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I'm planning to go from Ionian coast of Greece (specifically, Preveza) towards north and east, and cross over into the Republic of Macedonia (visiting at least Skopje and Ohrid).

What would be the easiest way to do that (on public transport)? Are there only buses or trains too? Where to find detailed information — can you name any specific bus companies etc? Would there be good (better?) routes towards Macedonia if I went to Albania first?

Also, does the Macedonia naming dispute and less-than-chummy relations between the two countries complicate traveling in this region at all?

  • I'm also in the Balkans right now and intending to go to those countries soon. If you don't get a good answer here try Lonely Planet Thorn Tree and also Couch Surfing has decent forums but you have to subscribe to each one to use them. – hippietrail Aug 31 '11 at 15:13
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    I actually never got to Macedonia on that trip; I spent most of it (just a week) in Albania instead. Here's an answer to my side question: in all likelihood, options will not be better going through Albania. On the Greek side bus services were good, and I got from Preveza to Ioannina to Albanian border crossing at Kakavia (Κακαβιά) easily. It's possible to get from Kakavia or Saranda towards Lake Ohrid and Macedonia, but public transport options are limited. There are minibuses, but only in the mornings, and it probably takes a lot of time. – Jonik Nov 18 '11 at 7:13
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    So for Greece-Macedonia, direct buses are probably the best bet now; see Peter's answer. – Jonik Nov 18 '11 at 7:14
  • I suggest not to refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia as 'Macedonia' in Greece because people will get really upset (there is also a Greek region called Macedonia and generally it's a complicated issue to explain here). There is no problem in traveling between the two countries though because of this dispute. – papakias Nov 8 '16 at 12:55
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I am currently in Skopje in Macedonia and there is a 6am bus to Thessaloniki every Monday, Wednesday and Friday see Skopje bus station site No trains at the moment.

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In terms of trains, I think you're currently out of luck. Rail Europe report that as of January 2011, all international trains from Greece have been cancelled until further notice. That means no trains linking Thessaloniki with Sofia, Belgrade, Budapest and Istanbul. As the cancellations are down to the financial situation, it may be some time (years) until the trains are restarted.

Rail Europe currently suggest that to go to Greece by train, you take the ferry from Italy (Venice, Ancona or Bari). That probably won't help for your case though...

Looks like you'll need a bus, hopefully someone else can advise on that. Looking at the Seat61.com map you can get close on a domestic train, but it will need a bus for the last bit.

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This link may be useful for you:

It says that there are buses between Greece and Macedonia, but a lot of them are not running anymore. Still you should be able to find some!

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According to Seat61, the Belgrade-Thessaloniki train resumes summer 2017. This train goes through Macedonia. Train service has resumed in Greece, including Sofia (BG) to Thessaloniki and Athens, but that service does not enter Macedonia.

  • Answers it, but only after 2017. – Andrew Lazarus Nov 2 '16 at 1:46
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    And it's likely to be late. But someone who finds this question, which was written when all non-commuter rail in Greece was canceled, by search will want to know about the resumption of rail service between Greece and Macedonia (i.e., FYROM). With the link above, they should be able to see if it exists and meets their needs. I suppose I could set a tickler to write a comment in 7 months or so, but I'm not that organized. – Andrew Lazarus Nov 2 '16 at 1:52

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