Forecasting the weather in Macedonia takes more than simply observing a 14 day chart. To confidently plan your vacation, therefore, you need to understand the climate in Macedonia, the areal differences, and how it is affected by humidity, wind and other factors.
To begin with, Macedonia has a pronounced continental climate with very cold winters followed by dry and subtropical summers. Zooming in, however, we can differentiate between three different climates – the Changed Mediterranean, Mountainous, and Mildly Continental.
The important thing to know is that the average temperatures in Macedonia often vary quite dramatically. Even within the same season, the weather in Skopje can be quite different from the weather in Ohrid, not to mention Mavrovo and Berovo. The ideal temperature is between the middle of May and the middle of October (or perhaps even sooner, around late September, if you like to part ways on a sunny and pleasant day) but you need further consideration for specific areas.
The hottest month, on average, is July, with high temperatures regularly around 31 Celsius, followed by August and then June.
The average weather in Macedonia
The climate in Macedonia features hot summers months, and a cold winter season – something that is quite unusual for many tourist destinations. Such diversity is largely due to the somewhat close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the mountainous terrain to the north.
The average summer temperature in Macedonia is around 23 degrees Celsius, and the average winter temperature is around 2 degrees. But counting the outliers as opposed to the mean is what gives you a realization of the stark temperature volatility. It can easily hit above 40 during late July, and drop below 20 in January. A startling 60+ degrees of difference which Macedonians learned to live with.
The average temperature in Macedonia, however, can best be described by observing the average monthly temperature throughout the year. So take a look at the table below.
Another method of surveying the Macedonian weather is measuring each area separately. And thanks to the colorful geography of this country, you can bet there is going to be a noticeable difference between, say, the city of Skopje and the small village of Mavrovo. This is surprising, however, when you take into account the relatively trivial distance between one place and another.
So let’s have a look at some of the most frequented places in Macedonia, and discuss each separately.
Weather in Skopje
The capital city is located on the northern side of the country, and it is surrounded by mountains. Winter comes, and it is particularly cold. It is perhaps few degrees warmer than Krushevo, Mavrovo and the rest of north-western Macedonia, but still very cold nonetheless.
What is interesting about Skopje is the low altitude. Surrounded by mountains, the city is placed within a cradle. And when you add the fact that it is located in the Vardar valley, it is easy to see how summer temperatures can rise as high as 40 degrees plus. That being said, the temperature in Skopje undergoes the most severe swings.
To plan your stay better, below is the weather forecast for Skopje.
Expect of winter to cripple the traffic infrastructure, especially when temperatures fall below zero, and the roads begin to freeze. But this is the general picture of winter in Macedonia and it is not exclusive to Skopje only. Thankfully, though, only around 20 days of heavy snow and frost occur yearly. Most often than not, the daily temperature will rise above the zero, preventing thus an infrastructural meltdown.
Weather in Ohrid
Though the flight distance between Ohrid and Skopje is only 111 kilometers, the weather in Ohrid is relatively different from the weather in Skopje. Regardless of the fact that it is located further south, the town of Ohrid ends the western mountainous belt. Being at the foothills of Galicica, and the shore of Lake Ohrid, the temperature in Ohrid is somewhat lower when compared against Skopje.
This is what makes the area so attractive for a weekend gateway, especially during late July where masses of people come to Ohrid. To plan your stay better, simply follow the weather forecast for Ohrid, irrespective of the Macedonia weather forecast.
The summer nights in Ohrid can be somewhat chilly, so packing hoodies and sweaters is the smart thing to do. Whatever else might be said, you will have your best sleep bar none. The humidity, night temperature, and day-to-night difference is just perfect.
What people are often curious about is the Ohrid lake temperature. And while location and depth make the water somewhat cooler, it is relatively pleasant during late June, and definitely pleasant during July and August. If you are a fan of warm sea temperature, it will still take a bit of getting used to. The sun, however, can be very bright and strong, so definitely pack your sun protection.
If you are traveling across the region, use the same chart for the weather in Struga as well.
Weather in Mavrovo
If you are a winter enthusiast, you’ll definitely want to have access to the dedicated Mavrovo forecast. Considering the location, expect much more snow during the winter, and relatively cool nights even throughout the month of July. The daily temperature in Mavrovo is quite forgiving and very pleasant during the summer season. Below is a detailed forecast of the weather in Mavrovo.
Weather in Berovo
Located on the other side of the country, the small town of Berovo is where Macedonians go to get their dose of fresh air. It is rightfully considered to be an air spa, and you will notice the difference in air quality and temperature right away. In winters it will snow heavily, and summers are very enjoyable both day and night. Below is a detailed forecast of the weather in Berovo.
Humidity and wind in Macedonia
Much of how we feel the temperature depends on the humidity and wind. That being said Macedonia has a couple of very humid months. Humidity, however, is highest during the winter season, and lowest throughout late summer. It is the reason why early August is practically unbearable if you are situated in the capital. July, by and large, is the least humid month (43% relative humidity).
