Are you looking for a unique and unforgettable destination for your next vacation?
Do you want to explore the natural beauty, cultural heritage and outdoor activities of a lesser-known European country? If so, you should consider visiting Mavrovo, a region in the northwest of North Macedonia that offers something for everyone.
Mavrovo is home to the largest national park in the country, a stunning lake, a ski resort, and charming villages. Whether you are into hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, or just relaxing, you will find plenty of options to enjoy yourself in Mavrovo.
Here are some tips and suggestions on how to get there, what to do, what to visit, where to stay and where to eat in this amazing place.
What is the history of Mavrovo village?
Mavrovo village is a historical and cultural settlement in the northwest of North Macedonia, that is part of the Mavrovo region. It is located on the shore of Lake Mavrovo, an artificial lake that was created in 1947 for the hydroelectric power station.
The history of Mavrovo village dates back to the 18th century, when it was founded by settlers from the nearby villages of Galichnik and Lazaropole, who were looking for fertile land and pastures. The village was named after a local hero, Mavro, who fought against the Ottoman Turks.
Mavrovo village was a prosperous and developed community, with a population of over 2000 people in the early 20th century.
The village was affected by several historical events, such as the Balkan Wars, the World Wars, and the Communist regime. Many of its inhabitants emigrated to other countries or moved to urban areas.
How to get to Mavrovo
Mavrovo is about 90 km (56 miles) from the capital city of Skopje, and you can easily reach it by car or bus. The road is well-maintained and scenic, passing through the Vardar river valley and the Polog plain. You can also take abus from Skopje to Tetovo or Debar, and then a bus or taxi to Mavrovo.
If you are coming from abroad, you can fly to Skopje International Airport, which has connections with many European cities. Alternatively, you can fly to Ohrid Airport, which is about 120 km (75 miles) from Mavrovo, and then rent a car or take a bus.
What to do in Mavrovo?
Mavrovo is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Depending on the season, you can choose from a variety of activities that will make your stay memorable.
Mavrovo National Park covers an area of 730 km2 (282 sq mi) and encompasses the Bistra, Korab and Shar mountains. It has over 50 marked trails that range from easy to challenging, and offer stunning views of the lake, the forests, the meadows and the peaks.
Some of the most popular hikes include:
Some of the most popular hikes include:
If you prefer cycling to walking, you can also explore Mavrovo on two wheels. There are many bike routes that follow the roads or the trails in the park, and you can rent bikes at some of the hotels or shops in the area.
Some of the best bike routes include:
- The loop around Lake Mavrovo (40 km / 25 miles), which offers scenic views of the water and the mountains.
- Mavrovo to Rostushe (18 km / 11 miles), which passes by the Duf Waterfall and the Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski.
- Mavrovo to Debar (35 km / 22 miles), which follows the Radika river valley and crosses several bridges and villages.
Mavrovo is also a popular ski destination in winter, thanks to its high altitude and snow conditions.
The ski resort of Zare Lazareski is located on the slopes of Bistra mountain, near the village of Mavrovi Anovi. It has 12 ski lifts and 25 km (16 miles) of ski runs for all levels of difficulty. It also has a snow park, a ski school, a ski rental shop, and a restaurant.
The ski season usually lasts from December to March, and the prices are very affordable compared to other European ski resorts. You can buy a daily ski pass for 800 MKD (13 EUR / 15 USD), or a weekly ski pass for 4000 MKD (65 EUR / 75 USD).
If you are looking for a more relaxing activity, you can try fishing in Lake Mavrovo or in the Radika river. The lake is home to several species of fish, such as trout, carp, chub and barbel. You can fish from the shore or from a boat, but you need to buy a fishing license at one of the local shops or hotels.
The Radika river is also a great spot for fishing, especially for fly fishing. The river is rich in trout, grayling and you can find some secluded places to enjoy the tranquility and the nature. You also need a fishing license to fish in the river, which you can buy at the same places as for the lake.
What to visit in Mavrovo?
Mavrovo is not only about nature and sports, but also about culture and history.
There are several attractions that you should not miss when you are in the area, such as:
Mavrovo National Park
Spanning over 73,000 hectares, the national park is a haven for biodiversity. Explore the lush forests, alpine meadows, and cascading waterfalls as you discover the wonders of this protected area.
The Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski
Which was founded in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. It is one of the most important religious and cultural monuments in the country, and it is famous for its wooden iconostasis, which is considered a masterpiece of carving. The monastery also has a museum, a library, and a guesthouse.
The village of Galichnik
Located on the slopes of Bistra mountain and has a population of about 100 people. It is one of the most authentic and preserved villages in Mavrovo, and it showcases the traditional architecture, customs and lifestyle of the region. It is also known for its annual wedding festival, which takes place in July and attracts thousands of visitors.
The village of Janche
Which is another example of the typical rural settlement in Mavrovo. It has a few houses, a church, a school, and a restaurant. It is also the starting point for some of the hiking trails in the park, such as the one to Duf Waterfall.
Zare Lazarevski Ski Resort
If you’re visiting during the winter season, don’t miss the opportunity to hit the slopes at this popular ski resort. Enjoy thrilling downhill runs or try your hand at cross-country skiing on the well-groomed trails.
The submerged church of St. Nicholas
It is one of the most iconic and intriguing sights in Mavrovo. It is an abandoned church that was built in 1850 and served as the main village church of Mavrovo until 1953, when it was flooded by the artificial lake that was created for the hydroelectric power station.
