MUST VISIT PLACES IN NORTH MACEDONIA ON A MOTORCYCLE
APR 25, 2023
North Macedonia is the fifth European country I entered! I honestly hadn't heard much about this country. The only thing I remember was learning about the ancient Macedonians in World History in 8th grade, which was quite a while ago. Other than that, I did not know what to expect. I was curious, open minded and ready for adventure!
Crossing the border from Nis, Serbia to North Macedonia was quite cold. I was trying to move further and further south, hoping to reach warmer temperatures for the winter. North Macedonia wasn't much warmer. Although, instead of the light snow I experienced in Serbia, it became rain in North Macedonia, and now we were above 32F/ 0C. After spending some time in North Macedonia, I appreciated its richness in archaeological sites and the serene landscapes. These are places I recommend visiting.
Skopje is an interesting city. North Macedonia is still a developing country, so the government spending for gaudy monuments sprinkled all over the city look very out of place. These monuments are typically several stories tall, decorated in cream and gold accents with majestic figures. If you take a look at the photo above, you can see the sidewalk crumbling with potholes against this majestic backdrop. On both the left and right of the monument, there are two large statues and in the distance next to my helmet is a man riding a rearing horse. There are over 100 statues and monuments in Skopje. The gaudiness is extreme and one starts to wonder what could have been done with all that money instead displaying this excess.
One of the places I really enjoyed exploring in Skopje was the Old Bazaar. This is one of the oldest marketplaces in the Balkans and dates back to the 12th century. You can find almost anything here: glasses, snacks, clothing, toys, traditional Turkish tea, fresh Baklava and even a whole street dedicated to gold jewelry. The storefronts with jewelry glowed in the distance and you could see them from the other end of the street. Even on a rainy day, this bazaar is full of life, locals and travelers trying to find a good deal. The nose pad of my blue light reading glasses fell off, so I brought it to the glasses vendor to fix. The young man was kind and did not charge me anything. Now I can wear these glasses without them stabbing my face.
Check out my YouTube video walking the Old Bazaar HERE.
2. LAKE OHRID
I actually did not visit Lake Ohrid. I planned to, but unfortunately the mountain road leading to this famous lake was covered in snow. I was warned by another motorcyclist not to go, so decided not to. However, many locals I've spoken to highly recommend visiting. I don't have any photos to share, but have heard amazing things.
I was very excited to visit Stobi. It is the most famous archaeological site in North Macedonia. One of the pros of traveling in the winter is that it is low tourist season so I was the only visitor walking the entire site! It's always a treat when this happens. It feels like the entire site is closed off for me so I can privately walk it. Stobi started as the ancient town of Paeonia, dating back to the 2nd century BC. There are beautiful mosaics located at this site, but they cover them with sand during the winter to preserve them. I didn't know this, so if you're visiting for the mosaics, you must plan your visit accordingly.
Check out my YouTube video exploring Stobi HERE.