How to Hike to The Blue Eye of Theth

If you’re visiting Theth, you’re surely going to do some hikes. One of the most popular destinations from this small mountain town is the Blue Eye.

One of the things that I love about Theth is there are no tours, guides, agencies, or anything else. You’re on your own to hike to the Blue Eye, but don’t worry. These directions have you covered!

Before you begin, here’s some quick info about the hike.

Distance: 12.7 miles (but we got lost for a bit so you can probably cut one or two off that)

Time: 7 hours (but again, we did get lost for about one of those…)

Difficulty: Moderate. The last 45 minutes of the hike to the Blue Eye are mostly uphill.

 

the Blue Eye in Theth

 

Our Itinerary

Here’s what you can expect and use as a rough timeline for your own hike to the Blue Eye from Theth. I’m a pretty average hiker so you can decide for yourself if you think your pace will be faster, slower or just the same as this one.

7:45 am – leave the guesthouse

9:15 am – arrive at the bridge/town of Nderlysaj

10:30 am – arrive at the Blue Eye

11:30 am – leave the Blue Eye

2:45 pm – return to the guesthouse

 

How to Hike to the Blue Eye of Theth

First things first: if you’re starting from Theth, the other blog posts with directions on how to hike to the Blue Eye won’t be any help if they start with driving to the town of Nderlysaj. From here, they start the hike on the opposite side that you will arrive in, and the directions will just leave you confused (like they did to me on my own hike to the Blue Eye.)

SO if you’re driving to the town of Nderlysaj, this post isn’t for you. But, if you start your hike to the Blue Eye in the town of Theth, these steps will get you there!

 

mountain town of Theth, Albania

 

Step 1. Which Side of the River Should You Start On?

There are two ways to hike to the Blue Eye in Theth. You can start on the left side of the river (the side that the entire town of Theth is on) or follow the road on the right side of the river.

I hiked to the Blue Eye on the left side and came back on the other side, and I strongly prefer the left side of the river for a few reasons.

First, it’s a trail instead of a road, so it has more shade, there are no cars, and it’s more of a hike than just a walk down a road. Second, the town of Theth is spread out really far along the river, but there’s only one bridge (located by the tourism office). If you’re not staying by this bridge, you will have to walk up to a mile out of your way just to cross over to the town side when you return , and then retrace your steps all the way back to your guesthouse… not ideal

 

hiking to the Blue Eye in Theth

 

Step 2. Finding the Bridge

So, you started your walk on the left side (Theth side) of the river, which means eventually you will need to cross it. Simply follow the trail and the red and white trail markers and don’t second-guess yourself. At one point you will come to a field with a few different options, but a rock is clearly labeled with the town name of Nderlysaj and an arrow pointing you the right way.

I am an average hiker in every way, and it took us 1.5 hours of walking to reach the bridge. Here, we crossed and found ourselves in the tiny town of Nderlysaj.

 

hiking to the Blue Eye in Theth

 

Step 3. Walking Through the Town of Nderlysaj

Once you cross the bridge, the town of Nderlysaj will be on your left. The easiest way to get through it is to begin following the gravel road to the left (basically, continuing along the water) instead of continuing straight into the town.

If you go through the town, the road will end and you will begin walking on paths, through fields, over gates, and past houses before you eventually pop out on the gravel road again. It’s a little more interesting but also much easier to get lost.

 

hiking to the Blue Eye in Theth

 

Step 4. Up Into the Mountains

The gravel road will quickly lead you away towards the mountains behind the town. Here it’ll turn into a trail and soon start to go uphill. This is the most difficult part of the hike in my opinion, but the view of the mountains is really beautiful.

There were two times that the trail seemed to split and I was kind of confused, but if you just keep to the right both times you’ll be fine. After about 45 minutes to an hour you’ll come to the third and final trail split, with a well marked sign announcing a guesthouse and restaurant and pointing you down to the Blue Eye. You really can’t miss it.

 

hiking to the Blue Eye in Theth

 

Step 5. Go for a Swim!

Or not, because the water is freezing. One of the perks about leaving Theth at 7:45 is that we were the first hikers to arrive at the Blue Eye. While we sat down at the cafe for a snack, a few more families and groups began to come in as well, but we had it all to ourselves for a bit. Even if you’re not brave enough to jump in, it’s still a great photo opportunity.

