Skopje Macedonia is well worth a visit even if it is just for a few days. I have stayed in Skopje city for one month and here is my list of the 15 Top things to do or see in Skopje.
15 Things to do in Skopje Macedonia
1. The Old Bazaar Skopje
The old Bazaar was probably my favourite place to visit in Skopje Macedonia. The Bazaar became as a place of importance for commerce, especially during the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The Bazaar still has a strong Turkish influence. I have seen many bazaars now in my life. Some are very touristy and tacky. Some can be overly aggressive. The bazaar in Skopje has a happy medium. Yes, there are tourists here but after 100s of years, it is still an important area for business in Skopje. Local people come here to buy and sell goods. I spent many a day here drinking Turkish coffee. There are also some great local restaurants here where you can get a good local dish very cheaply.
2. Šuto Orizari also known as Sutka Gypsy town Skopje
Ok, this is not on the tourist trail for almost all visitors to Skopje but I think it is worth a visit. The day I visited I did not see any other tourists.
Sutka is the only place in the world where Roma people have control over their local administration. They are over 80% of the population in this area of Skopje. Romani is the official language and you can see the flag of the Romani flying here. Romani people are 2.7% of the population of Macedonia and they also have people in the Macedonian parliament. There is also a very large market here selling almost everything. It is about 7km from the city centre. I took bus 19 from the street just before the bridge where the iconic Skopje central post office is which finishes in Sutka. I know you are thinking is if safe. On a Sunday I was there it was very busy and I felt as safe as anywhere in Skopje. Usual terms and conditions apply. Just don’t be stupid.
3. Canyon Matka Skopje
Just an hour on a local bus you will find the very beautiful Canyon Matka outside Skopje. You can walk around the artificial lake and visit some really cool churches. The area also has some interesting caves and you can take boat trips. Bus 60 goes from Skopje bus station but also passes near Macedonia Square.
4.The Stone Bridge Skopje Macedonia
The Stone Bridge over the Vardar river connects the main central area of Macedonia square with the Old Bazaar area of Skopje. The current stone bridge was built during the time of the Turkish Ottoman Empire by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. It has survived earthquakes and was almost blown up by Germans in 1944. It was also reconstructed in the mid-1990s.
5. Macedonia Square Skopje
I don’t know if I love or hate Macedonia Square. I love it because it is a nice place to hang out of an evening. The controversial statue of the warrior horseman is centre stage. Everyone knows it is Alexander the Great. The problem is he is from the Greek side of Ancient Macedonia. There are many spectacular looking buildings and an amazing amount of statues. There is ancient Macedonia feel about the place. The issue is if it is an issue most of it was built from 2010 to 2014. The Skopje 2014 project was to cost 80 million euro. To date close to 700 million has been spent. To say the locals are not happy would be an understatement.
If you’re a tourist and are not paying the 700 million euro in taxes it is a very pleasant place to visit. The square is impressive. There are many nice places to wine and dine also.
6. The Millenium Cross Skopje
The Cross was built to celebrate 2000 years of Christianity. It can be seen from all over the city especially at night when it is lit up.
I have seen better crosses and if it was just the cross it may not be worth seeing. There is a really cool cable car near that you can take to the Cross where the bus stops. It is just a couple of Euro for a return trip. If the day is clear you get a great view of Skopje. Next to the Cross is a cafe selling coffees and snacks. Bus 25 from the bus station goes to the cross and it is the last stop. It is considered a bus local fare. I enjoyed the overall visit.
7. Central Post office Skopje
Is this the best example of the Brutalist Soviet architecture ever or just pure ugly. It took almost 15 years to build the 3 sections. Just a few minutes away from Macedonia Square. It is worth seeing even if you are like me and thinks it is one ugly building. Others may disagree but they would be wrong.
8. Skopje Fortress
You get a great view of Skopje city from the fortress. Not very far from Macedonia square and not that a steep hill to get there. It could be a lot better on the inside and is not reaching its potential. It is still worth seeing.
9 The Church of Saint Dimitrij Skopje
When you are in Macedonia Square just cross over the Stone bridge and on the left side pop into this small church. Was rebuilt after the 1963 earthquake. Small on the outside but more impressive on the inside.
10. Take a local Skopje Bus
Skopje has no Metro or Trams but has an extensive bus service. The buses have that London bus look. It is extremely cheap. You cannot pay cash. You need to buy a bus card. You can buy these at the bus station which is about 2.5km from Macedonia square. There are also various places that also sell these cards. They could be more plentiful to be honest. Below is a picture of one that is on the road adjacent to the central post office before the bridge.
11 Statues in Skopje
How many statues are there in Skopje? I am sorry. I don’t know. I was only there for one month so I did not have time to count them all. The controversial project Skopje 2014 was a good time to be a statue artist or builder. If you were on good terms with the Government who were in the process of spending almost 700 million euro it got even better. For me, it is a bit overkill but you may like it.
12 walk wine and dine on the Skopje riverside walk.
Just around the corner from Macedonia square are numerous restaurants and bars. There are situated on the riverside. It is an enjoyable place to spend an evening during the good weather.
13 Visit bookstores on Skopje riverbank
Just pass the bridge where you pass the bars and restaurants after Macedonia square you will find some lovely quaint bookstores. Most are in Macedonian but I did see some English books also. Right next to the bookshops there are very basic places where you can have a beer of a something to eat. They don’t look great but the food there was the best I had in Skopje.
14 Mother Teresa Skopje
Mother Teresa was born in Skopje Macedonia. There are a few places of interest in the centre of Skopje relating to Mother Teresa.
15 Take a train from Skopje train station
Skopje is on the main train line from Belgrade in Serbia and into Greece. You can also take a local train to towns nearby for a couple of euro return.
Skopje is a nice city to visit. The people seem to be easy going and I found it extremely safe. There are some kids looking for money around the centre but in their defence, they are working kids if anything. They are trying to sell stuff rather than just asking for money and they are not aggressive in any way.
I would not say it is not a destination for a lads stag weekend or a gals hen weekend. It is more a relaxed city break and if you like history even better. Bars open until midnight midweek and 1 am during weekends. If you want to get out of the tourist area the Centar neighbourhood has some nice upmarket bars and restaurants and is just 15 minutes walk from Macedonia square. A lot of the locals socialise there.
I really had just one problem. In one place I broke one of my rules and left the guy tell me what he had rather the see the menu. I had asked for the menu. I knew I overpaid and I left the guy know I knew. It was not a big deal as it was 14 euro instead of what I knew was around 7. If someone is not keen to show you a menu when you ask for it there is usually a reason. My pride was hurt rather than the 7 euro as I pride myself on seeing scams. Skopje is very cheap if you are coming from Western Europe or the U.S. For cheapskates like myself it was a bit more expensive then my last destination Sofia Bulgaria.
Join me on my journey.
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