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30 Amazing Things To Do In Skopje From A Local

Skopje, one of the world’s least famous capitals, is the capital of Macedonia and a city with a rich history. A city that managed to preserve its identity even after being part of several different empires throughout history. Skopje has been part of Alexander the Great’s Kingdom, the Roman Empire, The Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and socialistic Yugoslavia. This makes Skopje a city where the lines between the East and the West are fading away. In this article, we’ll cover some of the best things to do in Skopje from a local’s perspective.

I saw that there aren’t too many travelers on the Internet writing about traveling to Skopje, so since it is my native city I decided to write this Skopje travel guide. After all who can give you better information about a city than a local, right?

Skopje travel guide

Exploring Skopje’s Quirky Architecture

If you’re a fan of architecture, you will certainly love Skopje because you haven’t seen a city like it. I say this because there was a massive earthquake in 1963 which destroyed most of the city. At that time Skopje was part of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. And all the other countries contributed to rebuilding the city. It was said that the city will be rebuilt and will be even more beautiful than before and that the city will represent the solidarity and fraternity of Yugoslavia.

After that, the local authorities hired a Japanese architect by the name of Kenzo Tange to plan the rebuild. So, the mix of the Japanese style with the socialist regime gave birth to an amazing architecture, like I haven’t seen before. And I visited more than 150 cities in 30+ countries.

And that brings us to today, a time when the city center has more monuments than you can imagine. Maybe it’s not over-stretched to call Skopje the monument Capital of the world. Most of these monuments aren’t even related to Macedonian history or architecture. All these monuments were part of the previous Government controversial project: Skopje 2014. This project was controversial because it spent half a billion of taxpayers’ money. Oh yeah, and in case you didn’t know Macedonia is still one of the poorest countries in Europe.

Macedonia Square & Its Sculptures

things to do in skopje

Macedonia Square is the heart and soul of Skopje, a canvas of history and culture, and home to some of the city’s most iconic monuments. It covers an area of 18,500 square meters and bridges the banks of the Vardar River. At the epicenter of the square stands the Warrior on a Horse statue, a 22-meters tall tribute to Alexander the Great and his horse Bucephalus. Nearby, you can find a pretty large statue of Alexander’s father, Philip 2nd and the Fountain of the Mothers of Macedonia poignantly.

The Neoclassical City Center Post-2014 Revamp

skopje architecture

The neoclassical makeover of Skopje’s city center, a cornerstone of the Skopje 2014 project, transformed the capital into a tableau of seemingly impressive but actually quirky and not-so-related to Macedonian culture buildings, sculptures, and statues. As part of this ambitious project, over 20 buildings and around 40 monuments were constructed or remodeled, aiming to imbue the city with an aesthetic continuity spanning from antiquity through the Middle Ages to contemporary times.

Notable buildings like the City Trade Center, the Department of Transport and Communications, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia building, the MEPSO Building, and the Ministry of Justice underwent neoclassical facelifts. The Parliament building’s renovation even included the addition of cupolas​​.

Historical Kale Fortress

skopje kale

The Kale Fortress, a historic sentinel perched on a hill overlooking Skopje is a 6th century fortress that overtime underwent several reconstructions, notably during the 10th and 11th centuries, standing as a bulwark during various wars and battles. The fortress, with its strategic vantage point, played a pivotal role in the control of the region, transitioning from a military bastion to a symbol of cultural heritage.

In the 17th century, the Ottoman chronicler Evliya Çelebi marveled at the fortress’s imposing double walls and polished chipped stone construction. He described the fortress as a fortified city with seventy bastions and three iron gates, its walls towering around fifty arshini high.

The Art Bridge And Stone Bridge

skopje stone bridge

This list of the best things in Skopje wouldn’t be complete without Skopje’s two most famous bridges. The Stone Bridge, known in Macedonian as “Камен мост,” is a historical landmark and a symbol of Skopje. The bridge has been around since Roman times but it was last reconstructed by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror between 1451 and 1469. This bridge spans 214 meters in length and 6 meters in width, and has silently witnessed some of Skopje’s most important historical events from many different epochs.

