16 Things That Make A Visit To Skopje Totally Worth It
We spent over a month in Macedonia’s bustling capital city Skopje. Most people (including the locals) seemed bemused as to why we wanted to stay there for so long. Well, when we first arrived we kind of wondered the same thing. The majority of tourists only spend a day or two in Skopje before heading off to explore Macedonia’s mountainous countryside and heritage cities. But we needed to base ourselves somewhere so we could work remotely, yet have easy access to visit other places on the weekends.
It is fair to say Skopje is a traffic-heavy, concrete-lined city, with a skyline that sadly comes second place to the more aesthetically pleasing city of Ohrid. A mix of communist-era architecture, newly built apartment blocks and neo-classical style government buildings will make you question if the city’s medieval and Ottoman-era past ever existed.
But at as the weeks past, we discovered a different side to the city. Looking well past the face of Skopje we noticed an eclectic social vibe and vibrant energy. Cafes, bars and restaurants are in abundance and from dusk til well into the night, Skopje is on the go.
Thankfully, commercial food and retail chains haven’t overrun the city yet. Instead, locally run cafes and restaurants serve deliciously fresh food in welcoming and relaxed hideaways. We also discovered Skopje’s buzzing fitness scene and found plenty of ways to escape the busy streets at the local parks, along Vardar river and hiking around Vodno Mountain.
As tourists, we found the best way to enjoy the city was to get out of the centre and explore Skopje’s local suburbs. Yes, we visited some of the museums and attractions. But we also stumbled across some fantastic local places and met some of the friendliest people ever, which were highlights of our stay.
So if you do decide to give Skopje a chance before you dash off to see the rest this magnificent country. Take a look at the best places we discovered, and highly recommend you try!
The top 16 things to do in Skopje
1 Hike from Vodno Mountain to Matka Canyon.
2 Watch a football game at the Philip II Telekom Arena (just make sure you support the local team!).
3 Take some time out to relax with a stroll through Skopje City Park.
4 Scope out weekend events and festivals at goskopje.com. We were lucky enough to watch this fantastic folk dance festival.
5 Take a cable car to the Millenium Cross, for panoramic views of Skopje and it’s surrounding mountains.
6 Visit 12th-century Byzantine-era Church of St Panteleimon. The detailed frescoes inside are incredible.
7 Digital Nomad working on the road? No problem, book a hotdesk at Coffice. A friendly and affordable co-working office.
8 Watch the colourful fountain display at Macedonia Square.
9 Visit the Memorial House of Mother Theresa, who was born actually in Skopje and lived here for 18 years.
10 Buy fresh fruit and veg at the Green Market on Bulevar Partizanski Odredi.
11 Indulge in pizza heaven at Енрико, one of the best pizza joints in town.
12 Sample the local craft beer at Old Town Brewery.
13 Eat, shop and haggle at the Old Turkish Bazaar.
14 Replenish nutrient goodness at Хармонија – Skopje’s best veggie/vegan eatery.
15 Satisfy that sweet tooth at Siblo, Skopje’s most popular bakery, with queues day and night. Good job it’s open 24/7.
16 Be seen at trendy hotspot TWINS Kitchen & Wine on Vardar River.
A City on the Up
The one thing we did notice about the city is how fast it is developing to become a European metropolis contender. Unfortunately, there is still a fair amount of poverty but hopefully, this will be something the government will focus on when building up the city centre.
One thing I am pretty sure about though. With so much enthusiasm and flair, Skopje is already becoming a destination magnet for global tourists, businesses and investors. By the end of our months stay we found the life and soul of this non-stop city truly captivating.
Want to visit Skopje’s neighbouring national park?