Wondering how to get around Albania without a car? I’ve got you covered!
Albania is an incredible country with stunning mountain ranges, breathtaking coastlines and a long history of culture and tradition. But if you’re planning to explore Albania as a solo female traveller or backpacker on a budget, getting around without a car can be daunting.
Fortunately for us, Albania has plenty of transportation options available for travellers who don’t have access to their own vehicles.
I spent a month travelling around Albania without a car. In this blog post, I’ll share my experience of how to get around – from buses and trains to ferries and planes – so that you can plan your own trip with ease!
Let’s dive in!
Why travel around Albania without a car?
Albania is an amazing country to explore and is a dream for budget travellers and backpackers. It’s cheap to travel compared to nearby Italy or Greece, and there’s plenty to do and see in Albania.
However, Albania is not the most car-friendly country due to its lack of infrastructure. Private cars were illegal during the communist era until 1991 and Albania still does not have a reliable public transportation system. As a result, it can be tricky getting around Albania without a car.
Outside of the main cities, roads in Albania are not that well maintained and can be difficult to drive on due to massive potholes, dirt trails, steep mountain drops and tiny winding roads only wide enough for one car.
Rental cars can also be expensive and may not be an option if you are travelling on a tight budget.
But don’t let that stop you from travelling Albania! It is still possible to explore Albania without a car, and I’m here to tell you just how easy it can be.
How To Get To Albania
Before you can travel around Albania you will need to figure out how to get there! There are a few different options for how to get to Albania.
Fly to Albania
There is only one airport in Albania: the Tirana International Airport. You can get to Albania from many other European countries such as Italy or Greece by taking a direct flight. British Airways now offer a direct flight from London to Tirana, making it a lot easier to get to Albania from the UK.
Get a ferry to Albania from Italy
If you’re already in Italy, or if you’d prefer to take a scenic sea journey, then getting a ferry to Albania is your best bet.
Ferries depart from the Italian ports of Ancona, Trieste and Bari, and arrive in the Albanian port of Durres. There are several companies offering the service. It takes around 10-12 hours to get from Italy but the ferries travel overnight, meaning that you can enjoy an evening in Italy and then wake up in Albania!
I took the ferry from Bari to Durres and had a fantastic experience.
Get a ferry to Albania from Greece
If you’re already in Greece, then getting a ferry to Albania is also possible. Ferries depart from the Greek island of Corfu and arrive in Saranda, the main city on the Albanian Riviera. It only takes 30 minutes if you opt to take the fast ferry.
I like to use FerryScanner to find the best prices for ferry tickets.
Get a bus to Albania from Greece
It’s incredibly easy to get a bus from Greece to Albania. There are daily services that run between Athens and Tirana. The journey takes around 10 – 12 hours and will cost roughly €30.
Get a bus to Albania from North Macedonia
There is a direct bus service that runs between Skopje and Tirana. Buses depart twice daily and the journey takes roughly 5 and a half hours. A ticket should cost you around €20.
Get a bus to Albania from Montenegro
It’s a little more tricky to get to Albania from Montenegro as there are no direct buses from Podgorica or Kotor to Albania. The easiest option is to get a bus from Podgorica to Skopje and then transfer to the Tirana-bound bus.
There are minibuses that run between Ulcinj and Shkoder. These are unofficial and don’t have set times. They tend to leave when they have enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile.
The journey takes about 1.5 hours and shouldn’t cost you more than €5. Ask around at your accommodation to figure out where the minibuses leave from.
Now we’ve discussed how to get to Albania, let’s move on to how to get around Albania without a car.
When visiting Albania for the first time, figuring out its seemingly chaotic public transport options can take some getting used to! I’ve summarised and simplified the main ways of getting around Albania to make it easier for you.
Trains In Albania
The Albanian railway network was built during the communist dictatorship that lasted from the end of the second world war until 1992.
Albania was completely shut off from the outside world during this time so there were never any railway tracks built across Albania’s borders to connect it to its neighbouring countries. It’s impossible to get the train into Albania as there are no international train connections across its borders.
The railway network within Albania has not been updated or invested in since the fall of the communist regime. As you can imagine the trains are not very comfortable, passenger-friendly or geared up for tourists at all!
There are only two train routes currently operating in Albania, Shkoder to Lac and Durres to Elbasan. The Shkoder – Lac train only operates on Tuesdays and the Durres – Elbasan operates once per day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Getting the train in Albania is not impossible but it’s certainly not the most convenient or comfortable way to get around the country.
Furgons In Albania
Furgons are the most popular way of getting around Albania. Furgons are essentially minibuses that are privately owned and not licensed. They operate almost like a taxi service, with the same fares for everyone travelling on them.
