Gluten-Free Travel Experience: Skopje, Macedonia (FYROM)

In June this year I was lucky enough to travel to Macedonia with my boyfriend for some much needed Vitamin D. We were inspired to visit this “off the beaten track” destination after watching Jason Billam’s Youtube travel diaries (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYmFIzp31GE). Temperatures were amazing and often over 35C/95F so we spent much of our stay sunbathing but we managed to fit in some sightseeing too.

Prior to visiting Macedonia, I reached out to a Macedonian Coeliac Group via Facebook. Surprisingly they advised NOT to eat out at all while staying in Skopje, and that the only food I would be able to find would be a limited selection from Schär. Due to the language barrier, and the fact that Macedonia is not part of the EU (so I assume therefore not obliged to follow EU allergen labelling laws) we decided to self-cater for the vast majority of the trip. We stayed in an AirBNB with a kitchen.

Trips

  • Matka Canyon – this is a must-see if visiting Skopje. I recommend taking a long boat trip through the canyon to enjoy amazing views. You also have the option of kayaking or hiking along the side of the canyon. There are a couple of restaurants inside the canyon, and about three restaurants prior to entering the canyon by the car park. None offered GF options.
  • Millennium Cross – situated on Mount Vodno and easily accessible by cable-car (they don’t run everyday of the week though). We visited on a Monday when the cable cars don’t run so we took a difficult 45 minute uphill hike to the cross. The views of Skopje at the top are breathtaking. There is a cafe next to the cross but it wasn’t open when we visited.

Supermarkets

Food in Macedonia is pretty cheap, and this included the GF food too.

  • Small Ramstore (convenience store close to Porta Macedonia in central Skopje) = no specific gluten-free section but they did sell Nestle gluten free cornflakes (plain, honey or chocolate flavour) and Nesquick milkshake (labelled GF). Fruit, vegetables and meat also sold which are obviously naturally GF.
  • Large Ramstore (supermarket in Ramstore Mall, walking distance from central Skopje) = I was pleasantly surprised that this Ramstore was home to a modest gluten-free section! They sold various cereals and mueslis, flour mixes, biscuits, corn/rice flour pastas, soups and rice cakes. Brands were mostly Schär and Vitalia, as well as several Macedonian and imported Italian GF brands I hadn’t heard of.

It is also worth mentioning there is a Vitalia Health Food store within the Skopje Mall which mainly sells pick-n-mix muesli (which is not gluten-free!) but they have a small selection of GF Vitalia foods towards the back of the store.

Eating Out

I took the aforementioned advice from the local Coeliac group and didn’t eat out during my stay in Skopje. I did however get grilled corn from street sellers, who are dotted around Skopje city center. This was a bit risky on my part due to potential cross contamination risks with the grill (corn seemed to be the only item that was being grilled – though I couldn’t confirm this due to the language barrier) but I didn’t get sick. Life is tough when you’re hungry and out on a day trip with only melted snacks.

In summary, I enjoyed visiting Skopje but I spent a lot of my time here being hungry. Bring a suitcase full of snacks if you’re a coeliac and visiting FYROM.
Have you visited Skopje? I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Hannah

 

 

2 Replies to “Gluten-Free Travel Experience: Skopje, Macedonia (FYROM)”

  1. Hi Hannah,

    I found your post very helpful, since I am also a coeliac and I will be going to Mk for a wedding next month! Can you possibly give me the name of this gf group from Skopje? I am quite worried about my stay there, especially since I will be with the group of my friend’s friends all the time and although they are all kind persons and know about my condition, I know it’s not going to be easy at all to eat all together etc etc…

    Best,

    Lavinia

    Like

    1. Hi Lavinia,
      Just make sure you have good self-catering facilities. I survived and enjoyed a week there with very basic facilities so I’m sure you’ll be okay! I can’t link the group, but if you search “coeliac Macedonia” on Facebook I’m sure you’ll find the page – they have the crossed grain symbol as their picture.
      I hope you enjoy your friend’s wedding 🙂

      Like

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