Of all the places to visit in North Macedonia, Krusevo is among my favorite ones. The picturesque town, located high in the mountains is packed with attractions and things to do in Krusevo. This is also one of the most important places in Macedonian history and that’s already a good reason to visit Krusevo.
When I arrived in Krusevo for the first time the weather was gloomy and misty, with visibility of only a few steps ahead. But when, in the morning, it got slightly better I was welcomed with the beautiful view of the town looking a bit unreal, like a model, with houses glued to each other and to the mountain slopes. I fell for Krusevo right there and then and I simply couldn’t resist returning there during one of my further trips to North Macedonia.
By now I’ve been there twice, within a few years apart and not much has changed in Krusevo. It is sleepy, a bit secluded, and feels a bit like time has stopped there. But don’t let this impression mislead you. Krusevo has plenty to offer and you will quickly see that it was worth a small detour in your North Macedonia itinerary.
Where is Krusevo, North Macedonia
Krusevo, a town of a bit over 4 thousand inhabitants, is located in the central/western part of North Macedonia. Skopje, the capital of the country, is 160 km away, Bitola is 50 km away and Ohrid is 120 km from Krusevo. The nearest city is Prilep, 30 km away from Krusevo.
Why visit Krusevo
With an elevation of 1,350 m Krusevo is the highest-located town in the country and among the highest ones in the Balkans. It was first mentioned in 1467 but the town really developed in the 18th century when Christian refugees arrived here, among them many merchants, craftsmen, and artists. That helped Krusevo flourish, especially on the economic and artistic scene.
In 1903 Krusevo was the center of the Ilinden Uprising against the Ottoman Empire, that’s also when the Republic of Krusevo was founded – it lasted only 10 days but it’s considered the progenitor of independent North Macedonia.
Due to its secluded location, Krusevo also developed a bit of the unique culture and architecture that you still can admire today. But for me, the main reason to visit Krusevo was a different architectural masterpiece – Makedonium, one of the most impressive spomeniks from the times of Yugoslavia, standing proudly above the town.
With its beautiful architecture, picturesque location, and plenty to see and do, Krusevo really is one of the best places to visit in North Macedonia.
How to get to Krusevo
The only way to reach Krusevo is by road. If you are not driving yourself, there is OK public transport available, so getting to Krusevo isn’t that difficult really.
There are two direct buses from Skopje and two to Bitola but you can also go via Prilep (which is worth visiting too) as there are more buses from here. Since the public transport in the Balkans is a bit unpredictable (especially with the info you can find online) I recommend checking the exact departure time of buses once you are in North Macedonia.
In Krusevo, the small bus station is located right in the center of the town, within a walking distance of all the attractions.
You can also visit Krusevo on a day trip from Skopje or Ohrid. Here are the best options:
Where to stay in Krusevo
During my first trip to Krusevo, I stayed in Hotel Montana Palace (8.7/10) and that was a good choice since the hotel is located in the upper parts of the town and once the weather got better, the views from up there were stunning. You can check the availability and book the place here.
Other recommended places to stay in Krusevo:
Things to do in Krusevo
The biggest highlight of Krusevo (at least in my opinion) and the reason why I’ve been twice in the town is Makedonium – also known as the Ilinden monument. This is one of the most beautiful so-called spomeniks – the memorial structures dating back to the times of the former Yugoslavia.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s numerous spomeniks were created all over the country, commemorating events from World War 2 and especially Yugoslav partizans then. In North Macedonia, as well as in other former Yugoslavia countries, you can find those abstract, concrete structures still today: in Veles, Prilep, and Krusevo (among other locations).
Makedonium in Krusevo is probably the most-known spomenik in North Macedonia. It was opened in 1974 on the 30th anniversary of the Second Session of the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia and the 71st anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising.
The look of this structure, designed by the married couple of architects Jordan Grabuloski and Iskra Grabuloska, is really unique and looks like from outer space (for me it looks a bit like a toy for a dog). Inside, you can find the tomb of the president of the Krusevo Republic – Nikola Karev.
