Skopje is a fantastic place to visit with kids!
If you are looking for a city that is full of history and culture, with plenty to keep the kids entertained, then Skopje, North Macedonia is the perfect destination.
From exploring the ancient ruins of the Kale Fortress to checking out the quirky sculptures that dot the city centre, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.
Keep reading for our suggestions of fun things to do in Skopje with kids.
Where is Skopje?
Skopje is the capital and largest city of North Macedonia, which is a country in the Balkan region of Europe. The city is located in the north of the country, on the banks of the Vardar River.
North Macedonia is bordered by Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, Serbia and Kosovo to the north and Albania to the west.
How to Pronounce Skopje
Whenever we travel, we always try to learn a few words in the local language.
And while we didn’t learn too many words in Macedonian, the one word we did learn pretty quickly was how to pronounce the capital city.
Like many other languages in the Balkans, the “j” is actually pronounced as a “y”.
Skopje is pronounced “skop-yay“.
Other words you might need:
- Hello – Zdravo (“Stra-vo”)
- Please – Ve Molam (vae mo-lam)
- Thank you – Blagodaram (bla-go-da-ram)
Why visit Skopje North Macedonia?
I’ll be the first to admit that we visited Skopje only because we had to pass through North Macedonia during our 6 weeks in Eastern Europe.
I knew absolutely nothing about the country or its capital city, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much we loved it!
Skopje is a city with a long and fascinating history dating back over 2000 years.
It has been ruled by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Ottomans and was even part of Yugoslavia at one point. This rich history is evident in the architecture and culture of the city, making it a very interesting place to explore.
In recent years, Skopje has undergone a major facelift. The city centre has been completely redeveloped and now boasts a number of interesting monuments and sculptures.
It’s definitely worth spending some time walking around and taking it all in.
Skopje is also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside. There are some beautiful lakes and mountains within driving distance, perfect for a day trip from the city.
What to do in Skopje with Kids?
Now that you know a little bit more about Skopje and why it’s worth a visit, here’s our suggestions of fun things to do in Skopje with kids.
Visit the Fortress
The Skopje Fortress, also referred to as Kale, is one of the most popular places to visit in Skopje.
The fortress is located high on a hill overlooking the city and offers stunning views over Skopje and the Vardar River.
While restoration has been started a few times over the years, it was not completed. As a result, the fortress is mostly in ruins, but this only adds to its charm.
You could easily spend a few hours exploring the fortress, walking along the walls and following the paths inside the fortress. We even brought lunch and had a picnic inside one of the towers!
Explore the Old Bazaar
The Old Bazaar is one of the oldest and most interesting parts of Skopje.
Called the Čaršija, it’s a great place to pick up some souvenirs or try some local food.
Although there are a few tourist souvenir shops with the typical magnets and postcards, most of the shops and stalls sell traditional Macedonian food, clothing and handmade crafts.
The Old Bazaar is also a great place to try some local food.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants serving up Turkish style coffee or delicious Macedonian dishes.
There’s also a shop selling ice cream near the edge of the bazaar, which is a perfect treat after exploring!
Cross the Stone Bridge
The Stone Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in Skopje.
It spans the Vardar River and connects the Old Bazaar with Macedonia Square.
It’s a pedestrian-only bridge and it’s almost impossible not to cross it when you are in Skopje.
And while the Stone Bridge is beautiful anytime, it’s especially stunning to see at night.
Hang Out at Macedonia Square
Macedonia Square is the main square in Skopje and it’s a great place to people watch.
It’s pretty modern, with lots of new high rise buildings surrounding the square.
But as with any good European square, there are still loads of benches to sit and take a break and people watch (of course, feed the birds while you’re having lunch).
There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars surrounding the square, making it the perfect spot to relax with a coffee or drink after exploring the city.
In the centre of the square is a large fountain with statues of lions, and there’s plenty of space for young kids to run around.
Check Out the Sculptures
As I mentioned earlier, Skopje’s city centre has undergone a major transformation in recent years.
A number of interesting sculptures have been added, including the large statue in Macedonia Square, known as the “Warrior on a Horse”.
There are plenty of statues throughout the rest of the city centre as well.
There’s even a statue in the river!
As you cross the Stone Bridge to reach the Old Bazaar, keep an eye out for the statue of a swimmer about to dive into the Vardar River.
While there’s over 100 statues in Skopje, this one was a favourite of my kids!
Stroll Across the Art Bridge
Another pedestrian-only bridge, the Art Bridge was recently constructed as part of the redevelopment of Skopje.
It’s an interesting bridge, featuring 29 statues of famous Macedonian artists, musicians and writers.
Strolling across the bridge is a great way to learn a bit about Macedonian culture, and kids will love spotting all the different statues.
Visit the Mother Teresa Memorial House
Although most people know Mother Teresa for her work in India, she was actually born in Skopje and spent her early years there.
