13 Best Things To Do In Skopje, Europe’s Most Unique City

During my month-long stay, I fell in love with Skopje, and I truly believe it is a fantastic yet underrated destination. If you are planning a trip to North Macedonia’s capital then check out these best things to do in Skopje.

I booked Skopje on a whim, a nice Air BnB and cheap flights was all I needed to make it home for a few weeks! I was not expecting to love it as much as I did. The friendly people, the strange but cool architecture, the affordability and the surrounding nature made me love the month I got to spend here.

Although it is not on many people’s travel itineraries I think it deserves a place. It is a perfect contender for an inexpensive weekend away! Additionally, it is a perfect digital nomad destination.

13 Best Things To Do In Skopje

1. Old Bazaar

A visit to the Old Bazaar is one of the best things to do during your visit to Skopje!

Also known as the Turkish Bazaar, it is the second-largest bazaar in the Balkans, with the largest being the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

Walking through this bazaar is like being transported back in time. You can visit Ottoman mosques, Byzantine architecture, museums, food stalls, and numerous shops. However, the shops mostly sell jewellery and wedding dresses, but it is interesting to explore.

While at the Old Bazaar make sure to taste some classic Balkan food such as Turkish Delight from Ambrosia, Greek doughnuts from Lokmades, Kebaps from BBQ Pcela, Veal soup from Restaurant Saraevo and so much more!

2. Count The Statues

Skopje is the city of statues, there is no doubt about it! The statues dominate the city, but not in a negative way; rather, they add a quirky charm. Giving Skopje its unique character. One of my favourite things to do in Skopje was simply to wander around the city and count how many statues I came across. Did you know there are approximately 284?

Some statues are larger than life, such as the one in the central square, ‘Macedonia Square,’ where a colossal fountain is topped with a man on a horse.

3. Stone Bridge

Considered one of the most historical monuments in Skopje, it is still not known who built this bridge, but it is believed to have been constructed during the Roman period. This bridge has an interesting history of reconstruction.

In the 6th century, during the Byzantine period, the bridge was reconstructed with stone and marble pillars. Following this, in the 19th century, during the Ottoman period, the bridge was made wider and stronger to accommodate pedestrians and vehicles. Finally, in the 20th century, a new bridge was built to replace the stone bridge for vehicles.

4. Holocaust Museum

This is a truly fascinating place that takes you on a journey through the experiences of Macedonian Jews during the Holocaust. The museum is well laid out and, at times, interactive.

It is a significant part of Macedonia’s history and, in my opinion, one of the best ways to learn more about the city’s past in Skopje.

5. Arc de Triomphe

The funny thing about Skopje is that a few parts of the city appear to have been borrowed from other major cities around the world. For example, the red public buses were donated by London after the 1973 earthquake, and the Porta Macedonia is a smaller version of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe.

It is a memorial arch that was built in 2011 and is dedicated to 20 years of independence. The arch depicts historical Macedonian scenes.

6. Skopje Fortress

Also referred to as Kale Fortress, this is one of the best things to do in Skopje to get a fantastic view of the city.

This 6th-century fortress has one square, one rectangle and one round tower. The surrounding area is a park.

7. Skopje City Park

city park in Skopje is one of the best things to do

This is Macedonia’s largest park, so you know it is one of the best things to do in Skopje!

The park covers an area of 486,000 m² and goes along the river Vardar, Macedonia’s largest river.

There is plenty to do in the park including hiking and cycling trails, scenic ponds with pretty bridges that are great for a photo op, and a large zoo with 500 different species.

8. Memorial House Of Mother Theresa

Skopje is Mother Teresa’s hometown! I didn’t know this until I arrived in the city. Mother Teresa lived here from 1910 until 1928.

This house is a memorial, built in 2009 on the location of the church where Mother Teresa was baptised, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church.

The memorial house displays relics and a museum containing sculptures of Mother Teresa and her family. This is an interesting place to visit in Skopje and is a must-do thing for anyone interested in Mother Teresa.

