Popova Sapka Ski Resort

Popova Sapka ski resort, North Macedonia
Powder skiing at Popova Sapka
Early bird powder turns, Popova Shapka, North Macedonia
Freeride terrain in the Shar Mountains next to Popova Sapka ski resort
Eskimo Freeride cat skiing is a feature of Popova Šapka
Delectable local food is a highlight of any visit to Macedonia.
The village at Popova Sapka has some ski-in ski-out accommodation
Popova is all about the powder
Popova Sapka ski resort
Popova Sapka skiing
Popova Šapka ski resort
Main chairlift at Popova Shapka
More reasons to ski Popova Sapka in North Macedonia.....
Popova Sapka valley trail gets filled with locals!
Hotel Tetaks is the base of operations for Eskimo Freeride in Popova
Skiing Popova Shapka
Popova Shapka village
The sign atop the Hotel Tetaks speaks volumes about Popova Sapka ski resort
The skiing & snowboarding at Popova Sapka can be awesome
Ski Popova Sapka

Popova Sapka Ski Resort

Readers Ratings

Popova Sapka

Popova Sapka3/51
Popova Sapka3 out of 5 based on 1 reviews
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
Best Powder in Austria
World Nomads Travel Insurance
    Popova Sapka Ski Trail Map
  • Popova Sapka Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1800m – 2400m (600m)
  • Average Snow Fall
  • Lifts (4)
    2 Chairlifts
  • Ski Hours
    Mid Dec to Mid April
    9:00am - 3:00pm (if you lucky!)
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 20km
    Longest run – 5km
    Advanced - 35%
    Intermediate - 35%
    Beginner - 30%
  • Lift Prices (Day Ticket 18/19)
    Adult - €15
    Child - €7

Popova Sapka Ski Resort, (North) Macedonia

Macedonia's premier ski resort, Popova Sapka (English translation - Priest's Hat!!) is located west of the capital, Skopje. Set amongst Macedonia's highest peaks in the Shar (Šar) mountains, Popova Sapka (Popova Šapka, Popova Shapka) is home to the superb Eskimo Freeride cat skiing operation.

Even though it is a crumbly shadow of its former self, a visit to Popova Sapka is a cultural & culinary experience vastly different to other European ski holidays. Popova is not a family ski holiday destination as such, but anyone that can already ski & has their own backcountry gear will enjoy it immensely.

Pros & Cons for Popova Šapka Ski Resort


  • Uncrowded & intriguing powder skiing destination;
  • Great terrain inbounds & via ski touring or snow-cat;
  • Food, drink, accommodation & lift passes are incredibly cheap;
  • Food is awesome – plentiful & delectable;
  • ’Ski in’ accommodation available;


  • Aging & dilapidated infrastructure;
  • Chairlift operation is unreliable;
  • Accommodation can be of a lower standard than the rating would otherwise suggest;
  • Piste trails are limited & grooming is poor;
  • No quality ski rental or repair location available (other than the cat ski operator);
  • The best restaurant is incredibly hard to find without local knowledge (should possibly be listed below)!

Pro or Con (depending on your perspective)

  • Snow-pack can change dramatically from day to day;
  • Packs of dogs wander the ski area & may intimidate some visitors & intrigue others!
  • Not a family friendly ski destination!

Popova Sapka Skiing & Snowboarding Terrain

Popova Shapka ski resort will appeal to powder hounds looking for a sense of adventure & something completely different. The ski slopes are all set above the treeline on high alpine meadow terrain requiring very little snow base to become skiable. See the simple & outdated Popova Sapka terrain map here. Note that several of the lifts no longer function.

The on-piste terrain in the resort is limited to about 20km of not so well groomed trails (if you are lucky). Skiable vertical is around 600m. Ski lifts include a couple of very old double chairs & 2 surface lifts. Plans are gathering dust to put in a new six-seater chairlift - the chairs have been on the ground for 3 years now. The off piste has loads of opportunity & minimal competition, unless the cat ski clients have a down day! There is night skiing on weekends on one of the lower surface tows.

Only one lift is important. The double chair heading up to the summit opens up the real business at Popova Shapka - the expansive backcountry ski terrain. Access via the lift and then either human powdered or snowcat powdered! Terrain is varied and can include easy alpine bowls, steep chutes, tree skiing & everything in between. Several peaks can be climbed & skied without too much effort, including the area's tallest, Titov Vrv (2747m).

