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North Macedonia Motorhome Trip 2023

Updated: May 28

If you are looking for an adventure, visiting North Macedonia by motorhome is a great idea! In this blog post, we'll take you along on our two week journey through North Macedonia, offering insights, tips, and inspiration for an unforgettable motorhome expedition. Travelling by motorhome allows you to explore the beautiful landscapes, the rich culture and the friendly people of this Western Balkan country at your own pace. You can park your motorhome in one of the many campsites or wild camping spots and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of travelling on wheels. You can visit the stunning Lake Ohrid, the historic city of Skopje, the ancient ruins of Heraclea Lyncestis, the scenic Matka Canyon and many more attractions. Whether you're a seasoned traveller or a novice adventurer, North Macedonia has something different to offer. So get ready to explore the rugged landscapes, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality of North Macedonia with your Motorhome. You will have an unforgettable experience and make memories that will last a lifetime!


BEST TIME TO VISIT NORTH MACEDONIA

North Macedonia has a relatively dry Mediterranean climate with a full array of four seasons, although spring can be quite short, and each season is tempered by the altitude. Located so far south in Europe, North Macedonia is great to visit most of the year-round. It is particularly welcoming during spring and autumn, outside the high tourist seasons and when the weather is at its most pleasant. It can be warm and sunny during the day from as early as March until as late as November, while skiing is usually available from December through to early April. July and August can be very hot, sometimes getting up to 40°C during the day in Skopje and along the Vardar Valley. This can be particularly unpleasant if taking lengthy journeys by public transport where there is no air conditioning and the local population fears getting ill from a breeze from an open window. The mountains remain pleasantly cool, however, and even Ohrid is relatively quiet midweek in the summer.


  • June to August - Enjoy Ohrid's Summer Festival and dive into its 300m-deep lake.

  • September & October - Partake in Skopje’s Beer Fest, Jazz Festival, and harvest celebrations.

  • December to February - Ski Mavrovo and indulge in North Macedonia’s holiday carnivals.

Find more details on visiting North Macedonia see our dedicated destination page:


This was our route through North Macedonia.

We entered from Greece, travelled to Lake Ohrid and continued north to Skopje.

North Macedonia Motorhome Trip 2023
North Macedonia Motorhome Trip 2023

Entering North Macedonia by Motorhome from Greece

North Macedonia • 11 May 2023 • 12°

In an attempt to escape the rain in Greece, we crossed into North Macedonia at the Medzhitlija Border Crossing. We received a warm welcome from the border officials, together with a friendly warning that the week to come would also be a rainy one in North Macedonia!


On Google Maps, the A3 route from here towards Bitola would appear to be a main road. It only took a few minutes, however, for us to wonder whether this narrow and uneven stretch of disintegrating tar was a bad omen of the condition of the roads to come in North Macedonia.


Friends had told us that fuel prices in North Macedonia are currently very good. This meant that in addition to worrying about Milli bouncing and rattling to pieces, along very possibly the worst section of "tar road" we have travelled to date, we were also holding our breath until reaching the first fuel station. The attendants at Lukoil could not have been more welcoming and friendly and Milli was speedily refilled with diesel (@ 1.08 EUR/L), LPG (@ 0.73 EUR/L) and even potable fresh water (free).


Although we had intended to travel further, we simply couldn't bear the thought of continuing further than the 13 km that we had just travelled and decided to rather stop nearby for the night.

north macedonia roads

Bitola & The Ancient Macedonian City Heraclea Lyncestis

North Macedonia • 12 May 2023 • 18°

Considering the terrible drive we had just done, we were more than happy with the somewhat sloping parking to spend the night outside of the Ancient Macedonian City Heraclea Lyncestis. This Archeological site costs only 120 MKD / 2 EUR per person to enter. Unfortunately, the mosaic tiles which they are so famous for, are only open for a short period over the summer and we were just two weeks too early. Little did we know, our overnight stop came with everything we would later recognise to be typical of North Macedonia... friendly stray dogs and the ever so quaint, very old YUGO cars!



We enjoyed a morning run into the city of Bitola, which is the 2nd largest (most populous) city in North Macedonia. We just love how much of a place we can get to see during a run. It's also always interesting to see places in the morning hours when the day is just getting started and people are going about their ordinary business. Bitola is a city worth visiting, with its pedestrian walkway all the way from the City Park to Magnolia Square.


