in the middle
Macedonia is growing in popularity as a tourist destination and there is much to see and do here. The vibrant capital Skopje and the delightful lakeside town of Ohrid are particularly popular. There are national parks and reserves galore, like the Tikveš Strict Natural Reserve, one of Europe's most important ornithological sites. The Stone Town of Kuklica outside Kratovo is an incredible sight, with 120 natural stone pillars that are over 10 million years old.
Cheap hotels in Macedonia can be found in most locations if you compare rates on dealchecker. Just bear in mind that it's worth checking current travel advice before you book your trip.
The capital of Skopje is an up-and-coming city and home of the main airport. Kale Fortress looms over the city with the charming Old Bazaar beneath it, buzzing with restaurants. Cross over the Stone Bridge to see the statue of Alexander the Great in the main square. When you've had enough sightseeing, a glass of the local Skopsko beer is very refreshing.
In the east you'll find the city of Strumica, which is a good base to go hiking on Mount Belasica and see the waterfalls of Smolare and Kolesino. The nearby Byzantine monasteries of Vodoca and Veljusa are famous for their stunning mosaics and fresco paintings.
The ancient cobbled streets and charming lakeside bars of Ohrid attract many visitors, especially in summer. There are several beaches to choose from here with Ljubaništa a favourite for its sunsets, while Gradište attracts a lively younger crowd. Gali?ica National Park, located between the lakes to the east, has over 1,000 species of plant.
Sveti Naum Monastery makes a great day trip from Ohrid. The churches are impressive both inside and out, so it's worth paying the entry charge to see for yourself. A peaceful garden with peacocks and roses loops around the centre of the complex and there are some great swimming spots in the lake. Climb to the top of the monastery walls for a beautiful view across the lake.
The uninhabited island of Golem Grad is in the middle of Lake Prespa and only accessible by boat, commonly from Dupeni Beach. It's also known as Snake Island as it has a high concentration of snakes. If you dare explore, there are many interesting ruins to discover like the 14th-century Church of St Peter and 5th-century Christian basilicas.
The Millennium Cross sits high above Skopje on Vodno Mountain as a memorial to 2,000 years of Christianity in Macedonia. At 66-metres-high, it's believed to be the largest cross ever built, and is best reached by cable car.