Contrasting with the historical Stone Bridge is the Art Bridge, a relatively new addition to Skopje’s cityscape, built as part of the Skopje 2014 project. Stretching 83 meters in length and up to 12 meters in width at its central part, the bridge features 29 sculptures of notable Macedonian artists and musicians, with 14 sculptures on each side and one in the center.

Woman Warrior Park

skopje Woman Warrior Park

Located right across the street from the Macedonian Parliament, the Woman Warrior Park is one of the last remaining green spots in Skopje’s filled-with-buildings city center. The park’s central feature is the statue of the “Woman Warrior” representing all courageous Macedonian women who participated in World War II. Recently, several other statues have been added to the part as a part of the Skopje 2014 project, making the park even more vibrant.

Cultural and Historical Things To Do In Skopje

This list of the best things to do in Skopje wouldn’t be complete without a few of the city’s best museums and cultural attractions.

Memorial House Of Mother Teresa

Memorial House Of Mother Teresa

Did you know that Mother Teresa was originally from Skopje? This is where she lived from 1910 to 1928 and this memorial is built on the site of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church, the very same church where Mother Teresa was baptized (most of the church was ruined in the 1964 earthquake). The museum is located near Ristiḱ Palace and Macedonia Square in the heart of Skopje and represents a modern interpretation of Mother Teresa’s birth house. It serves a multifunctional and sacral purpose, housing a museum with realistic sculptures of Mother Teresa and her family, including a depiction of her as a child.

Museum Of The Macedonian Struggle

Museum Of The Macedonian Struggle

This list of the best things to do in Skopje couldn’t be complete without perhaps the best museum in Skopje. The Museum of the Macedonian Struggle in Skopje, North Macedonia, is a poignant and comprehensive chronicle of the nation’s journey towards independence and self-identity. Inagurated in 2011, it’s one of the newest museums in Skopje (it was a part of the Skopje 2014 project) and inside, you’ll discover some of the most important historical relics and artifacts tied to Macedonia’s path to liberty and independence.

Museum Of The City Of Skopje

Museum Of The City Of Skopje

The Museum of the City of Skopje is a a museum that follows Skopje’s historical journey all the way from the early ancient settlements through the Slavic migrations and to present day. Established in 1949, this is one of the older museums in Skopje and interestingly, is housed in the old railway station because the original museum was devastated in the 1963 earthquake. The museum’s permanent exhibitions offers a comprehensive narrative of Skopje’s history, spanning from the first recorded settlements around 3000 BC to modern times.

Macedonian Archaeological Museum

Macedonian Archaeological Museum

Located in the historic Old Bazaar area of Skopje, The Macedonian Archaeological Museum is one of Skopje’s most unique museums, both inside and out. The exterior of the building has been redesigned to feature neoclassical elements but the museum’s inception actually dates back to 1924, making it one of the city’s oldest. The museum encompasses three distinct sections: archaeological, historical, and ethnological which I have to admit is not very common but provides a multidimensional view of Macedonia’s history, from its ancient roots to its more recent past.

Macedonian Holocaust Museum

Macedonian Holocaust Museum 3

The Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia commemorates the history and tragedy of Macedonian Jews during the Holocaust. The museum is situated in the city center of Skopje, at the location of the old Jewish Quarter, offering a reflective space that connects deeply with its historical context​​. Despite its somewhat unwelcoming mirrored-glass entrance, the museum inside is a moving tribute, featuring fascinating displays that showcase the nearly lost Sephardic Jewish culture of North Macedonia through various mediums, including photos, English-language wall texts, maps, and videos​​.

The Old Bazaar: A Historical and Cultural Hub

Another reason why you should visit is the fact that Skopje isn’t the typical European city. Macedonia was the last country to succeed from the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the Ottoman Empire had a lot of influence on Macedonia, especially Skopje. Even today the city center is divided by the river Vardar into two parts:

The new westernized Skopje on the West,
And the old part of Skopje, with the Old Bazaar street on the East.

