Macedonian is the official language, spoken by about 66 percent of people, with Albanian used by 25 percent. Many young Macedonians are conversant with English as it is now taught in schools, but a phrasebook will be useful in areas outside the main tourist areas. Interestingly in the Shutka distinct of Skopje, Romani, the ancient language of the Roma people, is a co-official language.
The official currency of Macedonia is the denar, although visitors will find many prices marked in euros. Although it’s technically illegal to accept euros, many outlets are happy to do so. ATMs are easily found in all cities and large towns, as are banks and licensed currency exchange booths. You may be offered money exchange services on the street, with a polite refusal the best answer. Most major credit and debit cards are accepted in city restaurants, stores, malls, and gas stations, but cash is king in rural areas and for small purchases.
Macedonia lies in the Central European time zone, and is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +1) with daylight savings is adopted in the summer.
Electricity in Macedonia comes as 220-240 V/50 Hz, as in the UK, with the European Schuko socket in general use. Visitors from the US and Canada will need a step-down transformer unless their electronic appliances are dual voltage, and plug adaptors will be required by UK and non-EU visitors.
The calling code for Macedonia is +389, followed by a single digit area code and telephone number. Cell phones are popular with three providers: T-Mobile, One and VIP, all of which are on the GSM network. Visitors from the US are advised to have their phones unlocked and purchase a Macedonian SIM card upon arrival, and should note that passports or ID cards may be necessary when buying a SIM card. Coverage on all three networks is excellent.
Visitors arriving in Macedonia may bring 200 cigarettes, one bottle of alcohol and gifts up to a value of US $39 without paying taxes. Those returning to the US are allowed 200 cigarettes, one liter of alcohol and gifts up to US $400 duty-free.
Exploring Macedonia. Skopje: +389-2-329-8455 or www.exploringmacedonia.com
Embassies and Consulates in Macedonia
Australian Consulate, Skopje: +389-2-306-1114
Canadian Consulate Skopje: +389-2-322-5630
US Embassy, Skopje: +389-2-310-2000
UK Embassy Skopje: +389-2-329-9299
Emergency services: 192