Holidays, events and national customs
There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date, but are based on the location of Easter. Easter takes place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which ends on Holy Saturday, is 46 days before Holy Saturday. The date for Pentecost is then 50 days after Easter. Corpus Christi is celebrated on the second Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints’ Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the first Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.
|January 1||New Year|
|January 7||Orthodox Christmas|
|May 6||Orthodox Easter|
|1st of May||Days of labor|
|August 2||National Day (Ilinden Uprising)|
|September 8||Independence day|
|October 11||Day of the Uprising of the Macedonian People (World War II)|
Source: Countryaah – Macedonia Holidays
Since the Orthodox holidays are calculated according to the Julian calendar, they are on a different date every year according to the conventional calculation. The dates of the Orthodox holidays shown here refer to the year 2002. It should be noted, however, that the Julian calendar is only used within the Macedonian Church and for its holidays – not in the state sector and the holidays connected with it.
Regular cultural events
- Every year in August, the Ohrid Summer Festival is held with musical and theatrical performances.
- The Skopje Jazz Festival takes place every October.
- A classical music festival is held in Bitola every August.
The Macedonians shake hands in greeting. Shops are cozy, you take your time.
Typically, a 10% tip is given in restaurants, hotels and taxis.
It is strictly forbidden to take photos of airports, military facilities and dams. For this purpose, warning notices are set up at the corresponding locations.
The best time to travel to Macedonia
The ideas of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depend on a number of factors. Pure cultural travelers certainly see the climate differently than people who want to spend a pure beach holiday, for example. The state of health or age can also play an important role:
For people who are more sun-hungry
For people who like to enjoy a lot of sun and for whom higher temperatures do not cause problems, the following seasons are particularly suitable for a stay in the country: Central European summer from the end of May to September, this time of year in Macedonia is really very hot and dry.
For people who prefer a temperate climate
People who prefer a temperate climate and lower temperatures should better use the following seasons to stay in Macedonia: European spring from March to May and autumn from September to November.
The following table shows a range of climate data for the country.
|Month||Average number of rainy days||Mean maximum temperatures in (°C)||Mean minimum temperatures in (°C)|
|January||10-12||04-06||-03 to -04|
|February||07-09||07-09||-03 to -04|
|December||08-10||06-08||-01 to -03|
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that SP stands for the nation of Macedonia as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
– Natural and cultural heritage of the Ohrid region (1979, 1980, 2019)
Lake Ohrid, on which the city of Ohrid is built, lies in an impressively beautiful nature and has crystal clear water. The city and the lake are in the south-west of the country. The lake with an area of around 350 km² also partly belongs to Albania.
Ohrid has around 56,000 residents, of which approx. 47% Macedonians, 5% Albanians and 4% Turks. The vast majority of the people belong to Orthodox Christianity and only about 5,000 are Muslims. In the city is the 10th century Cathedral of St. Sophie. The cathedral has beautiful frescoes from the 10th century.
The town and lake were entered in 1979 on both the UNESCO World Heritage List and the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List. In 1980, the World Heritage was expanded to include the Prespa Lake region. You can find more information about the two lakes at Goruma under Geography of Macedonia.
The area was expanded in 2019 and now also includes the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid, the small Lin peninsula, the springs in the Drillon Park and a stretch of shore on the North Macedonian border. On the Lin peninsula are the remains of a Christian church from the 6th century. In the waters of the banks, three sites are evidence of prehistoric pile dwellings.
The approximately 360 km² large Lake Ohrid is after the maximum 530 km² large Skadar Lake (also Skadar Lake) the second largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula and one of the oldest lakes on earth. The greater part of it belongs to North Macedonia, of which it is the largest lake, and a smaller part to Albania. The lake has a maximum depth of 288 m.
Bridge in Skopje
The bridge in Skopje (6th century) is an old stone bridge that leads over the Vardar to the old town.
Daut Pascha Hammam
The Daut Pascha Hammam (end of the 15th century) is the largest Turkish bath on the Balkan island. The construction was financed by the Grand Vesier Daut-Pascha.
Kursumli An is an old caravanserai in Skopje. It was built around the 16th century, exact dates are not known. There are sources that say the caravanserai was built in memory of Mula Musledin Hoja.
Cross in Skopje This large steel frame cross is enthroned at a height of 1,040 meters on the summit of the Vodno mountain near Skopje. The construction itself measures 66 meters in height and 42 meters in width and is intended to represent an orthodox cross, which can be read from the number symbolism within the construction. The cross is most impressive when it shines down on the city of Skopje at night. The name of the cross refers to the year of dedication 2000.
