Accessible Travel

Historic sites and old quarters aren't wheelchair-friendly, and generally neither are buses and trains. Expensive hotels may provide wheelchair ramps and have lifts.

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Bargaining

It's generally accepted that higher-end hotel rack rates can be negotiated down outside of peak season (peak usually being June to September, but sometimes winter, depending on where you are).

Taxi fares to popular destinations in and around Ohrid are set, as are most long-distance taxi prices, but occasionally taxis in Skopje will try to take you for a ride (figuratively speaking), so it is acceptable to haggle.

Dangers & Annoyances

  • Begging and pickpocketing attempts can irritate.
  • Littering remains problematic.
  • Selling alcohol in shops after 7pm (9pm in summer) is prohibited, but there's usually a shopkeeper nearby prepared to bend the rules.

Embassies & Consulates

Emergency & Important Numbers

North Macedonia's country code389
International access code00
Ambulance194
Fire193
Police192

Entry & Exit Formalities

Visas

None for EU, US, Australian, Canadian or New Zealand citizens for stays of up to three months.

Further Information

Citizens of former Yugoslav republics, Australia, Canada, the EU, Iceland, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and the USA, and many other countries, can stay for three months, visa-free. Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (www.mfa.gov.mk) if unsure of your status.

Customs Regulations

Objects of historical or cultural worth, such as archaeological finds, ethnological or historical pieces, and original art, require a certificate of origin that should be provided when you make your purchase; some may require a special licence. The certificate needs to be presented to customs authorities at the border when you leave. The rules do not apply to reproductions. For more information visit www.customs.gov.mk.

Passports

Some travellers have reported being denied entry to Serbia from North Macedonia if they have a stamp from Kosovo in their passport.

Etiquette

  • The Macedonian population is mostly either Orthodox Christian or Muslim, and culturally neither religion deems it appropriate for women to bear much flesh; be aware that if you're female and wearing skimpy clothing you will get stared at.
  • In churches and mosques, both men and women should cover their knees and shoulders.

Internet Access

Wi-fi is widely available in restaurants, cafes, hotels and hostels – sometimes you just have to ask for the password; free wi-fi is not always advertised in food and drink venues.

LGBT Travellers

Macedonians are religious conservatives and the country's LGBT scene is very small. The Rainbow Europe Index continues to rank the country's gay rights among the worst in the region.

Money

Most tourist businesses, including lower to midrange hotels, accept cash only. ATMs are widespread in major towns, but surprisingly hard to find around Lake Ohrid except in Ohrid town itself.

Further Information

North Macedonia's national currency is the denar (MKD), but many tourist-related prices (such as transport and hotel costs) are quoted in euros – you may even find that the business owner doesn't immediately know the denar price if you ask for it. Hence Lonely Planet lists prices as they are quoted rather than in denars only.

Carrying some euros into North Macedonia can be handy for larger outgoings such as hotel bills, but note that it usually works out better if you pay for smaller costs in denars. Motorway tolls, for example, are about 30% more expensive if you pay in euros.

Taxi drivers hate it when you pay with a 1000-denar note, and may make you go into a shop to get change.

Macedonian exchange offices (menuvačnici) work commission-free. ATMs are widespread. Credit cards can often be used in larger cities (especially in restaurants), but you can't really rely on them outside Skopje. Avoid travellers cheques altogether.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$139.50MKD
CanadaC$141.02MKD
Euro Zone€161.60MKD
Japan¥10047.80MKD
New ZealandNZ$137.11MKD
UKUK£162.20MKD
USAUS$153.96MKD

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Tipping

North Macedonia doesn't have a tipping culture except at restaurants, where 10% is the norm.

Opening Hours

Banks 7am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Cafes 8am to midnight

Museums Many close on Mondays

Shops 9am to 6pm

Post

Mail to Europe and North America takes seven to 10 days. Certified mail (preporačeno) is more expensive. Skopje's main post office is the outlandish brutalist building northwest of the Ploštad.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day 1 January

Orthodox Christmas 7 January

Orthodox Easter Week March/April/May – moveable

Labour Day 1 May

Sts Cyril and Methodius Day 24 May

Ilinden Day 2 August

Independence Day 8 September

Revolution Day 11 October

St Clement of Ohrid Day 8 December

Smoking

  • Smoking North Macedonia generally follows EU regulations banning smoking inside public places, but the rules are casually broken in many restaurants, bars and hotels.

Taxes & Refunds

Taxes are included in prices. As North Macedonia is not in the EU, it is not included in the EU VAT refund scheme for tourists.

Telephone

Drop the initial zero in city codes and mobile prefixes (07) when calling from abroad. Within North Macedonia, intercity calls require the city code; this is dropped for within-city calls.

Mobile Phones

If using a mobile (cell) phone, buying a local SIM card is good for longer stays.

Time

North Macedonia is one hour ahead of GMT, six hours ahead of EST.

Toilets

Toilets you are likely to encounter in North Macedonia will be Western-style, though drop toilets do exist – you'd most likely see them in monasteries, if ever.

Tourist Information

Travel agencies and hotels are the best sources of tourist information in North Macedonia, as most of the official tourist offices have been shut down. You won't find any in Ohrid or Bitola, for example; those in Skopje don't keep to their opening hours. The country's official website is Macedonia Timeless (www.macedonia-timeless.com).

Travel with Children

Locals fawn over children and their presence is accepted in bars and restaurants across the country; many Macedonians take their babies and children out to dinner with them and you'll often see little ones running around late at night in summer.

Nappies and other baby goods are usually easy to obtain in supermarkets, and car seats are easy to hire from car rental agencies (and can be better quality than you might find elsewhere in Europe). Many hotels, and even some hostels, can provide cots for travelling families, though you'll need to reserve ahead. Occasionally high chairs and baby-changing facilities can be found in restaurants and cafes.

Volunteering

In Skopje, most of the hostels are run by a mixture of volunteers and paid local staff. Many volunteers are travellers, passing through for a few weeks. Volunteers help out around the hostel in exchange for a bed and the inside track on local life. The same set-up exists at Robinson Sunset House just outside Ohrid. Call around or email to enquire about positions.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used in North Macedonia.

Work

Foreign nationals need a permit to work in North Macedonia. Contact your local Macedonian embassy for more information.