City centre view from fortress, Skopje, Macedonia

2 Day Itinerary for Skopje – How To See The Macedonian Capital

Dan Around The World is part of the Amazon Affiliate program and may receive a small commission when you purchase products on this page at no extra cost to yourself. 

Skopje is a capital city that I fell in love with almost immediately after getting off the bus in the city centre.

The capital and largest city in North Macedonia is an incredible place and I think that it will become a growing tourist destination in years to come. Skopje would make the perfect destination to spend a weekend in, with just enough to see with a two day itinerary in the city.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information available on Skopje before I visited, and trying to plan a two day itinerary for Skopje took a lot of work.

There is plenty to see and do in Skopje, but I think that two days is just enough time that provides seeing the highlights on offer at a relatively relaxed pace, whilst still getting to enjoy some of the downtime and taking things slow, which Macedonians regularly do.

Keep reading for a guide on how to spend two days in Skopje.

Day 1 in Skopje

Start with a coffee and Burek

There are two things that Macedonians love and this is a great way to experience both of them for breakfast!

All over Skopje you will find tiny coffee shops selling shots of espresso for affordable prices, often less than €1. There are also plenty of small shops selling burek, the tasty pastry that is filled with cheese, or occasionally meat or spinach. You’ll see it written on the side of shops in Cyrillic as Бурек.

Explore Macedonia square

When I first got off my bus, I walked through Macedonia Square straight away and was blown away by the large statues all of the large open space.

The main one that stands tallest in the middle is a statue of Alexander the Great, also known as Alexander III of Macedonia, the Warrior on the Horse. In summer, fountains spring  up underneath him, kids run around the square and tourists shuffle by with their phones pointing upwards.

Everything in Macedonia Square was built as part of the Skopje 2014 project, an initiative that rebuilt the city but which detractors say was wasted money.

But today, with coffee shops and bars surrounding the square, 5 star international hotels in one corner and a meeting place for all in Skopje, Macedonia Square is a must see as part of a two day itinerary in Skopje.

Alexander the Great Statue in Macedonia Square, Skopje, Macedonia

Free walking tour

I believe that doing a free walking tour is the best way to discover a city in a short space of time. The free walking tour that I did in Skopje with the imaginatively named Skopje Free Walking Tour and loved all the information they provided as we walked around the city for 2 and a half hours.

It provides an over view of everything in the city, from ancient history to modern politics, food, religion and culture and everything in between.

The guides are friendly and will answer any questions you may have on Skopje and will often have recommendations for other places to go in the city or recommend their favourite restaurant or watering hole.

Statues on Bridge of Civilisations, Skopje, Macedonia

Visit museums in the afternoon

Once the walking tour finishes in the early afternoon, I recommend visiting some of the many museums that Skopje has to offer. My personal favourites were the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Independence and Museum of the City of Skopje which goes into great detail about the 1963 earthquake that devastated the city.

Museum clock, Skopje, Macedonia
A clock with the time the earthquake struck in 1963

Mother Theresa Memorial House

Between the two museums, you’ll find yourself walking along Macedonia Street, a pedestrianised street with bars and coffee shops spilling out onto the pavements. Also along this street is the Mother Theresa Memorial House, a church dedicated to the late Catholic nun that was born in the city. The house takes you through her life and times and includes items that she used to own.

Mother theresa hosue, Skopje, Macedonia
Mother Theresa house

Skopje fortress

As sunset approaches, now is a great time to visit Skopje Fortress, also known as Скопска тврдина Кале.

There is little to see and do inside the fortress other than to walk along its walls and admire the views. But at sunset, the views over the city make it well worth heading to. When I was there in late spring, there was still snow on the mountains in the distance giving a dramatic backdrop to the end of your first day in Skopje.

Fort, Skopje, Macedonia
Skopje Fortress
Toše Proeski National Arena, Skopje, Macedonia
View from the fortress to the stadium and mountains in the background

Dinner in the old bazaar

The Old Bazaar has been around for hundreds of years since the Ottomans ruled this part of Macedonia. Today, it has kept its charm with narrow streets and traditional styled shops as the call the prayer comes from some of the local mosques.