We would have stayed longer to see more of the city of Bitola. However, with the weather prediction showing only 2 days of good weather for the upcoming week, we decided to head straight to the extremely popular Lake Ohrid to see what all the fuss is about. Luckily, the roads were a vast improvement and we were very relieved to be able to enjoy the very scenic drive along the E-65.

north macedonia bitola

Lake Ohrid

North Macedonia • 12 May 2023 • 18°

north macedonia lake ohrid motorhome trip

WHERE TO PARK YOUR MOTORHOME AT LAKE OHRID

We couldn't believe our luck when we managed to find the absolutely perfect lakeside parking spot for Milli alongside the KF Voska Stadium. Yes, it was a 2.5km walk from the popular Old Bazaar Street area, but it was also a beautifully scenic walk (or walks as we would later discover)!

As inviting as the water looked, with the snow-capped mountains not that far away, it was unfortunately not yet swimming weather! We had two days of partial sunshine dispersed with threatening clouds, followed by a non-stop rainy day. In all weather conditions, this was a fantastic stop and we ended up spending 3 very peaceful nights here.

north macedonia lake ohrid motorhome trip

HOW TO VISIT OHRID OLD TOWN BY MOTORHOME

The skyline of Varosh, the hilly Old Town, is dominated by the massive Samuel's Fortress, which we could see hugging the hilltop from our parking spot. The sweeping views over Lake Ohrid make the steep walk worthwhile.


Ohrid is the largest city on Lake Ohrid. In 1979 and in 1980 respectively, Ohrid and Lake Ohrid were accepted as Cultural and Natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. If you continue to explore the zig-zag cobbled streets, you will find numerous churches including St. Sophia and St. Pantelejmon monastery (each cost 3 EUR per person to enter). In fact, Ohrid is known for once having 365 churches, one for each day of the year!

The Ancient Amphitheatre was being prepared for upcoming summer performances and we could only imagine how wonderful it would be to attend one of these.


Ohrid is well known for both its freshwater pearls as well as silver jewellery and there is no shortage of jewellery shops to choose from between the bars and cafes that line the steep, narrow streets. I opted for neither pearls nor silver, but rather a couple of pairs of colourful handmade clay earrings.


SECRET BEACHES OF LAKE OHRID

north macedonia lake ohrid

One advantage of parking a little further away was that it allowed us to explore a different path around the little hilly peninsular each time we walked into Ohrid Old Town. It was on Sunday morning that we took the lower coastal route which led us to the most beautiful and secluded little bay and pebble beach. We couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to be here in the summer!



LAKE OHRID

We were treated with sunny blue skies as we strolled back and forth along the boardwalk from the Port of Ohrid. There was a relaxed weekend vibe in the air with abundant boat trips available, trinket vendors lining the boardwalk and the arrival of the Classic Car Tour Amical in Ohrid. We thoroughly enjoyed relaxing in Ohrid City Park, just watching people go by... and having some tasty snacks of course!

As quaint as the touristy Old Bazaar Street and the Old Turkish area are, we also loved walking some of the deserted back streets and spotting all the cute old YUGO cars! All colours and in all conditions!


Wine Tasting in North Macedonia - Royal Winery Queen Maria

North Macedonia • 15 May 2023 • 20°

North Macedonia remains one of Europe’s last undiscovered wine countries: a natural paradise of vineyards, mountains, lakes and rivers, where life moves to a different rhythm. With the weather looking rather gloomy as we left Lake Ohrid, we decided to bypass the City of Bitola and head straight to the Royal Winery Queen Maria.


In 1928 King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic of Yugoslavia set out to create a wine dedicated to the pursuit of extraordinary quality for the needs of the royal family. Today, they not only make extraordinary wine, they also welcome campers to overnight in their parking area - what better excuse to treat ourselves to a wine tasting and dinner!

We had no idea of what to expect when we entered the fancy winery restaurant. We couldn't find a "wine tasting" option on the menu so asked the sommelier if it was possible. He spoke very little English but proceeded to bring us 4 glasses of white, 4 glasses of red and a few other glasses from their premium collection "to taste". We ordered a Wine Lover platter (460 MKD) of cold meats and cheeses to accompany the already generous bread basket that had been delivered. At this point, we were starting to get a little concerned as to what this extensive wine tasting would end up costing.


