Thursday, 23 March 2017

When to go

Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Skopje. In April and May the town blooms with greenery and the Vardar River, which flows through its centre, adorning it with several bridges, has a more audible presence. Summers can be sizzling hot, so avoid going between mid-July and mid-August. Skopje’s winters are milder and shorter than those of Belgrade or Sofia.

How to get there


BOOK A FLIGHT

By Air


Skopje’s international airport (++389 (2) 3148 333), infamously renamed months ago to Alexander the Great, is in Petrovec, 21 km away from the capital. You can reach the city by a previously arranged shuttle or taxi, as no public transportation goes there. Taxi rates are usually based on the customers’ look, but those bearing official ‘taxi’ signs are usually more merciful. Ten foreign and one domestic airline operate in Skopje, connecting the town with 15 European destinations, amongst them Belgrade, Ljubljana, Zagreb and Istanbul. The most frequent flights to Western Europe are to Vienna, Milan, Budapest and Zurich. Bulgaria Air plans to start direct flights from Sofia to Skopje at the end of 2007.


By Rail


As everywhere in the Balkans, Macedonia’s railways are by far not as developed as those in Western Europe. International trains are more or less punctual, while the local lines usually have big delays. The principal rail route passes North-South from Belgrade in Serbia via Skopje to Thessaloniki in Greece. There are three express trains a day between the Serbian and Macedonian capitals and the trip takes 3 to 5 hours. Via Belgrade, Skopje is connected to Vienna and Budapest. Sofia can be reached with a big detour via Serbia, and it is also a stop-off point on the Skopje-Istanbul route.
Skopje Railway Station (+ 3892 3234255, 3 118177).


By Road


The best road in Macedonia is E75, which runs from Belgrade via Skopje to Thessaloniki. Parts of it are highway, while others are under construction.  The distance between Belgrade and Skopje is 430 km, usually covered in about 6 to 7 hours. From Sofia there is only a small mountainous road and the 230 km-distance takes 3 to 4 hours. Thessaloniki is only 240 km away, and the road is fast, so the distance is normally covered in 3 hours.


Where to stay


Skopje does not really offer a great choice of hotels, and the few better ones are quite pricey for what they provide. Yet there are exceptions, and accommodation remains cheap compared to many other tourist destinations in Europe. There are several 5-stars hotels, amongst which the strategically situated Holiday Inn, and together with the local 4-stars ones there is a Best Western. There are a number of smaller family hotels, dispersed around town. Some of the nicest ones are located on the Vodno Mountain – the hill, which dominates the town’s landscape and reminds of a villa zone.


Where to eat


Heavy red wines and a great variety of delicious food – from assorted dairy and vegetable platters to rich meat dishes: those are some of Skopje’s main attractions.

BALKAN CUISINE


Boudain Noir à la Prilep

In France, they have been making boudain for at least 1000 years, using at least 100 different recipes. On the Balkans, they have been making boudain for at least 1000 years, using at least


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Served in shaded stone-walled gardens around refreshing fountains in the summer and in cosy, fire-lit stone cellars in the winter, they are among the greatest pleasures of a trip to Macedonia’s capital. This is supplemented by a big array of modern, noisy cafés all around the town centre, and with most tempting baklava and Turkish delight shops in the old, now predominantly Muslim part of the town.