One of the things we really struggled with when we arrived in Skopje, North Macedonia, was working out how to catch a transportation. I’ve therefore put together this quick guide. This will in no way be definitive, as we left feeling not a whole lot more knowledgeable than our arrival, but I am hoping that it will give you at least a starting point with the Skopje public transport.
Skopje buses are mostly red double decker buses. They are only a few years old and this style of bus was deliberately chosen as a tribute to London, who lent Skopje some buses after the 1963 earthquake nearly wiped out the city.
This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission. Read the full disclaimer here.
Getting a Bus Pass
From our research before we arrived in Skopje we knew we had to buy a bus pass and put credit on it because it is not possible to pay on the bus, but we had no idea where to get it. The best information we had was “from the kiosks”. Now we just had to find the kiosks.
To get a bus pass at the main bus station. If you came by bus from Sofia to Skopje as we did, this is the place you got dropped off. You need to walk in the opposite direction to the main road, to where all of the local buses park. Walk past three or four rows of buses until you reach the rear of the area. On the right hand side you will see a yellow hut which looks like a temporary building. It has a door at each end. We went into the one on the left, and we able to buy a bus pass for 150MKD each. A normal ride is 30MKD, but if you go further afield it is a little more money.
This though, is not one of the kiosks mentioned above. They are to be found in a few places around the city where you can put extra credit onto the bus pass. We asked at our hotel for the nearest kiosk. Luckily it was right near the bus stop we used. We had walked past it a few times without noticing it, as we were expecting an automated machine. The kiosks are actually little manned offices only open during the day, so you will have to ensure you are prepared. Not all are as obvious as the one below. The one near our stop was set back into the buildings behind the bus stop.
(Update: my reader Paul provided this link in the comments below. It’s a Google Map showing the location of the kiosks, which are marked in blue)
Finding Your Bus
We arrived into the main bus station by bus from Sofia. The bus station that the long distance buses stop at is also the main bus station for the local buses. This means at least you don’t have to go far if you arrive into Skopje by long distance bus to get your local bus. The only problem is that some buses drive into the bus station, some others travel straight past and stop on the road. I don’t have any suggestions for finding which your bus does, except going out to the road and watching the sign to see if your bus number comes up. There is actually a sign near one of the doors saying the bus numbers on the road, but there are a few doors and it’s not very obvious. We only noticed it on our third visit.
Most of the main bus stops in or near the city centre will have an electronic board that will show which buses are due to arrive at that stop next. If you know which bus number you need to get, this will help you to find where it stops.
We discovered that on Google Maps, if you zoom right in until you can see the bus stops on the map, clicking on them will give a list of the bus numbers that stop there.
Once you have a card, and know where your bus leaves from, the rest is easy. We found the buses to be reasonably regular and got us where we needed to be.
Reader tip from Madlen – Use the Moovit app to help locate bus stops.
How to get to Matka Canyon from Skopje
One of the most popular trips outside of Skopje is a visit to Matka Canyon. There are plenty of tours available that will take you there, or combine the trip with the Millennium Cross (see below) but we discovered that catching the public bus to Matka Canyon does the job and only costs 150MKD (about $3.75AUD/$2.80USD) for the return trip.
From searching on the internet we found that bus number 60 goes from Skopje to Matka Canyon. It leaves from the Skopje bus station and makes it’s way down Bulevar Partizanski Odredi. It is possible to get on at other stops along the way if you are staying along the route (we did this!)
Information I found suggests that the times the bus leaves the main station are:
7:00, 8:45, 10:30, 12:10, 14:00, 15:30, 16:50, 18:35, 20:10, 22:30
Return trips leave from Matka Canyon at:
5:50, 7:45, 9:40, 11:20, 13:05, 14:55, 16:25, 17:45, 19:20, 21:00, 23:20
(Skopje bus 60 timetable last checked March 2019)
While in Skopje I was able to use the public transport Skopje website www.jsp.com.mk to help confirm these times. Note this website is not in English, and I found it difficult to navigate. I used Gooogle Translate, but I was never sure if the information I found on there was correct, hence looking for other sources.
We caught the 8:45am bus, so that time at least seems to be accurate. I would suggest this is a good time to go, as we arrived before the crowds. By the time we returned from the boat trip up the canyon, there were a lot more people around. If just hiking, the 7am bus would also be good, but I don’t think the boat/kayak providers would be working that early as they were just setting up when we arrived. The bus takes about 40 minutes to get to Matka Canyon from the central bus station.
The return times I cannot confirm. We arrived back to catch the bus at about 11:45am. The bus leaves from the same place that it drops you off. Instead of waiting, we decided to walk the 2-3km back to the previous town. There we got on bus number 12 and made our way back into Skopje on that. Note that bus stops are not well marked, and locals seem to jump on and off at will. We asked at a shop and someone pointed out where we could get on the bus.
Prefer a tour? Click here for a Matka Canyon tour including transfers and boat ride.
Update: In September 2018 the website below had the following message – Линија 60 е скратена до Мечкина дупка. Google Translate tells me this is “Line 60 is shortened to Mechkin’s hole”. Unfortunately I could not find that on the map, but my reader Siarhei below translates that to Dolna Matka, which I could find. Dolna Matka is about 1km further from Matka Canyon than where the bus originally stopped. Apart from the above, there is no further information as to whether this is a permanent or temporary change.
