Outer Skopje consists of the territory of the City of Skopje outside of Centar, the Stara Čaršija (Old Town), and Karpoš. This large and diverse area of the city is generally less densely populated. It consists of both urban neighbourhoods and older villages now within the borders of the capital. Important archaeological sites and medieval churches can be found here. There is also a lot of nature to be explored, particularly at Matka Canyon.
The Republic of North Macedonia is divided into 80 municipalities, ten of which form the City of Skopje. Centar and Čair contain the central area of Skopje, both modern and historic. The other eight municipalities are primarily residential, either urban or rural. However, some of Skopje's most important sites can be found in Outer Skopje.
The type of people amongst which you find yourself can vary greatly depending on which part of the city you are in. Aerodrom, Gjorče Petrov, Karpoš, and Kisela Voda are predominantly ethnic Macedonian and Orthodox Christian. Butel and Gazi Baba also have large Macedonian majorities but with significant Albanian minorities. Saraj is predominantly ethnic Albanian and Muslim. Šuto Orizari is predominantly Roma (Gypsy) and Muslim.
The Republic of North Macedonia is divided into eight regions, of which the Skopje Region consists of the City of Skopje and several surrounding municipalities. This guide also covers those surrounding municipalities which include Aračinovo, Čučer-Sandevo, Ilinden, Petrovec, Sopište, Studeničani, and Zelenikovo.
All of the municipalities of Outer Skopje can be reached by bus from Centar. From Aerodrom going clockwise:
- Aerodrom can be reached via lines 3, 5, 7, 15, 17, 20, 21, and 45.
- Kisela Voda can be reached via lines 4, 14, 24, 31, 51, 58, 67, 70, 74, 75, and 80.
- Gjorče Petrov can be reached 4, 5, 11, and 64.
- Šuto Orizari can be reached via lines 19, 29, and 40.
- Butel can be reached via lines 8, 47, 48, 57, 59, 61, 71, and 77.
- Gazi Baba can be reached via lines 2, 10, 12, 16, 26, 45, 50, 52, 53, 54, 56, 62, 63, 65, 66, and 68.
The bus system is efficient and cheap enough that an often overpriced taxi can be avoided. However, a taxi retrieved in central Skopje will drive anywhere to the outer parts of Skopje. The price, of course, will vary depending on which part of the city. A trip to Matka Canyon, for example, may cost around 800 denars, while a trip down to the end of the quay in Aerodrom should be up to a few hundred denars.
Despite its name, Aerodrom (meaning "airport") is not home to Skopje's main airport which is outside the city in the village of Petrovec. Its name is the result of being home to a military airport in the early 20th century. The municipality is mostly residential and most settlements are relatively new.
- 1 Cevahir Sky City (Џевахир Скај Сити), Boulevard Serbia 31A, Skopje 1000. The skyscrapers, which are topped out, are the tallest in North Macedonia. The four towers, each rising 142 m (466 ft), will be connected by a mixed-use building containing a shopping mall and sports facilities. The development is expected to be completed in 2020.
Butel consists of urban neighbourhoods close to the city centre as well as historic villages that now happen to find themselves within an evergrowing city.
- 2 Skopje Aqueduct (Скопски аквадукт). Located within the village of Vizbegovo, this is the only aqueduct archaeological site in North Macedonia and one of three in the former Yugoslavia. Its date of construction is not known; it may have been built as early as Roman times or as late as early Ottoman rule. The stone and brick structure was used as an aqueduct until the 18th century. Today, 386 meters (1,266 feet) consisting of 55 arches remain. It is on the Serava River and, presumably, carried water from a spring in the Skopska Crna Gora to the city centre.
- 3 Church of Saint Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“), village of Ljuboten. This medieval church was built in 1337 by a donor by the name of Danica at the foot of the Skopska Crna Gora mountain range. Capped by a single cupola, the frescoes within the church date from its original construction. Due to the church's location in a now mostly Muslim village, it is often subject to theft. Ljuboten was a hotspot during the 2001 insurgency. From 2006 to 2017, the church was renovated.
- 4 Church of Saint George (Црква „Св. Ѓорѓи“), village of Radišani. Formerly the main church of the village, Saint George is one of a pair of 16th-century churches in Radišani. Its frescoes were originally painted in 1631.
