After parking our car in the center of Rostuše, a small village within the bounds of the Mavrovo National Park, we set off to find the Duf Waterfall. This was an easy hike of about forty minutes, following a well-marked trail from the main road.
The Mavrovo National Park extends out into the hills south of Gostivar. Although relatively unknown outside the country, Mavrovo has long been a popular vacation spot for Macedonians, and it's not hard to see why. This is a region of stunning natural beauty, especially when seen from the shores of Mavrovo Lake.
Just outside the town of Gradsko is one of Macedonia's newest and most successful wineries: Stobi, named in honor of the nearby Roman ruins which we had already visited.
A sprawling set of ruins just off the highway near the town of Gradsko, Stobi is the largest archaeological site in Macedonia. Thanks to its strategic location at the confluence of the rivers Crna and Vardar, Stobi was an important city for both the Paeonian Kingdom and the Romans, until being abandoned after a major earthquake in 518 AD.
On the slopes of Mount Vodno in the village of Gorni Nezeri, is one of the most important monasteries in Macedonia. Pantelejmon was built in the 12th century, and still preserves some of the country's oldest Byzantine frescoes.
We had already spent two great nights in Demir Kapija at the Popova Kula Winery, but our thirst was only growing. So on the way out of town, we stopped by Macedonia's most historic winery, the Vinarija Elenov.
While visiting Demir Kapija, we spent two nights in Popova Kula, a small winery that also operates as a hotel. We had a chance to tour the grounds, spread across a vine-blanketed hill outside of town, and try out a few of their best wines.
Demir Kapija is a small town in the wine region of central Macedonia. The name is Turkish for "Iron Gate," referring to a natural gorge in the hills south of town. Besides a couple of great wineries, Demir Kapija is known for its hiking and rock climbing opportunities.
Just outside downtown Skopje is the municipality of Šuto Orizari, commonly known as Šutka and home to 18,000 of Macedonia's Roma population. We took a taxi to Šutka's market, to see what life is like in Europe's largest Roma settlement.
Macedonia's wine industry is on the rise. The warm Mediterranean climate of the valleys which run through the center of the country has provided perfect grape-growing conditions since the days of the Romans, but the region is only now being discovered by the world at large. In the final weeks of our stay, we set off to explore Macedonia's vineyards. First stop: Štip and the Imako Vino Winery.