30 Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia in 2023

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Looking for the best places to visit in North Macedonia? This hidden gem in the Balkans is a place that stole my heart during the three months I spent living in Skopje and exploring the country’s many wonders. 

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From crystal-clear lakes to stunning natural landscapes, and ancient ruins to delicious local cuisine, North Macedonia has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a foodie, I assure you that you’ll find plenty of reasons to fall in love with this amazing country.

So, let’s explore the 30 best places to visit in North Macedonia together and discover the beauty of this hidden gem in the Balkans!

1. Skopje

Skopje is the capital city of North Macedonia, and it’s a fascinating mix of old and new. The city has a rich history, having been ruled at various times by the Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and Yugoslavs.

Today, Skopje is a modern city with plenty of amenities and attractions, such as numerous shopping centers, restaurants, and a lively nightlife. Despite Skopje’s modernization, it still holds on to its historic charm with Ottoman-era mosques and bazaars.Skopje - The Capital City of North Macedonia, Famous for Its Mix of Ottoman and Modern Architecture

One of the city’s most impressive sights is the Stone Bridge, a beautiful stone arch that spans the Vardar River and has become a symbol of the city.

However, the Old Bazaar in Skopje was one of my favorite places to explore during my time in the city. It’s a place where history and culture come alive, and you can easily spend hours wandering its narrow alleys and admiring the colorful shops and stalls selling everything from traditional handicrafts to fresh produce.

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2. Vodno Mountain

Vodno Mountain is located just a short drive from the capital city of Skopje. Standing at 1,066 meters above sea level, it’s the highest peak in the Skopje valley, offering wonderful views of the city and surrounding landscape.Vodno Mountain - A Popular Hiking Spot With Stunning Views of Skopje

At the summit, you’ll find the Millennium Cross, a towering 66-meter (216 ft) high cross that’s become a symbol of Skopje. Whether you take a cable car or choose to hike up, I recommend you plan at least a few hours to spend on Vodno Mountain.

And once there, you can take in the panoramic views, grab a bite to eat at the restaurant, hike one of many trails with varying levels of difficulty, or even try your hand at paragliding.

3. Matka Canyon

Matka Canyon is another must-see attraction located just outside of Skopje. During my visit, I had the opportunity to take a kayak tour of the famous Vrelo Cave, which was one of the highlights of my trip. The blue-green waters of the Treska River made for a picturesque journey, and the cave itself was cool to see, too.Matka Canyon - A Natural Wonder Just Outside of Skopje and One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

But don’t worry if you’re not much of a kayaker. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore that offer stunning views of the canyon and the surrounding landscape.

In fact, I heard that one of the best trails was leading from Matka Canyon to Vodno Mountain. I didn’t have the chance to do that hike, but if you do, let me know in the comments below how it was!

4. Ohrid

Nestled along the shores of Lake Ohrid, the city of Ohrid is a must-visit destination in North Macedonia. This charming city is just one of the several places along the lake that I will cover in this blog post.

Ohrid’s historic old town is a definite highlight of the city. There you can wander through cobblestone streets, take in the traditional architecture of the buildings, and imagine what life was like in ancient times.Ohrid - World Heritage Site and a Charming Old Town, One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia1

Make sure to stop by the Ohrid Fortress, a medieval castle offering breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the lake. And speaking of must-visit spots, the church of St. John at Kaneo with the lake in the background was my favorite spot in the city!

To get to the church, you can take a scenic walk from the old town or even take a boat. Once there, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Ohrid Lake and the surrounding mountains.

5. Trpejca

Trpejca is a charming little village located on the shores of Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia. With its picturesque stone houses and tranquil atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some peace.

Trpejca - A Picturesque Village on the Shores of Lake Ohrid, One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

The village is known for its beautiful pebble beach. Go for a stroll along the waterfront and admire the beautiful views of the lake and the mountains.

And if you’re looking for some adventure, you might consider checking out those mountains, since Trpejca lies right at the foot of the next place on this list, which is…

6. Galičica National Park

Located between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa, Galičica National Park is a nature lover’s paradise and a must-visit destination in North Macedonia. With well-marked trails ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes, the park offers panoramic views of both lakes from its highest peak.

As you trek through the lush forests and rolling hills, keep an eye out for the park’s diverse wildlife, including deer, wolves, and even the endangered Balkan lynx.

Galicica National Park - A Mountainous Park With Hiking Trails, and One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

One of my favorite hikes in the park was the one to the peak of Magaro. The panoramic view of Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa from the top is truly unforgettable, so don’t forget to bring your camera!

