Skopje (North Macedonian Cyrillic: Скопје) is the capital of North Macedonia. It's home to around 500,000 people.
Hitching in and around
Skopje has a ring road.
If your driver is going into Skopje but you wish to continue onward towards another direction, the ring road cannot be used to go around the city and then leave from a different exit. In the direction towards Kumanovo, for instance, cars are driving very fast and there are no bus stops or petrol stations where they can stop. It may well be faster to go into Skopje and then take a bus towards a recommended hitchhiking spot. If you are coming from SKP airport, here (1) you can catch locals who go towards the city. Alternatively, from Petrovec there is bus #53, the round trip is 150 MKD, half the price of Vardar Express, but you have to walk.
North towards Kosovo
Option 1: American Embassy
The U.S. embassy is a short walk uphill from the centre of town. There's a traffic light in front of it on the main road out of town towards the Kosovar border. Just flash your sign and smile at anyone with foreign plates - it takes seconds.
- Rebew (Aug. 2022) Hitchhiked from here to Pristina (two guys), took us ten minutes and a truck driver took us to the border, where we were able to flag down an informal taxi. We explained that we weren't going to pay and he said that he would take us anyway. Be careful about those however - there were several stopping for us but not all of them were as nice.
- ceever (Dec. 2022) We put our thumb out about 50 m beyond the traffic lights and waited for just about 15 min in light rain. However, we got scammed by a taxi driver, who invited us in and later revealed (just before Ferizaj) that it would cost us €50-60. We went into a discussion and told him to have this settled at the next police station, where he claimed to go now. He backed down right before Ferizaj and we gave him our "last" few coins of €3 something. Make sure to not make our mistake, unless you a keen on a discussion or only have a few euros or denari with you anyway. Some details on the scam: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Hitchhiking#Scams ... good luck 👍
From the main bus station located next to the train station, take a bus #18 and get off on the stop just before a little bridge situated above the road to Prishtina. This stop is shortly after the bus goes through a very industrial district of Skopje (the bus is still on a dirt road but it has come up against a newer asphalt road, the stop is not visibly marked so just press the button to get off when you are coming up on a bridge that crosses the road to your right). From there on you can walk to a petrol station located around 200m forward with the road (to it leads a small road parallel to the road to Prishtina; from the ride side of it). This petrol station is around 5km from the Ring road over which you have to pass. There are some cars going straight to Kosovo but it would be best if you find a ride to the Ring road and then cross to the other side. From there there will be only cars going to Kosovo as the border is only 12km away and there is only one village on the way.
Alternatively, you can try catching the bus #64 but it goes not so often as the bus #18. It goes to the village of Orman (make sure with the driver that it does; no one here reported taking this bus so far). This village is on the left side of the road to Prishtina already behind the Ring road. Thus, in the principle this is the best place you can get to.
You can check the schedule of the buses on the website: http://www.jsp.com.mk/VozenRed.aspx Be sure to to go to the second tab with 'Prigradski linii'. It is not sure if the schedule of the bus 64A on the website is the schedule of the bus 64 going to Orman. However, when you reach the bus station you can get all the information about bus schedules in one of the booths - the one situated closest to the city centre.
West towards Tetovo
Take a bus #2 all the way to the last stop to the West. You can check how it goes here: http://www.jsp.com.mk/Flash.aspx?file=2.swf and you can check the timetable on the website given in the previous section (although this bus goes every 10 minutes since 06:00). Then, walk 500 metres forward and you can hitchhike. Unfortunately, there is no sidewalk so be careful. And do not panic, you will not see the highway from the last stop. It still requires a bit of walk. There is a dirt next to the road after those 500 metres on which cars can stop. It is not ideal and if you do not like it you can walk on to the highway and hitchhike when the cars actually enter the highway.
Be careful, if you want to go to Tirana from Skopje, it is much better to go through Prizren than it is through Struga. There is a new road as of mid-2011 from Prizren to Tirana (great highway for most of the time) and so it is not only shorter through Kosovo but much faster too.
From the centre of Skopje, get bus #2 (or any other bus that heads for Avtokomanda) eastwards all the way to the last stop. This is the the eastern edge of Skopje city proper, on the main road east before the turn off north towards Serbia.
