In the article, I will tell you how to get to Albania by land from neighboring countries: Italy, Montenegro, Greece, Macedonia, and Kosovo. I will cover the different options, requirements, and what to expect at the Albanian border. I’ll provide advice and recommendations for this sometimes challenging matter.
General information for crossing the Albanian border by car:
Everything is easy and straightforward, and the conditions are the same, so let’s be brief and concise:
- There are practically no queues at all border crossings in Albania.
- As 95% of the passenger traffic consists of citizens of EU countries and neighboring countries, and Albania has simplified and visa-free entry agreements with all its neighbors, crossing the border comes down to a passport check.
- The passport check for citizens of other countries may take a bit longer, but on average, it shouldn’t take more than three minutes per car.
- I have never waited for more than 20-30 minutes at the Albanian border.
I misled you:Once, I waited for 40 minutes, but I arrived right after a tourist bus. At that time, only one officer was working at the border crossing, and the bus had tourists with passports from ten different countries. That’s why I had to wait for 40 minutes.
List of necessary documents at the Albanian border:
- Passport with or without a visa. For the current visa requirements, read the details in the provided link.
- Spoiler alert: No visa is required. Moreover, if you are traveling by car in Europe, I assume you have either an EU passport or a Schengen visa or visa-free entry to EU countries, which means you can enter Albania without a visa.
- Car insurance, commonly known as “green card.” You can buy it right at the border booth, but theoretically, you should already have it.
- As of 2023, all roads in Albania are toll-free, so you don’t need to buy any additional vignettes.
- That’s all. However, since we live in the post-COVID era, there might be COVID-related requirements that change regularly. For information on COVID-19 in Albania, check this link. It includes information on whether a PCR test is required or if vaccination is sufficient, as well as the vaccines recognized by Albania.
Important:I purposely did not include information on COVID requirements here because it’s much easier to keep that information up-to-date in one article.
In summary, crossing the border with Albania by car is usually quick and straightforward, taking about 10-15 minutes. You present your passports and immediately receive a green card to show that you have it. Often, you don’t even need to open the trunk or leave the car.
This applies to all borders. Further, I will provide information for those traveling to Albania by bus. For flying, there is plenty of useful information in the link.
How to get to Albania from Macedonia (Skopje)?
Here and onwards, I will provide information about bus schedules, ticket prices, and where to purchase them. The only documents required are your passport; they may ask for medical insurance, but it’s rare, and PCR/vaccination documents if these requirements are currently in place.
Three bus companies operate on the Skopje (capital of Macedonia) – Tirana route: Ido Tours, HAK Bus, and Flixbus. Actually, there are more, but these are the best ones. There are three daily departures:
- 8:10 AM – Arrival in Tirana at 3:30 PM
- 9:00 AM – Arrival in Tirana at 4:10 PM
- 9:00 PM – Arrival at 4 AM
All journeys take about 7 hours.
The ticket price is around 25 euros one way.
Bus schedule Skopje – Tirana operated by Flixbus in collaboration with other carriers.
I’ll provide information on where to buy tickets at the very end, as it’s a unified resource for all directions.
How to get to Albania from Kosovo (Pristina)?
This is a more complicated topic. I’ll briefly explain the essence of the issue, and you can decide for yourself.
Important to know:Until 1991, Kosovo was part of Serbia, which was, in turn, part of Yugoslavia. Kosovo separated and declared its independence. Serbia did not recognize this and made every effort to regain control of the territory. Complicating the situation was the fact that the majority of Kosovo’s population are ethnic Albanians. Additionally, Albania, being nearby, recognized Kosovo’s independence a month after its declaration.
Now, in 2023, Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by around 95 out of 193 UN member states, nearly half. But the other half has not recognized it yet.
In practice, Serbs consider any border crossing with Kosovo from the Albanian side as an illegal entry into their territory. The consequences are uncertain; some say deportation or a ban on entering Serbia, while others claim there will be no issues. I have not verified this, so if you plan to visit Serbia in the future, having a Kosovo stamp in your passport may not be helpful.
Daily, there are around 5 to 10 bus routes from Pristina (capital of Kosovo) to Tirana, taking exactly 4 hours. Buses depart from Pristina between 4 AM and 11 PM.
- The ticket price is approximately 15 euros per person.
- You can purchase tickets on the popular Balkans website, Gjirafa. Especially since this route is not serviced by international carriers like Flixbus.
How to get to Albania from Montenegro?
This route is much simpler than from Kosovo. It is highly popular during the summer tourist season, but during winter, there is lower passenger traffic, and fewer trips are available. Therefore, in summer, there are usually four daily trips, while in the winter season, there are two per day.
Important note:Always check for updates as the schedule for this route often changes.
- 10:00 AM – Arrival at 2:00 PM
- 1:00 PM – Arrival at 5:45 PM
- 4:10 PM – Arrival at 8:10 PM
- The journey takes 4 hours. Ticket prices usually range from 17 to 25 euros, depending on the carrier. You can find tickets from Jadran Ekspres, Gjirafa, and also on Flixbus, although they sell out quickly.
Travel Hack:The easiest way to reach/from Podgorica is through Albanian Shkodër. The distance between these cities is 50 km. There is a regular bus service between Tirana and Shkodër every hour daily, and the same goes for Shkodër to Podgorica. The total cost for the entire trip is approximately 13.5 euros.
How to get to Albania from Greece?
This route is faster and sometimes cheaper to fly by plane. The Greek airline Aegean operates daily flights from Athens to Tirana, taking just over an hour.
There are also bus services:
- 2-3 trips per day to Tirana and Vlora.
- Travel time: 9-12 hours
- Distance: nearly 700 km.
- Ticket prices range from 30 to 46 euros.
- Tickets are available on BusBud and Gjirafa.
How to get to Albania from Italy?
If you take a look at the map, you’ll understand that traveling from Italy to Albania by land is quite an adventure. However, there are buses on this route 🙂 There is a direct route from Venice, taking 14 hours, and the ticket costs 50 euros. There are also options with layovers. But if you choose something like Milan, it will take you a whole day or even longer if you opt for Rome 🙂
Regarding buses, the situation is as follows: every year, there are news reports about new bus routes launched from Italy directly to Tirana. Yet, due to low demand, they quietly close these routes by the end of the season. Therefore, I won’t write about buses. From Italy, there are two reasonable ways to reach Tirana:
- By plane: Almost all European low-cost airlines fly here. From Rome or Milan, you can often get a flight with Wizzair for as low as 30 euros, and if you buy tickets in advance during a promotion, you might even find prices as low as 9.99 euros.
- The second and most romantic option is taking a ferry across the entire Adriatic Sea.
- For detailed information about prices, routes, and travel duration, refer to the article “Ferries to Albania.”
When searching for bus tickets in the Balkans, the easiest way is to use Flixbus or BudBus – convenient resources specifically designed for travelers without a car. Another popular Balkan resource is Gjirafa.
In conclusion, how to get to Albania from neighboring countries is not the most difficult question. The transportation can be more challenging. Not all directions have regular services, and where they do, the reliability leaves much to be desired. Having a car will give you the freedom and mobility to explore the Balkans during your journey. However, if you don’t have one, don’t worry; you can still reach many places by bus, albeit sometimes with layovers.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania
- Flights at the best prices with juicy discounts
- Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
- Hotels and apartments throughout the country: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card in Albania
- Taxi and transfers: Intui.Travel