Scenic Instagram shots have probably forever redefined the notion of traveling. If you want a memorable holiday – I used to believe – you’ll need a thick traveling budget. Sheer coincidence, however, has taught me otherwise. The first time I learned about Macedonia, it was through a CNN commercial. Fast forward 3 weeks later, and I was holding my passport, while boarding for a flight across the ocean.
The reason why this country caught my attention was twofold –Mediterranean climate and lush scenery on one hand, and ridiculously low prices on the other.
Discovering Macedonia is a timeless adventure; a way of enjoying the perfect holiday without burning a hole in your pocket. So let’s walk together, through the unforgettable scenery of Macedonia, discovering a true paradise on Earth.
The capitol Skopje
Mixing old and new, the capitol stands erect, watching over hundreds of years of cultural heritage. The old bazar, like a time capsule, is witnessing the Ottoman period, with a specific architecture and everyday dynamic.
The city, though urban and modern, includes dozens of churches and mosques, each dating back hundreds of years ago.
Mixed with chick cafes and modern nightclubs, Macedonian tradition gives a unique stamp on the city. You’ll hear traditional music, meet old motives, and taste food that is a reminder of a distant past.
The park forest of Vodno
In close proximity of the city, you’ll meet the lush and beautiful mountain of Vodno. It is a gift from heaven for all nature and mountain enthusiasts, featuring dozens of bike trails, hiking challenges and panoramic views of the entire city.
The cable car will take you to the top and back, where you can see the millennial cross – a gigantic orthodox structure towering above the city.
If you happen to visit Skopje during the summer, dozens of paragliding professionals will be eager to take you for a ride. The prices, for both the cable car and the flying experience, are ridiculously low.
Make sure to visit Canyon Matka
It took me a while to discover this iconic place, and some logistical nightmares to get there since the road was under construction… But the scenic view was spectacular. So much so that I can say this with certainty – Matka is one of the most memorable places in Europe.
Popular only in certain traveling circles, even veteran nomads haven’t heard about it.
It is a few miles long canyon, filled with crystal green water stretching between massive rock formations. We hired a guy to take us down the canyon with a boat, and later took a kayak ride to complete a day I’ll never forget.
Matkaalso has a nice restaurant, with a splendid view over the canyon, and affordable prices on food for you to enjoy.
Heading to Ohrid
Ohrid is probably the main reason why people are visiting Macedonia. While Skopje, the capitol, can make your head spin for days to an end, Ohrid will make your camera snap pictures left and right.
The lake is crystal clear and offers some of the most scenic views you’ll ever enjoy.
Culture though, is what is setting Ohrid apart. Dotting the map, there are more than 300 churches and monasteries. Nowadays turned into museums, some of them are a place for art exhibits, cultural events, and reviving history.
You can enjoy the lake, take a boat to visit the Monastery of Saint Naum (highly recommended), and discover the springs that literally paint with all the colors of nature.
Do make sure to visit the church of Kaneo, from where you can enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the lake.
Each city and town being in close proximity to a mountain can tell you one thing – Macedonia rests in a mountainous region. And this is exactly why adrenaline aficionados are coming in droves.
You can hike, camp, mountain bike, fly around with a paraglider, and enjoy the monumental sights of nature. And the GalicicaMountain has something else to offer as well – right at the very summit, you can have a clear view of both lakes – lake Ohrid and lake Prespa, from your left and right.
The village of Mavrovo
Famous for its submerged church, the village of Mavrovo makes it on many of the postcards. It is situated in a small mountainous region, with a lake that is crystal clear and quite scenic. The church is a sight to explore, where you can film a beautiful time-lapse with the setting sun.
Macedonia is a gastronomic paradise
Another reason why I love Macedonia is the food that is very hard to resist. Macedonians know how to prepare a garden variety of vegetables, and mixed them skillfully with meat, so each dish tastes phenomenally.
They also make some of the best cheese you’ll have the pleasure of tasting. Booking a nature slash gastronomic adventure tour, we headed towards the village of Galicnik, tasting different types of cheese while horse riding through unforgettable scenery for the entire day. Check this out – the price for this unmatched experience was roughly about $20.
You’ll taste some of the best wine as well, visiting traditional vineyards that look exactly like those Italian countryside haciendas featured in the movies.
Folding up this letter, I’ll remind you of a fact worth rejoicing over – Macedonia, though unique and unforgettable, is one of the most affordable destinations in the world. The flight back and forth is what dictates the budget, for otherwise you’ll spend much less once you land.
The food is ridiculously affordable, and experiences comewith a price tag low enough to allow you a month long holiday at least.
Slavko Desik is a serial startup founder and a part time lifestyle blogger who loves to travel. Currently, he is enjoying the country of Macedonia. His moto is to live life fully, for there is no other thing you should be busier with.