Introduction

Butressing the Pelister National Park, elevated Bitola (660m) has a sophistication inherited from its Ottoman days as the 'City of Consuls'. Macedonians wax lyrical about its elegant buildings, nationally important ruins and cafe culture – yet as far as tourists are concerned it's still a little off the beaten track.

Crumbling and colourful 18th- and 19th-century townhouses, coupled with a quaint, workaday Čaršija (Old Turkish Bazaar), make Bitola one of the country's most aesthetically intriguing (and unique) cities, well worth an overnight trip if you've made it as far as Pelister's westerly mountains for some hiking.

An essential experience is sipping a coffee and people-watching along the pedestrianised Širok Sokak ('Wide Street' – still called ul Maršal Tito officially), the main promenade and heart of the city. Beyond that, the most atmospheric side streets unfurl to the west and Bitola's charms lie in the wandering.