Things to Do in Krusevo: Small but Mighty
We went into the small grocery shop to grab the essentials: water, crisps and a bottle of local wine. While paying at the till, I asked the cashier if she knew the time of the bus from Krusevo into Skopje (our next leg of our journey). She said she wasn’t sure. You know, fair enough, it’s always worth asking the question though. Next thing I know, she pulls out her phone, calls the bus company, and books us on to the next bus to Skopje on Monday! Thank you very much, you absolute super star. The kindness of people we meet while travelling will never cease to amaze me.
Krusevo (Kruševo) has legendary status in North Macedonia. In 1903, Krusevo fought and defeated the ruling Ottomans in an organised rebellion known as the Ilinden Uprising. The Republic of Krusevo was established, and then existed for ten days before the Ottomans took the city back. The ferocity and bravery of this heroic feat is commemorated each year on 2nd August: North Macedonia’s Republic Day.
Krusevo is a small mountain town absolutely brimming with retro quirks and authenticity. Old stone houses have wooden garage doors hanging off their hinges while a classic Mini rusts inside. More opulent houses stand tall, proudly displaying their intricately painted facades. Tobacco leaves are strung up under wooden shelters to dry. Dark purple plums ripen in the trees. Brightly coloured tractors are left parked up on side streets.
Old stone house
Yet to be discovered by foreign tourists, Krusevo is a town full of history, pride and beauty: you will likely be the only non-local. Take a trip up into the mountains to breathe the fresh air and experience real life in North Macedonia away from the cities. You could easily fill one day exploring this beauty, and many people visit as a day trip from Skopje, but I would recommend staying for at least one night.
Find all our recommendations on top things to do in Krusevo in this guide.
Things to Do in Krusevo: Small but Mighty
How to Get to Krusevo
The closest airport to Krusevo is Ohrid (OHD), however, I could not find any direct bus connections from here. So, it would be easier to fly into Skopje International Airport (SKP) and get a bus from here. There are at least three buses each day to Krusevo from Skopje: 7:45, 15:45, 16:45.
We went by bus from Bitola, but there is also a direct connection to Prilep. There are no trains up into the mountains to get to Krusevo.
The bus from Bitola to Krusevo leaves from Bitola bus station at 12:20 each day and costs 240 MKD for the hour journey. You can buy your ticket in advance at the bus station using cash or card.
The bus from Krusevo to Skopje leaves at 07:00 each morning except Mondays when there is no bus. It takes about two and a half, maybe three hours to reach Skopje and costs 600 MKD, payable on the bus in cash.
What is marked as the ‘bus station’ in Krusevo, is no longer a bus station as such. It is permanently locked with a sign in the door suggesting you book tickets online at a website that it provides: the website doesn’t exist, hence the anecdote at the start of this post! This location is, however, still where the bus will pick you up and drop you off.
I used Balkan Viator for most of our bus info around the country.
Be Amazed by the Ilinden Monument
Also known as Makedonium, the design of this monument is bizarre: an abstract spomenik structure, classic of Yugoslavia, it really is ‘out there’ and not in keeping with the rest of the town. But because it is so unusual, it makes it all the more interesting to see in person. Inside, there are stained glass windows and abstract shapes in the walls. There is a small entrance fee of 60 MKD to be paid in cash.
Opened in 1974, the memorial commemorates those who fought during the Ilinden Uprising and the struggle for freedom during WW2.
Ilinden monument or spaceship?
Take me to your leader
Stained glass interior
Abstract wall decoration
Take a Scenic Stroll around Krusevo Lake
After you have explored the Ilinden Monument, follow the path behind the monument through some woodland and down to Krusevo Lake. It is a tranquil spot, surrounded by rolling hills, where you could sit for a picnic or just wander round the lake before heading back into town.
Fancy a dip?
Search for the Intricate Detailing on House Facades
The majority of the buildings in Krusevo are not ornately decorated, so these buildings with opulent paintwork stand out like a sore thumb. The paintings show animals, flowers, patterns and are often dated. Just above the balcony doors is where you’re most likely to find the most detailed art. Keep an eye out.
Ornate facade decoration
Find all the Gritty Details in Krusevo’s Streets
Whether it be the rusting cars with flat tyres that have been hanging around for a long time, or the wooden gates that are all a bit wonky, or the exposed brickwork in the architecture; they all contribute to giving this town its character! We spent a whole day exploring every nook and cranny of this unapologetically authentic town.
Rusty old Beetle
I spy a beautiful door
Tabacco leaves drying out
Be Astounded by the Phenomenal Lokum at Tagas Balkan
Honestly, the best lokum (Turkish delight type sweet) we have tried. Nothing fancy, no myriad of flavours to choose from. Your options are nuts or no nuts. The texture is what makes it so special. How is it so soft?! Buy yourself a box and thank me later.
Watch the Republic Day Parade
If you are lucky enough to be in Krusevo over Republic Day (2nd August), you are in for a treat! There is a parade of people on horseback through the streets up to the Ilinden monument and then there is partying til dawn.
Here they come
Learning the ropes
Make Friends with the Locals
We make friends with all the stray dogs across the Balkans. This area of the world seems to really care for their strays and it is so wholesome to see. We met some of the cutest stray dogs up in the streets furthest away from town.
The custest wee doggos
Have you been to Krusevo? Is there anything else you would add?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations or questions.
Thanks for reading!