HI I'M... SKOPJE
“You’re going where now?”
Skopje is not your obvious weekend break… But hey who wants to be predictable?
Macedonia’s capital boasts the largest bazaar in the Balkans and spawned Mother Teresa 🙏 It’s also the gateway to the country’s canyons, mountains and traditional villages. All good stuff.
It’s time to say Здраво (hello!) to Skopje…
Art & ArchitectureNo matter where you’re standing in Skopje, there’s a weird monument staring down at you. You’ll find horse-riding warriors, girls out for a shopping trip and the saint of our times, Mama Teresa.
But don’t let them distract from the bizarre buildings all around you. The Central Post Office is straight out of Orwell's 1984. That, or a crash-landed spaceship.
There’s lots of Brutalist apartment blocks and old factories but they sit in between Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman buildings. You’ll find examples of all of these periods on the same street - that’s what centuries of invasions will do.
Do a walking tour and make sure to stop at Daut Pasha Hammam, an old Turkish bathing house that’s been converted into a cracking art gallery.
NatureJust a hop from the center (20 mins in a taxi) you’ll find the mystical Matka Canyon. Cut into the Suva Mountain, the river snakes around medieval buildings, ancient monasteries and many a dark, enchanted cave.
Hop in a kayak or an old school raft, stopping in to see the frescos in the Monastery of St. Andrew’s.
Keep driving further up into the mountains (about an hour) and you’ll reach Popova Sapka - one of Europe’s best value ski resorts.
EatIt might not be the most famed cuisine in the world but Macedonia's got some scoffable meats and cheeses.
Stara Gradska Kuka (Old House) is a good place to start. It’s the oldest (obvs) traditional house in Macedonia (built in 1836). Try the sheep’s cheese while they serenade you with national instruments…
La Tana is another rustic, authentic option. It’s bang smack in the centre but is filled with plants and flowers so you feel like you're eating in jungly garden. They do juicy grilled meats and excellent wine.
DrinkEvery cafe is a bar here. Good. You’ll find ridiculously cheap beer and spirits everywhere you go. Lots of pop-ups open in the public parks over the summer and street vendors in the Turkish Bazaar sell drink any time of year.
Izlet is a cafe-bar hidden under a canopy of giant leaves and exotic flowers. Choose a coffee or a cocktail and get serenaded by chilled jungle beats.
For something heavier (like cartoon anvil heavy) head to Sektor 909. Packed out in the way a small DJ room should be, vibrate with the crowd to the likes of Terrence Parker or Kiko Navarro (both played here recently). This is Macedonia’s underground music scene.