Even though it can be easily accessed from many points, North Macedonia is considered one of the last undiscovered countries of Europe. It boasts a natural paradise of rivers, lakes, and mountains, as well as villages that seem to have remained unchanged for centuries.
In terms of territory, North Macedonia is characterized by mountains with deep basins and valleys. The three large lakes of the country, Prespa, Dojran, and Ohrid, are divided by a frontier line, while the Vardar River bisects North Macedonia.
The country is divided into three main regions, Povardarie – home to the capital, Skopje -, Western North Macedonia – tourist attractions, three national parks, Lake Ohrid -, and Eastern North Macedonia – few tourist attractions, but plenty of rural life, so to speak.
So, even though few people are aware of this country’s existence, North Macedonia has more than enough to offer to the curious traveler. However, as always, one still has to see if North Macedonia is safe to visit before purchasing a plane ticket – after all, safety comes first!
Therefore, let’s see exactly how safe is North Macedonia for tourists.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting North Macedonia
Overall Risks in North Macedonia: LOW to MEDIUM
North Macedonia is labeled as a safe country, with extremely rare cases of attacks against foreigners. Even when it comes to petty crimes, there have been only a couple of cases reported.
On the other hand, the presence of organized criminal groups has been confirmed, especially towards the northern areas of the country, around the border with Kosovo. Shootings incidents occur throughout the country, even in the capital, but don’t target foreigners.
Be aware of the fact that gunfire may be heard during times of celebration as well – therefore, it is better to just always be cautious.
Other than that, there have been no reports of more serious incidents, so to say, especially when it comes to foreigners/ tourists – the worst that could happen to the careful tourist is he/she being pickpocketed or robbed.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in North Macedonia: MEDIUM
As mentioned before, pickpocketing and petty theft do occur, but not on a large scale so to speak. Reportedly, gangs of children usually engage in pickpocketing and bag snatching, especially in the main entertainment and shopping areas and during the night.
Obviously, foreigners/ tourists are usually targeted, given the fact that these are more likely to have valuables and large sums of money on them.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in North Macedonia?
In order to avoid pickpocketing and theft, our North Macedonia safety guide recommends you keep an eye out for any sneaky children, and not only, but that might also try to approach you.
Moreover, it is advised that you do not travel during the night, especially if you are alone. As always, keep your valuables in a safe place and avoid carrying large sums of money with you. Don’t display any gadgets or jewelry – if you have a camera, for example, keep it in your bag/ backpack if you are not actively using it.
Scam Risk in North Macedonia: LOW
Even though there are no reports of scams being practiced in North Macedonia, any traveler knows that he/ she can expect at least a couple of locals to try and scam them. After all, such things happen in every country – if a local sees a foreigner, they’ll try to take advantage of them.
In this respect, one of our main North Macedonia safety travel tips reminds you to always be vigilant, keep an eye on your surroundings, and think twice before trusting a stranger.
- How to avoid getting scammed in North Macedonia?
As briefly mentioned above, in order to avoid being scammed, you have to be one step ahead of the scammers. The first thing you can do is to get familiarized with the local currency and remember to check the change you receive after you make a purchase.
Then, keep in mind that if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t true. Politely refuse any stranger that wants to sell or offer you something.
Kidnapping Risk in North Macedonia: LOW
As expected, there are no reports telling of such incidents in recent years. When it comes to how safe is Macedonia for tourists, it all depends on how well they can protect themselves against pickpockets and petty thieves.
However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be cautious and take on some basic safety measures that can help you avoid and/or prevent being kidnapped.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in North Macedonia?
In order to avoid being kidnapped, it is recommended that you stay away from remote areas, shady alleys, slums, and bad-reputed neighborhoods. Obviously, you should also not be traveling during the night, especially if you pass through a rural area.
If you want to keep yourself safe and out of any dangers, you should travel during the day and only through the areas that are meant for tourists – or which are at least patrolled by the authorities.
Terrorism Risk in North Macedonia: LOW
Even though there are no reports of such incidents, terrorists are still likely to carry out attacks. Moreover, on the 15th of February 2019, the country’s authorities carried out raids in an operation against people suspected of terrorism.
Therefore, such risk cannot be fully ruled out and one must always know how to protect themselves in case something happens.
- How to avoid terrorism in North Macedonia?
Our North Macedonia safety guide recommends you to be vigilant at all times, especially around places of prayer, official buildings, shopping malls, markets, and crowded areas, as there are likely to be targeted by terrorist groups.
Keep an eye out for anything suspicious and, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, it is better to retreat to a safe area and alert the authorities.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in North Macedonia: LOW
Once again, there are no reports that tell of women travelers being assaulted or harassed in North Macedonia. Therefore, when asking yourself the question is Macedonia safe for solo women travelers, you don’t have to think of an answer for too long.
Given the country’s low crime rate and scarceness of serious incidents, a solo woman traveler has to take only the basic safety measures in order to keep herself safe and sound.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in North Macedonia?
When traveling alone, you should avoid remote areas, shady alleys, bad-reputed neighborhoods, and slums. Naturally, traveling during the night is not recommended, as you risk coming across drunkards and whatnot that might approach and/ or harass you.
