A hidden gem in the Balkans, North Macedonia offers rich history, unforgettable landscapes, and a warm welcome for visitors, making it a top destination for travellers. Here are some of the best things to do in North Macedonia.
Top places to visit in North Macedonia
Don’t miss North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje. The city boasts a unique blend of ancient history and modern architecture, with the largest Ottoman bazaar in the Balkans. Things to do in Skopje include visiting the Skopje Fortress, exploring the Old Bazaar, crossing the Stone Bridge over the Vadar River, and viewing the colossal statue of Alexander the Great in Macedonia Square.
Another of North Macedonia’s largest cities, Ohrid has a laid-back atmosphere and heaps of history. Ohrid is situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, discover ancient churches like the must-visit St. John at Kaneo, and take in breathtaking views over the lake and city from Samuel's Fortress, one of the top things to do in Ohrid.
Officially the oldest lake in Europe, Lake Ohrid is one of the top places to visit in Macedonia. This UNESCO site is the largest lake in the country and the deepest in the Balkans. Relax on the sandy shores, take a dip in the crystal-clear freshwater, and walk along the promenade lined with traditional restaurants and bars. You can even get out on the water on a paddleboard, kayak, or boat trip to make the most of your lake visit – some of the best things to do in North Macedonia.
Head to Tetovo in the northwest to visit one of the top tourist attractions in Macedonia – the Painted Mosque. The mosque is unlike any other, covered almost entirely in ornate paintings inside and out. The city of Tetovo is small but vibrant, and just a 45-minute drive from Skopje. It’s also an ideal stop on the drive from Skopje to Ohrid on the A2 motorway, or as part of a European road trip along route E65.
Just half an hour’s drive from Skopje is one of North Macedonia’s best natural wonders, the Matka Canyon. Matka Canyon has 5,000 hectares to explore, including natural caves, rugged gorges and medieval monasteries. One of the most popular tourist places in Macedonia, there are plenty of activities for the whole family at Matka Canyon, including boat rides, kayak hire and rock climbing.
North Macedonia food & drink
Not sure what to eat in North Macedonia? Macedonian food is heavily influenced by Balkan and Ottoman cuisines, combining flavours from the East and West for colourful dishes bursting with flavour. Make sure you try Tavče Gravče, North Macedonia’s national dish, a comforting bean casserole infused with aromatic spices. You’ll also find Kebapche on menus across the country, a Macedonian grilled mincemeat kebab, and Ajvar, a traditional roasted red pepper and aubergine condiment. Sarma is also one of the most popular North Macedonia foods – cabbage rolls stuffed with a hearty rice and meat filling, baked in the oven, and served with handmade sauces. And to satisfy your sweet tooth, sample the sweet pastry delight Baklava or try the unique taste of Tulumba, deep-fried dough soaked in sweet syrup. As for drinks, try Boza, a typical Balkan fermented drink made from water, flour, sugar, and yeast.
Shopping in North Macedonia
Looking for things to do in North Macedonia? There’s an abundance of shopping opportunities in the country, from shopping centres with big brands to independent boutiques selling handcrafted wares. The lively streets of Skopje are packed with boutiques selling unique souvenirs and authentic crafts, and in the renowned bazaar, you’ll find traditional market stalls selling fresh produce, clothing, and artisanal goods. For a real shopping spree, visit large shopping centres like Skopje City Mall and Ramstore Mall for Macedonian and international brands.
Festivals and events in North Macedonia
North Macedonia hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year to make your trip truly memorable. Joining in with the festivities are some of the most exciting things to do in Macedonia, with top events like the Skopje Jazz Festival in May and the Ohrid Summer Festival in July and August. The Strumica Carnival has taken place during the first three days of Great Lent since 1670 and includes parades, colourful masks, music, and dancing in the city’s streets. Music lovers won’t want to miss Taksirat Festival, North Macedonia’s biggest music festival. International artists and thousands of festival-goers descend on Skopje for a week-long musical extravaganza every November.