How to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster
You might be wondering how to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster. Many travellers stay in Tirana or fly to Tirana airport, which is quite far from Gjirokaster. So you might be considering a visit to Gjirokaster, but you do not know how to get there. Let me answer the question for you in this blog post.
How to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster? You can get from Tirana to Gjirokaster by bus, by taxi or by rental car. There is no train connection. The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster costs 9 euros and lasts 4 hours. A taxi from Tirana to Gjirokaster costs 110 – 157 euros. A rental car costs 20 euros per day + 40 euros for petrol one-way.
Gjirokaster is a stunning UNESCO Heritage Site. And the old town centre and the castle of Gjirokaster are definitely worth a visit. However, Gjirokaster is close to the Greek border all the way in the South of Albania, is it is easily a 4-hour journey from Tirana to Gjirokaster!
Bus journeys in Albania are not so straightforward as a foreigner, taxis in Albania are pricy and renting a car and driving in Albania is a challenge! So what is the best way for you to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster? I will give you all the information so that you can make the best decision for you.
What is the best way to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster?
You can get from Tirana to Gjirokaster by bus, by rental car or by taxi. Let me take you through the costs, advantages and disadvantages of each manner of transportation. So that you can decide the best way to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster for yourself.
Option 1: Getting from Tirana to Gjirokaster by bus
- Advantage: The cheapest way to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster is by taking the local bus. The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster costs only 9 euros for a one-way journey.
- Disadvantage: The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster departs from the Regional Bus Terminal, which is a 20-minute drive from the city centre of Tirana. So you need to take another city bus or a taxi to get to the Regional Bus Terminal.
- Disadvantage: A bus trip in Albania is not a luxurious experience. Most of the Albanian minibuses are older busses. And they may or may not be air-conditioned. You will have a seat and you will get to your destination, but do not expect a luxurious trip. And you must be patient when you travel by bus inside Albania.
Option 2: Getting from Tirana to Gjirokaster by taxi
- Advantage: A taxi is the most convenient and fastest way to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster.
- Disadvantage: Taxis in Albania are pricy. A taxi ride from Tirana to Gjirokaster will cost you between 110 – 157 euros for a one-way trip! Which is a lot if you compare it with 9 euros for a bus trip.
- Disadvantage: In Albania, it is often better to book a 1-day or 2-day tour to Gjirokaster, instead of a taxi journey. Because a tour may actually be cheaper than a taxi journey. And you will get more value for your money, including an English speaking guide, entrance fees and transportation to the sightseeing places in Gjirokaster. So I recommend you check the prices of tours online, before booking a taxi.
- IMPORTANT: I did reach out to several taxi companies in Albania to ask for the price of a ride from Tirana to Gjirokaster, and I noticed that prices do vary significantly. So please scroll down to find the most affordable company!
Option 3: Getting from Tirana to Gjirokaster by rental car
- Advantage: One of the biggest challenges as a foreigner in Albania is figuring out the transportation from A to B. So if you rent a car, you have your transportation sorted for your entire trip. And you can make stops wherever you like.
- Disadvantage: Driving in Albania as a foreigner can be daunting and challenging. Because the Albanian drivers have a chaotic driving style. And many Albanian drivers do not follow the rules of the road, so you might be scared to drive in Albania as a foreigner.
- Disadvantage: Signage along the roads in Albania is not always clear and Google Maps is not super accurate in Albania, so you might need extra time to find your way.
- Disadvantage: A car rental is quite pricey. You will pay at least 20 euros per day for the rental car and approximately 40 euros for petrol to drive to Gjirokaster for a one-way trip.
Option 4: Booking a tour from Tirana to Gjirokaster
- Advantage: It is worth considering booking a tour in Albania because it removes all the stress of sorting out your transportation. And tours in Albania are usually a good value for money, compared to taxi prices or car rental prices. Especially, since you will also get a tour guide and entrance fees in your package.
- Disadvantage: If you are travelling on a budget, you may prefer to travel by bus, as this will be cheaper.
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How to get from Tirana to Gjirokaster by bus?
You can get from Tirana to Gjirokaster by bus in 4 hours.
The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster departs from the Regional Bus Terminal North and South Albania.
