Ah, the city of many statutes! Of all shapes and sizes. Each one trying to tell a different story. I’ve never seen so many in one place before! Traumatised by years of war and later a catastrophic earthquake, as much as 80% of the city has been destroyed. While it might be still poor and developing, it’s certainly trying to reinvent and show its real potential. Nonetheless, it still lacks the attention from the tourists… which is exactly why you should get there. Even one day in Skopje will prove you how beautiful the city really is!
Getting to Skopje
I caught a direct flight to Skopje. There is an airport shuttle bus Vardar Express that offers transport between the airport and the city centre. Allegedly, the bus timetable is coordinated with the flight arrival times, but I’ve had to wait about an hour for the bus. The bus fare costs around 175MKD (approx. €3) and takes only half an hour. I got off at the international bus station to catch a bus to Ohrid.
From Skopje to Other Destinations
In the city centre, there’s a main bus station, which is adjacent to the train station. Skopje is perfectly located in terms of international links to other foreign cities including Belgrade, Istanbul, Thessaloniki, Pristina and many more! So if you feel one day in Skopje is enough, you can catch a bus to some of these destinations – the timetable available here. There is also a train, including a night train, and for the time details you can have a peak here. The prices vary depending on where you want to get. However as everything else in the Balkans, the prices tend to be relatively low and therefore affordable to go on a trip abroad.
I’ve decided to explore more of Macedonia. So, as soon as I got to Skopje, I jumped on the bus and head down South to a small town called Ohrid. If you love small, serene places this is the place for you. I absolutely fell for this little gem. I talk all about it in my other blog post “Discover Ohrid – Hidden Gem of the Balkans”. If you would like to visit Ohrid, or perhaps other cities in Macedonia, here’s the best website for all the bus and timetable information.
I got back to Skopje and did some sightseeing before catching my next bus to Pristina in Kosovo. If you’re interested in finding out more about my stay there, you can read about it on my blog post “Day Trip to Kosovo – the World’s Second Youngest Country”.
Things to do in one day in Skopje
Macedonia had a tough history. From years of war to disastrous earthquake, which has left Skopje in pieces. Although, the city has been rebuilt since, those tragic events have destroyed most of the historical monuments. There’s still that ‘developing and poor’ feeling that the country carries, which is probably one of the main reasons Macedonia is nowhere near the top of the places to visit in Europe. Nonetheless, Skopje still offers interesting tourist places that are worth exploring. Here’s a list of the tourist attractions in Skopje.
Skopje is located in the valley, surrounded by the hills wherever you look. On the top of Vodno mountain, there is one of the biggest crosses in the world – the Millennium Cross. It can be seen from the downtown or you can get a closer look at the top. There are two ways for you to get there. There’s a cable car going right up to the top, which costs 100MKD per adult for a return. Alternatively, you can also hike there. It’s a great place to view the city from the top. The cross has been placed there as a memorial of 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia and the world.
One of the oldest and biggest marketplaces in the Balkans. Mainly Ottoman architecture can be seen here with some modern additions as a result of the reconstruction following the earthquake damage. The old streets are filled with market stalls, shops, bars and restaurants. It’s an interesting contrast to a modern square located just across the river. Bazaar is best visited at night, when it comes alive.
The main square in the city with the popular statue and fountain of Alexander the Great also known as “Warrior on a Horse”. It’s a big area with modern bars and restaurants. There are many statutes and fountains around this area. Probably, too many. These have been introduced as part of the “Skopje 2014” project to add more cultural touch to the city. Unfortunately, some of the statues have been criticised for lacking meaning. On the second thoughts, these might have been rather left for own personal interpretation, kind of like modern art.
Mother Teresa Memorial
One of the main streets coming from the main square is Macedonia street. There, you can find Mother Teresa Memorial House. You can go inside to explore the exhibits of the world known humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize winner. These include her pictures, letters, awards, and some other artefacts. It’s a great place to acknowledge all her work and get inspired by the power of human kindness and caring.
Standing on the Vardar river, this historical monument is a symbol of Skopje. It connects the new square with the old bazaar, which makes it feel like crossing a timeline when walking across it.
This triumphal arch on Pella Square, has been dedicated to 20 years of Macedonian independence. There are interior rooms – one used as a souvenir shop and the other as space for weddings. You can also go up to the roof to get a glance of the city from above.
Also referred to as Kale, which means fortress in Turkish. Situated on the highest hill in the Skopje, it offers a good viewpoint of the city. Despite taking a walk around the walls, there’s not much to explore up there.
Clock Tower Saat Kula
Those remains of the church, is one of the few historic monuments left in Skopje. Every bazaar in Macedonia had a clock tower. In the past, the majority of population were Muslim. The clock tower reminded them to close their stores five times a day to attend prayer. The working hours were also introduced, so nobody had a chance to work and earn more than the other.
Outside of Skopje
If you covered all those things during your one day in Skopje, but still want to discover more of Macedonia, I strongly recommend visiting Ohrid. This is a hidden gem of the Balkans, or even possibly of Europe. One of the most tranquil and charming places I’ve been to.
Some other places worth visiting close to Skopje include National Park Matka Canyon. It’s a great place for someone who loves nature and outdoor activity, as you can hike and kayak there.
Would you consider visiting not so tourist-popular destinations like Skopje?
Like it? Pin it! 🙂