While exploring Galičica National Park (and other national parks in North Macedonia), it’s important to keep in mind that you may come across some of the park’s diverse wildlife, including bears, deer, and the rare Balkan lynx.

I’ve met people who have had encounters with these animals, so it’s best not to venture too far off the beaten path alone. Therefore it’s always a good idea to notify park rangers or someone else before embarking on a hike, just in case.

7. Radožda

Radožda concludes our list of the best places to visit in and around Lake Ohrid. This fishing village is a hidden gem that is the perfect place to escape the crowds and soak up the local culture.

Radožda is known for its traditional architecture, with many of the buildings dating back to the Ottoman era. One of the highlights of Radožda is the Church of St. Archangel Michael, a beautiful church with stunning views of the lake.

Wander through the narrow streets, take in the peaceful atmosphere, and don’t forget to sample the local cuisine. After all, Radožda is known for its fresh fish dishes, so be sure to visit one of the many seafood restaurants in the area.

8. St. Naum Monastery

Situated in the south of Lake Ohrid, this historic site is one of the most popular attractions in North Macedonia.

The monastery is named after St. Naum, a medieval saint, and disciple of Cyril and Methodius, who is said to have performed miracles in the area. The monastery was built in the 10th century and has been an important pilgrimage site ever since.St. Naum Monastery on the Shore of Lake Ohrid, One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

The complex is surrounded by a lush green forest and overlooks the tranquil waters of Lake Ohrid. Take a walk around the monastery’s picturesque gardens and enjoy the serenity of this holy place.

Besides that, you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the nearby natural springs, which you can reach by taking a short boat ride from the dock near the monastery.

9. Bay of Bones

The Bay of Bones is an archaeological site and museum that is located on the shore of Lake Ohrid. This reconstructed settlement of pile dwellers from the Bronze and Iron Ages will take you on a journey back in time.

Bay of Bones is an archaeological site that showcases prehistoric pile-dwelling.

The Bay of Bones is a complex of wooden structures built on piles over the lake, giving you a glimpse into the ancient way of life in this region. The site was discovered in 1997 during an underwater archaeological expedition, and since then, it has been carefully reconstructed and turned into a fascinating open-air museum.

You can even explore the reconstructed houses, see how people used to live and learn about the culture and customs of the prehistoric era. One of the best places to visit in North Macedonia!

10. Vevčani

Vevčani is a village in western North Macedonia that’s full of character and personality. What makes this village special is its rich cultural heritage and its beautiful natural surroundings.

The village is known for its traditional carnival, which takes place every year on January 13th and 14th and attracts visitors from all over the country. During the carnival, the villagers dress up in colorful costumes and parade through the streets, singing and dancing.

Besides that, the village is known for the Vevčani springs which are located on the eastern slope of Jablanica mountain range. These springs stretch from the village up to an altitude of 2000 meters in the mountains and create a unique setting with wooden bridges over a rocky terrain, definitely worth stopping by!

11. Bitola

Bitola is North Macedonia’s second-biggest city and is located at the foot of Mount Pelister. Once known as Monastir, Bitola has a rich cultural and architectural heritage dating back to the Ottoman period.

One of the main attractions in Bitola is the old bazaar, a bustling market district with winding alleys and shops selling everything from handicrafts to spices.

You can spend hours getting lost in the maze of narrow streets, admiring the Ottoman-era architecture and soaking up the lively atmosphere. Also, make sure to take a stroll through the Shirok Sokak, the city’s main pedestrian street lined with cafes and shops.

Bitola is a hidden gem that’s often overlooked by tourists, but it’s a city that’s worth exploring. Not only does it have its unique charm, but it’s also a great base for exploring beautiful surroundings, such as the following three places.

12. Heraclea Lyncestis

Heraclea Lyncestis is a remarkable ancient city that dates back to the 4th century BC. Situated just a few kilometers outside of Bitola, this well-preserved archaeological site is a must-visit destination for history lovers.

Take a walk through the ancient city and explore the fascinating ruins, including the well-preserved theater, stadium, and Roman baths. The mosaics that have survived are particularly fascinating, as they offer a glimpse into the lives of the people who once lived here.

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as the site is quite large and can be hot during the summer months. And be sure to stay until sunset, when the ruins take on a magical glow in the fading light!

13. Pelister National Park

Located just a short distance from Bitola, Pelister National Park offers breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, crystal-clear lakes, and lush forests.

