Skopje vs Belgrade: Which City Comes Out on Top?

Skopje and Belgrade, two vibrant cities in the Balkans, each offer a unique blend of history, culture, and charm.

If you’re planning a trip to this region, you may find yourself faced with a delightful dilemma: which city should you visit, Skopje or Belgrade?

In this article, we’ll dive into the highlights of both cities, exploring their distinct characteristics, attractions, and experiences to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you’re drawn to Skopje’s blend of ancient and modern architecture or are enticed by Belgrade’s lively nightlife and cultural scene, we’ll provide insights and comparisons to assist you in choosing the perfect destination for your next adventure.

So, join us as we embark on a journey through these captivating cities and uncover the reasons why Skopje and Belgrade both deserve a spot on your travel itinerary.

skopje vs belgrade

Geography

Skopje and Belgrade are two cities located in the Balkan region of Europe.

They are both situated on the Balkan Peninsula, but they are separated by a distance of approximately 430 kilometers. In this section, we will explore the location and climate of both cities.

Location

Skopje is the capital and largest city of Macedonia.

It is located in the northern part of the country, on the upper course of the Vardar River.

Skopje is situated at an elevation of 240 meters above sea level, and it covers an area of approximately 571 square kilometers.

The city is a center for metal-processing, chemical, timber, textile, leather, and printing industries.

Belgrade, on the other hand, is the capital and largest city of Serbia.

It is located in the central part of the country, at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Belgrade covers an area of approximately 360 square kilometers, and it is situated at an elevation of 116 meters above sea level.

The city is an important transportation hub for the Balkans and Southeast Europe.

Climate

The climate of Skopje is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa) under the Köppen climate classification system.

The city experiences hot summers and cold winters, with a significant amount of precipitation throughout the year.

The average temperature in July is around 24°C (75°F), while the average temperature in January is around 1°C (34°F).

Belgrade, on the other hand, has a humid continental climate (Dfa) according to the Köppen climate classification.

The city experiences hot summers and cold winters, with a moderate amount of precipitation throughout the year. The average temperature in July is around 22°C (72°F), while the average temperature in January is around 0°C (32°F).

Overall, both Skopje and Belgrade have similar climates, however, Skopje has slightly higher temperatures in the summer, while Belgrade has slightly lower temperatures in the winter.

Culture and History

Skopje and Belgrade both have rich cultural and historical backgrounds that have shaped the cities into what they are today.

From architecture to cuisine, art, and music, each city has its own unique identity.

Architecture

Skopje and Belgrade have both been influenced by different cultures throughout history, which is reflected in their architecture.

Skopje is known for its Ottoman-era buildings, while Belgrade has a mix of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and modernist architecture.

In Skopje, you can find the famous Stone Bridge, which was built in the 15th century and connects the old bazaar with the modern city center.

Belgrade’s most famous landmark is the Kalemegdan Fortress, which dates back to the 2nd century AD.

Cuisine

The cuisine in Skopje and Belgrade is heavily influenced by the Balkan region.

In Skopje, you can find traditional dishes such as tavce gravce, a baked bean dish, and ajvar, a red pepper spread.

Belgrade is known for its grilled meats, such as ćevapi and pljeskavica, and its famous kajmak cheese.

Both cities also have a vibrant cafe culture, with plenty of outdoor cafes where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and people-watch.

Art and Music

Skopje and Belgrade have a rich history of art and music.

Skopje is home to the National Gallery of Macedonia, which houses a collection of Macedonian art from the 14th century to the present day.

Belgrade is known for its underground music scene, with plenty of clubs and bars where you can catch live music. The city is also home to the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs classical music concerts throughout the year.

Historical Sites

Both Skopje and Belgrade have a wealth of historical sites to explore.

In Skopje, you can visit the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, which tells the story of the country’s struggle for independence.

Belgrade has several important historical sites, including the Nikola Tesla Museum, which is dedicated to the famous inventor, and the Museum of Yugoslav History, which explores the country’s past.