- 5 Church of Saint Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“), village of Radišani. This smaller 16th-century church contains fragments of its original frescoes dating from 1631.
- 6 Church of Saint Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“), village of Ljubanci. The predecessor church here was built around the time of the Yahya Pasha Mosque in the Old Bazaar with permission to build granted by Yahya Pasha. The current church was built in 1881 and its frescoes were done the same year by Dičo Zograf.
- 7 Ljubanci Monastery (Љубански манастир), village of Ljubanci. Reached via a narrow paved road above the village is this 19th century monastery. Formerly home to monks, it has been home to nuns since 1998. The monastery contains one church dedicated to Saint Nicholas, along with dormitories and a bell tower.
This municipality takes its name from the nickname of Ottoman poet Aşık Çelebi, who died in Skopje in 1572 and was buried here.
- 8 Kral Kızı Türbe (Турбе на кралската ќерка). This türbe (mausoleum) is dedicated to the Bosnian princess Catherine; Sultan Mehmed II himself ordered its construction after her death. It was destroyed in the 1963 earthquake and rebuilt in 2014.
- 9 Tumba (Тумба), village of Madžari. The most significant Neolithic settlement in the Skopje valley. It was first discovered in the 1960s and since then multiple important findings have been unearthed, in particular the sculpture of the Great Mother, now on display at the Museum of Macedonia. The site today features reconstructed Neolithic dwellings.
- 10 Church of the 40 Martyrs (Црква „Св. 40 Маченици“), village of Smilkovci. This church was built in 2013 in honor of the five victims of the Smilkovci Lake Killings, perpetrated by some ethnic Albanians attempting to destabilize the country.
- 11 Church of the Ascension (Црква „Вознесение Христово“), village of Raštak. The most significant church in this municipality, built in 1872. Its frescoes, painted by artists from Kruševo, are fully preserved. Its wooden iconostasis features roughly 40 important icons painted by Dičo Zograf in the 1850s.
- 12 Church of the Ascension (Црква „Вознесение Христово“), village of Creševo. Built in 1850, this church also features iconostasis work by Dičo Zograf. It was built of stone and has a detached bell tower.
Northwest of the center, this municipality is named after the revolutionary.
- 13 Kučkovo Monastery (Кучковски манастир), village of Kučkovo. Containing one church dedicated to Saint George, this monastery was established in 1346 with its construction. It fell into disrepair over its history, ultimately renovated in the 20th century. Monks lived here until 2014.
- 14 Church of the Holy Savior (Црква „Св. Спас“), village of Dračevo. The most significant church from this part of Skopje was built in 1849 and its frescoes were painted by Dičo Zograf in 1857. The nice courtyard contains a bell tower. Dračevo is a large village (now more of an urban neighborhood) with its own fully developed socio-economic life.
Saraj Municipality contains one of the most important attractions in the country, Matka Canyon which is covered in its own guide.
Skopje's second-smallest municipality is the only municipality in the country where Roma (Gypsies) form a majority of the population. It is perhaps the only local administrative unit in the world to have adopted Romani as an official language. The area was only built up after the 1963 earthquake to be a home for the displaced Roma.
There are several major sights found outside of the City of Skopje but within the Skopje Region, which is one of the eight statistical regions that form North Macedonia.
North of central Skopje, bordering Kosovo, and containing much of the Skopska Crna Gora mountain range.
- 15 Brazda Archaeological Park (Gradište, Археолошки парк Бразда, Градиште) (village of Brazda, 15 km north of central Skopje). This archaeological site dates from the 5th-4th centuries BC. Around this time, the area was inhabited by the Agrian tribe of Paeonians, however ceramic findings at the site indicate it may have been an Athenian settlement. The walls of the tombs also bear a decorative technique thought to be a mark of the Athenians. It is situated on a hill just south of the village. Until 2012, the site was rather neglected but then underwent a major cleanup.
- 16 Kučevište Monastery (Кучевишки манастир) (village of Kučevište, 15 km north of central Skopje). On the slopes of the Skopska Crna Gora mountain range is this monastery, established in the 14th century in the village of the same name. Its main church is dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel. It was built between the Marička Battle of 1371 and the Battle of Kosovo of 1389. The interior was not painted until 1591 and the current iconostasis dates from the 19th century.