Although the premium wines were spectacular, we settled on a bottle of Ravine Merlot (600 MKD) to go with our mains. We tried the 2 most traditional dishes:

Tavce Gravce (220 MKD) is a very popular national dish of North Macedonia which literally means 'beans cooked in a pan'. The white kidney beans are baked in a 'tava' which is the Turkish word for pan. A very simple dish and nothing we would particularly rave about!


Turli Tava (450 MKD) is another traditional North Macedonian dish of stewed meats and vegetables that are also baked in an oven. Here we had a strange experience where the dish had only been partially heated and was cold in the centre. At least it was tasty!

To our surprise, we were only charged for our 3 dishes and bottle of wine and there was no charge for any of the 'tasting' glasses or bread baskets! Although our choice of food was not the best, we can definitely recommend the overall experience and the evening was really quite a treat!


PS: the next morning I did feel a little foul! 😜


"Wild Camping" in North Macedonia - Another Parkup FAIL!

North Macedonia • 16 May 2023 • 19°

The Capital City of Skopje is only about 115km from the Royal Winery along the A1 motorway (or so we thought). The current motorway situation in North Macedonia is however somewhat perplexing to us. There are sections of the “Motorway Friendship” which are fantastic and then there are sections which are simply non-existent! As our luck would have it, a large stretch of the A1 motorway was closed and we were unexpectedly diverted along the rather old, bumpy and narrow R1102. Every now and then we would be diverted back onto the A1 motorway to pass through a toll booth. It would only cost 50 - 130 MKD at a time, but we were never really sure what exactly we were paying for! That being said, we were happy to pay the small toll fee for each and every little bit of good tar road that we could get!

Considering we may have had a little too much wine the night before, after an hour or so of driving, we decided to stop along the side of Lake Mladost. It looked like a beautiful and peaceful spot: ducks and fishermen scattered along the shore and pretty pink thistles and colourful tree trunks. It wasn’t until 8 pm that we realised that we had (once again) made a terrible parkup mistake. More than 100 vehicles filled with youngsters passed by on their way to the nearby hotel (which we had walked passed earlier and presumed to be closed!). There was clearly a function taking place (on a Tuesday evening) and we feared the commotion that would inevitably take place in the early hours of the morning when it ended. So we decided to take on the narrow and bumpy little road in the dark to find an alternative place to spend the night in the adjacent little town of Otovitsa.



HOW TO VISIT SKOPJE BY MOTORHOME

North Macedonia • 17 May 2023 • 24°


North Macedonia by Motorhome - A Successful City Parking At Last!

Despite the chaotic roadworks, the traffic into Skopje wasn't as bad as we had feared. More importantly, we were very chuffed to find a good (and free) parking spot for Milli outside the Boris Trajkovski Sports Center so immediately treated ourselves to a cheeky macchiato (90 MKD each) at the nearby coffee shop.


This turned out to be a very successful overnight city parking and we ended up spending 2 nights here. We did have an interesting experience on Wednesday evening when some form of brass band with VERY loud drums roamed around the parking lot for over 2 hours making a terrible racket! Let's just say that we were very close to moving elsewhere when they eventually stopped just after 10 pm. Considering this, we were sure to leave before the weekend!


Skopje City Park & Vardar Trail

We enjoyed the 3.5km walk through the City Park and along the Vardar River to Macedonia Square so much so that we were excited to be able to run the Vardar Trail again the following morning!

We really love cities that have green park areas like this. The Skopje City Park is very extensive, with many different areas and recreational activities. There are even multiple exercise stations all along the Vardar River.


Macedonia Square

The 1963 Skopje earthquake destroyed approximately 80% of the city, including most of the neoclassical buildings in central Skopje. The rebuilding that followed saw the construction of mostly plain modernist architecture. One of the reasons for the 'Skopje 2014' project was hence to give Skopje a more monumental and visually pleasing image. The 'Skopje 2014' project was financed by the local government and encompassed the construction, from 2010 to 2014, of 136 structures built at a cost of more than US$700 million. Much can be said about the more than 100 statues that have been placed in Skopje as part of the understandably very controversial "Skopje 2014" project. We'll just say that it certainly gives the city a unique character.

north macedonia skopje macedonia square

Macedonia Square is the main square of Skopje and is now an interesting contrast of old and new. With its gigantic monument of Alexander the Great on horseback, the impressive Macedonia Gate archway, modern glass facade buildings, ongoing reconstruction of historical buildings that were severely damaged in the 1963 earthquake and the many tributes to the birthplace of Mother Teresa.


