Matka Canyon in Macedonia in 1 Day

Matka Canyon is the ideal day trip from Skopje for anyone who loves nature, cool rocks and hiking. It’s hard to believe that this incredible canyon is just 15km away from the busy urban streets of Macedonia’s capital city.

Ready to escape the city for an afternoon of hiking, Luke and I excitedly ran out to catch a bus from Skopje to Matka Canyon. We spent a little while peering at signs on bus tops to see if we could find bus 60. Eventually we asked at the bus station, followed some unclear directions, looked at a few more bus stops, and finally found the right bus.

There were a lot of stops as we made our way out of the city. Locals getting on and off, stopping at shopping malls and driving through a small towns, until we finally reached the edge of the Matka Canyon. We jumped off and started our way up the path for an afternoon hike through the canyon.

Start of Matka canyon Macedonia - Charlie on Travel

Hiking in Matka Canyon

Covering 5000 hectares, Matka Canyon is nothing short of huge and you can hike through it for hours and hours. We took a straightforward path that goes right through. The path through the canyon is quite narrow, but nothing too dramatic. Not that it stopped Luke from panicking that I would fall off the edge – which despite being clumsy-footed, isn’t something I’ve ever come near to.

Vertical Matka canyon Macedonia - Charlie on Travel

In the winter, hiking through Matka Canyon is really the only activity. However, in the summer, you can go kayaking on the lake and explore further afield. There are several historic churches and monasteries around Matka Canyon which can be accessed from various other hiking trails if you have more time.

Charlie in Matka canyon Macedonia - Charlie on Travel small

Luke smiles in Matka canyon Macedonia - Charlie on Travel small

As we followed the winding path round corners and through crevices through Matka Canyon, the sun shone on our faces, keeping us warm in the cold winter air.

Sunlight in Matka canyon Macedonia - Charlie on Travel

Where to Eat in Matka Canyon

Right at the beginning of the trail through Matka Canyon is Restaurant Canyon Matka, where we stopped for a light lunch. It was a little more expensive than the usual kind of place that we would sit down to eat, but we hadn’t planned too far ahead that day and the traditional Macedonian food was really good. I’d go as far as to say that the ajvar (a relish made from red peppers) was the best we had in Macedonia!

Restaurant in Matka canyon Macedonia - Charlie on Travel

How to Get to Matka Canyon from Skopje

You can take bus 60 to Matka Canyon from Skopje’s main bus station. It took us a little while to locate the right bus stop, which is just outside of the main bus station building, next to the petrol station. There’s a row of numbered signs (not in numerical order) and number 60 is about half way up the row. You can buy tickets, which cost 75 denar each way, on-board the bus. The bus takes 45-60 minutes depending on traffic and stops.

Matka Canyon was just one tiny part of our slow travel route around Macedonia. If you’re travelling in Macedonia, don’t miss this beautiful canyon.

Charlie Marchant

Charlie is a long-term traveller from the UK who writes about simple ways to travel sustainably, including how to become a house sitter and slow traveller, eating local and vegetarian, and making responsible travel choices.

13 thoughts to “Matka Canyon in Macedonia in 1 Day”

  1. Heading there a year to the date that you did! It’s my birthday and I can’t think of a better place to head.
    Did you visit the 627 year old church? I read it was near the cafe. Do the trails loop, ad their maps etc? We leave in a few days and I’m so excited. :)

  2. Hi Charlie, I’m female, going there solo using public transport, do you think hiking through the canyon alone is safe? is there other people there when you were hiking? Hope to hear from you. :)

    1. Hi Hongli. Yes, I think it would be safe to go on your own to the canyon. There were lots of people – particularly couples – walking through the canyon when we were there. I would recommend not leaving it too late to catch the bus back from the canyon though, as it can get dark quite quicky when the sun sets :) Hope that helps!

  3. Do you remember how long the hike was through the canyon? I will be in Skopje later this month and this might be a good day trip for me.

    1. If you’re an early riser and can put in the miles there is actually a route from Matka all the way back to the Cross. We missed 2 buses from Skopje to Matka because of the confusion of actually getting these buses but we read it was do able in a day if you didn’t stay in the valley of Matka. I also read that in the warm months you can ‘wild’camp, so it depends on your capabilities, etc.

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