 

the Blue Eye in Theth

 

Step 6. Return the Way You Came

Here’s where we made a mistake. Once we got back to the town of Nderlysaj, we decided to walk down the road instead of cross the bridge over the river and go back on the trail that we came out on. The road has almost zero shade when the sun is overhead and the heat was brutal.

Luckily, there were springs on the side to refill our bottles (this water is clean and drinkable), but besides that it wasn’t really an enjoyable walk. Plus, the road split and we decided to go down instead of up (the wrong choice) and ended up going about 20 minutes out of the way before we realized our mistake and had to double back.

I also felt like the road has more uphill on the way back than the trail, but I also just could have been tired and grumpy. If your guesthouse isn’t near the one bridge in Theth, definitely make sure you cross back across the bridge in Nderlysaj and hike back on the Theth side of the river or you will regret it.

 

hiking back to Theth from the Blue Eye

 

Use These Steps to Hike to The Blue Eye in Theth

The hike to the Blue Eye in Theth is one of the most popular routes for a reason. It’s just tough enough to feel rewarding, but the 12 miles won’t leave you totally exhausted. Plus, the destination itself is pretty beautiful.

If you’re planning to hike from Theth to Valbona or Valbona to Theth, consider sticking an extra day into your itinerary to hike to the Blue Eye as well. I definitely think it’s worth the walk!

 

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10 Pictures of Food in Albania That’ll Make Your Mouth Water

I had zero expectations when it came to food in Albania, so I was pleasantly surprised on my trip. Like most of the Balkans, the food in Albania is heavy. Meats, cheese, bread and soup dominate the cuisine and we got a good taste of it during our seven day trip through the country.

As with most places, the food in Albania varies a lot depending on where you are. Our travels took us to the small town of Theth in the mountains, the medium-sized city of Shkoder on a lake, and the large capital city of Tirana. All three have their own personalities and their own foods to go along with them.

So, if you’re curious about what you might be eating when you travel through Albania, these 10 pictures, restaurant recommendations, and dishes to try will give you a small taste of what’s to come!

 

Restaurants & Dishes to Try at Shkoder Lake

Shkoder Lake was our first stop, and if you go to Theth you’ll definitely find yourself passing through here as well because it has the only road to the mountain town.

In Shkoder, the traditional dishes contain a lot of seafood and meats, but there’s still a good amount of cafes and fusion restaurants as well in the city. Because this is a medium-sized city, I found the Albanian food in Shkoder had more variety than Theth but less than Tirana, which makes sense due to each one’s size.

 

lunch on Shkoder Lake in Albania

 

This was my favorite meal in Shkoder. Rent a bike to ride around the southern part of the lake and you can go all the way to the border of Montenegro. Right before we arrived, we stopped at B7 Zogaj for lunch and a break. We enjoyed this light salad, fresh bread, seafood soup, and rice with vegetables while we cooled down and prepared for the ride home.

 

 

traditional Albanian food at Elita in Shkoder

 

Another delicious find in Shkoder was at the restaurant Elita. It’s also a bit on the fancier side but like a said, the cost of living is so low in Albania that many travelers and backpackers can afford it still.

I had the beef cooked in a traditional way in the clay pot for 5 to 6 hours. It was tender, it was juicy, and it was a LOT of meat. I still enjoyed it though, and a 1/2 liter of wine, an appetizer, and two main dishes cost us about 2400 lek / 22 usd.

 

 

traditional Albanian food in Shkoder

 

Our second and final dinner in Shkoder was at the amazing Hotel Tradita. This is built into an old home and inn from the 1600’s and dinner is served in the large courtyard. It’s so nice and peaceful and I deifnitely recommend it.

These are Albanian stuffed potatoes with cheese and bacon, a recipe that comes from a nearby village. We also had the homemade pasta with chicken, fish soup, traditional Albanian bread that was almost exactly like nan (and just as good) a honey dessert, homemade ice cream, and 2 liters of wine. This meal cost about 4,300 lek / 40 usd.

 

 

Home-Cooked & Traditional Albanian Food in Theth

Theth was the second stop on our trip through Albania. This remote national park is nestled in the mountains and the small town is the perfect base for beautiful hikes through the Albanian Alps.

Here there are no markets or restaurants. Instead, everyone eats their meals at the guest house they’re staying in. The meat we ate was raised on the farms, the vegetables were grown in the gardens, and everything was cooked with care.

If you want to try food in Albania that’s truly traditional, the guest houses in Theth are the place to go. Here, breakfast was included with our stay and lunch was 6 euros and dinner was 7 euros.

 

home-cooked meal in Albania

 

We enjoyed this amazing lunch our first day in Theth. It includes pickled eggplant, french fries, fresh cheese, tomato and pepper salad, home-cooked bread, sheep sausages, and byrek, an Albanian pastry made with filo dough and filled with spinach.

 

 

tree-house cafe at the Blue Eye in Theth

 

Ok, this isn’t a meal but how cute is this little tree-house cafe? The hike to the “Blue Eye” is one of the main attractions in Theth and shouldn’t be missed. While you’re there, relax with a drink being cooled in the stream (can you spot them in the photo) and order a home-cooked meal from the guest house on the water. Little tables are built all up the rock-face and into the surrounding trees for a totally unique dining experience in Albania.

 

 

home-cooked Albanian food at the guest house in Theth

 

Hey, it’s me 🙂 Dinner on night number two in Theth included roasted lamb, noodle soup, a traditional pepper and vegetable spread called “ajvar,” fresh olives, cantaloupe, and of course fresh baked bread to wash it all down.

 

 

cafe on the trek from Theth to Valbona

 

These mini Nescafe coffees will become such a staple to your trip through the Balkans that I feel I have to include them. This small cafe with a beautiful view isn’t accessible by any roads. Instead, we trekked over 2 hours to reach it on our climb to Valbona Peak. It’s one of the most popular hikes in Theth and we stopped at the cafe for coffee and pastries with a view to refuel before the final push to the top.

 

 

traditional food in Albania at a guest house in Theth

 

Dinner on our last night may have been the best of the three. This traditional meal included stuffed peppers and fried pork along with the typical side dishes shown above. So tasty.

 

 

International Cuisine in Tirana

Last but not least on our trip through Albania was 24 hours in Tirana. The city really surprised me and I enjoyed our time there far more than I thought I would.

Because we had our fill of heavy Albanian cuisine in Theth, I was ready to explore the international food scene in Tirana. This city of over 1 million people definitely didn’t leave me disappointed.

 

Sushi at Salt restaurant in Tirana

 

I spotted a sushi restaurant on our bus ride from Theth to Tirana and mentioned absently that it sounded good. Little did I know that Salt, a sushi restaurant in Tirana, is one of the best in the city!

It had a modern and chic atmosphere, creative cocktail options, and delicious food that was a bit expensive for the city but oh-so-welcome after three days in the mountains.

 

 

bagel sandwich in Tirana

 

Is there anything better than waking up to fresh bagels? The American in me firmly believes that there isn’t. So, when New York Bagels popped up on Google during my search for nearby breakfast restaurants, I was immediately convinced.

These bagel sandwiches are only 120 to 350 lek / 1 to 3.50 usd and so fresh and tasty. Saying that bagels in the Balkans are rare is an understatement, so if you’re going to be traveling in the area for awhile definitely stop here to get your fill.

 

10 Pictures of Food in Albania

So, what do you think about the food in Albania? I was pleasantly surprised by how many great meals we had while traveling through the country. Our itinerary to Shkoder, Theth, and Tirana lent itself perfectly to a variety of meals from ultra-traditional and home-grown to international restaurants in the big city.

Hopefully, these pictures of our experience help you have a bit of a better idea on what to expect on your travels, and hopefully you enjoy the food and your trip just as much as I did!

 

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How to Ride the Dayton Donut Trail & Visit 7 Bakeries

Do you know about the Dayton Donut Trail?

When my dad told me that he was riding it last weekend I knew I had to get all the details to share them with you. Our family friend, Brent Devitt, runs Dayton Cycles (a site that puts together themed rides through Dayton) and the Dayton Donut Trail is one of the first featured routes.

Brent and my dad rode it together this weekend and loved it (I mean, who wouldn’t?) and now that it’s been thoroughly tested and approved it’s time to share it with the world.

So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know to ride the Dayton Donut Trail!

 

Dayton bike trails

 

Dayton Donut Trail Stats

Distance: 16.1 miles

Time: 5 – 6 hours

Starting Point: 2nd Street Market (Webster Market)

Loop: Yes

Donut Shops Visited: 7

 

Where to Start the Dayton Donut Trail

The Dayton Donut Trail is a loop, so you can start at any of the shops on the route that’s most convenient for you. However, Brent recommends the 2nd Street Market as the start and end point for a few reasons. First, there’s parking and bathrooms, and second, there’s a bike share station as well. So, if you don’t have a bike or don’t want to lug yours through the city, don’t fear: you can still ride the Dayton Donut Trail.

 

Duck Donuts in Dayton, Ohio

 

The Dayton Donut Trail Route

Ready to hit the road? The Dayton Donut Trail will take you to the seven bakeries listed below. You can see the full route already planned out, get specific directions, and even upload it into your GPS at the Dayton Donut Cycle Ride with GPS page. Just keep in mind you’ll need the Ride with GPS free app to access it.

After you have it downloaded, you’ll be ready to go. Here’s a brief overview of the route and what you can expect on the Dayton Donut Trail…

 

Start: 2nd Street Market 0 mile mark

 

Stop 1: Evans Bakery 1.3 mile mark

Evans Bakery was opened in 1969 and ran until 2004, when the Evans family sold it. In 2011 their daughter quit her job as a civil engineer, returned to Dayton to reopen the family business, and Evans Bakery has been going strong ever since. The shop has a selection of bite sized treats for 25 to 40 cents each, and they even got first place for “Best Cinnamon Glazed Twist” during the Dayton Municipal Court Donut Day Celebration in 2016.

 

Stop 2: American Classic Donuts 7.5 mile mark

In 2018 this shop won the “Best Blueberry Donut in the Miami Valley” award during the Dayton Municipal Court Donut Day Celebration. Also, American Classic Donuts supplies donuts to nearby schools like St. Helen’s so it may just taste like your childhood as well.

 

Stop 3: Dunkin’ Donuts 7.6 mile mark

Always good to calibrate your palette with a chain donut tasting. For research of course.

 

Stop 4: Tim Horton’s 10.4 mile mark

Maybe try two chains, just to be sure.

 

Stop 5: Stan the Donut Man 10.7 mile mark

This donut shop has a classic old-school vibe, which isn’t surprising. Stan the Donut Man been open and operating in Dayton for 45 years.

 

Stop 6: Ashley’s Pastry Shop 12.6 mile mark

Ashley’s Pastry Shop is located in Oakwood and has been open since 1982. They have plenty of donuts on the menu and an array of other desserts like pastries, cookies, coffee cake, fresh baked breads and more to tempt your sweet tooth.

 

Stop 7: Duck Donuts 14.3 mile mark

Duck Donuts is one of the newest donut shops in Dayton, and also one of my favorites. Build your own donut with an array of topping choices, and then watch it get made fresh right in front of you. Is there anything in this world more heavenly than a hot donut? Plus, it’s co-owned by former UD Flyer and NBA player Chris Wright which is pretty cool as well.

 

Bonus Stop: Twist Cupcakery

If you haven’t had enough sugar yet, you can also stop for an artisanal cupcake on the Dayton Donut Trail. Twist Cupcakery is on the route from Duck Donuts to the finish and is located .6 miles before you reach the 2nd Street Market.

 

Finish: 2nd Street Market 16.1 mile mark

 

Evans Bakery in Dayton, Ohio

 

Dayton Donut Trail FAQ

Why isn’t Bill’s Donuts included on the Dayton Donut Trail?

Despite being a classic Dayton staple, Bill’s Donuts is not on the list because the location is so far out of the way. It’s possible to extend your route to add it to your Dayton Donut Trail, but it will require an extra 13 miles of cycling.

Is the Dayton Donut Trail on roads or bike trails?

Most of it takes place on roads. However, they’re often in quiet neighborhoods and some have bike lanes as well.

Does this count as exersice?

Sure, but you will probably gain weight instead of losing it.

 

American Classic Donuts in Dayton, Ohio

 

Try The Dayton Donut Trail

The Dayton Donut Trail is perfect for a weekend ride through the Gem City. Hop on your bike and pound out 16 miles, and you’ll be rewarded with 7 donuts for your efforts.

Try some of the best donuts that Dayton has to offer, support local business, and see a little more of our wonderful city as you go!

 

PS if that’s not enough exercise for you, you may also like the DIY Dayton Brewery Walking Tour to visit 6 of the 7 breweries in downtown Dayton!

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Is Tirana Worth Visiting? Thoughts On 24 Hours in the City

Is Tirana worth visiting? When I was planning my trip to Theth, it required me to pass through Tirana. I did a bit of research and saw some mixed reviews on the city, with one blogger even claiming it’s the least visited capital in Europe.

However, I was passing through anyway so I decided to spend 24 hours in Tirana to check it out.

What I found is that Tirana is definitely worth a visit! The cpaital city seriously surprised me and I actually wish I had more time there.

During my trip in Albania I also visited Theth (which is beyond amazing and should definitely be added to your itinerary) and the lakeside town of Shkoder. To my surprise, I found I strongly preferred Tirana over the more popular destination of Shkoder and if I could do it again, I would happily trade my time there for extra time in the capital.

Is Tirana worth visiting? After 24 hours in the city I can answer with a resounding YES. If you’re curious to learn more about it, here’s how we filled out time in the city and what you can expect when you’re passing though.

 

street art in Tirana

 

How to Spend 24 Hours in Tirana

There are plenty of great ways to spend 24 hours in the capital of Albania. Use this list to explore some of the best things to eat, drink, and do during your visit to the city.

 

Where to Eat in Tirana

I didn’t eat traditional Albanian food in Tirana (we go more than enough of that in Theth) but I did have some delicious meals. Check them out below and visit these three places for good eats in Tirana.

 

Salt

I had a sushi craving and Salt hit the spot. It’s super modern and chic, has a great cocktail menu, and the food was on point. Salt is definitely a bit expensive for the cost of living in Tirana but after three days of heavy meat and cheese meals in the mountains, I was so ready for some variety. They deliver on flavor, service, and ambiance and the restaurant is worth a visit if you’re looking for good food in Tirana.

 

Salt sushi restaurant in Tirana

 

Mon Amour Bakery

This bakery is heavenly. I got the gelato but there are sooo many different options to tempt you. There was baklava, macaroons, mini tarts and cheesecaks, and so much more. Plus, the outdoor seating area is really nice to sit in and people watch while you chow down.

 

New York Bagels

I never knew that bagels are an American food until I traveled abroad. They’re almost nowhere to be found in the rest of the world so when I saw a New York bagel place in Tirana stopping in was a no brainer. The place is both budget friendly and delicious with bagel sandwiches starting at only 120 lek / 1.30 usd.

Daniel and I actually got four… two for lunch and two more to pack up for dinner on our bus ride to Skopje. The salmon and the caprese were my favorite but the BLT and turkey sandwiches are both great as well. I was pretty skeptical, but the bagels do not disappoint and this place is perfect for a quick and cheap breakfast, lunch, or dinner in Tirana.

 

New York Bagels in Tirana

 

Where to Drink in Tirana

Looking for somewhere to grab a drink? Tirana definitely delivers. I visited on a Saturday in the summer and the music, lights, and people spilling out of the restaurants and bars in the Blloku district definitely set the stage for a great night.

 

Explore the Blloku Neighborhood

I was beyond surprised to see how hipster and artsy Tirana is. I didn’t really expect much from the city and because of that I was blown away. There are so many colorful bars and cool restaurants to explore and the Blloku neighborhood is the best place to see them. If you want to get a drink in the evening or grab dinner somewhere, this is definitely the nicest and liveliest area in Tirana.

 

Smoke Shisha From the Future

The Shisha Room is pretty expensive, but worth a stop if you’re trying to unwind from a day of traveling and have more coming up soon. I liked it because the hookah was so futuristic, with a cold ice block in the handle to cool it down, flashing lights, and a totally unique design. I enjoyed it, and if you’re into shisha consider spending a couple hours here on your trip to Tirana.

 

shisha in Tirana

 

Take in the View at the Sky Club Rotating Restaurant

Seriously, who doesn’t love drinks with a view? The Panoramic Bar & Restaurant even spins slowly, so you can get a full 360 degree view of the city. Plus, it’s in easy walking distance from the Blloku neighborhood, the Pyramid of Tirana, and Bunk’Art 2, so you can easily combine them into one afternoon.

 

What to Do in Tirana

Check out these three attractions for a good mix of history and activity during your time in Tirana.

 

Climb Up the Tirana Pyramid

The Pyramid of Tirana is a really strange building. Basically, it was originally built as a museum to honor the dictator, and when the communist regime ended it was closed down. After serving a few other purposes it has now fallen into disrepair, but Wikipedia reports there are plans to turn it into tech center.

Despite the barbed wire, broken glass, and dilapidated appearance, people still stop by to climb to the top. I amused myself watching the tourists slowly sliding back down on their butts, imagining how this would never, ever fly in the US. Even if you don’t want to climb to the top, this interesting piece of history is worth a stop.

 

Tirana Pyramid

 

Take the Cable Car to the Top of Mount Dajti

Just like my 24 hours in Skopje, Tirana was horrifically hot during our visit in July. Due to that we had to give the cable car a miss, unfortunately. However, if you visit in another season and the temperatures are on your side, this is a great way to see the city from above and get some beautiful photos as well. There’s also a restaurant, hiking trails, and more to explore if you have the time.

 

Visit Bunk’Art or Bunk’Art 2

Daniel and I opted to visit the smaller location, Bunk’Art 2, because it’s in the city center, while the original (and much larger) museum is out in the suburbs. The museum is built into an old bunker (there are more than 100,000 built by the paranoid dictator throughout Albania) and this one is worth a visit.

The cost is 500 lek / 4.50 usd and the museum covers basically the entire 1900’s through the wars, dictatorship, and to almost present day. I learned a lot, and there are also recreated bunker rooms, art installations, and more to check out.

 

Bunk Art 2 Museum in Tirana

 

Suggested Itinerary for 24 Hours in Tirana

If you prefer to explore cities by foot, like I do, and are staying near the city center, this suggested itinerary groups together the best activities for 24 hours in Tirana. Check them out in this order to see the sites more efficiently and avoid taking unnecessary taxis.

Morning: Take a cable car to Mount Dajti.

Afternoon: Eat lunch at New York Bagels, climb the Tirana Pyramid, and visit Bunk’Art 2.

Evening: Have dinner at Salt, explore the Blloku neighborhood, grab dessert at Mon Amour, and finish the night by smoking shisha or enjoying the view the Sky Club.

 

Is Tirana Worth Visiting?

Without a doubt. If I could go back and do my Albanian vacation again, I would spend at least two nights in the city or maybe even three.

There’s a big difference between a city being nicer than you expected, and being objectively nice. Surprisingly, I found Tirana was in the latter category. The city is hip and young, the vibe feels very alive, and I can totally tell that Tirana is going to emerge as a real tourist destination in Eastern Europe in the future.

Definitely make the time to stop in Tirana on your trip to Albania, and I’m sure you won’t regret it!

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How to Spend 24 Hours in Skopje, The Strangest City in the Balkans

I spent 24 hours in Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, during my vacation in the country. If you have plans to visit the Balkans, chances are you’ll also find yourself in this city at some point on your trip.

I had no idea what to expect when we arrived, and Skopje was even stranger than I could have imagined. Seriously, what’s going on here guys?

The mix of run-down soviet apartment blocks, ultra-ornate government buildings, and memorials and statues strewn haphazardly throughout Skopje is disorienting to say the least. I kind of felt like I was walking through a Disney recreation of Greece at points, if Disney didn’t do any research about what Greece actually looks like. Honestly, the word strange sums it up perfectly.

That being said, I still really enjoyed my time here. I travel so much that sometimes the joy and wonder of it wear off for me for a bit, but in Skopje that’s not possible. Around every corner was something new and interesting to discover, and I felt out of my element again just like I did the first time I left the US.

If you’re passing through Macedonia, definitely schedule the time to spend 24 hours in Skopje. It’s certainly worth exploring, and here’s everything you should do while you’re there!

 

Check Out the Skopje Free Walking Tour

Countries are supposed to be hundreds of years old, right? With Macedonia, that’s not the case. In fact, we’re almost exactly the same age and our birthdays are less than a month apart in 1991. I think this recent history also contributed to the unique vibe I got from Skopje.

Their story is interesting, but not one I remember learning a lot about in our history classes. In the Cold War era Macedonia was part of Yugoslavia, and even more recently in 2018 the country agreed to a name change to appease Greece. Soon they will officially be known as the Republic of North Macedonia (Northern Greece is also called Macedonia and they wanted the country to distinguish themselves from Greek history and territory) and they will also drop the lengthy “Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia” from their name.

Basically, there’s a lot going on here but the free Skopje walking tour every day at 10am will help catch you up to speed.

 

Old Bazaar in Skopje, Macedonia

 

Wander Through the Old Bazaar

Ok, the Old Bazaar is cooler than I expected. Skopje and all of Macedonia found themselves under Ottoman rule for 500 years, so there is a heavy Turkish influence in their architecture and culture. One of the ways that shows itself is in the Old Bazaar. The cobblestone streets take you back in time immediately, and it’s fun to sample Turkish delights, stop for a coffee, and browse the colorful dresses and gold jewelry on display.

 

Old Bazaar in Skopje, Macedonia

 

Cool Down With Lunch and a Smoothie at Squeeze Me

If you’re only in the Balkans for a short time, you might not like my restaurant recommendations for 24 hours in Skopje. After months in the area, I’m less on the hunt for traditional cuisine and more on the hunt for good cuisine, no matter what it may be.

In Skopje, Squeeze Me is one of the best restaurants. They have grilled sandwiches, salads, and tons of fresh juice and smoothie options to cool down if  you’re visiting in the summer like I did. Just like most other places in the Balkans, prices are cheap. A smoked salmon panini, berry smoothie, and americano coffee ran me 400 mkd / 7.50 usd.

 

sandwiches at Squeeze Me in Skopje, Macedonia

 

Drink Coffee on the Riverside

A walk along the riverside is one of the best things to do during your 24 hours in Skopje. The architecture is fascinating and it honestly just feels like buildings, statues, and monuments were dropped out of the sky with no thought at all about how they’d fit together.

Oh, and did I mention the two giant, old fashioned ships docked in the river as well? Idk man. Skopje is a strange place and if you take a walk on the water and grab a coffee on the riverside, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

 

walking along the riverside in Skopje, Macedonia

 

Visit the Memorial House of Mother Theresa

Did you know Mother Theresa is from Skopje? This little house is a small museum that tells the story of her life and work. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit due to their weekend schedule, but if you have 24 hours in Skopje it’s certainly worth a quick stop!

 

Grab Tex-Mex for Dinner at Amigos

I’m a simple woman. When I see a tex-mex restaurant, I visit the tex-mex restaurant. I’ve been in the Balkans for months now and was feeling severely deprived of my favorite cuisine, so this was a welcome discovery.

At Amigos we had the chips with nacho cheese, pico de gallo, salsa, and cream cheese (kind of like sour cream I guess?) dips and split a plate of chimichangas as well. Both were better than I expected, and I liked the modern and colorful vibe of the restaurant as well. The patio also has a nice view of this absolutely beautiful new gold and geometric church being built across the street. My only advice is that even through the cocktails were pretty, both the margarita and the mojito were a bit disappointing. If I went back, I’d probably stick to a Corona.

 

Amigos Mexican Restaurant in Skopje

 

Watch the Sunset at Hotel Arka

When traveling in cities, finding a bar or restaurant with a view is one of my top priorities. To be honest, even though I took a screenshot of the TripAdvisor page and had the address written down, we still ended up missing it! Don’t make my mistake.

Hotel Arka looks like it has an awesome view of the city from their 7th floor bar and restaurant, and it has a pool in the middle of it so I just know great Insta pics can be had by all up here. Grab a drink at sunset, and then comment below to tell me how dumb I am for missing out!

 

Visit the First Brewery in Skopje

I love trying new beers, and exploring craft beer in Skopje was no different. The industry is still in its infancy, but a stop at the first (and only) brewery in Skopje is a great way to start or end a night in the city. The Old Town Brewery has a beer garden in the Old Bazaar and serves pub food as well. If the night is still young, you can also visit two more bars on my list of the best places to drink craft beer in Skopje.

 

Old Town Brewery in Skopje

 

Have more time to fill? If you’re visiting for more than 24 hours in Skopje or have better weather than the unbearable heat we were stuck with, you can also take the cable car to the Millennium Cross for a panoramic view or go kayaking in Matka Canyon, both of which I would love to do if I ever return to the city.

I’m a bit of a lazy traveler and like to enjoy my time rather than run around and see everything. Of course, there’s more to do and see in 24 hours in Skopje, but I felt like with this list I got a great feel of the city without stretching myself too thin while we explored.

I hope this guide gives you a little taste of what’s in store in Skopje, and you enjoy your time in the capital of Macedonia!

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