Skopje

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<map lat='41.99573251255606' lng='21.430377960205078' zoom='12' view='3' float='right' />

Skopje (Macedonian Cyrillic: Скопје) is the capital of Macedonia. It's home to around 750,000 people, a surprisingly large city.

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.

Hitchhiking out

North towards Kosovo

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. From there on you can walk to a gas 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 gas 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 6 AM). 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.

North-East towards Serbia, East towards Bulgaria, South towards Greece (E75)

From the center 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 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 kilometers 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.

Sleeping

If you're in Skopje looking for a place to sleep, try Art Hostel. It is right on the river near the Vero mall, just east of the city center, it's 12 euro per night with breakfast and very friendly hospitable staff. If you take a taxi (it's 1 euro at most). If you don't mind burning the midnight oil, there's an all night game/internet cafe at the train station called "Insomnia gaming club". 40 dinars an hour. Exchange office can also be found, downstairs.