The Macedonian city with a relaxed, laid back vibe, Bitola is a pleasure to visit. Old but elegant buildings overlook the cafes that line the wide main street, while green spaces at both ends of the town add to its charm. Like most of the country, Bitola’s history gives it a mix of Turkish and European culture but everything feels more natural here. There is enough to see to fill a couple of days, but more than anything, if your looking for some downtime in Macedonia… and a place to people watch and relax, then Bitola is a great location to visit.
There’s a modern supermarket on the main street which makes a good place to grab food supplies and great value drinks. Coffee shops and fast food stalls are also in the area. Expect to pay under €2 for a quick street meal.
Bitola is compact and easily walkable, so there is little need to use transport – although buses go to nearby villages and cities if you want to adventure further. The bus and train station are located along the same street, near to the park. Buses are generally the better option to get around as the train system is old and slow. Check the travel planner for details of budget European transport.
• Wander Sirok Sokak – the long, pedestrianised main street is the hub of all things Bitola. Shops and cafes stretch the entire length, until its end at the foot of the city clock tower. The locals hang out here and spend the day drinking coffee and chatting. Prices and the atmosphere are good.
• Relax in the Park – between the bus station and Sirok Sokak is a large park to chill out in. It’s a nice place to read a book or just sit and watch the Balkan squirrels go about their daily routine.
• Explore the Bazaar – Not far from the old Ottoman clock tower is an outdoor bazaar selling all kinds of different items. Nearby, there is an indoor shopping centre with clothes and shoes for sale at decent prices. Mosques from Ottoman times are also in this area.
• Go hiking – Pelister National Park is right on Bitola’s doorstep. A bus ride will take you to one of the mountains villages to begin your walk. It has masses of wildlife and some stunning scenery. For those wanting to stay overnight, there is a mountain hut on Pelister itself. Contact details here.
• Visit Roman Heradea – A twenty minute walk from the centre of Bitola brings you to Heradea, a former Roman city with ruins still visible. It is not the best preserved site in the world, but still makes an interesting visit. There’s an amphitheatre, mosaics, and a cheap entry fee.
• Walk to the Treskavec Monastery – Take a bus ride to Prilep and then hike to this centuries old monastery, built on the slopes of a mountain. Treskavec has a great sense of solitude and a fantastic location. Until recently, it was possible to stay here overnight but a fire has damaged the accommodation section. Luckily the church was unharmed.
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