The area is best experienced through a combination of ski touring via the chairlift & cat skiing.

Cat Skiing Popova Sapka

To truly experience the area, the main reason to ski Popova Sapka is cat skiing.

Snow & Weather

The Shar Mountains have historically received a high annual snowfall of around 6 - 10m, but it can vary markedly from season to season. A reasonably settled snow base is on the ground by December. The months of January, February & March provide the best conditions, with the coldest month being February and the most snow falling in March. Quality snow can still be accessible into May.

As with all high alpine areas, mother nature can fickle. During the Powderhounds visit in mid January 2019, the snow was blower powder early in the week, then after a huge wind storm, was stripped back to the worst kind of variable alpine muck. A week later it was pristine powder again. Who can judge what it will be like when you visit. Either way, the area doesn't need much of a base to be skiable. Hoorah!

The ski terrain in Popova is mainly south facing so it gets plenty of sun. With that the snowpack can become baked if temps rise too much.

Where is Popova Sapka Macedonia?

Popova Sapka is in the north west of Macedonia (Now Republic of North Macedonia) 21km by road west of Tetovo & 70km west of the Skopje.

Travel from Skopje to Popova Sapka can be achieved by taxi, bus or train via Tetovo. Buses & a train service make the journey as far as Tetovo but are NOT recommended. We recommend the use of a private transfer either direct from the airport or from downtown Skopje, organised by the cat ski operator, hotel or booked via our transfer affiliate here.

Flights into Skopje Alexander the Great Airport

The Skopje Alexander the Great airport is a modern facility 23km by road east of Skopje in Macedonia. During winter, flight origins include all major cities in western Europe, England & Scandinavia plus Dubai & Doha in the Middle East, & Istanbul Turkey.

Daily flights to Skopje from any one origin city are limited. Daily flights exist from Vienna, Austria & offer the most convenience if travelling to Macedonia whilst already in Europe. Other useful airports include Zurich (Powderhounds flew from here!), Doha & Dubai if travelling from other international origins.

Search for a great deal on a flight to Skopje here. Note that several budget airlines have luggage 'add-ons' for ski equipment & very cramped seating. We recommend using the Swiss affiliate Edelweiss or other major airlines.

The Skopje airport is well served by car rental and hire companies. Vehicles should be checked to ensure they are set up for winter driving (i.e. 4WD/AWD, snow tyres, chains). Have a good reason to hire a car, because winter driving & navigation in Macedonia has its challenges off the main arterial roads. We recommend using local taxi & private transfer services in Macedonia. Ask your hotel or tour operator to assist if unsure.

Popova Sapka Hotels & Accommodation

Popova Shapka is blessed with several hotels of varying quality nestled around the lift base & up on the mountain proper. Standards vary greatly & most hotels are only rated relative to the local area & may not equate to a similarly rated hotel in The Alps. Some of the hotels have recently been upgraded from thier previously delapidated state, much improving the comfort of guests. Search & book Popova accommodation here.

Ski & Snowboard Rentals

Unless you have organised ski or snowboard rentals with the cat ski or other tour operator prior to arrival at Popova, do NOT expect to rent quality gear in the ski resort. "Bring your own" is the mantra if visiting Popova & the Balkans in general.


The Powderhounds reviewed Popova Sapka in 2019 & whilst the ski experience was many & varied, the overall journey & adventure were first rate. See our review via the link in the left column (or top of page if on a mobile).

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Tours in or near Popova Sapka

Cat Skiing Tours

Eskimo Freeride Cat Skiing Packages
4 Days | 3 Nights | 3 Days Cat Skiing
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Eskimo Freeride in North Macedonia offers fully customised cat skiing & snowboarding powder packages including guided cat skiing, safety equipment, accommodation & all meals. Choose your own dates & duration to get the best conditions. You can add ski hire & transfers...
Price p/p From price based on 4-day package which includes 3 days cat skiing & 3 nights lodging in high season (Jan 20 to Mar 20)
Base/invoice currency is in EUR inc taxes.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 840
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See all Cat Skiing tours that visit Popova Sapka here