Exploring The Labyrinth Of Streets

Skopje Old Bazaar

As one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans, the Old Bazaar has been the epicenter of Skopje’s trade and commerce since at least the 12th century. Beyond its commercial significance, the Old Bazaar is a treasure trove of cultural and historical values. Predominantly characterized by Ottoman architecture, it also retains elements of Byzantine architecture, while recent reconstructions have incorporated aspects of modern architecture. This unique architectural blend gives the bazaar its distinctive character.

Local Crafts And Traditional Markets

skopje old bazaar

The Old Bazar is home to some of the oldest, dying crafts in Skopje, like opinci shops (traditional Macedonian footwear), a few unique traditional jewellery makers, weapon makers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, and more. Moreover, the Old Bazaar’s cobblestone streets enhance its historical ambiance, making it a place where one can seemingly step back in time​​. Its significance during its heyday is noteworthy, as it was considered the second-largest bazaar in the world, following only Istanbul’s Kapalicarsi​​.

Ottoman Architecture & Historical Sites

skopje old bazaar

The Old Bazaar houses several active mosques, türbes (Ottoman mausoleums), two churches, a clocktower, and a couple of Ottoman caravanserais that have been turned into art galleries, along with the Museum of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Museum of Modern Art.

Religious & Spiritual Sites

This list of the best things to do in Skopje wouldn’t be complete if we don’t spare a few words on some of the city’s most famous religious and spiritual sites, starting with…

Saint Clement Of Ohrid Church

soborna crkva

This list of the best things to do in Skopje couldn’t be complete without the largest church in Macedonia. Dedicated to St. Clement of Ohrid, the church commemorates one of the most important figures in the history of the Macedonian Orthodox Church​​​​. The building features a rotunda style and is adorned with domes and arches, covering an area of approximately 1,000 square meters. A notable feature of the church is its 45-meter-high bell tower, which houses three bells​​.

Mustafa Pasha’s Mosque

Mustafa Pasha's Mosque skopje

The Mustafa Pasha Mosque is an Ottoman-era mosque located in the Old Bazaar that was built in 1492 by Mustafa Pasha, then vizier of the Ottoman Empire. The architectural design of the mosque is very similar to the traditional Ottoman style of the late 15th century and the structure has remained relatively intact throughout the years.

Church Of Saint Panteleimon

Saint Panteleimon skopje

The Church of Saint Panteleimon in Gorno Nerezi is probably Skopje’s oldest surviving structure and one of the most remarkable examples of Byzantine architecture and art in the Balkans. Built in the 12th century, this church is famous for its frescoes, which are considered some of the finest examples of church art from this period (and yes, they are some of the best-preserved such frescoes from this era).

Ascension Of Jesus Church

Church of the Holy Ascension

The Church of the Ascension of Jesus, also known as Sveti Spas is another beautiful 16th century church with an arched middle vessel and flat sides covered with gains in domes. The church is also home to a women’s gallery located in the western part of the building​​. One of the most remarkable features of the Church of the Ascension of Jesus is its iconostasis, created from walnut wood. This masterpiece was crafted by the brothers Marko and Peter Filipovski and Makarie

Natural Wonders & Outdoor Activities

Next on this list of the best things to do in Skopje, we’ll show you some of the best activities for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the Macedonian capital.

Hiking On Mount Vodno

voodoo skopje view

Vodno is a mountain that overlooks the city and offers some of the best bird-eye views of Skopje. You can get there by trekking, by taking the Millennium Cross bus, or by taking the cable car. In addition to the gorgeous views, at the top of the hill, you’ll also find the third highest cross in the world. The Millennium Cross is 77 meters tall located at 1066 meters above sea level.

Exploring Matka Canyon

st andrea monastery matka

The other natural beauty of Skopje is the Canyon Matka, located in the western part of the city. This is one of the most famous outdoors tourist attractions in the country. Matka is home to supposedly the deepest cave in the world (which is still not fully explored) and to several medieval monasteries. You can come close to the canyon entrance with public transport too, with bus number 60.

