Macedonia — Things to Do
Sightseeing in Macedonia is a mix of ancient and glorious natural wonders, with the country small enough to traverse in one trip. Its dramatic topography gives plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities in summer and winter, with its lakes privy to swimming, water sports, boating, and fishing and the national parks great for trekking, hiking and exploring. Paragliding in Skopje gives adventure-seekers a unique perspective of the city.
Digging into Macedonia’s early history uncovers an ancient Roman city at Stobi, the 4th century abandoned town of Heraclea Lyncestis near Bitola, Trebenishta graves and Roman Skupi just outside Skopje. For even earlier remains, the Kokino Stone Age excavation is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stobi is set in the heart of Macedonia’s wine country, with a vineyard tour a great afternoon add-on to its Roman site.
If you’re based in Skopje, sightseeing begins with an orientation of the old part of the city. Guided tours on foot around the Old Bazaar, mosque, church, and museum are provided by Skopje Hotels, one of the city’s major tour companies. While most of the area was destroyed in the 1963 earthquake, many of the interesting sights are hidden behind new developments, with a guide necessary to find the gems.
Breathtaking natural beauty, a dramatic canyon, towering peaks, and the lovely lake itself are highlights of a daytrip to Lake Matka. Hiking trails lead to mysterious caves and boats or kayaks can be rented for watery exploration of the canyon. Climbing and abseiling can also be enjoyed here, and the area boasts historic churches and traditional villages just a short drive from Skopje. Shorter or longer tours of this beautiful, unspoiled region including a hike up to Vodna Mountain can be arranged through Exploring Macedonia.
The well-preserved Roman city of Scobi is easily reached via the north-south motorway. Set on a vital ancient trade route between Greece and the Balkans, ruined palaces, amphitheatres, a forum, brightly-colored mosaics, and temples dating from the 2nd to 4th century are beautifully laid out for exploring. On the outskirts of Ohrid is the Trebenishta grave site, famous for its gold and silver treasures, and the UNESCO World Heritage site at Kokino dating back 4,000 years. Skupi is on the outskirts of Skopje, and was a Roman trade hub. Exploring Macedonia is your best bet for antiquity destinations.
For eco-tourism fans, Macedonia’s three National Parks, Mavrovo, Galicica and Pelister are areas of supreme natural beauty. Galicica lies near Ohrid on the shores of Lakes Ohrid while Prespar sits in a region of high mountains, rushing rivers, pastures, and deep caves. Ancient monasteries dot the hillsides and there is a variety of fauna and wildlife about. Mavrovo boasts the highest peaks and the densest forests, while Pelister is home to ethnic mountain villages, nature trails, wolves, bears, and boars. Travel2Macedonia can provide guided tours of the parks.