I spent eight week in Macedonia and am struggling putting such an amazing experience into words. I was placed in Macedonia by Project Hope, as I was working in the Children’s Hospital of Skopje volunteering in the NICU/PICU. The people in Macedonia welcomed me with open arms and I will forever be grateful for meeting them. It takes a special person to be able to welcome someone from a different country who doesn’t speak the native language… and Macedonian is filled with not one, but hundreds of these types of people.
Macedonia has still managed to fly under the radar and hasn’t seen much tourism yet. I urge you to go explore before such a thing happens. It offers countryside, lakes, canyons, hikes, and more. Read on to find out why you should visit Macedonia and what the country has to offer.
Macedonian Bucket List
Drink Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is the drink of choice among Macedonians. It’s a strong coffee brought to Macedonia by the Turkish people; but the coffee bean itself is from Brazil. You can find Turkish coffee in any restaurant around town.
Day trip to Ohrid
While sometimes argued about, research shows that Ohrid is potentially the oldest natural lake in all of Europe. Also being an UNESCO World Heritage Site, make visiting Ohrid a priority. If you have an entire weekend to spend, I would urge you to stay, relax, and explore. If you don’t have a weekend to spend, at least stay for one day.
Eat Kebabs (kay-bobs)
Kebabs is one of the native dishes of Macedonia. My favorite Kebabs were found in Skopje from Old Bazaar.
Visit Kanjon Matka
Matka is a beautiful canyon 17 km (10 mi) outside of the capital, Skopje. It offers bars, restaurants, hotels, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking… the works!
Drink Rakia with Your Appetizer
Rakia is a popular drink among the locals. It’s a type of alcohol made out of grapes (in some cases plums or pears). Macedonians SIP it while they enjoy their appetizer.
Hike Vodno Mountain to Millennium Cross
Millennium Cross is over 200 years old and overlooks all of Skopje. You can see it from almost any part of the city! The hike is grueling, but the views are worth it! If you aren’t much of a hiker, there is a lift to take you up to the top.
Eat Toast for Breakfast
Macedonian toast is not like American toast. Or any other westernized country for that matter. While Macedonians eat “toast” for breakfast, it sounds unconventional. Here you’ll find the toast stuffed with ham, cheese, french fries, mayo, and ketchup.
Note: Breakfast is the heaviest meal of the day. Usually carbs and fried, eaten around 10am. Dinner is the lightest meal, typically salad or yogurt served late at night.
Eat Shopska Salad
Shopska salad was my favorite local dish in Macedonia. Made of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, and white cheese from cows, it can be found in any restaurant.
Speak the Local Language (or at least try!)
Stravo = Hello
Fallah = Thank you
Dobar den = Good afternoon
Dobra ultro = Good morning
Dobra nok = Goodnight
Nazdravje = Cheers
Carb Load for Breakfast
The big meal of the day in Macedonia is breakfast! There are so many delicious breakfast items to choose from. I suggest trying them all! But if you can only choose a few, my favorites were the breakfast pizza, toast, meat pie, and the spinach and cheese pie.
If you find yourself visiting Macedonia, realize that it’s a place you must search for the beauty. But once you find it, it grabs hold of you and won’t let you go.