Solo Travel in Macedonia
Although it’s a country that is generally overlooked, travelling solo in Macedonia is really safe for females. Most street signs are in the Cyrillic alphabet so finding your way around can be challenging, that's why we've given it 3 out of 5 stars.
The people in Macedonia will make you feel welcome and go out of their way to help you even if they can’t speak your language. If you venture away from Skopje and Ohrid, you’ll guaranteed more locals than tourists. Because of its ethnic tension avoid talking politics about Greece, Albania or Kosovo and you’ll have a rewarding and surprising trip.
Below is our guide to how to travel solo in Macedonia as well as lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour company to use and how to get around. Find out how to get from the airports and what to do in each place.
All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article.
- Things To Do in Macedonia
- Macedonia Tours
- Accommodation in Macedonia
- Getting Around Macedonia
- From The Airport
- How Long Do I Need?
- Travelling Onwards
- Map of Macedonia
- Plan a Trip to Macedonia
- Related Posts
Things To Do in Macedonia
Bordered by Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Albania, Macedonia has many influences from the Balkans and the Mediterranean and has been an independent country since 1991. Known as the Republic of Macedonia, its title has caused disagreement with Greece who own a region of the same name.
Although many people flock to Greece for their holidays, Macedonia does get left off the bucket list but what it lacks in sea and beaches it definitely makes up for in mountains, lakes and rivers.
If you’re travelling overland from Albania, Lake Ohrid (meaning ‘on the hill’) is the first city you come to and in the summer only the locals are allowed to drive in the old town. Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest lakes in Europe and is thought to be three million years old.
Covering an area of 358 sq kilometres, it actually looks more like a sea than a lake with two thirds belonging to Macedonia and the other third to Albania.
Both the lake and the city are UNESCO sites. You’ll find many people in bikinis and swimming trunks lying on benches catching the rays but there is a beach if you prefer something softer to lie on. You just need to take a boat across the lake to it.
Although the water is tranquil, the town of Ohrid that surrounds it is a hive of activity with restaurants, modern shops and many churches due to its position as a Christian centre. There was once a church for every day of the week here and was known as the ‘legend of 355 churches’ but nowadays the most popular ones are: St John and St Sofia where you can find people singing as well as classical performances.
Other places to see here are the Roman Theatre, Samuels Fortress – the oldest fortress at 1000 years old and the National Workshop for Handmade Paper, based on the traditional Chinese method.
One of the must-see sights is Saint Naum, one of the most beautiful monasteries in Macedonia. It is nearer the Albanian border so you can take a bus or a boat to its location. Hiking in the mountains in Galicia National Park offers great views of Albania and Greece.
From Ohrid you can experience the Macedonian wine region of Tikvesh where you can visit an old Macedonian house and taste the country’s cuisine or visit Strumica which is also great for those wanting to test out their walking boots.
The volcanic crater of Kratovo is a good place to explore and is known for the ‘Stone Dolls’ rock formations. You can even stay overnight at a winery in the Povardarie region and learn (and sample) all about the country’s wine production then hike in the valleys after a night’s stay at the Popova Kula Winery.
Although there are high levels of poverty and many people living here are unemployed, you wouldn’t think that from the building work that is taking place in the capital. Many monuments in Skopje were destroyed by an earthquake in 1963 and the city is again being transformed.
You can visit Mother Teresa’s house, the Stone Bridge (the oldest bridge in the country) and the contrast of the Art Bridge with sculptures of artists, painters and poets.
The Holocaust Memorial Centre is a fascinating museum but be prepared to be emotionally moved. Lose yourself 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 is Shutka, a large Roma community with over 20,000 gypsies which is an interesting place to visit.
There’s good night life here with clubs open until the early hours but the place to be is Bitola, an old jewish settlement where all the locals comes to party in the summer. Bitola is on the bus route from Ohrid to Skopje and they even have foam parties here but it’s not just good for nightlife; the city is full of 18th and 19th century architecture.
Just nearby is Heraclea with ancient ruins and mosaics including an amphitheatre, basilicas and Roman baths. It’s also home to Pelister National Forest.
To get more off the beaten path and for some outdoors adventure visit Mavrovo for biking, horse riding and hiking amongst gorges, waterfalls, lakes and glaciers. You may even spot a mountain shepherd on your route and if you’re really lucky – a lynx although these are very rare. In the heart of Mount Bistrais is the village of Galicnik, famous for its culture and wedding traditions.
Other places to visit are: Krusevo for the museum of the ‘Elvis of Macedonia’ and the Ilinden Uprising Monument, Struga on the northwest shore of Lake Ohrid and Bansko for hot springs.
- If you smoke, don’t get caught out in closed public places where smoking is not allowed.
- A cafe bar doesn’t usually sell food and are just for drinks.
If you feel more comfortable in a group for either part of your trip or the whole duration, Intrepid Travel are a responsible tour company, which offset the main sources of carbon emissions from your trip. Most tours have an average of 12 people with no upper age limit. Accommodation is usually in hotels and based on twin-share with someone of the same gender or you can pay extra for your own room.
