Getting Around in AlbaniaEdit This
Albania is waking up to tourism and visitors after decades of hard line communist rule. Improvements to their infrastructure are ongoing but there is still a long way for the country to go before it is compatible with western standards. One of the areas that this is most visible is in the Albania Transportation network. Visitors may encounter challenges when traveling throughout the country. Although improvements are being made almost daily, double checking facts and allowing extra travel time is highly recommended.
Travel by car is the most reliable method of getting to a certain place in a specified amount of time. All foreigners are required to present a green card for any car or motorbike entering Albania from another country. Those that choose to rent a car from another European nation may find that insurance is difficult to purchase if you are taking the car into Albania. Those that will offer to insure the car will most likely charge a much higher rate. Travelers must use caution when driving in Albania. The quality of many major roads is poor with large holes creating serious driving hazards. Many roads are also poorly lit at night so driving should ideally be done during the day.
Although this is by far the cheapest form of transport in Albania, even the locals try to avoid it. Albanian trains have an appalling reputation for being late, sometime by several hours. The trains themselves travel at a very slow pace with maximum speeds reaching 50km/hour. Some of the trains are uncomfortable and even dangerous with broken glass and windows. Although improvements are being made in this area, many of Albania's train drivers are not sufficiently trained or qualified. Most locals in Albania will warn tourists against taking the trains.
Albania's main international airport has come to be known as Mother Theresa International Airport. Currently about 10 international airlines service the airport with flights to other European destinations. Currently there are no in country flights in Albania.
Furgons are how most people in Albania travel around the country. They are mini-buses that travel quite extensively around the country. The are very cheap and far safer than the trains. There are a few disadvantages. Furgons do not follow a schedule. They leave when they are full. Also, furgon stations can be difficult to find. Locals will be able to point them out. Visitors can look for groups of white or red mini-van type vehicles. Gatherings of these usually mean it is a furgon stop.
Albania is not as difficult as you might expect to travel around. My wife and I recently spent 8 days exploring the country with our 18th month old daughter while she was 28 weeks pregnant with our second child! There is a relatively good public bus system which can take you pretty much anywhere you want to go in the country. We entered the country on foot after getting dropped at the border by a taxi at Han i Hotit which is between Podgorica ( Montenegro ) and Shkodra ( Albania ). The border guards were very helpful and called a local taxi more..
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