No one ever said picking a destination was easy. Let’s say you want a little bit of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean all rolled into one trip—what do you give up? Nothing, if you pick the right destination. Enter the Republic of Macedonia.
This Baltic nation, bordered by Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania, offers rich culture, warm people, and stunning natural beauty. It’s also incredibly affordable! Here are the highlights:
The country’s warm climate and rich soil yield fruit-forward wines. Although many common varietals are grown, keep an eye out for indigenous Vranec and Stanusina grapes. Vineyards can be found in every area of the country and many offer tours and tastings. One of the largest and best-known operations is Popova Kula Winery, which conveniently features a hotel and restaurant on-site, as well as activities.
Because of its diverse terrain, Macedonia offers plenty of options for the adventure traveler. With both mountains and water, you can pick and choose between hiking, scuba diving, snowboarding, mountain biking, sailing, whitewater kayaking, and paragliding—often for a fraction of what it would cost at a more trafficked resort area. For a variety of options, head to Mavrovo National Park, where guides are on hand to offer assistance, tours, and tips.
Macedonian food is heavily influenced by Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Greek cuisine. Traditional dishes include roasted eggplant salads, beef kebabs, stuffed peppers, and savory meat-and-vegetable-filled phyllo pastries. Don’t miss brandy-like rakija, a popular fermented fruit spirit.
The ancient city of Ohrid and its eponymous lake was declared an UNESCO World Heritage site over 30 years ago. The picturesque region is among the country’s biggest tourism destinations, serving as a local vacation spot for many Macedonians as well as international travelers. The Mother Teresa Memorial House, located in her hometown of Skopje, was erected to commemorate the Nobel Prize recipient in 2008.
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