Driving to Crete through Balkans? anyone tried it?

Overland driving routes and ferries
Kevos
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:59 am

Driving to Crete through Balkans? anyone tried it?

Postby Kevos » Fri Jun 14, 2013 5:26 pm

Hi,
I have driven to Crete the normal route, Ancona Patras etc, But would like to try the Balkans route, anyone tried it? and any tips please
Regards
Kevos

Tim
Posts: 269
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Location: Worcester/Sitia
Contact:

Re: Driving to Crete through Balkans? anyone tried it?

Postby Tim » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:41 pm

Kevos wrote: and any tips please

Kevos


Try to acquire an AK-47.

Tim

Barbary Coaster
Posts: 195
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 9:14 pm
Location: Near Adele

Re: Driving to Crete through Balkans? anyone tried it?

Postby Barbary Coaster » Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:20 am

Tim wrote:
Kevos wrote: and any tips please

Kevos


Try to acquire an AK-47.

Tim


I think that's the correct answer from Tim!!

Our Greek neighbours have used that route recently and told us to avoid at all costs. They are pretty seasoned travellers and their advice is usually spot on.
Despite the high cost of living it remains popular

cdbailey1984
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Kalyvex

Postby cdbailey1984 » Sat Jun 15, 2013 7:46 pm

I did the drive from Crete to Poland via Macedonia and Serbia last year. It was absolutely fine and took 2 days with an overnight stop in Budapest.

Forget all the Horror stories and ignore the Armchair experts.

The Motorway between Athens and Thessaloniki is great but fairly costly, (Around 30 euros) and the road between Thessaloniki and the Macedonian border is only single carriageway but good quality. Expect a 45 minute wait to cross into Macedonia from Greece and Macedonia isn't signposted from the Greek side so you will have to follow signs for Skopje which is signposted. (The Greeks still think that Macedonia is theirs)

Another good tip is to make sure you have a full tank of fuel on entering Macedonia as Petrol although cheap is quite scarce and many fuel stations only have diesel. However you will only be in Macedonia for around 2 and a half hours.

Make sure you have your insurance Green Card which is green piece of paper to say you are covered in the country. A cover note won't do and they won't accept anything that isn't green. I had to buy insurance on the border and it was around 60 euros. Make sure you get your Passport stamped too as if you don't you may have issues entering Serbia.

Heres an idea of the queues involved,

Image

The roads in Macedonia are reasonable quality and pretty much empty. Although a bizarre design as the carriageways can be several miles apart as though they have taken 2 A roads and made each of them one way to create a motorway of sorts.

Image


we hardly saw any other road users passing through and had no issues whatsoever. There are toll booths but the money involved is minimal and they accept Euros and all the pricing is in Euros.

Heres a toll booth

Image

The Macedonian/Serbian Border comes up pretty quickly and is pretty painless but again make sure you have you're green card and you get your passport stamped to say you have left Macedonian and again to show you have entered Serbia.

Serbia is a fairly unwelcoming looking place but the roads are ok and the people are friendly, the standard of driving is also pretty good in general. The road between the border and Lekskovac is a pretty twisty although well surfaced single carriage way road (Think British A Road) Make sure you have your headlights on dipped beam at all times. (I didn't see a single policeman though)

Also there are no toll roads for the Serbian leg.

Here's what the main motorway from Lekskovac looks like

Image

Traffic generally moves at around 160 kph and this can be maintained pretty safely. Keep your tank topped up as fuel stations are sporadic.

We hit Belgrade just before dusk on the first day in the middle of a huge thunderstorm and decided to dash for the EU border of Hungary as northern Serbia although safe can be pretty overwhelming with bomb damage from the early 2000's still visible. Its also a pretty grey and dismal but maybe that's because the weather was grey and dismal when we passed through. Although on a brighter note 2 girls in bikinis washed my windscreen whilst i bought petrol :)

The road between Belgrade and the Hungarian border is amazing quality and arrow straight. You can do this stretch at pretty high speed but be careful near the border as the Police are everywhere on the approach to the crossing.

We waited for about 90 minutes to cross and this was at about 11PM make sure you have all your documents to hand as the border guards aren't the most approachable of people.

Back in the EU! Hungary is highly developed with excellent roads and a high standard of driving. Make sure you pull off at the first fuel station to buy a vignette which isn't a fancy sticker for your window and is simply a till receipt and your reg number entered on to the central road tolling database. Make sure you buy this as the police are hot on non payers. Stick to the speed limit and keep your dipped beam on at all times as there are police Everywhere!

