Here are four ideas for day trips from Skopje, North Macedonia. Lakes, hiking, churches, and more await you at every turn.
During our Balkan trip, we could not miss visiting North Macedonia and its capital city, Skopje. We heard many exciting stories from other travelers, so we were definitely ready to see this fantastic place.
Many people were mentioning Skopje as the city of many weird sculptures. We were a bit overwhelmed when we arrived in Skopje and explored the city! Yes, there are many, many odd sculptures everywhere.
You will find all kinds of sculptures, some of them remind you of the past, some are just for decoration and others quite funny like the statue of the shopping girl.
As this post is about day trips from Skopje, we wanted to share other places in the North of Macedonia that are worth visiting.
We realized that many people visit only Skopje and miss the beautiful nature you can find very close to the capital city.
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1. Matka Canyon
Matka Canyon is located just about 17km from the city center, so it is a perfect place for a day trip from Skopje.
Matka Canyon is a nature paradise offering breathtaking scenery and probably one of the most stunning places we have visited in the North of Macedonia.
How to get to Matka Canyon
The easiest option is definitely by car. If you have your own vehicle like us or rent one, it is around 20 20-minute drive from Skopje city. The good thing is that there is no parking fee, and there was a lot of space during the low season. For sure, during July and August, it might be more crowded.
If you don’t have a car, many people choose a bus, which is also the cheapest option if you are on a budget. You can take bus number 60 from the central bus station, and you should be able to get to Matka Canyon for about 2-3 euros.
The last option is by taxi, which is convenient for four people. The cab in the North of Macedonia is very cheap, so taking a taxi to get to Matka Canyon might cost even less than a bus. On the way back, many taxis are waiting, so you can catch one to get back to the city.
Things To Do At Matka Canyon
When you arrive at the destination, you will see the Monastery of Saint Andrew and the Canyon Matka Hotel and Restaurant.
There are many things to do at Matka Lake, so choose the best option for you.
Rent a Boat
If you want to see the canyon differently, rent a boat with a local guide. It is about a 30-minute ride when sharing the boat with other people.
The highlight is a boat trip to Cave Vrello, which includes the cave visit. The New7Wonders of Nature project added Vrelo Cave as one of the world’s top 77 natural sites. The boat trip takes about 2 hours, and you can see many stalagmites, stalactites, and dripstone pillars.
The price is more than affordable, and you can take beautiful pictures of the canyon from the water.
If you like adventure, rent a kayak to explore Matka Lake independently. You can rent a single or double kayak per hour.
Visit Saint Nicolas Monastery
The Monastery of St.Nicolas offers a panoramic view of the entire canyon, and to get there, you have to climb for about 30 minutes. It is definitely worth the view, but make sure you are ready for the walk.
Have lunch or dinner at Canyon Matka Restaurant
When you arrive, you will see a big terrace with a spectacular canyon view. In this restaurant, you can taste traditional Macedonian food and wine.
Hiking Matka Canyon
If you love hiking, this is the perfect place for you. A trail goes all the way to the end of the canyon. We walked for about 30 minutes and returned as we realized it takes about 5-6 hours to reach the end.
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2. Mavrovo National Park
Mavrovo National Park is located about 100km from Skopje, and it offers spectacular scenery and popular mountains like Shara, Deshad, and Bistra. Korab Peak is known to be the highest in North Macedonia, with its 2,764m.
One of the highlights is definitely the Mavrovo Lake, which offers many recreational activities like swimming, kayaking, or fishing.
Your attention definitely brings to the half-submerged Saint Nicolas Church, which is only accessible when the water goes back through the year.
This area is excellent for hiking lovers, and during the winter, people come here to spend a perfect ski weekend.
3. Tetovo Mosque And The Arabati Baba Teke Dervish Monastery
Tetovo Mosque is officially called Šarena Džamija, translated as Painted Mosque. Initially built in 1438 and rebuilt in 1833, it is an excellent example of Ottoman Baroque architecture with spectacular floral wall paintings.
Arabati Baba Teke, Tetovo’s Dervish Monastery, is another iconic religious building in Tetovo. It has a lot of history and is considered the finest surviving Bektashi monastery in Europe. This teke consists of prayer rooms, dining halls, lodging, and fountains.
4. Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid is located in the North of Macedonia and is considered one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes. Ohrid city was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, and it is a fascinating destination for even more than a one-day trip.
We recommend walking in the Ohrid Bazaar and Old Town of the city, climbing up to Samuel’s Fortress, and enjoying some relaxing time at the lake beaches. For sunset lovers, spend some time at the Ohrid port, where you can see how the sky changes the color every night.
Saint John at Kaneo is another top attraction to see in Ohrid. This orthodox church is located on the cliff of Kaneo Beach, about a 15-minute walk from Ohrid port. It has a great view above Lake Ohrid and is also a perfect spot for a picnic during the summer.
We will add one interesting point: in Ohrid; you can find the complex of Villas, a favorite summer destination for Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav communist revolutionary and leader of Partisans.
Overall, we recommend staying in Ohrid for at least two days as it is a beautiful destination with many things to see and explore.
When you plan a trip to the North of Macedonia, we recommend having some time to visit Skopje and areas outside of its capital. For us, these four places are the best day trips from Skopje, and we hope you will find time to visit some of them.
These are just four ideas for day trips from Skopje; let us know below what others we should add.