The official name of the bus station is:
Regional Bus Terminal – North and South Albania
In Albanian Language: Terminali i Autobusave të Jugut dhe Veriut
IMPORTANT: The Regional Bus Terminal is a 20-minute drive from the city centre of Tirana. So you need to take a taxi or a city bus to get to the bus terminal. You can find the details of how to get from Tirana’s city centre to the Regional Bus Terminal in the next paragraph.
The bus journey from Tirana’s Regional Bus Terminal to Gjirokaster takes 4 hours. And there are 11 busses from Tirana to Gjirokaster each day.
The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster departs at 5:00 AM, 6:45 AM, 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 13:00 PM, 14:30 PM, 15:30 PM, 18:30 PM and 20:30 PM.
You can check the most up-to-date version of the bus timetable on the website of Gjirafa Autobus. This is the link for Gjirafa Autobus: https://gjirafa.com/autobus
A bus ticket from Tirana to Gjirokaster costs 9 euros. You must pay for your ticket in cash. Please make sure you bring cash money because most Albanian bus drivers cannot process credit card or debit card payments. Simply because their bus is not equipped with a payment card system.
You do not have to reserve a ticket or bus seat online. You simply show up at the bus station and find the bus to Gjirokaster. And then you pay for your bus ticket in cash with the bus driver.
Where does the bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster depart?
The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster departs from the Regional Bus Terminal near Tirana. All the busses from Tirana to another city in Albania depart from the Regional Bus Terminal.
The official name of the bus station is:
Regional Bus Terminal – North and South Albania
In Albanian Language: Terminali i Autobusave të Jugut dhe Veriut
To make it easier for you, I have created a Google Maps link, on which you can see the location of the bus terminal: https://goo.gl/maps/CjJ8h7UqxDEvp9ybA
From the city centre of Tirana, it will take you approximately 20 minutes to get to the Regional Bus Terminal. You can take a short taxi ride or you can take the city bus and transfer to the Gjirokaster bus at the Regional Bus Terminal.
A taxi ride from the city centre of Tirana to the Regional Bus Terminal costs around 5 euros. By taxi, it will take you approximately 20 minutes to get to the Regional Bus Terminal. But I do recommend that you leave on time! Because traffic in the city centre of Tirana can be heavy and it may slow you down significantly.
The city bus from Tirana’s city centre to the Regional Bus Terminal departs close to Skanderbeg Square. Skanderbeg Square is the central square in the city centre of Tirana. If you are standing on Skanderbeg Square, you need to walk to the back of the National History Museum, to the Dede Gjo Luli Street (In Albanian: Rruga Dede Gjo Luli).
From the bus station on Dede Gjo Luli Street (In Albanian: Rruga Dede Gjo Luli), you must take the bus to Instituti Bujqesor. The bus to Instituti Bujqesor makes a stop at the Regional Bus Terminal North and South Albania. A bus ticket will cost you less than 1 euro, so take some Albanian Leke coins with you.
Where does the bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster arrive?
The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster arrives at the Regional Bus Terminal in Gjirokaster.
Regional Bus Terminal in Gjirokaster
In Albanian Language: Stacioni i Autobusave Gjirokastër
You can see the Regional Bus Terminal in Gjirokaster on a Google Map here: https://goo.gl/maps/r5rNRtsoqjUc6mSU8
How much does a taxi from Tirana to Gjirokaster cost?
A taxi from Tirana to Gjirokaster costs between 110 euros – 157 euros.
- Tirana Airport Taxi Service charges 134 euros for a one way trip from Tirana to Gjirokaster
- Merr Taxi charges 157 euros for a one way trip from Tirana to Gjirokaster
- Speed Taxi charges 110 euros for a one way trip from Tirana to Gjirokaster
There are two taxi companies in Albania, which have price lists displayed on their website: Tirana Airport Taxi Service and Merr Taxi.
You can find the price list of the Tirana Airport taxi service here: https://tiataxi.al/travel/ .
Merr Taxi actually has a taxi fare calculator on their website, which you can find here: https://merrtaxi.com/tirana-taxi-fare-calculator . Bear in mind, that Merr Taxi’s prices are usually relatively high. But I guess, that is not a problem if you are calculating your budget. Because at least you will definitely have enough cash money with you for the trip.
