Macedonia hitchhiking essentials
Advantages of hitchhiking in Macedonia
On the whole, the Macedonia hitchhiking experience is a positive one. Waiting times are short and the people are friendly and normally more than willing to help. It is most definitely possible to cover the whole country by thumb with little to no problems. Many people travelling to Macedonia will find it a cheap travel destination, with prices slightly lower than the other Balkan states, and considerably lower than in western Europe.
A simple visa process, or the lack of it for many countries, also takes away a lot of the potential travel stress. Furthermore, Macedonia is a beautiful country, blessed with great diversity, from its epic lakes to its soaring mountains which is great for those who love to explore the great outdoors. All of this, without the floods of tourists you find in most places as stunning as this!
Disadvantages of hitchhiking in Macedonia
Those spending a lot of time in the country will notice pretty quickly that the road network is quite basic, with many lesser roads in an awful state. Rubbing salt in the wound is the fact that motorway tolls are plentiful, and relatively expensive, so if your paying be sure to have lots of change.
Hotels are exorbitantly expensive, especially for foreigners and in towns with little tourism infrastructure, so unless you want to pay through the teeth, invest in a tent.
The no alcohol buying after 9 p.m (7 p.m. in winter) rule is an annoyance and forces the budget-conscious traveller into a bar to spend extra cash.
Additionally, the very pushy and handsy Roma children can be intimidating especially for those travelling alone.
And finally, knowledge of English is still quite limited, so if don’t have any Slavic languages under your belt, then a phrasebook is essential.
Types of roads
There are around 14,000km of roads in Macedonia, of which 9,573km are paved. The motorway system is limited to around 200km spread across 4 motorways which mostly revolve around the central-northern capital of Skopje and cut north-south through the country. Regional roads are generally in poor condition and progress can be slow going. There are 3 road classifications in all, but there is some overlay between the European E-road network and the National highway system.
① European International Roads (E roads) are multi-lane carriageways and make up the best looked after and quickest roads in Macedonia. The most important E-road runs from Kosovo in the north all the way through to Greece in the south but additional roads run west of Skopje to Gostivar and from the west to Ohrid in the south-west. Most E-roads are tolled and the speed limit is 120km/h (74mp/h). Hitch-hiking on them is a grey area but you will generally have no problems.
② Motorways (M or A roads, автопат) are multi-lane or single carriageways and overlap with the E-road system but with a few extra roads here and there. Many of them are toll roads and the speed limit is 120km/h (74mp/h) or 100km/h (62 mp/h) depending on the road. Hitch-hiking on them is a grey area but you will generally have no problems.
③ Regional roads (Pегионалниот пат, P-roads) form the rest of the road network in Macedonia. Traffic varies, as does quality, but sometimes they are the only option if you are looking to head towards the rural areas. Speed limits vary between 50-80km/h (30-50mp/h) and hitch-hiking on them is legal.
50 km/h (30 mp/h) within inhabited places
80 km/h (50 mp/h) outside inhabited places
100 km/h (62 mp/h) on expressways
120 km/h (74 mp/h) on motorways
Road map of Macedonia
Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook– Hello – Здраво! (ZDRAH-voh)
– Thank you – Благодарам. (blah-GOH-dah-rahm)
– Yes – Да.(dah)
– No – Не. (neh)
– Please – Ве молам! (veh MOH-lahm)
– Excuse me. (getting attention) – Извинете (eez-VEE-neh-teh)
– How are you? – Како сте?(KAH-koh steh?)
– Well, thanks. – Многу добро,благодарам! (MNOH-goo DOH-broh blah-GOH-dah-rahm)
– Goodbye – Довидување! (doh-vee-DOO-vah-nyeh)
– Hitch-hiking – автостоп – (ov-toh-STOP)
– I don’t have money. – Јас немам пари – (Jas ne-MAM PAR-i)
– We don’t have money. – ние Немаме пари – (Nie ne-MA-me PAR-i)
– Money – пари. (PA-ri)
– I’m going to … – Јас oдам да (Jas odam do…..)
– We are going to … – ние oдиме да (Nie odime do….)