If Makedonium is open you should definitely visit it inside (there is a small fee for the entrance). The interior looks a bit futuristic too but you can also admire beautiful stained glass windows and bas-reliefs showing (in an abstract form) the national awakening and the struggle of the Macedonian people for liberation. The place is especially impressive on a sunny day when the sunlight plays with the stained glass windows.
The whole area around Makedonium is worth exploring too. The futuristic spomenik looks interesting from each angle, when walking around it you will surely appreciate the imagination behind this project.
When approaching the monument you can see the small amphitheater that fits perfectly with Makedonium. It’s surrounded by a wall with colorful, modernist basreliefs. This is also one of the places in the town with a nice panorama of Krusevo and beyond.
If you want to visit Makedonium inside better stop at the parking lot before entering the site and ask about the entrance there. When I visited the place recently that’s where the keeper of Makedonium was, he went with me to the building to open it for me and to show me around.
Right before arriving to Makedonium, you will notice a modern building on the side of the road. That’s Tose Proeski Memorial House, dedicated to probably the most famous Macedonian singer, known and admired across the region, known also as “Elvis of the Balkans”. He died tragically in 2007, at the age of 26.
Proeski spent his childhood in Krusevo, hence his memorial house is located in the town. If you would like to learn more about Tose Proeski, his life, and his career, you should definitely visit the place.
A short walk away from the Memorial House and entrance to Makedonium, a bit hidden from the parking lot, is the local cemetery where you can find Tose Proeski’s grave.
When I visited the place for the first time, in 2016, it looked a bit crazy, a regular grave with lots and lots of teddy bears, flowers, and notes from fans, a clear sign that he was a loved person. During my recent visit, his resting place improved a lot, with a new, modern structure being built over the grave (it reminded me a bit of the castle).
There is another reason to visit Krusevo cemetery – you can see a really beautiful panorama of the town from here, one of the best you will find.
Due to its location, a bit isolated because of the high altitude, Krusevo managed to preserve its traditional look, both in layout and architecture. When wandering the central part of the town you will find numerous old, beautiful houses, typical for the town.
You will quickly notice they are one of a kind, symmetrical, with a back made of stone and a wooden front and decorated in blue. They date mostly to the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and are often rich in details.
Be sure to wander around the town to find some of the most beautiful houses from that period, especially in the central parts of Krusevo.
When looking at Krusevo from above (which isn’t really difficult here), you will see numerous churches in the town’s townscape. Just like historical houses, they also often date to the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and look really beautiful, fitting perfectly into the scenery.
If you happen to see any of them open – be sure to stop inside as you might find there some valuable frescoes and beautiful interiors to admire.
The central part of town is where the bazaar is located. It dates back to the 19th century when Krusevo became the important stop on the trading routes and even if it’s so much smaller in comparison to bazaars in Skopje or Bitola, it still is a really pleasant place, worth exploring a bit.
You can find here some old-school shops and craftsman’s places as well as restaurants serving local delicious food. During my last visit, there were also plenty of pictures of Tose Proeski around, Krusevo is clearly proud of its most-known citizen.
A bit outside of the town you will find beautiful nature, perfect for hiking around or, in the wintertime, skiing. There’s even a chairlift that can take you to the upper parts of Krusevo right from the center. From the higher points, you can also admire a stunning panorama of Krusevo and beyond.
Where to go next
From Krusevo, you can continue your journey to Prilep (which is definitely worth spending at least one full day in) and then south to Bitola – the second-largest city in North Macedonia, also packed with attractions. Or you can go west towards the stunning Lake Ohrid, probably the most beautiful place to visit in the country!
I published many articles about North Macedonia that you might find useful when planning your trip there. Here are some of them:
- 19 Amazing Places to Visit in North Macedonia
- What to do in Skopje, the kitschy yet cool capital of North Macedonia
- Matka Canyon – a perfect nature getaway outside Skopje
- 17 Best Things to Do in Ohrid, North Macedonia
- Tetovo, North Macedonia – Stunning Painted Mosque and More
- and more!
If you are looking for articles about a specific destination – check out the map with all the articles I’ve published (and their locations).
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