Sahat-Kula (clock tower) in Bitola
The imposing 30 meter high and square clock tower Bitola is the symbol of the city. It was already mentioned in the 16th century.
Skopsko Kale (6th century) is a castle in Skopje that was built under Justinian. It was built using stones from the town of Scupi, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 518.
Kokino observatory near Kumanovo
This very interesting megalithic observatory was only discovered in 2001 by the archaeologist Jovica Stankovski. He found it in the area of the Staro Nagoričane municipality, which is about 30 kilometers east of Kumanovo, in the north-east of Macedonia. The name of the observatory refers to the nearby village of Kokino. A few ceramics from the time of a prehistoric settlement were discovered there. The observatory is made up of seven markings. These were carved in stone about 3,000 years ago by the people who lived there, who were called thrones.
Suli An, the old caravanserai in Skopje is one of the most wonderful buildings from the first half of the 15th century. It was built by Ishak Bey. Today it houses the Academy of the Arts, part of the city museum and the gallery of contemporary art.
Clock tower “Saat Kula”
The clock tower “Saat Kula” of Skopje is the symbol of the city and unique in the region. It was built by the Ottomans around the end of the 16th century, although the exact date is not known. The tower is square and about 30 meters high. The upper part was made of wood and it is said that the clock was delivered from Siget, Hungary.
Daut Pasha Hamam in Skopje
This Turkish bath (hamam) is said to have been built by the Grand Vizier Daut Pasha in the 2nd half of the 15th century. The former bath was used by men and women. The two large domes have covered the two dressing rooms, and the smaller domes each for the two bathing areas. The bath now serves as the national gallery with a rich collection of art from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Double hammam in Skopje
The double hammam was created by Isa beg in the 15th century and, like that of Daut Pasha, was used by both sexes. This hamam is also used as an exhibition building, as contemporary art is shown here.
Macedonian National Museum and Gallery in Skopje
The National Museum is divided into three areas: archeology, history and ethnology. The ethnological department exhibits 70 costumes from different parts of Macedonia (highlight the 40 kg wedding dress), the archaeological department exhibits objects from the Neolithic period (5,000 years BC) and the historical department shows copies of many Macedonian frescoes, sculptures and much more.
Museum of Natural Science in Skopje
Located within the zoological garden, this museum has existed since the 1920s. The visitor can look at exhibits in exhibitions on a wide variety of topics in the natural sciences.
Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje
One of the most important institutions in Macedonia is also located in Skopje. The museum building consists of three connected wings and contains permanent and changing exhibitions. There are also video and film presentations. Various sculptures are exhibited in the large park outside the museum.
Museum The Bitola Museum is particularly known for the famous inscription that goes back to the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Wladislaw (1015-1018). It was discovered in 1956 when a mosque was demolished.
Museum The Ohrid Museum is housed in the former Kliment Ohridski School. Since 1985 there has been a permanent exhibition on Slavic writing studies, which consists of around 500 exhibits. This includes several old manuscripts, photographs and copies of old documents dealing with the history of the city.
City Museum Skopje
The small city museum is housed in the old main station building of the city. This was badly damaged in the 1963 earthquake and is home to the city museum as well as a gallery.
This imposing fortress stands on the highest hill in the Skopje Valley and offers the visitor a fantastic view over the city. The oldest part of the structure consists of the walling, which is 121 meters long. Most of the architectural features of the fortress date from the 10th century (rectangular tower) and the 13th century (round tower). Under the Turkish rule, the fortress was strengthened and had 70 towers at peak times (only three have survived today). The small gate on the side of the Old Bazaar is the only gate that is still standing. It was built in 1446. The Kale Fortress was badly damaged in the fire of 1689 and the earthquake of 1963.
This fortress from the early Byzantine period was once equipped with 40 towers and was located in the medieval town of Crnce.
This ancient aqueduct has survived the ravages of time and is located north of Skopje.
Ruins of an ancient city of Heraclea
Near the city of Bitola on the Greek border are the ruins of an ancient city of Heraclea. It probably dates from the 4th century BC. It is currently being excavated. It is not yet known exactly which city it really is.
