You need to visit Macedonia NOW!
When we started our year in Europe we told ourselves that we would try to see more countries that we have never visited before. As many Aussies can attest to, we Aussies love to travel, but when it comes to Europe, we mainly stick to Western Europe or the countries that are must visits for tourists. That is why, when fate granted us the opportunity to visit a country in Europe that wasn’t on any Aussie’s quintessential Europe itinerary, let alone their minds (yes, many of our friends back home have even asked, where is Macedonia?), then we jumped at the chance. And nearly two months later, we have begun to call this country our second home. With no regrets, we spend most of our time travelling in and out of various countries around Europe from our new home base in Prilep, a charming small city about one and a half hours drive from the capital city, Skopje. So that you too can experience the charm of Macedonia, here are our 8 reasons to visit Macedonia NOW!
No matter where you are in Macedonia, we can assure you that a natural wonder will be close by. From the never-ending mountain ranges to the heart warming amount of sunshine at all times of the year to the long list of lakes with crystal clear water and thriving resorts, to the small and pristine ski fields that are dotted along the mountain ranges, Macedonia has an attraction for every season. Plus, being such a small country, all of these treasures can be reached in a 3-hour drive at most, making the entire country super easy to explore by car.
Our recommendations || Matka Canyon, Lake Berovo, Ohrid, Krusevo
Fantastic local produce
We were really impressed to discover that the produce in Macedonia is outstanding. We spent most of our time living in a small but lively town called Prilep, and we were impressed to find that the local markets only stock produce that is currently in season and that the produce is always fresh, grown locally, and tastes so good. And the best part about Macedonia? The wine. As avid wine lovers back home in Australia, we were really impressed with the great wines on offer here in Macedonia and even loved a few more than our favourites back home. Plus a visit to the actual wineries themselves are a great day out with many offering degustation menus, inclusive of (very generous) tastings of 4 wines, starting from the super affordable price of 10 euro.
Our recommendations | Tikves wines and Stobi wines
We love sitting in cafes, sipping coffee, laughing and conversing, and just appreciating our surroundings. And in Macedonia, no matter which city you choose to visit, the cafes and bars are always buzzing with people having a good time and doing just that. The numerous coffee shops that dot the main streets in each city are welcoming and comfortable with a lively atmosphere that make Macedonia a great country that enjoys café culture to its fullest. So we highly recommend Macedonia as a country to sit back, relax, and enjoy a coffee or a cognac while watching the world, and the locals, go by.
Our recommendations | The cities of Bitola and Ohrid
Tip | Cappuccinos in Macedonia are usually white coffee topped with whipped cream which is a bit excessive for us. So we recommend ordering a latte macchiato or Ladno (cold) latte macchiato, which have the strength of a cappuccino back home without the foam and cream.
“A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Macedonians are very friendly, sociable people, and some of the most genuinely kind people we have ever met. They love to party and hang out together and are always up for a drink and a friendly chat, with coffee or alcohol always included, so you’re guaranteed to always have a fun time with them. Also, many Macedonians speak conversational English and will enjoy practicing their English with you, so don’t be shy and try to strike up conversation with the locals. Plus, after a few rounds of their local favourite drink, Rakija, everyone becomes fluent in the same language making conversation even easier!
UNESCO protected Ohrid
There is a reason that this city is one of Macedonia’s favourite vacation spots, not only for Macedonians, but for a rapidly growing number of international travellers as well. With a busy nightlife, a good range of five star and boutique hotels, a preserved and charming old town, a crystal clear lake with amazing views over the whole lake on a clear day, an abundance of beaches where Summer parties go off, and the classic Macedonian charm and culture that you can find all over the country, it’s no wonder that Ohrid should be on your must visit list.
With the current low value of the Australian dollar, any savings while travelling are greatly appreciated. And Macedonia is a country that will definitely make your dollar go further. Having travelled around most of Europe, we have found Macedonia to be the most affordable country in Europe. To put things into perspective, we have found that the average four-star hotel stay costs around 50 euro a night, an average meal with wine for two people costs about 10 to 15 euro, and a night out with one, or ten, too many shots costs about 8 to 10 euro a person. And that’s not even staying, drinking, or eating at the most expensive restaurants. So if you are looking for a budget destination in Europe, Macedonia is the country for you.
Mother Teresa was born in the capital city, Skopje
Mother Teresa will be canonised on the 4th of September in 2016 so what better time to visit the birthplace of Mother Teresa then now. Not many people know but Mother Teresa was born in Macedonia’s capital city, Skopje. The Mother Teresa Memorial House was opened in 2009 and is built on the location of the church that Mother Teresa was baptised in as an infant. So make sure that you add it to your itinerary for your visit to Macedonia.
That it is so underrated considering all of the above
Our main recommendation is to come to Macedonia before the crowds of tourists beat you to it. With large hotel chains like Ibis and Marriott making a presence in Skopje and national tourism growth at 25% every four years, Macedonia is set to become a new tourist destination for global travellers, so make sure you get here before everything changes. We were so fortunate to have experienced so much of this unique country and we can’t wait to head back for more.
See you in Macedonia! xx