The ancient Stone Bridge crosses the Vardar River connecting Macedonia Square to the Old Bazaar area. Although most of the Stone Bridge originates from the Ottoman period, throughout the centuries, it has been damaged and repaired several times.


Skopje Fortress

The Skopje Fortress, also referred to as Skopsko Kale (kale being the Turkish word for fortress), is situated on the highest point in the city overlooking the Vardar River. The entire fortress area is free to enter but was disappointingly very neglected and overgrown. Despite this, it's always fun to walk along such ancient fortified city walls and the views out over the city weren't half bad either!

North macedonia skopje fortress

Skopje Old Bazaar

Stretching from the Stone Bridge to the Bit Pazar and from the Skopje Fortress to the Serava River, the Skopje Old Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in the Balkans and has been Skopje's centre for trade and commerce since at least the 12th century. The maze of cobbled streets is the perfect combination of trinkets, clothing and jewellery stores together with an abundance of quaint coffee shops and restaurants, both packed with locals and tourists alike.

north macedonia skopje old bazaar

Seeing as we weren’t in the market for jewellery, we sat down at a local restaurant opposite “zeko gold” (the restaurant is not on Google Maps) to have some lunch. We shared a giant plate of kofta and the very popular Shopska Salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers and white feta-style cheese). Personally, we’re not sure what all the hype is about, the salad is tasty and fresh but nothing spectacular! The tiny portion of rice which came with the kofta plate was surprisingly by far the highlight of the meal - it was buttery and oh so tasty! All of this, including 2 drinks cost only 450 MKD (7.50 EUR). We really do enjoy travelling to places like this where it is so affordable to just sit in a local restaurant and enjoy the vibe of an old town area.

Besides its importance as a marketplace, the Old Bazaar is known for its cultural and historical values. The Old Bazaar is still home to several active mosques, churches and a clocktower. Although clearly also catering to the increasing tourist market, we felt that the Old Bazaar area still retains a great amount of authenticity.



Skopje Bit Pazar

If you continue all the way to the far northern end of the Old Bazaar you’ll find Skopje’s largest and oldest marketplace, the Bit Pazar. Brimming with locally produced fruit, vegetables, tobacco and herbs, it’s definitely worth a visit for the wonderful marketplace atmosphere alone. We were surprised by how organized, relaxed and clean the whole marketplace was.

north macedonia skopje pit bazaar

When we saw a new snack we had not yet tried for only 20 MKD, we simply had to give one a taste! Mekica is basically a kneaded dough fritter, similar to a deep-fried doughnut. This one was still freshly warm and yummy!


North Macedonian Traditional Desserts

Our priority for our second day in Skopje was to try every North Macedonian dessert we could! I had seen “House Ice Gelato” the previous day and it was the perfect place to sit and relax with a macchiato in hand, watching people go by in the Old Bazaar streets. The friendly owner did find it very amusing when we ordered so many desserts!

Our favourite remains the Trilece, a very light sponge cake that is soaked in 3 kinds of milk: Evaporated Milk, Condensed Milk and Double Cream and then topped with whipped cream and dark caramel.


Next up was Ravanija, which is a very sweet, syrup-soaked semolina cake.


Sultiac is a creme brule-style rice pudding. This was not overly sweet had had a delicious, delicate flavour and texture. We were both very fond of this one!


Last but not least was Sekerpare, which means "a piece of sweetness" in Turkish. These semolina cookies, soaked in sweet syrup, definitely satisfy any sweet tooth!


After all the sweet naughtiness, we consoled ourselves that at least we had a lovely 4km walk back to the Camper to burn off a few of these excessive calories!


north macedonia motorhome trip

Should you visit North Macedonia by Motorhome?

Visiting North Macedonia for two weeks by motorhome in May 2023 was an unforgettable experience. We enjoyed the stunning scenery, the rich culture, the delicious food and the friendly people. We explored the capital Skopje, the beautiful lake Ohrid, the ancient city of Bitola and a few other places but there is still so much more that we would like to return to see. We felt safe and comfortable in our motorhome, which gave us the freedom and flexibility to travel at our own pace. We highly recommend this trip to anyone who loves adventure, nature and experiencing new cultures.


Learn more about North Macedonia with our North Macedonia Travel Guide!


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