Just like Galičica National Park, Pelister National Park is a paradise for hikers, with a variety of trails to suit all levels of experience. In summer, challenge yourself with a climb up the imposing Mount Pelister, the park’s highest peak.Pelister National Park - A Mountainous Park With Glacial Lakes Is One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

And in the winter months, when the park is transformed into a winter wonderland, you will find opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports.

14. Prespa Lake

If you’re visiting Pelister National Park, make sure to also stop by Lake Prespa. This tranquil lake is situated between North Macedonia, Albania, and Greece, and is known for its clear waters and beautiful natural scenery.

Stroll along the scenic shoreline or take a boat ride to explore the lake’s many small islands, such as snake island.Prespa Lake - A Scenic Lake on the Border With Greece, One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

This small island is home to a large population of non-venomous water snakes, which are harmless to humans but can be a bit unnerving to encounter. Still, a unique and fascinating experience for those interested in wildlife and nature!

15. Mavrovo National Park

Mavrovo National Park is one of my favorite places in North Macedonia. It’s a nature lover’s paradise, with stunning landscapes and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, such as hiking, mountain biking, and skiing in the winter months.

The park is home to the beautiful St. Jovan Bigorski Monastery which I loved for its unique architecture and peaceful surroundings.

Also, you should make sure not to miss the Duf Waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. The trail leading up to the waterfall is an easy walk and provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Mavrovo National Park - A Stunning Wilderness Area With Hiking Trails, Lakes, and Abundant Wildlife

My favorite part of Mavrovo National Park though was the village of Galičnik. I only got there by accident since I took the wrong road and ended up there with nowhere else to go. But I was happy I did because the view from up there into the valley was incredible!

If you would like to learn more about this beautiful national park, feel free to read my complete guide about Mavrovo National Park which covers everything from how to get there to the best attractions, hotels, restaurants, and much more!

16. Tetovo

Tetovo is a vibrant city in North Macedonia, full of history and culture. One of its must-see attractions is the Monastery of Leshok, a beautiful and peaceful place with stunning frescoes and serene surroundings.Tetovo and Monastery of Leshok - A Vibrant City With a Colorful Bazaar and a Beautiful Monastery Set in a Tranquil Forest

While in Tetovo, be sure to stroll through the lively old town and visit the bustling bazaar, where you can find everything from traditional handicrafts to delicious local food. And don’t forget to try the famous Tetovo-style grilled peppers – they’re a real treat!

17. Šar Mountains

Located near Tetovo, the Šar Mountains are home to numerous glacial lakes, waterfalls, and dense forests, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.

One of the most popular destinations in the range is Popova Shapka, a ski resort that’s perfect for both beginner and experienced skiers.ar Mountains - A Stunning Mountain Range With Hiking Trails and Ski Resorts

Aside from skiing, the Šar Mountains are also great for hiking and exploring the stunning natural scenery. The peaks of the Šar Planina range reach over 2,700 meters and offer amazing panoramic views of the area.

18. Kokino Observatory

Kokino Observatory is a unique archaeological site located in the north of North Macedonia. It dates back to the Bronze Age and was used to observe the movement of the sun and the moon and to keep track of the seasons by ancient people over 3,800 years ago.

Today, visitors can explore the site and see the remains of the observatory, including stone markers and platforms that were used to mark the position of the sun and the moon.Kokino Observatory - An Ancient Observatory and Archaeological Site With a Spectacular View of the Surrounding Mountains

But the real highlight of Kokino Observatory is the stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, which stretches out for miles in all directions. I highly recommend visiting Kokino Observatory, especially during sunset, when the colors of the sky create a breathtaking backdrop for the view.

19. Kratovo

If you’re looking for a picturesque town to explore, be sure to add Kratovo to your itinerary. Located about an hour away from Kokino Observatory, this hidden gem is situated in a valley and surrounded by towering cliffs.

Kratovo’s most striking feature is its unique architecture, with many of the houses and buildings built right into the cliffs themselves.Kratovo - A Charming Town With a Maze-Like Network of Stone Streets, Bridges, and Towers

Stroll through Kratovo’s narrow streets to experience a trip back in time, and make sure to see the 17th-century Stone Bridge that offers breathtaking views, as well as the Church of the Holy Trinity, featuring beautiful frescoes and woodcarvings.

