Macedonia

Alternative Skopje

alternative Skopje
(Last Updated On: 22/06/2018)
I had pretty high hopes for the capital of Macedonia and especially alternative Skopje sights. After all every Balkan city has a really big potential when it comes to quirkiness and Skopje was no exception. It felt weird from the very beginning, one of a kind, like nothing I’ve seen before. And that actually made the city to be pretty amazing! There’s no real old town, no tourist center but random places that altogether make a great combination. After spending over 2 days there it seemed like I explored a lot, both on and off the path, but at the same time I knew I could have stayed there longer and still discover new cool spots. So here’s my alternative Skopje guide!


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alternative Skopje guide

Odd monuments

The density of weird sculptures in the center of Skopje is overwhelming! No matter where you stand you will see at least 2 monuments around (in some places you will notice over 20!). Some are monumental, reminding of the great past and big Macedonians. Others are simply ridiculous, like shopaholic girls or a dog with a crown. Altogether they are an inseparable part of Skopje’s scenery and one of the most distinctive things about the city. You will either love them or hate them, but for sure you won’t be indifferent about the monuments!

You can read more about them as well as see some pictures in this photo post (click!) I did a while ago.

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide

Street booksellers

Not far from the main square, along the Vardar River, a few street booksellers can be found. Their stalls resemble those from along the Seine in Paris and the product range is pretty similar too. You can browse through old books, maps, a Skopje guide or two, magazines or comic books and if you’re lucky you will find some gems (that are not written in Macedonian language) there. The touch and smell of old books, the shadow of trees and breeze from the river make a perfect combination and a lovely getaway in the heart of the city.

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide

Old train station – the gem of alternative Skopje

The centrally located building was badly destroyed during the 1963 earthquake and now is a home to the Museum of the City of Skopje (that I haven’t even visited). What already catches everyone’s attention is that the building is still partly in a ruin, looks like it never was repaired after the tragic events. You can peek inside the station surroundings through the wall but if you are up for some urban exploration you can easily get to the grounds, the entrance is on the right side. What you will see is a huge mess in the middle of the city, random objects strewn around, ruins, street art and a shelter for homeless people. No one really bothered me when I wandered around, being really impressed that the place like this can still exist, in such a great location! I bet you won’t read about it in any other (alternative) Skopje guide!

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide

The hangout spot for alternative Skopje: Debar Maalo

Probably the most bohemian neighborhood of Skopje, not far from the center but with a completely different vibe. The streets are quiet, the area seems really cozy and it’s just the place in the heart of the busy capital that makes you want to spend time there, just to enjoy the slow vibe. But the biggest advantage of Debar Maalo is the number of cafes and restaurants there. All the best spots in the city can be found here! I’ve been to five cafes in the area and each one was better than the previous!

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide

Skopje’s cafe culture

Speaking of cafes, Skopje has an exceptional cafe culture, one of the best I’ve ever seen! It was as big surprise as in Yerevan! Every street has at least few really good ones, places where you can spend hours chatting with a friend over a cup of (delicious and cheap!) coffee! No wonder most of the cafes were crazy busy, no matter at which time of the day. Some of my faves included Il Caffee di Roma, Bocata, Bastion, Krug and Kino Karposh. But no matter where you go I’m sure you will find a decent place! I used Foursquare for my Skopje guide to cafes.

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide

AKSC – hub of alternative Skopje

Such an unobtrusive place! Located in the random (yet really pretty) block of flats this independent culture center is the future of the alternative Skopje scene. Founded in 2013 by group of young artists, activists and people who just wanted a change, now is the main spot for creative souls to work freely. The place is bursting with various activities such as film screenings, poetry readings, art exhibitions or debates. I’d definitely spend the majority of my time there if I lived in Skopje!

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide

Street art in Skopje

To my utter disappointment Skopje wasn’t the city of street art. But it had its moments, I just needed to dig in deeper to find them. Some of the street art areas were the old railway station, around AKSC or on the random block of flats on the corner of Bulevar Partizanski Odredi and Blvd Saint Clement of Ohrid.

