Traveling to North Macedonia and wondering what to do in Skopje on a weekend getaway?
Learn about what to do in Skopje in 2 or 3 days by using our comprehensive travel guide, which features top attractions, restaurants and popular day trips.
Our ideal weekend in Skopje features a centrally located hotel so you can visit all of the top attractions and restaurants on foot.
Whether you’re a history buff looking to visit ancient churches and fortresses or a foodie keen to taste authentic Macedonian dishes, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Skopje!
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What To Do In Skopje North Macedonia
Skopje, the handsome capital of North Macedonia has plenty of charm.
For most of its existence, Skopje has been a modest Balkan city known for its rich local life, but the last decade has seen its centre transformed into a bizarre set design for an ancient civilization. Towering warrior statues, gleaming, enormous neoclassical buildings, marble-clad museums, hypnotic mega-fountains, and plenty of stone-faced lions.
This is all the result of a controversial, nationalistic project called ‘Skopje 2014’ implemented by ex–Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
If you have the time we’d recommend planning 3 full days to explore Skopje’s awesome attractions and mouth-watering restaurants. You can also squeeze in a fun day trip or two!
What To Do In Skopje Travel Guide
Skopje’s Ottoman and Byzantine-era sights are focused around the city’s Čaršija, bordered by the 15th-century Kameni Most Stone Bridge and Tvrdina Kale Fortress.
Don’t miss the excellent eating and drinking scene in Debar Maalo, a lovely tree-lined neighbourhood.
Skopje must see attractions and places of interest are located in the centre of town and are easy to explore on foot without the need for a taxi or tram.
ibis Skopje City Center
When figuring out what to do in Skopje the first thing you need to do is book a centrally located hotel. We suggest using Google Maps so you can plan each day of your itinerary knowing how far each attractions is on foot or via the city’s transit system.
The ibis Skopje City Center is a modern hotel conveniently located in the heart of the capital. Macedonia Square is conveniently just a stones throw from the hotel, while the city’s museums and tourist attractions are also within walking distance.
Ibis is a French brand of economy hotels owned by Accor, part of the Fairmont family. Created in 1974, Ibis became Accor’s economy mega brand in 2011 with the launch of Ibis Styles and Ibis Budget. The slogan is “well-being at the best price.” As of 2023, there are over 1,300 Ibis hotels in over 65 countries.
The 110 room hotel features clean, modern interiors, comfortable ibis Sweet Beds and reusable water bottles. You can relax in your room, grab a drink at the lobby bar or sip an espresso on the outdoor terrace.
Guests gather each morning to indulge in an ibis breakfast all-you-can-eat buffet, which combines the elements of a traditional continental breakfast with local specialities. Highlights include Macedonian cheese stuffed muffins, bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, croissants, selection of cold cuts and cheeses, fresh fruit, coffee and Turkish tea.
The Old Bazaar is a market located in Skopje that is situated on the eastern bank of the Vardar River, stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit-Pazar and from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava river.
Skopje Old Bazaar is massive – ranked the second largest Ottoman bazaar of its kind in Europe (after the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul).
The city’s historic Old Bazaar includes art galleries, mosques, museums, restaurants, bars and of course shops selling local craft, rugs and tourist trinkets.
The city’s bustling market dates back to the 12th-century, making it the oldest marketplace in the Balkans and one of the original trading hubs of Europe.
Step inside the bazaar and it feels like you’re walking through a maze of oddly shaped city blocks, covered bezisten market areas, and narrow stone alleys that often open up into broader streets and lively public squares.
Are you a shopaholic wondering what to do in Skopje? One of the highlights of the market is meeting with traditional tradespeople and artisans. Keep your eye out for silver filigree, traditional Macedonian costumes and clothing, clay pottery, colourful carpets, leather (especially Opanci peasant shoes) and community era memorabilia.
The Bazaar is open 24/7 but most shops open their doors around 8am and stay open until sunset.
Church Ascension of Jesus
The Church of the Ascension of Jesus is an Eastern Orthodox church in Skopje’s historic Bazaar.
