Tetovo (Albanian: Tetovë, Macedonian: Тетово) is a town tucked into the northwestern corner of Western Macedonia, in the shadow of the Šar Mountains. The town has about 65,000 people, making it the third largest city in Macedonia.


The population of Tetovo is majority ethnic Albanian, with a minority of Macedonians and others. While the city is often known as the unofficial capital of the Albanians of Macedonia, and expressions of Albanian national pride, in the form of flag waving from houses and cars, and graffitis depicting the map of the "Greater Albania", are common, this is by no means an exclusively Albanian city, and referring to it as such will offend the non-Albanian residents, particularly the ethnic Macedonians—and you can never know who you have been talking to.

The Roman alphabet, in which the Albanian language is written, dominates throughout the city, while Cyrillic signage can be seen on one of the main streets which is probably the part of the city where the Macedonian community gathers.

Travellers will be rewarded with local hospitality and beautiful scenery in Tetovo.


Although there may have been inhabitants in Tetovo's area as early as the Bronze Age, Tetovo was officially mentioned for a first time in the beginning of 13th century as a small medieval Orthodox settlement around the Sveta Bogorodica church in the upper part of town.

At the end of the 14th century, Tetovo, along with all of Macedonia, fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. As the Muslim population in Macedonia began to expand in the early Ottoman period mosques, baths, and markets began to appear as early as the 15th century. Tetovo under Ottoman tutelage became an important trade center for the local farmers and craftsmen, as well as an important military fortification. Turkish influence deeply impacted Tetovo and it was renamed Kalkandelen (Turkish for "shield breaker", in honour of the blacksmiths of the city then, who should have been producing powerful swords and spears) to reinforce the new Islamic presence. Haci Halife in the 17th century noted in his writings that Kalkandelen was expanding at an amazing rate in its lowland areas.

By the 19th century, when the population of Tetovo began to increase with settlement from the surrounding villages, the French traveler Ami Bue noted that the population had reached about 4,500 people. In 1912, due to the Balkan wars, Tetovo became a Serbian city. In World War II Tetovo was jointly ruled by Italy and its regime in Albania. The Communist Party of Macedonia, was formed on March 19th 1943 in Tetovo.

Today, Tetovo is prosperous city with many private companies, stores, two universities and lots a things to see.

Get in

By train

By bus

By car

The highway Skopje-Gostivar goes through Tetovo. It is very nice and smooth road, but you have to pay on pay-tolls to drive on it twice (once while leaving Skopje, and once again on the approach to Tetovo), price 30 denars each time.


Arabati Baba Teke

Further afield

Lake Mavrovo, Mavrovo National Park





Tetovo is a food paradise. It is said that Tetovo produces the best Burek, a sort of greasy, phyllo dough pastry filled with cheese or ground meat that is popular throughout the Balkan peninsula. It resembles a cheese pie, but contains more fat and has stronger flavour. Also, by general consent, it is much more delicious. Some vendors sell other varieties such as apple, spinach or pizza burek (frequently just a combination between the meat and cheese Burek).

The Shopska salad is another phenomenal, yet simple, dish to be found in Tetovo. It consists of chopped up tomato, cucumber, onion, oil, a little salt and a generous topping of a domestic feta-like cheese. The local feta is usually less sharp than feta typically found in the west by a considerable margin. Most websites with recipes simply call it a brined sheep cheese and the French are known to make a similar feta. Another local trademark is the 'Urnebes' salad, literally translated as 'chaos' or 'pandemonium' - basically cream cheese in oil mixed with ground peppers, garlic and sometimes sesame.

Sharska Pleskavica, burger with yellow cheese, contains a concoction of spiced ground beef, pork and lamb. It may be served in a bun, pita bread or by itself on a plate depending on where you get one. It usually is accompanied by onions, a paprika based sauce and in the case of the fast-food-esque vendors you'll have a variety of sauces and toppings to accompany it.

Vegetarians had been almost totally neglected in Balkan regions until recently, but now most restaurants will have some options for them, too. Vegans might encounter more problems, although most are usually solved with the help of kind local restaurant owners. Note the traditional fasting periods, especially in April before Orthodox Easter holidays, when many restaurants offer fish and non-animal food, including some specialties.


Tap water is drinkable in Tetovo. Locals like to boast that, Tetovo has the best water on Balkans. Although this claim can probably be contested, the water from the central supply system is drunk by most residents. More cautious visitors are advised to buy bottled water in any shop: a variety of brands are available.

There is a throng of cafes in downtown Tetovo, most of which serve various coffee drinks, beers and liquors. Some specialty bars serve a more limited scope of beverages.

Local wines are usually of the best of quality. The more expensive the better. International brands are offered in most bars.

Rakija, a powerful brandy made from various fruits (usually plum or grape), is a local favorite. Attention: some kinds may be pretty strong for a newbie.


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