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Macedonia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

25,713 sq km (9,927.8 sq miles).

Population

2.1 million (2013).

Population density

81.2 per sq km.

Capital

Skopje.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Head of state

President Gjorge Ivanov since 2009.

Head of government

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski since 2006.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European round two-pin plugs are used.

Macedonia is a mountainous land in the heart of the Balkans, sprinkled with beautiful valleys and lakes. It has a rich Hellenic heritage.

The capital, Skopje, has many delights, including Kale Fortress, dating from the 10th century with its views over the capital, and the sixth-century Stone Bridge. Shop in the Old Bazaar (the largest in the Balkans), or revel in one of the many lively bars. Macedonia’s many churches and mosques, contain fine examples of art and architecture from the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Macedonia is blessed with outstanding natural beauty. Do not miss a trip to one of the large lakes, Pelister Mountains, Shar Planina in the West, and the fascinating rolling hills and mountains of the East with its rice fields. Ohrid, one of the oldest towns in Europe (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), nestles serenely on the shores of the lake of the same name and is the perfect place for a quiet retreat.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 28 February 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

Personal attacks against foreigners are extremely rare. Organised criminal groups are active, particularly in the north west of the country. Shooting incidents, including in Skopje do sometimes occur, but are not targeted at foreigners. Gunfire can also be heard as part of a celebration. You should be vigilant at all times.

There have been several cases of pick pocketing by gangs of children and bag snatches in the main shopping and entertainment areas late at night. Foreign nationals appear to have been specifically targeted. Make sure your personal possessions are secure.

In the event of civil disorder, stay indoors as much as possible, especially after dark, and avoid crowds and demonstrations.

Keep your passport in a secure place and carry a copy of your passport data page for identification. If your passport is lost or stolen report it immediately to the local police and the British Embassy Skopje on +389 (2) 3299 299 or consular.skopje@fco.gov.uk.

Local Travel

Travel near the border with Kosovo should be restricted to primary roads and daylight hours only.

Lorries transiting Macedonia borders may be subject to long delays before being allowed to cross. Make sure you have the proper customs documentation before arrival at the border.

Between November and February, Skopje and surrounding areas can experience thick fog. This can sometimes cause delays or diverted flights if visibility at Skopje airport is affected. Updates of arrivals and departures, as well as delays and cancellations due to weather conditions can be found on the Skopje airport website.

Road travel

Driving is on the right. Road conditions and driving standards vary widely. Driving styles differ significantly from those in UK. There are frequent accidents. Take care at all times while driving or on foot.

You can drive in Macedonia with either a UK licence or International Driving Permit.

By law all vehicles must use side lights/ dipped headlights during the day, and at night, on all roads. Not doing so will result in a fine of 45 Euros.

It is illegal to use mobile phones while driving.

It is a legal requirement for drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts.

Road speed limits in Macedonia are as follows: 130 km/h on highways, 110 km/h on roads reserved for motor vehicles and 60 km/h on roads in built up areas.

When travelling on major roads, you can pay the toll fare in Macedonian denars or in Euros by using cash or a credit card, Euro coins are also accepted.

The legal drink/drive limit in Macedonia is lower than in the UK. The blood alcohol limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or 0.5 per millilitre. Drink driving whilst over the limit can result in heavy fines and the possibility of arrest. There is a policy of zero tolerance for professional (eg HGV) drivers.

If you are taking your own car, you must have vehicle registration/ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. If you do not have a green card valid for Macedonia you will be charged a cash border insurance fee, the price of which depends on your vehicle. You should confirm that your insurance company recognises that your policy covers Macedonia.

In case of emergency, drivers may contact the police (telephone 192), the ambulance service (telephone 194), or roadside assistance (telephone 196).

In the event of an accident, don’t move a vehicle until the police have recorded the incident and allowed you to do so.

See the AA and RAC guides to driving in Macedonia.

Rivers and lakes

According to checks conducted by the State Sanitary and Health Inspectorate, the water in Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lakes are suitable for swimming, recreation and water sports.

However the rivers Vardar and Treska as well as Lake Treska are rated below the level suitable for swimming.

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