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Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeTrip Directory#NoCollusion, No Albania for TPOLAlbanian Riviera: Beautiful, But How Do You Get There?

Albanian Riviera: Beautiful, But How Do You Get There?

How to Get to the Albanian Riviera is part of the #NoCollusion, No Albania for TPOL where I break my 100 country count mark. See the World Map for where I’ve been.

Promises made, promises kept. The time had come for TPOL to listen to the voters and move to Albania (see Vote Where TPOL Moves Next! And I’ll Go There). By move, I meant go on vacation. Those words mean the same thing right? After all, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be. The Albania Riviera is beautiful. It’s like the Amalfi Coast without the tourist traps. The problem is that there is no efficient way to get there.

Option 1: Fly into Tirana, Albania’s Capital, and take the bus.

Option 2: Fly into Corfu, Greece and take the boat.

Option 3: Fly to Skopje, Macedonia, check off your 100th country, and figure it out when you get there.

Obviously, I went with option 3. I spoke to the front desk at the Skopje Marriott. They recommended hiring a private driver. The cost was $500. I vetoed that idea and decided to take my chances with the bus. With no published bus schedule that I could find and no way to book a seat online, what could go wrong? I hopped into a taxi and told him to take me to the bus station. He asked where I was going and I said Saranda, Albania. At the time, I was unaware that my intended destination, Jala, was located much further up the coast. My plan was to figure out how to get to Jala, home to Folie Marine, the top party destination in the Albanian Riviera, once I was in the vicinity.

a map of the coast of the ocean
Map courtesy of Wikipedia

The taxi driver asked if I was open to hiring a driver instead of taking the bus. I asked him how much and he said around $230. For 7 hours direct versus having to deal with changing busses and taking twice as long, I agreed. Our first stop would be Bitola, Macedonia, where we would have to find another driver who would agree to take me the rest of the way for his cut of the fare.

a white car parked on a street
Driver #1’s Benz

The drive from Skopje to Bitola was 2.5 hours. When we arrived, I went to find some drinks while my driver went to find another driver.

a group of people sitting at tables outside a restaurant
Sunny Bitola

a street with buildings and people on it

In no time, he found someone to take me to Saranda via Thessaloniki, Greece. For the next few hours he drove and drove. Meanwhile, I was searching for a hotel near Jala. There weren’t any. I don’t mean that the hotels were sold out. I mean that there weren’t any actual hotels. The lone exception was the Folie Marine & Club which was at capacity. Had it not been, the daily rate is $500.

I settled for a hotel in the in the town of Himare, which I assumed was close enough to Jala by taxi. When we arrived in Saranda, the driver was less than pleased to find out that he still had to go another 32 miles. He charged me another $25 for the inconvenience. That was actually reasonable considering that my taxi back to Saranda the next day cost 500LEK ($45USD).

Lessons Learned 

I learned next to nothing from this experience, except that Albania needs to invest in infrastructure if it wants foreign tourists to come.

For those looking to go to other cities in Albanian Riviera: A stop in dreadful Corfu followed by a ferry ride may be the best option. Flying into Tirana is not convenient, given the lack of direct flights (see Tirana’s WikiAirport Page). Even if you find a flight into Tirana, hiring a car or taking a bus for 170 miles is not much better than the routing I took.

For those looking to go to Folie Marine: Given the clientele at Folie Marine, I assume they don’t care if there are tourists. The nightclub was packed, the tables were booked solid, and the hotel couldn’t offer me a room even at 4AM. Staying in Himare was not a great idea. It cost $20 each way to get to Folie Marine and I was lucky that the taxi that took me there actually came back to pick me up. Otherwise, I would have slept on the beach.


The Albanian Riviera is beautiful, pristine, and remains undiscovered to the outside world. The reason is because it is inconvenient to access. Compared to Corfu which was ruined by tourists, that may be a good thing. But for the stubborn adventurer like myself, it was an unnecessary hassle.

a beach with umbrellas and people on it
Albanian Riviera: A pain to get to that I would not do again.


  1. Read with interest your short blog on travel to the Albanian ‘riviera’
    Did you really do proper research before travel? It seems you managed to take a particularly difficult route largely to bag two countries. Many countries, albeit few in Europe have poor infrastructure – this is both a plus and a con, for reasons I need not elaborate.
    I was however completely baffled by your remarks about Corfu. Whilst it is not the same as it was 4 decades ago, if you visit this island outside the peak months of summer, it is an immensely beautiful Greek island. Perhaps you didn’t have the opportunity to explore. I wonder where you travelled in Corfu to form such an opinion?

  2. Followed your Corfu link and yes, you probably chose the worst spot to visit, Kavos.
    In 1982 this was our first taste of Corfu / Greece and back then was a remote relatively undiscovered getaway on the southern tip of the island. Returned in 1990 and was appalled – appears it hasn’t improved much since, alas.
    However have stayed in many other parts of the island since then, notably the north-east, the beauty and charm of Corfu remains.

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