Photo Credit: Shutterstock


We visited the capital of North Macedonia to discern if the iconic verse – “Skopje – where the eternal sun shines” – from one of the best-known songs in Former Yugoslavia is still true in April 2023. Our visit aimed to see how the meetings industry in North Macedonia has changed and how the city places on the international market. There have been tremendous changes since our last visit. Numerous new players appeared on the market, while some disappeared. Perhaps most telling of the city’s transformation is that 55,000 m2 of surfaces once occupied by the Skopje Fair transformed into the largest shopping centre in North Macedonia. East Gate Shopping Centre illustrates the transition taking North Macedonia by storm. Within this monumental transition, it seems the meetings industry has little space. Trade shows seem to have vanished alongside the personnel, tradition, the multiplicative effects of events and strong trade show brands. The Slovenian trade company that took over the Skopje Fair and promised a revival of trade show activities is no more than a distant memory today.

Years will pass before the revival of the formerly most important industry in Skopje. Significant investments into the infrastructure will be needed. Still, no one in Skopje seems to be too bothered. The city bets on weekend tourists, who are hard to miss when visiting Skopje. The entire tourist infrastructure is adapting to their needs, which is most evident in the gastronomic offer. The cuisine is as eclectic as the architecture of Skopje. The meetings industry in Skopje is developing lazily and is supported chiefly by private investors. Skopje Convention Bureau is non-existent, and curious event organisers have no option but to seek information about the city’s meetings offer on Uncle Google or rely on the locals’ advice. The best way to see the city’s potential is by visiting Skopje. In our opinion, experiencing Skopje will change your perspective. As it turns out, the city is an excellent and trustworthy meeting destination. But do leave the stereotypes at the doors of the airport.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Up to 2014, Hotel Aleksander Palace was the most reliable choice when attending conferences in the city. Still today, the hotel is a solid five-star hotel, slightly away from the city centre. International hotel chains discovered Skopje after the grand architectural renovation of Skopje in 2014. Marriott was the first to expand its footprint here, opening its hotel in 2016. Skopje Marriott is located next to the colossal, 22-metre-high statue of Alexander the Great on Macedonia Square. Four years later, DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje opened its doors on the edge of Skopje. The same year, Hotel Panoramika Design & Spa welcomed its first guests at the food of Vodno Hill. The latest hotel addition is Hotel Limak, just off the shopping complex named Diamond of Skopje. The investment worth 250 million EUR is being constructed by the Turkish corporation Limak. The legendary Holiday Inn hotel underwent a thorough renovation this year, offering guests an urban stay in the city. By the end of the summer, a new conference centre will be built next to the Vardar River and near administrative buildings. The hotel and meetings scene is abuzz with activities. However, the creative part of the industry is much more stagnant, idly waiting for the industry to develop. Although a handful of event agencies are keeping up with international trends, they are only operating locally.

The numerous special venues in the city are the city’s trump card. Still, those are challenging to find and book. Meeting planners would have a simple task if a well-organised convention bureau connected the offer. At present, though, the path to finding the right venue is winding. Perhaps one of Skopje’s overlooked aspects is its multicultural character. Although Macedonians are ambivalent towards Albanians who have settled across Skopje, Gostivara, Tetovo, Struga and other larger cities in Macedonia, we were left with the impression that they co-exist peacefully. Perhaps this multicultural facet of Skopje can contribute to the city’s aim of placing itself on the regional map of meeting destinations.

Photo Credit: Skopje Marriott Hotel


The decades-old dispute regarding the use of the term Macedonia ended in 2019 with the Prespa Agreement, according to which the country was renamed the Republic of North Macedonia. Macedonians do not consider themselves the heirs of the ancient civilisation but took on the name of the region conquered by Slavic tribes after the 6th century. From antiquity onwards, the territory of today’s Republic of North Macedonia was part of the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires, then changing hands to Serbian tsars before being ruled by the Ottoman Empire for five centuries. At the fin-de-siecle, Macedonian national identity began to form, but so did Serbia’s and Bulgaria’s. By taking on the name of ancient Macedonia, the nation distanced itself from the neighbouring Serbs and Bulgarians, shielding its national identity from the two nation’s pretences to superiority over the region. Only after the end of World War II did Macedonians gain prominence as an independent nation with a national identity. That was reflected in the religion with the division of the Macedonian Orthodox Church from the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Republic of Macedonia was declared on 8 September 1991, and since then, they have had a thorny journey to being accepted into the international community.

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Skopje challenge

With its eclectic mix of architectural styles, Skopje is waiting to be uncovered as a team-building destination. By working together, teams can solve tasks with a time limit. They will get acquainted with the history of the Old Baazar, the purpose of the Skopje Fortress Kale, unravel the puzzle of what the Japanese Kenzo Tange did in Skopje and discover the secrets of Mother Theresa. The activity is suitable for large groups and is supported digitally with a special gamification app.

Find out more at:

Photo Credit: DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje


Esma Redžepova, the legendary singer, was born in Šutka, a part of Skopje, home to the Romani community. In Šutka, Esma helped raise fifty children she adopted. In 2013, Esma set a new milestone when she participated in Eurovision and sang in the Romani language. As a vociferous advocate of the rights of the Romani people, she knew how to raise awareness and became the Queen of World Gypsy Music. She was praised as a singer that exported Romani music to the world. With 12,000 individual concerts at home and abroad, Esma’s moving and strong voice still thrills listeners on 15 albums.

