Tourism in North Macedonia

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Tourism in North Macedonia is a large factor of the nation's economy. The country's large abundance of natural and cultural attractions make it suitable for tourism.

In 2019, North Macedonia received 1,184,963 tourist arrivals out of which 757,593 foreign.[1]


Number of tourists from 2007-2019

North Macedonia experiences a constant increase of visitors. The number of domestic tourists in the period from January to March 2008 compared to the same period of the previous year, increased 23.5%. While the number of foreign tourists in March 2008 compared to March 2007 increased 44.7%.[2] In 2007, Lake Ohrid had received about 250,000 domestic and foreign tourists.[3]

In February 2009, nearly 28,000 tourists, or 3.2% more than the same month last year, visited Macedonia. There was also an 8% increase in the number of foreign visitors to the country.[4]

The summer of 2009 was the city of Dojran's best tourist season with 135,000 overnight visitors, an increase of 12.5% compared to the previous year.[5]

The number of tourists in Macedonia in May 2010 increased by 0.8% from the same month in the previous year.[6]

The number of foreign tourists visiting Macedonia between the months of January and July increased by 25% in 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. The average number of nights spent in the country by these tourists also rose, by 33.2%.[7]

In the first four months of 2012, the number of tourists in Macedonia was 130,083, an increase of 4.6% from the previous year.[8]

The region receiving the most tourist arrivals in 2012 was the Southwest with 251,462, followed by the Skopje (164,077) and the Southeastern (106,978) regions. The Pelagonia region received 72,054 arrivals, while the remaining regions each received under 30,000.[1]

Among foreign tourists in 2012, the most common country of origin was Turkey with 50,406 arrivals, followed by Greece with 43,976 and Serbia with 36,530. The most common non-Balkan country of origin was the Netherlands with over 27,000 tourist arrivals.[1]

Arrivals by country[edit]

Most visitors arriving in North Macedonia on short term basis are from the following countries of nationality:[9]

Rank Country 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
1  Turkey Increase 112,472 Decrease 111,667 Increase 129,708 Increase 105,738 90,857
2  Serbia Increase 59,568 Increase 57,460 Increase 53,121 Increase 50,145 43,613
3  Greece Increase 57,578 Decrease 40,947 Increase 44,931 Increase 40,504 38,829
4  Bulgaria Increase 55,862 Increase 52,659 Increase 45,958 Increase 36,982 29,314
5  Poland Increase 35,681 Increase 34,575 Increase 22,281 Decrease 12,268 17,054
6  Germany Increase 34,342 Increase 30,173 Increase 23,544 Decrease 17,067 17,939
7  Netherlands Increase 31,481 Increase 27,918 Increase 26,889 Decrease 23,960 32,217
8  Albania Steady 27,311 Increase 27,311 Increase 21,194 Increase 20,862 18,493
9  Croatia Increase 25,533 Increase 23,829 Increase 15,860 Decrease 13,918 17,054
10  Kosovo[a] Increase 25,079 Increase 24,014 Increase 17,494 Increase 17,070 13,950
11  Romania Increase 18,984 Increase 16,727 Increase 15,044 Increase 9,256 8,071
12  United States Increase 18,285 Increase 17,916 Increase 15,163 Increase 11,495 10,186
13  Slovenia Increase 17,953 Increase 16,890 Increase 12,815 Decrease 9,971 11,463
14  Italy Increase 13,757 Increase 13,403 Decrease 11,124 Decrease 11,515 12,444
15  China Decrease 13,635 Increase 13,724 Increase 9,435 Decrease 6,565 7,256
16  Israel Increase 12,436 Increase 10,767 Decrease 7,967 Increase 8,983 4,754
17  United Kingdom Decrease 12,215 Increase 13,296 Increase 11,396 Increase 8,856 8,465
18  Sweden Decrease 11,188 Increase 11,530 Increase 8,557 Increase 6,495 5,617
19  Austria Increase 10,481 Increase 9,014 Increase 8,367 Decrease 7,387 8,602
20  Spain Increase 10,184 Increase 6,303 Increase 6,012 Increase 3,659 3,151
21  Bosnia and Herzegovina Increase 9,728 Increase 8,508 Increase 7,199 Increase 6,922 5,686
22  Belgium Decrease 9,698 Increase 9,966 Increase 7,499 Decrease 5,501 5,509
23  Australia Decrease 9,511 Increase 9,701 Increase 8,228 Decrease 5,557 6,625
24  France Increase 9,445 Increase 9,030 Increase 8,008 Decrease 6,231 7,603
25   Switzerland Increase 8,622 Increase 8,098 Increase 6,437 Decrease 4,589 4,815
Total foreign tourists Increase 757,593 Increase 707,345 Increase 630,594 Increase 510,484 485,530

Arrivals by year[edit]

Tourist arrivals to North Macedonia have increased every year since 2010.[10]

Year Tourist Arrivals Change (%)
2000 632,523
2005 509,706 -19.5%
2010 586,241 +15.0%
2011 647,568 +10.5%
2012 663,633 +2.5%
2013 701,794 +5.8%
2014 735,650 +4.8%
2015 816,067 +10.9%
2016 856,843 +5.0%
2017 998,841 +16.6%
2018 1,126,935 +12.8%
2019 1,184,963 [11] +5.1%




Skopje, the capital and largest city, is situated in the northern part of the country on the Vardar River. Skopje has a long history that is evidenced by its many archaeological sites, such as Scupi and the Skopje Aqueduct, and the large number of Ottoman buildings and monuments, particularly in the Old Bazaar, such as Mustapha Pasha Mosque. Today, Skopje, with over 500,000 inhabitants, is becoming a modern city with museums and many cultural and sporting events.

Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the southwestern part of the country on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid. The town is perhaps the most popular tourist destination in the country, which is largely due to the beaches and atmosphere. However, Ohrid also has many historical monuments, such as Samuil's Fortress and the Antique Theatre, Church of St. Panteleimon, Church of St. Sophia, Church of St. John at Kaneo, Monastery of Saint Naum, Robevi family house & Plaošnik. There is also a number of beautiful fishing & mountain villages along the coastline which include Trpejca, Pestani, Elsani & Ljubanista.

Bitola, the country's second largest city with a population of about 100,000, is situated in the southern part of the country. Like many cities in the country, Bitola has also had a rich history. Heraclea Lyncestis, one of North Macedonia's largest archaeological sites, is located in Bitola. The long history of Bitola is also exemplified by the town's many neo-classical buildings, Ottoman buildings and monuments such as the Jeni Mosque, and old churches. The town is also a shopping destination; Širok Sokak, a pedestrian street, is filled with an endless number of stores and restaurants which go through to Magnolia Square. There is a small Ski resort about 12 km from the city centre situated on Baba Mountain which is also a great hiking mecca during the summer months between May & September.

Štip, the largest city east of the Vardar River, is located in the eastern part of the country. Štip has existed for at least 2,000 years which is showcased by its many archaeological sites, such as Astibo, Bargala, and Estipeon. The city is also home to the healing waters of the Kežovica Mineral Spa. Today, Štip is the main cultural and economical centre of eastern North Macedonia.

Kratovo is a small town in the eastern part of the country. It lies on the western slopes of Mount Osogovo at an altitude of 600 metres (2,000 ft) above sea level. Having a mild and pleasant climate, it is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. It is famous for its bridges and towers.

Kruševo is the highest town in North Macedonia, situated at an altitude of over 4,429 feet (1350 m) above sea level. It is home to Mečkin Kamen, a historical landmark which marks the spot of the uprising of 1903. On August 2 every year, it is the site of the traditional Macedonian Independence Day celebrations, which are attended by the President of North Macedonia and other Macedonian political leaders. Kruševo is also home to Makedonium monument, dedicated to the Ilinden Uprising and the Kruševo Republic and many museums of the Ilinden Uprising. Because of its elevation, Kruševo is one of North Macedonia’s winter sports destinations. The famous Macedonian singer Tose Proeski is also buried here.

Prilep is known as "the city under Marko's Towers" because of its proximity to the towers of Prince Marko Markovi Kuli. The towers of medieval Prince Marko Mrnjavčević are located on a 120–180 m high hill, surrounded by steep slopes covered with minute granite stones. The upper part of the former settlement can be reached from its north and south side. The Treskavec monastery, built in the 12th century in the mountains about 10 km (6 mi) north of Prilep under Zlatovrv peak, at the edge of a small upland plain 1100 meters above sea level. Prilep has frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries and is probably the site of the early Roman town of Kolobaise.

Other popular towns include Strumica, and Struga, which have many attractions of their own.

National parks and natural reserves[edit]

Mavrovo Lake

North Macedonia has three national parks and 33 natural reserves:

  • Mavrovo, located in the northwestern part of the country, is the largest of the three national parks. It is home to several river valleys, gorges, waterfalls, caves, and other morphological formations.
  • Pelister, located in the southern part of the country, near Bitola, is the smallest of the three national parks. The park consists of land that surrounds Baba Mountain. On top of the mountain are two glacial lakes, known as Gorski Oči, or mountain eyes.
  • Galičica, located between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa, is the second largest national park in the country. The park is home to an abundance of diverse flora and fauna, and offers terrific views of Ohrid and Lake Ohrid.
  • Ezereni Bird Sanctuary, located on the northern shore of Lake Prespa, is a strict natural reserve. It is home to over 120 different bird species.[12]
  • Tikveš Strict Natural Reserve, located 30 km southeast of Kavadarci, is a natural reserve that covers an area of approximately 100 square kilometres. 23 species of predatory birds are present in the reserve and 17 of these nest in the area. Tikveš is said to be one of the most important ornithological sites in Europe.
  • Lokvi-Golemo Konjari Strict Natural Reserve, located near Kruševo, is a natural reserve that is the last remnant of a once enormous swamp.

Other places[edit]

The stone town of Kuklica
  • Stobi, situated in Gradsko, in the geographical center of the country, is the largest and considered to be the most famous archaeological site in North Macedonia. Some remains include basilicas, streets, thermae, living complexes, mosaics, and walls.
  • Kokino, located 30 km from Kumanovo, is a megalithic observatory similar to Stonehenge. Being over 3,800 years old, it is the fourth oldest ancient observatory in the world.
  • Marko's Tower, located just outside Prilep, is a rocky mass composed of several fine sculptures. It is on the list of possible UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • Stone town of Kuklica, located outside Kratovo, is an area consisting of more than 120 naturally formed stone pillars that are over 10 million years old.



See also[edit]


a.   ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008. Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.


  1. ^ a b c "Tourism in December 2019" (PDF) (in Macedonian). State Statistical Office. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  2. ^ State Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia Archived 2010-08-22 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Southeast European Times
  4. ^ "MINA Breaking News - Macedonia records 3.2% more tourists". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  5. ^ "MINA Breaking News - City of Dojran has its best Tourist season". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  6. ^ State Statistical Office of Macedonia Archived 2010-08-22 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "My Info Agent". Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Macedonia's 4-mo Tourist Numbers Rise 4.6% Y/Y - Table". Skopje: SeeNews. 13 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  9. ^ Number of tourists and nights spent by country of origin, by months
  10. ^ "Tourist arrivals, by months". Retrieved 30 July 2017.
  11. ^ "State Statistical Office - News release: Tourism, December 2019". Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  12. ^ Prespa region tourist site Archived 2008-07-08 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]