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If you’re planning a trip to Skopje soon, or are intrigued by the city and what it offers, here is our list of 15 best things to do in Skopje. From nature to history, cuisine to adventure, there’s something in Skopje for everyone.
Skopje is the capital city of North Macedonia, a country located at the center of the Balkan Peninsula. It’s a luscious, green city where gourmet food, drink, traditions, and culture are part of daily life. No matter how many times you visit Skopje, there will always be something new and exciting to see or do.
Courtesy of Milena, our local guide, we’ve composed a list of the 15 best things to do in the city. So, without any further ado, let’s take a closer look!
Skopje has many sculptures and statues of Alexander the Great, the most iconic being the one in the middle of Macedonia Square. There’s no way you can pass the Warrior on the Horse, the official name of the statue, without noticing it, due to its huge size. It’s 14.5 m tall, but it sits on a 10-meter tall vertical column. It’s quite majestic, so it’ll definitely catch your attention.
If you’re lucky, you may also see the small music show with fountains at night, which happens occasionally. Other than the biggest sculpture placed in the middle of the city square, you can find a number of other smaller statues around the city. They mostly represent major historical figures, Macedonian artists, or random shoppers, beggars, or divers. Searching for statues is one of the best things to do in Skopje, and one of the most fun, too!
The Old Bazaar is one of the most popular attractions in Skopje that’s full of vibrant sights and interesting smells and sounds. You can find the best and most versatile collections of Ottoman architecture in this area because it used to be an important center of commerce during the Ottoman period. You can see around 30 mosques here, as well as a few Turkish baths or hammas, caravanserais, mausoleum tombs or türbes, and churches. The Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Macedonia is also located in this area. The Old Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest marketplaces in the Balkans.
If you ever visit Skopje, you must stroll the shops of this bazaar located in a labyrinth of narrow streets paved with cobblestones. There’s something from everything here, from copperware and small souvenirs, to jewelry and folk costumes. There are coffee houses and traditional restaurants where you can eat kebab and drink Turkish coffee or tea. On weekends, the Old Bazaar becomes even more lively with people coming to some of the many good bars in the area. This area is a strong contrast to the modern buildings and sculptures in the city square, which is only one bridge apart.
It may be a bit challenging to climb the mountain on Vodno, but it will be worth it in the end when you stand up on top of it while having a nice cup of coffee with the panoramic view of the city. Of course, you can use a cable car to get to the top, but we recommend hiking. Vodno is an excellent option if you want to enjoy some spectacular views of the surrounding peaks or for short getaways to nature when you have enough of all the sculptures, noise, and buildings in the city.
There’s a 66-meter tall Millennium Cross built on top of the mountain that’s visible from any place in Skopje. It was built back in 2000 and symbolizes 2000 years of Christianity in the country. Overall, Vodno is a great place for a picnic or enjoying the day while in Skopje. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Skopje for people who love the outdoors.
Eating and drinking in some of the many local kafanas (traditional restaurants) in Skopje is one of the most enjoyable things you can do in this city. The traditional food here is delicious, and the national dishes served in these kafanas like ‘pinjur’ or ‘gravce tavce’ will make your mouth watering by just seeing and smelling their unique scent. The fresh, organic fruits and vegetables here are of top quality and taste wonderfully.
You can find many local kafanas throughout Skopje that serve grilled meats like kebabs, fresh salads like ‘shopska salad,’ traditional dishes like sarma, gravce tavce, pinjur, or zelnik, and desserts like baklava. The Bohemian Quarter or Debar Maalo is an excellent place to find a good kafana and enjoy some authentic Macedonian food. You can see many people squeezing into the taverns and spilling onto their terraces on sunny weekends.
If you’re curious to learn more about Macedonian food and some of the traditional dishes, be sure to read our article Macedonian Food – 15 Traditional Dishes as Recommended by a Local to find out more about Macedonian food, and the country’s delicious cuisine.
Matka Canyon is a fantastic nature getaway that’s slightly outside the city center. You can easily get there by bus, which is very cheap, or book one of the many tours available. It’s a world of green nature, mountains, and water from the oldest artificial lake called Matka Lake.
There are so many things you can do here besides staring at the stunning views of the canyon. You can go hiking along the canyon, boat riding, or kayaking. You can visit the 15th-century old church or explore the treasures of the deepest cave in the Balkans and the second deepest in Europe called Vrelo. The Matka Canyon is rich in endemic species of flora and fauna, including 77 species of small Balkan endemic butterflies and 18 more that are new to the science.
If you prefer a more relaxed experience, you can drink a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and eat a delicious meal at the beautiful veranda overlooking the Matka Lake in one of the restaurants here.
We all know Mother Teresa and how great humanitarian she was, but not many people know that she was born in Skopje. That’s why there’s a memorial house in this city built in her honor two years after her death on the very location she was baptized.
There are memorabilia, photos, and documents following her religious work and life. You can even watch a documentary about the humanitarian work of this Nobel Peace Prize laureate in the multimedia center located below the museum. The admission is free, and it’s open every day. However, you may want to check the working hours, which are different during weekends.
Stone bridge connects the two sides of Skopje divided by the Vardar river. In fact, it links the new part of the city, the Macedonia Square, with the old part, the Old Bazaar. It was first built under Roman Emperor Justinian’s rule, but it was destroyed and repaired many times during the Ottoman period.
The 214-meter long bridge was built of solid stone blocks, hence the name Stone Bridge. It’s a pedestrian bridge, although in the past it was also accessible for vehicles. You can enjoy the architectural beauty of the bridge built over five centuries ago while you walk on it or sit in one of the coffee bars or benches near the bridge. If you enjoy architecture, it’s one of the best things to do in Skopje.