Kozjak Dam


Finally, around 35 km from the city is my personal favorite, The Kozjak Dam. The Dam forms an amazing crystal blue lake that is perfectly trapped between the local mountains. This part of the country isn’t easily accessible and therefore nature there is completely untapped. In the forests near the mountains, you can also see wild goats, bores, and even wolves and bears.

Skopje’s Culinary Delights

That’s enough about nature and the outskirts, now back to the city. All of my foreign friends that visited Skopje and Macedonia say that this is the best value to money country they have visited. When you’re here you must try the local food. Macedonian food is amazing, especially the meat dishes, but our cuisine is just as amazing even if you’re vegetarian. You also must try the local beers, wine and of course the traditional hard liquor: rakija.

And can this list of things to do in Skopje really be complete without sharing a few tips about experiencing the best culinary delights Skopje has to offer?

Traditional Macedonian Delights In The Old Bazaar

skopje old bazaar food

The Old Bazaar boasts a wide selection of restaurants serving traditional Macedonian food, as well as Albanian, and Turkish food. Some of the best places to try include Pcela (the oldest kebab shop in Skopje), Destan (one of the best barbecue spots in Skopje), Tantuni, one of the best roadside eateries, restaurant Sac that make their food using an old-fashioned roasting device known as sac, and Teteks, one of the best burger joints in town.

Experience A Local Kafana


Experiencing a local Kafana in Skopje offers a truly traditional and cultural experience, capturing the essence of Balkan hospitality and cuisine. A Kafana is not your typical restaurant, it’s more like a gathering place where you can meet people from all walks of life in all hours of the day. Many of these places also have life music and the atmosphere is just something you have to experience.

Wine Tasting At Chateau Kamnik Winery

Chateau Kamnik Winery

Located in the scenic River Vardar Valley, the winery is an epitome of the rich wine-making tradition in North Macedonia. The winery has an elegant tasting room with a cozy atmosphere and beautiful views of Skopje. Chateau Kamnik offers on-the-spot experiences that enrich guests’ knowledge of viticulture and wine production and after a wine tasting tour, guests have the option to enjoy lunch or dinner at the Hunter’s Lodge Kamnik restaurant.

Nightlife & Entertainment

If you’re looking for things to do in Skopje at night, keep reading, we’ll try to summarise the best of Skopje’s nightlife in the next few paragraphs.

Discovering The Spirit Of Debar Maalo

Debar Maalo skopje

Debar Maalo is the main bohemian street of Skopje. It’s one of Skopje’s oldest neighborhoods and features a pedestrian zone where the spirit of freedom and artistic expression thrive. The neighborhood is dotted with many bistros and restaurants where you can enjoy superb local specialties and is often described as a calm oasis and the most bohemian part of Skopje

Enjoying Skopje’s Opera And Ballet

Skopje's Opera And Ballet

Next on our list of things to do in Skopje we have the Opera and Ballet. This institution is one of the most representative buildings of modern architecture in Macedonia and is located in the heart of the city on the left bank of the river Vardar​​. From classical operas and ballets to more modern interpretations, the repertoire sometimes includes mind-blowing productions, leaving audiences inspired.

Trendy Bars And Clubs

skopje promenade

Skopje’s nightlife is characterized by its pulsating energy, with a wide array of cocktail bars that cater to both locals and tourists.Some of the best pars in Skopje feature Pogon, BKW Hybrid Bar, Mr. Jack, and Van Gogh among others while the most popular bar areas in the city include the Vardar Promenade, Debar Maalo, and the neighborhood of Aerodrom.

Unique Experiences in Skopje

Last but not least, we’ll wrap up this guide to things to do in Skopje with a few unique experiences we didn’t mention so far.

Taking Skopje’s Free Walking Tour

bezistan skopje

Skopje’s free walking tours are a great way to explore Macedonia’s capital. You can find most free tours on this website; there are daily history tours, culinary tours, and even pub crawls. You don’t have to pay anything but a small tip for the guide at the end of the tour which is something you’ll want to do anyway most of the time because these tours are great.