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Can I use UBER in Albania?
UBER does not exist in Albania. In the past UBER did announce that they would come to Albania, but so far, UBER is not operating in Albania.
However, there are some taxi Apps that you can use, as an alternative to using UBER.
Taxi APPs in Albania:
1. UPs Taxi App
2. Speed Taxi App
3. Taxi.al App
The UPs taxi app is similar to UBER. Because it will connect you to a taxi owner near your location. If you request a taxi through UPs taxi, it is always a licenced taxi.
Speed Taxi is a branded taxi company, who has its own taxi app. So if you request a taxi through the app, you will get a branded taxi and the driver is an employee of the Speed taxi company. Which is a bit different from UBER.
The Taxi.al App is very similar to Uber. Because drivers register on their website and these are private drivers with their own cars. You will most likely pay for your taxi in cash.
How much does a car rental from Tirana to Gjirokaster cost?
A basic rental car costs 20 euros per day in Albania and petrol from Tirana to Gjirokaster will cost you roughly 40 euros.
When you are planning to rent a car in Albania, I do recommend you do your research before your trip. Because different car rental companies do charge vastly different prices. I have heartd from some tourists they paid between 50-70 euros per day for a rental car.
There is no need to pay more than 20 euros per day for a basic car rental. So reach out to several car rental companies before your holiday, so that you know for sure you are getting a good deal.
Before you decide to rent a car and drive in Albania, I do want to mention that driving in Albania as a foreigner can be daunting and challenging. Albanian drivers do not follow the rules of the road. And many Albanian drivers have a very chaotic driving style. So you may be surprised or shocked when you are being overtaken on both sides. Or when you arrive at a roundabout and everybody is trying to get on the roundabout at the same time.
Obviously, I cannot possibly know your driving abilities or experience. Only you can judge whether driving in Albania is for you or not. But if you have any doubt at all, I would recommend you choose to travel by taxi, a tour or a bus instead.
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How do I get from Tirana airport to Gjirokaster?
You can get from Tirana airport to Gjirokaster in a rental car or a taxi. There is no direct bus from Tirana airport to Gjirokaster, you must switch transportation.
The easiest way to get from Tirana airport to Gjirokaster is to take an official Tirana Airport Taxi. The official Tirana Airport Taxi will charge you 134 euros for a one-way journey. TIA Taxi has a set price list on their website, which you can view here: https://tiataxi.al/travel/
You can also rent a car in Albania and request the car to be ready at Tirana Airport for your arrival. A basic car rental in Albania will cost you 20 euros per day. And petrol from Tirana to Gjirokaster will cost you roughly 40 euros for a one-way trip.
I do recommend you email car rental companies before your departure because the prices for car rentals in Albania do vary significantly. And I have received emails from former travellers, who paid between 50-70 euros for their car rental. Which is not necessary! So I do recommend doing your research and enquiring before your trip.
There is no direct bus connection from Tirana Airport to Gjirokaster. So you have two options:
Option 1: Take a taxi from Tirana International Airport to the Regional Bus Terminal North and South Albania.
The bus from Tirana to Gjirokaster departs from the Regional Bus Terminal North and South Albania (more information above). The bus terminal is along the highway between Tirana International Airport and the city centre of Tirana. From the airport, you can take a taxi to the bus terminal, which costs 13 euros. Then from the regional bus terminal, you take the bus to Gjirokaster, which costs 9 euros.
Option 2: Take the airport bus to Tirana city centre or Durres Beach.
Because Tirana International Airport does not have a direct bus to Gjirokaster. It might be easier to book your first night in Durres, Tirana or Vlore, so that you can take the direct bus from the airport. Then after spending your first night in Tirana, Durres or Vlore, you can travel onwards to Gjirokaster the next day, when you are fully rested.
Is Gjirokaster worth visiting?
Gjirokaster is absolutely worth visiting because it is a historical city, which is on the UNESCO heritage list.
Walking through Gjirokaster gives you an insight into what the city was like during the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The city has typical stone houses and cobblestone streets. Therefore, Gjirokaster is also known as the “stone city”. The city of Gjirokaster is known in Albania as a “museum city” because it has beautiful historical buildings everywhere. It is a lovely city to stroll through.