The church was built in the mid-16th century and is three-nave, with the middle vessel arched and flat pages covered with gains in domes. It features amazing wooden iconostasis from 19th-century.
On the south wall, during the repair of the church in the 1960s a flat painting dating from the 16th-17th century was discovered.
The door for entering in the yard is heavy and made from oak. In the yard is a white sarcophagus containing the remains of the revolutionary Gotse Delchev.
Old Town Brewery
Are you a craft beer lover wondering what to do in Skopje?
Old Town Brewery is Skopje’s favourite craft brewery, considered a pioneer in Macedonians growing craft food and drink scene.
In 2009 the founders opened a trendy beer bar simply titled Old Town Brewery, in the heart of the Old Town in Skopje. Later in 2015 they fulfilled a dream and were able to begin producing their own our craft beer recipes.
Following the old German beer law Reinheitsgebot, Old Town Brewery’s beer is made with only 4 ingredients: barley, hops, yeast, and water. Hop up at the bar to sample styles like Pilsner, IPA and Porter.
Old Town Brewery is conveniently located just outside of the Church Ascension of Jesus. Visit in the evening for a pre-dinner drink to enjoy a lively atmosphere thanks to live musicians who entertain the patio crowd.
The Stone Bridge is a historic bridge that straddles the Vardar River in Skopje.
The bridge is considered a symbol of Skopje and is the main element of the coat of arms of the city, which in turn is incorporated in the city’s flag. It connects Macedonia Square to the Old Bazaar.
The current Stone Bridge was built on Roman foundations by Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror between 1451 and 1469. Most of the Stone Bridge originates from the Ottoman period.
The Stone Bridge is built of solid stone blocks and is supported by columns that are connected with 12 semicircular arcs. The bridge is over 200 metres long and 6 metres wide.
Macedonia Square is the main square in Skopje, the beating heart of the city.
It is the biggest square in North Macedonia, located in a central part of the city, crossing the Vardar River via the Stone Bridge.
Each December a Christmas festival is held at Macedonia Square and throughout the year it also hosts cultural and political events as the city’s de facto gathering place. The independence from Yugoslavia was declared here by the first president of Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov.
What makes the place so special is its beautiful architecture and design. Tourists gather here to take pictures of the many statues and monuments situated throughout the square. The most notable is the jaw-dropping fountain above which the statue of the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great stands.
During the night the square takes on a magical vibe, as it is illuminated by many twinkling lights.
The Skopje Fortress, commonly referred to as Kale (Turkish), is a historic fortress located in the old town of Skopje. The fortress is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city’s flag.
It is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River and is partly located in the western part of the bazaar.
Iterations of the fortress have existed on the site since the 6th-century. It was constructed with yellow limestone and travertine, along with fragments of Latin inscriptions. Material for the fortress originated from the Roman city of Skupi, which was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 518.
The fortress is thought to have been built during the rule of emperor Justinian I and constructed further during the 10th and 11th centuries over the remains of emperor Justinian’s Byzantine fortress, which may have been destroyed due to a number of wars and battles in the region.
In early 2007 research and excavation of the Skopje Fortress funded by the Macedonian government commenced. Researchers discovered woodwind instruments and clay ornaments dating as far back as 3000 B.C. Excavation of the main fortress also revealed houses below the fortress’ visible level. The discoveries are believed to have belonged to inhabitants of Scupi on which the fortress was built.
If you’re wondering what to do in Skopje at sunset? Hike up to the fortress to enjoy beautiful panoramic views over the city.
Mother Teresa Memorial House
The Mother Teresa Memorial House is dedicated to the Catholic saint and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa. It is located in her hometown Skopje where she lived from 1910 to 1928.
The retro-futuristic memorial is the most unique church you’ll find in Macedonia. Inside the building there’s a small 1st-floor museum displaying memorabilia relating to the famed Catholic nun of Calcutta.
On the 2nd floor there is a mind-boggling chapel, with glass walls wrought in filigree, Macedonia’s revered traditional craft. Silhouettes of doves are worked into the filigree to symbolize peace, as an homage to Mother Teresa.
