An ancient world filled with Greek ruins, antique churches,
monasteries, mountain ranges, and Turkish architecture contrasts
against the modern, concrete buildings of the capital Skopje,
a city rebuilt after a massive earthquake in 1963 destroyed
80 percent of the city's buildings. Macedonia's natural
beauty leaves visitors in awe with abundant crystal clear
lakes, deep valleys and mountain crests within the country's
three national parks, where spotting roaming wildlife comes
as a pleasant surprise.
When to Go
The summers are warm and dry and winters are very snowy,
windy and cold, particularly inland, with temperatures averaging
at around -5F. May to October is the nicest time of the year
to travel to Macedonia as it is when the weather is at its
warmest and rainfall is minimal.
The Ohrid Summer Festival is a six week event celebrating
classical and jazz music and theatre. Beginning mid July,
countless concerts and theatre productions are showcased within
the ancient fortress, outdoor theatre and basilica whilst
surrounding mountains and the gorgeous Lake Ohrid make for
an unforgettable setting.
Macedonia's population of just over two million people is
divided into a vast majority of Macedonian Orthodox (70 percent)
and Muslim (29 percent).
Although most of the population speaks Macedonian, which
is the official language, Albanian, Turkish, and Serbian are
also prevalent. Macedonian is written in the Cyrillic script
and is phonetic, making it easy to read and write once the
31 letter Cyrillic alphabet has been mastered. English is
not widely spoken, however some young people in the larger
cities do speak it.
Getting around Macedonia by train is an option and all domestic
journeys are operated by Makedonski Zheleznici, which will
take you to many parts of the small country. Internationally,
trains connect to Greece and other territories of former-Yugoslavia.
When travelling by bus in Skopje, there are two bus companies
which can be utilised and will take you throughout the city
and surrounding villages. JSP are the red buses which are
owned by the state, while other buses are privately owned.
The system in place is quite good and buses are frequent,
however it is best to avoid travelling on the roads during
The Macedonian Denar is the currency and it is not
exchangeable once outside of Macedonia.For up to date currency information, check the Currency
Converter. It is recommended that travellers have a range of financial
alternatives. Most banks will exchange travellers' cheques
charging no commission and there are several small exchange
offices in the larger cities who generally offer a good rate.
Generally hotels, shops and restaurants will accept major
credit cards, however this is not always the case. Look for
signs to confirm this. Macedonia is one of the cheapest countries
in Europe to visit. If you can avoid lodging in hotels by
staying in private rooms or hostels, $US30 should be adequate
to get by on, otherwise spending a minimum of $US50 a day
should be expected.
Traditional cuisine has Turkish and Slavic roots, and although
meat is apparent throughout Macedonian cooking, many vegetarian
dishes are also on offer. Try ajvar, a relish made
from paprika and tomatoes which is often served as an appetizer
with breads and cold meats. Pindzhur is a traditional
dish which uses hearty portions of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants,
salt and garlic, combined and prepared either by stir frying
or baking and is then eaten as a starter. Main courses include
sarma vo lozov list - grape leaves stuffed with mixed
minced pork and beef, which are often served with sour cream
- or alternatively tavche gravche, a tasty vegetarian
dish of beans and capsicum, firstly boiled then baked. Sutlijash,
or rice pudding, is a popular dessert which is often topped
with cinnamon and toasted almonds, and is a fine way to finish
There are no dress restrictions in Macedonia. Lightweight
clothing during the summer is recommended and a light sweater
should be on hand during the evenings. Waterproof jackets
and heavy layers are a must in the winter.
Travellers from Australia, South Africa and Zimbabwe require
a visa for entry into the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
whilst most European Union countries, the United States, the
United Kindom, and New Zealand do not need one for stays of
up to three months.