All about public transport in Albania in general and specifically about transportation in Tirana. You will learn about the types of transportation available, ticket prices, schedules, where you can go, and where you cannot. I will try to make this truly confusing question a little clearer. This is one of the few topics that is a major downside of Albania.

buses all about transport in Albania
There are many buses on the roads of the country.

Public transport in Albania: general aspects

Here is some general information that has influenced the development of Albania’s transportation sector today.

  • Over 70% of Albania’s territory is mountainous. This fact is fundamental to the development of all transportation. This means narrow roads, a large number of serpentine roads, difficulties in constructing railways, and so on.
  • The transportation network and the frequency of regional bus services leave much to be desired. Yes, there are buses in all major cities, and they run once an hour.
  • But for tourists who need to reach any attractions, this task is almost impossible. In smaller towns, buses run once a day. If you miss it, you have to wait for a day.

Useful to know:

There is a detailed article about taxis in Albania and specifically in Tirana, which you can find at the link. There you can read about how to call a taxi, the fares, how to get to the airport, and much more. I don’t consider taxis as public transport, so there won’t be any information about taxis in this article.

Buses in Albania

Let’s start with buses that travel between cities in Albania.

An important point:

Albanian buses are very slow. They stop approximately every 5 kilometers. However close you may think your destination city is, it will take at least 2.5 hours, if not 3. The average speed, regardless of whether the bus is new or old, is about 40 km/h. This figure will help you estimate the travel time based on the distance to the city 🙂

For example:

  • Bus from Tirana to Shkoder (90 km) – travel time is over 2 hours.
  • Bus from Tirana to Saranda (170 km) – 5 hours.
public transport in albania for tourists
Today, most buses between major cities in Albania look like this.

I have written about this in other articles, and I want to reiterate this thought. Albania is designed for traveling by car. It is easy, accessible, and safe in this country. The only reason to refrain from renting a car is if you don’t have a driver’s license.

Without a car, you will either be stuck in one place or spend the majority of your time on a bus and still not see 30% of what you would have seen with a car. You simply cannot reach a large number of attractions using public transport.

Useful information:

There is a lot written on the internet about terrible roads and old buses. In part, this is no longer true. In Albania, major infrastructure projects have been underway for the past 2-3 years. They are acquiring modern buses. On routes to major cities along the coast, they are already using buses like the ones in the photo above. They are repairing roads. This process is lengthy, but as of the beginning of 2024, the roads in Albania are mostly of excellent quality.

Tirana Bus Station

I will write separately about the Tirana Bus Station from where all regional buses depart. The information on the internet is conflicting and confusing for many.

They often write that the main bus station is located in Tirana near the Ring shopping center. Be aware that it no longer exists. Now it’s a field overgrown with weeds. There are plans to build a bus station here, but no work has started at all. Knowing the Albanians, it will take about 5 years for the construction to be completed.

Coordinates of the Tirana Intercity Bus Station:

All buses in the country depart from the temporary bus station, here are the coordinates: 41.344256, 19.776685. It is also marked on the Travel Map.

To help you understand what this temporary bus station looks like today, it is a concrete area without a cover or benches – just buses standing under the blue sky. There are no ticket offices or anything like that. There is a restroom and a café.

Important to know:

From Tirana, you can also take buses to neighboring countries. These buses depart from the International Bus Station. Here are the coordinates: 41.33313044766455, 19.801557509648745. The international station is located near the Ring Shopping Center, just behind it.

Ticket prices, where to buy, and bus schedules

One more interesting aspect about transportation in Albania is that the implementation of high technologies is just starting. Here are some details:

  • Bus tickets can be purchased inside the bus. When you arrive at the bus station, your bus will be waiting with open doors. Board the bus, take any available seat, and a conductor will come to sell you a ticket.
  • Payment is in cash only and in Albanian lek. Card payments are not accepted.
  • Tickets can also be bought at the bus station’s ticket office. Conductors are gradually being phased out, so when boarding an intercity bus, ask the driver where to buy a ticket.