City Life

skopje at night from mount vodno
Skopje at night from Mount Vodno.

If you’re considering a move to either Skopje or Belgrade, it’s important to understand what city life is like in each place.

Here’s a breakdown of the key factors that can impact your daily life.

Population

Belgrade is a larger city than Skopje, with a population of around 1.4 million people, compared to Skopje’s population of approximately 500,000.

This means that Belgrade can feel more crowded and busy than Skopje, especially during peak hours.

Transportation

Both Skopje and Belgrade have public transportation systems that include buses and trains.

However, Skopje’s transportation system is less developed than Belgrade’s, and buses can be crowded and unreliable.

In Belgrade, you’ll find a wider range of transportation options, including a metro system and trams.

When it comes to getting around by car, both cities can be congested during rush hour, but Belgrade’s wider roads and more developed infrastructure can make driving easier overall.

Nightlife

Both Skopje and Belgrade have vibrant nightlife scenes, with plenty of bars and clubs to choose from.

In Skopje, the Old Bazaar area is a popular spot for nightlife, while Belgrade’s Skadarlija district is known for its lively atmosphere and traditional restaurants.

One key difference between the two cities is that Belgrade’s nightlife tends to start later and go on longer than Skopje’s, with some clubs staying open until dawn.

However, this can also mean that the party scene in Belgrade can be more intense and rowdy than in Skopje.

Shopping

If you’re a fan of shopping, both Skopje and Belgrade have plenty of options.

In Skopje, the City Mall and Eastgate are two popular shopping destinations, while in Belgrade, the Usce Shopping Center and Delta City Mall are both large and well-known.

One thing to keep in mind is that prices for imported goods can be higher in Skopje than in Belgrade, due to Macedonia’s landlocked location and smaller economy.

The Cost of Living

cost of living of skopje vs belgrade
More numbers on Numbeo.com.

Accommodation

When it comes to accommodation, Belgrade is more expensive than Skopje.

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Belgrade is $474.19, while in Skopje, it is $296.80.

However, keep in mind that these prices can vary depending on the location and amenities of the apartment.

Food and Drink

Belgrade is also more expensive than Skopje when it comes to food and drink.

The cost of a meal in a mid-range restaurant in Belgrade is around $14, while in Skopje, it is around $9.

A domestic beer in Belgrade costs around $2.20, while in Skopje, it is around $1.50.

Entertainment

When it comes to entertainment, both cities offer a variety of options at reasonable prices.

The cost of a monthly public transport ticket in Belgrade is around $31.12, while in Skopje, it is around $27.67.

The cost of a movie ticket in Belgrade is around $5.50, while in Skopje, it is around $4.50.

Overall, while Belgrade is more expensive than Skopje in terms of cost of living, both cities offer affordable options for accommodation, food, and entertainment.

It is important to keep in mind that these prices can vary depending on the location and the specific amenities you are looking for.



After comparing Skopje and Belgrade, you can see that both cities have their unique features and attractions.

Skopje is a smaller city with a lower population density and a lower cost of living, making it an attractive option for those looking for a more affordable place to live or visit.

On the other hand, Belgrade has a larger population and more developed infrastructure, making it a better option for those looking for a bustling city with more job opportunities.

When it comes to climate, Skopje has a slightly higher average maximum temperature than Belgrade.

However, both cities experience similar weather patterns and temperatures throughout the year.

If you’re a sports fan, you may prefer Belgrade as it has more big sports facilities like stadiums and arenas.

Skopje, on the other hand, has its own unique attractions, such as the Old Bazaar, the Stone Bridge, and the Millennium Cross.

Ultimately, the decision of which city to choose depends on your personal preferences and priorities.

Whether you’re looking for a more affordable and laid-back lifestyle or a bustling city with more job opportunities, both Skopje and Belgrade have something to offer.


This guide was first published on May 15, 2023 and was last updated on February 20, 2024. For more information, please contact us at contact@skopjeguide.com.