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide

Green Bazaars

I always try to find farmers markets everywhere I go as they’re the best option for cheap and delicious local food. And Skopje was no different! I’ve visited green bazaar at Partizanska street and it was just perfect. The place wasn’t very big but it had all I hoped for: fresh fruits and vegetables, home made cheese, delicious olives and spices. The smell was incredible, people were really friendly and it was just a perfect place for grocery shopping (or to get some goodies to bring back home). There were also burek stands and well, when I’m in Balkans I can eat burek all day long and I’m not bored. Did I mention the best food you can find is in this part of the world?

alternative Skopje guide

alternative Skopje guide


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I’ve used Spotted by Locals Skopje to find most of these places recommended by locals in Skopje. They publish (100% offline) apps & blogs with up-to-date tips by city loving locals in 57 cities. Here’s a map with all the places I wrote about

Do you also look for alternative spots in places you visit? Which one in Skopje would you like to see the most? Is Macedonia on your bucket list?


During my two visits to Skopje I’ve stayed in GuestHouse Anja and this is probably your best choice for Skopje! The location is unbeatable and the price is really good for that (a single room was only slightly more expensive than the bed in the dorm of the hostel some 15 minutes away from the center…). You can book your accommodation in the guesthouse here! And if you’re looking for other sleeping options for Skopje check Booking website!


Are you planning a trip to Macedonia? Do you like the Balkans as much as I do? I’ve created a Facebook group where you can look for advise or inspiration and share your travel stories and pictures from the Balkans and beyond. Join now!

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If you think of visiting Macedonia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the “destinations” page.


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41 Comments

  • Reply
    Iza
    12/02/2015 at 08:48

    Widzę, że będę musiała wrócić do Skopje… Wiele z tych miejsc widziałam, ale wiele zostało też do zobaczenia. Nie udało mi się m.in. zagłębić w ruiny dworca. Latem było tam cygańskie osiedle.

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 21:54

      uch, to tu na szczęście aż tak źle nie było, tylko kilku panów sobie pomieszkiwało, ale nawet się nie zainteresowali naszą obecnością. A te ruiny są mega, że też takie coś stoi w samym centrum miasta!! Fajne to Skopje, takie zupełnie od czapy :)

  • Reply
    Domi
    12/02/2015 at 11:03

    Panie z pieskiem są fantastyczne! :)

    A te stoiska z książkami kojarzą mi się z Saltą w Argentynie! Tam też były takie budki i za każdym razem, gdy koło nich przechodziłam, to żałowałam, że za moich czasów nie było w Krakowie takiego zagłebia z używanymi książkami :)

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 21:56

      jeszcze kilka podobnych pomników było, panie na ploteczkach, panie na zakupach itp ;)

      oj tak, pamiętam te stoiska z BA! Fantastyczna sprawa!!

  • Reply
    Ewa
    12/02/2015 at 11:43

    Some pictures remind me a bit of Batumi :) But what I like the most are the booksellers. I think I would spend all my time there!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 21:56

      haha, yes, I think the level of absurd in architecture was similar to the one in Batumi :)

  • Reply
    Hannah
    13/02/2015 at 00:09

    Wow I could spend FOREVER flipping through those books!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 21:57

      I know, right :D ??

  • Reply
    Jowita
    13/02/2015 at 14:12

    Skopje is awesome and your post made me realize that I have to come back there !!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 22:05

      Definitely go when you have a chance! it’s such a weird city! ;)

  • Reply
    Alli
    13/02/2015 at 14:50

    Love the shots of the street booksellers! I could spend forever taking a look at each one!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 22:07

      I really wish I had more time to do that!!

  • Reply
    Meg Jerrard
    13/02/2015 at 19:18

    Very eccentric! I love the weird sculptures in the middle of town – odd monuments and quirky attractions really make walking around and exploring a city memorable and fun! Skopje is on the list!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 22:09

      “eccentric” is the best word to describe Skopje! How come I haven’t thought of it sooner! :D

  • Reply
    kamieverywhere
    13/02/2015 at 21:05

    no proszę, szkoda, że jak byłam w Skopje, to o AKSC nie słyszałam! a sprzedawców książek na bank nie było (byłam w 2013), bo sama chętnie bym poszperała w ich dziełach. następnym razem polecam odwiedzić muzeum miejskie, spotkałam tam kolesia, który bardzo fajnie opowiadał o trzęsieniu ziemi i jego skutkach :)

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 22:13

      o, posłuchałabym o tym trzęsieniu ziemi bo to ciekawy temat jest jak na miasto wpłynęła taka chwila… no i chyba musisz wrócić do Skopje, żeby nadrobić zaległości :D

