While green areas within the capital are vanishing one at a time, the Skopje City Park remains untouched. This is the largest nature hub, as well as the most beautiful park in the ever growing urban landscape of Skopje, Macedonia. The City Park, also referred by locals as Gradski Park, was built by the Ottoman Turks at the beginning of the 20th century.
City Park Skopje is one of the best places to go to if you want a quick getaway from the fast paced life in the centre of the metropolis. The park is located between the City Center and Karposh municipality, at a 15-minute walk to the City Square, following the Vardar River.
It’s the perfect place for having a picnic, or any other activity out in the open, like walking or jogging. With several small lakes this natural area looks even more dream-like and picturesque. Large trees providing their shade for a cover, benches to rest and a maze of pedestrian trails easily make this place the natural resort of the capital.
If you enjoy cultural events, music and art, there is a garden variety of Skopje City Park events to attend during spring and summer.
Getting to Skopje City Park
Conveniently placed, the City Park in Skopje is connecting several districts from the left to the right. With a number of entry points, the park itself can be reached from the main city square, the urban center, and the municipalities of Karpos 1, 2, 3 and 4. Needless to say, it covers a lot of ground.
If you are headed to the park from the center of Skopje, one option is to follow the Vardar River. The jogging trail stretches along the river, and around the perimeter of the park. It starts right below the much smaller park de la Francophonie, eventually reaching the municipality of Karpos 4 (located furthest from the center).
Right next to the Park de la Francophonie is the main entry gate to the Philip II arena. This is the largest stadium in the Republic of Macedonia, located at the very entrance of the Skopje City Park.
Another entry, if you are coming from the center of the city, is near the Government of the Republic of Macedonia. No signs available here, but you can easily find your way using online maps. At the very end, it connects to the Park de la Francophonie.
However, if you are coming from the other side of the park, and find yourself in front of the Government building, just take the main street and you’ll get to the official entrance. Locals refer to this area of the park as the Fountain, and most of the City park events are held within the general vicinity.
Conveniently enough, the Fountain is right across the street of Debar Maalo – the small and charming part of Skopje where most of the nightlife is taking place. If you are looking for hip cafes and urban bars, there is no better place to be.
Other entry points include the one near Skopje City Zoo, as well as few more along the river, accessed directly from the jogging trail.
The old area of the park, as locals call it, can be accessed near the Aleksandar Palace Hotel and the Sports Center Boris Trajkovski. This area of the park is less crowded, and much more picturesque. Make sure to go there while the sun is still up, for otherwise you can easily get lost.
Skopje City Park at night
With a mix between continental and Mediterranean climate, Skopje must adapt to each season. The park might be empty during winter by with the coming of spring it transforms itself to one of the most vibrant areas within the capital.
The nightlife in Skopje, diverse as it is, must start and end around the city park. All the bars, nightclubs, and hip cafes are nearby, and you can get from one place to the next mostly on foot.
Regardless of whether events are taking place or not, the park is always busy with people even after midnight. You’ll find groups of young folks, who gather to enjoy a drink, play guitar and socialize.
Macedonians are very warm and friendly people, so if you want to mingle and meet somebody, you should definitely visit the park after 9PM. Most locals are super friendly, and would love to welcome foreigners in their group, showing them around.
Make sure to visit the Shell, where music events are often taking place during evening hours, and definitely visit the nearby nightclubs such as Havana and Marakana.
An Interesting story related to the Skopje City Park
There are many interesting stories about friendship, love and good vibes that took their place in this park. The most interesting one, however, is about the introduction of the pedestrian roads cutting through the park.
The designer who took upon this task decided to wait for the first snow. Pedestrians, according to his reasoning, were about to chart the trails for themselves. His job was to then mark these trails and voila! With his creativity a profoundly democratic solution emerged – crowdsourced and validated, the trails were reflecting where people would normally traverse.
Places to visit around the Skopje City Park
Being conveniently located in the center of the city, the park itself is close to many places that warrant a visit.
Deep within the park you’ll find a number of lakes, small romantic bridges, and willow trees that create a fairytale of their own. Less crowded during the week, and during business hours, these are some of the most magical places to be.