– Where are you going? – Каде одиш? (KA-de OD-ish?)
– Can I go with you? – можам да дојдам со тебе? – (Dali moze jas da dojdam so vas?)
– Can we go with you? – може да одиме со вас – (Dali moze nie da dojdeme so vas?)
– I am … – Јас … (yahs … )
– My name is … – Јас се викам … (yahs seh VEE-kahm …)
– I am from … – Јас сум од … (yahs sum od …)
– What is your name? – Како се викате? (KAH-koh seh VEE-kah-teh?)
– Pleased to meet you. – Мило ми е што ве запознав. (MEE-loh mee eh shtoh veh zah-POHZ-nahv)
– I don’t understand. – Jac не paзбирам. (yahs neh RAZH-bee-rahm)
– now – Сега (sega)
– today – Денес (denes)
– yesterday – Вчера (vchera)
– tomorrow – Утре (utre)
– friend – пријател (pre-YA-tiel)
Very useful when they ask you where you’re staying. The concept of Couchsurfing is often too difficult to explain, so just say you’re staying with a friend. You can also use this word to express the relationship between you and your fellow travellers.
– Can you stop? – Дали мозе да застанете ве молам? – (Dali moze da zastanete ve molam?)
– I want to get out. – Јас сакам да излезам – (Jas sakam da izlezam)
– Turn left – Сврти лево (svrti levo)
– Turn right – Сврти десно (svrti desno)
– Straight ahead – Оди право (odi pravo)
– here – Тука (tuka)
– Do you have …? – имате (EE-ma-tsye)
– Bus station – автобуска станица (avtobuska stanica)
You should know this word and listen out for it to avoid situations when your driver, in their best intentions, takes you off the road and drives you to a station.
– Train station – железничка станица (zheleznichka stanica)
– Help! – Пoмoш! (POH-mosh!)
– Look out! – Пази! (Pazi!)
– street – улица (OO-lee-tsah)
– road – пат (paht)
Macedonia – Kosovo
There are two border crossings between Macedonia & Kosovo
- The most important border crossing is located 20 minutes north of the capital Skopje at Blace (Macedonia) – Elez Han (Kosovo). It joins the capitals of both states, is found on the A4 / M2 highway and is a painless and problem free crossing.
Macedonia – Serbia
There are two border crossings between Macedonia & Serbia
- The main border crossing is positioned at Tabanovtse (Macedonia) – Preševo (Serbia) on the A1 highway and connects Kumanovo (Macedonia) with the main north-south Serbian highway that continues through all the major cities including the capital Belgrade. It is a problem free crossing from our experience.
Macedonia – Bulgaria
There are three border crossings between Macedonia & Bulgaria
- The principal border crossing is the most northern and can be found on the European highway E871 at Kriva Palanka (Macedonia) – Gyueshevo (Bulgaria). It connects the capital Skopje with its Bulgaria counterpart Sofia and is the main route for most long distance traffic.
Macedonia – Greece
There are three border crossings between Macedonia & Greece
- The main crossing is situated at Gevgelija (Macedonia) – Evzoni (Greece), along the E75 European route. It connects the major Greek city of Thessaloniki with Macedonia’s main north-south motorway that runs all the way to the capital Skopje, and is by far the biggest crossing for those looking to hitchhike.
- The other crossings can be found at Medzhitlija (Macedonia) – Niki (Greece) which connects the important cities of Bitola (Macedonia) and Florina (Greece); and at Star Dojran (Macedonia) – Doirani (Greece) which is located a little east of the main crossing, more information can be found here.
Macedonia – Albania
There are four border crossings between Albania & Macedonia
- The two most important border crossings are located on the north and south side of Lake Ohrid. The northern Ќafasan (Macedonia) – Qafë Thanë (Albania) crossing is located on the A2 / SH3 highway and was quick and problem free when we passed through it.
- The southern Sveti Naum (Macedonia) – Tushemisht (Albania) crossing is located to the south-west of Galichica National Park and is normally crossed on foot, so if you are travelling by bus you will need to wait for another bus the other side
Written by: Jon