Matka Canyon, Macedonia, North Macedonia, Balkans

Day Trip to Matka Canyon from Skopje

Day Trip to Matka Canyon from Skopje was originally published in 2024

If you’ve found yourself in the Macedonian capital of Skopje and you’re looking for an easy day trip from the city and to get out into the nearby Balkan nature, a day trip to Matka Canyon is a great option.

I visited on my own using public transport and found it to be extremely easy and straightforward in comparison to what I had read saying that using the public bus to get there was difficult.

Where to Stay in Skopje

Skopje Bazaar, Skopje, Macedonia, North Macedonia

Budget travelers can check out either Railway Hostel or Skopje Hostel. I stayed a couple of nights at each and can recommend both hostels. Skopje Hostel is located right next to the city center and Railway Hostel is conveniently located just a couple of blocks away from Skopje Central Bus & Railway Stations. 

Midrange travelers looking for something nice, clean, and right in the middle of Skopje will adore Hotel Macedonia Square with its proximity to the Stone Bridge, Macedonia Square, and the Old Bazaar.

If looking to splurge, the DoubleTree by Hilton Skopje offers all of the amenities you could ask for and is located right on the Vardar River. 

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How to Get to Matka Canyon

Skopje Central Bus Station Bus #60 schedule, Skopje, Macedonia, North Macedonia
Bus #60 schedule posted at the Skopje Central Bus Station

The Skopje-Matka Canyon Timetable

  • 07:00
  • 08:45
  • 10:30
  • 12:10
  • 14:00
  • 15:30
  • 16:50
  • 18:35
  • 20:10
  • 22:30

Return Timetable from Matka back to Skopje

  • 07:45
  • 09:40
  • 11:20
  • 13:05
  • 14:55
  • 16:20
  • 17:45
  • 19:20
  • 21:00

Buying a Skopje Bus Ticket

Skopje Central Bus Station Kiosk, Skopje, Macedonia, North Macedonia
Skopje Central Bus Station Kiosk

Buying a bus ticket to Skopje was easy. I just went to the grey kiosk on the southeast side of the bus station (there’s another one on the northwest side but it appeared to be closed).

The woman working spoke great English as well so there’s not much to worry about in terms of communication.

Skopska Bus Card, Skopje, Macedonia, North Macedonia
Skopska Bus Card

An all day unlimited Skopje bus pass (Skopska Card) is 120 MKD. You can also opt to load money onto a card and use it as needed rather than getting an unlimited day pass as well (for reference, a single ride on the bus within Skopje is 30 MKD, more if you’re going to further out areas such as Matka).

Take Bus #60 to Matka Canyon

Skopje Central Bus Station Bus #60, Skopje, Macedonia, North Macedonia
Skopje Central Bus Station Bus #60 Stop

The stops at the central bus station are well marked in clusters of threes, so just walk to the stop for buses 50, 56, and 32 and just wait for bus 60 to pull up.

With that said, there are two areas to the Skopje Central Bus Station, the station from which buses that go outside the Skopje vicinity depart from asn theb a different area where the city buses depart from.

The city buses depart from the southeast side of the station. It’ll be obvious with the abundance of red buses (Skopje’s public buses are red).

Taking Bus #60

Skopje Central Bus Station, Skopje, Macedonia, North Macedonia

Once on the bus, tap your card on the machine as you enter and then sit back for the 40-60 minute journey.

Timing can vary depending on traffic. I caught the 08:45 bus (which did depart a couple of minutes before schedule, so get to the stop early!) and we arrived at the end of the route to Matka at 09:00.

Getting to Matka Canyon

Matka Canyon Dam, Macedonia, North Macedonia, Balkans

As long as the bus can get all the way there, you will get dropped off at the Fresh Bar which is the final stop for the bus to Matka Canyon.

I had read sometimes that the bus turns around before Fresh Bar due to traffic or too many cars being in the way but this wasn’t the case when I visited in October 2023.

Walking Along Matka Canyon

Matka Canyon, Macedonia, North Macedonia, Balkans

From the Fresh Bar, you’ll follow a paved path up past the Matka Canyon Dam. Beyond here, you’ll pass a couple of cafes, as well as the dock from which you can go for a boat ride up Matka Canyon in addition to kayak rentals.

Once past the cafes and boat rentals the trail begins. It’s straightforward the entire way and has a railing.

Every so often there are benches to relax at and take in the views of Matka Canyon.

Matka Canyon, Macedonia, North Macedonia, Balkans

The path terminates just across the canyon from Pestera Vrelo Cave.

In total, the walk along Matka Canyon from Fresh Bar until the end of the trail is 4.3 kilometers one way or 8.6 kilometers round trip.

I’d say it’s impossible to get lost on this trek given the maintained path and railing, but if you’re still a little worried you’ll find the path marked on all the major mapping apps such as Organic Maps (used to be Maps.me), Gaia GPS, and Wikiloc

Getting Back to Skopje from Matka Canyon

Matka Canyon, Macedonia, North Macedonia, Balkans

Getting back to Skopje is just as easy as getting to Matka Canyon.

Grabbing the Bus Back to Skopje

You can wait at the bus stop near Fresh Bar or walk further down the road (I’d advise walking further down the road to the next stop if it looks like there’s a lot of traffic as the bus sometimes has to turn around early).

Do note that the buses in the afternoon/evening are almost always late.

For example, I wanted to catch the 13:05 bus back to Skopje but the bus didn’t arrive at the stop until 13:45, so do factor that into your day trip to Matka Canyon.

We arrived back at Skopje Central Bus Station at 14:30.

Taking a Taxi

If you don’t want to take the bus you can opt for a taxi. Every offer I heard being hurled came in around 500 MKD (one way).

On return, taxis are waiting near Fresh Bar looking to take visitors back to Skopje. 

Organized Tours to Matka Canyon

If you don’t want to deal with the bus or negotiate with a taxi, there’s always the option to take a day tour to Matka Canyon.

Have Any Questions About Visiting Matka Canyon?

Ask in the comments section below.

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