Skopje, North Macedonia
After decades of being known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM for short), newly rechristened North Macedonia is a seriously underrated country to visit -- it’s dirt cheap, boasts beautiful Greek and Byzantine ruins, and is home to some incredibly kind people. Its capital city, Skopje, sports a winding Albanian quarter complete with ancient mosques, bustling markets, and one of the region’s best party scenes. Outside of the Albanian quarter, the newly built governmental center exudes a Vegas-esque Caesar’s Palace vibe intended to evoke Macedonia’s “glory days” -- 2,000 years ago, the time of Alexander the Great. Visit the great man himself in all his metallic glory: a 78-foot statue of an unnamed (for political reasons) warrior-king on a massive, anatomically correct horse, its beachball-sized bronzed balls gleaming proudly in the sunlight. Truly a sight to behold.
The one must-do thing: Check out Kapan An, a nightclub built into a historic 15th-century caravanserai, a traditional Muslim inn and trading house in the Old Bazaar district. In the warmer months, parties in the building’s spacious central courtyard last until the early morning hours.