9. Mount Vodno

This next one is the top thing to do for those who love the outdoors.

Skopje’s Mount Vodno is home to the Millennium Cross, located at the top. The hike is easy to moderate, it is 3 km and 90 minutes one way mostly through a shaded forest path. You have the option of extending the hike by 11 km if you continue on to the stunning Matka Canyon.

If you are not in the mood to hike you can also take a cable car to the top which costs 120 MKD.

10. Matka Canyon

If you’re looking for brilliant things to do in Skopje, then take a trip to the stunning Matka Canyon.

Matka Canyon is a beautiful part of North Macedonia. It is located just a 50 minute bus journey from Skopje and I think is a must for any visit to Skopje. Matka Canyon has enchanting surroundings with steep cliffs overlooking a gorge filled with green-tinged water. You can kayak, take a boat ride, explore caves, hike, or just relax. It is a really peaceful place.

If you want to know more about Matka Canyon check out my blog post Everything You Need To Know About Matka Canyon.

If you decide to stay for a night I highly recommend Canyon Matka Hotel, which as the name suggests is located on Matka Canyon. The views are incredible, rooms are cosy and well-priced!

11. Museum Of The City Of Skopje

A massive part of Skopje’s history is the major earthquake that occurred in 1963. This museum details that day and the aftermath. It is truly harrowing what the people of Skopje went through, but it’s also a powerful story of resilience.

This is an important thing to do to learn about Skopje, what it once was, and what it is like today.

Also, this museum is free!

12. Discover The Brutalist Architecture

In 1963, a devastating earthquake struck the city, resulting in the destruction of 80% of the buildings and the unfortunate loss of over 1,000 lives. The city was subsequently restored by the renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. During this time, brutalist architecture was in fashion – think of large, minimalistic concrete buildings, functional but not easy on the eyes.

Skopje completely renovated the city in 2014, putting pretty facades over these unsightly brutalist buildings. However, not all of these buildings have been covered; most of them remain in the city. Spotting these buildings is one of the fun things to do in Skopje.

First-time visitors to Skopje might be interested in joining a walking tour of the city. This tour promises to give an honest account of the city, taking you to the famous landmarks and giving you the opportunity to customise the tour to your preferences.

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13. Go On A Day Trip

If you are looking to explore outside of Skopje then taking a day trip is a fun thing to do! I personally love day trips, it allows you to visit places you likely would not go to individually while also getting a better understanding of the part of the world you are in.

Check out some of these cool day trip options for a fun thing to do during your trip to Skopje.

How To Get To Skopje

Skopje’ has one airport called Skopje International Airport (SKP). It is very small with approximately only 17 airlines operating from here. These airlines include Wizz, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, and United Airlines.

The airport is located only 24km from the city centre.

Bus V2V will take you to the city centre for 199 MKD. Book tickets here. The last bus is at 20:30, if your flight is arriving late you can also prebook a private airport transfer.

How Many Days Should I Stay In Skopje

Due to the the city’s compact size, 2 – 3 days in Skopje is the perfect amount of time to allow you to experience all the best things to do.

During the 2 – 3 days, I would recommend exploring the quirky city centre, including visiting the Old Bazaar, climbing Mount Vodno, and spending a few hours in Matka Canyon.

The city is easily walkable, which is convenient as it is small enough to be explored in a single day.

Where To Stay in Skopje

Hotel Ambasador is a budget hotel located in the city centre. Rooms are comfy and all feature a computer with internet in each room. Prices start at €30 per night.

Hotel Senigallia is a unique boat shaped hotel located on the river Vardar, just a few metres from the stone bridge. The hotel includes a bar and 2 open terraces. Rooms are cosy, and decorated as cabins on a real boat. Prices start at €73 per night.

Solun Hotel & Spa is a highly reviewed luxury hotel with a fitness centre, indoor heated pool with waterfall, and spa with over ten types of massage. Rooms are stylish and even include a tumble dryer. Prices start at €92 per night.

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