With a day to spare in Tirana, and the temperatures steadily climbing into the high 30s, I decided a day at the beach was needed, so packed my budgie smugglers and headed down towards the resort town of Durres.
This though would prove to be much more of a challenge than I had first assumed, the train service no longer seemed to exist, or if it did, departed from some godforsaken town nowhere near the city. After doing a bit of research online, tip if you google Albanian bus, you’ll be inundated with plenty of horror stories, which please, believe me, are pretty much accurate actually.
The first step in this mammoth 38-mile trip involved finding a way to actually get to Durres, I spoke with the hotel/hostel owner, who printed me off a map and told me to go to the roundabout ‘Zogu I Zi Square.’ From there you’ll see the little minibuses running to Durres. Just hop on board and ask around. That sounded easy enough, so with a spring in my step and the warm Albanian sun beating down on me I headed off to the square.
Tirana truly is an underrated city, there are loads of fabulous restaurants and bargain-priced clothes shops, it’s also remarkably clean and easy to walk around. Due to this I was soon at the roundabout and expected to see minibuses lined up ready to whisk me down to the beach in Durres. Instead, I found a chaotic roundabout, with not a minibus to be seen. Now, what follows below is my short and easy to follow guide to helping you find a bus from Tirana to Durres:
Step 1: Once you arrive at the ‘Zogu I Zi Square,’ whatever you do, don’t go over to the main bus station. I know what you’re thinking, there’s a bus station, that’s where my bus will go from? But no, you are wrong, that the bus station is only for international buses. What you actually need to do is walk around the roundabout and walk slowly down the ‘Rruga Dritan Hoxha’.
Step 2: Now once you’ve done that, you should be walking along the right-hand side of the ‘Rruga Dritan Hoxha,’ away from the city centre. This is a busy chaotic road and you will soon feel out of place, wondering around like a bit of an idiot, just keep walking for about 2 or 3 minutes.
Step 2B: Seeing you wondering around, having no idea where you are going, you might be approached by someone offering to help you. Now usually I would say run away as fast as you can, but use your common sense, often they will show you exactly where to go and you can tip them a couple of Albanian Lek. If they take you to a taxi, now is the time for you to run!
Step 3: On the right side of the ‘Rruga Dritan Hoxha’ you will now hopefully start to see a bunch of minibuses parked up in what looks like a compound. You’ll probably mistake this for a scrap yard, I did at first, but no, this is where you get mini-buses across the country. Now you look around for one with the words ‘Durres’ on board and just climb on. If you want to reassure yourself, ask around to check.
Step 4: Leg room will be nonexistent and make Ryanair look like business class, and there’s no such thing as a timetable, but you’ve made it onto a min-bus, hopefully, all the way to Durres. They usually leave only when all seats are full and are often driven by men who look like they moonlight as mobsters, don’t worry though, they’re as cheap as chips. Just don’t hope for air conditioning.
Hopefully, after taking those steps, you’ll arrive randomly in downtown Durres, once there, there are loads of things to see and do, most of which will be up next in my Part 11.
Disclaimer: These steps worked for me, I do not take responsibility if you follow these steps and end up stranded in the middle of nowhere with only a pair of budgie smugglers for company.