WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE TRAVELLING TO ALBANIA

Number 1: Public transport

Majority of buses will look like this

So I could not find an official website for local buses and there are no trains in Albania despite there being a track. UPDATE: there is a train from Durres to Elbasan that runs once a week. It is a beautiful ride but will require you to stay in Elbasan overnight.

Tirana has 3 bus stations: one that has buses coming from the airport, one local one and one regional one for buses reaching the rest of the country and abroad. The last one is located outside the city and you will need a transport or a local bus to reach it.

Here are some buses prices:
Airport to the center 450 Leke
Taxi 2000 leke to the airport.
Tirana to sarande 1700 leke
Saranda to delvine 180 leke. Tirana to Vlora 600 leke Durres to Elbasan 400 leke Tirana to Kruja 200 leke


Return trip to Corfu: £40 (boat ride lasts 1hr 10min)

Cheapest boat to Corfu

There is an option for a faster ride but it is more pricey.
Podgorica to Tirana €20 (you can also go from Budva).
Durres to Tirana 200 leke

Lots of traffic so be sure to plan ahead and leave plenty of time if you have a plane to catch.

Number 2: ATMs

Sadly most ATMs charges you a fee that varies between €5-€7 per transaction. Yep, it sucks. The ATM at the shopping centre in Tirana is free however so maybe it’s worth planning a budget.

Number 3: Food

Portions are fairly generous in restaurants and depending on where you staying, you will have more or less choices. Sea food is very popular by the beach whilst pizzeria and kebab places are more common in big cities. You may find some Asian cuisine as well. Generally the food is good but make sure you wash fruits and veggies bought locally before eating them. It is not advised to drink tap water either. Plus I think it goes without saying that you should avoid touristy spots and head to where the locals go for best food and price. Mind you, they will most likely still charge you “European” price.

Number 4: Cash/Card

The good thing is that you can pay in local current Leke as well as in Euro. Some shops will have double pricing to make it easy. Smaller shops may not have price tags and you will have to haggle or be prepared for higher prices.

Cards aren’t accepted everywhere.

Number 5: Safety

Generally speaking Albania may not be more unsafe than any other countries but certain things are here more common than in Western Europe.

As a woman I felt less threatened by the potential of mugging but local men are not angels. Staring seems to be common theme through Balkans but when I smile and say hi, they actually respond with smile and wave back here.

Last summer I had an incident where I was groped by a drunk guy on a public bus so you do need to pay attention to your surroundings. So far during my current trip I have experienced some harassment (always from men!) and frankly, I no longer feel safe in busy places.

Locals are very helpful in general and speak decent English or Italian. The latter is more common in small villages.

When using Couchsurfing:
Local men would prefer one on one meetings and will back out at the last minute from group meetings. They will also always ask you if you are here alone and where you staying. When they invite you for dinner, they will pay but will expect invite back to your apartment. And no, it will not be for coffee.

Number 6: Taxis

Taxis are usually yellow in the capital so very easy to spot. Make sure they will put the meter on or you agree about the price before getting in the car. They will always quote you the highest fare possible.

My taxi driver challenged me to get his age right to get a free ride.

Number 7: SIM Card/Wi-Fi

SIM card (21 days, 35gb, unlimited calls, 2000 lek or 30 days, 33gb 2100 lek). It gets cheaper the longer you have it.

Wi-Fi is available in most places in the city but not at every accommodation.

Number 8: Accomodation

Plenty of choices from hostels in big cities like Shkodra and Tirana, to 5* resorts by the coast and guest houses and villas in the mountains. Prices vary according to season but are definitely not the cheapest anymore. During summer it is quite common to see locals standing by busy roads with a phone number and size of accommodation available.

AirBnb and Booking.com works here too. Be vary off fake reviews and pictures though. What you see on a website may not always be what you get.

Number 9: Dogs

Strays on the beach

Stray dogs seem to be on the loose pretty much everywhere and they can be quite aggressive and annoying. Be careful if you carry shopping containing meat as you may be followed by a pack 🙂 Carry big rock with you for safety (comes handy with interactions with local men as well).

Albania seems more Van travel friendly than Montenegro.

Happy travels!

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