Looking for traveling destinations across the map, it is really hard to cut through the noise and find an exciting place on the affordable end. Taking the road less traveled can indeed mean plenty of headaches, but if you do your research and prepare upfront, a world of discovery awaits.
This article, therefore, is written with a singular purpose – to save you a ton of legwork by pointing you in the right direction. The destination I have to share is easily one of the most underappreciated locations. With the exception of veteran nomads and travelers alike, it is safe to assume that nobody has really heard about it.
The reason you will fall in love straight away is simple, really – it meets some of the most important criteria for spending an exciting vacation. Mediterranean climate during spring and summer; idyllic snowy winters during the holiday season…
We are talking about the Balkans – a small peninsula located in south-east Europe, with more than 300 sunny days throughout the year. And though some of you know this part of the world by orienting on the map with the help of Greece and Italy, it is not sandy beaches we are talking about here. Instead, by visiting obscure countries like Serbia and Macedonia, you can have the vacation of a lifetime.
The tradition that goes centuries back, colorful cuisine and unexplored scenery, makes Macedonia a true gem waiting to be discovered. And the prices, just like the breathtaking geography, will please you beyond expectation.
The Macedonian adventure
Macedonia is located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, and easily embodies the climate, geography, cuisine, tradition, and culture of the region. It is a small country, with a population of two million people, most of them living in the capital city of Skopje.
The colorful geography dictates that every location is a sight to behold, and the small territory of the country makes every place that is worth visiting close to one another.
Skopje is the perfect destination for indulging in Macedonian cuisine. Macedonians grow high-quality organic produce and love to mix vegetables in every dish, making their food as healthy as it is tasty. Centuries of Ottoman influence had their mark on tradition, so the food here is close to that of the Near East. Mixed with Slavic tradition, it creates a blend unique only to this corner of the world.
Make sure to try Ajvar (otherwise known as the caviar of the Balkans), and specialties like Tavce Gravce, Stuffed Peppers, Chevapi, and Turlitava.
As far as beverage goes, Macedonians, just like the rest of the Balkan natives, enjoy brewing their own alcoholic drinks. Rakija is the strongest one, and it would be a sacrilege not to have a taste before going back.
Wines, on the other hand, are some of the best you will ever try. The price is ridiculously affordable, and the quality unmatched for a thousand miles in each direction.
The outdoor paradise
In close proximity to the city of Skopje, there is the Matka Canyon. With picturesque and breathtaking scenery, it is one of the most exciting nature sites in Europe.
You can enjoy kayaking in the crystal green water, or take your time and follow the hiking trail on the side of the canyon. The cliffs are incredibly steep, giving you a panoramic view of the entire canyon that stretches for miles on end.
Needless to say, your camera will be snapping pictures left and right.
The countryside though is what makes Macedonia unique. Leaving the urban jungle, you can embark on a colorful adventure. The mountainous region of Macedonia is lush and picturesque, and nature enthusiasts will definitely enjoy their time. Rustic villages are dotting the map, each a testament to tradition and Macedonian folklore. With food aplenty, and scenery so magnificent, you will definitely make plans to prolong your stay.
Make sure to visit Mavrovo and Berovo. Two small village-towns located at high altitude, on the shore of two beautiful lakes.
Additionally, try to go on a wine tour, visiting the most popular vineyards. Popova Kula was built according to the old Californian countryside winery style and is a sight to behold. Several others, like Tikvesh and Stobi, are also worth visiting. You can even arrange for a stay over the weekend and enjoy a typical Mediterranean vacation.
Ohrid – A town of many attractions
Located in the south-west of Macedonia, Ohrid is considered to be one of the cradles of the Orthodox religion. At one point, it had over 360 churches, one for each day of the year. Now, with several dozen churches still active, and the rest turned into art galleries, artisan workshops, recital podiums and the likes, Ohrid is a cultural center worth visiting.
But what makes Ohrid so exciting is the crystal blue lake protected by UNESCO. It stretches for miles on end, creating one of the most captivating sceneries in the entire Balkan region.
Make sure to visit the churches and monasteries of Saint Naum, Kaneo, and Plaoshnik. These offer remarkable architecture as well as stunning panoramic views of the lake.
The food in Ohrid is also carefully prepared, and the specialty is the local trout, as well as a stuffed eel.
A great winter holiday destination as well
The Balkan Peninsula is truly remarkable. During the months of winter, it is mostly covered in snow, offering ski resorts at ridiculously affordable prices, unexplored mountain scenery, snowboarding and ski trails that stretch for miles on end.
Macedonian villages transform into ethnic and rural tourism centers and together make for an unforgettable vacation. Shara Mountain, as well as the village of Mavrovo and Berovo, are the places you will definitely want to visit.
Up north, in the neighboring country of Serbia, you can spend one of the most remarkable winter holidays. The city of Belgrade, with old architecture and centuries of tradition, is captivating more than I can ever describe in words.
But you can go even further north and visit the city of Novi Sad – with Austrian architecture as heritage, Novi Sad is a sight to behold.
If you are the adventurous type, visiting the ski center of Kopaonik will provide you with the opportunity to experience sled racing, where Siberian breeds transform the place into an Alaskan-like town.
I hope this article gave you a glimpse into one of the less recognized, but otherwise impressive traveling destinations, and inspired you to continue your own research, ultimately booking your vacation regardless of the season.
If you dare to walk the road less traveled, expect to find friendly people, welcoming climate, and ridiculously affordable prices.
Also Read This:-Dubai Miracle Garden