Their tours range from a 12 day Balkans Real Food Adventure exploring the culinary delights of Croatia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, to a 22 day Dubrovnik to Santorini trip including North Macedonia and many others along the way. Read our Intrepid Travel Reviews
* Click here for the full itineraries, prices, and start dates
Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including North Macedonia. Choose from a half day Stobi wine tour, a full day tour of Ohrid from Skopje, or try the local cuisine on a Food by Foot walking tour. There are several to choose from and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
Accommodation in Macedonia
Whether you're looking for apartments, hotel rooms, hostels or guesthouses with local families, Macedonia has a variety of accommodation to stay in, no matter what your budget. Below is a list of recommended accommodation from our solo female community or you can click the link to see all accommodation in Macedonia.
Plus there’s Airbnb, where you can pay to stay with a local or even have your own apartment or villa for the whole of your stay. You can save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
* To book, check prices or availability for all accommodation in Macedonia
- Skopje – Shanti Hostel
- Skopje – Art Hotel Public Room
- Ohrid – Villa Veron
- Ohrid – Villa Dislievski
- Bitola – Villa Dihovo Guesthouse (good for vegetarians)
Getting Around Macedonia
There are trains in Macedonia but they do take longer than the bus, (buy your food before you get onboard as they don’t generally don’t have buffet cars). There are bus stations in the majority of the cities and they do run frequent services. The bus station in Ohrid is 30 minutes from the centre; buy your bus ticket from the little kiosk in the city. N.b From Ohrid to Skopje takes 5 hours via Bitola.
If you take a taxi, make sure they turn on the taxi metre. Taxis in Ohrid will give you a receipt. It’s a different story in the capital though and don’t say that you’re going to a hotel or hostel, just give them the address as they are known to take you to a different hotel who they work closely with instead. Some taxis also take Euros instead of Denar.
From The Airport
Ohrid – Airport is 10 km from the city and the route is currently only ran by taxis.
Skopje – There are no buses as yet for the 14 km journey into the city. A taxi will cost €25 for the 25 minute journey.
How Long Do I Need?
If you stay in Lake Ohrid, Skopje and Bitola you can spend a week. Just Ohrid and Skopje you can see in three days.
Where can I go from here?
- Turkey – 1.5 hrs
- Serbia – 1 hr
Travelling Onwards (check visas before you travel)
To Serbia – Trains run from Skopje to Belgrade and take 10 hours. The trains are really safe although old and cost €35 for a return.
To Greece – Trains run from Skopje to Thessaloniki every day or there’s a bus service.
To Bulgaria – By bus to Sofia. There is a bus which leaves at 5pm.
To Albania – From Lake Ohrid by minivan to Tushemisht is €2 and takes 30 minutes. Then you can catch a bus or furgon (minivan) to Pogradec.
To Istanbul – You can actually take a night bus from the main bus station in Skopje to Istanbul. It departs at 17.00, takes approx 10 hours and is only €35. (You need to pay 100 Denar at counter no 4 to get onto the bus).
* To Kosovo – Buses run every 30 minutes from Skopje to Pristina and cost €5 for the 2 hour journey then it’s a taxi to the main bus station. Buses to Prizren from Skopje take longer (4 hours) and leave at 11.30am and 16.00.
*If you’re considering Serbia for future travel, ask for your Kosovo stamp to be on a separate piece of paper instead of directly in your passport.
- Can I drink the water? Yes.
- Is tipping expected? Yes, 5-10%.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right.
- Good for vegetarians? They have great salads.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No.
*This is accurate at time of writing but we appreciate things can change. Please let us know if you experience anything otherwise. Thanks…
Map of Macedonia
Plan a Trip to Macedonia
Budget – £30 a day
Capital – Skopje
Population – 2,048,620
Language spoken – Macedonian, Albanian
Flying time to Macedonia – 4 hrs from UK.
Non-Direct Airlines to Macedonia
The Best Time to Go – July, August
Events and Festivals in Macedonia
Did you know? Mother Teresa was born in Skopje.
Lingo – Useful Macedonian Phrases
Mind Body & Soul
Spa Treatments at Aurora Resort & Spa
Weather in Macedonia – Below is an annual weather chart for Macedonia from January to December.
- Solo Travel in Albania
- Solo Travel in Bulgaria
- Solo Travel in Greece
- Solo Travel in Europe
- GatG Adventures in Macedonia
Hello! Thanks for the information – I plan a week in Macedonia coming from Albania via Lake Ohrid. Can you tell me – all of the places you mention above- can they be reached by bus? Or is it important to rent a car to see a good portion of Macedonia?
Thank you in advance.
Hi Kira, you’ll have a great time 🙂 I wrote a post about travelling from Albania to Lake Ohrid. The only way at the time was by bus http://www.girlabouttheglobe.com/blog/lake-ohrid-macedonia/ I would join our FB group to see if anyone has travelled more recently and can offer an easier way. Here is the link to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/369115206621307/