Macedonia is a solo-tourist destination with a female-friendly atmosphere, but we give it 3 out of 5 stars because the majority of street name signs are in Cyrillic, making navigation difficult. Despite any language barrier, the residents are nice and helpful, so if you want to avoid getting caught up in Greek politics, Albania, or Kosovo’s political tensions, stay away from these issues.
Here’s our guide to solo travel in Macedonia, as well as a wealth of practical information like where to stay, which tour company to use, and how to get around. Learn how to get from the airports and what to do in each location. All of the businesses listed have been recommended by single female travelers and have earned our Solo Female Friendly accreditation. Simply choose the appropriate category or continue reading for additional information.
Things To Do in Macedonia
The Republic of Macedonia, internationally recognized as North Macedonia, is a landlocked country in the Balkans. The nation declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has been marked by political disagreement with Greece ever since over the use of “Macedonia” in its title.
Despite the fact that many individuals visit Greece for their holidays, Macedonia is left off the list. What it lacks in seas and beaches, it more than makes up for in mountains, lakes, and rivers. Lake Ohrid (meaning “on the hill”) is the first city you come to if traveling overland from Albania. Lake Ohrid is one of Europe’s oldest lakes, thought to be three million years old.
UNESCO has labelled both the lake and city as world heritage sites. The latter takes up two thirds of the space belonging to Macedonia, with the final third going to Albania. Rather than your typical sandy beaches, many people opt to lie on benches in bikinis and swimming trunks to tan. Although if that’s not your style, you can always take a boat ride across the lake where there is a more sand-based beach.
The town of Ohrid that encircles the water is bustling with restaurants, churches, and shops. In Ohrid’s heyday, there was a church for every day of the year–earning it the nickname ‘legend of 355 churches.’ Today, some of the most popular ones are St John and St Sofia, both frequently filled with singing or classical performances.
Other than the Roman Theater, you can explore Samuels Fortress – which is 1000 years old and marks as being the oldest fort. For those who love handcrafted products, be sure to check out National Workshop for Handmade Paper that still use traditional Chinese methods! And if you’re looking for a breathtaking view, Saint Naum should definitely be on your list. The monastery offers many intricate details and lovely scenery – it’d almost feel magical. If you find yourself near the Albanian border during your travels, consider taking a bus or boat ride over to see Saint Naum up close! Lastly, Galicia National Parkis perfect place go hiking with rewarding views of Albania & Greece at the end 🙂
You can visit the Macedonian wine region of Tikvesh or go for a hike in the Strumica mountains. Or, explore the volcanic crater of Kratovo and see the ‘Stone Dolls’ rock formations. You can even stay overnight at a winery in the Povardarie region and learn about (and sample) all of the country’s wine production.
While there is a large number of people living in poverty and many are out of work, you wouldn’t think so from the construction going on in the capital. The city was devastated by an earthquake in 1963 and has since been rebuilt. You can see Mother Teresa’s house, the Stone Bridge (the country’s oldest), and the contrast between the Art Bridge with sculptures of artists, writers, and poets.
The Holocaust Memorial Centre is a fascinating museum that will leave you feeling moved. Get lost in the cobblestone Ottoman streets of the Bazaar or take the cable car to the top of Mount Vodno for views of Skopje. If you’re feeling adventurous, just outside of the capital isShutka, a large Roma community with over 20,000 gypsies which makes for an interesting visit.
The city has a bustling nightlife, with clubs staying open until the early hours. However, in the summer, Bitola is where you should be, an ancient Jewish settlement where locals congregate to celebrate. Bitola is accessible by bus from Ohrid and features foam parties, but it’s also worth seeing for its 18th and 19th century architecture.
Heraclea is a fascinating site to visit, with ancient ruins and mosaics, as well as amphitheatres. Heraclea may also be found in the region. Or if you want to get off the path and have some outdoor adventure, try Mavrovo for cycling, horse riding, and hiking through gorges, waterfalls lakes, and glaciers. Who knows – maybe you’ll see a mountain shepherd on your journey! Finally, Galicnik is located in the center of Mount Bistrais village and is famous for its culture and wedding customs.
If you’re looking for other places to visit, why not try Krusevo, Struga or Bansko? In Krusevo, tourists can find the museum of the ‘Elvis of Macedonia’ as well as the Ilinden Uprising Monument. Meanwhile, over at Struga on the northwest shore of Lake Ohrid is a quaint little town with plenty of photo opportunities. Finally, Bansko is known for its hot springs – relax and rejuvenate in this beautiful location!
Getting Around Macedonia
Trains do exist in Macedonia, but they take longer than the bus (feed before boarding since they don’t have buffet cars). Bus stations may be found in most towns and operate frequent services. The bus station in Ohrid is 30 minutes from the city centre; buy your ticket from the kiosk near the town hall. n.b. From Ohrid to Skopje takes 5 hours via Bitola.
In Ohrid, taxis are required by law to turn on their meters. You should also get a receipt upon request. Unfortunately, it’s a different story in the capital city. To avoid any issues, do not tell your taxi driver that you’re going to a hotel or hostel–just give them the address of your destination. Some taxis also accept Euros instead of Denar.