Getting to Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra is in the south of Albania, situated on the east face of the steep Mali i Gjerë mountain range. It lies 232 km from Tirana, the capital of Albania; 31 kilometres from the Greek border crossing at Kakavia; and 56 kilometres from Saranda, the seaport that connects southern Albania to Corfu. Citizens of most western countries are not required to obtain a visa in advance. Visitors will be charged a €10 entry tax on arrival in Albania, though Czech and Polish citizens are exempt. Check the Albanian Foreign Ministry website www.mfa.gov.al for the latest information in English and Albanian.

By Air:

Flights to Albania go to Rinas (Mother Teresa) airport, just outside Tirana. Alternatively you can fly to Corfu and take the ferry to Saranda, then a bus or taxi to Gjirokastra. You can also fly to Ioannina in northern Greece (90km away) and take a Greek taxi to the border crossing at Kakavia, then take an Albanian taxi to Gjirokastra. There is also a daily bus service leaving from Ioannina at 6.00am from outside the main bus station.  In addition, Greek Ktel buses run up to the border several times a day. There are also Albanian minibuses operating on the other side of the border you will need to walk past the taxi rank to the petrol station to find these.

By Ferry:

There are international ferry services to three Albanian ports: Durrës and Vlora have regular services from Italy; Saranda has a daily service from the Greek island of Corfu.
From the port of Corfu town there are several daily hydrofoil and ferry crossings in the summer (hydrofoils do not run in winter due to the rough sea).  Check the departure times as they vary throughout the year.  The ferry takes approximately 1½ hours and the hydrofoil 45 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at booths within the port (note that the Greek spelling of Saranda is Saranta).  Head to the international section of Corfu port, which is at the eastern end, where you will find the customs office and duty free shop.  Once through customs wait in the lobby next to the duty free shop until the captain of the ship calls you. When you board the ship the crew will collect and retain your passport for the crossing so they can fill in any necessary paperwork; on arrival your passport will be handed to the Albanian customs officials who will take it down to the immigration office, you will need to follow them.   The 10 € entry fee is payable at immigration, they will then give you a piece of white paper which is your exit visa; do not loose this. There are buses from Saranda to Gjirokastra at 11.30, 13.00 and 14.30 hours and the bus station is a 15 minute walk from the port near the town centre; the journey to Gjirokastra will take about an hour.

By Road:

Gjirokastra lies on the main north-south Albanian highway (Rruga Nacionale) that connects with the Greek border. The highway from Tirana takes the following route - Tirana-Durrës-Kavajë-Rrogozhinë-Lushnje-Fier-Ballsh-Tepelenë-Gjirokastra. By private car this 232 km trip will take about 5 hours due to the condition of the roads. By bus it will take 6 to 7 hours depending on how many stops the bus makes along the way.
In Tirana, buses leave from different locations around the city depending on the destination, none of which are near the centre. The best advice is to tell a taxi driver where you want to go by bus and have him drive you to the departure point.  The taxi ride will cost you Lekë  300 to 500, the bus ride to Gjirokastra is Lekë 1000 per person.  Buses leave regularly throughout the morning. Alternatively, having the taxi driver take you all the way to Gjirokastra will cost between Lekë 14,000 and 16,000.
Buses from Durrës to Gjirokastra depart from the train station at 6.30am. Buses from Vlora to Gjirokastra depart from a location informally called xhamia (jah-MEE-ah - the mosque) in the centre of the city at 6.30am.

Alternative Routes to Gjirokastra

If you wish to go to Gjirokastra by a less direct but beautiful coastal road along the “Albanian Riviera”, you will need to travel via Vlora, over the Llogara Pass and along the Ionian Coast, driving through Dhërmi, Vuno, Himarë, Borsh, Lukovë, until you arrive at Saranda. Then take the inland road toward Gjirokastra. This route takes approximately 4 to 5 hours more than travelling from Tirana on the north-south highway.
Travellers from Eastern Albania or Macedonia can journey via Elbasan and Rrogozhinë, taking one of the forks at Fier. Alternatively there is a slow but spectacularly scenic route via Pogradec, Korçë, Ersekë, Leskovik, Përmet, Këlcyrë Gorge, Uji i Ftohtë Tepelenë, and Gjirokastra. Korçë lies 195 km from Gjirokastra, about 6 hours by bus, which leaves at 6.00am.

Distance from Gjirokastra:
GJIROKASTRA – VLORE  144km
GJIROKASTRA - TIRANA 232km
GJIROKASTRA – TEPELENE 32km
GJIROKASTRA – SHKODER 322km
GJIROKASTRA – SARANDA  56km
GJIROKASTRA – POGRADEC 234km
GJIROKASTRA – PERMET     62km
GJIROKASTRA – PESHKOPI 393km
GJIROKASTRA – KORCE 195km
GJIROKASTRA – FIER  118km
GJIROKASTRA – ERSEKE 150km
GJIROKASTRA - ELBASAN   208km
GJIROKASTRA – DURRES
202km
GJIROKASTRA – DELVINE  45km
GJIROKASTRA – BERAT    121km
GJIROKASTRA – BAJRAM CURRI 435km
GJIROKASTRA - BUTRINT  75km
Bus Schedule

From   / To

Departure   time

Gjirokastër - Tiranë 5:00 / 7:00 / 8:00 / 9:00 / 23:00
Tiranë - Gjirokastër 10:00 / 12:00 / 13:00 / 14:30 / 18:30 / 22:00
Gjirokastër - Durrës 13:00
Durrës - Gjirokastër 6:30
Gjirokastër - Vlorë 8:30
Vlorë - Gjirokastër 6:30
Gjirokastër - Korcë 7:00
Korcë - Gjirokastër 6:00
Gjirokastër - Sarandë 8:00 / 9:00
Sarandë - Gjirokastër 11:30 / 13:00
Gjirokastër – Përmet 10:00 / 12:00 / 13:00
Përmet - Gjirokastër 6:00 / 7:00 / 8:00
Buses from Gjirokastra depart next to the roundabout in lower Gjirokastra.
From Tirana at the Buses Agency in Kombinat Tirana.