The Mother Teresa Memorial House is a small but interesting museum, displaying photos and mementos of her life and work.
It’s one of the more popular Skopje tourist attractions and worth a visit, as it’s only a short walk from Macedonia Square and entry is free.
Take a Walking Tour
Taking a free walking tour is one of the first things I try to do in a new place. I find they’re usually pretty informative and a great way to get your bearings in a new city.
And while we’ve taken quite a few walking tours in our travels, the one we did in Skopje was easily one of the best we’ve done.
We went with Free Skopje Walking Tours, which I would definitely recommend.
It’s a team of two guides who are both really knowledgeable and passionate about Skopje’s history.
We learned a lot about the city in just a few hours and our guide was great with kids. He even showed us how to write our names in Cyrillic, and wrote the boys’ names on a piece of paper for them to keep.
Explore City Park Skopje
City Park Skopje is a large park in the centre of the city. It’s one of the best places in Skopje to take a break from sightseeing, have a picnic or just relax for a bit.
There’s several small lakes, plenty of walking paths and large trees which provide shade, as well as benches to rest on. There’s also a playground, which is perfect for young kids.
Have Fun at the Zoo
For families that enjoy visiting a zoo, Skopje has it’s own zoo, located in City Park. It’s small but has a good variety of animals, including lions, tigers, bears and reptiles.
Climb Mount Vodno
If you’re looking for a great view of Skopje, head to Mount Vodno. It’s only about a 30 minute walk from the city centre, or you can take a taxi or bus. The taxi or bus will drop you at Sredno Vodno (you can also park here if you are driving yourself), and from here, you can either hike or take the cable car to the top.
At the top, you’ll find the Millennium Cross, as well as some stunning views of the city below. There’s a small shop where you can buy water, coffee or snacks, as well as a small playground for the kids to enjoy.
If you don’t want to go to the top of Mount Vodno, you can still see the impressive Millennium Cross from almost anywhere in Skopje.
At 66 m high, it’s one of the tallest crosses in the world, and is illuminated at night for all to see.
Visit Skopje City Mall
Skopje City Mall is a large shopping centre with over 150 stores. If you’re looking for a place to do some shopping, this is the place to go.
In addition to the many shops, there’s also a food court with a variety of restaurants, as well as a cinema and an indoor playground for kids.
Our taxi driver recommended it, as it’s one of the places in Skopje where the locals take their kids, especially if it’s raining or to beat the heat of the summer.
Take a Trip to Matka Canyon
While it’s just outside the city, Matka Canyon is one of the most popular places to go in Skopje. It’s only about a 30 minute drive from the city, and there’s plenty to do once you get there.
The canyon is beautiful, and there’s several hiking trails, as well as a boat that takes you on a tour of the canyon. You can also rent kayaks or paddleboards to explore the lake on your own.
For those that don’t want to hike, there’s a restaurant and café with stunning views of the canyon.
Public transportation to Matka Canyon is possible, but we ended up taking a taxi which only cost about 20 euros/1200 denars.
It is a popular spot in the summer, with both locals and tourists, so be prepared for crowds.
Other Day Trips from Skopje
The bus system is great, but with the travel time and sightseeing, it would be a rushed day, especially trying to fit it in with kids.
The bus from Sofia to Skopje takes about 3.5-4 hours, or you could do an organized day trip and see the city, but I’d recommend spending more than a few hours there!
The bus from Skopje to Pristina is only 2 hours, which is doable, but again, I would recommend you spend more than a few hours in Kosovo!
Where to Stay in Skopje
There are plenty of accommodation options in Skopje.
Staying in the center of town is convenient and close to many of the Skopje attractions, but it’s also slightly pricier.
The Debar Maalo neighbourhood is a short 10 minute walk from Macedonia Square and offers good midrange options, as well as being close to City Park.
City Park Hotel
City Park Hotel is located next to the Debar Maalo neighbourhood, just a short walk from the city center.
It’s a great option for families as it’s close to City Park and there are plenty of restaurants nearby, but there is also a kid-friendly buffet in the hotel.
There’s also a tour desk and staff are great about suggesting what to see in Skopje.
Hotel Old Konak
Located in the Old Bazaar district of Skopje, Hotel Old Konak is a great spot to stay in the heart of Skopje.
Just a short walk from the Stone Bridge and Macedonia Square, it’s a convenient location to explore all that Skopje has to offer.
Breakfast is included and family rooms are available. There are also plenty of restaurants close by.
There’s also plenty of apartments to rent in Skopje, which is a great choice if you’re travelling with kids. Search for available accommodations here.
Skopje is easily the most underrated city we have visited!
From the statues to the history, the river to the fountain, as well as all the playgrounds, both natural and man-made, there’s plenty of things to see in Skopje to keep everyone in the family happy!
Do you have any other recommendations for things to do in Skopje with kids? Let us know in the comments below!
For other family travel ideas on travelling in the Balkans, be sure to check out these posts: