Imagine you’ve won the lottery and are looking for a unique, luxurious place to celebrate. Welcome to Macedonia! The country is one of Europe’s most undiscovered destinations, a mountainous land full of shimmering lakes, historical towns, rolling vineyards and unspoilt national parks. From lakeside retreats to ski resorts and world-class wineries, here are four Macedonian travel experiences ideal for visitors on a lottery-winning budget.
Lake-side luxury at Ohrid
Ohrid is the most beautiful of Macedonia’s three major lakes and its Ottoman-era Old Town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. With clear azure waters framed by jagged mountains, it’s not hard to see why Ohrid is often referred to as ‘The jewel of Macedonia’. One of the best ways to spend your lottery winnings is by relaxing in a luxury resort overlooking Ohrid Lake. Take a dip in the sparkling water, dine on fresh fish in a gourmet restaurant and wander the cobbled streets of Ohrid Old Town. A private driver can take you on a tour around the lake to see ancient monasteries and cathedrals. Don’t forget to head up to Tsar Samuel’s Fortress for sweeping views over the water.
Skiing in Mavrovo National Park
Mavrovo National Park is home to spectacular gorges, pine forests, waterfalls and mountains. While it makes a great summer retreat, the park is better known as Macedonia’s top skiing spot. Mavrovo boasts the tallest peaks in the country, including Great Korab Mountain which stretches over 9,000 feet into the sky. Here you can enjoy some of the best skiing in the Balkans, with pistes for all abilities. For the perfect winter getaway, stay in a quaint ski lodge nestled in Mavrovo’s traditional mountain village, which overlooks the lake. The village has two ornate churches, including St Nicholas, which sits half-submerged in the middle of the lake after floods struck in the 1950s.
Wine tasting trips and tours
It may not be one of the world’s most famous wine destinations, but with 300 sunny days a year on average, Macedonia produces some top-quality wines. The country is dotted with lush rolling vineyards that have been in use since Roman times. The Tikves district features 80 percent of Macedonia’s wineries and is one of the best places to do tastings and tours. Take a trip to the award-winning Winery Tikves for a tasting session and lavish lunch. Established 125 years ago, Tikves is the largest winery in Macedonia and produces 24 types of wine. For a more indulgent experience, visit Popova Kula winery where you can stay in chic accommodation and enjoy fine dining, traditional folk shows and cooking classes as well as wine-making demonstrations and tastings.
Private cultural tours in Skopje
Skopje is Macedonia’s quirky capital city which showcases over 2,000 years of history. Take a private cultural tour of the city to discover its rich mix of Roman, Ottoman, Byzantine and modern influences. These include a stone bridge that connects the Ottoman quarter with the new city, which was controversially revamped by the government in 2014 to include sculptures, a contemporary square and elaborate fountains. There’s also a modern museum and the Old Bazaar to explore, along with the 6th century Kale Fortress and a memorial house to Macedonia’s most famous resident, Mother Teresa.
Want to know more about this small but beautiful Balkan country? Find out in this guide to Macedonia’s history and culture.