- 17 Church of the Holy Saviour (Црква „Св. Спас“) (village of Kučevište, 15 km north of central Skopje). This medieval Orthodox church is actually dedicated to the Holy Mother of God but is called St Spas because it celebrates Spasovden (the Feast of the Ascension). Built in the Byzantine style, it was completed in the 14th century. The current frescoes were painted in 1874. In 1501, a secret chapel was built within the church but never discovered by the Ottomans during their entire rule.
- 18 Monastery of Saint Nicetas (Манастир Свети Никита) (village of Banjane, 16 km north of central Skopje). This medieval church was built around 1300 by Serbian King Milutin on the ruins of an older church. It is in a typical Byzantine style, made of stone and red brick. The frescoes inside the church date from around 1324, with the exception of those in the dome which date from the 19th century. The iconostasis was painted in 1847. Banjane is also home to the 16th century Church of St George, significant for its frescoes.
Southeast of the city, Petrovec is best known for being home to Skopje International Airport. It covers most of the historical region of Blatija, which includes parts of neighboring Zelenikovo Municipality.
- 19 Marko's Towers (Маркови Кули) (village of Letevci, 53 km southeast of central Skopje). Ruins of a fortress built in Late Antiquity under Serbian King Stefan Dušan. Today, the most prominent portion of the ruins is a tower that overlooks the modern A1 highway, and the Pčinja River.
- 20 Monastery of the Virgin Mary (Кожленски манастир), village of Kožle, 34 km southeast of central Skopje. This medieval monastery was originally partially built into a cave, very near to Marko's Towers. The current church was built in 1918 but nonetheless worth the visit for an excuse to venture into the interesting terrain of the area.
- 21 Baderiana (Бадеријана), village of Badar, 31 km southeast of central Skopje. The birthplace of Byzantine Emperor Justin I, best-known for establishing the Justinian dynasty which included his eminent nephew Justinian I who was also a native of the Skopje area. Not much remains of the ancient city other than some structural foundations.
- 22 Church of St George the Victorious (Црква „Св. Георги Победоносец“), village of Blace, 30 km southeast of central Skopje. This church found in thick forest northeast of Blace is rather simple on the exterior but it is considered significant for its frescoes and icons inside. Built in the 16th or 17th century, it was constructed on the remains of an older church. There may be some connection between this church and the nearby Baderiana archaeological site.
South of the city on the opposite side of Mount Vodno, this municipality corresponds more or less to the historical region of Karšijak. The village of Govrlevo is known for being the site where a neolithic sculpture referred to as "Adam of Macedonia" was found. This archaeological find is on exhibit at the Skopje City Museum in Centar. Multiple villages in this municipality have old village architecture including Dolno Sonje, Govrlevo, Gorno Sonje, and Jabolci. Patiška Reka is a village set in striking scenery, right under the often snow-capped Karadžica mountain.
- 23 Church of the Holy Savior (Црква „Св. Спас“), village of Dobri Dol, 11 km south of central Skopje. This small church was built in 1576 and its frescoes were painted shortly thereafter. It is apparent that the frescoes were done by two painters, one of which had greater talent than the other. Dobri Dol sits just under the Millennium Cross atop Mount Vodno.
- 24 Svetla Cave (Светла Пештера), village of Nova Breznica, 26 km southwest of central Skopje. About an hour hike south of the village, this cave is considered an ice cave, which makes it unique in Macedonia. Particularly in winter, interesting ice formations can be seen. Its opening is about 0.7 m (2.3 ft) tall.
- 25 Christian's Cave (Христијанова Пештера), village of Jabolci, 27 km southwest of central Skopje. Getting into this cave is not for the claustrophobic. Over the right bank of the Suva River near Jabolci, the cave opening is hardly noticeable. A person can only get in by lying down and crawling in. About a meter in, however, multiple people can stand upright. The cave contains a rich collection of ornaments such as stalactites and stalagmites.
South of the city is this municipality, populated mostly by Albanians and Macedonian Muslims.
