Matka Canyon: Discovering the Hidden Gem of North Macedonia

Just 20 kilometers west of Skopje, the vibrant capital of North Macedonia, lies a natural wonder yet to be fully explored. The Matka Canyon. During our road trip towards Romania and Brasov, we couldn’t miss visiting this natural miracle. This area, encompassing the stunning Matka Lake and the mysterious Matka Cave, is a testament to nature’s beauty. Despite Matka Lake being a man-made creation from 1938, its surrounding natural landscapes, a paradise for photographers, remain authentically breathtaking. Matka Canyon, with its picturesque views and hidden caves, offers a unique glimpse into the unspoiled beauty of North Macedonia.

Matka Canyon represents the Balkans’ winter wonders and wild beauty, much like Greece’s Epirus. For more such landscapes and adventures, see our feature on Epirus’ natural beauty. It’s titled “Exploring the Natural Wonders of Epirus: A Journey of Adventure and Authenticity.

Matka Canyon amazing view in North Macedonia
The amazing colors during sunset in Matka Canyon

Being one of the most popular destinations in North Macedonia attracts tourists from all over the world, especially during summertime. It is not strange that it was selected in the first phase for being one of the 440 locations by the new7wonders of nature campaign.

Vrelo Cave Uncovered – A Journey into Matka Canyon’s Heart

Vrelo Cave is one of the deepest, underwater caves in the world. Several attempts took place to justify the exact depth of the lake but every diver who tried broke a new record.

  • In 2008 the cave had a recorded depth of 100 meters being in 71st position in the world
  • In 2009 climbed to 14th place as divers discovered that the cave has at least 192 meters of depth
  • In 2010 the Italian diver named Luigi Casati dived in 212 meters
  • In 2016 the Poland Krzysztof Starnawski reached 230 depth announcing that the cave is going, even more, bringing the cave into the top 3 of Europe!
Stalactites in Vrelo Cave in Matka canyon in North Macedonia
Stalactites in Vrelo Cave

Adventures in Matka Canyon – Unforgettable Experiences Await

Boat Tour Adventure – Navigating to the Cave’s Wonders

Embark on an enchanting journey through Matka Canyon, North Macedonia, where wooden boats captained by friendly, English-speaking locals await to ferry you to the mystical cave entrance. For only 5€ per person, a comprehensive tour awaits, actively unveiling the hidden secrets of the cave.

Here, in the heart of Matka Canyon, your voice will find new life, resonating through the excellent acoustics. Let the melodies of the guide’s songs add a magical soundtrack to your adventure, or test your own singing abilities in this natural amphitheater.

Woman in wooden boat wearing a traditional blanket in Matka canyon in North Macedonia
If the weather is cold do not worry. Ask the captain before your departure to give you blankets. Too warm to be true!
Beautifully illuminated  stalactites in the Vrelo cave in the Matka cave in Northern Macedonia
Beautifully illuminated stalactites in the Vrelo cave

Comfort is guaranteed, no matter what the weather brings. On cooler days, ask your captain for cozy blankets that make the journey along the Treska River a warm, snug experience. As you glide over the gentle waters, witness the breathtaking scenery of Matka Canyon unfold. The picturesque river banks, adorned with old, wooden, seemingly abandoned houses, set a scene straight out of a classic ’80s thriller.

Abandoned wooden houses on the shores of Lake Matka in Northern Macedonia
Which movie comes to your mind with this photo?

Kayak Exploration – Paddle Through the Beauty of Matka Lake

Kayaking in Matka Canyon offers an alternative, more intimate exploration. Rent a canoe at half the price of the boat tour and navigate the serene waters of the Matka Lake at your own pace. Paddle through the tranquil waters, surrounded by the lush greenery and rugged cliffs of Matka Canyon, offering an experience both peaceful and invigorating.

Matka Canyon offers more than aquatic adventures. Trek its trails to experience the area’s rich biodiversity. Look out for varied bird species and possibly rare butterflies. Each step uncovers new wonders, from unique rock formations to diverse plant life, characteristic of Matka in North Macedonia.

As the day unwinds, find solace in the local eateries dotting the canyon’s edge. Indulge in traditional North Macedonian cuisine, a delightful blend of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors, while overlooking the tranquil waters.
Witnessing the sunset over Matka Canyon is an unmissable visual feast. A painting in the sky in hues of orange and purple, reflecting off the calm lake. A perfect end to an adventurous day.

In Matka Canyon, every moment is a chance to connect with nature and experience the unspoiled beauty of North Macedonia. From the thrilling cave explorations to the boat rides and the vibrant local culture, Matka Canyon will not disappoint you.

Gastronomic Delights – Best Dining Spots in Matka Canyon

At “Restaurant Canyon Matka,” you can savor local cuisine while enjoying views of Matka Canyon and Lake Matka. It’s a great spot to relax, even if you’re not hungry. They offer coffee, but the hot chocolate is highly recommended, especially during winter. Don’t miss trying the hot chocolate drink with plasma biscuit, a favorite among visitors including us!

The entrance in Matka canyon in North Macedonia

Stay in Style – From Matka Canyon’s Serenity to Skopje’s Vibrance

Matka Canyon area, just a 20-minute drive from Skopje, offers both city and serene lodging options. Staying in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, provides convenient city amenities and a plethora of choices.

Nature’s Embrace – Cozy Stays Near Matka Canyon

For a tranquil retreat, consider Villa Moon Hotel or Canyon Matka Hotel, both nestled in picturesque settings reminiscent of “Lord of the Rings.” Additionally, explore local guesthouses for a more authentic experience, or check out eco-friendly lodges that blend seamlessly with the natural beauty of Matka Canyon. Each option offers its unique charm, catering to different preferences for your stay.

  1. Canyon Matka Hotel: Located in the Village Matka, provides a serene getaway with picturesque views of the canyon and lake. This hotel features a range of amenities, including a restaurant, bar, and rooms equipped with air conditioning and TVs. Guests can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and water sports on-site. The Canyon Matka Hotel’s peaceful setting, combined with modern comforts and a variety of leisure activities, makes it a perfect spot for those looking to relax and explore the natural beauty of Matka Canyon.
  2. Villa Moon Hotel: Situated about a 25-minute walk from Matka Canyon and a short drive from the boat trip area, offers a unique and comfortable stay near Lake Matka. This property, featuring a 1-bedroom villa, blends convenience with tranquility, perfect for those looking to explore the scenic beauty of Matka Canyon while enjoying the comforts of a well-equipped accommodation.
Antique items for sell in Matka Canyon in North Macedonia
Do not forget to buy some local antiques!

Skopje’s Urban Escapes – Chic and Comfortable Accommodations

  1. Hotel Arka: Located in the Old Bazaar area, Hotel Arka is known for its amazing views, friendly staff, spacious rooms, and comfortable beds. It’s a great choice for an immersive experience in Skopje.
  2. Hotel De KOKA: Also in the Old Bazaar area, this hotel offers large rooms with good amenities. It’s noted for its proximity to local attractions and its overall comfortable stay.
  3. Bushi Resort & Spa: This hotel offers a blend of comfort and luxury at an affordable price, with amenities like spa. It’s suitable for those looking for a short, luxurious stay in Skopje.
  4. Skopje Marriott Hotel: For a more upscale experience, this hotel dominates Skopje Square with its stunning exterior and elegant interior. It offers a range of amenities, including a spa and indoor pool, and is noted for its excellent location and service.

These options provide a variety of choices, from tranquil nature-focused stays to luxurious city accommodations, catering to different preferences and budgets.

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