Macedonia Trip – 3 Day in Skopje

Skopje North Macedonia Church Flag

It was my first time in North Macedonia. Skopje was the first stop of our Balkan hopping in our 14-day adventure. To my surprise, it is probably one of the top three hidden gems in the Balkan Countries. I highly recommend you to give a try to our Macedonia Trip – 3 Day in Skopje.

Day 1: Arrival At Skopje International Airport

Upon arriving at Skopje International Airport in the evening, we hopped on the convenient Airport Bus to the City Center payable at 3.6 Euro per person, and got off at the final station.

Noting that in North Macedonia, the official currency is the Macedonian denar (MKD), the exchange rate for EUR: MKD back at that time was around 1: 61.2. In general, you would probably get a better exchange rate in the city center.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Airport Bus Schedule
Airport bus schedule for Skopje

Settling In A Budget-friendly Spacious Apartment

We booked an apartment (Risto Apartment) via, a spacious 90 m2 apartment in the city center. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a balcony, it provided the perfect base for our 3 day travel in Skopje. Furthermore, the owner’s warm welcome exceeded our expectations, as he kindly drove us to a nearby shopping mall for currency exchange. It came as a surprise to discover that some local currency exchanges close as late as 10 PM.

Wallet-friendly & Tasty Dinner In Kaj Jole

With a pocket of  MKD, we decided to celebrate our successful arrival in Skopje with a memorable dinner. After reading positive reviews on Google Maps, we chose a renowned local restaurant called Gradska Kafeana “Kaj Jole” (Градска кафеана „Кај Јоле”). Later on, we discovered that the restaurant is one of the oldest local restaurant since 1963. We indulged in a feast of five local specialties and local beers.We loved the local cuisine includnig the Tavche Gravche, a traditional Macedonian stew prepared with kidney beans, onions, and aromatic seasonings; and the Tas Kebap, a delectable lamb stew cooked in a rich yogurt sauce. Remarkably, the total cost for the dinner was just 1,500 MKD (approximately 24.5 EUR for three people). As the beginning of our Macedonia Trip – 3 Day in Skopjest, it did give us a very perfect first impression.

Gradska Kafeana “Kaj Jole” has been a recommended local restaurant since 1963 (Google Map)

Day 2: Icons In City Center & Matka Canyon

Our first stop for day 2 was the Macedonia Square. From the 10-minute walk from our apartment to there, we came across many statues. On our way to the main square, we walked into a shopping complex called City Trade Center.

Stepping inside, we were transported back in time as the layout exuded a classic charm reminiscent of 80s-style shopping malls. On the lower ground floor, we discovered a variety of supermarkets and local bakeries, including the popular Macedonian retail chain supermarket, KAM. Other than that, we also bought a couple of Bureks which is a pastry famous in the Balkans made of bread with fillings such as meats, cheese, spinach, and potatoes.  Despite being a bit oily, the bureks are one of the must-try in Skopje.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - statue
Different statues on the way to the Macedonia Square

Free Walking Tour At Macedonia Square

Then, we joined a fascinating free-walking tour at Macedonia Square, led by a knowledgeable local guide. Before joining the tour, we had been wondering about the history behind the many statues in Skopje. After that, we realized they’re part of a government project called “Skopje 2014.” Not much historical depth to each one, but they make awesome photo ops for us tourists!

During the tour, we first heard of the Matka Canyon and Millennium Cross. Intrigued by the guide’s vivid descriptions, we couldn’t resist the allure of these sites and decided to put it into itineary for Macedonia Trip – 3 Day in Skopje.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Macedonia Square
Macedonia Square
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Macedonia Square, The stone bridge
The stone bridge at Macedonia Square connecting to Old Bazaar

Old Bazaar & Skopje Fortress

After the tour, we explored the Old Bazaar, a labyrinth of narrow streets filled with vibrant shops, artisans, and traditional eateries. With these, I highly recommend Old Bazaar for snacks, souvenirs, and also local lunch. We took a quick lunch at a Kosmos, local restaurant renowned for its kebabs.

To soak in panoramic views of the city, we made our way to Skopje Fortress which is around 7 minutes walk from Old Bazaar. The fortress offered a glimpse into Skopje and provided breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscape.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - The Old Bazaar
The Old Bazaar with various choices for food, snacks, and souvenirs
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation -Skopje Fortress
Skopje Fortress located near the Old Bazaar with a beautiful view

Transportaion to Matka Canyon

Despite being around 1:20 PM, we still wanted to make the most of our stay and decided to go to Matka Canyon.

We dashed to the Central bus station, a 25 minute walk distance from the Fortress to catch the 1:50 PM bus (number 60) to the Canyon. Unfortunately, we had to take the 3:30 PM one due a travel accident with the earlier bus.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation -Skopje Central Bus Station
Skopje Central Bus station

The Matka Canyon & Verolo Cave

Arriving at Matka Canyon at late 4 PM, we headed straight to the pier area passing through the Matka Exhibition Center. We jumped onto a boat for 200 MKD per person but only then discovered it included sightseeing for the Canyon Lake only.

