Statue of Skėnderbeg, Tiranė, Albania.  Easy to reach by train!

The statue of Skėnderbeg, Albania's national hero, in Skėnderbeg Square in Tiranė

Visiting Albania...

Albania, which Albanians call Shqipėria or Land of the Eagles, was once the most mysterious country in Europe.  It became a Stalinist dictatorship in 1946, and for decades it was almost completely shut off from the rest of the world.  But things have changed.  The Communist regime was overturned in 1991, and in spite of well-publicised troubles in 1992 and again in 1997, most of Albania is now quite safe to visit - you can check with www.fco.gov.uk.   Albania is easy to reach from western Europe, either by train to Italy then ferry across the Adriatic, or overland by train to Montenegro then by bus or taxi across the border into Albania.  EU citizens don't even need a visa and it's a fascinating country that will challenge your pre-conceptions of things Albanian.  There are some photographs of what you might see in Albania at the bottom of this page.

Train times, fares, tickets & information...

  London & Paris to Tiranė via ferry from Italy

  London & Paris to Tiranė overland via Belgrade

  Train times & fares within Albania

  International links from Albania to neighbouring countries

  Things to see in Albania

  Hotels in Albania

  General European train travel information

  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking dogs


Useful country information...

Train operator in Albania:

HSH (Hekurudhė ė Shqipėrisė), www.hsh.com.al.

 

 

Ferries to Albania:

Check all ferry operator sailing times & prices here.  Ventouris Ferries www.ventouris.gr sail Bari-Durrės daily, also try www.agoudimos-lines.com who sail 3-5 sailings a week, www.adriaferries.com, & www.venezialines.com who operate a fast ferry.

Time zone:

 

GMT+1 (GMT+2 last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+355

Currency:

 

£1 = approx 140 Lek.   Currency converter

Visas:

UK citizens no longer need a visa to visit Albania, and there's no longer any entry tax to pay.

Tourist information:

Tripadvisor Albania page, also see www.albania.starttips.comHotels in Albania

Travel advice:

Most visits to Albania are now trouble-free.  Tiranė and Durrės are quite safe, but check with the Foreign Office's travel advice website,  www.fco.gov.uk, before visiting some parts of Albania, particularly the border regions in the North-East of the country.

Page last updated:

7 October 2014.  Train times valid 15 June to 13 December 2014.


Sponsored links...

 

London to Tiranė

There are no international passenger trains between Albania and the rest of Europe, and travel in some of the border regions is inadvisable (see www.fco.gov.uk), so the fastest, easiest and most comfortable way to reach Albania is to take a train to Bari in Italy and sail overnight to Durrės on the daily Ventouris Ferries ship.  The journey from London to Albania is quite straightforward and can all be booked from the UK.  If you'd rather travel overland by train to Montenegro then by taxi or bus, see the next section.

London ► Tiranė

A 2-berth cabin aboard the 'Sansovino' from Bari to Albania... London to Albania by train+ferry: Adriatica Line's 'Sansovino' at Durrės   A bright and sunny morning on the Adriatic...

2-berth cabin aboard the Sansovino.

Adriatica Line used to operate daily overnight sailings Bari-Durrės.  This is the Sansovino at Durrės.

At sea in the Adriatic...

Tiranė ► London

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar: 

 From £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Milan

 by daytime TGV:

2nd class

1st class

 Cheap one-way fares:

From £26

From £32

 Cheap return fares:

From £52

From £64

 Full-price one-way fare:

£101

£121

 Full-price child fare:

£47

£61

 Railpass fare:

£52

£70

 Domestic animals:

£32

£32

Cheap fares = Prems or Leisure = Book ahead, price varies, limited availability, no refunds, no changes.

Full-price fare = Refundable and flexible.  There are no senior or youth reductions.

Child fare = Child 4-11 years (use an adult special fare if cheaper). Children under 4 free.

Railpass fare:  What you pay if you have railpasses (Eurail, Interrail, etc) covering both Italy & France. If your pass only covers one country, there's a higher supplement.

