People walking down the streets of Skopje's Old Bazaar in winter
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Money in North Macedonia

Maysie Dee

Contributing writer

Not only is North Macedonia a beautiful little country of mountains, historic churches, gorgeous lakes, caves, and canyons, but you can enjoy all of its wonders without breaking your budget. You’ll be happily pleased to find that your vacation dollars go a long way in Macedonia.

To be sure, prices have increased slightly in the last couple of years. But, In fact, Macedonia is the second most economical country in Europe for all tourist costs. Only its western neighbor, Albania, ranks as slightly less expensive. 

Local currency is the Macedonian denar (MKD), and it is locked to use within its borders. Therefore, you should bring either Euros or US dollars for easiest conversion once you get there. It’s a good idea to have some local denars in your pocket for making little purchases at roadside markets, small restaurants and when dealing with souvenir street vendors.

 As your visit comes to a close, spend down your denars; you won’t be able to change them back into another international currency once you leave Macedonia. Even neighboring countries won’t be equipped to transfer them for you.

Currency exchange and ATMs

One of the easiest ways to exchange your cash without incurring bank fees is at currency exchange kiosks.You’ll be able to exchange your USD, Euros, (and likely) Australian dollars and British pounds, and the rates are usually about the same all over the country.

You’ll probably be asked to show your passport and be given a receipt.

If you have MKD left at the end of your trip, you can exchange them back into your preferred currency at an exchange kiosk (bring your receipt, even from another exchange window; they might ask).


Another easy choice for getting denars once you arrive to Macedonia is via ATMs. These handy machines are prevalent all over the country, with some charging higher ATM usage fees than others.

Although it changes every so often, the best banks for zero fees are HalkBank and Stopanska Bank, which have branches all over the major cities in the country. Also, Silk Road Bank in Ohrid is fee-free for withdrawals. (of course, remember that your overseas bank may charge you for using your card, but we’re talking about charges from the Macedonian banks).

Most banks will allow you withdrawals up to 500 EUR, but that varies between banks and also depends on your own bank’s policies.

Paying in Macedonia

Denar notes (named after the denarius, of ancient Roman Kingdom origin) are denominated in bills of 10, 20, 50, 100, 1000, 2000, and 5000 value.

One EUR equals approximately 61.51 Macedonian denar (MKD).

So, one hundred MKD = about 1.62 EUR, with a 2000 MKD note equaling approximately 32.50 EUR.

Denar coins come in 1, 5, 10, and 50 denominations. The ones and fives are used as change, but are not worth anything on their own, unless you amass a pocketful of them! Otherwise, the 10 denars are worth about .16 EUR and the 50’s amount to about .80 EUR.

Although most taxis (especially airport taxis) will accept Euros as payment, the legal currency is the MKD, so you’re expected to pay for most everything with denars.

If at all possible, wait until you get into town to exchange your international currency for MKD, as you’re bound to get a better rate there than at the airport.

Using Credit/Debit Cards

International credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Macedonia. Most hotels, restaurants, casinos, car rentals, larger grocery stores and pharmacies all accept cards with no question.

You can feel fairly confidant to use your card, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand for smaller purchases or for paying a private driver for a ride.

This is also true when wandering around the old bazaar areas in cities and towns, and you find that amazing one-off item that you really, really want.

If you do some incredible haggling to get the price into your budget, it’s always better to have nearly the exact amount on hand in cash. That way, you can close the deal without showing off a fancy gold credit card or by trying to make a small payment with a huge local bill.

Street vendors will often not have change for large bills anyway, and won’t have a POS machine for accepting a card purchase. The same might be the case for some museum entry fees, last minute boat or ferry rides and, of course, street food purchases.

Before traveling, be sure to confirm how your original hotel or accommodation expects to be paid on arrival. If they require cash, you can make a quick stop to get just enough cash to make that payment.

Tipping in Macedonia

As in many European countries, tipping in Macedonia is not a normal part of the culture. Most waitstaff will not expect a tip for doing their routine job of serving you a coffee or a meal.

But if you ask favors, have special requests or have a large complicated group order, then, by all means, thank your service staff members by leaving a little something extra.

Do check the bill to see if a service fee is included, in which case, you’re covered and no more is expected. Even though it’s difficult for some westerners to walk out without leaving a tip, it is the norm in Macedonia.

If you hire a driver who goes out of his way to offer you over-the-top service, then you could tip a few Euros. The same goes for tour operators/guides who spend a lot of their time with you… again, unlike other countries, they’re not expecting a tip, so it’s really up to you.

Remember that it’s customary to negotiate a fair price for services, such as a taxi ride or a private transfer; in these cases, your driver is covering his needs (including any roadway tolls) before he agrees, so you can consider that the deal is fair by all reckoning.

Scams in Macedonia

Macedonia is a very safe country and there aren’t that many tourist scams compared to other countries in the world. But, there are always a few opportunistic people who make a living out of scamming unknowing tourists, so it’s good to be a bit on guard when in a new area.

Fake tour guides

One thing that makes tourists vulnerable to fake tour guides is the fact that signage in Macedonia is in Cyrillic script. It’s quite easy to stand in the main square of the capital city or any other town, looking around in dismay, as you ponder directions. This is an invitation for a “well-meaning” local to offer guide services.

Note: Helpful sincere locals may stop and offer to point you in the right direction, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

Sometimes fake guides have a whole spiel worked out to convince you that you need a guided tour. What they really want is to charge you a lot of money and not actually offer you a useful service.

The best way to avoid this is to have a clear idea of where you’re going before setting out, and to avoid lonely places, especially at night. GPS can be helpful in this case, or ask you hotel or guesthouse to hook you up with a reputable guide if you’d like someone to show you the sights.

Child pickpockets

It doesn’t happen often, but you might be confronted by a forlorn or needy child or group of children who pester you for money. They can be really creative, often holding a starving puppy, or pretending to be hurt or ill.

The best plan is to avoid them and not engage, as even if you offer some money, they’ll likely tell you it’s not enough and annoy you to give them more, sometimes getting aggressively hostile while doing so.

ATM helpers

If you’re looking for a specific bank’s ATM, you might be tempted to ask a local where it is… if you need to do this, try stepping into a shop or a bank in the area and ask. Otherwise, someone on the street might offer to take you there and help you with your transaction.

If they do this, they might be trying to get your pin number and account number to drain your account.

Never follow someone to an ATM, and if you do ask for directions from someone on the street, don’t go directly to the ATM. Note the location, head the opposite direction and circle back later when the “helper” has most likely lost interest in waiting for you to show up.

Note: This does not happen regularly in Macedonia, but just remain alert.

Typical costs in Macedonia

Here are just a few examples of prices in Macedonia as at April 2024: 

  • Pre-paid SIM card w/ 200MB data – 6 EUR

  • Intercity train ride (one-way) - 2-12 EUR

  • Municipal bus ride - .45-.70 EUR

  • Taxi- per every 2 km – 2 EUR

  • Fast food meal – 4.78 EUR

  • Cappuccino - 1.12 - 2.66 EUR

  • Traditional lunch – 7 EUR

  • Beer in a restaurant – 2 EUR

  • Milk, 1 litre – 1.03 EUR

  • Bottled water (small)  - .30 EUR

  • Bubbly water (small) - .42 EUR

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Maysie Dee

Author - Maysie Dee

Maysie Dee is a freelance writer, content editor, and recipe creator. She and her husband have travelled across the world for decades as natural product consultants, collecting stories along the way.

Last Updated 17 May 2024

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