Skopje, North Macedonia for digital nomads 🇲🇰

Skopje doesn’t make too many digital nomad lists.

Seriously, try searching for “North Macedonia digital nomad” and you won’t find much besides a handful of posts and a few updates about North Macedonia’s planned digital nomad visa (as of November 2021, it’s still in the works).

Maybe a quick search is what brought you to my little corner of the web. 😉

I spent three months in Skopje from December 2020 to March 2021, and despite the pandemic making things a drag, I fell in love with the city’s laid-back attitude and people.

Macedonians are super chill.

This guide is my attempt at making North Macedonia more accessible for anyone who wants to go—globe-trotting web developers, online English teachers, writers and artists in search of the South Balkan spirit, and backpackers looking for a unique place to visit.

Grab a coffee, we’re going to be here for a while. ☕️

Why Skopje?

It all started with a mad rush to leave Tbilisi after I discovered my Covid-19 visa amnesty wasn’t going to be extended.

I’d been in Georgia almost fifteen months and had to leave quickly, so I booked an overnight flight to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines with a short connecting flight to Skopje (only to discover the amnesty had been extended the next day).

I didn’t have high expectations for North Macedonia.

That’s not to say I had bad expectations. It’s more accurate to say I didn’t know much about the place or what to expect.

My friends were coming down from Belgrade in a few days, so at least I’d have some familiar faces to join me in exploring the city.

Frankly, my first impressions were a little weird.

Think stereotypical South Balkan street scenes—rows of stalls selling knockoff Nike and Adidas kicks, guys in tracksuits chain-smoking cheap cigarettes outside sports betting casinos, and an odd mix of architecture.

I was also cold and wet, with six hours to kill before I could go over to the apartment I’d booked from the airport in Tbilisi.

It was still early when I found myself wandering into the Old Bazaar, desperate in my search for coffee.

Suddenly, I heard someone pounding on the glass window of a nearby cafe. The front door swung open and out stepped a bearded man with kind eyes.

“Come, my friend,” he said. “I’ll make you a nice coffee.”

That’s how I met Navim.

He ushered me inside and warmed me up with a perfect Italian espresso, and invited me to make myself comfortable for as long as needed.

Soon, more local characters wandered in. A pair of speakers pumped out traditional Balkan music. The neighborhood cat even stopped by for a visit (Navim promptly ran down the cobblestone street and came back minutes later with a handful of meat for him). 😸

My mood lifted. I liked North Macedonia already.

Old Bazaar Skopje Macedonia Digital Nomads
The Old Bazaar in Skopje, Macedonia. Photo by Robert Bahn.

The good stuff

I’m pretty sure my nomadic friends are all tired of hearing me gush about Skopje.

In fact, I know they are. They’ve told me.

But I can’t help it.

Macedonia is the perfect place for a digital nomad to spend a few months (or longer, with a planned North Macedonia digital nomad visa in the works).

Fast Internet

First and foremost, the Internet in North Macedonia is solid.

I know, I know, I should be talking about the culture and the food, not the Internet. But we’re working right? Without good Internet, the whole digital nomad thing doesn’t really fly.

My apartment in Skopke had about 70 mbps up and 30 mbps down. It’s not as blazing fast as the Internet in Romania or Bulgaria, but it’s more than enough to handle Zoom meetings and online teaching. Even better, the connection never timed or interrupted, even after five or six hours of teaching online English lessons.

Easy SIM Cards

Another entry into the practical category is the ease of getting a SIM card in North Macedonia. Just like in Ukraine and Serbia, SIM cards can be purchased with cash from kiosks and wireless stores.

Although I didn’t use my local SIM card much, it comes in handy for ordering from restaurants, as most food delivery apps like Glovo and Wolt aren’t yet available in North Macedonia.

The bad stuff

Getting there

Where to stay