Check actual prices for your date of travel at uk.voyages-sncf.com or www.voyages-sncf.com.

 3. Milan to Bari

 by Frecciabianca train

Super-economy fares start at €9 in 2nd class or €29 in 1st class, each way.

 

 4. Bari to Durrės

 with Ventouris Ferries:

One-way from €52 with reclining seat, €58 each for two passengers sharing a 2-bed cabin, €109 with sole occupancy.

Return fares from €87 with reclining seat, €102 each for two passengers sharing a 2-bed cabin, €188 with sole occupancy.

Prices vary by season and accommodation type, check prices at the Seat61 Ferry Shop.

How to buy tickets...

  Intercity, Albania-style:  The 09:30 to Durrės waits to leave Tiranė

The 09:30 train to Durrės at Tiranė.  Unfortunately, train service to Tiranė is currently suspended.


London to Tiranė overland

It's possible to travel overland to Albania, by train from London or Paris via Belgrade to either Podgorica (in Montenegro) or Bar, then by bus or taxi to the border and on to Shkodėr, then train to Tiranė.  There may be security concerns in some border areas of Albania, so double-check Foreign Office travel advice first, at www.fco.gov.uk.  The overland option generally takes a day or two longer than the more straightforward train & ferry option via Italy, but you can stop off and see some remarkable parts of the Balkans on the way, for example Belgrade and Montenegro.  Why not go out by ferry and back overland, or vice versa?  Here's how to travel overland:

London ► Tiranė

Tiranė ► London

Feedback from travellers using this route would be very welcome.


Travelling by train in Albania

  View from the train to Pogradec

The view from the train from Durrės & Tiranė to Pogradec.  Photo courtesy of Gabriel Chew

Travelling by train in Albania is an experience not to be missed.  Second hand coaches from Italy, Austria or Germany hauled by Czech-built diesels clickety-clack across the countryside at about 35 mph (or less!).  Don't be surprised by torn seats or broken windows, but then, what do you expect for 50p?  You may be able to check these train times at www.hsh.com.al (if it's working), but please also double-check locally.  All trains are one class only.

UPDATE:  Tiranė station being rebuilt...  Since September 2013 and now in 2014 until further notice, there are no trains between Durrės & Tiranė whilst Tiranė station is being rebuilt in a new location, believed to be near the Hygeia Hospital, see this map.  How long this will last is anyone's guess.  Alternative buses are of course available.  If you have any more details, please email me.

 Durrės ► Tiranė

 Durrės  

depart  

-

-

-

-

-

 Tiranė

arrive

-

-

-

-

-

 

 Tiranė ► Durrės

 Tiranė  

depart  

-

-

-

-

-

 Durrės  

arrive

-

-

-

-

-

Durrės - Tiranė train service is suspended, buses are available as everywhere in Albania.

The train times below are from May 2014...

 Tiranė & Durrės ► Shkodėr  

 
 Shkodėr  ► Durrės & Tiranė   

 Tiranė

depart  

-

 Shkodėr  

depart

05:45

 Durrės

depart

13:00

 Milot

depart

07:16

 Vorė

arrive

13:35

 Vorė

arrive

08:30

 Vorė

depart

13:48

 Vorė

depart 

08:57

 Milot

arrive

15:05

 Durrės

arrive

09:40

 Shkodėr 

arrive

17:05

 Tiranė

arrive

-

 Tiranė & Durrės Vlorė & Elbasan

 Elbasan & Vlorė Durrės & Tiranė

 Tiranė

depart  

-

 

-

 Vlorė

depart

-

05:00

-

 Durrės

depart

07:20

13:25

15:10

 Fier

depart

-

06:39

-

 Rrogozhinė  

arrive

08:26

??:??

??:??

 Lushnjė 

depart

-

07:39

-

 Rrogozhinė  

depart

08:27

??:??

??:??

