Macedonia, also known as the Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), is a really enjoyable country to visit. It is home to the birthplace of Mother Teresa, and also is the homeland of Alexander the Great (despite massive feuds with the Greeks about this notion). The massive feuds with the Greeks also extend to the naming rights of "Macedonia." The Greeks state that it is a part of their territory and that FYROM has no right to use this name. FYROM claims that Macedonia was an area much larger than just in Greece and that thirty-eight percent of what was known as the Macedonian region is now situated within its borders. Anyway, what this now means is that until the FYROM bow to Greece's demands of changing their name and relinquishing claims to Alexander the Great, they will neither become a member of the European Union, nor will they be considered a part of NATO, despite having a large number of "guest troops" as a part of the NATO team. Regardless of all of this tension, the Macedonian people just get on with it. You won't find a lovelier or more hospitable group of people.
This territory has been occupied throughout history by a range of different empires from the Byzantines to the Romans and then the Ottomans, and then it became a part of Yugoslavia. It has only been in recent years that the people in this country have experienced freedom.
The capital city is Skopje. For thousands of years, this city has been a central point along the trade route from Rome to Constantine. It has been leveled to the ground and destroyed three times in history by earthquakes. The last one -- in the mid-twentieth century -- saw the Russians and the British come to their aid with medical supplies and construction units. Because of this, the majority of what you will see in Skopje is very new; there is little in the way of older buildings. These extend to the the arch bridge and the fortress in the Old Town. There are also loads and loads of statues here -- more than they know what to do with, so some are even on the tops of the buildings. Many of the new buildings, monuments, and statues are reminiscent of monuments you will find in other parts of the world.
If you are looking for a place to chill out and relax during your stay, Lake Ohrid is a nice change of pace. You can get buses here multiple times a day from Skopje and there is also a service from Tirana in Albania.
In addition to the main destinations for Macedonia, there is still loads to explore, especially in the way of natural features. The Matka Canyon is also a must see, as it is spectacular.
There are a load of different Macedonia hostel options for staying throughout the country. Make sure that you book in advance for high seasons in places like Ohrid that are very popular and don't have many hostels. The Macedonia hostels generally tend to be quite small and homey. The staff have a pretty good idea about bus connections and getting around the country. It is generally straightforward working the public transport system.
The currency here is in denar, although some Macedonia hostels do accept Euros as payment. It is recommended that you always carry Euro on you to change, as it is difficult to exchange currency in neighbouring countries. It will also be difficult to change money if you arrive on a late bus from a neighbouring country, so bring food with you on the bus so you have access to snacks.
Hi, I'm Globetrotter,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Macedonia hostels. Welcome.