The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia sits right in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula. Surrounded by five other countries, Macedonia has been affected by a variety of Ottoman and Orthodox influences, which have contributed to the country's tumultuous past.
The capital Skopje is largely modern design since it was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1963. The resulting modern feel and urban vibe give it a contemporary air. The Old Quarter still stands though and is a charming district of historic caravanserais and Ottoman-era mosques. The attractive riverside promenade and the tenth-century Kale fortress are also worth a look.
Outside the city, visit Kratovo, an intriguing village built in an ancient volcano crater, hike up to the mystical Treskavec monastery, dramatically positioned atop Mt Zlato and close to the town of Prilep, search out bears, boars and eagles in Pelistar National Park and ski the southern slopes of Sar Planina.
Lake Ohrid though is home to some of Macedonia's most spectacular attractions. The town of Ohrid is one of the most picturesque, with cobbled streets, seven churches and pebbly beaches. It's the former seat of the Macedonian Tsar Samuil and the walls of his fortress survive still. The Cathedral of St Sophia and the seventeenth-century Church of Sveti Naum are particularly impressive and, like the other churches, contain some magnificent frescoes.