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how to get around North Macedonia buses taxis prices

Traveling in the Balkans is an exciting yet quite challenging thing. Buses here usually don’t have fixed timetables; even if they do, the departure times are mostly incorrect. North Macedonian buses are no exception.

I traveled through North Macedonia for a week, using various types of transportation, including buses, taxis, and cars. So I’ve experienced the main routes and researched how the public transportation works here.

In this article, I’ll share all the details about getting around North Macedonia, its public buses, and taxis, from my own experience.

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North Macedonian Buses: Traveling North Macedonia By Bus/Minibus & Van

Traveling North Macedonia using buses or minivans is an adventure on its own. The buses usually don’t have a fixed timetable, only in bigger cities like Skopje or Bitola. 

I highly recommend checking the departure times directly at the bus station in smaller towns like Ohrid. Always ask the day before when a bus leaves for your destination. 

I found a good-looking bus schedule online, which looked official, and I thought the bus was leaving then. However, when I came to the bus station and asked at the counter, the lady told me there was no bus that day anymore.

north macedonia buses how to get around north macedonia without a car
Me traveling around North Macedonia by buses – Skopje bus station

So that’s why I highly recommend double-checking personally at the counter, at least the day before you want to travel.

You don’t have to be stressed. The bus stations are usually open in the towns and cities, and there is always somebody to ask about the timetable

👉 READ ALSO: 13 Most Beautiful Places In North Macedonia To Visit

How To Buy Bus Tickets In North Macedonia

The best way to buy bus tickets in North Macedonia is at the bus stations.

Tell them at the counter where you want to go, and they’ll issue the paper ticket for you. The price will also include the station fee; they’ll give it to you directly.

You can pay by card at the bigger bus stations. But always have cash in local currency (Macedonian Denar – MKD) handy, just in case.

You don’t have to buy tickets in advance. The buses usually have spots available, even if you can wait 30 minutes before departure.

You can also book tickets online via Flixbus for routes between major cities (Skopje and Ohrid). Still, the route will be operated by a local bus company, not Flixbus.

Note that Eurail or Interrail passes aren’t valid in North Macedonia. Don’t buy them if you only want to explore this Balkan country.

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What If You Have Prepaid Ticket With Flixbus In North Macedonia?

If you booked your ticket online via Flixbus or another major bus company. In that case, you still need to register as a passenger at the bus station in North Macedonia. They won’t let you travel if you only have an online ticket.

So go to the country, show them the online ticket, and they’ll issue a printed ticket for you. Additionally, you must pay a so-called ‘bus station fee.’

Moreover, even if you booked your ticket via the Flixbus site, the route will be operated by a local bus company (e.g. HAK or IDO Tour), not by Flixbus.

So, if you’re booking any of these transfers in North Macedonia with Flixbus, be prepared that there is no Flixbus bus. A local bus company will operate it.

👉 PRO TIP: Always print your bus tickets!

What Is A Bus Station Fee?

Another important thing you must remember when traveling by North Macedonia buses is the so-called station fee.

You must pay the station fee inside the bus station to get to the bus platforms. Without this station fee, the guy waiting at the entrance to the bus platforms (controling tickets) won’t let you enter, and you might get into trouble for missing your bus.

If you already have your prepaid bus ticket, just go directly to the counter at the bus station and show it to them. They’ll register you, and you’ll pay the station fee. The fee is between 30 and 50 MKD, around 50 cents to 1 Euro or 1 USD.

If they don’t tell you to pay at the counter, ask them about the station fee to avoid additional issues when entering the bus platforms.

North Macedonia buses how to get around North Macedonia without a car night bus
Me traveling on a night bus from North Macedonia
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North Macedonia Bus Schedule

If you want to know the approximate departure times of North Macedonian buses, you can check them online. However, I still recommend double-checking the times at the local bus stations. Sometimes, the information isn’t accurate.

You can check the bus schedule in North Macedonia online via the Bus2Go website.

Check the Busbud website for international bus connections to and from North Macedonia.

Prices Of Buses In North Macedonia

Traveling in North Macedonia is cheap. When taking buses and traveling around, I researched and marked the prices for the main bus routes within North Macedonia so you have an idea of the prices.

Below, I’m giving you the prices for bus tickets for the main routes. Note that they’re approximate and change every year.

DESTINATION:PRICE & DURATION:
Skopje ⇒ Matka Canyon50MKD / approx. 1 hour
Skopje ⇒ Ohrid600MKD / approx. 3 hours
Ohrid ⇒ Bitola250MKD / approx. 1.5 hours
Bitola ⇒ Ohrid190MKD / 1.5 hours

Traveling North Macedonia By Taxis

Taking a taxi in North Macedonia is common, especially in Skopje, and for shorter distances, such as getting to Matka Canyon or traveling around Lake Ohrid. For longer distances, buses are always available.

Taxis in North Macedonia are pretty safe, even for a solo female traveler. Some taxi drivers don’t speak English, but you might be lucky to find a good English-speaking one. 

These are the best; they are friendly and excited to chat with you. 

North Macedonia buses how to get around North Macedonia without a car
Me getting around by taxi in North Macedonia

For instance, during my taxi ride from Ohrid to St. Naum monastery, I paid for a history lesson on North Macedonia :D. I asked the taxi driver so many questions, and he was excited to answer them all and gave me insights into North Macedonian history, culture, and religion. 

