12 Reasons to Visit Skopje: An Undiscovered Gem in the Balkans

If you’re looking for an undiscovered gem in the Balkans, look no further than the city of Skopje.

This charming European city has a lot to offer tourists, including beautiful architecture, a great climate, tasty traditional food, warm hospitality, and much more.

Here are 12 reasons why you should visit Skopje on your next trip to the region!

Reasons to Visit Skopje

A Rich History

Skopje is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Macedonia and its history goes back to at least 4000BC, according to the city’s Wikipedia page.

Skopje also served as an important stop on the Via Egnatia trade route, and many well-preserved Roman ruins can still be seen in the city today.

Fun fact: The Romans called Skopje Scupi.

The city has also been under the thumb of the Byzantines and the Ottomans amongst others. And as you may know, it was also one of the (now) countries which made up the former Yugoslavia.

All of this history has left Skopje with a unique blend of cultures and architecture, which you can see in the many different styles of buildings around the city.

Skopje’s Architecture

skopje architecture

If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ll love Skopje.

The city is home to a number of beautiful buildings, including several medieval churches, Ottoman mosques, and Yugoslav-era monuments.

But the most impressive architecture in Skopje is probably its open Square, which is home to the Stone Bridge, the Old Bazaar, and a number of other important landmarks.

The square was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1963 but has since been rebuilt and is now once again the beating heart of the city.

Skopje’s Old Bazaar

the old bazaar in skopje
A sunny day in the old bazaar of Skopje.

Skopje’s Old Bazaar is also a must-see; it’s one of the largest bazaars in the Balkans and is full of interesting shops and cafes.

Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, it’s worth spending an hour or two exploring the maze of narrow streets and soaking up the atmosphere.

And if you do want to buy something, you’ll find everything from traditional Macedonian crafts, gold merchants, and (as would be expected) traditional tourist-trap souvenir shops.

The Great Climate

Another great reason to visit Skopje is the city’s climate.

Skopje has a continental climate, which means it has hot summers and cold winters.

The best time to visit Skopje, in my opinion, is in the spring or autumn when the weather is mild and the city is at its best.

If you visit during these times, you can expect a just-right temperature of 20-something celsius or mid-70s Fahrenheit.

Tasty & Unique Traditional Local Food

traditional macedonian food in skopje
Traditionally cooked pork ribs from one of my favourite restaurants in Skopje.

The food in Skopje is another reason to visit.

Macedonian cuisine is a delicious mix of Balkan and Mediterranean influences, and you’ll find plenty of traditional dishes to try in the city’s restaurants.

Be sure to sample some of the local wine too, especially the Vrances wines and anything from the Tikves Winery. Skopje is home to several excellent wineries.

I’d also recommend trying Rakija, but I’d advise you to proceed with caution on this one.

Warm & Welcoming Locals

You’ll quickly feel at home in this friendly city.

Skopje’s locals are warm and welcoming, and you’ll often find yourself being invited to join in with impromptu celebrations or simply to have a drink with new friends.

This is one of the best things about Skopje; it’s a city where you can really feel like a local.

It’s Superbly Affordable

If you’re looking for a city break that won’t break the bank, Skopje is the place for you.

Compared to other European capitals, Skopje is extremely affordable. You can get a good meal for under $20, and a beer will set you back less than $0.50.

Accommodation is also very reasonable, with a decent hotel room costing around $60 per night.

To put this into perspective, a meal in Skopje would cost you about the same as a cup of coffee in London.

Airbnbs are also widely available and are a great option if you’re looking for something more homely.

It’s Easy to Get Around

the skopje city centre

Skopje is a small city, and it’s very easy to get around.

The best way to explore is on foot, as most of the city’s main attractions are within walking distance of each other.

If you do need to use public transport, Skopje has an excellent bus and tram system which is very cheap and easy to use.

You can also take a taxi, which is also cheap but unfortunately, a bit of a hassle to get. At the time of writing this, there’s no Uber-like service in Skopje which is a shame really.

Skopje is a Safe City

Skopje is a very safe city, and you can walk around without any worries day or night.

Of course, as with any city, there are areas you should avoid, but these are well-known and the locals will be happy to point you in the right direction.

There’s So Much to Do

Skopje may not be the biggest city, but there’s certainly no shortage of things to do.

As well as all the sights and attractions I’ve already mentioned, Skopje is also home to a number of excellent museums, including the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Independence and the National Gallery of Macedonia.

There’s also a lively nightlife scene, with plenty of bars and clubs to keep you entertained into the early hours.

If you’re looking for somewhere to go for a day trip, the nearby Matka Canyon is well worth a visit.

The Matka Canyon

the matka canyon in skopje

The Matka Canyon is one of the best places to go for a hike near Skopje.

It’s a beautiful spot and there are several easy trails to follow (as well as boat trips you can take), making it ideal for beginners.

There are also a few more challenging routes if you’re feeling adventurous.

And if you want to cool off after your hike, you can take a dip in one of the canyon’s many lakes.

A Great Base for Exploring the Region

Finally, Skopje is a great base for exploring the rest of Macedonia and the Balkans.

There are plenty of day trips you can take from the city, and it’s also well-connected to the rest of the region by bus and train.

As you can see, Skopje is a great city to visit for a number of reasons (and there’s more to it than what I’ve briefly explained above).

In a nutshell, Skopje is an amazing, affordable, easy to get around city and there are plenty of things to see and do.

Skopje is also a great base for exploring the rest of Macedonia (and the Balkans) so if you’re looking for somewhere to visit that ticks all the boxes, Skopje should definitely be at the top of your list!

I hope this has inspired you to add Skopje to your travel plans!

If you have any questions or need help planning your trip, feel free to send me a message. I’d be more than happy to help!

This guide was first published on April 14, 2022 and was last updated on February 23, 2024. For more information, please contact us at contact@skopjeguide.com.