26 Unique Things to do in Macedonia
*The name of the country was recently changed from Macedonia to North Macedonia. However for people to find my articles on the country I will refer to it as both Macedonia and North Macedonia for the time being. There are many political and strong opinions about the name change so I just want to note that any negative or political comments will be deleted.
The small but gorgeous country of Macedonia is a land of natural and inexplicably beautiful attractions like rivers, mountains, waterfalls, wild animals, and more. It also has an innumerable amount of archaeological sites and museums for tourists who seek a dive into European history. If you are planning a trip to country, here are twenty-six things to do in Macedonia!
26 Unique Things to do in Macedonia
1. Visit Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site that can be found in the mountains situated between Albania and Macedonia.
Its UNESCO status is due to the fact that it is arguably Europe’s oldest and deepest lake. There are many beautiful structures that have been built up around it and it is a popular spot for boating and diving. Take a tour to get the most out of the city!
2. Catch a Performance at the Ancient Theatre
The theatre has great Hellenistic roots and the Ancient Theatre of Ohrid is the only theatre in Macedonia that still exists from its Hellenistic age.
Not much is known about it as it has crumbled over the centuries. However, it is known to have been a central place of entertainment in Ohrid.
It was used for gladiator fights and Christian executions and is now used for dance, concerts, and other performances.
3. Visit the Bay of Bones
If you are able to catch a performance at the Ancient Theatre and have time to spare, then another historical attraction awaits at the Bay of Bones. The Bay of Bones is a floating archaeological complex found along the Ohrid coast, at the excavation site of Ploca Micov Kamen.
The complex is a deliberate and accurate reconstruction of the prehistoric settlement that was once there and is one of the most popular historical places to visit in Macedonia.
4. Take an Easy Walk Through Peshna Cave
Peshna Cave is a very secluded and relatively unknown cave situated about 7km of Makedonski Brod town. A Macedonian cultural monument, the entrance to the cave is the largest in the Balkans.
The complex inside the cave has been typified to the caves in the Lord of the Rings and right in character, there is a Middle-Ages fortress at the entrance to the cave. The cave is large and well maintained. It is also very easy to walk through in the daytime.
5. Go to the Contemporary Art Museum of Macedonia
In the capital city of Skopje sits one Macedonia’s largest and most comprehensive national institutions – the Contemporary Art Museum of Macedonia. The building was constructed in a classical “fortress on a hill” style. It holds artwork by local and international artists and focuses on art that was created between 1950 – 1980.
Some of the artists that have been displayed at the Museum include Emilio Vedova, Hans Hartung, Pablo Picasso, and Alberto Burri.
6. Visit the Macedonian Saint-Tropez
Trpejca is a former fishing village on Lake Ohrid which has turned into a destination town due to the influx of tourists that have discovered the beauties of what is commonly referred to as the Macedonian Saint-Tropez.
This glorious little town has a lot of small but comfortable hotels and tourists can get up to a variety of fun activities like swimming, diving, boating, and some simple beach relaxation.
7. Relax at Dojran Lake
Lake Dojran is the smallest of the three largest lakes in Macedonia. It is situated on the border that separates Macedonia from Greece and regularly attracts tourists visiting both countries.
The Lake is deeply steeped in folklore and mythology and many locals are often glad to share intriguing tales about how the Lake came to being. The mud at the lake is also said to be therapeutic and there are spas located on the Lake that offer professional services.
8. Visit Skopje Fortress
Skopje Fortress is located at the city’s highest point, on a hill overlooking the Vardar River. Although it is known to have been built in the middle of the 6th century and then reconstructed during the 10th and 11th centuries, not much else is known about it.
This is why even though it is open to the public for exploration it is sometimes closed to allow for further academic research.
9. Visit the Ancient Heraclea Lyncestis
Of all the cities built during the age of the Macedonian Empire, the only one that still survives with a reasonable level of preservation is Heraclea Lyncestis. A true reflection of what ancient Macedonia was like, tourists come to this ancient city to marvel at the mosaics, the baths, and all the other artefacts that carry that classical Roman design.
Heraclea Lycestis also hosts a small museum that preserves artefacts recovered in excavations of the city.
10. Check Out the Kokino Observatory
The Kokino Observatory is an ancient archaeological site that is believed to have existed in the Bronze Age and to have been used for scientific and ritualistic purposes. Its ruins were recently discovered between the Serbian border and Kokino town at a seaside spot 3300 feet.
The observatory is an arrangement of multiple giant stones in mysterious but interesting patterns, similar to those of Angkor Wat, Abu Simbel, and Stonehenge.
11. Go See the Kuklica Rock Formation
Kuklica is an astounding formation of 120 gigantic stones standing end to end for about 74 acres. Many myths surround the existence of this formation.
Some claim they are the wedding guests of a man who was cursed by a woman after attempting to marry her and someone else simultaneously, while others believe it is simply the result of erosion and unevenly sized volcanic rocks.
Regardless, the site is held in high regard, although it can be difficult to find.
12. Explore Matka Canyon
Located near the capital city of Skopje, Matka Canyon is a fantastic destination for those who wish to visit Macedonia for its enthralling landscape, natural and artificial wonders, as its old religious structures.
