• Currency – MKD (Dinar)
• 90 days Visa free for most visitors
• Buses main form of transport
A country of monasteries and mountains – intertwined with rivers and tobacco fields – Macedonia is an intriguing destination. The history and landscape, along with welcoming and hospitable people…make it an excellent stop on any tour of the Balkans. It’s a great place to meet other travellers who like to get off the beaten path, and the budget prices make it a good location to chill out for a while.
Shops and bakeries sell burek – a type of Balkan pie filled with cheese, spinach or meat. A large slice can be bought for under €1. Kebabs and gyros are less than €2 in most places, while supermarkets sell cheap fruit and veg for self catering. A good idea for a bargain meal is to visit a local kefeani (coffee shop). These sell coffee, alcohol and food at nice prices – a main meal and a drink can be had for less than €5.
Hostels are excellent value here, with a dorm bed costing around 7- 10 Euros per night (many including breakfast too). Private doubles and twins start from around €13 per person. The amount of accommodation is increasing and hotels and guesthouses are becoming more common ; A double room can be rented from €30 in a basic guesthouse.
All cities in Macedonia are compact and easily walkable. If a city bus is a necessity, the prices are low – expect to pay less than half a Euro for a journey in Skopje. For the longer trips, bus is the only really practical way to get around. A common tourist route is Skopje – Bitola – Ohrid or vice versa. The total cost of this would be under 13 Euros. There is a train connecting Skopje and Bitola but the condition is not great and it is very slow.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT
Macedonia’s capital and transport hub is slowly recovering from decades of Socialist rule and under-investment. Major redevelopment of the city is ongoing – the fruits of which can be seen around the river area, as buildings and bridges begin to transform the city. On first sight, Skopje can seem an unremarkable place but once you glimpse beyond this state of transition, it has some rewarding sights of its own.
Much different from Skopje, Bitola has more of a large town feel. The wide cafe-lined main street gives the city a laid back European atmosphere… making it a great place to kickback for a few days. Near to the border with Greece, Bitola has a National Park on its doorstep, and is a great base to explore the outdoors.
The World Heritage site of Ohrid is a main destination on any backpackers Macedonian tick list. Its abundance of churches, history, and spectacular views make it an attractive place to spend some time. With part of the lake being in Albania, many travellers use Ohrid as the transfer point between the two countries.
Go caving at the Matka Canyon – the Vrelo cave has a couple of underground lakes to see and there are a number of other caves to explore. The area around the Canyon is nice to hike and enjoy time in nature.
Horsetrekking in the Wild – A great way to see the beauty of Macedonia’s landscape. Spend time exploring the Mavrovo national park on horseback. Most hostels can arrange this too.
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