Macedonia to Serbia by Bus
If you are planning on traveling between Macedonia and Serbia, one of the ways to go is by bus. I personally travel between Macedonia and Serbia by bus every time I have to go to Nis (Ниш) for a visit. It has its benefits and drawbacks to it as well.
If you have no other means of transportation, or no one else to turn to, using a bus is an option. It takes longer to reach your destination when it comes to time; it takes four hours to get from Nis to Skopje and vice versa by bus, but two and a half hours with a car.
The most common bus company to provide transportation between the two countries is Nis Express.
Skopje, Macedonia to Nis, Serbia
How many people?
1,050 MKD (~ $20) for Return Ticket.
Depending on the time of day you go it will either be the local bus and cover many towns between the two capitals (Skopje and Belgrade), such as Kumanovo, Bujanovac, Vranje, Leskovac, and Nis; or if it’s express it will go from Skopje to Belgrade with limited stoppage between the two locations.
The local route when traveling from Macedonia it starts from Skopje, it gets on the highway and goes to Kumanovo, the most northern city in Macedonia. After a quick passenger drop-off/pick-up, it continues straight to the Macedonian/Serbian border.
Bujanovac is the first stop after crossing the border. The bus driver usually calls out for a 5-minute break here during the passenger exchange. After Bujanovac, it continues to other smaller cities in Serbia such as Vranje, Vladici Han, and Leskovac. Approximately about three hours of crossing the border, the bus arrives in Nis. First, the bus stops at the Train Station in Nis, and then it stops at the Bus Station. The driver will make an announcement for passenger exchange to other locations, such as Novi Sad, Kragjuvec, or even Belgrade if passengers are required to change the bus.
THE RIDE FROM SKOPJE TO NIS
I, personally, enjoy the bus ride from Skopje to Nis. It’s all countryside, mountains, greenery, and fields of sunflower. I usually take the 7:45 AM bus from Skopje, knowing that by 12 PM I will be in Nis. This gives me rest of the day to walk around the town, go shopping, sit at a coffee shop, and simply relax.
For the return, most of the time I take the 10:40 AM from Nis, to be around 4 PM in Skopje.
THE BUS – NIS EXPRESS
Nis Express, the bus company, doesn’t have the best or the most modern busses; however, they get you from point A to point B. In the recent years, the company has added free Wi-Fi to the busses. The Wi-Fi is available as soon as you cross the into Serbian territory (the Wi-Fi is not available in Macedonia for those coming from Serbia). Also, there are no charging stations, so be warry you aren’t left with a low battery. Of course, the bus has air conditioning for summer, and heating for the winter time. The seat numbers are located on the windows, usually covered by the curtains.
Below is the timetable of the location/approximate time for the 7:45 AM bus from Skopje to Nis I took on 07/2017:
|Skopje||7:45 AM (Departure)|
|—— Macedonian/Serbian Border ——–||9:00 AM (20-30 Minute for passport check)|
|Vladicin Han||10:20 AM|
|Nis (train station)||11:45 AM|
|NIS (BUS STATION)||11:50 AM|
CROSSING THE MACEDONIAN/SERBIAN BORDER AND DOCUMENTATION
Crossing the Macedonian/Serbian border usually takes 20-30 minutes to get everyone checked. However, if it’s in the summer and a weekend, it might take longer with everyone going on vacations. So be prepared to spend some time waiting for the bus. The driver and his coworker, also, do not let people off the bus, even for a bathroom break.
At the Macedonian border, the driver or his coworker usually collect all the passports or ID cards (those that have Macedonian/Serbian ID cards can travel with them, no need for a passport), and take them to the passport control. At the Serbian border, the procedure has changed because of the recent immigration situation in Syria. You will need to get off the bus and walk yourself to the passport control and hand in the documentation personally. Once you cross the border, everyone waits for the bus to be inspected by the police and customs before being allowed back on.
There is no duty-free shopping or bathroom break at the border.
Do you need a visa to visit Macedonia? At the official site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia, you can check if you have the proper documentation or if you need a visa to enter Macedonia.
Do you need a visa to visit Serbia? Check here at the official site of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia. Also, you can check if you meet the general entry requirements to enter into Serbia.
Pay tolls beForeignacedonia and Serbia
For those that want to go by car, I’ve noted down the current pay-tolls between Skopje and Nis. In both countries, two pay tolls will be passed, so four tolls in total. See prices for cars below:
- Macedonia toll #1: 40 MKD or 1 Euro
- Macedonia toll #2: 60 MKD or 1 Euro
- Serbia toll #1: 80 DIN or 1 Euro
- Serbia toll #2: 210 DIN or 1.50 Euro
You can check the local prices of pay tolls throughout Macedonia here (the site is in Macedonia, so use Google Translate). The site also allows you to check pay toll prices from Macedonia to other foreign countries in Europe.
Going by car from Skopje to Nis or vice versa (round trip) is actually more expensive than a bus ticket price per person. With the tolls and gas prices, it around 5-15% more expensive. So if you can find more people to go with you, going by car, will be a better choice otherwise it might be costlier.
TIPS FOR THE RIDE
- DO NOT USE THE BATHROOM in Bujanovac.
The bus station is in complete ruins, and almost nonexistent. Try not to have a lot of liquids during the trip, and wait to use the bathroom until it stops in Nis (do talk to the bus driver to see if there will be a break in Nis if you are continuing to Belgrade).
- The tickets have assigned seat numbers, but a lot of the older generations that travel by bus do not follow the rule, so don’t be surprised if you find someone seating in your seat.
- Make sure you have proper Macedonian/Serbian currency to check in your bags. The bus driver doesn’t accept
dollars, and only accepts 5-20 euro bills.
- It is 10 MKD to use the bathroom at the Bus Station in Skopje. If you don’t see toilet paper in the bathroom stall, ask the person you paid. It comes with the price.
Maybe to the Bus ride
I can’t say this is the easiest way to go between the two countries or the most comfortable ride. I have seen foreigners having issues at the borders due to improper documentation, and being left at the border to sort it out. The bus is on a schedule and can not wait. However, I’ve met a lot of people from Canada, Turkey, and New Zealand on a Nis Express bus that had no issues, and enjoyed the ride.
It all comes down to personal preference, time, and money.
I wish you all the best on your journeys!