Skopje Highlight: Matka Canyon

Skopje, Macedonia

Matka Canyon was one of the few things I really wanted to do while in Skopje. This limestone gorge is easily reachable by public transportation from downtown Skopje and a perfect day trip destination for nature lovers. The walls above the canyon offers hiking trails and climbing. In the summer it’s also possible to kayak the Treska river.

by Jaime Pérez
St. Andrew monastery at the beginning of Matka Canyon

The canyon is a popular destination to Skopje city dwellers, providing relief from often-stifling summer heat. Because of the water and the shades provided by canyon walls, it is so much cooler there in the canyon.

There are caves and monasteries that you can visit. A motorboat can take you to one of the caves.

Jack and I chose to rent a kayak by the hour. We rowed and rowed until our backs ache and our fingers numb but we saw no sign of any caves. Maybe if we had spent more time rowing in a straight line, and less time spraying each other with our paddles and zig zagging like a pin ball, we’d have gone further. But what would be the fun in that?

Kayaking Matka Canyon
Kayaking Matka Canyon
Canyon walls
Canyon walls
Matka Canyon
Everytime I turned around to take a pic, the kayak tilted dangerously. Eeek!
Notice the giant piton and carabiner?

So pretty

We tried to catch a glimpse of climbers on the canyon walls, but I don’t think there were any when we were there.

We passed a bunch of giggly teenagers on kayaks but soon it was just us and and the canyon walls. There was a cool breeze that felt heavenly on our sweaty skin. Birds belied their presence by their chirps and squawks. Only passing motorboats break the silence of nature. We waved to them on their way upstream. They passed us again on their way back. They might go faster, but if you ask me, kayaking is the way to go.

We had a great time at Matka. No, an awesome time. It was definitely a highlight of our visit to Skopje.

Visiting Matka Canyon

By public transportation: Bus 60 from Skopje’s main bus station. The bus stop is outside of the main bus station building, next to the petrol station. It takes roughly an hour.

Kayaking Matka Canyon: after we got back to the kayak rental spot, we learned that the nearest cave would take hours of kayaking to get to (I forgot the exact distance, but I remember thinking, “Man, so glad we didn’t try to get there”. So if you really want to see the cave, go on the motorboat.

Tour option: Because we were short on time, we took a half day tour from Viator (this tour here) that includes a visit to the Millenium Cross and St. Pantelejmon church. At less than $30, it’s a great deal.

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