Why visit Skopje, Macedonia?
Skopje is a small city and unlike any other place that I have ever visited. The people are extremely friendly, the cost of living is cheap and it’s almost as if they are living in the past and the future. One minute you can feel as if you are in ancient ruins and the next minute you are walking over a golden bridge surrounded by overly modern towering buildings.
What to do in Skopje
The main and central part of Skopje is called Macedonia Square, a large open space surrounded with places to eat and drink. It is a bright and cheerful area filled with large statues and fountains – a typical tourist haven. This part of Skopje feels extremely modern but there was the constant tourist vibe as people are continuously hassling you to buy sunglasses, beggars asking for change and people posing in groups with selfie sticks. At night (when it is clear) they set up a telescope in the square so you can look up into the sky and identify stars and planets, I was upset that it was too cloudy whilst I was there but you can message the Facebook page to ask daily when and if they are setting up that evening!
You can understand why there has been an uproar in the country – the government has spent so much money on huge buildings and statues to make the country more ‘touristy’ but when you’re there you witness a lot of poverty through the residents.
In Skopje the only form of public transport I used was taxis, the average taxi ride is around 100 DNR (about £1.50) and that can get you more or less anywhere.
From wherever you are in Skopje you can see the famous ‘Millennium Cross’ we ventured up to the top via cable car as it is so high – just remember if you buy a return ticket for the cable car to keep it with you as you will need it to get back down! If it’s a sunny day the ideal thing is to take up a picnic and some beers and enjoy the view. If you are slightly crazy you can also take the 2 hour uphill trek to the top to see the cross, the cross itself is bigger than expected but the views of Macedonia and Albania were breathtaking.
Food and Drink
If you want to buy alcohol from the shop in Skopje you should try their local wine which costs around 100 DNR and is delicious, just be warned you cannot buy alcohol in shops after 7pm.
We visited the Old Bazaar which is as if you have stepped into the past and entered Turkey, the smell of shisha and people sat around drinking Turkish tea is a very relaxed vibe. At the top of Old Bazaar is Old Town Brewery, there was a live band on in the day and we drank locally brewed IPA and lemon and ginger beers. This is supposed to be a tourist hot spot but we weren’t huge fans of the beer as we all got a headache after drinking it… slightly overrated in my opinion. However we did eat some really nice food there including the ‘cheese bowl’ which was just a bowl of 4 different melted cheeses… heaven.
Other places I’d recommend going to is Radio Bar for drinks as they had good electronic music on in the evening and also Brooklynski Jazz Bistro, for amazing salads, good customer service and live jazz 7 days a week. Coffee Factory for a delicious iced coffee and Sushi co for food!