Visiting A Roman Aqueduct

aqueduct skopje

I just realised that I may have lied saying that the Panteleimon is the oldest structure in Skopje. That title goes to the old Roman aqueduct, located on the city’s outskirts near the village of Vizbegovo. This once great aqueduct was crucial for the functioning of ancient Skupi (the ancient name of Skopje).Unfortunately, this monument today looks to be forgotten by local authorities and locals alike and it’s surrounded by rubbish but still, if you’re a history buff, this is one place you really shouldn’t miss.

Engaging In An Escape Room Experience

Like most major cities in the world, Skopje is following the trends and has its own Escape Room. The gameroom is named The Cube and it’s located in the city center. As of my last visit, they had a few different rooms, including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Saw, Dexter, and the Evil Mansion.

Visit Shutka


Last but not least, we round up this list of things to do in Skopje with the neighborhood Shutka: the municipality with the world’s largest concentrated Roma population (the municipality even has a Romani mayor). The place is only 20-25 minutes from the city center and it’s also home to one of the largest open-air markets in Skopje. The bus that goes there is the one with the number 19.

Useful Resources For Traveling To Skopje

You can and should get around the city with the city buses, which look like the Old London buses, by the way. You can purchase a bus card at most stations or you can also pay via your smartphone.

Unfortunately, there’s no Uber in Macedonia yet, so avoid the local taxi drivers because you might get ripped off. Or additionally, ask your hotel/hostel to help you arrange a cab.

For the cheapest flights to Skopje, this Qatar Airways deal can help you save up to 15%.

Need travel insurance for you trip to Skopje? Check out these SafetyWing deals.

If you want to rent a car in Skopje, this page can get you 15% off on all car rentals in Macedonia.

If you want to save on accommodation, this Booking special offer and this IHG Hotels deal can get you up to 10% off on all accommodation bookings in Skopje.

Finally, check whether you need to obtain a visa before your trip to Macedonia. Macedonia’s visa policy is relatively liberal and if you come from any European country, US, Canada, or Australia, you probably don’t need a visa. But if you do, you can easily obtain it through IVisa without going to the local Macedonian embassy.

So there you go: that’s the story of my birthplace. If you are looking for a trip to Europe to a place that will not really seem European, Skopje is your choice. I guarantee you will be charmed by the contrasts and diversity of the city.

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Tuesday 9th of June 2020

Macedonia definitely gets overlooked, it looks amazing though and i'm fascinated by its history. Great post.

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 16th of June 2020

It sure is! I hope you get the chance to visit someday


Tuesday 2nd of June 2020

The pictures look fantastic and the blog itself amazing, we ant wait to visiting it very soon :) !

Passport Symphony

Friday 5th of June 2020

Thank you, I hope yo get the chance to visit someday.

Seán O'Hara

Tuesday 25th of June 2019

Hey dude,

Do you happen to know if, since the article was written, if Skopje has any taxi apps at all? Obviously not Uber or anything like that, but something similar to Yandex or Uklon? Would love to visit the city in the future!

Passport Symphony

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

Hi Sean. Nope, no taxi apps yet but if you want to make sure you're not getting tricked by a local taxi driver, you can call an operator and book a cab before going anywhere. Here's a list of all the taxi companies in Skopje:


Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Thank you for opening my eyes to Skopje. I've heard about it before, but I had no idea it was so beautiful. We took a road trip through the Balkans two years ago and wanted to add Macedonia to our itinerary, but unfortunately time was too short. If we make it to Skopje, we'll make sure to visit Canyon Matka and the Kozjak Dam. They both look spectacular and seem very close to the city.

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

I'm sorry to hear you couldn't make it to Macedonia during your last trip (you missed out big time) :) I hope you get the chance to visit in the future.


Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Skopje looks fascinating :) Your pictures are gorgeous and your food pic has made me hungry. The nature in Skopje is breathtaking, I hadn't even heard of this place before but now i want to book a trip asap!

Passport Symphony

Tuesday 29th of January 2019

Thank you Katie and I hope you get the chance to visit sooner than later.