Further Update: In March 2019, the JSP website has added another update to the line 60 bus and it now appears to be again running all the way to Matka Canyon. The update is as follows – Линија 60 сообраќа до последна постојка во Матка. Google Translate tells me this says “Line 60 is heading to the last stop in Matka”. Please let me know if this is not accurate.
Getting to the Millennium Cross
The other popular trip that can be easily done using the Skopje public transport is the trip up to the Millennium Cross. The bus to the Millennium Cross leaves from the main bus station. It is bus number 25 and can be found on one of the middle rows of the station. It can be a bit tricky to find, but look for the sign in the photo below. The buses leave about every half an hour, and it takes around thirty minutes. The bus drops off in the car park of the cable car, which will take you up to the cross. It costs 30MKD ($0.75AUD/$0.56USD) if you use your transport card. I have also heard reports that tickets can be bought on the bus for this trip from the driver for 35MKD, but as we used our cards I can’t confirm this.
(Update: Thank you to my reader Bronwyn who has informed me that in September 2018 that she could not pay cash to the driver on the bus for the trip to Millennium Cross, so I suggest always purchasing a ticket in advance)
(Update: Thank you to Carla who commented below letting me know that as of 19th October 2019, weekend bus rides to the Millennium Cross are now free)
Return buses leave from the same place they drop you off and strangely don’t seem to run as often as the buses up to the hill. We did find a timetable of the buses posted on one of the pillars in the bus station near where the #25 stops. Be aware though, it is not in English and uses Cyrillic text, so some guesswork is involved, but we were able to work it out. Alternatively, ask the driver what time the bus returns.
*Please let me know if you find any of this information incorrect, so I can update as required.
For more information on things to do in Skopje, have a look at my main post here.
No longer keen to give the Skopje public transport a go? Have a look at these tours instead.
You might also like these posts
Monastery of St Naum – A Day Trip from Ohrid
Free Food Tour in Sofia, Bulgaria
Visiting Plitviče Lakes National Park
Found this useful? Share with your friends and pin for later
21 thoughts on “Skopje Public Transport”
Hey, that’s a great tip about the bus stops on google maps!
Um, that’s “Pete”. My keyboard is acting up. 🙁
Hahaha…your typo made me laugh 🙂
But yes, it is really useful when it works! I have found in some places it does, in others not so much.
This link shows place you can buy bus tickets / cards – blue pins show kiosks.
Wow, thanks Paul, that’s a great reference.
I feel so bad in the moment reading this knowing that travelers are struggling when in my city. With my wife we are running an Airbnb in Skopje and we constantly hear this kind of stories from our guests and it pains my gut.
The readers of this article are welcomed to contact me directly trough e-mail, phone or check some info on our blog for any kind of information needed at anytime, prior arrival or when already in Macedonia. We are here to help.
The country is just coming up in the travelers world so it will take some time to become hassle free.
Thanks Dragan. Your country is fantastic, and I think in years to come Macedonia is going to be very popular!
Hi just used public bus to get to millennium cross, no on board to pay money to, so wouldn’t recommend no having prior ticket.
Thank you so much for letting me know Bronwyn, I will alter my post to reflect your comment. Much appreciated 🙂
Please, note, that from September 2018 bus #60 has a shorter route: not to the Matka, but only to the Dolna Matka.
Thank you Siarhei for letting me know, it is much appreciated. I will update my post to reflect the changes.
We went yesterday to Matka canyon by bus and believe that some fraud is going on there. The bus dropped us off directly at the entrance and there was a handwritten sign in latin letters telling autobis, very different from the other bus signs, as we found out later. A group of tourist was waiting for the bus to return us to Skopje and the redtaurants owners close by would not talk to us, when we ased, whether the bus would come to this place. About 20 min after the expected arrival time, out of nowhere half a dozen emty cabs arrived, most of them illegals with rather aggressive drivers that explained us that the bus stop was 500 m down the valley. We went there and again were approached by these drivers, which later, when we finally decided to walk to the number 12 bus stop in the next village, passed us at 10 cm distance. So do not wait, where you are dropped off!
Wow, thanks Karina for that warning.
Hello! As 19 October 2019 bus number 25 to millennium cross cable car is free on weekends.
Thanks so much for letting me know Carla. I will update my post to reflect this.
Thanks for all the information! I found it also quite confusing and complicated to use public transport in Skopje. There is an app called Moovit which was very helpful finding the closest bus station to my hotel/location and the exact route of all busses. I highly recommend it!
Thanks for the tip Madlen, I will include it in my post.
Anyone knows if route 60 is still running?
I cannot find it on the Google Maps bus stop (after I zoom, as suggested in this post).
Hmmm, you are right, I can’t see it either. I can’t find any notification on the website that it’s not running though, and I can still see 60 listed in the timetable information here (type 60 into the search box) http://www.jsp.com.mk/VozenRed.aspx If you do find out it’s not running, please let me know.
Just wanted to add some info to this really useful post.
I contacted JSP asking some questions, as listed below
– Bus 25 is passing from Плоштад Македонија to Sredno Vodno
– Tickets are not sold on the bus to the driver.
You can shop at JSP kiosks, non-personalized „Skopska“, (150 den) and have 2 gratis rides.
– JSP does not have kiosks on international airport and there is no bus line from airport to the city.
– Bus 60 passes from Пошта 1, Boulevard VMRO to Matka Canyon
Thank you Giannis, that is very helpful.
Comments are closed.