20. Kuklica Stone Dolls

Located just a short distance from Kratovo, the Kuklica Stone Dolls are a must-visit for anyone exploring this part of North Macedonia. These curious rock formations are said to resemble human figures and are surrounded by myths and legends.Kuklica Stone Dolls - Mysterious Natural Rock Formations in One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

One story suggests that they are the remains of a wedding party that was turned to stone by an evil sorcerer, while another tale tells of a local farmer who fell in love with a woman who rejected him, leading him to create the dolls in a fit of rage.

21. Lesnovo Monastery

Just about 20 km (12.5 mi) away from Kratovo and the Stone Dolls lies the Lesnovo Monastery, a well-preserved medieval monastery that is worth a visit if you’re in the area.

The church is particularly notable for its stunning frescoes and intricate woodcarvings, which date back to the 14th century.Lesnovo Monastery - A Well-Preserved Medieval Monastery With Impressive Frescoes and Architecture

If you visit the Lesnovo Monastery you can also explore the beautiful grounds, which are home to several gardens and orchards, as well as a small museum showcasing the monastery’s history and artifacts.

22. Veles

Veles is a city in North Macedonia that is often overlooked by tourists, but it has a lot to offer. The city is located on the banks of the Vardar River, and it has a rich history dating back to Roman times, with archaeological finds dating back to the Neolithic period.

However, one of the most notable attractions in Veles is the World War II monument, which is shaped like a giant eagle and honors the local resistance fighters who fought against the Nazi occupation.

23. Prilep and Treskavec Monastery

Like many other places in North Macedonia, Prilep is known for its rich cultural and historical heritage, as well as its stunning natural surroundings. But Prilep is also known for something else: its tobacco production.

Visit the Tobacco Museum and learn about the history and production of this important local crop. Or simply explore some of the city’s landmarks, like the beautiful 13th-century Marko’s Tower, the Ottoman-era clock tower, and the Church of St. Dimitrij.Prilep - A City Known for Its Historic Monuments, and a Nearby Monastery Carved Into a Cliff

One of the must-visit attractions near Prilep is the Monastery of Treskavec. It is situated on the slopes of the Pelagonia mountain range and overlooks the city of Prilep and the surrounding mountains and valleys.

The monastery itself is a peaceful and serene place, with ancient stone walls, intricate frescoes, and a quiet courtyard where you can sit and reflect. A true hidden gem and an absolute must-visit if you’re in the area!

24. Stobi Archeological Site

Located in central North Macedonia, Stobi is an impressive ancient archaeological site that offers a fascinating glimpse into the region’s rich history. Take your time to explore the well-preserved ruins of this former Roman city, where you can admire an amphitheater, basilica, and other impressive structures.

And while you’re there, be sure not to miss the chance to see the old Roman bridge that spans the Vardar River and pay a visit to the nearby Stobi Winery, where you can taste some delicious local wines.

25. Demir Kapija Canyon

Demir Kapija Canyon is a hidden gem in North Macedonia that lies at the confluence of the Vardar and Lepenec rivers. The steep walls of the canyon rise on either side, creating a narrow passage that’s perfect for hiking or simply taking in the views.

In ancient times, Demir Kapija Canyon was an important trading route that connected the Aegean Sea to the Danube River. Today, you can still see remnants of the old Roman road that once passed through the canyon.Demir Kapija - A Scenic Gorge and Wine-Producing Region in North Macedonia Is One of the Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia

After exploring the canyon, you can head to the nearby town of Demir Kapija, where I recommend you visit the Popova Kula Winery and sample some of the region’s delicious wines. The winery is known for producing high-quality wines using traditional methods and local grapes.

26. Smolare Waterfall

Smolare Waterfall, located above the village of Smolare in the southeastern region of North Macedonia, is the tallest and the only permanent waterfall in the country. It falls from a height of 39.5 meters (129.5 feet) and is situated at Mount Belasica at an elevation of 630 meters.

To reach the waterfall, you will take a pleasant hike through the forest, enjoying the serene sounds of the Lomnica River as they approach the stunning cascade.

27. Dojran Lake and Spa

Dojran Lake and Spa is a picturesque destination in the southeastern part of the country, located on the border with Greece. Lush vegetation and hills surround the lake, which is known for its sandy beaches and great opportunities for hiking and the natural scenery.

Many people know Dojran for its spa resort, which is perfect if you are looking for a bit of relaxation and pampering. The spa offers a variety of treatments, like massages, saunas, mineral baths, and mud wraps.

28. Kruševo

Kruševo is a real hidden gem in North Macedonia and is known as the highest town in the Balkans, sitting at 1,350 meters above sea level. Explore the old town with its cobblestone streets and the traditional Macedonian architecture, including the unique and colorful tower houses.Kruševo - A Town Known for Its Traditional Architecture and the Makedonium Monument

The town is also known for hosting an annual festival celebrating the Ilinden Uprising, a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire that took place in August 1903.