 Pogradec*

depart 

-

|

-

 Elbasan

arrive

10:06

|

17:55

 Librazhd

depart 

-

|

12:15

 Librazhd

arrive

11:00

|

-

 Elbasan

depart

06:00

|

13:05

 Pogradec*

arrive

-

|

-

 Rrogozhinė  

arrive

??:??

08:22

??:??

 Lushnjė 

arrive

-

??:??

-

 Rrogozhinė  

depart

??:??

??:??

??:??

 Fier

arrive

-

??:??

-

 Durrės

arrive

08:43

09:45

15:53

 Vlorė

arrive

-

18:16

-

 Tiranė

arrive

-

-

-

* = There are now no trains to or from Pogradec, since summer 2012.  Trains now start/terminate at Librazhd.

Fares & buying tickets...

Fares are incredibly cheap.  Durrės to Tiranė one-way costs 70 Lek, or about 50p.  Durrės to Shkodėr is 160 Lek, about £1.  Tiranė to Vlore is 250 Lek, about £1.60.  Tickets are not sold in advance, only for the next train.

What are Albanian trains like?

Albanian train

Trains offer one class only.  Most are composed of second-hand German suburban carriages like these.  Photos courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

Seats on an Albanian train   Albanian Railways poster

The cars are grubby but perfectly comfortable.  Above right, an Albanian Railways poster at Shkodėr, showing a British Rail InterCity 125...


International links from Albania...

There are no international trains to or from Albania, but here's how to travel to or from neighbouring countries by bus, taxi or ferry...

Travelling from Tiranė to Bar (Montenegro), Podgorica (Montenegro) & Belgrade (Serbia)

Travelling from Tiranė to Skopje (Macedonia)

Ferries from Albania to Bari or Ancona (Italy)

Buses from Tiranė to Athens & Thessaloniki (Greece)


Things to see in Albania...

Statue of Skėnderbeg, Tiranė, Albania     National History Museum, Tiranė, Albania

Statue of Skėnderbeg (above left), Albania's national hero, in Skėnderbeg Square in the centre of Tiranė.  George Kastrioti (1405-1468) was an Albanian who at a very young age was handed over to the Turks as a hostage.  The Turks converted him to Islam and gave him a military education in Edirne in Turkey, where he became known as 'Alexander' ('Iskėnder') after Alexander the Great.  He was made a lord ('bey') by the Turks before he turned against them, driving them out of Albania.  'Iskėnder' + 'bey' = 'Skėnderbeg'.  Above right, the communist mural on the front of the National History Museum on Skėnderbeg Square.

The former residence of Enver Hoxha in Tirana   The former Enver Hoxha Museum, Tirana

Above left, the former residence of Enver Hoxha (pronounced 'Hodja') in Tiranė.  Enver Hoxha was Albania's president and dictator from 1946 until his death in 1985.  Above right, the former Enver Hoxha museum, now home to several cafes.  Albania aligned itself with the USSR from 1944 until 1960, when the two countries fell out over Khruschev's demands for a Soviet submarine base at Vlorė.  In 1961, Albania broke off diplomatic relations with the USSR and re-aligned itself with the Peoples Republic of China.

Mosque of Ethem Bey, Tiranė, Albania    Concrete bunkers, seen from the train...

The mosque of Ethem Bey, dating from 1793, on Skėnderbeg Square in Tiranė.  The clock tower next to it dates from 1830.

Bunkers... There are some 750,000 of these small concrete bunkers all over the Albanian countryside.  They were built on the orders of Enver Hoxha after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Roman amphitheatre, Durrės, Albania   Historic town and castle of Kruja

The Roman amphitheatre in Durrės, dating from the 2nd century AD and first excavated in around 1960.

The historic town of Kruja, 38km from Tiranė, can be reached by minibus-taxi in about an hour.  Skėnderbeg made Kruja his capital from 1443 to 1468.

A train from Tirana to Durres calls at Vore...     Statue in Durres, Albania

The 14:15 train from Tiranė to Durrės calls at Vora.

'They went that-a-way...' A statue in Durrės.


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 


Hotels & accommodation

Find a hotel in Tiranė or elsewhere in Albania...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.


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