Things to do near Skopje: Visiting the Matka Canyon

visiting-matka-canyon

Only 15 km away from Skopje is the nature paradise of Matka Canyon. Matka is one of the most visited outdoor destinations in Macedonia & a great weekend getaway for Bulgarians.

If you’re visiting Skopje, I highly recommend you to take a day trip to Matka Canyon, or even stay there for a few days. The place is perfect for relaxation & offers a great variety of activities. 

About Matka Canyon

Matka is a canyon covering about 5 000 hectares. The canyon is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, 20% of which are endemic and only found here. 

The lake that sits at the beginning of the canyon is man-made. It’s a result of the damn built at the entrance. 

Matka canyon is also home to the most venomous snake in South Europe, the Viper.

There’s no entrance fee to the canyon. 

How to get from Skopje to the Matka Canyon

The best way to get from Skopje to Matka is to travel by car. I visited the canyon with a group of friends. We traveled between Sofia and Matka by car.

There is also public transportation going from Skopje to Matka.  If you want to visit Matka as a day trip from Skopje, or you just don’t have or want to rent a car, then you can take the bus. 

To get from Skopje to Matka by bus, you need to get bus #60 from Skopje’s central bus station. 

Alternatively, you can also get a taxi that shouldn’t cost more than 15 EUR, or join an organized tour

visiting-matka-canyon

Where to stay in Matka

If you decide to stay in Matka overnight, you can find plenty of accommodation options online. 

We were 5 in total and booked a whole floor in a house right next to the river. The house that we booked was this one. You can use my 25 EUR discount code if you decide to book the same place. 

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Get a 10% OFF discount on Booking.com

What to do in Matka

Kayaking

Kayaking is why we went to Matka in the first place. Not so long ago another friend of mine offered me to go there, but I couldn’t make it then. That was actually the first time when I heard about the existence of the canyon.

Kayaking on the man-made lake was a lot of fun.

They have kayaks that fit 1 or 2 people. You can rent them for half an hour, full hour, or for the whole day.

Prices (per kayak):

  • Single for 30 min: 150 MKD / 2.50 EUR
  • Single for 60 min: 300 MKD / 4.80 EUR
  • Double for 30 min: 250 MKD / 4 EUR
  • Double for 60 min: 500 MKD / 8 EUR

If you want to rent a kayak for longer, speak directly to the people.

visiting-matka-canyon

Cave diving

There are ten caves at Matka Canyon, but the most interesting one is the Vrelo Cave. The exact depth of the cave is unknown. Some people believe that it could be the deepest underwater cave in the world. No one so far has reached the bottom of the cave.

Cave diving is one of the activities offered at the Matka Canyon.

Boat trip

The boat trip along the canyon is probably the one thing that everyone does when visiting Matka Canyon. The boat trip takes about one hour and it includes a visit to the Vrelo Cave. The price is 400 MKD / 6.50 EUR.

There are shorter tours, too, but they don’t include a visit to the cave.

 

Hiking

Hiking around the Matka Canyon is also possible.

The scenery around the canyon is amazing so I can only imagine how beautiful would be to hike in this area. I didn’t do that personally as we were there for a limited time, but I saw other people exploring the paths.

You can combine hiking and kayaking. If you rent the kayak for the full day, you’ll have enough time to stop at some spots and continue the adventure walking.

Visit the monasteries

There are a few churches and monasteries that you can visit in Matka. Some of them will require you to cross the river. You can combine a visit to them with kayaking too.

I personally didn’t visit any of them as I am generally not interested in such kind of places.

Except for those things, swimming in the lake is also possible.

Matka Canyon tips:

  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • If you’re visiting Matka in summer, don’t forget sunscreen and a hat
  • Bring water & food – there are restaurants on the way, but you can also make a picnic
  • Remember, there is no entrance fee
  • Bring a dry bag where you can keep your camera, phone, etc while kayaking

The photos in this post have been taken with Panasonic Lumix FT7. The camera was given to me by Panasonic Bulgaria

Thanks for reading, 

Bilyana

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