Bitola is the second largest city in the country and has always been an important administrative, cultural, commercial and educational centre. During the ottoman period the city was home to many consulates from European countries and therefore got its nickname "the city of consuls".
Shirok Sokak (photo by: Antti T. Nissinen)
Bitola's most famous landmark is the Shirok Sokak, a pedestrian street in the city centre that is the beating heart of the cultural and entertainment events. You can't say you've visited Bitola until you take a stroll down Shirok Sokak and experience the nightlife and daily buzz that it has to offer. The street is filled with countless coffee shops and bars and is packed day in day out, making Bitola one of the best destinations for a vibrant nightlife.
In the vicinity of Bitola is also the ancient town and archaeological dig of Heraclea which is believed to date from the time of Phillip II of Macedon. Same as ancient Ohrid, Heraclea was on the famous Roman Via Egnatia path and today the remains are carefully preserved. A must see are the amazing mosaics still preserved in the basilicas.
Statue in Heraclea (photo by: yeowatzup)
The museum in Bitola has many interesting displays including many permanent exhibits from the nearby archeological dig Heraclea, decorations and presentation of traditional Bitola living rooms from the turn of the 20th century. In addition, the museum of Bitola has a Memorial Room of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founding father of modern Turkey. Ataturk traces his beginnings to Bitola, where he was a student and fell in love for the first time with a Greek woman called Eleni Karinte.
Bitola Museum (photo by: Carole Raddato)
The old bazaar and the bezisten (closed bazaar) are also remains of the strong influence from the Ottoman Empire in Bitola. The old bazaar is smaller than the one in Skopje but it is said to have consisted of 30 different types of markets during its peak. Nowadays although a portion of that size remains merchants still flock to the stone streets to sell their goods and trade. The bezisten is a closed market with numerous and various shops inside, from jewelry to handcrafted accessories to chain stores for clothing. Make sure you have your wallets full before entering these mazes of shops!
Old Bazaar Bitola (photo by: Vesna Markoska)
Another attraction that is close to Bitola is Pelister National Park and its gorgeous, green slopes crisscrossed with trails and paths for hiking and mountain biking. Pelister National Park is also on our top 10 list of places to visit in Macedonia, together with the two other national parks, Mavrovo and Galichica.
Pelister National Park (photo by: Vesna Markovska)