One of the most interesting destination that I have the chance to visit and to discover in last years is Macedonia. One of the countries of Former Yugoslavia. There is no sea, it is small, but it includes some pearls. Who wants to visit Europe or the Europeans who are searching for some new places has to put on the list of the countries Macedonia. Why?
There are different reasons to do it. First of all it is not well known by tourists and in some towns the countries shows to not be completely ready for mass tourism. This means that travellers can easily find genuine places and to get in touch with the culture and the real life.
Except the capital Skopje, a city recently rebuilt with some kitsch monuments, but with interesting museums and a superb old Ottoman bazaar (carsjia) for its architecture and atmosphere, the country is quite cheap. Especially according the Western standards. The carsjia is full of small craft shops, bars, restaurants, hotels and places for the nightlife. It is also the part of the city with the bigger concentration of attractions.
Outside Skopje the prices are generally quite low and nature is going to cover the biggest part of the country, also if the art is present especially through the religious buildings. There are many places you have to visit:
* Matka Canyon, a beautiful canyon located not far from Skopje. There is a marvellous lake and some medieval monastries around.
* Ohrid, a town built on a hill where are well conserved a Roman anphitheatre, some beautiful and ancient Orthodox churches, archeological finds, Ottoman houses and much more. The lake is the deepest and the cleanest in Europe.
* Pelister National Park, close to Bitola, with amazing nature and views. Bitola itself is full of history and of archeological sites around.
* Mavrovo, the perfect place to see a marvellous and quiet mountain. In winter it is possible to ski.
* Tikves, the region of the wine producers. You will find great and genuine wines and very good restaurants where to taste the traditional recipes.
The list can be longer, but the mentioned place are the ones that you can't miss visitng Macedonia.
Now I want to give some tips, coming from my various journeys through the country.
When you go to stay in a hotel be careful to the bathroom. They are improving but it is a common problem when you have a shower: the water invades the floor. Also don't through the toilet paper into the WC, but put it in the bean. The pipes are generally too small.
The towns and the cities are connected by bus but they are not always on time and the trains are not working very well. So if you move inside the city you can use the taxi because the price is very cheap. Anyway you can always ask before and deal on the price. To go to the airport from Skopje city by taxi it costs 15 euro, meanwhile from the aiport to the city costs 20 euro. Those amount are fixed, but be careful because sometimes they try to cheat. In alternative there is a shuttle for around 5 euros. Meanwhile the best solution to go around Macedonia is to rent a car. Choose the local companies, they are good, with new cars and with very low prices compared to the rates of the international agencies.
English is well known only in the best hotels and where there is a lot of tourism, but of course in the smallest places the speak only Macedonian. Don't worry, people are friendly and they always try to communicate somehow. If you like the easiest way buy in Skopje a vocabulary with the most important sentences in the local language with English translation.
Also in Macedonia it is possible to choose to rent a flat or a room instead to use an hotel. This depends on you, but I recommend to do it in Ohrid. The houses available for tourists use star rating, so you can find almost everything. From a bed in the middle of a flat used by a local family to a luxury small apartment. They are located in the old part with a superb view on the lake. They offer a great experience.
Explore the Macedonian capital – Skopje, during your stay in Sofia and see the breathtaking oldest artificial lake in the country – Matka canyon.