There are a few Caravanserai located in the Old Bazaar to check out, but I went to restaurant Turist (I know, the name doesn’t make it sound great…) but it was recommended to my by a local as a place to go to get some traditional style kebabs and I thought they were fantastic! Order them with a side of ajvar and you’ve got yourself a traditional Macedonian meal!

Restaurant tourist, Skopje, Macedonia

Bar at craft beer bar then rakija street

If a nightcap if your thing, close to the Old Bazaar is a craft beer bar with locally produced beers and regularly has live music in the evenings as well. Is something stronger takes your fancy, a short walk away is a Rakija bar that has over 100 different types of rakija for sale from all over the Balkans.

Day 2 in Skopje

Matka canyon

Wake up early and head out to Matka Canyon.

This is one of the best things to do in Skopje and will be a highlight of your two day itinerary in Skopje.

Unless you take a private taxi or a tour, you’ll have to get the number 60 bus from either the bus station or from this bus stop if you are staying on the western side of town. A return bus ticket costs 120DEN and can be bought from the bus driver as long as you have small change.

I got the bus at 8.45am on a weekend day and I wouldn’t want to go any later than that as I will explain later…

Once off the bus, you’ll have to walk along a path until you reach an area with boat trips available. The first group you will reach aren’t allowed to go into the caves at the end, so keep walking to the second smaller jetty, close to the church and restaurant  if you want to take a trip to the caves (which you definitely should!).

The boat trip is a highlight, taking you along the river in the canyon that was canyon that was created when a dam was built in 1938.

Canyon boat Matka Canyon, Skopje, Macedonia Matka Canyon, Skopje, Macedonia

At the far end is Vrelo caves, some of the largest and deepest caves in Europe.

It is also possible to hike back to the small area where the buses drop you off from here. There are ample hiking trails in the park, the restaurant has good coffee and desserts (and probably good food although I didn’t have any) and after the boat trip, it is lovely to just sit and relax for a bit close to the water.

Getting back to Skopje can be difficult though. As it gets busier throughout the day, the bus can’t reach the usual drop off point as there is nowhere for the bus to turn around in the single file road.

The options are 1) walk to the next village down at Glumovo, which will take 30-40 minutes and this is where the bus will stop and turn around. 2) take a taxi back to Glumovo or 3) take a taxi all the way back to Skopje which is what I did. I also drove past the bus heading to the canyon and it was packed! I was offered 300Den to Glumovo or 1000Den back to Skopje which I shared with another couple that was also stuck there which makes it a good option.

For more info on getting to Matka Canyon, you can check out Kami’s excellent guide.

Millenium cross

Once back in Skopje, head up to Mount Vodno to see something up close which you have probably seen countless times already in the previous two days of your itinerary in Skopje.

After getting a bus up the mountain, take a cable car for the final few hundred metres until you come face to face with the Millenium Cross that overlooks the city.

Millenium Cross, Skopje, Macedonia

Dinner and drinks in Debar Maalo

Debar Maalo is the new trendy bohemian neighborhood of Skopje. A 20 minute walk from Macedonia Square, this main road has an abundance of bars and restaurants lining it, from small local coffee shops, to modern looking cocktail bars.

This is a great end to your two day itinerary in Skopje. A place where young people and the future of Macedonia hang out.

I had dinner at Nadzak, a traditional local restaurant that made a fantastic stew. After dinner, I headed to Sindikat Bar for a local Skopsko beer. I can also recommend Chillin Bar and DM restaurant a little further away from the centre of Skopje along the same road.

Skopsko beer, Skopje, Macedonia

Summing up a 2 day itinerary in Skopje

Two days is a great amount of time to spend in Skopje if it is your first taste of Macedonia. Its a small but exciting city that has so many different quirks, from Ottoman areas, modern statues and beautiful nature.

Hopefully with this guide, you now know exactly how to spend your time in Skopje! Of course this isn’t all there is to see and do and I’ve written a more in depth post with plenty more to see in Skopje if you decide to spend more time in the city.

Related Posts