The simply titled Art Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that stretches across the Vardar River in the centre of Skopje.
The bridge features many statues of famous Macedonian artists and musicians. It was built as part of the larger Skopje 2014 project, with an estimated construction cost of €2.5 million.
The bridge includes 29 sculptures, with 14 at each side and one in the centre, including Lazar Lichenoski and Alexander Shopov.
After crossing the Art Bridge stroll the promenade section of the west side of the river. It’s a nice place to sit and enjoy the views of the museums and the Fortress across the Vardar.
Archaeological Museum of Macedonia
The Archaeological Museum of Macedonia is situated on the left bank of Vardar River, next to Skopje’s landmark Stone Bridge.
The museum is the oldest of its kind in North Macedonia existing for almost a century. Its permanent exhibition presents over 7000 artifacts of historical and cultural value.
The artifacts tell stories of the local inhabitants, their material and spiritual cultures from early prehistory to the end of the Ottoman period.
Highlights include ancient jewelry and coins, a hall of stone statues and glittering gold ornaments.
Museum of the Macedonian Struggle
The Museum of the Macedonian Struggle first opened to the public on the 20th anniversary of the declaration of independence on 8 September 2011.
The building is located between the Museum of Archaeology, the Holocaust Museum of Macedonia, the Stone Bridge and the Vardar River.
The exhibit covers the period from the beginning of the resistance movement against the Ottoman rule, until the declaration of independence from Yugoslavia on 8 September 1991. Guided tours take visitors through 13 exhibits ending in front of the original copy of the 1991 Declaration of Independence.
It is Skopje’s most modern museum, featuring hundreds of wax figures and dramatic displays. North Macedonia’s struggle is rather gruesome so we’d suggest not bringing the kids.
The National Gallery is Macedonia’s top art museum, located in the Old Bazaar in Skopje. Founded in 1948, the museum’s collection dates to the 14th century.
Its permanent collection is housed in the 15th century Turkish Bath building known as the Daut Pasha Baths.
Highlights include a collection of Macedonian drawings and graphic art as well as work by Yugoslavian artists.
Mustafa Pasha Mosque Skopje
Mustafa Pasha Mosque is an Ottoman-era mosque located in the Old Bazaar of Skopje.
The structure stands on a plateau above the Old Bazaar, built in 1492 by Çoban Mustafa Pasha, who later became vizier on the court of Sultan Selim I.
The mosque is largely intact from its original state, and no additions have been made through the years. The body of Umi, the daughter of Mustafa Pasha, is entombed in the türbe next to the mosque. In the summer visit to stroll through the mosques sweet smelling rose garden.
Church of St. Panteleimon
The 12th-century church of St. Panteleimon is a short 15 minute drive from downtown Skopje near the tiny village of Gorno Nerezi, located high on the forested slopes of Mt. Vodno.
The church is one of the oldest and most important in North Macedonia. It was built and painted in 1164 under the patronage of Byzantine Prince Alexios Komnenos whose name is made immortal as it is carved in marble, right above the entrance in the church.
The church and monastery are dedicated to St. Panteleimon, the patron saint of physicians. Church of St. Panteleimon has a domed cruciform core, three apses and a rectangular narthex. It is built of irregular stone blocks and brick embedded in thick layers of mortar. The surrounding monastery complex is enclosed by walls.
The monastery is most famous for its exceptional fresco paintings, which convey dramatic facial expression and emotions not commonly found in Byzantine art. You can spot classic religious scenes like Communion of the Apostles, Transfiguration, the Raising of Lazarus, the Birth of the Mother of God, the Presentation of the Mother of God to the Temple, the Entry into Jerusalem and the Descent from the Cross.
Wondering what to do in Skopje on a day trip outside of the city?
Matka is a canyon located west of Skopje, which covers roughly 5,000 hectares. Matka Lake within the Matka Canyon is the oldest artificial lake in the country.
The canyon is one of North Macedonia’s most popular areas for alpine hiking. The climbing season begins around Easter and ends in November. Kayaking on the Treska River is a popular activity, as are fishing, hunting, and swimming.
