The Budget Savvy Travelers

Hiking Vodno Mountain | Best Hiking Paths Skopje Macedonia

Hiking Vodno Mountain is one of the most popular activities for both tourists and locals in Skopje. If you’re planning on spending a day on the mountain, there are a few important things to know. This guide will share more about the different hiking routes, visiting the Millennium Cross, riding the cable car, and using public transportation, if needed.

Vodno Mountain Trails

There are numerous trails that hikers and mountain bikers can take up and down Vodno Mountain. Some routes are specifically marked, while others have been informally paved by hikers and mountain bikers.

Looking down on Skopje from the Slovenian path.

Depending on how you would like to reach the Millennium Cross, there is a route for you. Options include:

From the base of the mountain.

Starting from Middle Vodno and hiking up. This is where public bus #25 drops people off in the Visitor Parking Lot.

Starting from Middle Vodno and taking the cable car to the top. Note, the cable car does not run on Mondays. 

7 Hiking Paths to the Top of Mount Vodno

Hikers will appreciate that there are several paths available to reach the top of Vodno Mountain. The map below provides a quick visual of the main routes leading up to the Millennium Cross. The official start of the hiking trail is at the main signboard that sits at the base of the mountain and at the edge of Skopje.

It’s about a 40-minute walk uphill from this sign to the cable car on Middle Vodno. This sign is located at 41°59’01.6″N 21°25’07.2″E. Also, on foot, this sign is located about 40 minutes from the city center.

From that point, the trail leads up to Middle Vodno where you have a few more options. Either pay 100 denars to take the cable car up to the Millennium Cross or continue upward on one of the designated trails. Payment in euros is not accepted.

The signboard describes each of the five designated trails to the top of Vodno Mountain.

1. Slovenian Path

Starting Point:  The signboard at the base of the mountain
Finish Point: Parking lot at Middle Vodno
Length: 2.1 km or 1.3 miles
Average Incline: 12 percent
Time: 40 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy

2. Buran Cvetko Path

Starting Point: Middle Vodno
Finish Point: Millennium Cross
Length: 2.2 km or 1.4 miles
Average Incline: 22 percent
Time: 1 to 1.5 hours
Difficulty Level: Difficult

This is the start of path #7, the mountain bike trail, the one we took.

3. Olympic Path

Starting Point: Middle Vodno
Finish Point: Millennium Cross
Length: 2.3 km or 1.4 miles
Average Incline: 20 percent
Time: 1 to 1.5 hours
Difficulty Level: Difficult

4. New Year’s Path

Starting Point: Middle Vodno
Finish Point: Millennium Cross
Length: 3.3 km or 2 miles
Average Incline: 14 percent
Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy

It’s a wonderful feeling to escape into the forest so easily from the city center.

5. Pensioner Path

Starting Point: Middle Vodno
Finish Point: Millennium Cross
Length: 4.9 km or 3 miles
Average Incline: 9 percent
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy

6. Paved Road

There is a paved road that vehicles utilize to reach the Millenium Cross. However, it is possible for hikers to also use this route. It’s less steep than any other route but will take a bit longer.

Starting Point: Middle Vodno
Finish Point: Millennium Cross
Length: 6.6 km or 4.1 miles
Average Incline: 9 percent
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy

7. Mountain Bike Trail (the Route we Took)

This is the route we took on the way up to Millenium Cross. We stayed in the Debar Maalo neighborhood and this was the best route from our location. Specifically, our accommodation was just a few blocks away from the restaurant Skopski Merak, about a mile west of the city center.

When you reach the end of Zabreska street you’ll see a small trail (on your right-hand side). The coordinates are 41.989116, 21.405695.

From Debar Maalo, we walked south down Franklin Ruzvelt street, towards Vodno Mountain. We the road comes to a T, turn right down Vasil Gjorgov street and veer to the left going up Zagrebska street. When you reach the end of the street you’ll see a small trail (on your right-hand side).

The entire route including the starting point and endpoint is highlighted.

From the end of Zagrebska street, the path up will take about 2.5 hours to reach Millenium Cross. There are no pitstops along the way for water so it’s important to bring about 1.5 liters of water per person. There is a free water fountain at Middle Vodno where hikers can fill up their water bottles.

This trail seems to be mainly used by mountain bikers⁠—stay alert as they’ll most likely be coming down the mountain at high speed. For us, the path up was a bit more strenuous than we were expecting. It is a solid 2.5 to 3 hours up for anyone in average health. However, it’s all worth the pain as the views and the overall experience are incredible.

Visiting Millennium Cross

Situated on the highest point on Mount Vodno, the Millennium Cross was built to celebrate 2,000 years of Christianity in both Macedonia and the world. It is 66 meters or 216 feet tall and one of the tallest in the world. It was built with funds from the Macedonian Orthodox Church, the Macedonian government, and Macedonians from all over the world. Since the time of the Ottoman Empire, it has been referred to as Krstovar, meaning “Place of the Cross.”

The views from Millenium Cross overlooking Skopje are spectacular.

There is a café under the cross which is a good spot to enjoy an ice cream, cold soda or beer, or a cup of coffee while taking in the views on the outdoor patio. It’s best to visit on a day that is bright and clear. For children, there is a small playground with some park benches for adults. There are picnic tables scattered around the top and Toi Toi portable toilets.

How to Get to the Millennium Cross Cable Car by Bus

If you want to visit Millennium Cross via cable car and not by hiking, three buses will take you to Middle Vodno. At the drop off point, there is a recreational park, a water station, and access to the Vodno Mountain cable car. The buses are BUS 25, BUS 25A, and BUS 25B. Below are the timetables.
Taking the cable car down the mountain will save your knees and ankles.

Bus #25 – Every Day of the Week

Departure times from Central Bus Station (Транспортен центар): 8:00 – 9:00 – 9:40 – 10:20 – 11:20 – 12:20 – 13:20 – 14:20 – 15:20 – 16:20 – 17:20 – 18:20

Bus #25A – Free Bus, Only on the Weekend

Bus #25A leaves from the Old Railway Station (СТАРА ЖЕЛЕЗНИЧКА СТАНИЦА) just across Skopje City Museum (Музеј на град Скопје).

Departure times: 9:00 – 9:30 – 10:00 – 10:30 – 11:00 – 11:30 – 12:00 – 12:30 – 13:00 – 13:30 – 14:00 – 14:30 – 15:00 – 15:30

Bus #25B – Only on the Weekend

Bus #25B leaves from Dom na Pecat (ДОМ НА ПЕЧАТ).

Departing: 9:15 – 9:45 – 10:15 – 10:45 – 11:15 – 11:45 – 12:15 – 12:45 – 13:15 – 13:45 – 14:15 – 14:45 – 15:15

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