Western Macedonia

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If you are looking for a region of Greece, see West Macedonia.

A land of scenic mountains, lakes, forests, and fields sandwiched between the Povardarie region and Albania, Western Macedonia is where a casual traveller will likely spend most of his/her time in the country as it houses most of the attractions that Macedonia is known for.

Regions[edit]

Cities[edit]

St John Church on the Lake Ohrid
  • Bitola — one of the most European-flavoured cities in the country, Bitola is known for its colourful neo-classical architecture and the Ancient Macedon ruins of Heraclea Lyncestis nearby
  • Debar
  • Demir Hisar
  • Gostivar
  • Kičevo
  • Kruševo — a museum-city nestled high up in the mountains of southwestern Macedonia; it is one the most historically significant destinations in the country as it was the site of a revolt against the Ottoman Empire; also home to great skiing
  • Makedonski Brod
  • Ohrid — with ancient churches and flower-filled balconies in the hillside old city, and beach life down below on the lake coast, this is no doubt the "Macedonian Riviera"
  • Resen — home to Saraj Castle built in the beginning of XX century
  • Prilep — tobacco fields, medieval monasteries, and strange rocks
  • Struga — on the northern shore of the lake, Struga is a smaller, quiter, cheaper, but less fun alternative to Ohrid
  • Tetovo — unofficial capital of the Albanians of Macedonia, Tetovo is the site of the one of the most unique mosques in the world, the Painted Mosque
  • Vevčani

Other destinations[edit]

Understand[edit]

Escape Skopje past the mountains towards west, and one of the first thing you notice in the landscape are the red Albanian flags of the double-headed eagle, small and huge, flying everywhere... houses, utility posts, gas stations... If it's summer, you can also see long queues of cars celebrating a wedding, again flying the eagle banners. Don't worry—you have not crossed unknowingly into Albania, this region is where the Albanians of Macedonia mainly live in. They seem to be a pretty nationalistic community, and the ethnic identities play an important role in daily lives in this country.

Then move towards the mountains to south, where the ancients named "the land of the lynx", and south of Kičevo, the minarets give way for the belfries and huge hilltop crosses, and the Albanian banners for the flag of the Macedonian sun. With a small chapel clinging to the mountainsides now and then, the lush scenery on the other side of the window keeps going like this, until you reach the territory of multiculturalism back in Ohrid.

Talk[edit]

Get in[edit]

Buses from Skopje depart for most, if not all, of the towns in Western Macedonia. Some of them have a train service, too, with one particular exception being Ohrid.

Get around[edit]

Again, buses will be your most likely mode of transportation in the region. Those preferring to self-drive have little to worry about in the flatlands of the north, where a motorway/toll-road forms the backbone of the local traffic between Skopje, Tetovo, and Gostivar. However, in the mountainous realm south of Gostivar, you are back into the narrow Yugoslav-era roads full of sharp turns, yet no signs warning the drivers against them—late night driving is best left to the locals.

See[edit]

Itineraries[edit]

Do[edit]

Eat[edit]

Drink[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • Skopje, the national capital, and the rest of the Vardar Region lies to east
  • Albania is easily accessible by buses from Tetovo, but also on foot from the Sveti Naum Monastery south of Ohrid
  • Greece in the south has no public transport connection with the region but you can haggle with a taxi driver in Bitola to take you to the border post
  • Kosovo is also within reach, thanks to buses from Tetovo
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