Why Macedonia will be your next backpacking crush

Why Macedonia will be your next backpacking crush

If you’re already reading this, my guess is you’re the kind of traveller who would rather go to unknown or off-the-beaten-path places. In that case, Macedonia has to be your next backpacking crush! Not only does the country’s flag look like a Kingdom from GOT, the food is unbelievably delicious and cheap, and Ohrid, one of the country’s precious little gems, is a Natural World Heritage Site. Most importantly, Macedonia has remained relatively unspoiled by mass tourism. If you’re looking for inspiration, then keep reading for a list of essential things to do in Macedonia. You’ll be packing your bags to visit this beautiful Balkan country before you know it! You can thank me later 😉

Things to Do in Macedonia: Memorial House of Mother Teresa

?@mf_photographies at the Memorial House of Mother Theresa

Visit the Macedonian capital, Skopje

If you’ve done any research on the best things to do in Macedonia, you might already have heard about Skopje’s weird relationship with statues. I promise you, you will never see any other city with as many monuments as the Macedonian capital. But Skopje is more than just a bizarre collection of statues. From Kale Fortress to the Memorial House of Mother Theresa, the Museum of Macedonia to the Millennium Cross (below), Skopje stands as one of the most diverse cities in the Balkans. Make sure you end your day at one of the cool bars near the main square. My personal favourite is Menada, which offers up great music, delicious food, excellent atmosphere, and unbeatable prices.

Hostels nearby:  the city centre and the cosiest atmosphere: Shanti Hostel and Get Inn Skopje


? @belladore & @nadicakocevska

Have a stroll at Skopje’s Old Bazaar

Full of antiques spread across little streets and secret passages, I kid you not, Skopje Old Bazaar must be one of the best bazaars in the Balkans! It’s located on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, and only a short walk away from the main square. You’ll be transported back in time with the surrounding Ottoman architecture, traditional craft shops, museums and historical monuments such as churches and mosques. There’s a true local vibe, as recalled by backpacker @yorzic: “I wondered in to a shop that was owned by a gypsy entrepreneur who tried selling me a coat but ended up serving me his baklava with Turkish tea.”

If you are a foodie (of course you are, who isn’t?!), grab a bite in any of restaurants along the main streets of the bazaar and if you’re keen to experience the best Kebabs in town on your trip, you must definitely do so at the Bazaar.

Things to Do in Macedonia: Skopje Old BazaarThings to Do in Macedonia: Skopje Old Bazaar

? @dasfichen, @yorzic & @portugam 

Hike in and around Matka Canyon

There are plenty of things to do in Skopje, but it’s well worth making the time to a visit Matka Canyon as well.  The great thing about this beautiful nature spot is that it doesn’t matter if you’re a hiking enthusiast or just someone who loves a breath-taking view. You can either walk all the way up to the caves or take a boat trip, or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, rent a kayak and row inside the caves!

You’ll probably be thirsty after all those walks and adventures, so treat yourself in one of the cafés facing the lake. Good wine, tasty food, and mind blowing views, what else do you need?

Things to Do in Macedonia: Matka Canyon

arbnoramaksuti & @jeffsantosbr 

Spend some days in Ohrid

Picture yourself facing a peaceful lake surrounded by mountains, with clear water where swans swim freely. Ohrid is all that and more! You’ll find nature, nightclubs, cafés serving traditional Macedonian food and 365 churches…one per each day of the year the locals say! And if that’s is not enough to tempt you, my dear wanderluster, you should know Ohrid has one of the most beautiful fortresses of the whole country. I’m talking about Samuil Fortress and the stunning views it provides (below).

If you’re coming from Ohrid airport, it only takes 10 minutes to reach the city centre by car. Be careful and do not accept any taxi rides for more than €7. City Hostel Ohrid and SunnyLakeHostel are the perfect hostels for location, atmosphere and warm Macedonian hospitality!

Things to Do in Macedonia: Samuil Fortress


Take a day trip to Bitola

The country’s oldest city is small but full of cultural heritage, and Bitola is a must do for your Macedonian adventure. This little city surrounded by mountains is only a 3 hour bus ride from Skopje and buses leave every hour from 9am – 8pm, costing just 10 euros. A walk along Širok Sokak, the city’s pedestrian street, should be enough to provide you with a perfect insight into Macedonia’s most European-looking city. And don’t dare leave this place without sampling at least one of the huge amount of coffee shops!

If you’d prefer getting lost in the woods, then take yourself up Baba Mountain for a top quality hiking.