Dedicated to this historic event is the Makedonium, a unique monument that stands tall as a symbol of the struggle and bravery of the Macedonian people.

29. Tikveš Lake

Tikveš Lake is the largest artificial lake in North Macedonia and is located in the southern part of the country. This beautiful lake is surrounded by hills and mountains, making it the perfect spot for nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers.

There are several hiking trails and bike paths around the lake, and you can enjoy the local cuisine at the nearby restaurants. And if you like wine, make sure to visit the Tikveš Winery, which produces some of the finest wines in North Macedonia!

30. Kriva Palanka

Kriva Palanka is a small town located at the northernmost point of North Macedonia, right at the border with Bulgaria. Despite its size, the town has a rich history and culture, with several interesting sites to visit.

One of the most famous attractions in Kriva Palanka is the Monastery of St. Joakim Osogovski, located in the nearby Osogovo Mountains. The monastery, built in the 12th century, is a beautiful example of medieval Byzantine architecture and features stunning frescoes and iconography.

Few Things to Consider

When preparing for a trip to North Macedonia, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your adventure. First, renting a car is the best way to see all of the amazing sights the country has to offer. With a car, you’ll have the freedom to explore the beautiful countryside, visit ancient cities, and take in stunning mountain vistas.

To support a charitable cause while saving time and money on car rentals, I suggest using the search widgets on this website. I am partnering with Rentalcars.com and Economy Bookings, and every successful booking through these links earns me a commission, and I donate 50% of it to charity, without you paying more than you would when booking directly on their websites.Rent a Car With Giving Getaway and Start a Road Trip Through North Macedonia

The same goes for travel insurance. In North Macedonia, having travel insurance is especially important as it can cover costs related to accidents or medical emergencies. To ensure you’re covered, consider purchasing travel insurance from EKTA, which is my first choice.  

EKTA offers worldwide coverage, COVID-19 protection, 24/7 client support, transparent contracts, online policy purchases, and no hidden restrictions on medical services. Get your travel insurance online with EKTA and support the charity through Giving Getaway. Again, 50% of the commission from our partner is donated to trusted organizations!


North Macedonia may be a small country, but it is home to many hidden gems waiting to be discovered beyond the popular destinations of Skopje and Ohrid.  

I had the pleasure of spending three months exploring its natural beauty, rich history, and warm hospitality, which is why I felt like sharing my experience and highlighting some of the best places to visit in North Macedonia.

If you are looking for a unique and authentic experience in an off-the-beaten-path country, I assure you that you will fall in love with North Macedonia!

Are you ready to plan and book your trip to North Macedonia? Then please consider booking your travel essentials such as hotels, flights, rental cars, and more with Giving Getaway.

With each completed booking, Giving Getaway earns a commission, 50% of which will be used to organize charity events like the 2021 Christmas gift drive for kids and teenagers in a children’s home in Montenegro.

So not only will you have an amazing trip, but you’ll also make a difference with Giving Getaway!30 Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia in 2023 Banner

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1 year ago

I had Lake Ohrid on a Balkan itinerary a few years ago! Really wanted to go but I had been traveling for two months and felt tired. I ended up staying in Montenegro longer than expected just to rest. I missed Macedonia because of it, but I hope to get back and see it.

1 year ago
Reply to  Taylor

There are worse places to be stuck than Montenegro 😀 Lake Ohrid is quite nice for sure, but after two months it’s understandable you didn’t want to go further. After all, Montenegro also has a lot to offer and I’m sure you had a great time there. 🙂

Linda (LD Holland)
1 year ago

Macedonia really was not on my travel radar. So it was great to learn a little more about North Macedonia. It sounds like it has a little to offer everyone. The outdoor spots look lovely. So many great national parks. But I like the mix of small towns too. I can see why you recommend renting a car. We probably won’t have 3 months but it looks like it is worth a long stay.

1 year ago

Honestly, it also wasn’t really on my radar before I decided to go there. But especially the outdoor spots are fascinating and still wild and untouched compared to other places in Europe. But as you said, it’s a good mix and North Macedonia also has some really nice towns, I hope you’ll get to see them one day. 🙂

1 year ago

This is an amazing in depth review of Macedonia. I am intrigue by the stone dolls.

1 year ago
Reply to  Lorry

Glad you liked it Lorry, I also really liked the stone dolls!

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