While I was in Kavadarci, my friend suggested that I should travel to Bitola before heading back to Skopje. At first, I had wanted to go to Ohrid, but it is a little too far for a day trip. In fact the roads on the way to Bitola were under construction, so the journey from Kavadarci took 1.5 hours. And that’s only half way to Ohrid. Also, the trip back to Skopje was just over 2.5 hours. I’m glad I decided to travel to Bitola instead, as I enjoyed exploring the area. Bitola is a beautiful and historic city, and it was a former capital of the area during Ottoman Empire times. However, the city is even older, and the well-preserved ruins at Heraclea Lyncestis show the pre-Roman and Roman settlement.
Bitola is located along the Dragor river, and one can walk along the river in the centre of the city. Many of the streets in the city centre are for pedestrians only, which makes it a nice place for people to gather. In fact, the Shirok Sokak area was buzzing with people shopping and having coffee at the many cafes. In contrast, the one museum in the city was relatively empty. I would recommend a visit though, as there are many things to see and learn about. There are different sections for archaeology, Macedonian history and art. One of the ladies working there also told me not to miss seeing Heraclea Lyncestis, the site where many of the archaeological artefacts came from. I hadn’t realised it was so close, less than ten minutes drive away, and it was a highlight of the area.
- Shirok Sokak pedestrian streets with shops and cafes
- Magnolia Square
- Bitola Clock Tower and City sign
- Heraclea Lyncestis archaeological site
- Heraclea Lyncestis waterfall
- Bitola Green Market
- Walking around the old town streets, enjoy the architecture
- Yeni and Ishak Chelebi Mosques
- St. Demetrius of Solun church
- National Institute and Bitola Museum
Before you go
- Bitola is a medium-size city and most of the restaurants and cafes are open all week. However, many shops are closed on Sunday
- The city parking is not expensive but ensure to pay the fee to avoid getting a fine. There is usually a parking attendant who gives you a ticket- cash only
- A lot of the centre is for pedestrians only so try to park on the edge of the city centre
- Some people spoke English, but having a translation app like GoogleTranslate is useful
- The main way to reach Bitola from the airport or Skopje is to hire a car. There is no public transport so I hired the car from Sixt within the Marriott Hotel in Skopje. It was easy and very centrally-located.
- A car is needed to get around the area for sightseeing
- Within the city centre of Bitola, it is easy to move around on foot
- I visited Bitola only for the day, so did not stay in any accommodation. However, I would recommend checking Booking.com for suggestions and ratings. Also, a local friend recommended Hotel Epinal.
- Bitola is about 1.5 hours from Kavadarci, where I was staying at the Hotel Wine Cellar Popovi
Unfortunately, I did not get to try any of the restaurants recommended by my friend from Bitola. I had a limited amount of time, and needed to drive back to Skopje in the daylight hours. Therefore, I just had some quick foods from Restaurant Bure, Slatkarnica Stela and Pekara Laguna.
Restaurant Bure was a very quirky and fun restaurant-cafe. The outside was completely full on a sunny day, so I had a table inside. The decor is unique, and the table was made out of a piano covered with glass on top. The door handles were phone handsets, and a giant hourglass sat in the middle of the room. I enjoyed a raspberry mousse cake and tea. Those eating food around seemed to be happy too.
The cherry cake from Slatkarnica Stela was delicious! The staff were very friendly and carefully boxed up the cake for me to take away. It was difficult to decide what to order as everything looked good.
And finally, for a quick lunch I stopped at Pekara Laguna. The guy there was super friendly and explained the different fillings to me since I couldn’t read anything. The sesame cheese bread was fresh and delicious. I had also ordered a spinach cheese bread. However, I must admit that I ended up dropping it when I pulled the other bread out of the bag. Therefore, although I know it looked great, I didn’t get to taste it.
Additionally, I will share the few places that were recommended and hopefully will try next time. Cafe Pajton on Shirok Sokak was buzzing and looked like a great place to have coffee and cake. There is a covered terrace.
KusKus is on a quiet side street and seemed popular for locals and tourists. They serve Macedonian food and also pizzas. And their menus are in Macedonian and English.
As well as being a hotel, Hotel Epinal also has a popular restaurant. This was also recommended by my friend, and it seemed very busy!
Finally for drinks and entertainment, Porta Jazz is the place to go in town.
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: No, it is easy to walk around the town and see the sights. And also to get to the Heraclea Lyncestis ruins nearby, although you need a car.
Q: Do people speak English?
A: It is mixed, but less people speak English than in the capital of Skopje. Therefore, GoogleTranslate or similar can be very useful. Also, since the alphabet is Cyrillic, the camera function is helpful for instant translation. It is not perfect, but usually you can get the main idea.
Q: Is it a walkable city?
A: Yes, the city centre is walkable. In fact, there is a long pedestrian street called Shirok Sokak
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