skopje’s biggest statues- Alexander the Great. It also has a big TV screen playing which give it a sort of mini Times Square feel. The square gave me the bigger city vibe and is a natural meeting point in Skopje.
I wasn’t too sure how I felt about Skopje at first and I think my tiredness from the longer trip definitely affected my enthusiasm in the last week. Looking back, I did really enjoy my stay in Skopje and North Macedonia in general. The people were friendly, visiting the city was affordable and my apartment had incredible views that really made my stay memorable. I would definitely go back to North Macedonia to visit some other places and would recommend adding Skopje as a stop on your Balkan tour.