Situated in the Balkan Peninsula in southeast Europe, North Macedonia is a wonderful mix of history, nature and culture. With Greek, Roman and Ottoman historic sites, and dazzling lakes, rivers and mountains, you’re in for a real treat in one of Europe’s most offbeat destinations.
North Macedonia’s capital Skopje is not only the country’s political centre, but also the heart of its cultural, economic, and academic sectors. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities of Europe, and its Ottoman and Byzantine era sites are a delight to behold. The old town of Skopje (also known as Čaršija) is the best place in the city to witness its historic Ottoman structures including mosques, museums and handicrafts shops and also experience its great nightlife. The bordered 15th-century stone bridge and the 5th-century Tvrdina Kale Fortress are the most iconic landmarks of the capital. Sveti Spas Church (also known as Church of the Ascension of Jesus) is another must-visit historic site in Skopje. This 14th-century church is partially submerged underground as it was against the rules of the Ottomans to build a church taller than a mosque.
From Skopje, you can head out to Mavrovo National Park, which is about 100km away from the city centre. The park is home to Mount Korab, the country’s highest peak and comprises beautiful gorges, dense pine forests and cascading waterfalls. Along with standard hiking and wildlife-watching, the park also houses a ski resort, which is the biggest in the country.
North Macedonia’s second-largest city Bitola is located in the southern region of the country. Known for its historic buildings and ruins like Heraclea Lyncestis, Bitola makes a great base for exploring the country’s oldest Pelister National Park. The park revolves around North Macedonia’s third-tallest mountain range Baba massif and offers excellent wildlife-watching and hiking opportunities. From Bitola, you can visit the 13th-century Treskavec Monastery which rises from Mount Zlato and houses colourful frescos and Ohrid, one of North Macedonia’s most fascinating cities. Ohrid is located in southwestern North Macedonia, near the border of Albania. The city sits on the edge of Lake Ohrid and is packed with historical monuments and lakeside restaurants and cafes. The historic Samoil’s Fortress which stands guard over the town and lake, and the St. John the Theologian church set on the lake’s shore are the most important landmarks.
Often overlooked by travellers in favour of other well known countries, North Macedonia is one of Europe’s best offbeat destinations. Its immense historical wealth, numerous religious landmarks, lovely natural landscapes and diverse cultural influences are bound to surprise all kinds of visitors and is especially a paradise for history buffs.
Lake Ohrid is one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes and lures visitors with its breathtaking natural setting.