The capital city of Kosovo, Prishtina, is finally starting to feature on tourists’ radars, and many people are now including this fun city on their multi-country Balkan itineraries.
I’ve written about how I got between Prishtina and Tirana, but how about leaving Prishtina and going to Skopje? I couldn’t find a lot of information about this route online so I decided that it would be best to take this on myself.
While Balkan Viator can sometimes be useful, when I looked up the bus times I found they over-estimated how many buses there were per day. For example, they said there was basically a bus departing every half hour; when I arrived at the Prishtina bus station, I learned that there were some big gaps in the schedule and thus I had to wait almost an hour at the bus station.
So, here’s the post we created to help guide you from Prishtina to Skopje without any hassle. Keep in mind that, as always, timetables do change and everything was correct at the time of writing (May 2019). We do welcome advice of changes and updates from readers to keep this an up-to-date resource, so please report back on your experience in the comments!
Getting to the Prishtina Bus Station
The Prishtina Bus Station is not really located that close to the center, so if you are staying near Mother Teresa Boulevard pedestrian area, you are most likely going to want to take a cab. I am sure there are also public city buses, but I didn’t take one. If you prefer to take public transportation to the bus station, your accommodation should be able to advise you on where to catch the bus to the station.
I opted to take a cab as I had a heavy backpack and didn’t feel like figuring out the public bus. It cost me 3 euros from the end of Mother Teresa Boulevard, where there are always cabs waiting. It’s possible you could pay less if you are willing to haggle, but I didn’t want to.
There’s not too much going on at the Prishtina Bus Station. There is WiFi (yay!), toilets where you have to pay about 10-20 cents to use (don’t recall exactly), some snack shops, and a small restaurant/coffee shop.
When you get to the bus station, make your way to counter 12, where you can purchase your bus ticket from Prishtina to Skopje. Note that Skopje is written Shkup in Albanian!
When is the Bus from Prishtina to Skopje?
Lucky for you, I snapped a photo of the actual timetable for the Prishtina to Skopje bus (apologies for the glare, it was a quick phone snap!)
In case you’re reading this on mobile and can’t see the times, here are the transcribed departure times: 6 AM, 6:30 AM, 7:25 AM, 8:30 AM, 9 AM, 10 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:00 PM, 12:30 PM, 2 PM, 3 PM, 5 PM, 6 PM, and 7 PM.
The bus takes pretty much exactly two hours to get from Prishtina to Skopje, but it could take another 30 or so minutes if the border line is long, or if you are navigating either city during rush hour. The ticket costs 5 euros and there’s an additional 50 cent platform fee, so 5.50 euro.
I took the 2 PM bus with the company “Eurolinija Strugë” and I cannot discourage you enough from taking this bus in the warmer months. It is a “marshrutka style” bus, a big minivan that can fit about 12-15 people in it.
However, the windows didn’t open at all, just the top window which was opened just a sliver. It was mid-May, not even 75 degrees F (24 C) and I felt like I was going to overheat in the car. In the actual summer, I expect it would be basically hell. I was stripped down to my slip dress and still felt like I was asphyxiating… so yeah, don’t advise them.
Since that’s the only bus I took, I can’t really advise if other bus companies would have a more comfortable set-up. I’d love it if you could report back on your experience with other bus companies!
Crossing the Border from Kosovo to Macedonia
Despite the unpleasantness of being on the bus, our border crossing formalities were mercifully short. In fact, I’d reckon that this was the faster border crossing I’ve done in the Balkans – we were done in, quite literally, 10 minutes (both sides!).
We had to get out and walk up to the border agent at the window on the Macedonia side (maybe the Kosovo side too – frankly, my brain was boiling in my own skull so I don’t recall the details all too well)… which was slightly embarrassing as I was only wearing a slip dress because it was so hot, but I was so grateful for the fresh air that I barely cared.
All in all, it was a very easy border crossing with very minimal hassle, which is one of the reasons why this trip only takes about 2 hours from station to station.
Arriving in Skopje
Skopje’s bus station is not my favorite place in the world, yet I seem to spend more time than I’d like there. There’s no easy-to-access public WiFi, though you can go to Café Jablko and buy a small thing and get onto their WiFi if you need to do something like call a taxi or contact your Airbnb host.
The taxi drivers in front of the bus station seem to operate on a pretty fixed rate and don’t usually want to turn on the meter. As you’ve probably surmised, I lost the urge to fight with taxi drivers about two years ago, and as long as the fare is not insanely exorbitant I usually just pay it. I paid 200 denars ($3.50 USD) to get to my hotel in the old bazaar area.
However, when I did this route in reverse with a taxi that my hotel called that actually used the meter, it only cost 70 denar ($1.25 USD) so you can use that as a benchmark if you are the haggling type.
And that’s it! Welcome to Skopje. Below, we have some recommendations for where to stay as well as additional resources for the city and country for you to read.
Wait, Is There a Train from Prishtina to Skopje?
Yes and no. Read this thread on Trip Advisor from 2018 if you want to attempt to make this journey.
Personally, without any confirmation of this route running successfully, I didn’t care to check it out as I didn’t want to end up stranded at the Kosovo-Macedonia border with no way onwards to Skopje!
The bus is affordable and fast, so unless you’re a huge train-o-phile who’s also down with some serious unpredictability in terms of getting to your final destination, we recommend taking the bus from Prishtina to Skopje.
Where to Stay in Skopje
Budget: The lovely Clover Hostel right near the center of town is great for solo travelers who want a social environment with a bit of privacy, and it’s inexpensive enough that you can enjoy some peace (and nights without snoring soundtracks) without it breaking the bank. It’s located near the center as well as Skopje’s co-working spaces so if you are planning an extended stay in Skopje and need to work as well, it’s a great choice. Check out prices, availability, and reviews here.
Mid-range: For an affordable option that offers way more privacy than a hostel, I stayed at and highly recommend Boutique Hotel Rose Diplomatique. The rooms were comfortable and spacious (though admittedly furnished a bit oddly – mine for some inexplicable reason had an exercise bike in the bedroom). The breakfast spread was tasty and super generous, and I loved getting to eat in the lovely patio every morning. The staff was really friendly, even when we arrived late in the evening, and generally I just felt really welcome here. It’s a short walk from the center and an even shorter walk to the trendy, leafy hipster neighborhood of Debar Maalo. One note: there is no elevator so if you have trouble with stairs this may not be the right place for you. Check prices, reviews, and availability here.
Luxury: Skopje has a number of 5-star hotels, but our top pick is the Marriott for one main reason: location, location, location! Literally overlooking the famous “Warrior on a Horse” statue, this hotel in the center of town couldn’t be more central. The rooms are spacious and well-designed with flatscreen TVs and stunning TV views, the in-house hotel bar is sleek and trendy, and travelers rave about the delicious breakfast. There’s a luxurious in-house spa with an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, masseuses, and a fitness center – so if you want a bit of TLC while in Skopje, you don’t even have to leave your hotel’s front door. If you want to stay in the most luxe hotel in Skopje – and not pay an arm and a leg for a 5-star hotel – this is certainly it. Check prices, reviews, and availability here.
Macedonia Travel Resources
We have guides covering quite a bit of the country! Start with this guide to planning a trip to North Macedonia, and then peruse our guide to the best places to visit in Macedonia to get your ideas flowing.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Skopje with Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that getting travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Macedonia, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While North Macedonia is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.