Welcome to the Old Bazaar in Skopje, Macedonia! This historic marketplace is a vibrant and bustling hub of activity where you can find a wide range of goods, from fresh produce and spices to handmade crafts and souvenirs.
The bazaar is a must-see destination for visitors to Skopje, and in this guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know to make the most of your visit.
Getting to the Old Bazaar
The Old Bazaar is located in the heart of Skopje, just a few minutes’ walk from the city center and across the old Stone Bridge.
The easiest way to get there is by foot, as the bazaar is easily accessible from many of the major tourist attractions in the city.
If you are staying in a hotel or hostel in the city center, you can simply follow the signs to the bazaar or ask a local for directions.
Another option is to take public transportation. Skopje has an extensive network of buses that can take you to the bazaar, and there are several stops within walking distance of the market.
If you decide to take a bus stop that will take you to Macedonia Street, which is the main street of the city, you would only have to cut through the square and cross the bridge, and you will find yourself at the entrance of the Old Bazaar.
You can also take a taxi or ride-sharing service, which is a convenient option if you have a lot of shopping to do or if you are traveling with a group.
A taxi will likely leave you close to The Holocaust Memorial Center, from where you will be able to see the entrance of the Old Bazaar, as it is only a short, one-minute walk away.
What to Expect at The Old Bazaar
The Old Bazaar is a maze of winding streets and alleyways, with hundreds of shops and stalls selling a wide range of goods.
You will find everything from fresh produce and spices to handmade crafts and souvenirs, and the atmosphere is lively and bustling.
The bazaar is a great place to explore, and you will find many hidden gems and interesting shops if you take the time to wander through the streets.
One of the highlights of the bazaar is the food.
You will find many traditional Macedonian dishes on offer, including grilled meats, stuffed peppers, and burek (a savory pastry filled with cheese or meat.)
Additionally, since the bazaar is an ethnically mixed area of the city, here, you can also indulge in traditional Albanian and Turkish foods, along with a myriad of places where you can have traditionally prepared and served Turkish tea and coffee.
Furthermore, if you are looking to immerse in the culture, you can also visit places such as Hookah Bar Hürrem and Black Shisha Bar to experience traditional hookah smoking.
The bazaar is also a great place to meet locals, and try some of the local wines and beers, and you will find many stalls offering tastings and samples.
You can specifically find Macedonian brewery-style bars such as Old Town Brewery, which is famous for its in-house beers, specifically craft beer, which seems to be a huge hit with tourists.
The place is also a hot spot for locals, especially during summer when the atmosphere is super lively. However, if you prefer a silent and more relaxed atmosphere, avoid this place during weekends cause there’s often loud live music that may not make an ideal environment for someone who just wants to have a glass of beer in peace and quiet.
Additionally, if you want to switch things up a little while still tasting delicious beers, make sure to check out Beer House Kaldrma, a place well-known for its good beer and schnapps and a hot spot for locals hanging out. The place is also super cozy and perfect for relaxing after a long day of exploring the bazaar.
Shopping at The Old Bazaar
The Old Bazaar is a great place to shop, and you will find many unique and interesting items on offer.
At the entrance and the beginning part of the Old Bazaar, you will find a mixture of tradition and modernity
In this part, you can find traditional Macedonian crafts like filigree ornaments and jewelry, beautiful handmade ceramics, woodwork, and textiles, particularly handwoven tapestries in traditional patterns and vibrant colors, along with modern clothing, bags, etc.
Additionally, the Old Bazaar is also famous for its copper products, and many shops sell everything from decorative plates and cups to traditional copper coffee pots.
Furthermore, in this part of the Old Bazaar, you will find small shops or stalls with traditional Macedonian foods and drinks, such as honey, wine, ajvar (a type of relish made of roasted red peppers), rakija (a local brandy made of various fruits, but most frequently plums) and various spices which make great souvenirs to take home and enjoy whenever you want.
Finally, if you are an antique lover, you will certainly find the Old Bazaar an interesting place to scour as, as you move further inside and scroll through the narrow, cobblestone streets, you will find many shops and stalls offering a wide array of vintage items, from old coins and stamps to antique furniture and artwork.
Here, you will also find vintage clothes, selections of old uniforms, and accessories like old leather bags that can easily be restored and worn as a statement piece today or kept as a souvenir.
Now, as you start entering deeper into the bazaar, you will notice a shift in the environment and goods offered for sale.
While the beginning, or what the locals call the “touristy area,” is more focused on showing off a mixture of tradition and modernity, the deeper end of the place is where locals actually shop for various items.
Here, you will find an endless sea of stalls that sell pretty much anything you can think of, from technology to cosmetics, clothes, accessories, and so much more.
This is where many local people shop because the prices are generally lower compared to buying the same items at a store in other areas, and you can always haggle for a good deal if that’s something you enjoy doing.
What Else Can You Do at The Old Bazaar?
Shopping, exploring, and tasting traditional drinks and dishes are the few main things to do in the Old Bazaar.
But in addition to that, you can also visit some of the area’s historic buildings and architectural sites, such as the Daut Pasha Hammam, a 15th-century Turkish bath turned art gallery, and the Kapan Han, a former caravanserai also built in the 15th century by Bosnian general Isa-Beg Isaković in order to provide a regular source of income for his endowment.
Today, the place houses a popular restaurant where you can indulge in delicious traditional foods when needing a break from walking the streets of the Old Bazaar.
Besides discovering some of the hidden gems of the area, the Old Bazaar is only a short walk from the city’s famous Kale fortress, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of Skopje.
Built in the 6th century AD, the fortress stands as a testament to the city’s long and varied history. Its ancient stone walls and towers have witnessed centuries of change from the Roman Empire to the Ottoman era and beyond.
As you wander through the fortress, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe at the passage of time and the layers of history beneath your feet, which will only be amplified by the several exhibitions within the fortress that delve into Skopje’s past, providing fascinating insights into its cultural heritage.
After exploring the fortress, you may want to take a stroll along the Vardar River, which flows just south of the Old Bazaar. The riverfront is lined with parks and cafes, making it a perfect place for a leisurely walk or a relaxing coffee break.
In conclusion, the Old Bazaar area in Skopje offers not just a shopping experience but a journey through history, culture, and gastronomy. It’s a place where every street, building, and shop tells a story, inviting you to delve deeper and discover the rich tapestry of Skopje’s past and present.
8 Tips for visiting the Old Bazaar
Is The Old Bazaar Safe for Tourists?
Yes, the Old Bazaar in Skopje is generally safe for tourists, as is all of Skopje.
The bazaar is a popular destination for both locals and visitors, and crimes, including petty crimes of opportunity such as pickpocketing, are rare here.
However, as with any crowded place, it is always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and take basic safety precautions, such as not carrying large amounts of cash or valuables and staying in well-lit and populated areas.
Additionally, while visiting the Old Bazaar, you will likely notice beggars in the area, and while it’s entirely up to you whether you want to help out with spare change, try not to engage in a lengthy conversation as this can open up the opportunity for persistent begging, scams, and potential aggression over the amount of money being given.
Overall, the Old Bazaar is a safe and enjoyable destination for tourists.