Luckily, we were still able to be the last passengers for the boat tour visit to Vrelo Cave subsequent to that. The price for the Vrelo Vave boat tour was 500 MKD per person. Vrelo Cave is a natural wonder near located at Lake Matka. Also, it is one of the deepest underwater caves in the world with 330 meters depth. Obviously, it is the spot that you would not want to miss in Matka Canyon. We felt very lucky that we barely made it!

Inside the cave, the air was cool with an earthy scent, it had a lot of Stalactites hanging delicate chandeliers from the ceiling. With the interplay of underground water and carefully placed lighting, the cave created a truly breathtaking spectacle. Our earlier rush and efforts were right ! We were very grateful for the opportunity (or luck) to witness such natural marvels firsthand.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation -Matka Canyon Welcome Board
Arriving Matka Canyon
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation -Matka Canyon Water sports site-seeing boats
Boat ride / Kayak at Matka Lake (this is not the one for the boat to the cave!)
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation -Matka Canyon ticket office boat ride to Vrelo Cave
The ticket office for the boat ride to the Cave
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation -Matka Canyon Vrelo Cave
Matka Canyon Vrelo Cave

Another Great Macedonian Local Restaurant – Old City House

Subsequent to our visit, we took the return bus back to Skopje City Center. We picked a historical local restaurant called Old City House. We ordered several local dishes for the night for around 11 EUR per person. While it could be a bit salty, we were very fond of the stew dishes there. 

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Old City House Restaurant
Old City House Restaurant
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Old City House Restaurant  menu
Introduction of the restaurant in the menu
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Old City House Restaurant traditional macedonian cuisine
Several local stews

Day 3 : Millennium Cross, More Sightseeings & Departure

On our final day in Skopje, we started with a ride to Millennium Cross from the Central Bus Station in the morning. Hopping on the cable car to the top of Vodno mountain after the bus ride, we reached another the Millennium Cross of Skopje. Despite the early morning, there were a lot of locals and tourists, partially because the public buses are free on Saturday.

Going around the cross, we picnicked nearby taking some tea and snacks while enjoying the panorama view.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation -Cable Car to Millennium Cross
Cable car to the Millennium Cross for 100 MKD per person
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Millennium Cross
The Millenium Cross

Mother Teresa Memorial House, Museum of the City of Skopje, Old Bazaar & Local Market

Getting back to the city center, we still had around 3 hours before our bus to Pristina. We selected to visit some of the icons we missed on the second day including Mother Teresa Memorial House and Museum of the City of Skopje. After that, we headed back to Old Bazaar for souvenir purchases.

Rushing to achieve the most, we even squeezed enough time to visit the local fresh market nearby. The local fresh tomatoes are cheap, tasty, and also a good source of fibre during travel. Specifically, 1kg of local high-quality tomatoes was just around 250 MKD.

North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Museum of the City of Skopje
Museum of the City of Skopje
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Mother Teresa Memorial House
Mother Teresa Memorial House
North Macedonia Skopje Tourist Icon Recommendation - Local fresh market near the Old Bazaar
Local fresh market near the Old Bazaar

Wrapping Up Our Macedonia Trip – 3 days in Skopje

On our way to the Central Bus station for departure, we spent our last bit of MKD in Shopping Center Vero.It is a large shopping mall nearby with a large supermarket on the ground floor and foodcourt on the second floor. With that, we refilled our bag with some drinks, snacks, and local canned food before heading to Kosovo.

We really missed our three-day journey in Skopje. From the grand statues and ancient fortresses to the charming bazaars, the Matka Canyon, and the Millenium Cross, the city offered a tapestry of experiences that left an indelible mark on our souls. In short, it was the most comprehensive and fulfilling stop we had during our 14-day adventure.

It was a bit rush but we did make the most in Our Macedonia Trip – 3 days in Skopje.

Please find the itinerary summary for your reference.

Our Macedonia Trip – 3 days in Skopje

Day 1Arriving at the SKP airport at 7: 35 PM
Airport Bus to Risto Apartment
Currency exchange at Vero Center
Dinner at Gradska Kafeana “Kaj Jole’ a local restaurant since 1963
Day 2Different statues near Skopje Center
Breakfast at City Trade Center
Free walking tour starting from Macedonia Square
Old Bazaar
Lunch at Kosmos
Skopje Fortress
Skopje Central Bus Station
Matka Canyon
Vrelo Cave
Dinner at Old House
Day 3Central Bus Station
Millennium Cross
Mother Teresa Memorial House
Museum of the City of Skopje
Old Bazaar
Local Market
Shopping Center Vero
Central Bus Station for bus to Pristina

Regulus K

A budget travel blogger passionate about exploring different destinations worldwide, while balancing a regular 9-to-5 job.

1 Comment

  1. […] It’s a pity that we had to leave very early for the ferry back to Athens and the subsequent flight to Skopje. […]

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