There are also ten caves at Matka Canyon, the most popular one being Vrelo Cave. It was even included on the list of top 77 natural sites of the world in the New 7 Wonders of the World project.
The canyon area is also home to several historic churches and monasteries. Most popular is St. Andrew’s Monastery, founded around 1388 by Prince Marko’s brother Andrew, which is situated in the gorge of the Treska River.
Vodno Hill Cable Car
Vodno is a mountain in Skopje, which tourists can visit via several hiking trails or scenic cable car.
In 2002, on Krstovar Peak the Millennium Cross was erected. It is ranked as one of the world’s largest Christian crosses.
The gondola offers an easy ascent to visit the Millennium Cross. The ropeway includes 28 regular gondolas for eight persons and two VIP gondolas for four people. The lift starts at Middle Vodno and ends at the Millennium Cross. The route is 1,750m long, with the ride lasting around 8 minutes.
If you love a scenic panoramic view add Vodno Hill to your list of what to do in Skopje.
Wondering what to do in Skopje on a fun day trip outside of the city?
Stobi is located in the heart of North Macedonia’s most famous wine region, smack dab in the centre of the country, a short 1 hour drive from the capital.
Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia, later conquered by Macedon, and finally turned into the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris.
It is located on the main road that leads from the Danube to the Aegean Sea and is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in North Macedonia. Stobi was built where the Erigon river joins the Axios, making it strategically important as a centre for both trade and warfare.
Tour groups enjoy walking through the ancient Roman city today to explore the crumbling remains.
The impressive archeological site includes a Roman amphitheatre, basilica, palace, synagogue, public fountain, thermal spa, and homes of the ruling elite.
The most impressive feature is the well-preserved stone mosaics featuring images of peacocks and deer.
Stobi is located in central North Macedonia in a region called Tikves, which is famous for being the heart of the countries wine production.
The region accounts for 83% of North Macedonia’s total wine production, and most of the wine produced in Povardarie is red. The most common wine varieties are Vranec (red) and Smederevka (white).
Tikves Wine Region stretches across 13.000 ha, along the same latitude as Rioja and Ribera del Duero. As the Mediterranean climate from the south collides with the continental climate from the north, it creates an area most remarkable for grape growing and wine production on the Balkan Peninsula.
Stobi Winery is a short 5 minute drive from the archaeological site. Most day yours from Skopje include a stroll through the ancient Roman city followed by a wine tasting at lunch at a nearby winery.
We visited Stobi Winery, one of the largest winer producers in North Macedonia. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the massive production facility and barrel aging room before sitting down to a wine tasting. The estate features an elegant indoor dining room as well as an outdoor covered patio.
Stobi Winery cultivates a range of different local and international grape varieties such as R’kaciteli, Smederevka, Temjanika, Chardonnay, Zilavka, Zupljanka, Muscat Ottonel, Riesling, Vranec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Syrah, and Prokupec.
Whenever I travel I love to sample traditional dishes to better understand the local cuisine.
Whether it is raining or shining, if you’re wondering what to do in Skopje you can always take the time to eat and drink!
In Skopje there are plenty of places to enjoy an authentic meal with locals as numerous restaurants serve traditional Macedonian dishes.
Some of our favourite Macedonian recipes worth ordering on Skopje restaurant menus include:
- Ajvar: roasted red pepper spread. Often combined with Macedonian white cheese.
- Tavce Gravce: baked beans with spicy peppers, onions and tomato
- Burek: flaky filo dough filled with vegetables or meat. A popular breakfast dish.
- Polneti Piperki: cheese-stuffed roasted peppers.
- Selsko Meso: pork and mushroom stew.
- Sarmi: stuffed cabbage rolls.
- Chevapi or Kebapi: grilled minced meat sausages.
- Pastrmajlija: Macedonia’s version of pizza features small oval crusts topped with plenty of meat and egg.
- Shopska: is a cold salad featuring tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, roasted red peppers, parsley and grated white cheese.
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