Western Macedonia

If you are looking for a region of Greece, see West Macedonia.

A land of scenic mountains, lakes, forests, and fields sandwiched between the Povardarie region and Albania, Western Macedonia is where a casual traveller will likely spend most of his/her time in the country as it houses most of the attractions that Macedonia is known for.

Cities

St John Church on the Lake Ohrid

Other destinations

Understand

Escape Skopje past the mountains towards west, and one of the first thing you notice in the landscape are the red Albanian flags of the double-headed eagle, small and huge, flying everywhere... houses, utility posts, gas stations... If it's summer, you can also see long queues of cars celebrating a wedding, again flying the eagle banners. Don't worry—you have not crossed unknowingly into Albania, this region is where the Albanians of Macedonia mainly live in. They seem to be a pretty nationalistic community, and the ethnic identities play an important role in daily lives in this country.

Then move towards the mountains to south, where the ancients named "the land of the lynx", and south of Kičevo, the minarets give way for the belfries and huge hilltop crosses, and the Albanian banners for the flag of the Macedonian sun. With a small chapel clinging to the mountainsides now and then, the lush scenery on the other side of the window keeps going like this, until you reach the territory of multiculturalism back in Ohrid.

Get in

Buses from Skopje depart for most, if not all, of the towns in Western Macedonia. Some of them have a train service, too, with one particular exception being Ohrid.

Get around

Again, buses will be your most likely mode of transportation in the region. Those preferring to self-drive have little to worry about in the flatlands of the north, where a motorway/toll-road forms the backbone of the local traffic between Skopje, Tetovo, and Gostivar. However, in the mountainous realm south of Gostivar, you are back into the narrow Yugoslav-era roads full of sharp turns, yet no signs warning the drivers against them—late night driving is best left to the locals.

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