Macedonia or officially Republic of Macedonia is a young state with a complicated history, hospitable people and mesmerizing nature. As other Balkan countries, Macedonia has a strange mix of Slavic roots, Orthodox Christian traditions and Middle East flavour. Despite the fact that this country has no direct sea access, resort life her is in full swing, as in summer thousands of people come to the crystal clear Ohrid Lake.
Almost all territory of Macedonia is sowed with architectural monuments of the Middle Ages and Antiquity, and carefully preserved nature makes the country one of the best European destinations for active vacations, where anyone can enjoy hiking, trekking, rafting and angling. If Macedonia finally resolves all the safety issues on its territory, it will have a great chance of becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe.
In Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, you can walk down the cozy, yet quite modernized central streets and look at various sculptures and monuments, gaze through the windows of the flower shops, boutiques and cafes. The old bridge built in XV century will lead you straight to the Old City with ancient winding streets and the Osman fortress Skopsko Kale. The epoch of Turkish reign influenced greatly the appearance of Skopje – small minarets and mosques of Mustafa Pasha and sultan Murat are rising over the rest of the Old City. For a small fee you can climb up the clock tower of sultan Murat mosque and watch the city from a bird’s eye. The former Turkish bath-house of Dawud Pasha, built in XV century, are now turned into museums and galleries.
Cuisine and culture in Macedonia have absorbed traditions of Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria, that this amazing country borders with. Nevertheless the streets are clean and tidy, as in any other old European city.
The question of safety in Macedonia is rather ambiguous. In Christian parts of the country you hardly ever have to worry about safety, but in regions populated by Albanians no one is immune to any form of violence. And the fact that you’re a guest in this country will not help you. Remember that you can move across their territory only if you have a special permission. Smoking in public is prohibited in Macedonia. It is not allowed to smoke in restaurants, cafes, bars, educational and governmental facilities, cinema theatres and other public places.
Petty frauds are widespread around the country, that’s why you need to be very cautious when discussing financial questions and remember to never give your money first, before receiving your purchase. Watch out for pickpockets in crowded places, especially persistent young beggars around the main square in Skopje and at traffic lights. They are unlikely to hurt you, but they can be quite intimidating, clinging to your pockets, getting more and more aggressive. Keep your hands firmly on your valuables and walk fast into the nearest shop if you are unable to shake them off.
There are also a few official recommendations. First, while travelling Macedonia, try to avoid territories that border Kosovo and Serbia. Second, it is strongly advised against talking and more importantly arguing about politics, especially about the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Travelling to Macedonia at age years old is something you will never forget for a very long period of time! Just like for many other countries in europe and other continents, tourism is a dominant part of the economy of Republic of Macedonia with over 660 thousands of travellers from all over the world visited this country in 2012. And year after year these figures constantly increase. Republic of Macedonia is a very green country - it owns 33 natural reserves and 3 huge national parks. These are Mavrovo, Pelister and Galicica. The most well-known Macedonian cities you would probably want to visit are Skopje, Ohrid, Stip and Bitola. If you are a fan of music festivals and dancing, Republic of Macedonia yearly hosts 4 great music festivals.
People who don't travel cannot have a global view, all they see is what's in front of them. Those people cannot accept new things because all they know is where they live. Martin Yan
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