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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.