It was very interesting, and I am sure you’ll also find a taxi driver like him. People in North Macedonia are generally very friendly, and taxi drivers are no exception.

Negotiate With Taxi Drivers In North Macedonia

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with taxi drivers. They are not as willing to accept your price suggestions as in Albania, but you won’t lose anything if you try. 

I managed to negotiate the price even with the official taxis, and you can do so as well. It’s much easier to bargain with drivers who don’t have the official taxi sign on their car. 

I also recommend always sharing the taxi ride with other travelers or friends. It’ll get a lot cheaper, and you’ll get to your destination in a much shorter time than by bus.

most beautiful places in north macedonia to visit Ohrid Fortress
Me exploring Samuel’s Fortress In Ohrid

How Much Does A Taxi Cost In North Macedonia

Below, I am giving you an overview of the prices for each taxi ride and the price you can try to negotiate.

DESTINATION:PRICE & DURATION:
Skopje ⇒ Matka Canyonapprox. 500MKD
Skopje ⇒ Ohridbetter to take a bus
Ohrid ⇒ Bitolaapprox. 700MKD
Bitola ⇒ Heraclea Lyncestisapprox. 80MKD

My Tips For Traveling In North Macedonia

Here are the main tips I have for you if you’re planning to travel through North Macedonia:

  1. Be flexible
  2. Ask for the bus departure directly at the bus station
  3. Don’t forget the station fee
  4. Have printed tickets to board a bus (e.g., purchased with Flixbus)
  5. Bargain with taxi drivers

North Macedonia doesn’t have trains. So the only way to travel is by car, bus or taxi. The most convenient way to travel to North Macedonia is to rent a car in Skopje

It’ll give you flexibility, you’ll get to the more remote places, and you’ll be able to plan

If you’re traveling solo or, for some reason, don’t want to rent a car, you can travel by bus and minibusses/vans in North Macedonia. Alternatively, you can also take taxis, but they’ll be much more expensive.

North Macedonia Travel Voices of Travel

Travelling By Car In North Macedonia

Traveling by car is generally the best option to get around North Macedonia. It’ll give you flexibility, and you can get to all remote places where buses won’t take you.

So I highly recommend renting a car in Skopje and a road trip through the country.
Roads are generally well-developed, so you don’t have to be afraid.

Some roads leading to the smaller towns and villages are narrow and curvy, so you’ll have to give way.

North Macedonia has 2 main highways (A1 & A2), where you have to pay a toll. While driving, you can do so at each toll gate by cash or card. There is no vignette in North Macedonia.

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North Macedonia Road Trip Itinerary

I’ve created a North Macedonian road trip itinerary for 7 – 10 days based on my experience traveling through the country.

So, if you want to see the highlights and enjoy the country to the fullest, follow my itinerary by clicking on the image below:

FAQs: How To Get Around North Macedonia

I’ve also answered some frequently asked questions about North Macedonian transportation. Check my answers below:

Is North Macedonia Expensive To Travel?

No, North Macedonia is cheap to travel. You can spend as low as $30 daily for all travel expenses, including a hotel, transportation, activities, and food in North Macedonia.

Is It Safe To Travel Alone In Macedonia?

Yes, it’s safe to travel alone in North Macedonia. I traveled as a solo woman for a couple of days in North Macedonia, and it always felt safe. Use your common sense, and you’ll be fine.

Do They Have Uber In Skopje?

No, there is no Uber in Skopje. The common way is to take a regular taxi that you find on the roads. Or tell the staff at your hotel to organize a taxi for you.

Can Americans Drive In North Macedonia?

Yes, you can drive in North Macedonia as an American, but you need an International Driving Permit. Get it before traveling to the country.

WRAP-UP: North Macedonia Transportation

This is what traveling around North Macedonia looks like. The best way to get around is by car as it’ll give you flexibility and you won’t have to depend on public transportation, which isn’t the most reliable. However, if you want more adventure, take local buses and taxis. Don’t forget to always print your tickets and pay the bus station fee. Overall, taking the local buses and talking to the taxi drivers is a lot of fun.

If you have any questions or need help planning your trip to North Macedonia, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you.

Happy Travels!

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

NORTH MACEDONIA: Interested in more articles for North Macedonia?
Check out my North Macedonia Travel Page:

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Dragan

    Dear Nicoletta
    I work in bus company in Ohrid Macedonia and want to explain that almost every bus company in Macedonia have exact timetable with all their bus departures for that day and every day. Some mistakes happens because the covid 19 pandemic because as in rest of Europe and world in general there was curfew and many bus companies reduce their bus departures, and also few months after that curfew and quarantine many bus companies didn’t return to all 100 % of their bus lines, because the economic and health crises because the pandemic.
    I hope that we will return to normal bus ride and we will work 100% in departures next year so when you come again in Macedonia you wont get confused and fill safe about your planned bus trip.
    All the best and I wish you many travels in future.
    Dragan

    1. Nicoletta

      Hi Dragan,
      Thanks for your comment. I am glad you gave us more insights into the travel situation in North Macedonia. I have to say that North Macedonia definitely has one of the best bus transportation systems in the Balkans, and I agree with you. I only faced the issue once that a bus wasn’t running. But other than that, it was all fine. Also, not all websites (probably from third parties) provide correct information.
      Thanks for taking care of the bus schedules in North Macedonia. It is a beautiful country, and I’ll for sure come back one day.
      All the best to you :).

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