You should also approach a decent dress code and avoid displaying any valuable items, such as jewelry or gadgets.
Rape Risk in North Macedonia: LOW
There are no reports or statistics telling of such incidents in North Macedonia. As you may have figured it out so far, this European country comes with little to no dangers for tourists/ foreigners – literally, the only thing one has to worry about is the petty crime.
Nevertheless, as with any other risk out there, you should not rule this one out either. Keep in mind that statistics throughout the world tell that roughly 40% of rape cases are not reported to the authorities.
In this respect, one must always remain vigilant and cautious.
- How to avoid getting raped in North Macedonia?
In order to avoid getting raped, our list of Macedonia safety travel tips recommends you approach a decent dress code and try and draw as little attention to you as possible. Wear little to no jewelry and avoid flashing valuable items and large sums of money.
As we know, a small robbery can escalate into much more, depending on the attacker’s intentions and such. Obviously, do not travel during the night and avoid all of the areas we have mentioned so far.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in North Macedonia: LOW
When it comes to traveling with children, the only thing you should be worried about is them getting lost. Given the fact that people have started to discover North Macedonia and its beauties, you can expect to come across crowds of tourists, especially within the capital.
Therefore, if left unattended, your children can easily get lost and you’ll have to look for them and maybe even alert the authorities.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
As keeping your children safe is very important, we recommend you have someone keep an eye on them at all times. Moreover, make sure to pack a kit containing all of the medicine they may need, including the items needed to treat minor injuries, such as band-aids.
Natural Disaster Risks in North Macedonia: MEDIUM
North Macedonia is usually affected by floods, extreme temperatures, wildfire, drought, and storms. Floods and extreme temperatures come with the highest frequency, of 50% and 25%, respectively.
In terms of casualties, extreme temperatures are responsible for 86.1% of the deaths caused by natural disasters.
Therefore, before leaving your accommodation, we strongly advise you to check the local news and weather reports so that you know how to prepare yourself for the day – or for the following days, in case you plan a long-distance trip.
Transportation Risks in North Macedonia: MEDIUM
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you should refrain from traveling near the border with Kosovo. In case you find yourself within those areas, then you should stick to the primary roads and travel only during the day.
If you are traveling to North Macedonia between November and February, be aware of the fact that the capital city, Skopje, as well as its surrounding areas, can experience thick fog. This event can cause delays and even divert flights. You should not be driving through and around Skopje in case of thick fog.
When it comes to road travel, the conditions vary widely – driving styles are usually different when compared to UK/ US and there are frequent road accidents. You should be cautious both when driving and when you are on foot.
If you are taking your personal car on your trip, make sure to bring all of the necessary documents related to it with you, as well as a valid insurance policy – namely, one that covers North Macedonia.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in North Macedonia: LOW
Even there are no reports of serious incidents taking place within nightclubs, pubs, or bars, you should still remain vigilant. Obviously, you might come across the usual pub brawl or drunkards that might try to approach or assault you, a case in which it is recommended that you leave the area and return to your accommodation.
You should also order your own drinks and refuse any offered to you by strangers, in order to avoid them being spiked, in case such practice is present in North Macedonia. Also, make sure to get in an official/ registered taxi on your way back to your accommodation.
Health Risks in North Macedonia
Next, on our North Macedonia safety guide, we’ll be talking about the country’s health risks. First of all, keep in mind that most mosquito-borne diseases, including the West Nile virus, are present in the country and, therefore, you should take the appropriate precaution measures in order to avoid and prevent contracting such diseases.
There’s also a high level of air pollution in most cities, especially during winter, an aspect that can affect public health – the elderly, children, and people with pre-existing medical conditions are likely to be affected.
As always, make sure to travel with proper travel health insurance and with enough funds to cover the costs of any treatment or medicine that you might be subject to.
You might also want to prepare a first-aid kit containing medicine that you might need during your trip, as there’s currently a widespread shortage of medicine in North Macedonia.
List of Vaccines You Need in North Macedonia
Here is a list of vaccines that you need to take before visiting North Macedonia. However, it is advised that at least 8 weeks before your trip, you visit and consult with your doctor or check the North Macedonia-specific health advice so that you are up to date with the country’s situation in terms of health/ vaccines.
- Routine Vaccines
- Hepatitis A and B
Most Dangerous Areas in North Macedonia
- Skopje Square
- Vicinity of Vardar River
- Large Shopping Areas
- Matka Canyon
- Border with Kosovo
- Restaurants and Public Transportation
Obviously, these are the most dangerous areas in North Macedonia when it comes to petty crime, pickpockets, and thieves – with the exception of the border with Kosovo.
Concluding Remarks: Is North Macedonia Safe to Visit?
Now, in the end, is North Macedonia safe to visit? Well, as long as you know how to protect yourself against pickpockets and petty thieves, you can safely explore the wonders of this European country.
North Macedonia comes with little to no risks and is, overall, safe to visit for any type of traveler, be they beginners or experiences. Still, given the fact that it is a foreign country, one should not explore it all alone. As they say, strength lies in numbers – it doesn’t matter if you need it to overcome a mountain or to repel a gang of children that try to pickpocket you.