We’ve been hooked on North Macedonia for some time. This extraordinary European country has been included in our European Bike Tours for a while, and we always love returning there. Given the country’s geographic location, it offers a wonderful blend of Western and Eastern European cultures.
For thousands of years, civilizations have clashed, traded, and coexisted in this region which has led to a truly unique culture flourishing. In North Macedonia, you can visit some of the oldest cities and towns in all of Europe, taste world-class cuisine, and you’ll see pristine natural landscapes that haven’t been affected by over-tourism.
In spite of all the treasures on offer in North Macedonia, it is often overlooked by travelers who tend to flock to the country’s more well-known neighbors. This is all the better for people like us who love nothing more than getting off the beaten track and experiencing new places like a local! Below we’ve listed just six of the countless reasons why you should visit North Macedonia. And while you’re here, be sure to check out our Guided North Macedonia Bike Tour.
1. In Macedonia, You Will Have the Place to Yourself
Have you ever used the phrase off the beaten track when referring to an amazing destination that is yet to be swarmed with tourist crowds? Well, North Macedonia is the place for you. Last year, North Macedonia received 630,000 visitors. To put that in perspective, France received 81 million people and Disneyland received 25 million!
In the 21st century, it can feel as if there’s nothing new under the sun for the traveler. Cheap air travel and an increasingly globalized world have taken a touch of the mystery out of travel. But when you are exploring North Macedonia, you really can feel that you’re covering new territory.
North Macedonia has the UNESCO World Heritage sites, untouched mountains and lakes, and vibrant culture to compete with anywhere else in Europe, and yet, when you arrive here as a cyclist, you often feel like you’ve got the place to yourself!
Join Summer Feet on one of our North Macedonia Bike Tours and we’ll use our experience to help you get the very best from this marvelous land.
2. Macedonian Food is Exceptionally Good
Macedonian cuisine is built upon a wonderful mixture of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. Rich with farm-fresh vegetables, herbs, and amazing local cheeses, as you explore North Macedonia you’ll keep encountering top-quality produce being used to prepare absolutely delicious cooking.
From hearty stews like chomlek and gravče na tavče to pastrmajlija, North Macedonia’s very own answer to pizza, you’re never going to be stuck for choice in North Macedonia. The country possesses a truly unique food culture and, believe us, there’s nothing better than indulging in this extraordinary local food after a hard day’s cycling and hiking!
To learn about some of the country’s most iconic dishes, head to Taste Atlas for their 10 Most Popular Macedonian Foods.
3. And So is Macedonian Wine…
Recently selected as Food and Wine magazine’s top wine destination, North Macedonia has been producing wine for more than 4,000 years (so they know a thing or two!).
The land is ideal for wine production and many family-owned wineries keep old traditions alive, producing some of the very best wine you’ll find in the Balkans. There’s nothing like the export industry that’s found in major wine countries like Italy and France, so in North Macedonia, you get to sample a lot of splendid wines that you simply won’t find anywhere else.
Many grape varieties are indigenous to this region and as you taste the wine that they produce, you know that you are sampling something intimately connected to the place, something that has been central to the people of Macedonia for a very long time.
For those who love red wine best, look out for the Vranec and Stanušina wines. While white drinkers should seek out Žilavka, Smederevka, and Temjanika.
4. With North Macedonia, the Word is Out…
We’ve spoken of how North Macedonia is the ideal off-the-beaten-track destination. Well, plan your visit before it’s too late! The New York Times placed North Macedonia on its list of 52 Places You Must Visit all the way back in 2015, and they continued to sing the country’s praises in 2019 with their Be Among the First to Visit North Macedonia article.
Outside Magazine said of North Macedonia: “Crowds have yet to reach this mountainous Balkan state, which means you can go caving, road biking, and hiking in glorious isolation.”
Yahoo Travel called the Town of Ohrid (a UNESCO World Heritage site) the “secret gem that you have never heard of”.
And British Travel Magazine Wanderlust have been singing the country’s praises for some time (check out their recent 9 Things You Must Do in North Macedonia).
Basically, North Macedonia is beginning to get the attention that it more than deserves! For those of us familiar with the country, we’ve been enjoying a very good thing on our own for a long time, but those annual visitor numbers will undoubtedly continue to climb.
This is great news for the country and its citizens working in the tourist industry, but we encourage you to visit now while you can still enjoy that sense of the undiscovered about the place, that little bit of magic that comes with places not widely known.
5. There is Lots of Great Stuff to See and Do
As you can see from the Wanderlust article we shared in the previous entry, there’s no shortage of things to do in North Macedonia. Here you get the perfect mix of historic sites, supremely beautiful natural landscapes, world-class food, and a welcoming local culture.
From our years of guiding cycling tours in North Macedonia, some of our trip highlights include:
- Cycling into Albania — there’s no better feeling for the adventure cyclist crossing borders on their bike!
- Visiting 3 National Parks — yes, no less than three national parks can be visited on our tours. The lakes, mountains, and forests of the national parks are something beautiful to behold.
- Discovering Lake Ohrid — a Natural World Heritage Site designated by UNESCO, Lake Ohrid is one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes. The blue waters of the lake and surrounding natural scenery are fabulous, as are the picturesque medieval towns found nearby.
- Exploring fabulous Byzantine churches — the churches and monasteries of North Macedonia range from tiny, mountaintop structures to epic Byzantine cathedrals. Many of these buildings date back to the 10th century. Visit Bradt Guides for their Best Monasteries in North Macedonia.
6. It’s a Bargain
Okay, this may not seem like the most exciting entry to end on, but a holiday in North Macedonia is friendly for your finances. The country ranks among the cheapest in Europe and you’ll often find food, drink, and accommodation costing you a mere fraction of what it would in more touristy parts of Europe.
In North Macedonia, it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a good lunch for around 5 euros and renting a room can cost as little as 20 euros. If you’re like us and enjoy setting off on long journeys in distant lands, you’ll find your money goes a lot further in North Macedonia. And yet, the quality of your holiday is going to, without doubt, going to equal what you’d get in more common destinations. If you like traveling in countries that are truly unique, you must visit North Macedonia.
This brings to an end our list of just some reasons why you should visit North Macedonia. Be sure to check out our full range of European tours, which includes other countries such as Italy, Croatia, and the Portuguese Algarve.
If you have any questions about North Macedonia or any of our tours, please get in touch.