Stone bridge of Skopje
The Byzantine emperor Justinianus had this bridge built in the 6th century, which from then on has always been a symbol of the city. Every ruler therefore tried to immortalize himself on the bridge. Even the last mayor did this when he had the bridge restored. The watchtower that once adorned the bridge fell off during restoration work and is currently being reconstructed. The bridge, which is the main connection between the Skopje Main Square and the Old Bazaar, has 13 arches and is 214 meters long.
Churches, monasteries and mosques
Aladja Mosque (or Ishak Bey Mosque)
One of the oldest and most beautiful mosques in Skopje derives its name from the Turkish word “alaça”, which means “decorated”. It was built in 1438 by Ishak Bey and expanded in 1519 by his nephew Mahmed. Unfortunately, many valuable parts of the mosque were destroyed during the great earthquake in 1963. But the 30 meter high minaret betrays the former pride of the Islamic house of God.
Colorful Mosque in Tetovo
In 1495 the Colorful Mosque was built on the Macedonian River Pena, which has been renovated several times in the course of its existence and today represents an architectural mixture of Ottoman neoclassicism and baroque. The name of the Islamic church is related to the many decorative elements that have been attached to the outside of the mosque.
Dervish monastery in Tetovo
The dervish monastery complex is a Tekke, the center of a Sufi brotherhood. The term means something like “asylum”. This tekke was built in the 16th century and dedicated to the late Ali Baba, but the current parts of the building date back to the 19th century.
Hajdar Pasha Mosque in Ohrid
This mosque in Ohrid is located in the predominantly Muslim district of Voska. It was built in 1490.
Haxhi Durgut Mosque in Ohrid
In the northeast of the city center of Ohrid lies the Leskaica district. The medieval Haxhi Durgut Mosque, a building from 1466, is also located there. It is the oldest mosque in the city.
Holy Mother of God von Zaum near Ohrid
The elegant-looking church of Holy Mother of God von Zaum, located about 20 kilometers from Ohrid, rises picturesquely on the banks of Lake Ohrid. The church, donated at the end of the 14th century, was designed in the shape of a cross and provided with a dome and columns. In addition to its external appearance, it also impresses with its interior, which is characterized by numerous fesques.
Issa Bey Mosque
This mosque is one of the most important Islamic architectural monuments in Skopje. The construction of the Islamic house of worship dates back to 1476 and the Ottoman Issa Bey, the grandson of the conqueror of Skopje Pasha Yigit Bey. The mosque was once part of a complex that consisted of a madrasa, an imaret (= soup kitchen) and a library. The oldest tree in the Macedonian capital stands in the courtyard of the mosque.
Jahja Pasha Mosque
This mosque is enthroned at the beginning of the Čair district, near the Bit Pazar. It was built in 1504 by Jahja Pasha, a commander in the Turkish army and son-in-law of Sultan Bajazit II. The most interesting thing about the mosque is the pyramidal roof. The minaret is also the largest in Skopje. It is 50 meters high.
Cathedral. Century stands in Ohrid. The cathedral has beautiful frescoes from the 10th century and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ohrid and the surrounding area.
Church of Saint Clement in Skopje
The Church of Saint Clement in Skopje from the 10th century, also called Panteleimon, is known for its beautiful frescoes. It is also the largest Macedonian Orthodox church.
Church of St. Panteleimon
near Skopje in Nerezi is one of the oldest and most important churches in Macedonia. It was designed in the Komnenon-Byzantine architectural style and completed by Prince Alexios Komnenos in 1164. The church is particularly impressive because of the interesting frescoes from the 12th century.
Church and monastery of Sveti Naum near Ohrid
About 30 kilometers from Ohrid is the monastery of Sveti Naum. It rises on a very idyllic lake that extends on the Albanian border. The monastery complex is one of the most important monuments in the area.
Church “Annunciation of the Lord” in Prilep
This orthodox church in Prilep was built in 1838. In addition to the interesting icon representations of the church, there is a Bulgarian military cemetery in front of the sacred structure, which honors victims of the First and Second World Wars.
Lešok Monastery near Tetovo
You can find the Orthodox Lešok Monastery if you leave the city of Tetovo for eight kilometers and approach the Albanian border. The monastery is surrounded on the one hand by a church consecrated to the Virgin Mary, which dates from 1326 and was designed in the Byzantine style. The other church was dedicated to St. Dedicated to Athanasius and erected in 1924. The dormitories of the monastery, on the grounds of which the grave of the scholar Kiril Peitschinowitsch (1770-1865) is located, are available to tourists.
