Tirana is the capital city of Albania and offers a variety of transport options to its residents. Like any other big city some of these are better or worse depending on the time of day, the person, or the destination. Today I will share the best ways to get around Tirana, whether you’re just visiting or moving here.

Image Credit: maptrekking.com

Walking around Tirana

Overall Tirana isn’t huge and therefore incredible accessible on foot. You can walk from the west to the east of the inner ring in just 39 mins and you’ll cover only 2.8kms in the process. Most things you will see and do in Tirana are located within this inner ring, and housing within the inner ring is also still more or less affordable, so it’s likely if you’re moving here that your new home will also be inside the ring.

The advantage of walking is that you will know when you will be arriving, the city is incredibly safe and quite busy, so time feels like it’s flying by as you’re wandering the streets.

In Summer however it can get quite hot, and you’ll want to pick a route that has trees or large buildings and provides shade, or avoid walking around between 11am and 3pm (although even before and after these hours the air is quite stuffy and some days very polluted and walking long distances can be quite unpleasant).

Another downside is that you need to keep your eyes on the pavement as there are sometimes random stairs, holes, missing drain covers or large poop-mines planted by dogs whose owners can’t be bothered to clean it up.

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Cycling in Tirana / Using an electric scooter in Tirana

Tirana has an incredible amount of bicycle lanes (the mayor is quite fond of cycling) and it’s likely this network will continue to expand. It makes it super quick to get around Tirana by scooter or by bike and no one minds if you chain your bike up in random places, so you’re not dependent on finding actual bicycle racks to secure your wheels.

Unfortunately there currently isn’t a bike hire scheme as you’d expect for a city of this size. As far as I know something like this used to exist years ago, but the bikes weren’t maintained and just ended up damaged beyond repair and slowly taken off the road. There are some private companies that rent out bikes. I found this article with some links but haven’t tried any of these myself, so you’d need to reach out and find out if they’re still offering it.

Something you need to be aware of is that people don’t have much respect for bicycle lanes and bikes in general. People will not look for you, they will not check the bicycle lane before turning, they usually park in the bicycle lanes and open doors without looking and old people are particularly fond off jumping into bicycle lanes without looking, so be alert. There is also often trash cans that are parked in the bicycle lanes and these often come with scattered broken glass in the street, so careful.

There are rules in places for cyclists and scooter users, there is a poorly translated version that you can read here. It’s common sense and if you come from any European country, then you will be well familiar with these (use lights in the darkness, wear helmet, drive normally, use bicycle lanes where necessary, walk across junctions, respect traffic lights).

Again you will not find the city littered with electric scooters as is commonplace across Europe, so if you want to hire a scooter you will need to find a contact.

Taking the bus in Tirana

Another option for getting around is taking the bus. There is a bus network that covers the majority of the city aside from a few areas that are relatively newly built up with apartments, so depending on where you are staying you may have a bus stop nearby.

You can see the map of bus lines over here. A ticket is only 40 Lek.

The main issue with the bus system is that there are absolutely no signs at the bus stops indicating which bus leaves there and in which direction it’s going.

Sometimes there also isn’t a bus stop; there is merely a sign somewhere probably half covered by a tree that indicates the bus should stop there. If it’s not a busy bus stop I recommend sticking your hand out to let the driver know you’re not standing there because you enjoy the view but because you want to get on the bus.

There is also an app called ‘Tirana Ime’ that you can download, and the bus map is also on there.

To get the bus you simply go to the bus stop. Flag it down if you think he’s about to breeze past. You can board the bus at the front or the back, it doesn’t matter. Then a ticket guy will come round and you just tell him how many tickets you want and you give him the money. Each person should hold on to the ticket as sometimes further down the road other people will board to do a ticket check.

There are also travel cards but honestly for your holiday just get paper tickets on the bus, you won’t need very many.

If in doubt about the bus and whether it’s going the right way just ask someone. Want to pick up some Albanian to help you get around? Then check out our Albanian Courses here.

Image Credit: Politiko.al

Taking a taxi to get around Tirana

If you don’t have a bus stop nearby, it’s pouring rain, or you simply can’t be bothered to figure out how the bus works, you can simply take a taxi.

Booking a taxi in Tirana

The best way to take a taxi in Tirana is to book via WhatsApp.

There are yellow taxis in the street but they charge a higher minimum fare and I’ve had issues with them refusing to switch the meter on and telling me a price 300+ Lek higher than what I’d normally pay, so I don’t use them anymore.

If I need a taxi I simply message one of my usual taxi companies and they come within a few minutes unless they’re incredibly busy (if it’s a rainy day, book ahead of time, because you may need to wait for 45 minutes!).

Another advantages of using these taxi companies is that they use electric vehicles and you end up getting 50 Lek off your fare.

Taxi Companies in Tirana

There are various taxi companies across Tirana. The ones I have had decent experiences with over the last few years are in my order of preference:

Clean Taxi – +355 69 555 1777

Smart Taxi – +355 69 702 0002

Blue Taxi – +355 67 444 4444

How much does a taxi in Tirana cost?

If you’re going around town you’re going to be charged according to the meter. When you get in the taxi the meter will already be at 300 Lek because that is the minimum you will pay. Then the driver will start driving and when you the distance for the 300 Lek is covered the meter will start going up.

Taking the taxi across the inner ring will cost you between 500 and 800 Lek depending on route and traffic etc.

If you’re going out of town like to the airport or to TEG many tax companies will over you a fixed price if you ask ahead of time.

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Renting a car in Tirana

It is not worth renting a car to get around Tirana. Traffic is quite bad at the usual peak hours, as well as late in the evenings in Summer across the whole city and pretty much every night in certain streets in Blloku.

Also parking is limited, many areas have residents parking only or paid on street parking (which is usually pay by phone with an Albanian number), the signage is only in Albanian and often not clear because the lines on the road have disappeared – and you will likely get a fine. Again knowing Albanian helps a lot to make your day-to-day life easier.

There are of course some paid parkings, and it’s not unusual that they’re so full that you’re leaving your car keys with the parking guy so he can maneuver your car around to make room for other cars leaving.

If you are moving here, then depending on your area, you may want to rent an apartment that comes with a parking space in a garage. Or if there is enough street parking near your house and you’re happy to go hunt for a space every day, then you can get a parking permit for residents.

If you’re planning to travel outside of Tirana then renting a car can be a great way to get around the car.

Whether you choose to get around Tirana by walking, cycling, taking the bus or using one of the many taxi services, you will always find a way to make it to your destination.