Family travel snap: climbing towers in Macedonia

For our family travel snap this month we’re joining Lonely Planet Pathfinder Leah Smileski and her family as they explore Macedonia. Leah blogs at

Kids Blog -

What’s the story behind this photo?

We are in the middle of an eight-week self-guided tour of Macedonia (FYROM). One morning during our stay in Prilep we woke early and caught a taxi to the bottom of Marko’s Towers (Markovi Kuli) which is currently on the Unesco list for consideration. We spent the next hour winding our way up to the top by foot. We were rewarded at its peak with the ruins which we were able to explore. There’s no entry fee, no guide and no signage. The medieval ruins which were once the home of King Marko were the perfect juxtaposition to the city below.

Macedonia has so many hidden delights. It is a country rarely visited unless you have family there or are transiting between two of its neighbouring countries. This image captures our experience perfectly: it was hard work to get there but the reward was worth it. I never envisioned our family staying eight weeks in Macedonia, but it taught us so much.

Kids’ perspective

Sunshine: 'It was such a hot day! I remember drinking lots of water and hoping we would be up at the top soon. Once we got there I was so excited to find the towers which I climbed up. Mum was a little scared as there were no rails to hang on to, but I’m a careful climber.'

Striker: 'I was the first one to make it up to the top! What surprised me was the thickness of all the walls. Who knew that people way back in the olden days could be so smart to make such a place.'

Leah’s tips for visiting Marko’s Towers with kids

1) Whilst the incline up to Marko's Towers is moderate, smaller children may find the climb exhausting so factor in plenty of time, rest stops and maybe even your baby carrier. The view is definitely worth it though!

2) Get the kids involved with route finding by following the red and white dots or stripes so you stick to the safe path rather than the way favoured by rock climbers.

3) There are no amenities in the area so pack plenty of water and food.

Where’s next on your family travel bucket list?

We’re heading to Norfolk Island which is most famous for becoming the home of the HMS Bounty mutineers. It will be a chance for us to complete our goal of visiting all 11 of Australia’s convict Unesco sites!

Lastly, complete the sentence:

When we shut the front door ready to go and travel as a family, we always…

…make sure we have our sense of adventure in high gear, and our minds ready to absorb all we see!

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