Below are some prices for popular bus routes:

  • Tirana – Shkoder: 400 lek (4 euros)
  • Tirana – Durres: 150 lek (1.5 euros)
  • Tirana – Vlora: 500 lek (5 euros)
  • Tirana – Saranda: 15 euros

Internet services in 2024 for checking schedules and routes of intercity buses include:

  • This is the website and app of the Albanian Ministry of Transport, launched in 2024. The site and app are somewhat clunky, but they provide a list of buses and their general schedules. Specific daily schedules are not available, and online ticket purchases are currently not an option.
  • Gjjrafa: This is the most reasonable online service to check prices and schedules for buses in Albania. It has an English version, and you can even buy tickets online.
    • You can check and purchase direct tickets to cities over the Llogara Pass, such as Saranda, from this website. Because the state carrier travels there with a transfer in Vlora, and you would lose an entire day.
  • Additional schedules for all buses in Albania can be found here. The website is not user-friendly, but the timetable is regularly updated. Use a VPN.
international buses in Tirana
And here is the schedule and routes of all international buses to neighboring countries.

Transport in Albania: Railway

I’ll try to be brief. The Albanian railway is more dead than alive. As I mentioned before, Albania’s mountains prevent the construction of a proper network. Therefore, tourists rarely use the railway today due to the terrible condition of the trains and even worse frequency of service. To grasp the full tragedy of the situation:

  • Since 2013, the railway station in Tirana has been closed. It is currently impossible to take a train from Tirana, the capital of the country. The railway station was relocated to the town of Kashar, about 10 km away from Tirana (you can find the location on the travel map). I think there’s no need to continue further.

Below, I will provide a map of the entire Albanian railway network, where everything is intuitively understandable—information on where, when, and how. There will also be a ticket price table. By the way, tickets are also purchased on the train, and cash is the only accepted form of payment.

  • The official website of the Albanian railway provides current prices and schedules:
  • The advantage of the Albanian railway: it’s very cheap. You can travel to Shkoder for 1.5 euros.
Albania railway map
Albanian Railway Network. Tirana Station – Kashar (10 km from the city)
Albanian railway
All ticket prices for train travel in Albania. The main station, 10 km from Tirana, is Kashar.

Useful to know:

In 2021, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development granted a loan for the development of the Albanian railway. The government plans to build a railway from the center of Tirana to the airport and expand some existing railway lines. They say it will take 2-3 years. Trust me, it will be at least 5 years. By 2027, if anything, I will update this article.

Tirana’s Public Transportation

A few words specifically about transportation in Tirana.

Interesting to know:

In Tirana, public transport consists solely of buses.
  • There are only 20 routes in total.
  • There is no reliable route map.
  • The fare is 40 lek (0.4 euros).
  • You need to purchase a ticket by cash on board.
  • Buses run frequently, on average every 7-10 minutes.
  • Operating hours are from 6 am to 11 pm.
Albania public transport in Tirana
This is how Tirana’s city buses look today. The fleet has been slightly updated in the past couple of years. It used to be much worse.

To understand, in Tirana, there is no metro, trolleybus, tram, or any other mode of transportation besides buses.

Important to know:

Tirana experiences heavy traffic congestion almost always. However, the city is small, and all the attractions are located compactly in the center. You can easily explore them on foot, except for two attractions on the outskirts of the city: the cable car and the Enver Hoxha Bunker. They are 5 km away from the center. I walk there. In general, these are the only places where you might need a bus. And even then, you can reach them cheaply by taxi.

Travel tips regarding transport in Albania

In reality, the main tip has already been given. Albania is made for traveling by car. It is through a car that the country reveals itself to you, as enthusiastic travelers know. Public transport in Albania is poorly developed, but in any case, you can reach your destination, albeit not very quickly.

In conclusion, today, public transport in Albania has received a small push for development. European banks have provided funding, some buses have been updated, road repairs are actively underway throughout the country, and there are plans to develop the railway. Who knows, maybe in 10 years, traveling in Albania using public transportation will be fast, easy, and comfortable.

Wishing you beautiful scenery outside the bus window and a smooth journey!

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania

  • Flights at the best prices with best discounts
  • Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
    • DiscoverCars – a major international resource
    • LocalRent – the leader in the Albanian car rental market. Very low deposits, even in cash.
  • Hotels and apartments throughout the country:
    • Hotellook – compares prices among dozens of platforms and offer you the best one.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Albania.
  • Tours, excursions and activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 550 tours
    • Viator – 920+ excursions and activities throughout the country
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo eSIM in Albania from $4.5
    • DRIMSIM – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfer: Intui.Travel