I stayed overnight in Budapest, and then headed for Bratislava, No border crossings but you will need a Vignette. This time you get a pretty sticker for your windscreen! its about 12 euros for a month!

Slovakia is pretty boring however the Czech republic is quite pretty.

I'm guessing at this point you would head to Austria and then into Germany to get back to the UK (I went to Poland)

All in all its NOT dangerous, The standard of driving is far better than on Crete, Everyone i met seemed very friendly, They take euros everywhere and also credit cards.

Keep your tank topped up throughout and travel with a bit of cash too and expect delays at border crossings and you will be absolutely fine.

We are doing the same trip again in September and it really isn't a bad drive.

Good Luck and drive safe!

Kilkis
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Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Postby Kilkis » Sun Jun 16, 2013 9:31 am

cdbailey1984 wrote:...(The Greeks still think that Macedonia is theirs)...


I bet your Greek neighbours just love your attitude?

The country to the north of Greece with capital Skopje is officially known as the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia or FYROM for short.

Apart from a few ultra-nationalists, Greeks do not think that they own this country. The vast majority of Greeks believe that, historically, Macedonia was a country embracing areas of northern Greece, FYROM and Bulgaria. They also believe that the Macedonian people were closer, ethnically, to modern day Greeks than the largely Slavic people who now occupy FYROM. History is on their side in these beliefs. Because of this historical context they object to the use of the name Macedonia to denote FYROM. They would, for example, accept the Republic of Macedonia.

Again a minority but perhaps a bit more significant, there are people in FYROM who lay claim to the Greek area of Macedonia and would seek, given the opportunity, to incorporate it into FYROM. This faction lies behind the insistence on using simply Macedonia.

Personally, as a foreigner living in Greece, I feel we should have sensitivity to and respect for the views of our hosts.

Warwick

PS The armchair I was sitting in when I came close to being wiped out by an ox cart in FYROM was upholstered with leather and mounted in a Rover 620. It occurred on the main road from Skopje to the border crossing at Lake Doirani. My advice stands. Don't drive there in the dark.

Cruc
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Location: Cheltenham and Kokkino Chorio

Postby Cruc » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:20 am

Kilkis wrote:
cdbailey1984 wrote:...(The Greeks still think that Macedonia is theirs)...


PS The armchair I was sitting in when I came close to being wiped out by an ox cart in FYROM was upholstered with leather and mounted in a Rover 620. It occurred on the main road from Skopje to the border crossing at Lake Doirani. My advice stands. Don't drive there in the dark.


Rover 620 they never had headlamps just oil burners no wonder you nearly hit the ox cart did you forget to light tem?

Kevos
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:59 am

trip

Postby Kevos » Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:06 pm

Hi,
Wow!! many thanks for details and photos!!
Great positive response !!
I only listen to people who have actually done it rather than hear say !! thanks again,
PS I will leave the rifle at home !!

cdbailey1984
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue May 07, 2013 2:20 pm
Location: Kalyvex

Postby cdbailey1984 » Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:55 pm

No problem at all :) If you have any other questions or there is something that I haven't covered let me know and I would be more than happy to try to help.

Kilkis
Posts: 8559
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2007 3:58 pm
Location: Near Chania

Postby Kilkis » Sun Jun 16, 2013 11:06 pm

Cruc wrote:...Rover 620 they never had headlamps just oil burners no wonder you nearly hit the ox cart did you forget to light tem?


I think the Prince of Darkness had gone to meet the Great Designer long before the 620 was built so it wasn't too bad in the lighting department. In any case, I was sat in the suicide seat so it wasn't my job to adjust the wicks.

Warwick

Joan
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Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:16 am
Location: Sussex and Crete

Re: Driving to Crete through Balkans? anyone tried it?

Postby Joan » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:37 am

I've found this an interesting thread, as we are thinking about driving via the Balkans next summer.

We have driven down twice a year for the past ten years, and fancy a change.

Has anyone any updates to what has been posted so far?

Joan

mgm
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2017 10:49 am

Re: Driving to Crete through Balkans? anyone tried it?

Postby mgm » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:23 pm

Nothing to add :-)

peebee
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Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2011 5:07 am
Location: Kalyves

Re: Driving to Crete through Balkans? anyone tried it?

Postby peebee » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:37 am

mgm wrote:Nothing to add :-)

You just did :D


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