In Šutka, the Romani community is around twenty-two thousand people strong. According to estimates, it may be double that. The district gained world notoriety after the famed film director Emir Kusturica recorded his film Time of the Gypsies in 1988 in one of the quartiers of Šutka. Skopje debunks many stereotypes about the Romani community. North Macedonia is renowned as the most welcoming country in Europe towards the Romani community. To get acquainted with her music, you can listen to Esma’s legendary song Čaje Šukarije – Beautiful Girl.

Photo Credit: Luka Cjuha


Visiting the Old Bazaar can be combined with a journey to the central city market. You will be awaited by colourful flavours and fresh produce. After returning home, my closest ones are always grateful for perhaps the greatest beans in the world, named Tetovac. You can buy them at an absurdly low price, much like the ajvar. The latter is one of the tastiest specialities in the Balkans. If you run out of time in the city, you can buy it at the airport, where the shelves are dotted with various types. One more piece of advice: Macedonian winemakers have seen a revival in the past few years. We recommend buying and tasting wines from boutique wineries such as Stobi, Chateau Kamnik, Bovin, Popov and the Tikveš Cellar, which all offer a broad palette of exquisite wines.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Among numerous events and festivals that take place in Skopje, the following five will be in the limelight:

World Border Security Congress (25 – 27 April 2023)

International Conference on Vascular Neurology (17 May 2023)

Taksirat Festival (30 June – 2 July 2023)

Skopje Summer (July 2023)

Skopje Jazz Festival (13 – 16 October 2023)

We prepared the list of events in cooperation with local partners. We will gladly complement it with additional suggestions you have. Write us an email at:

Photo Credit: Skopje Jazz Festival


You will seldom go hungry or thirsty in Skopje. It is best to let Skopje pamper you with culinary delights. The old and new parts of the city are dotted with authentic bars but also full of tourist traps that await hungry visitors looking for a quick snack. Turkish coffee with baklava is a must-try when visiting the Stara Čaršija. You will be welcomed with open arms anywhere you go. The epicentre of superb restaurants is located in Debar Maalo – the bohemian quarter of Skopje, shielded from the sun by chestnut trees. Our favourite is Čardak Restaurant which meets all the expectations of a top-tier authentic restaurant. Vegetarians will also find something tasty to suit their taste buds.

Photo Credit: Restaurant Čardak


Five great reasons to organise an event in Skopje:

1. Undiscovered destination 
Skopje is an uncharted meeting destination that has not used its full potential yet. As a new destination, Skopje will attract event organisers seeking novelties. In our opinion, the destination will positively surprise and perhaps shock you with its outlandish architecture.

2. Value for money
At the moment, Skopje is a destination that offers the best value for money in South-East Europe. Your wallet will thank you, as you will organise your event about 30% cheaper compared to destinations across Central Europe.

3. Quality meeting hotels 
The meeting infrastructure of the hotel is well-maintained, with an offer for every taste. Hotels will cater to the needs of large congresses with up to 500 attendees. The relatively new hotels are suitable according to quality and ratio between the number of rooms and meeting capacities.

4. Rich and surprisingly diverse meeting offer
The tourist offer in Skopje is varied, offering a broad spectre of possibilities for event organisers. The several bars, restaurants and lively nightlife stand out. There are numerous unused possibilities that you can present as novelties to your attendees.

5. Local hospitality
You can rest assured that Macedonians are kind and hospitable already in the taxi that will take you from the airport. Hospitality is present at every step, and it is hard to find a negative experience. The same can be said for safety. Macedonians are kind, willing to help and would do anything to help you.

Photo Credit: Limak Skopje Luxury Hotel


Modern, traditional, exotic, chaotic, eclectic, neoclassical and antique, Muslim and Orthodox – Skopje is all that. Plus, it is the city with the highest number of statues per capita. The locals in Skopje are extraordinarily hospitable and colourful, much like the architecture and culture of their city. The city has a special allure for event organisers. Still, do not expect a convention bureau as it does not exist in the city. There is no real support for event organisers, either. Nonetheless, your attendees will feel welcome in the city with the help of a trustworthy agency that knows Skopje well. Life still goes by slowly in Skopje, but the city oozes a feeling of freedom and casualness. We only wonder what would happen if Skopje could use all its assets to its advantage, including its perpetually improving accessibility. Skopje is one of the rough diamonds of the regional meetings industry.

Photo Credit: Visit Skopje


Natural and cultural factors4.56
General and transport infrastructure4.49
Tourist infrastructure4.70
Meeting infrastructure4.46
Subjective grade4.59
Marketing Buzz3.40
ICCA index - worldwide ranking1.25
Numbeo Quality of life Index2.23
Numbeo Safety Index3.45
ACI Airport Connectivity Index2.65
Nomad List Overall Score3.77

NOTE: The MTLG Destination Update is not a paid advertisement. The Skopje MTLG Destination Update was prepared based on a personal visit of Kongres Magazine’s assessor in April 2023. Based on the evaluation, Skopje will be evaluated according to the Meeting Experience Index methodology. The MTLG evaluation will be prepared at the end of July 2023.

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