- 26 Marko's Monastery (Марков Манастир) (village of Markova Sušica, 18 km south of central Skopje). Continuously active since its establishment in 1346, Marko's Monastery bears the name of Serbian Prince Marko who reigned at the time of its completion. It consists of one church dedicated to St Demetrius. The church was built of bricks and stones and its iconostasis is made of stone pillars. The monastery grounds also consist of lodgings, a belfry, a well, warehouses, a bakery, and a mill. Marko's Monastery did not suffer under the Ottoman-era, unlike many churches and monasteries, and in 1830 an Ottoman aristocrat even added an exonarthex to the church. The grounds today also contain a museum.
- 27 Church of Saint Nicholas Nikolimuki (Црква „Св. Никола Николимуки“) (village of Markova Sušica, 18 km south of central Skopje). Located just 300 m before Marko's Monastery is this small medieval church. Its date of construction is unknown but, based on the preserved portions of frescoes, it likely dates from the 13th or 14th centuries.
About halfway between central Skopje and Veles.
- 28 Tauresium (Тауресиум) (village of Taor, 20 km southeast of central Skopje). This archaeological site is best-known as the birthplace of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in 483, though King Theodahad of the Ostrogoths was also born here in 480. The ruins today mostly consist of building foundations and short walls. The present-day village of Taor takes its name from the ancient city.
- 29 Church of Saint George (Црква „Св. Ѓорѓи“), village of Gradovci, 30 km southeast of central Skopje. This medieval church dates from the 13th or 14th centuries, built of stone. Its age is very apparent and the building could use some renovation. The interior frescoes are somewhat faded. It likely once had cupolas prior to the Ottoman-era. Surrounding the church are very old graves.
- Walk the Vardar Quay. The quay runs from Park Aerodom at ASNOM and Kiro Gligorov boulevards in the east down to Centar in the west. Portions east of Park Aerodrom are under construction. Along the quay are bike lanes, walking lanes, pull-up and push-up bars, parks, and cafes.
- 1 Katlanovo Baths (Катлановска Бања), village of Katlanovo, 28 km southeast of central Skopje. One of Macedonia's most popular bath centers. Located above Katlanovo on the Pčinja River, the healing waters have been used since Roman times. A hotel was first placed at the site in 1934 and is now visited by 10,000 guests annually.
- 1 Hunter's Lodge Kamnik, ☏ . Great fresh wild meat, great wine, and great hunting lodge atmosphere. A tad more expensive than the average Skopje restaurant, but well worth it.
- 2 [dead link] Ethno Guest House "Villa Vesnica", s.Cucer Sandevo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 3 Restaurant Kvin, s.Ljubanci, ☏ .
- 4 Ethno Restaurant Ilinden House, Ilinden, ☏ . Traditional Macedonian food, kids' playground, garden.
- 5 Pishina Riviera, s.Dolno Svilare, ☏ .
- 6 [formerly dead link] Fafa Restaurant, s.Kondovo, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 7 Restaurant Life, str. 2 number 6, 2nd floor, Saraj, ☏ . Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and coffee
- 1 Hotel Russia, ☏ . On the Vardar River in Aerodrom, Hotel Russia opened in the early 2010s. A restaurant on top of the hotel provides panoramic views of the city. The hotel is situated next to the Jane Sandanski Sports Complex, the Park of Lakes, and also connects to the Vardar Quay.
- 2 Hotel New Star, Ul 2 Br. 160 Vizbegovo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This hotel is in the village of Vizbegovo in Butel Municipality. It is near the Skopje Aqueduct which is also within Vizbegovo.
- 3 Hostel Twins V.V.T, Ul. 3 Br.47 Selo Oreshani, ☏ .
- 4 Restaurant and Villa Reka, s.Patishka Reka, ☏ .
- 5 Oreov Lad, Saraj, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 6 Terasa Laguna, s.Drma, ☏ .
- 7 Etno Kujna Vila Elena, s. Brodec, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 8 Riverside Garden, s. Grcev/ Saraj, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 9 [dead link] Staro Bure, s.Kuchkovo, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 10 Hotel Gold Gmbh Dooel, Saraj, ☏ .
- 11 Jovanov Residence, village of Dolna Makta, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 12 Hotel Canyon Matka, Str.1 nn Village Dolna Matka, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 13 Hotel Le Village, village of Trubarevo, ☏ .
- 14 Motel livija, village of Petrovec, ☏ .
- 15 Villa BIs, village of Varvara, ☏ .