The good thing about furgons is you can flag one down and they will usually stop for you and let you on if it’s not full. They will also let you off at any point along the route, you just have to ask the driver to stop.
Furgons tend to operate between many of the smaller towns and also along some of the most popular tourist routes such as Saranda to Gjirokaster, Butrint or Ksamil and Tirana to Berat or Shkoder.
Furgons don’t have official timetables, they usually depart from a random street corner or car park and leave when full.
Think of furgons as a mix between public transport and hitchhiking. It can seem like a strange system to navigate at first but once you get used to them you will find that they are a really cheap and easy way to get around.
Ask around to find out where the furgons leave from. Albanians are super friendly and helpful and will usually be happy to show you where to go.
Buses In Albania
Travelling Albania by bus can be difficult and confusing as the timetables often change and make no sense and there are very few official bus stations or bus stops.
Buses in Albania do run for the most popular and longer routes such as from Tirana to Saranda or Durres to Tirana. They tend to have rough timetables and are a bit more expensive than furgons, but they are still quite reasonable.
Don’t be surprised if you have to share any bus in Albania with sacks of food, car parts, random household essentials and maybe even a chicken or two, as the buses are often used as a delivery service as well.
The buses don’t always have designated bus stops but you can ask the driver to let you off at any point.
Buses in Albania will sometimes stop for hitchhikers too if they aren’t full. This is a great way to get around Albania without a car.
Albania doesn’t have many official bus stations so buses tend to leave from car parks. Ask the locals where to go and they will point you in the right direction.
In Tirana, there are two different bus stations, one for buses going North and one for South. Make sure you know which bus station is which and head to the right one.
Hitchhiking In Albania
Hitchhiking was my favourite way to travel in Albania. It’s a popular way to get around for both tourists and locals. It’s extremely common and you will see people doing it everywhere.
Hitchhiking is a great option for getting around quickly without having to wait for furgons to fill up or having to decipher the ever-changing bus timetables.
Hitchhiking is also a great way to get off the beaten path and for some places, hitchhiking might be your only option. Although it can be intimidating for solo female travellers, if you take the necessary safety precautions it is a really great way to get around Albania.
Make sure that you always have your wits about you and trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right then don’t do it. The Albanian people are incredibly friendly so as long as you are respectful and polite you should have no problems getting around Albania without a car.
Tours in Albania
If Albania’s haphazard public transport system has you scratching your head, or the thought of hitchhiking fills you with dread, then perhaps an organised tour around Albania is the best option for you.
Tours take the hassle out of travelling and It can be really freeing to let someone else take over all the planning.
You will get to see Albania’s top attractions, visit the most picturesque places and learn about its unique culture and history all in one go. Plus you won’t have to worry about getting lost or spending hours waiting for furgons!
There are lots of different tour companies offering trips around Albania. Here are some of the best-rated tours in Albania…
Grand Tour of the Balkans in 21 Days
🤩 5 out of 5 stars (4 reviews)
This 21-day tour of the Balkans will take you to some of Albania’s most iconic UNESCO sites and national parks, such as Berat, Llogara National Park, and Gjirokaster.
This is the perfect way for backpackers and solo female travellers to get around Albania in an efficient, safe and convenient manner without a car.
Check prices and availability!
Tour of Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo & N. Macedonia in 15 days
🤩 5 out of 5 stars (9 reviews)
This tour covers four countries in two weeks!
This 15-day tour of Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia is the perfect way to explore the western Balkans.
Depart from Tirana with your small group and learn about the region from your knowledgeable guide. You’ll stay at bed and breakfasts in Kotor, Shkodra, Prizen, Ohrid, Gjirokaster, and more as you visit Albania’s iconic UNESCO sites and national parks such as Berat, Llogara National Park, and Gjirokaster.
This tour is ideal for backpackers or solo female travellers looking to get around Albania without a car in a safe and convenient manner.
With provided entry tickets for attractions included in the tour package you won’t have to worry about getting lost or spending hours waiting for buses – this is the perfect opportunity to experience Albania’s unique culture and history!
Check prices and availability!
Highlights of Albania Tour
🤩 5 out of 5 stars (12 reviews)
This weeklong tour covers some of Albania’s most popular destinations.
This highlights of Albania tour is the perfect way to explore this fascinating country without having to worry about getting around without a car. With your private guide, you’ll visit top locations including Tirana, the mountains in Shkoder, the Albanian Riviera, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Berat, Llogara National Park, and Gjirokaster.
Accommodations with breakfast are included and travel between locations will be in air-conditioned comfort.
Check prices and availability!