  • Reply
    Asia | Byłem tu. Tony Halik.
    14/02/2015 at 12:10

    So Skopje has it all. Starting from the tiny paradise for bookworms, through the lovely cafes to the food markets (which I also love). I think I’d also love to see that museum :)

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 22:49

      Exactly! and it’s still such an off the path city, it’s hard to believe not that many people have discovered it so far!! :)

  • Reply
    Ryan Biddulph
    15/02/2015 at 09:10

    Hi Kami,

    This stuff is right up my alley. Weird, quirky, bizarre, strange, I live for these photos and these cities. Well I don’t live for them but darn it’s fun to soak up bizarre and funny scenery. Goodness knows I have enough of that material here in SE Asia ;) Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 22:55

      Thanks Ryan! I always try to find all these quirky places everywhere I go so you will find few of these alternative guides in here! SE Asia must be one crazy place, hope you’re enjoying it there! Cheers!

  • Reply
    Jenna
    15/02/2015 at 10:44

    I’ve always wanted to head to the Balkins–this really makes me want to visit that area! Skopje looks great. I love all the art you found walking around!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 23:33

      you really should travel to Balkans when you have a chance – it’s one of the best parts of Europe yet still undiscovered! Just try to get there before everyone else will!

  • Reply
    Sammi Wanderlustin'
    15/02/2015 at 11:06

    Mmmm I love me some burek. Skopje sounds pretty awesome :)

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 23:33

      Burek is the best! I could eat it all day long!!

  • Reply
    antonette - we12travel
    15/02/2015 at 15:23

    Those bookstalls are great – it’s a shame they will probably not have a lot in English but I usually can’t resist taking a peek anyway… no matter how many books I still have left to read here at home :-)

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 23:34

      don’t even start me on my “to read” pile… I think I have enough books for next few years yet I keep buying or borrowing new ones!! I’m a hopeless case!

  • Reply
    Stefania - the Italian Backpacker
    15/02/2015 at 15:33

    I’d heard before about Skopje and its quirky monuments, but I had no idea of how the city actually looked like. How strange that the train station hasn’t been fully repaired when they are building so many new monuments and statues. I wonder if it’s intentional…

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 23:35

      There’s a new train station (well, it’s a little bit exaggerating to call it “new”…) so maybe they just left the ruins as a testimony of the earthquake? I have to track down some info as well! Thank you for pointing that out to me Stefania!

  • Reply
    Beth
    16/02/2015 at 17:12

    Wow, I love all of the cool street art and monuments. Looks like a photographer’s playground!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 23:42

      It definitely was! :)

  • Reply
    Megan
    17/02/2015 at 09:28

    you know me- when i hear a city has an exceptional cafe culture, i go running! i need to get there pronto! those cafes are waiting for me!!!

    • Reply
      kami
      25/02/2015 at 23:44

      you’d love it there, I’m sure of it! Skopje is so damn weird it actually is our ind of the city ;)

  • Reply
    Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    18/02/2015 at 14:36

    Macedonia is definitely on my bucket list! Skopje looks like a quirky, interesting place that I’d love to explore!

    • Reply
      kami
      27/02/2015 at 16:06

      It’s really great! Fingers crossed you will go there soon!

  • Reply
    Venci
    02/04/2015 at 15:38

    Lot of things to see in Macedonia! Just amazing. I believe that I’ve must have missed a lot the last time i was there. :( Planning to go again this summer.
    Greetings from Italy!
    Thanks Kami

    • Reply
      kami
      06/04/2015 at 22:47

      yes, Macedonia has a lot to offer!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    05/05/2015 at 16:03

    Look like very, veryyy beautiful city! Must visit.

  • Reply
    Miroslav
    06/05/2015 at 14:04

    Me also liked the booksellers too. I love old books. Skopie looks great for street photography with all these weird statues. For me the macedonians are too crazy but I can’t deny that they have done their best to make their capital colorful.

  • Reply
    Mirøslav
    08/05/2015 at 21:24

    I liked the booksellers most, too. I would spend couple of hours there. And the Macedonian is almost the same as the Bulgarian language, so I would be able to buy and read some books. Besides Skopje looks pretty good place for street photography.

  • Reply
    cengiz
    13/04/2017 at 11:53

    hi, thank you for sharing. I like this route.

    I would like to go one day ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      17/04/2017 at 21:25

      thank you. I hope you will go.

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