Skopje’s compact centre makes few demands on its public transport system. If you need to travel a fair distance, taxis are in abundance, and, if you chose the right one, cheap. Getting around the country is also not too difficult.
We’ve travelled in literally hundreds of taxis in Skopje and have never once had a problem, although taxis being taxis (or rather taxi drivers being taxi drivers) this doesn’t mean that riding in a cab in the Macedonian capital is always a pleasure. There are plenty of stories out there about rip-offs, and for sure they do exist, especially when it comes to the ones waiting outside the bus station and (to a much lesser extent these days) at the airport. If ever in doubt, negotiate a sensible price beforehand or make sure the meter is running before you set off. The starting rate for all taxis in Skopje is 50 den, which is valid for the first two kilometres. After that you pay an additional 20 den per kilometre, day and night. Waiting is charged at 300 den per hour.
Skopje relies on a network of buses that until not long ago were extremely old and equally easy to use. This is no longer the case. The local authorities recently ‘modernised’ the city’s public transport system to the point that it’s now almost impossible to use, the two biggest changes being the introduction of 200 red double-decker buses imported from China and the necessity to own a credit card-sized piece of plastic that seems to be the only form of payment on them. The cards can be bought and re-charged at the airport as well as at several other locations around Skopje including the one listed below.
Cycling in Skopje is very much a minority pursuit for reasons that include the often belligerent driving habits of the locals and the chronic problem the city faces with pollution. Cycle lanes are few and far between, with the city currently providing approximately 60km along the streets and a further 21km by the river. A plan in 2010 to introduce official places to rent bicycles around the city appears to have vanished without a trace, although the word on the street is that this initiative is currently trying to be bought back to life. Several hotels in Skopje offer bicycle rental, and if you want to cycle when you’re in town, it’s worth considering booking accommodation with this option.
Car rental in Macedonia is cheap and reliable. The country is blessed with relatively good roads for the region, with decent highways, reasonable signposting in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets and slightly cheaper petrol than in Western Europe. Macedonians drive on the right side of the road. Seatbelts are compulsory, using mobile phones whilst driving is prohibited and all vehicles must use side lights or dipped headlights when driving during the day. The blood alcohol limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and if you do have an accident you’re legally obliged to the leave the vehicle where it is until the police (tel. +389 1 92) have arrived and recorded the incident. All major car rental companies are represented in the country and their websites all come with plenty of information in English about what paperwork you need to drive in the country. There are several toll roads in Macedonia, which accept cash in both euros and the local currency as well as credit cards.