Central Park Café
Central Park Skopje Café is located in the old part of the park. The Café is located right next to a small picturesque lake, and the lounge area resembles a wooden deck. If you get bored with your cappuccino, you can rent a kayak form the folks at the bar, and enjoy the unprecedented experience of paddling across the beautiful lake.
The National Arena “Phillip II of Macedonia”
Phillip II Arena is a sophisticated multi-purpose stadium, named after the ancient king of Macedon. Used mostly for football matches and music concerts this is the largest arena in Macedonia.
Popular for its café bars, restaurants and traditional kafanas, Debar Maalo is a very unique neighbourhood. If Paris has Montmartre, and we are forced to draw an analogy, Debar Maalo is definitely the place.
Make sure to visit some of the Kafanas, which are traditional Macedonian restaurants with live music, ethno atmosphere and gourmet cuisine.
The Skopje Zoo
The Skopje Zoo is perhaps one of the oldest in the Balkans. It is home to over 495 animals from 96 species – mostly mammals, though there are lots of birds and reptiles. The Zoo in Skopje is an amazing place to spend a quality afternoon, and it is one of the most frequented places in Macedonia.
Recently renovated, with heavy investments coming from the private sector, the Skopje Zoo is on par with some of the most popular zoos in Central Europe.
The Macedonian Museum of Natural History
Right next to the Skopje Zoo, you’ll notice the Macedonian Museum of Natural History – a place where the natural wealth of the country is studied and exhibited. They run a number of educational activities and thematic exhibitions for children so if you are here with your family, make sure to spend one hour inside. With a collection of more than 270.000 specimens of minerals, rocks, plants, fossils, insects, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds, the Macedonian museum of national history is one of the most underrated places in Skopje.
When is the best time to visit Skopje City Park?
The high tourist season in Skopje starts from June and lasts till September. Nevertheless, Gradski Park is beautiful at any time of the year. It is especially crowded during the late spring season when the climate is perfect for an outdoor picnic under the sun.
But if you like to enjoy the full scope of the Skopje City Park experience, make sure to visit the capital during the summer. Drinking your morning coffee, kayaking through the lakes, enjoying the vibrant macedonian nightlife… whatever else might be said, the summer months are hard to match!
If you are visiting the city during autumn, the whole park would be dressed in a palate of colors. During the winter season snow would make a lot of difference – the park would be a cold, muddy place, or a snowy fairytale. If the temperature falls way below zero, you might see people walking on top of some of the lakes – not a thing we would recommend though!
Where to stay near Skopje City Park?
The center of the capital is very close, so all options remain open. Hotels, hostels, apartment buildings… everything is few minutes away from the park. However, if you want to get up and have your morning coffee or breakfast near the park, the list shrinks down.
City Park Hotel Skopje
City Park Hotel in Skopje is located at the very intersection between Debar Maalo and the Park. It offers elegant rooms with park views that come with individually controlled heating and cooling systems. The hotel is rated for the best value in Skopje, and it is excellent for couples in particular. City Park Hotel Skopje offers free bike hire, rent-a car, a fully-equipped gym, restaurant and bar, as well as discounts in more than 20 restaurants in Skopje. It also has its own exchange office with no commission. Located in the hip neighbourhood, it is surrounded with cafes, kafanas and trendy locales aplenty.
Park Hotel and Spa Skopje
Park Hotel and Spa is located in the heart of the City Park, right next to the river Vardar, surrounded by greenery and it is featuring a magnificent view of the Kale Fortress. This hotel is quite authentic and it is definitely among the best accommodation facilities in the country. It features a sun terrace by the river, a huge spa and fitness centre with professional equipment, and a large playground for children.
Whatever else might be said, Skopje City Park is a unique place in the capital where people gather to enjoy the healthy lifestyle, have fun and socialize. Artistic and music events, big concerts, football matches, or some casual time with friends all find their place within this green paradise in the center of Skopje. If you are visiting Macedonia, make sure to spend at least one afternoon visiting the park. And if you are here for the nightlife, there is no better place from where you can start partying than the Skopje City Park.
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.