North Macedonia is a very young country with a long and controversial history. This land was a part of so many Empires and other countries that there is no straight answer to the question: “Who are these people that live in North Macedonia?” The country itself absorbed so many cultures and traditions that it became a very unique place. But there is still a question: “Is it worth it to go out of your way and visit North Macedonia”.
North Macedonia was never on my to-do list, and only due to some urgent business we ended up in North Macedonia for over two weeks. Of course, we flew to the capital of North Macedonia – Skopje and spent half our time there and half by Lake Ohrid.
If you have heard anything about Skopje, you probably know that it is called the European Disneyland. In 1963 the city of Skopje was ruined by a strong earthquake. Many buildings were destroyed including most of the historical sites. Little by little the city restored itself, but just after North Macedonia peacefully separated from Yugoslavia, the government decided to make the city more attractive for tourists. The government of North Macedonia spent millions on countless numbers of statues that you can see all over Skopje. They made a bronze monument to every famous person that even has a small connection to the land of North Macedonia.
Interesting fact: the people of Skopje hate all the statues. First they think it is tasteless and second, while the government of North Macedonia was creating all those bronze men, they stole way more money than they spent on the statues due to corruption.
As for me, I quite liked all those statues around Skopje. At first it seems too much, but then you grow into liking this European Disneyland. The city of Skopje is a crazy mix of old Ottoman buildings like the old bazaar or Turkish hammams, new beautiful buildings in baroque style with elements that remind you of ancient Greece, and brutalist comunist architecture.
But bizarre architecture is not the only thing that made me want to come back. Here are 7 other reason that made me like this place and want to come back:
Traditional food is very good. We mostly tried to eat at restaurants that serve traditional food and every time I was stuffing my face with all that deliciousness they cook in North Macedonia.
The prices are super cheap. And I really mean it, I am from Ukraine and even for me North Macedonia has become one of the cheapest places in Europe.
People are very nice and friendly. Most of the people we talked to spoke English and it made our travelling in North Macedonia super easy. Although, because my native languages are Ukrainian and Russian, travelling in North Macedonia wasn’t hard to begin with.
Travelling inside the country is pretty easy and super cheap. North Macedonia has a great bus system all over the country. Plus the country is so small that you don’t need to drive more than 4 – 5 hours to get to any place you need. Our bus ride from Skopje to Ohrid took just about 3,5 hours.
Although North Macedonia suffered greatly from a few earthquakes, there are still many historical sites, old monasteries and fortresses to see all over the country.
North Macedonia is a mountain country with extremely beautiful nature. Even next to Skopje you can find places like Matka canyon and Vrelo cave that would take your breath away.
I felt in love with Ohrid lake and Ohrid Old Town. Ohrid lake is the main resort spot in North Macedonia, and although we travelled to North Macedonia in the middle of winter, the time we spent on the lake, exploring Ohrid Old Town, was magical and super relaxing.
All of these things made me place North Macedonia in a “The best places to visit in Europe” list, and plan a new trip to this extremely underrated tourist destination. But this time I am coming in summer and hiking some of those tall mountains in a search for fantastic views.