The oldest artificial lake in Macedonia can be found in Matka Canyon as well as ten deep caves, some of which are available to the public for exploration.
The Canyon is a popular spot for hiking and climbing and also for water activities like fishing and swimming in the Treska River below.
13. Go See The Mechkin Kamen Monument
The Mechkin Kamen Monument is a memorial that was constructed in 1973 to honor the Ilinden Uprising. A space-age styled monument, it is made to look like a white sphere, with skylights made of stained glass surrounding its surface.
Not many people really understand what the artist was trying to communicate, but it has come to be seen as a beacon of hope and freedom for the people of Macedonia.
14. Visit The Memorial House of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa is a humanitarian figure of legend who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her life-changing work. She also happens to have been born and baptized in Skopje, Macedonia.
In Skopje, a memorial house was constructed in her honor at the former church where she was baptized. The house hosts a museum that has several documents relating to Mother Teresa as well as sculptures of her along with family members.
15. Explore Mavrovo National Park
Mavrovo National Park was opened in 1949 and is the largest of Northern Macedonia’s three national parks.
While it is not as popular as other places in Macedonia, visitors to the park always have things to do such as a climb up Mount Korab, skiing at Zare Ski Resort, or going on a culinary exploration of Janče and Galičnik, the twin villages located inside the National Park.
16. Visit the Museum of Bitola
The Museum of Bitola was created in the 1980s and housed in a building with its own historical value. It had, first of all, served as a military academy and high-school that trained many great military leaders, including Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the progenitor of modern-day Turkey.
The Museum of Bitola houses historical pieces from the entire Bitola area, from different time periods and along with different themes.
17. Learn about Skopje at the City’s Museum
The capital city of Skopje has a long-standing history, with settlers known to have reached the land around 3000 BC. Much of the city’s history is properly preserved at the Museum of the City of Skopje and even the building it is housed in is of significant historical import.
A variety of exhibits are housed at the city’s museum and it holds other pieces apart from historical ones.
18. Visit the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle
If you are intrigued by history and are wondering where to go in Macedonia, you can take the time to learn about the different sufferings the country has had to go through by visiting the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Statehood and Independence.
It is a part of a three-part museum which is owned and run by the Macedonian government. The museum tells the story of Macedonia and their contention against the Ottomans to secure their freedom.
19. Shop at the Old Bazaar
The Old Bazaar of Skopje is situated on the banks of River Vardar. The bazaar has existed since before the 12th century and is one of the oldest and biggest markets in Macedonia.
It is built in a style that blends Byzantine and Ottoman architecture flawlessly and holds scores of shops, mosques, and churches, as well as the Museum of Modern art and the Museum of Macedonia.
20. Explore Pelister National Park
Located in the massif known as Baba Mountain, Pelister National Park is a nature lover’s haven. Filled with multiple species of flora and fauna, visitors come to the park to find rare plant species or to observe animals like deer, falcons, bears, wild boars, and eagles in their natural habitat.
The oldest of Macedonia’s national parks, Pelister National Park is popular among tourists looking for what to do in Macedonia.
21. Take a Tour of Golem Grad
If you are exploring Lake Prespa, you might want to give some attention to Golem Grad, otherwise known as “the Snake Island”. Accessible via boat, the island is a protected home of extremely rare plants and is regularly visited by botanists and other researchers.
Golem Grad also holds nine archeological sites, some of which are temples and homes dating as far back as 1000 years ago.
22. Visit the Roman Baths in Bansko
The village of Bansko is responsible for feeding water to one of the largest hot water springs in the country. The Bansko Springs is located near the base of Mont Belasitza, about 12km from Strumica Town.
During the 2nd century, the Romans who were occupying Macedonia built baths on the site to cater to all types of people. Those baths were excellently preserved and are still used to this day.
23. Go to the Sarai Ahmet Niyazi
Constructed during the era of the Young Turk Revolution, the Sarai Ahmet Niyazi represents the very best in Macedonian neoclassical architecture.
It is said to have been built for and by Niyazi Bey, the inglorious Ottoman overlord. He lived in the building, but after his death, it was converted to a museum.
24. Chase the Smolare Waterfall
Those who chase waterfalls will be pleased to find Macedonia’s tallest waterfall close to Smolare Village. Smolare Waterfall cascades 40 meters down the side of Mount Belasica and is accessible by a 300-stone-step nature trail.
Visitors to the waterfall can watch it and take awesome pictures by a bridge that is located in front of the waterfall.
25. Read a Book at the Library Goce Delchev
If you are a devout lover of books, then a trip to the Library Goce Delchev will definitely be worth your time. Opened in 1912, the library houses a collection of more than 70000 super-rare books that were written between the 1800s and the early 1900s.
Beyond its extensive collection, the building which houses the library is a magnificently designed two-story home that showcases the brilliance of Macedonian architecture.
26. Make a Trip to Stobi Archaeological Site
Stobi is an archeological site that is found right at the center of Macedonia. It played a key role during the Roman era, serving as the capital to Macedonia Secunda – a Roman Provence. Visitors to the site can take a look at the theater with its beautiful and detailed mosaics.
Macedonia is a beautiful country full of amazing ancient artifacts and awe-inspiring natural attractions. Make a to-see list using this guide, the next time you make a trip to visit this amazing Balkan nation.
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