Mustafa Pasha Mosque
The Mustafa Pasha Mosque (1492) in Skopje was built in memory of Mustafa Pasha, who was a visor of Sultan Selim I in the Ottoman Empire.
St. Bogorodica Church and Monastery of St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel
In the village of Kucevishte near Skopje there is, on the one hand, the St. Bogorodica Church from 1348 and, on the other hand, the Monastery of St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel, a building which was created towards the end of the 14th century.
St. Nikita Monastery
Located in the village of Banjani, the Nikita Monastery was built in 1307 and 1308 by the Serbian King Milutin on the site of the former church.
St. Nikola Church
The church, built in 1337, can be seen in the village of Ljuboten. The church has a dome. Unfortunately, the village of Ljuboten was drawn into the 2001 conflict, so many of the wonderful frescoes inside the church were destroyed by Albanians.
Yahdar Kadi Mosque in Bitola
The 16th century Yahdar Kadi Mosque in the Macedonian city of Bitola was designed by none other than the famous Ottoman architect Sinan.
Universities in Tetovo
The South East European University in the city of Tetovo was founded in 2001. One of the four State Universities of Macedonia still exists in the city.
University of “St. Cyril and Method ”in Skopje
The largest university in Macedonia was founded in 1949 and currently trains around 36,700 students. It is made up of a total of 23 faculties. A wide range of courses can be studied here, ranging from technical, humanities, medical-biological and artistic subjects.
Gradski Park (City Park) in Skopje
In the center of the city is Gradski Park, a large green area, part of which is used as a museum with numerous monuments in it. The park is a wonderful place for those seeking relaxation. There are numerous hiking trails there that lead around a small lake. Otherwise, the park has tennis courts, cafes, an amusement park for children, restaurants and much more. The city’s zoological garden and the Gradski stadium are also located in the city park. In summer, the nightlife of the Macedonian capital is concentrated in the numerous pubs and bars of Skopje’s Green Lung.
Matka Caves, Vrelo Cave
At Matka there are over ten caves that are between 20 and 200 m long. Below is the freshwater cave Vrelo, the entrance of which is around 1.5 m from the Makta dam.
Despite intensive research, the depth of the freshwater lake in the cave has not yet been determined – so far, a depth of over 200 m has been reached during dives.
The part of the cave that is not under water can be visited.
This impressive gorge is located in the west of Skopje and can be visited from here with the help of city tours. A boat trip through the gorge is also possible.
The Treska River flows through the gorge.
At the edge of the gorge are the Matka Monastery from the 14th century, the St. Andrew’s Monastery from 1389 or the Monastery of St. Nikolas from the 17th century.
Matka Lake Matka Lake
is a reservoir that is located west of Skopje. The lake is surrounded by steep cliffs.
The lake was created in 1937 when a dam was built to dam the Treska River and use it to generate electricity.
The area around Lake Matka is rich in monasteries.
Lake Ohrid and National Park
For more information on this UNESCO World Heritage Site, see above.
Prespa Lake and Prespa National Park
Lake Prespa and Prespa National Park are located in the mountains in the triangle of Macedonia, Albania and Greece. The lake is very deep and rich in fossils. The Prespa National Park surrounds Lake Prespa. It is one of the largest European nature reserves and is known for its biodiversity. It has beautiful water, forest and mountain landscapes and belongs to the three neighboring countries of Albania, Greece and Macedonia. For more information on this UNESCO World Heritage Site, see above.
Šar Planina ski area near Tetovo
The Šar Planin mountain range, which stretches between Macedonia and Kosovo and whose highest point is the 2,747 meter high Titov Vrv, includes numerous good ski areas such as Popova Šapka near Tetovo, which is accessible via a serpentine, paved road is to achieve. You can either use the gondola lift from Tetovo or your own feet, which will take you through a cozy mixed forest for around 3.5 hours.
Vardar and Treska rivers
The approximately 390 km long Vadar rises in the Šar Planina mountain range – in the village of Vrutok near Gostivar in Macedonia and flows into the Thermaic Gulf, part of the Aegean Sea, in Greece.
The Treska, a little over 130 km long, is a right tributary of the Vardar. It rises on the Stogovo mountain at an altitude of around 2,000 meters. Its confluence with the Vardar is located in the suburb of Gjorče Petrov from Skopje.
This is where the Matka dam with the Matka reservoir built in 1937 and the Kozjak dam with the Kozjak reservoir built in 2004 are located.