I took a look at the bus station to find out about transports in Albania. The first challenge was to find the station itself... there is not really a bus station (I mean a building), just a corner where the buses stop, and a sign with the timetable. You buy the ticket on board.
I just took a quick look at the buses, but what I saw didn't make me wish a long travel by road in one of those cars...
Being such a poor country, what surprises all the visitors is to see so many ercedes Benz cars in the streets. All kinds, sizes, models, 4 out of 5 cars in Sarande was a Mercedes...
On the other hand, there were no Mercedes shops or advertisings, so I gues those cars don't come exactly from a shop!!
Due to the bad condition of the roads there were no buses in the afternoon, evening or night in Albania. The first bus leaves when the sun rises and the last at noon. Why noon? Because the minimum the bus takes is about 5 hours to go anywhere!
This was Tirana airport in 1988, with the Swissair jet that made the flight to Basel. It did not really look like an airport but more like a park! It is now called “Mother Teresa’s Airport” and I suppose that the building has been extended.
When we crossed the border between Montenegro and Albania in 2005, we fist found, 50 meters before the border a car wheel washer : a “pond” across the road, with 10 cm deep of water, across which you had to drive and that was supposed to “disinfect” the bottom and tyres of the car. Strange! What for, I do not know! The first photo was taken on the way out of Albania, better than on the way in, one never knows !
When entering Albania, you have to pay a tax (10 euros) per person and get the ticket shown on the second photo for the car. You must give it back when leaving Albania and you have better nor to loose it, otherwise, you should be in great trouble. What exactly, I don’t know!
Entering Albania, there were 5-6 cars waiting in line and it took between half an hour and an hour to pass. On the way out, in the evening, it was faster and a quarter an hour was enough.
In 1988, when the people had to go somewhere, they could either walk or take the bus. There were many busses, often with a trailer. Most of them were not in good condition, had broken windows, doors that did not close and they were absolutely packed. In Tiranë, there were queues at every bus station. The exhaust expelled large clouds of a terrible black smoke.
I loved using this short piece of railway line.
It was difficult to find the ticket office in Durres : a small hidden window that only opens on alternate tuesdays if you are wearing a red sock - but things may have changed by now and become more user-friendly more recently.
The rolling stock was all ex-italian and falling to pieces, but you can also spot some cast -offs from other countries such as China.
As the vast majority of people take the bus, so this option is fairly uncrowded.
If the train fails (not uncommon) en-route you can just jump off and pick up a bus from the main road which runs parallel for most of the way.
Hello, I just traveled with some friends from Tirana to Dubrovnik round trip a few weeks ago. It took us around 7 hours since we had to stop at each border. X4 Albania,Montenegro; Montenegro,Croatia The roads from Tirana to Shkodra is new and wonderful. The road from the Albanian boarder through Montenegro was a little rougher than I expected, but not bad.
I did hear that we would need insurance in Montengro, but we were with a travel agency who worked it out all for us.
You will need to pay 10 Euro per person when entering Albania.
As for safety, I would not be concerned at all. We were all women and had no trouble at all. I enjoyed the trip so much I may take my entire family this May! Enjoy Albania!
The Shalom Travel Agency worked very hard to make sure we were comfortable and safe. The drivers were also very proffesional. I highly recommend them.
A sturdy car is a must if you do a road trip through Albania. Many roads are in a bad state of disrepair and driving is downright dangerous and a constant adrenaline rush. Locals drive like lunatics and most roads are hardly wide enough for two cars.
Apart from that, there are no problems. To bring your private car into the country, you only need a 'green insurance card' and pay a road tax of 1€ per day.
I wouldn't worry too much about theft, you will see more brand-new luxury cars in Tirana than elsewhere in Europe.
The best way to get to Southern Albania is to take a ferry from the main port in Corfu town, opposite the Hotel Atlantis (the port is a 10-minute taxi ride from Corfu airport). There at least one passenger ferry per day ( the Kaliope).The ferry journey takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. There is also a hydrofoil service operated by Petrakis Lines (the Flying Dolphin), which takes 30 minutes.
See my Saranda tips for more details.
The ride up to Pogradec near the border is slow but passes through quite good scenery as it slowly climbs.
There are currently two trains a day at about 6AM and Noon. They take about 7 hours if there are no problems.
Pogradec is something of a hell hole but you can walk from here into Macedonia. If you head south you can get a bus once over the border near the monastry in Macedonia.
I can't get hold a timetable at the moment. You may have to hitch it (about 30KM)
Last time I was here we cycled North and passed into Macedonia through a small pass in the mountains and round the lake into Ohrid.
In the capital Tirana you will find stops where all the buses are with signs in the front windscreen (as you will see in my picture, that bus is going to Himare) telling you were its going. Once you have left a boy will come round and ask where you are going to then you pay him the amount of money.
I found that the mini buses were good and very cheap, there is a place in tirana where you go to get these. There will be people shouting the place they are going then you can ask if they will stop in whatever place you want to get off. They normally stop for a break for something to drink and eat if its a long journey.
We also took taxi's when we didnt want to share with other people! But these cost alot more which you would expect.
without any special problem (may 2002),from malaga to heraklion through barcelona-marseille-nice-genova-trieste-rijeka-zadar-split-sarajevo-dubrovnik-podgorica-skodra-tirana-pogradec-kastoria-athinai-heraklion.
albania:the worst european roads....but,sometimes,nearly the best ones!(maybe,then used as field airport strip,as near korce?)
when in albania,secure parking is important!
at night,better for vehicles to be locked up in a compound (hotel,for instance)
our car:peugeot 307 unleaded
passport+visas/car insurances at bosnia-herzegovina,montenegro and albanian (10$/person) borders.
>>1. According to Michelin this trip takes 265 km in 4 hours along the E762 ( Shkoder, Tirane ), how realistic is that?
At first sight, I felt that it was very unrealistic and checked with Michelin. Actually Dubrovnik-Kalampaka is 798 km and 12h08. I am afraid you made a mistake somewhere. If your goal is to drive as fast as possible from Dubrovnik to Meteoron, I feel you can do it in 12 hours. It is a shame not to visit Albania on the way but of course, it depends of your schedule ! If you can’t, you can’t ! I have driven almost the whole way between Dubrovnik and Tirana and the roads are good. Shkoder-Tirana is excellent. I have not driven Tirana-Bitola but as far as I know, the road is good.
>>2. I´ve read here that you need to pay an insurance when entering the country, is that still up-to-date?
It depends of your insurance. With my French insurance, I was OK as my Green Card mentioned Albania among the countries where it worked but I know that most visitors have to take an extra insurance.
Note that you have to pay 10 euro per person at the border, which is a kind of visa.
>>3. Are the roads in reasonable conditions and is it safe? We have a German plate but the car is a small Dayhatsu :P
No problem. Last year, we drove from Igoumenitsa to Dubrovnik and visited a lot on the way. Some of the smaller roads were not very good but your itinerary remains on main roads which are usually good. Safety is not a problem at all.
There are regular busses between Tirana and Shkoder. There are also minibuses from Shkoder to Ulcinj. Then, do not worry, you will easily find your way from Tirana airport to Ulcinj. Moreover, if you are ready to hire a car (which will be more expensive, of course), you will have no problem at all.
Having spent approximately 5 months in the Sheraton-Tirana, I know the "ins" and the "outs" of the...more
Rr. Veli Zaloshnja, Berati Lakes, Berat, 1233, Albania
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
Sheshi 2 Prilli, Shkoder, 1233, Albania
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
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