The Art Bridge is located in the center of Skopje across the Vardar River, a few meters from Stone Bridge. It’s also a pedestrian bridge, but it doesn’t have a history like the previous one. The Art Bridge was built in 2014, as part of the Skopje 2014 project.
The most interesting thing about this bridge is that it includes 29 sculptures of artists, composers, writers, and historical figures placed on both sides of the bridge, one of which is in the center. It may not have a long history, but it’s surely one impressive bridge that’s even more spectacular at night.
Kale Fortress is located at the highest point in Skopje, in the old part of the city, so you can get spectacular views of the city and the Vardar River from the top. It’s really amazing to be able to see the view that the guards used to see back in the days when the wall was key to the defense of the area.
It was built in the 6th century during the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinian I, but it was later damaged during the Ottoman period. The lighting on the Kale Fortress gives a quiet and serene dignity at night.
The Church of Saint Panteleimon is located 17 km south of the center of the city in the village of Gorno Nerezi situated in a monastery complex. It dates from the 12th century, and it’s an amazing example of Byzantine architecture.
The dramatic composition, coloring, and purity of expression depicted in the frescoes are incredible examples of the country’s medieval monumental painting. They display the life and death of Jesus, including the Raising of Lazarus, the Transfiguration, the Entry into Jerusalem, the Presentation of the Mother of God, the Birth of the Mother of God, and the Descent from the Cross. Both the monastery and the church are dedicated to the patron saint of physicians, St. Panteleimon. This is one of Macedonia’s oldest and most beautiful churches that are worth visiting.
There are many parks in this city, but the biggest one is the Skopje City Park occupying around 500.000m2. The park began to take shape in the 19th century, and today it extends between the Boulevard October Revolution from the west, the Leninova Street from the east, the Illinden Boulevard from the south, and the Vardar River from the north.
The Skopje City Park includes the National Sports Arena, the Skopje Zoo, the laser tag arena, many summer night clubs, an amusement park, three beautiful lakes, few restaurants and coffee bars, tennis fields, and a garden variety of similar amusements. There are two parts of the park, old and new. The old one is wilder and has more nature, including bigger lakes where you can go kayaking. The new part includes bars, clubs, restaurants, and the national stadium.
This park is smaller than Skopje City Park, but it’s closer to the center. In fact, it’s in the strict center so you can come here and rest from the long tours. There are many monuments here, including the Woman Warrior monument placed in 1970 in honor of all Macedonian women who participated in the WW2.
You can rest on a bench under the deep shades from the trees and drink cold water from the few fountains in the park during the hot summer days. People here consider this park as a revolutionary park because all of the social cause gatherings and political protests begin or end right here, the Macedonian parliament being right across the street.
“Combining the incompatible” is the slogan of this kafana/traditional restaurant that serves delicious national dishes for any time of the day, accompanied by the sound of rock, jazz, blues, or soul music. It’s located in the center of the city, and it’s a really great and trendy place with a cozy atmosphere. Their menu includes traditional dishes, barbeque, mezze, sandwiches, cocktails, flavored rakija (their national alcohol), breakfasts, desserts, and other inventive bar snacks.
The Chateau Kamnik Winery offers a different, relaxing, and elegant wine tasting in a cozy, yet modern atmosphere with a view over the city. You’ll get the chance to try some of the finest and quality wines while enriching your knowledge of wine production and viticulture. Amazing view and amazing location. It’s one of the best things to do in Skopje for any wine enthusiast.
If you’re in Skopje and it’s raining, or it’s scorching hot, which is common during summer, there are plenty of fun indoor activities. Partaking in an Escape Room is one of them.
An Escape Room is a room where you’re trapped for an hour until you solve certain puzzles and riddles so you can finally escape the room. You can play with up to six players, and the rooms have different themes. There are even some rooms with horror themes, so it’s best to ask for the right one that’s suitable for all members, especially if there are kids. But don’t worry, there are family-friendly themes as well.
It takes a lot of thinking and logic to solve the puzzles, but the whole concept is well-thought, and there’s good storytelling. You can find a few Escape Rooms in Skopje, but the price depends on the room and theme. If you like indoor activities, an Escape Room is one of the best things to do in Skopje.
One final time, here’s a roundup of our 15 best things to do in Skopje. If you do visit this wonderful city, we’re sure you’re going to have a fantastic time!
1 – Track Down as Many Sculptures as You Can
2 – Get Lost in the Old Bazaar
3 – Hike on Mount Vodno
4 – Go to ‘Kafana’
5 – Visit Matka Canyon
6 – Visit Mother Teresa Memorial House
7 – Walk Across the Stone Bridge
8 – Walk Across the Art Bridge
9 – Visit the Kale Fortress
10 – Visit the Church of Saint Panteleimon
11 – Relax in the Skopje City Park
12 – Visit the Park Woman Warrior
13 – Go to Rock Kafana Rustikana
14 – Wine Tasting in Chateau Kamnik Winery
15 – Go to the Escape Room
Book Activities in Skopje at GetYourGuide.
Check out the following services for your trip:
North Macedonia Travel: A Local’s Expert Must-Read Guide
Macedonian Food – 15 Traditional Dishes as Recommended by a Local
Top 26 Things to Do in Porto, Portugal
Renting a Car in Europe
Bosnian Food – 11 Best Traditional Bosnian Dishes Recommended by a Local
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