Winter boating on Lake Matka in beautiful Matka Canyon, Skopje

Text & photos Copyright © Estrella Azul

DURING OUR STAY IN SKOPJE, MACEDONIA we took a couple of day trips as well. One of them was to Dolna Matka Village to see the Matka Canyon.

River view of the canyon

About 15 kilometers from downtown Skopje, Matka Canyon is a natural gorge, with the Treska River running through. Because the river is dammed at one end, the canyon hosts Lake Matka—the oldest artificial lake of Macedonia.

The natural wonders of the gorge

Taking full advantage of Skopje’s great public transit and the buses running regularly even to villages near it, we took the number 60 bus from the Transporten Centar and reached the last bus stop in Dolna Matka Village ahead of schedule.

Views of the dam

From the bus stop, we headed toward the dam and, at a slow pace, while also taking pictures, reached it in 15-20 minutes.

Canyon Matka Hotel and Restaurant and the St Andrew monastery

Whether you’re visiting the canyon for a few hours, a day trip, or want to stay for however long, there will be lots for you to do.

Picnic area before reaching the canyon

As we walked, all along the path we saw plenty of picnic spots and playgrounds. You can rent boats or kayaks, and if you fancy a swim during warm weather, that is also possible (though the water’s quite chilly from what I heard). The scenery is amazing!

Entering Matka Canyon

One can opt for hiking a 10-kilometer trail, along which several monasteries can be seen and visited, or there are guided tours offered at the visitor’s center. There are also boat trips that will let you experience the canyon by water and visit the caves.

Narrow hiking paths

The boat rides start just before arriving at St. Andrew Monastery and the Canyon Matka Hotel & Restaurant.

We waited around about 10 minutes until a driver arrived, and then decided to wait some more, as we needed a minimum of five people for the boat to be worth starting.

The canyon restaurant

Buildings in the canyon

We actually started to walk the narrow path along the cliffs to go and explore the area when the boat driver shouted after us to go back as someone else showed up for the boat tour.

Boat on the lake near the docks

A designated boating trip with the caves tour can last about 2 hours. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, they weren’t operating. However, we lucked out as our boat driver was extremely kind and wanted tourists to have a great experience. He took us into a cave himself and even apologized that he couldn’t give us many details about the cave as he wasn’t the tour guide.

Boating on Lake Matka

After reaching Vrelo Cave’s river bank it was a short walk up a flight of stairs to the cave and a short walk through the cave itself. Even though we didn’t get to explore the full cave, it was still spectacular; we saw lots of stalagmites, drip-stone formations and drip-stone pillars and stalactites.

Inside Vrelo Cave

There are two lakes in the cave, one of which reputedly makes Vrelo the deepest underwater cave in the world. Men were at work fixing the lighting inside the cave so we couldn’t proceed all the way to the lake.

It can also be explored by divers, so if you have a licence I’m sure it would be neat to check out. My pictures don’t really do it justice.

Blue waters of Treska River

The views of the canyon and boating through it are incredible even in winter. The water is bright blue in some places—I can only imagine how breathtaking the canyon must be when everything’s green. It’s hard to believe that such beauty and peaceful scenery lies so close to a hustling and bustling capital city!


Estrella in the Greek Amphitheatre ruins, Taormina, Sicily

Estrella Azul is a young emerging writer, passionate about reading, floral art and photography, with an artistic personality and a soulful outlook on life. She is a Hungarian girl living and writing from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the capital of historical region Transylvania. Estrella is our European correspondent, she currently serves as the photo editor here at Milliver’s Travels, and she dreams of embarking on a round-the-world trip. To read more of her creative writing, her thoughts and daily happenings, visit Life’s a stage – WebBlog©. Read more of her stories on Milliver’s Travels by visiting Estrella’s story index.

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  1. Hi! When did you visit? I’m visiting Skopje in January and want to know if it’s possible to do a boat ride in Matka Canyon during this time.

  2. Did you visit in December? I am planning to visit in December this year and hope it will be fun activity. Do you recommend us to do this in December 2019?

  3. Thanks for the write up. it was informative.
    Love from Salalah, Oman

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