Macedonia uses the Macedonian denar as its official currency. The plural of denar is denari so you may hear this term used when you travel there.
As with some other currencies around the world, the denar is the only unit of currency in Macedonia. In theory it is still divided into 100 deni but since this is not used anymore it is simply given for information only – there are no deni coins available now.
Instead you can use the 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 denari coins. Besides these you also have access to several banknotes, which are the 10, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 denari notes.
This is actually quite a new currency, which may come as a surprise since the country itself has a very long history. It has gone through a few currencies in its time though, and the first denar was introduced only in 1992, replacing the Yugoslav dinar when it did so. This currency was only in use for a year or so, although this state of affairs was planned for. In 1993 the second issue of the denar came out and it is this one that is still used in Macedonia today.
The first thing you need to know is that you cannot convert the Macedonian denar into any other currency when you’re outside the country. This means you won’t be able to get hold of it until you arrive there. It also means you’d better be sure to exchange as much as you can back into your chosen currency before leaving, otherwise you’ll be stuck with it unless you visit there again!
With that said you should find the best currency to take in is the euro. Not only is it easy to exchange when needed, you can also use it in a number of outlets. This gives you another handy option when it comes to paying for things. It’s usually not worth taking traveller’s cheques; you can exchange them but it’s far from being easy, so most people simply don’t bother. The best way to get cash is via the normal cash machine and there are quite a few of them around now. Bear in mind though that some more rural places are unlikely to have them. If you’re going anywhere that you’d deem to be off the beaten track or even outside of the main cities, make sure you have enough cash on you before you go.
As for credit cards you can use them but a little caution is required. Never let your card out of your sight and don’t assume everyone will be happy to accept them. Check all the bills before you pay them to make sure they are for the right amount. No one will be too concerned about you doing this. Check cash machines too in case they look as though they have been tampered with; it does happen, just as it probably does in your own country.
The best way is to use a currency converter. Most of the best ones will have the Macedonian denar included, and you can find it through the ISO code mentioned above (MKD). This should enable you to work out what the currency is worth when compared to your own. It might also be worth comparing its value to that of the euro, since you will very likely be taking this with you as well. Obviously you’ll be charged a commission whenever you exchange cash in Macedonia, but a converter will give you a rough idea of what to expect.
Knowing a little more about Macedonia before you go there is definitely a good idea. The country has an embassy in London and the website is well worth a visit. It has far more than just basic information about the country such as consular advice, so you can learn a lot with this as your starting point - http://www.missions.gov.mk/london/home/.
Macedonia is for the most part a safe country to go to. Of course there are certain things you should be aware of, as is the case wherever you go in the world. The best thing to do is to keep updated on the conditions in the country before you go, although there shouldn’t be too much concern over how safe it is to go there.
It pays to be aware of your surroundings, as crimes do happen here, but according to information gleaned from the UK government website most crimes seem to be against their own people rather than tourists. The main concern you will have is pickpocketing, which is sometimes done by children rather than adults. It just goes to show you should always be alert to who is around you, no matter how young or old they are. Bag snatching is another problem and although it is not widespread it can still present a risk if you don’t keep a tight hold on yours.
If you stay in a hotel make sure it offers you a room safe so you have somewhere to keep everything you own, such as your passport. Keep your jewellery to a minimum so you can reduce the risk to your person as well.
Macedonia is more properly called the Republic of Macedonia. It is located in the south-eastern part of Europe on a portion of land known as the Balkan Peninsula. There are several other countries meeting its borders too, starting with Serbia and Kosovo to the north. To the east you will find Bulgaria, while the southern reaches of Macedonia meet with Greece. Finally Albania is located to the west of the country.
The capital of the country is a city called Skopje, which is also the biggest of its kind in Macedonia. This is a city steeped in ancient history and it is also becoming something of an appealing choice for weekends away. Of all the sights there are to see here, the Skopje Fortress is perhaps one of the most appealing. It is a huge structure and is many hundreds of years old, dating from the 6th century.
In a city as old as this one you’d expect to see an Old Town, and you’d be right when visiting Skopje. Here it’s called the Old Bazaar and there are lots of charming shops and small streets to explore. This too is hundreds of years old and while it has suffered much damage during World Wars I and II, it always rose from the ashes to come back to life.
The border of the country where it meets Albania is home to Mount Korab, an impressive peak whose elevation rises to over 9,000 feet in height. There are smaller peaks within the range of mountains here too, so if you are in Macedonia and you want to do a spot of climbing (or even walking along the trails here) this is a great place to go to. There are some smaller hills and easier to climb areas as well, so you can still advance to a higher viewpoint even if your legs aren’t quite up for mountain climbing! It’s great for photo opportunities so don’t forget your camera.
Finally let’s mention one of the ancient sights in Macedonia, one that can be found in a place called Ohrid. To say the ancient theatre here is old is something of an understatement – it is believed to have been created way back in 200 BC! The remains are really something special when you consider how long they have been around for. There is but one section of it left but what remains is quite well preserved. Gladiators fought here during Roman times but it stood long before that and was used for a variety of purposes. Seeing a site like this does make you realise the extent of the history Macedonia has to offer its visitors. It can be quite a spectacular place.
If you were to consider all the countries in Europe today, Macedonia is possibly one of the less-likely ones you’d consider visiting. You may not even think of it initially, but as you can see there are lots of sights here, of which we have uncovered a mere few. The more research you do on Macedonia, the more you will realise just how many appealing features and destinations it has to offer.
There is plenty of opportunity here to go on a refreshing and pleasant city break to the likes of Skopje, or to explore the countryside and take in some mountainous scenery. Whatever type of holiday you prefer, there is sure to be something in Macedonia that makes it worthwhile to pay it a visit.