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.
- Saraj can be reached via lines 2, 11, 12, 56, and 60.
- 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 under construction, 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 2017.
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.
Saraj is the largest municipality by area in Skopje. It is completely rural, including expansive nature like Matka Canyon, and was added to the city limits in the early 2000s. As Saraj as a whole is primarily Albanian-inhabited, its addition to the city bumped the proportion of Albanians in Skopje to 20%.
- 3 Matka Canyon (Матка кањон). One of the most popular outdoor destinations in Macedonia, Matka Canyon is formed by the river Treska, a tributary of the Vardar which has been dammed forming a lake also called Matka. It is home to 10 caves with depths of 20 m (66 ft) to likely over 176 m (578 ft) and a great diversity of wildlife including 77 indigenous specifies of butterfly. Aside from the nature, a major draw of the canyon is its numerous medieval churches and monasteries.
- 4 St Andrew's Monastery (Манастир „Св. Андреја“). Located on the west bank of the Treska gorge, St Andrew is a well-frequented monastery due to its scenic and easily accessible location at the foot of the rocks and mountains standing above the gorge. It was built in 1389 and contains very well-preserved frescoes. It contains a restaurant, a cafe, and canoe/kayak rentals.
- 5 Šiševo Monastery (Шишевски Манастир). This monastery, which contains the Church of St Nicholas, was likely established in the 14th century, possibly by King Marko. It was abandoned a couple times during its history and the monastery complex, excluding the church, were burned down in 1844. The church, in the Byzantine style, has an octagonal dome and a porch. Above the entrance is a large mural of St Nicholas. Situated above high above the canyon at the foot of a large rock, it is a popular rest stop for hikers.
- 6 Church of St Nedela (Црква „Св. Недела“). A ruined church on the west side of the canyon. While just walls and arches remain, there are icons within it as well as places to light candles.
- 7 Church of the Holy Saviour (Црква „Св. Спас“). On the west side of the canyon, this small church dates from the 14th century. It was in rough shape for many years but is now well maintained.
- 8 Matka Monastery (Манастир Матка). This monastery, dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, sits on the west side of the Treska River. It is home to an active female monastic sisterhood. The 14th century monastery is one of the more easily accessible of the canyon area. According to an inscription on the church, someone named Milica found the church in poor condition and without a roof in 1497. She replaced the roof, added new frescoes, built a portico and created a vineyard. The church within is in the Byzantine style and has an octagonal dome.
- 9 Church of St Athanasius (Црква „Св. Атанасиј“). Just east of the Treska River on a small hill within the village of Šiševo is the Church of St Athanasius. It dates from the 14th century, though most of it is newer than that.
There are some 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.
- 10 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.
- 11 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.
- 12 Monastery of St 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.
North of central Skopje, bordering Kosovo, and containing much of the Skopska Crna Gora mountain range.
- 13 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.
- 14 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.
- 15 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.
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.
- 16 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.
- 17 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.
- 18 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.
- 19 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.
- 20 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.
- 21 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.
- 22 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.
- 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.
- 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.