Macedonia Tourist Information and Tips
The official currency of Macedonia is the denar, however, many Macedonians quote prices in ˆ. Most cities have ATMs where you can withdraw money with cheap commission rates, although there are also plenty of banks and exchange booths where you can easily change money. Do not change money on the street.
Typical Macedonian food resembles the food of the southern Balkans, meaning loads of grilled meat (known as skara ). Side dishes usually have to be ordered separately. The Republic of Macedonia is also famous for its shopska salata a mixed salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and grated sirenje . Sirenje is a white cheese similar to feta cheese. Usually Macedonians will translate the English cheese to sirenje . Another local speciality is ajvar , a red paste made from roasted peppers and tomatoes, which is either used as an appetizer or side dish. Another typical local dish is tarator which is comparable to the Greek tzatziki. It is made of yogurt, cucumbers, and garlic and it is served as a cold soup.
The Republic of Macedonia, being landlocked, does not offer a great variety of fresh fish. A notable exception is Ohrid, where fresh fish from the local lake can be enjoyed. If you have no objections to eating endangered species, the Ohrid trout is a local delicacy.
Rakija is a strong grape brandy that has the best claim to be Republic's national beverage. There are also many breweries which brew surprisingly good-tasting beer. Macedonians boast the largest winery in the Balkan area—the Tikves (Tikvesh) winery in Kavadarci. Red wines are usually better than white ones. Try "T'ga za Jug"—Macedonian favorite red wine made from a local grape variety called Vranec. The local beer market appears, in Skopje at least, to be dominated by Skopsko, a drinkable, if not entirely distinctive, lager.
Being the national tourist attraction, Ohrid is obviously more expensive than any other destination in the Republic of Macedonia. Note that hotel prices are very expensive throughout the country and charge double rates to foreigners. It is therefore advisable to stay in private accommodation. If someone does not ask you at the bus station, you can always consult one of the many travel agencies in and around the center. If you do opt for private accommodation make sure you see the room first and then decide. Payment is normally made in advance and should cost no more than ˆ10-15 per night per person in peak season and half that during the rest of the year. Note: finding suitable accommodation in July and August is not easy, so try and book through a travel agent in advance.
When visiting Lake Ohrid, staying in nearby Struga as opposed to the more popular Ohrid is a wise alternative for the price and tourist-trap conscious.
Republic of Macedonia is a safe country. Driving is not ill-advised, but it's recommended for foreigners to try and use taxis and public transport wherever possible. As in all countries, keep an eye out for pickpockets and all valuables safe. Hotels and most private accommodation will offer a safe to store valuables and cash in.
Most people are very friendly and hospitable.
Water is safe to drink and there are public drinking water fountains in most public places. It is advisable to wash all fruit and vegetables.
As with any other country, use caution when eating red meats at restaurants. Although Macedonian cuisine typically revolves around grills ("skara") there are some restaurants that do not use proper or clean methods of cooking, which if practiced in many Western countries would be seen as a violation of certain health regulations. Bad restaurants can be spotted easily; they will probably not look very appealing and will not have many customers. However, the vast majority of restaurants in Macedonia serve good quality food.