The E75, or the Alexander the Great motorway as it’s known at this point, is the main road from Greece up through Macedonia to Serbia. It actually starts right at the top of Finland and ends in Crete, a distance of 5639 km. We are driving from Thessaloniki in Greece to Austria. This is the first part, Greece to Serbia.
PASSPORT CONTROL (Greece to Macedonia)
At the border between Greece and Macedonia you first pass through Passport Control, and then a few hundred metres down the road, Customs. Customs are mainly checking for a valid Green Card insurance certificate but had also pulled over a couple of vehicles to spot check.
This was the point we came a tiny bit unstuck. Having been on the road since last summer our vehicle insurance and Green Card have needed renewing en route. They are easily renewed online, but it’s less easy to be sent a hard copy. In fact we didn’t try very hard to find a postal solution for the paperwork because we didn’t think we’d need it. We had email confirmation and a screenshot copy of the renewal certificate. Anything short of the original, however, wasn’t enough to get through this border.
We had to pull in and visit the Green Card office to buy a new temporary insurance card for 50€. Valid 15 days. If we’d had the time we’d have stopped longer in Macedonia to get the use of it! But basically the drive across Macedonia takes an afternoon and is 165 km long.
PASSPORT CONTROL (Macedonia to Serbia)
Again there were two booths separated by a couple of hundred yards. But they both checked passports, the second adding a stamp. At the second, customs also asked us to open the campervan door, the customs official peeped in and waved us on. I think it was possibly the sight of all the dirty dishes in the sink and the mountain of Crocs at the door, that made us look like a legitimate family. No one asked about a Green Card or for any vehicle paperwork. That’s not to say that they might.
There are three tolls on the E75 road directly up to Serbia, costing 70MKD, 90MKD AND 70MKD respectively (a total of 3€75). We think the guy at the first toll said he’d also take euros but we used a card so couldn’t confirm this. Quite a change after the very expensive Greek tolls.
Diesel is 65-67MKD a litre (1€10) in Macedonia, and 150-160 SD (1€30) [the petrol in Serbia is a little cheaper]- almost all filling stations we saw took Visa or MasterCard. Quite a few of the service stations have fast free wifi and a cafe.
The road was pretty quiet, in generally good condition (a bit uneven in parts, with quite deep grooves where lorry tyres have worn it done) and is mostly dual carriageway. Although Macedonia is now part of the EU, the currency is the Macedonian Denar.
Macedonia is very green – and we had a fresh off the press Green Card to allow us to enjoy it, albeit briefly.
TOP TIPS FOR DRIVING THROUGH MACEDONIA
1. Have a paper copy Green Card to hand to pass to Customs at the border.
2. You don’t need a Vignette (motorway pass) driving through Macedonia.
3. You don’t need any currency MKD for the brief passage through, as both the toll and service stations took cards.
4. There’s an overnight stop about 85 kilometres over the border into Serbia. It’s great – Motel Predejane, on the main road, a flashing arrow pointing to the turning. It’s excellent – hot showers in the hotel can be used, nice flat parking area, electricity if you want it, restaurant and wifi. 12€ per campervan for the night.
The grump at the reception wouldn’t help us to print off our Green Card (I could have understood if we’d asked her to print a year’s supply of Barbie colouring in pictures, but you would have thought that customer service would have extended to printing off a single sheet of a travel document we needed).