How long to drive through Albania?

Lately, I have been driving through Albania a lot. But I found there is little information online about the driving times and routes through Albania. Therefore, I decided to write a helpful blog post about the topic.

How long to drive through Albania? It takes 9 hours to drive through Albania from the North border with Montenegro to the South border with Greece. From Montenegro, it will take you 3 h and 30 min to drive to Tirana. Kosovo to Tirana will take you 3 hours. Macedonia to Tirana will take you 3 hours. And Greece to Tirana is 5,5 hours.

However, the amount of time you need to drive through Albania, very much depends on your route. For instance, you may decide to take the longer coastal route, so that you can see some of the beaches along the way.

How much time does it take to drive through Albania?

Driving from the north of Albania to the south takes 9 hours. In these 9 hours, you will drive from the North border with Montenegro to the south border with Greece.

You will start your journey in the city Podgorica in Montenegro. From Podgorica drive southwards toward the border. The border crossing between Montenegro and Albania is called Hani i Hotit – Bozhaj.

From the border, follow the road towards Shkodra city. Continue your journey along the road. After Shkodra, you will pass by the city Lezha and make your way to Tirana. It will take you 3 hours and 30 minutes to drive from Podgorica to Tirana.

Once you arrive in Tirana, you need to choose a route to the Greek border.  You can choose between the following two routes:
1.       Fastest route
2.       Touristic route

The fastest route from Tirana to Greece
The fastest route from Tirana to Greece will take you 5 hours and 30 minutes. In this time, you will drive from Tirana to Ioannina in Greece. This route will lead you through the middle of Albania.

From Tirana, you will need to drive to the coastal city Durres. From Durres, you need to drive by the following cities: Rrogozhine, Lushnje, Fier, Balish, Tepelene and Gjirokaster. Once you arrive in Gjirokaster, you are close to the border. The border crossing between Albania and Greece is called Kakavia. After you have passed the border, continue driving to Ioannina in Greece. This route from Tirana to Ioannina will take 5 hours and 30 minutes.

The touristic route from Tirana to Greece
The touristic route from Tirana to the Greek border, takes you along the Albanian coast. Especially, the coastline between the cities Vlore and Saranda is very beautiful. The coastline between Vlore and Saranda has become known as the Albanian Riviera. The road that runs between the two cities has scenic views from the mountains onto the sea.

If you choose the touristic route, it will be very tempting to stop several times along the road. Because there are many small beaches and little towns along the road.

The condition of the coastal route is very good, because it has recently been renewed. To drive along this road, you must not be afraid of heights though! Because the road runs across the 1043-meter-high Llogara pass. Furthermore, once you have crossed the mountain pass, you need to drive downwards along the winding road towards the sea.

Driving from Tirana along the coast to the Greek border will take you 7 hours. Moreover, if you stop along the way to visit the beach, this will lengthen your journey. However, if you are on holiday and in the mood to explore, you will really enjoy this journey. If you have the time, it is also worth spending 1 night in a hotel in the Albanian Riviera, so you can go for a swim.

How long does it take to drive from Albania to Kosovo?

It will take you 3 hours to drive from Tirana to Kosovo. There is only one route between Tirana and Prizren, so no need to consider any alternatives.

From Tirana, you need to drive to the north and pass the city Fushe-Kruja. Continue along the road and pass by the cities Lac and Milot. From there drive in the direction of Kukes. After Kukes, you need to cross the border. The border crossing between Albania and Kosovo is called Morina. The road from the border leads you to Prizren in Kosovo.

From Tirana, it will take you 3 hours to drive to Prizren. Prizren is the closest city to the border with Albania, but of course you can continue your journey further into Kosovo. The trip from Tirana to Prishtina will take you 4 hours and 30 minutes. And driving from Tirana to Peja takes roughly 5 hours.

How long does it take to drive from Albania to Macedonia?

It takes 3 hours to drive from Tirana to Struga in Macedonia. To reach the Macedonian border, you need to drive the following route.

From Tirana, drive toward the city Elbasan. From Elbasan, you need to drive to the east. Along the road, you will pass by Labinot-Fushe, Librazhd, Hotolisht, Qukes and Rrajce. The border crossing is called Qaf Thane-Kjafasan. 

The closest city to the Macedonian border is Struga. Of course, you can continue your journey from Struga to Skopje. The trip from Tirana to Skopje will take you 8 hours. From Struga, you will pass by Kicevo, Gostivar and Tetevo to reach Skopje.

Important Information:
If you are driving from Tirana to Macedonia, the route via Struga is your best option. This is due to the condition of the road. Theoretically, it is also possible to drive from Tirana to Peshkopi and cross the border at Debar. However, the road from Tirana to Peshkopi is not in a good condition. Driving to Macedonia via Peshkopi will lengthen your travel time by several hours.

Is it safe to drive in Albania?

It is safe to drive in Albania. But just like in any county, there are a few precautions you can take to ensure your safety.

Firstly, depending on your route, you may need a four-wheel drive car. The north of Albania, for instance, is very mountainous. If you plan on driving to the mountain villages, like Valbona or Theth, for your safety you should rent a four-wheel drive car.

If you plan on visiting Tirana, Durres or the Albanian Riviera, there is no need for a four-wheel drive car. Many of the roads in the touristic areas have recently been refurbished. The east of Albania is more remote and some of the roads still have gravel. In other words, if you plan on travelling to off-the-beaten path and remote regions, it is best to rent a four-wheel drive car for your safety.

Secondly, it is important to have your headlights on when driving in Albania. Because the Albanian police are very strictly checking the headlight usage.

Thirdly, avoid driving at night in Albania for your safety. Although a lot of money is being invested in the improvement of the roads in Albania, the street lighting is still poor. Therefore, you should plan your journey, so that you can find accommodation before dawn.

Fourthly, do not visit the mountain areas in the North and East of Albania in the winter. Because in the winter the mountain roads can be icy and covered in snow. For your safety, avoid driving in the mountain areas between December and February.

And finally, driving in Albania is for experienced drivers. Many of the roads are turning and winding across the mountains, which makes them challenging to manoeuvre. 

Related Questions

Do I need an international driver’s license in Albania? To drive in Albania, you need an international driver’s license. Apart from the international driver’s licence, you should also have your national licence, the car registration document and the rental vehicle document. Furthermore, to drive across the border, you will need a Green Card insurance.

What side of the road do Albanians drive on? Albanians drive on the right-hand side of the road. Therefore, you should overtake on the left-hand side.

Image Credit 

Albania, Land Rover Adventure Travel | Witold Waschut | Flickr