Matka Canyon and the lake of the same name that fills it is arguably one of the best-known and most popular attractions in North Macedonia. It is located in the Northern half of the country, only minutes away from the country’s capital, Skopje.
Seeing the area from above, one fully expects the canyon to have formed by the forces of the water in it. But in fact, the canyon is filled by an artificial lake, created by damming the Treska river in 1937 with the goal to generate electricity for Skopje.
There are two ways to explore the canyon. One is the hiking path along the lakeshore, which is an easy one without significant altitude changes. From the path, great views of both the water and the canyon walls can be had, leading the visitor into an area that’s popular for its quiet serenity. The second option is by water. Visitors can rent canoes for a rather small fee, the lake is calm and easy to navigate. Hiking is a good way to find out about the natural diversity of the canyon, which boasts several endemic plant species and most notably, a large variety of butterfly species as well as other animals.
The river has been home to a number of churches and monasteries for centuries. The oldest, Matka Monastery, has been built in the 14th century. Another one, St. Andrew’s Monastery, is located right at the shore deep in the canyon and can be accessed by kayak. High above it, St. Nicholas Monastery towers over the canyon. From up there, great views over the lake can be enjoyed. Matka Lake is also well-known for its caves. There are several at the lake, some can only be reached by boat.
There is one hotel at the canyon, which also has the only restaurant in the area. Matka Canyon can be reached by taking the A2 highway to exit Glumovo, follow signage from there.