While much of the forecast would depend on the area and terrain, the wind in Macedonia is usually calm. On average, April is the windiest, followed by March and November. Maximum sustained winds, however, are at their highest during the second half of November, with speed of more than 20 kilometers per hour (12 knots).
The climate in Macedonia
Since half of the territory is low altitude and intertwined with riverbeds and valleys, people often say, thanks to the southern position as well, that Macedonia has a Mediterranean climate.
The correct term, perhaps, is changed Mediterranean climate, represented in the south-east part of the country, around Gevgelija and Strumica. It is characterized by long and dry summer, with a mild contrast of rainy but otherwise forgiving winters. The rainfall, on average, is still relatively low, at around 600-750 mm.
The second type of climate in Macedonia is the Mountainous climate, found in the high mountainous region. Rain and snowfall are rates are much more increased as compared to the other regions of the country, with around 1,000 mm per square.
The type of climate that is most characteristic of Macedonia is the mildly Continental, and it is covering the biggest area. It is characterized with warm and dry summers, and mild and relatively dry autumns.
Macedonia Daylight savings time
Macedonia is one of the many countries that use the concept of the daylight savings time, and it starts right after the beginning of spring.
On the 25th of March, 02:00:00 the clocks are turned forward 1 hour, to local daylight time, effectively moving sunrise and sunset 1 hour later than the day before. This results with more light in the evening.
Then, on the 28th of October, 03:00:00 the clocks are turned backward 1 hour to local standard time instead. Sunrise and sunset are effectively 1 hour earlier, and there is more light in the morning.
Macedonian climate observed through the seasons
Spring would usually start two weeks earlier than what the calendar suggests and it is characterized by moderately cold temperatures at the beginning and relatively warm temperatures in the later months.
Spring would end in mid-June, but the temperature can spike rather much even at the end of May. Expect 5-6 days of heavy rain per month, and bring warm clothes for both the early morning and evenings. Overnight temperatures can go rather low, to around zero degrees on occasions.
With lush vegetation, spring is the season of flowers aplenty and you will definitely enjoy the mixture of scents floating in the air.
The summer is in full swing even before the calendar says so, and it lasts all the way up to mid-September. It is characterized with dry and hot weather, with temperatures spiking as high as 40 degrees in some parts of the country (Mostly Gevgelija, Strumica and Demir Kapija). The UV index is high, and the sun is unbearable when combined with the fact that it is dry for weeks on end.
Even the nights won’t lower the temperature in late July and early August, so make sure to book your accommodation with an air conditioning unit included.
While autumn starts in mid-September, the temperature won’t go much lower until the early days of October. Rain will start to increase significantly, with 5-7 days per month, and the temperature averages between 26 degrees in the beginning of the season, to 8 degrees right before the very end of November (though it is much colder considering the wind and humidity).
If you prefer a warm weather, winter is not something you’ll enjoy. It rains or snows around 6-7 days per month on average, and the temperatures drop significantly. Urban areas measure around 3 degrees Celsius on average.
The winter in Skopje is usually introduced by heavy snow on the mountain of Vodno. It is interesting to say that although the distance from the summit to the center of the city is only a couple of kilometers the difference in temperature is noticeable nonetheless.
Due to poor infrastructure and bleak weather, however, it is best to avoid winter in Macedonia altogether – except, of course, if you are there for the snow adventure, which takes you all the way throughout the western mountainous belt (ski centers are usually covered with a knee-deep snowy blanket).
Do note that the air pollution in Skopje is unbearable. Many of the urban settlements suffer the same problem as well.
Skopje air pollution
With unusually high readings of PM 10 and PM 2.5, Skopje is perhaps the pollution capitol of this part of the region. Macedonian officials did nothing to ensure better air quality, and the environmental sector is lagging decades behind due to corruption, neglect, and dismal prioritizing.
The in-cradle location and the mist throughout winter are definitely making things worse. Much of the pollution goes away during early spring though, when the quality of air, even in Skopje, is well inside the recommended bracket. The readings would remain low throughout the entire summer, and early autumn as well.
Winter comes, make sure to wear a mask!
Placing this chapter at the very end of this guide does create a certain dose of reserve. But worry not. If you are the type of person who enjoys warm weather, winter is off the menu anyway. Spring and summer are very pleasant and enjoyable, and you will love the sunny and picturesque scenery Macedonia has to offer. Pack light, bring your sun cream and sunglasses, and treat yourself with a month long Macedonian vacation.
An outdoor junkie and an adventurous spirit who loves the mountain. Slavko regularly talks about travel, lifestyle design, holistic health and fitness. You can find his writings on popular magazines around the net, and his regular guides and columns in The Lifestyle Updated.