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Macedonia's capital, Skopje, is a diverse city where you can explore a mix of history and modern culture. Go for a stroll around its bustling streets to see the city's Ottoman heritage everywhere in huge domes and towering minarets. It's also famed for its cultural events and well-preserved bazaars. At sunset, join the locals and wander down to the city beach for a drink or two.
Stay in a hostel in Skopje with an artistic common room with a tank full of colourful fish, a piano and a cosy fireplace. You'll find hot tubs in a couple of the bathrooms here as well. There's also a peaceful Skopje hostel with a leafy outdoor terrace for your morning coffee if you're looking for a more mellow vibe. Most Skopje hostels put on a free breakfast and have a kitchen space, leaving you with more cash for treats like börek (traditional flaky pastries).
Skopje's vibrant neighbourhoods include the old town, Čaršija. Its meandering streets are home to craft shops, museums and, come the evening, buzzing nightlife spots. To snap a selfie beside the massive statue of Alexander the Great, head to Ploštad Makedonija (Macedonia Square), where a lot of the city's walking tours begin. It's also worth making a trip to Mount Vodno, a few miles away. Here you'll discover a preserved 12th-century monastery with original frescos.
At Skopje Fortress, also known as Kale Fortress, you'll see the atmospheric ruins of a 6th-century tower. Walk to the top of the fortress for panoramic views. This is just one of the many things to do in the city: for a culture fix, visit the National Gallery of Macedonia. It's not only about celebrating classic art: it's also set in an incredible building that was once the largest Turkish Baths in the Balkans. For a spot of relaxation, about 20km from Skopje you'll find the Katlanovo thermal spa. You can take a refreshing dip in its pools filled with waters from nearby hot mineral springs.
Skopje International Airport is around 21km from the city centre. You can get there on the express shuttle that runs between the airport and the city. By train from Belgrade, it's about 10 hours and six to eight hours by bus. Transportation Centre Skopje contains the city's main bus and train stations and is about a 15-minute walk from Macedonia Square. Once settled, you can use the public bus system to navigate the city.