Pearls of Albania tour in eight days (3 UNESCO sites)
🤩 5 out of 5 stars (14 reviews)
This tour covers the best UNESCO world heritage sites in Albania.
This 8-day tour of Albania is the perfect way to explore the stunning landscapes, medieval splendour of ancient cities and spectacular land and seascapes of Albania.
The tour takes you through some of Albania’s most iconic UNESCO sites, national parks and other attractions such as Berat Castle, Gjirokaster and Butrint for an unforgettable experience. This is the perfect opportunity to experience Albania’s unique culture and history without a car!
Check prices and availability!
Kayak Snorkeling, Jeep Safari, Hiking, Canyon Exploration in Albania – 6 day tour
🤩 5 out of 5 stars (12 reviews)
This action-packed adventure tour is perfect for active travellers who want to explore Albania’s top attractions and visit the most picturesque places without having to worry about getting around without a car.
The hassle-free adventure includes an experienced, English-speaking guide, 4 nights of accommodation, 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 3 dinners as well as local transportation and airport transfers.
You will also get to enjoy kayaking, snorkelling, jeep safari, hiking and canyon exploration during the 5 days of your trip.
Check prices and availability!
Uber in Albania
Unfortunately, Uber does not work in Albania. However, there are some alternatives such as the Speed Taxi app and Ups Taxi App.
These options are still new for Albania transport so don’t expect the same level of service that you would get from an Uber at home.
I recommend doing research on these apps before relying on them for your transportation needs when travelling.
How To Get To Popular Destinations in Albania
Here are some of the most popular travel routes in Albania
Tirana To Shkoder
There is a daily bus to Shkoder from Tirana that leaves the bus station in Tirana once per hour from 7am -5pm. The journey takes around 1.5 hours and costs 400 LEK (~ €3).
This is also an easy route to hitchhike as many people are usually going that way.
If you prefer an organised tour from Tirana to Shkoder then I recommend this day trip.
Tirana To Gjirokaster
The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster departs from Tirana’s bus station and runs sporadically throughout the day from 5am – 8.30pm, bus departures are roughly once an hour, but you may find yourself waiting for up to 2 hours. The journey from Tirana to Gjirokaster lasts 4 hours and costs 1000 LEK (~€8.5)
Tirana To Berat
Buses from Tirana to Berat depart from Tirana’s bus station every 30mins between 5.30am and 5.30pm. The journey takes 2 hours and costs 500LEK (~ €4).
If you want to visit Berat on a day trip from Tirana then this day tour is your best option.
Tirana to Saranda
Getting a private transfer is an excellent option for getting from Tirana to Saranda. It’s the most convenient way and can work out to be very reasonably priced if you are travelling in a group.
Tirana to Permet
Buses from Tirana to Permet leave at various times throughout the day from 5.30am – 5pm. The bus takes around 4 -5 hours.
Tirana to Theth.
Theth is a popular starting point for the Theth to the Valbona hike through the Albanian Alps.
The best way to get there from Tirana is to take the bus to Shkoder and then take a furgon to Theth.
FAQs: How To Get Around Albania Without A Car
Can you travel Albania without a car?
Yes, you can easily travel around Albania without a car. Albania has plenty of transportation options available for travellers. You can travel by train, minibuses, buses, hitchhiking and even join tours to get around Albania without a car.
Are taxis safe in Albania?
Taxis in Albania are generally safe. however, you should always be vigilant and exercise caution. Taking a taxi with an accredited company is the safest option and it’s best to book one in advance rather than hailing from the street.
Does Albania have Uber?
No, Albania does not have Uber. The closest alternative is the UPs taxi app which operates in Albania’s urban centres and connects you to nearby taxi drivers.
Is It Safe To Drive In Albania?
Driving in Albania can be challenging and you should use caution when driving. The roads in Albania are often narrow and windy, with poor signage and many potholes. For this reason, many tourists choose to travel around Albania without a car using busses, furgons and hitchhiking instead.
What is the best way to travel around Albania?
The best way to travel around Albania without a car is by furgon or hitchhiking. Furgons are the most popular way of getting around Albania as they will usually stop for you and take you to any point along their route.
Is it safe to travel Albania alone?
Yes, Albania is generally safe and travelling alone can be a great way to explore the country. However, as with any destination, it’s important to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Final Thoughts: How To Get Around Albania Without A Car
Albania is a great place to explore with or without a car. With the right transportation options and safety precautions in mind, you can easily get around Albania on your own terms.
Whether you decide to take the bus, furgon, hitchhike, join an organised tour or use apps like UPs Taxi App for getting from one point to another – Albania offers plenty of ways for travellers to make their way around this beautiful country.
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