‘I travelled to one of Europe’s least visited countries’

Whether it’s feeling like a sweaty sardine in Europe’s prettiest village or chaotic scenes at Buckingham Palace, some of the continent’s top destinations have started to feel a little too crowded.

This summer, I went to one of Europe’s least visited countries. North Macedonia receives around 1.1 million tourists a year, far fewer than many of the continent’s top destinations.

However, it’s an incredibly beautiful country and it’s also extremely good value. So why does it receive so few visitors?

As a landlocked country, North Macedonia doesn’t have a coastline to attract sun starved British tourists. But it doesn’t need one when it’s home to gorgeous Lake Ohrid and its beaches.

Perfect for swimming and boat trips, Ohrid Old Town is a charming spot packed with picturesque churches. I enjoyed a huge lakeside meal with wine for just £14.

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A scoop of gelato in the pretty Old Town cost me just 90p while a cappuccino in a posh lakeside cafe came in at £1.55.

If you want to learn more about Lake Ohrid, check out Express.co.uk’s travel guide. Luckily for Britons, TUI has just launched package deals to Ohrid. A seven day trip in July at a luxury hotel with a pool costs just £676 per person. If you’d prefer to go self-catering, I spent just £20 a night at an Airbnb with incredible balcony views.

I also visited North Macedonia’s capital city, Skopje. The country’s largest city, Skopje is a bit of an odd place.

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It was hit by a disastrous earthquake in the 1960s and around 80 percent of the city was destroyed. The city’s subsequent rebuilding project was a little controversial.

The first thing you’ll notice in Skopje is the number of giant statues. In 2014, the city embarked on a redevelopment project and constructed more than 100 statues. From warriors to pirate ships and lions, there’s barely a street without a monument. While the huge statues might not be to everyone’s taste, they’re certainly something to see.

I wouldn’t recommend spending more than a couple of days in Skopje but it’s definitely worth visiting the capital if only to explore the nearby Matka Canyon.

The breathtaking canyon is one of North Macedonia’s top destinations for alpine hiking and it’s also a beautiful place to take a boat trip or go on a kayak. There’s no entrance fee and it takes under an hour from the city centre. I went on a 30 minute boat trip around the canyon for under £5.

Wizz Air flies direct to Skopje with prices available for under £70 return on Skyscanner. It can be difficult to get a direct flight to Ohrid but the lake is under three hours drive from the capital. Ohrid is also easily accessible from Albania.

Looking for another underrated destination? Check out this European country which even has a ski resort.

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