10 January 2012

Budget Vacation Guide 2012: Macedonia

Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Macedonia has hidden beneath the radar. While Croatia and Montenegro receive sustained coverage for their coastlines and Slovenia pops up here and there as a budget-friendly alternative to pricey Switzerland, landlocked Macedonia has received short shrift.
The country remains shut out of major Europe-wide organizations over its very name, which the Greek government contests as a stealthy move toward an eventual invasion of the northern Greek region of Macedonia. It's a ludicrous proposition, and it has kept Macedonia far more isolated than it should be.
Macedonia's reputation as a tourist destination has slowly grown over the last few years, and with good reason. The country offers amazingly good value for money. Transportation, accommodation, food, and tourist attractions are all inexpensive. The country's chief draws are Lake Ohrid, which Macedonia shares with Albania, and its scattered monasteries. Lake Ohrid is starkly beautiful, great for swimming and water sports. It's anchored by the city of Ohrid, itself spilling over with churches, fortresses, and other objects of historical interest.
Monasteries abound in Macedonia. One of these, Treskavec, is located near the town of Prilep in the south. There are marked hiking trails winding up hills to the monastery. At the top, you'll find accommodation for the cost of a small donation. A simple dinner is even included in the deal.
If Macedonian tourism taps into its treasures the right way, this country should see its current trickle of tourists become a modest stream.

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