The church was constructed with carved stone and had a marble altar, a wooden iconostasis, and icons painted by Dicho Zograf, a famous painter of the Debar Art School. Some of the icons and religious objects were moved to another church before the submersion, but some were left behind and later recovered.
The church has preserved its initial structure, but its interior is destroyed and its roof has collapsed.
There are plans to restore and protect the church and turn it into a tourist attraction, but they have not been implemented yet.
Best Accommodation in Mavrovo
Mavrovo has a wide range of accommodation options for all budgets and preferences. You can choose from hotels, apartments, guesthouses, or camping sites.
Some of the best places to stay in Mavrovo are:
Located near the ski resort and offers comfortable rooms, a spa center, a restaurant, and a bar. It also has a bike rental service and organizes tours and activities in the area.
Located on the shore of Lake Mavrovo and offers luxurious rooms, a wellness center, a restaurant, and a terrace. It also has a private beach and a boat rental service.
Located in Mavrovo village and offers cozy apartments with kitchenettes, balconies, and mountain views. It also has a garden and a barbecue area.
Camping Mavrovi Anovi
Located near the ski resort and offers spacious pitches for tents or caravans. It also has a shared kitchen, a bathroom, and a laundry room.
For a more intimate and rustic experience, consider staying in one of the traditional villas in the village of Dihovo. Enjoy the warm hospitality of the locals and savor homemade Macedonian cuisine.
If you’re looking for convenience and easy access to the ski slopes, the Mavrovo Resort is an excellent choice. The resort offers a range of accommodation options, from cozy chalets to modern apartments.
Where to eat in Mavrovo
Mavrovo has many restaurants and cafes that serve delicious local food and drinks. You can taste some of the specialties of the region, such as:
- Tavche gravche, which is a dish made of beans cooked in an earthenware pot with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and spices.
- Shopska salad, made with cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and grated cheese. The cheese is usually a white brined cheese, such as feta, sirene, or vlašić. The salad is dressed with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and sometimes parsley.
- Pastrmajlija, which is a type of pizza topped with meat (usually pork or lamb), cheese, eggs, and peppers.
- Selsko meso, which is a dish made of meat (usually beef or pork) cooked with mushrooms, cheese, cream, and wine.
- Kacamak, which is a porridge made of cornmeal or wheat flour mixed with cheese or butter.
- Baklava or tulumba, which are sweet pastries made of filo dough filled with nuts or cream and soaked in syrup.
Best places to eat in Mavrovo
House of Mijaks Ethno Restaurant
A family-friendly restaurant in Mavrovo, near the village of Rostushe.
It is located near the Monastery of St. Jovan Bigorski, and it offers a traditional Macedonian cuisine with a focus on the dishes from the Reka region.
House of Mijaks Ethno Restaurant serves a variety of salads, soups, pizzas, and grilled meats, as well as some specialties such as pastrmajlija, selsko meso, kacamak, and baklava. The restaurant has a cozy and rustic interior, with wooden furniture and decorations. It also has a large outdoor terrace with a view of the mountains.
Restaurant Korab Trnica
Traditional Macedonian restaurant in Mavrovo, near the village of Trnica.
It is located near the Hotel Korab Trnica, and it offers a authentic cuisine with organic products from their own garden.
Restaurant Korab Trnica serves a variety of salads, soups, pizzas, and grilled meats, as well as some specialties such as kachamak, selsko meso, kacamak, and baklava.
The restaurant has a cozy and rustic interior, with wooden furniture and decorations. It also has a fireplace and a playground for children.
Restaurant Mal Odmor
It is a national Macedonian restaurant in Mavrovo, near the village of Mavrovi Anovi.
It is located on the main road that connects Skopje and Ohrid, and it is a good place to stop for lunch or dinner.
Restaurant Mal Odmor offers traditional dishes with fresh and local ingredients, such as pastrmajlija, tavche gravche, selsko meso, kacamak, and baklava. It also has a variety of salads, soups, pizzas, and grilled meats. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable.
The restaurant has a cozy and rustic interior, with wooden furniture and decorations. It also has a large outdoor terrace with a view of the lake and the mountains.
This is a European and bar restaurant that offers good food, prices, and views. It is located on the shore of Lake Mavrovo and has a cozy and rustic interior.
When to visit Mavrovo?
Mavrovo can be visited all year round, as each season has its own charm and attractions.
However, some seasons may be more suitable for certain activities than others.
- If you want to go for skiing or snowboarding, you should visit Mavrovo between December and March, when there is enough snow on the slopes.
- If you want to hike or bike, you should visit Mavrovo between April and October, when the weather is mild and the nature is green and colorful.
- If you want to go fishing, you should visit Mavrovo between May and September, when the water temperature is optimal and the fish are more active.
- If you want to attend the cultural events, you should visit Mavrovo in July, when the Galichnik wedding festival takes place, or in August, when the Mavrovo summer festival takes place.
Mavrovo is a hidden gem in North Macedonia that deserves to be discovered by more travelers. It has everything you need for a perfect vacation: nature, culture, sports, and relaxation. It is also a great destination for families, couples, or solo travelers, as it offers something for everyone.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Mavrovo today and get ready to experience one of the most beautiful and diverse regions in Europe. You will not regret it!
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