How to Get From Tirana, Albania to Kosovo

The following is a guide explaining how to get from Tirana, Albania to Pristina or Prizren, Kosovo. I’m writing it for all the poor saps who are in Tirana right now and can’t work out how to leave the place. I feel you guys. I’ll help you out.

The first thing you need to know is that Tirana has no central bus station. If they did, I wouldn’t be writing this. What they do have is 50,000 bus stops in random places with no signage of any kind. I would like to politely and delicately point out that that system is fucking stupid.

The second thing you need to know about Tirana is that the 50,000 bus stops move randomly, like a city-wide game of whack-a-mole.

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What it’s like trying to catch a bus in Tirana.

So even if you happen to know that a bus to the Moon leaves from Road Street, you might get there and find buses leaving for the Sun. This is because buses to the Moon only leave from Road Street on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, but only before 4:17pm; at 4:18pm onwards, and on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and on nights where Mercury is aligned with Venus, they leave from Street Road, two miles and one headache away.

Okay, but how do you even find out where a bus to Kosovo leaves from? You talk to travel agency/tour operator stores. Fortunately, there’s quite a few of those, mostly on Bulevard Zogu I, north of Skanderberg Square. Unfortunately, the people in them don’t speak that much English. It might take a bit of persistence and voice raising and wild gesticulating but eventually someone’s face will brighten when you say Prizren/Pristina (depending on your desired destination in Kosovo — I highly recommend at least a night in Prizren). They’ll sell you a bus ticket after taking unreasonably long putting info into a computer; what info is there even? My name, my destination and the fact that I’ve paid? Do you need my resume too? Want to know about that time in 6th grade I got an A on my Geography test?

Naturally you then want to ask where the bus leaves from. The travel agency person will shrug and say “that way” and point down the street. “How far that way?” you will ask. “5 minutes” they will say. “Thank you,” you will say. You walk 5 minutes down the street and see no sign of any potential bus stop, so you walk 2 minutes more, then 4 minutes back, and so on until you’ve exhausted all reasonable points that “5 minutes away” might be. Then you resolve to just come early for the bus and figure it out then, which leaves at 6am and only 6am. If you miss it, you have to wait until the next day. No pressure then.

Next day your alarm buzzes in your pitch-black hostel dorm at 5am. 7 people, including you, all moan and toss and turn and hope the bad noise goes away. It does, but it’s replaced by the sound of you pulling on clothes and quickly shoving all your stuff in your backpack hoping you’re not forgetting anything. Ordinarily those would be quiet activities, but in this 5am world, in this hostel dorm, every sound is like a shotgun blast to the head, and not the good kind.

You rush outside by 5:15am and are panicking about time, even though the bus is at 6 and it’s only a 20-minute walk. You walk quickly, backpack jumping on your back, head down, across crosswalks with barely a glance around. You pause for just a second so your brain can register the fact that all those articles you read about people getting murdered on the street generally happen in the hours before dawn at, say…5am. Then you walk even faster.

Out of breath and sweaty, you get to where you think the bus is. You happen to glance down the closest side street and see a storefront with the name of the bus company on it and see two other people, with suitcases no less, sitting on the steps outside. You wonder how in the hell you didn’t notice this yesterday. Oh. Well. That was easy. And as you sit down and wait quietly for the bus, you realize that maybe this wasn’t really much of an adventure after all so maybe you don’t need to write that 900 word blog post about it.

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This is the bus on the left. That big building is the International Hotel. And that there is dawn rising in Albania’s capital city. The only good reason to be awake at 6am.

 

P.S. Here are the exact steps to getting out of Tirana to Kosovo:

  • Find Bulevard Zogu I (north of Skanderberg Square).
  • Look for the Tirana International Hotel.
  • Behind the hotel on Rruga Urani Pano is the office of the bus company, whose name I forget.
  • Buy a ticket to Kosovo.
  • At 6am go back to Rruga Urani Pano but on the other side of Bulevard Zogu I. You should be behind the National Museum. That’s where the bus stop is.

P.P.S. In researching this, I’ve discovered that Google Maps actually lists the bus station to Kosovo. It’s right here. Could’ve told me that earlier Google, jeez.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. 76Katrice says:

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  2. francescamck says:

    I love this blog post. I’ll be going from Tirana to Pristina in September and this is really handy. The part about leaving a hostel room at 5am is so on point.
    http://www.frans-photos.com/

    Like

  3. Woody says:

    My experience going from durres to prishtina went something like this. At the border crossing this dude comes on and rambles something off to the whole bus at light speed in muffled albanian, and then says ‘hajde shpejt’ (come on fast) and takes off towards another bus. Luckily I had my slightly spacey albanian friend with me, he speaks no english but i understand him a little better than other albanians…. mainly cuz he speaks slowly from the coma he was in last year from a head jnjury. Merrni canta yt dhe ne shkojme, hajde ikim..he says. Or something like that… ie..Grab your backpack and were going, lets go. We had to change buses right at the border… seems whacky. Now that i think about it this blog is right, the transit system is just plain stupid. Albania and Kosovo you want to grow your economy? Tourism? How bout some signs. Hell put them in shqip or even serbian, its better than nothing. How bout replace that guy at the bus agency. Be vigiliant when taking the bus in albania or you might end up in mitrovic or some other part of albania or kosovo you didnt plan on being in. The main problem i see is that your average shqiptar thinks this sort of chaos is normal, even kind of funny. All i gotta say is Paç Fat. Good luck

    Like

  4. francescamck says:

    Tirana now has an international bus station. All international buses go from here. Hurray! The days of getting a ticket from a ticket agent and finding the random bus outside are over 😊

    Like

    1. ambigram0 says:

      Hooray! I guess I might as well delete this post now…

      On Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 5:00 PM, Comedy Travel Writing wrote:

      >

      Like

      1. francescamck says:

        Noo it’s a funny post! 😊

        Like

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