Skopje is the capital of North Macedonia. Find out some of the top things to do and see in one day in this nice city in the Balkans.
Recently I wrote a post about North Macedonia (aka F.Y.R.O.M.) where I explained why I think It’s definitely worth spending some days exploring this great country. Unfortunately, some people used my post on social media to debate about the name and the past of North Macedonia. I hope this won’t happen again.
In this article, you can find my guide with the top things to do and see in Skopje. You can easily explore the city on foot.
Things to do in Skopje
Skopje is not big: there are about 670.000 people, and from an architectural viewpoint, it’s not interesting (well, excluding the ridiculous number of statues). This is because several earthquakes have destroyed the city more than once. Arguably, though, what damaged the city the most was General Tito and the typical communist architecture. Despite all this, there are some really interesting things to do in Skopje.
Skopje is divided into two sections by the Vardar River: on the south bank, there are most of the new buildings, and on the north bank, there is the old town, or Carsija, and the old buildings that survived the earthquakes. My suggestion is to find a hotel not too far from the city center, using Booking.com. If you prefer Trip.com, check out this page.
The center of Skopje is Plostad Makedonija, Square Macedonia, and it’s also a pedestrian area (all the way to the Carsija).
The first thing a new visitor will notice (at least this is what happened to me), are the numerous statues. The Alexander the Great statue in Plostad Makedonija is massive.
Before getting on the stone bridge, turn right and admire the beautiful Civic Museum and…its numerous statues.
After that deviation, you can keep walking towards the old town, where you’ll find the biggest bazaar in the Balkans. The best thing to do is walk without any specific destination. You’ll be surprised by the many jewelry shops you’ll find on the way.
You can also find some beautiful handmade fabrics. The bazaar ends with a big vegetable market.
Best places to eat in Skopje
If you are tired of walking, it’s best to sit down and enjoy the food of North Macedonia. Actually, this is one of my favorite activities: trying the food of the countries I visit.
In the Carsija, you can try what is often considered the best Kebap in the Balkans. Don’t miss it and enjoy your lunch with some local beer: Skopsko.
The Kebap in North Macedonia is a bit different from the Kebab in Italy: it’s served on a dish with some chili peppers, onions, bread, and salad: yummy!! The salad is also not quite what I expected: there is no salad at all!! But you get tomatoes, cucumbers and a lot of cheese…
One of the other things to do in Skopje is walking to the Kale fortress, definitely one of the city’s landmarks. Just behind the fortress, you can see the Mustafa Pasha Mosque. Mosques are numerous in North Macedonia and, most of the time, are side by side with the churches.
Once you have visited the old town and the bazaar, there are not many things left to do in Skopje.
One more thing to see though it’s the Orthodox church of Saint Clement, also known as Soborna Crkva. The architecture is really interesting.
Final thoughts about Skopje
One day it’s enough to see all the most interesting things in Skopje, maybe two if you want to relax and don’t want to hurry. A positive aspect of the city is the prices of hotels and restaurants: Skopje is a cheap capital compared to other European cities.
The traffic is quite bad, though: people are just crazy when they drive, and you have to be very careful when you walk.
If you wonder whether Skopje is a safe city, I can honestly say that I didn’t have any problem. As always, use common sense: avoid dark streets during the night. Sometimes you’ll be approached by some people asking for money, but that happens in Italy all the time as well.
If you have some more days, I definitely suggest you visit Ohrid, one of the most beautiful places in North Macedonia.