Things to Do in Macedonia: Day Trip to Bitola and Baba Mountain

? @jcs_ph

Feast on traditional Macedonian food

There are a lot of reasons for travelling around the world and food is in my top five, especially if you are visiting the Balkan area! You’re spoilt for cheap places to eat in Macedonia, so here are some traditional dishes that you can’t leave the country without trying….

Start the day with a traditional Macedonian breakfast: fresh tomato, cucumber, hot homemade bread, feta cheese and Macedonian coffee. Healthy AND delicious, right?! You must also treat yourself with burek, a tasty pastry filled with cheese, spinach and potato/mince meat which can be found in almost all restaurants and it’s very cheap. If you have the chance to make some local friends they will definitely cook burek.  Trust me, you will return home and dream about it, wishing you’d learnt how to cook it!

Things to Do in Macedonia: Eat Traditional Macedonian Food

?  @taysejane & @delikacies

Veggies can’t go wrong with a Shopska Salad, with melt-in-your-mouth feta cheese crumbled on top! Pindjur is a spicy relish mix of tomatoes and paprika, enjoyed with cheese on the side and sometimes extra cooked with eggs. Baklava is a dietry staple in Macedonia, and is best served with a glass of Turkish Tea 🙂

Macedonian Food: Shopska Salad and PindjurMacedonian Food: Turkish Tea and Baklava

? @irena.stojanovikj@renabilgin & @arcticartur

One of the best things to do in Macedonia is get to know the locals with a shot of Rakija. Macedonians know how to party, and it doesn’t matter what time it is or even what day of the week, and I learnt that there’s always a good time for shot of Rakija. Take yourself to the first bar you come across and ask for a shot of this traditional Balkan drink. Na zdravye!

Bottle of Rakija and two shot glasses

? @regina_ji

About the author: Angie is a working traveller from Argentina and author of her own blog, Titin Around the World. In 2012 she dropped everything and went to New Zealand on a working VISA, and had the revelation that travelling was her way of life and recording everything on her blog was her passion. She now writes to inspire and motivate everyone to travel! 

Have you been to this hidden Balkan treasure? What do you think are some of the best things to do in Macedonia? We’d love to know, so let us know in the comments section below.

Share The World!

About The Author

Danielle Saunders

Get inspired

16 Responses to “Why Macedonia will be your next backpacking crush”

  1. I had no idea they have shopska salad in Macedonia! I had it in Bulgaria and absolutely loved it. It’s a bit like a Greek feta salad but softer. I had it multiple times in the course of a week 😀

  2. Macedonia is somewhere that I really want to visit, as well as visiting the Balkans in general!

    The pictures make we want to visit the country even more! It looks amazing! I’ve heard about Ohrid before, but I didn’t realise just how beautiful is! I could stare at the view for hours!

    The food looks great as well, I assume it’s quite cheap to travel in Macedonia? Is it easy to get around as well, or is that a bit of a challenge? You’ve definitely inspired me to check this place out!

  3. I think its more usual to have Baklava with Turkish coffee… Also on behalf of my hardworking Macedonian friends who depend greatly on tourism – tipping 10% for good (cheap) services is really very much appreciated, and might even lead to extra rakia or home-made wine. Spread the positive karma 😉

  4. I want to remind you that Macedonia isn’t the recognised name of this country. Republic of Macedonia should be more suitable. Macedonia is an area in Greece.

  5. I thoroughly recommend Macedonia having been there a couple of times. I’d recommend starting in Skopje then heading on to Bitola. I’d definitely stay overnight in Bitola to take in the sights but also the amazingly friendly vibe in the centre in the evening and at night. From there you can continue onto Ohrid which is breath taking. The country is one of the friendliest I’ve been to and I’ve spent quite a lot of time on my travels in the Balkans and the whole region is great. One alternative is on arrival at Skopje you can take a bus or coach into Kosovo for a couple of days in Pristina and then head back to start your Macedonian trip.

  6. I spent 4 days there (Skopje, Matka, Bitola) with old friends from Bitola. Very beautiful places and amazing people. My friends used to party all days so it was so much fun. Hi from Mexico.

  7. My summer plan leads from Rome to Albania across the Balkans to Athens. This post will get me looking for airfare right away.

  8. Glad to see Macedonia getting some attention, it was truly and amazing place to travel and offered tons of diversity.

  9. Thanks for the additional insight into Macedonia! Aside from Skopje and Lake Ohrid, you really don’t hear or read much about this little known Balkan country. Being surrounded by the likes of Greece, Albania, Montenegro and Bulgaria really takes the spotlight away from this hidden gem.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five + seven =

Hostelworld Mobile Apps

Book on the go with the new Hostelworld mobile apps.

Download on App Store Download on Play Store

Search and book more than 33,000 properties in over 170 countries, from anywhere.