It's around 5 km before the road splits into north (Belgrade, Sofia) and south (Greece), so have a sign saying which way you want to go. For north, I recommend a sign saying KU (in Latin, not Cyrillic since it's the way the car number plates work) for Kumanovo (the first city before the Sofia junction), and for south 'VE' for Veles - the first big city south (I went to Prilep very easy in march 2011 by using a 'VE' sign and then 'PP' from Veles to Prilep).
For hitchhiking to the north you can take a bus from the train station of Skopje to the direction of Kumanovo, and tell the bus driver to drop you at the pay-toll before Kumanovo. The bus is really cheap, and at the pay-toll you have a good chance to find a lift. If the bus driver doesn't understand English you can use the words "autostop" and "patarina", which means pay-toll. When you are at a pay-toll, also the coaches will stop to ask you if you want to go with them, but not for free. But be careful, a bus ticket from Skopje to Belgrade isn't more like 20 euro.
After the Serbian border the motorway from North Macedonia turns into a normal road, but as it is the only road from Skopje to Belgrade, you have the same amount of traffic like on the motorway.
The E871 road towards Sofia splits off a few kilometres after Kumanovo. On Sundays, however, there are very few cars at the Kriva Palanka-Kyustendil border crossing, and from Skopje on Sundays it may well be faster to go up to Niš in Serbia and then back down into Bulgaria instead of choosing this crossing.
- After hitchhiking quite a few times out of Skopje in November and December 2011, I believe that it is best to take any bus (there are many of them going there) to Avtokomanda and leave the bus like 2 or 3 stops after Avtokomanda itself (a place where city buses are left for night). The stop is situated as soon as the bus goes off the main road leading out of the city. This will take place after passing under a bridge. Directly there you will see a petrol station which was always full of cars. I would get a lift there not more than after 5 or 10 minutes on average. I spoke few sentences in North Macedonian (related to asking for a ride especially) and knew Russian so that enabled me to address all the people. So I guess there is no point in taking buses all the way to patarinas near Kumanovo etc. Half of the cars at this petrol station go to Kumanovo anyway. This is the place on the map. Good luck! Rozwal
- Definitely agree with Rozwal, i have been brought to an enormous truck park 5-10 km after the petrol station in avtokomanda and wasted there 4hrs (july 2012)..so wait at the petrol station, lots of people go at least till kumanovo, and there there is another big petrol station. Alternative is also hitch on the motorway trucks and cars do stop even when they go 100km/h..
When you go from Skopje to Kumanovo and later to Serbia or Belgrade. In Kumanovo you have one big petrol station near high way(you can not miss it) and it is very good place to hitchhike there. When you arrive at border with Serbia and maybe stuck there even there is a lot of traffic going by. It is better after you cross border and enter in Serbia, than just walk maybe about 100 hundred meters forward because there is a lot of truck going to Belgrade or some other towns in Serbia. Truck use different entrance to border and that entrance is just a little bit further than entrance for normal cars, you will see it. If you do not want to pay for bus in Skopje to go toward Serbia, you could just walk from main bus terminal in Skopje and follow way to high way that leads to Serbia. You will need to walk about 20 till 25 minutes and you will coma at first petrol station, there you can hitchhike.
Advice for people, who will be going to South (Veles, Greece). Actual for April 2015. You should take suburban bus #53 (costs 35 denars). I took it on Autokomanda, but it seems to start from Transportation Center (railway and bus station). There are several ways to use it. First one I used by myself. I left bus in Petrovec and was going for 500 m to the east to the motorway. You will see a pay terminal, so cars are slow there and you can stop them. Also you can walk along the motorway for 500 m to pass the flyover and hitchhike after flyover. The second way is to go by bus #53 further to the south and reach motorway by foot after flyover. But cars will be too fast there.
Free option is going up to Vodno mountain or Matka canyon and camp there. Vodno you can reach also by foot if not there is a bus taking you until the funicular (pretty expensive) and after you continue by foot. Matka by foot is a bit further (10 km) but easy to hitch to and also there's public transportation leading you there. If you are without tent on Vodno top there are also some empty wooden houses perfect to sleep inside with a mat.