Albania is a small Balkan country with plenty of natural and historical treasures, absolutely worth a visit. If you want to use public transport to get around it can be a little bit stressful, because there are basically no bus schedules anywhere on the internet or even once you get there it will be very hard to find one. However it is very cheap to get around and you should definitely try to use their public transport, it is fun experience.
I will share with you some tips on how to travel around Albania and at first how to even get there.
The easiest way to visit Albania is by plane. In Tirana is the only international airport in the country and it was named after Mother Teresa – Nënë Tereza International Airport. There are some good connections, especially with Italy and Greece, but some other countries also have connections. You can always fly to some neighbour countries, such as Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia or Greece.
From the airport you can take taxi or Rinas Express bus, which costs 250 Lek (you can pay in Euros) each way and it will drop you of behind National History Museum in Tirana. It departs every hour between 6am and 7pm.
Another option to getting there is by ferry. From Italy there are connections from Trieste, Bari and Ancona to Durrës and from Brindisi to Vlore. Prices vary according to the season. If you are more interested in south of Albania, there is an option to fly to Corfu and go to Sarande with ferry. From Vlore to Sarande are the most beautiful beaches in Albania.
There are no international train connections with Albania, but there are some international bus connections. You can reach Tirana from Istanbul (I guess this is a long drive), Athens, Prishtina, Ulcinj, Skopje. Maybe there are even some more and are not marked, for these you will have to ask some locals, because usually there are some mini buses, but you just need to find them.
GETTING AROUND ALBANIA
Tirana is most likely the only capital city in the world without bus station, but there are supposed to be four bus stations on each side of the city. For more information you should always ask locals. In Tirana you probably will not have problems with it, as most people do speak English, in some other cities and towns it can be more of a challenge.
If you want to go to Durrës you should go to bus stop near Karl Topia Square, where you will also find mini buses, called furgons. You cannot miss mini bus as someone is usually shouting the final stop. Just go there, make sure it is the right destination, sit down and wait for the bus to fill. Money will be collected during or after you arrive.
Durrës has a main bus station and from there you can also reach Berat, Elbasan and other cities. No bus schedule again, so just go there, look for your bus or mini bus and wait.
Getting around Albania by bus or mini bus is a fun experience. Do not be surprised if the bus will stop in the middle of the (kind of a) highway to pick up or drop off some people or if there will be some chickens riding alongside with you. Even open doors during the ride is nothing unusual.
Using city bus in Tirana can be confusing. I have not found a single map of routes on any station. In Durrës it is easier as it goes from city centre via bus station to another side of the city with hotels and the beach. It costs 30 Lek, regardless of the distance, so keep your coins, as it would be easier for you to pay the person on the bus.
Another option to travel around the country is by train, but the service is limited and there is no train connection with Tirana. From Durrës via train you can reach Vlore, Elbasan, Shkoder, Librazhd. Train is slow, but really cheap. There is a train schedule on the train station in Durrës, which is also where the bus station is.