Every year, shopping in Macedonia is a pleasant experience for many tourists that are visiting this marvelous small country from all around the world. There are varieties of products with low mark-ups that you can buy from traditional souvenir shops, or products of world famous brands sold in shopping malls that sell quality goods at very affordable prices. That’s the reason why Macedonia is among the most attractive travel destinations for shopping in this part of Europe. If you are a tourist who is visiting this country for the first time, here are a couple of ideas for what to buy in Macedonia.
What is Macedonia famous for?
Despite the adventure tourism that is affordable beyond your wildest dreams, Macedonia is the pinnacle of the Balkan gastronomic experience. On top of that you have religion and culture, expressed by captivating monuments from the past. But even nature alone, if you are not a culture aficionado, is worth the visit.
Having a colorful history, Macedonia is also famous for handicrafts, souvenirs and traditional ethno elements that you can purchase at what is more or less a symbolic price.
As a newbie tourist in the Balkans, you should be aware that small local shops and markets in Macedonia provide an abundant assortment of authentic traditional souvenirs that reflect its cultural heritage. They offer a rich variety of high quality souvenir products – from national clothes, home decoration products, and traditional music instruments, to Macedonian traditional food with unique flavor.
Whether you are shopping for Macedonian souvenirs in order to enrich your experience as a traveler, or looking for authentic traditional Macedonian gifts for your friends and family back home, there are plenty of goodies to choose from – What a better way to remember this beautiful country?
Traditional Macedonian Souvenirs to select from
The traditional Macedonian souvenirs are definitely some of the things that you should buy in Macedonia. They reflect the colorful history and national beauty. At the Old Bazaar there is an abundance of items you can choose from, so here is what to buy in Macedonia:
- Religious artifacts and iconography – like gilded icons of Christian saints, jeweled crosses, marble statues of ancient gods.
- Modern art like wooden carvings of landscapes, altar pieces and carved boxes.
- A piece of jewelry made by local craftsmen. These include:
- Macedonian filigree – an art form of designing metal jewelry with silver. It goes as far back as the period of Turkish occupation.
- The bright and beautiful Ohrid pearls that will satisfy even the acquired taste.
- Less luxurious but meaningful pieces of memorabilia: postcards of national monuments, souvenirs with the beautiful Macedonian flag, a picture book of landscapes, maps, refrigerator magnets, t-shirts with slogans etc. Some of these are cliché, I hear you saying, but sometimes even clichés can substantially add to the euphoria.
- Other authentic Macedonian souvenirs such as: ceramics, embroidery, traditional Macedonian costumes and textile items, traditional decorated footwear made from genuine leather i.e. “Opinci”, felts, dolls in folk costumes, mugs, copper and clay dishes, vases, authentic candlestick holders, wall decoration items, the famous Macedonian woven carpets.
- Definitely don’t hesitate about traditional musical instruments such as Gaida, Tapan, and Shupelka if you happen to find a good deal.
There are many antique items which collectors will appreciate immensely, so do make sure to scan the Old Bazar. A day of wandering around traditional storefronts, and hunting for the best deals you can find – tell me a better way to pass an afternoon.
Traditional Macedonian food to taste
Macedonia has a simple, but satisfying national cuisine that allows you to eat abundantly but still preserve some balance. Traditionally, even though it shares characteristics of other neighboring Balkan cuisines: Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek and Albanian, there is still a number of unique, tasty, nutritious and easy to make Macedonian dishes that you cannot find at any other place in the world.
The country’s warm climate provides amazing growth conditions for a variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Macedonia is also famous for its quality and unique dairy products and traditional wines. Tavche-gravhe, along with Ajvar, is considered the national food, and Rakija the national alcoholic drink of Macedonia. Here is a list of the most important things you should remember about Macedonian food and cuisine:
Most of the Macedonian dishes are made either of vegetables and beans, or dairy products, meat and fish. Mixing is also common, but Macedonians want to experiment with a single category of products before they move on to the next.
Here is a list of dishes and meals that you simply cannot go home without trying.
- Ajvar, Tavce-Gravche, Shopska salad, chevapi, Burek, Pastrmajlija, Selsko meso, Sarma, Stuffed Peppers, and Mekici.
You should also get your hands on some local cheese, yogurt, and Macedonian pastry. Pies are indeed one heavenly experience.
Macedonian wines and beverages
As a gastronomic souvenir from Macedonia you can bring home a jar of Macedonian Ajvar, grape Rakia, a bottle of table wine, and fragrant Turkish coffee.
To get your heart racing, however, you should definitely try a strong white or yellow “Rakija”, or the liqueur “Mastika”. For the acquired taste, there is plenty of local red wine to enjoy, and some strong and flavor rich local beer.
Shopping in Skopje
The capital of Macedonia is the center for Macedonian shopping. Here you can visit the three biggest shopping centers which offer a wide range of clothing, shoes and accessories: The “Ramstore Mall”, which is located in the city center, “Skopje City Mall” which sells brand items from popular world brands, and “City Shopping Center”, where you can buy inexpensive clothing of great quality items from some quality Macedonian brands.
Don’t worry if your stomach is full after eating a traditional Macedonian dish and you are not really able to walk, because shopping centers in the city of Skopje are open daily from 10am to 10pm and individual shops and stores usually close around 8-9pm. If you are visiting Skopje in the first half of winter or the second half of summer you can shop on discounted prices because seasonal sales take place at these periods of the year.
If you are into souvenirs and want to bring home to your loved ones some traditional Macedonian gifts, you should head straight to the Old Town, where you’ll see one the largest old bazaars in Europe.
Shopping in Bitola
The second largest city in Macedonia, Bitola offers another pleasant shopping experience. The main road of the city is called Shirok Sokak Street, where you can found shops on both sides with every single item that a tourist can wish for. You should certainly look for bookshops, art salons, antique and wine shops, as well as fashion boutiques and another palate of traditional Macedonian souvenirs. While you are there, don’t miss to visit the Old Bazaar, one of the most ancient markets in the country, which is a very charming place full of colors.
Shopping in Ohrid
The most popular summer destination Ohrid, offers an equally rich shopping experience for a tourist. Ohrid is a big religious and cultural centre and it has only a small bazaar consisting of a single street with shops, café bars, jewelry shops, and boutiques.
Among the most popular gifts that are bought in Ohrid by locals and tourists are pearl jewelry and filigree, as well as other souvenirs mentioned in the paragraphs above. If you are visiting Ohrid for the first time and you want to buy some pearls, you should know that in the city there are two families, Talevi and Filevi whose members are traditionally engaged in manufacture and sale of jewelry and souvenirs inlaid with Ohrid pearls such as necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, brooches.
Moreover, Ohrid is where you can find handmade carvings, jewelry made of precious metals as well as CDs with authentic Macedonian folklore music.
Why shopping in Macedonia is a remarkable experience?
Whether you want to bring home some souvenirs from your trip, or just want to surprise friends and family with authentic gifts, Macedonia has plenty to offer. This small but charming country can satisfy even those with a worn passport.
If you’ve been wondering what to buy in Macedonia, now you know – from the souvenir shop down the street, to the Old Bazar and gastronomic paradise of Skopje, all the way down to Ohrid where history and religion are embedded within attractive artifacts, Macedonian souvenirs are more than just memorabilia.
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.