Easy Day Trips from Skopje: Matka Canyon's Dramatic Outdoor Playground
Once visitors have had their fill of eating Macedonian treats, the country's natural landscape awaits to provide a fresh take on the region. You can take in the beauty of the little known Lake Ohrid, ski or hike the hills of Popova Shapka, and explore the town of Kruševo, the highest mountain town in the Balkans (4,430 feet) and the site of the World Cup of Paragliding in 2012.
Downtown Skopje itself doesn't exactly feel outdoorsy, yet surrounding the city are the hills and mountains of the Vardar Valley, and it’s worth scheduling some time to trek around. If you’re short on time, located about 30 minutes from downtown Skopje is Matka Canyon, our pick for the area’s most dramatic outdoor playground with its steep walls plunging down towards the Treska River that flows through it.
Rock climbing, hiking, boating, caving, and kayaking are all popular activities amongst locals as well as tourists, but even those who aren’t feeling completely adventurous can enjoy the canyon’s beauty thanks to paved walking paths, a riverside café, and an abundance of monasteries.
During our visit last November, the rock seemed to have a purple hue to it, the bright colors of the fall foliage bursting out in shades of red, yellow, and green. Even on a cloudy day, a trip out to Matka is still worthwhile. Public buses run from Skopje to Matka all day, or you can take a cab for about $10, so make sure you pencil in at least a half-day visit.