When traveling in the Balkans, transportation is something that just isn’t easy to master. Getting from place to place can be pretty frustrating at times. North Macedonia is no different, so we thought we’d share our tips on how to get around Skopje and help make your Macedonian adventure easier.
We tried every form of transport during our 4 week stay in this unique and tasty destination. Taxi, bus, and on foot. You won’t find a metro or tram so your options in Skopje are few and while most official websites can be translated, they can still be quite confusing to the traveler.
Alright, let’s begin!
Getting Around Skopje by Bus
A bus seems easy enough, right? You would think there are ticket machines at certain bus stops or you can just buy from the driver. But not in Skopje! Tickets don’t even exist for the bus system.
Well, how do you get around then?
You must buy a bus card, which can have trips loaded on it. So, when you purchase a bus card you’ll be paying a small fee for the card itself and then you can choose how many trips you want to buy. We bought 10 trips each. The card costs 50 MKD, around $.90 cents USD, and one bus ride is 40 MKD, around $.70 cents USD.
Skopje buses are very cheap!
How do you use the bus card? When you first get on the bus there’s an electronic scanner near the door so just wait in line and place your card against the reader then grab a seat. Skopje has double-decker buses so you can choose the bottom or the top!
However, buying a bus card is a pain because it’s only sold at certain places. First and foremost, it’s sold at the main bus station. If you arrive in Skopje by bus like we did from Sofia and know you’re taking the bus to get around town, then buy the bus pass while you’re there! It’s okay if you don’t because we found this helpful list of other places to buy bus cards in Skopje.
Granted, there isn’t a sign saying “bus tickets here” or anything that seems helpful. In fact, we wandered around the bus station for a bit, asking where to buy bus tickets. It was a struggle!
You don’t buy Skopje bus cards inside the main station where all the ticket windows are, which is a little confusing. Those ticket windows are for longer trips around and out of North Macedonia. You can find lots of info on trips out of Skopje on their official Skopje bus website, SAS.
In order to buy city tickets, you have to exit the bus station and head past all the huge tour buses. You’ll see a little yellow bus with open doors under the overpass. It’s been converted into an office, which was cool, but some kind of sign saying “bus tickets” or something in English would have helped!
Interested in day trips from Skopje? Check out our post on What to Do in Ohrid for a great day trip idea. It’s a beautiful old town set on a large, pristine lake.
Now for the most confusing part about buses in Skopje…
Some bus stops have electronic signs that inform you of what bus number is coming and how long it will be. That’s awesome!
But some bus stops don’t have any information. None!
Of course, we were using Google Maps and thankfully it didn’t lead us astray. But don’t expect every bus stop to have information on bus numbers and times. There wasn’t even a paper schedule at most stops. How do people know which bus is coming and when?? We’ll never know. Most importantly, have Google Maps downloaded on your phone or grab a tourist phone plan (very affordable).
Pro Tip: If you’re using offline maps on Google, make sure you look up the public transportation directions BEFORE leaving WiFi.
Getting around Skopje on a bus was a real challenge but one that came in handy. Since we were staying in an Airbnb outside of the city center, the bus was quite helpful! We just had to get a little used to feeling confused!
Getting Around Skopje by Taxi
Taxis are by far the best way to get around Skopje! They’re dirt cheap, don’t require a bus card, and faster! Always make sure your taxi is metered. We never ran into an non-metered taxi except when arriving by bus. A lot of taxi drivers wait around at the bus station and will charge tourists more so be prepared to haggle or pay $5 to $10 USD more than usual. Otherwise, we loved taxis. At most, we paid $4 USD for a ride and that was across town!
There are taxi stands throughout the city and everywhere you look there’s a taxi. Grab one and go! Just be sure to have cash on hand. There are a few taxis that advertise credit cards or contactless pay but we always used cash.
Getting Around Skopje on Foot
Walking is the healthiest and most adventurous of the ways to get around Skopje! Our walk into the city center was just over 20 minutes so we’d get some good exercise and see parts of the city up close that we wouldn’t have otherwise. In fact, we found a yummy donut shop and some Macedonian fried chicken by walking our way into town. Of course, some of those summer days were sweltering and we’d go for something with wheels. But walk if you can! It’s better for you and the environment!
We hope this post has been helpful and given you some good tips for using public transportation in Skopje. It was pretty hard to use their bus system but we still made it work. If you’re traveling to Skopje and have any questions about getting around the city we’d love to help! Email or drop a comment below.
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