The Gjirokaster Castle is a large fortress on the top of a hill in the city. The fortress has a spectacular view of the historical city and the traditional stone houses of Gjirokaster. It is one of the biggest hilltop castles in the Balkans and it dominates the city. The castle was originally built in the 12th century by the local Byzantine government. But it was renovated and additions were made during the Ottoman empire and the government of King Zog. From 1930 onward, it was mainly used as a prison for people who were resistant to the government.
Old Bazaar of Gjirokaster
The Old Bazaar of Gjirokaster is the traditional marketplace in Gjirokaster. The bazaar was originally built in the Middle Ages. There are a variety of craftsmen shops, souvenir shops and coffee houses along the Bazaar. You can buy handmade wooden pieces, handwoven rugs and delicate lace items. The street of the Bazaar is made of cobblestones and it is set on a steep hillside.
Skenduli House is a highlight for visitors to Gjirokaster. It is an original family house, which is more than 300 years old. During your visit, you will get a unique insight into what life was like for a rich family during the Ottoman period. The house has 9 fireplaces, 6 bathrooms, 12 rooms, 44 doors, 64 windows and 4 Hamam Turkish baths. The house has been owned by the same family for generations. The family will show you around the house and tell you stories about its history. One of the highlights is the room used for wedding ceremonies, with beautiful stained glass windows, carved wooden ceilings and a fireplace decorated with pomegranates, which symbolize fertility.
Cold War Tunnel in Gjirokastra
The Cold War Tunnel is a gigantic bunker underneath the castle of Gjirokaster. It was built by the former communist dictator Enver Hoxha. The dictator was paranoid about a foreign invasion or a nuclear attack. In fact, he was so convinced an attack was imminent, he constructed 750.000 bunkers all over Albania. The Cold War Tunnel bunker was constructed in secret in the 1960s, and it remained a secret for the locals until the 1990s. The Cold War Tunnel is 800 m long and it has 59 rooms, therefore, it could hold up to 300 people if needed. The bunker is empty, but the use of the rooms have been displayed on the doors. There were rooms for government ministries, interrogators, party elites, power generation, water storage, sleeping, decontamination and air filtration.
Museum of Weapons Gjirokastra
Inside the castle walls of Gjirokaster’s castle, you can visit the Museum of Weapons. The museum site was originally a prison. Albania former King Zog constructed the prison in 1932. During the second world war, the prison was used by the Italian and German forces. After the war, the communist regime used the prison to hold political prisoners. The Museum of Weapons displays arms used during the Albanian Independence struggle in 1912 and from the struggle against the Italian and German occupations from 1939 to 1944.
Zekate House is a historical townhouse in Gjirokaster city. It is a beautiful example of a traditional tower house. The house was build in 1812, and it is “one of the greatest examples of Gjirokaster architecture in the Ottoman style”. Impressive houses like Zekate House used to only belong to the wealthy people, like government officials and merchants. Inside the house, you can see the original interior and imagine what it was like to live there during the Ottoman period. There are beautiful stained-glass windows, wooden ceilings and wall frescoes.
Ethnographic Museum of Gjirokastra
The Ethnographic Museum gives you an insight into the traditional lifestyle of a wealthy family in Gjirokaster. The museum’s building is on the location, where the former dictator Enver Hoxha’s childhood home was. However, the original building was destroyed by a fire. Inside the museum, you can see a display of artefacts, household items, folk costumes, clothing and kitchenware from the past.
Ali Pasha Bridge
In 1811, the city of Gjirokaster was ruled by the Ottoman Governor Ali Pasha. During his rule, he constructed a 12-kilometre long aqueduct, which brought drinking water to the city from the Sopot Mountain. In 1932, the aqueduct was mostly demolished, but one section in the Manalat Quarter still stands. The bridge is known as the “Ali Pasha Bridge”, the “Manalat Bridge” or the “Dunavat Bridge”. It is a 30 minutes hike from Gjirokaster and an off-the-beaten-path attraction for visitors.
I am an Albania Tour Guide, who organizes 1-day, 2-day or multiple day private tours in Albania. I arrange your transportation and I am your English speaking guide. So that, you get to experience the most beautiful places in Albania!
Kind regards, Manon
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