Albania hitchhiking essentials
Advantages of hitchhiking in Albania
On the whole, the Albania hitch-hiking experience is a very positive one. The people are usually friendly and are more than willing to help.
The road network is relatively simple with the added bonus that the major roads tend to go through the centre of town, a big advantage any hitch-hiker would appreciate.
Albania is also relatively budget friendly with essentials being affordable when contrasted with the surrounding nations. Extra money can also be saved by wild camping which is safe and pretty much hassle-free.
Additionally if you are an EU citizen you don’t need a visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Disadvantages of hitchhiking in Albania
Despite the many positives, there are some things that the hitch-hiker does need to be aware of. The principal being that some drivers will expect money, since private taxis are a common form of public transport. Learning the simple phrase ‘jo para… jo problem?‘ (no money … no problem?) is normally enough to make clear that you are not willing to pay for the ride.
Another potential problem remains the possibility of corrupt border officials and police. Whilst we were hitchhiking in a truck across the Montenegrin border, a border guard stopped our lorry from leaving until he had extracted his own private bonus, then a few kilometres further down the road we were stopped again by a local policeman also looking to extract their own pound of flesh.
In Albania, English is not widely spoken, so unless you speak Albanian or Italian, it may be difficult to communicate with your drivers.
Types of road
There are around 18,000km of roads in Albania, of which 12,920km are paved. Major cities tend to be linked with single carriageways but there is a dual carriageway connecting the port city of Durres with Tirana & Vlore. There are 4 road classifications in all, but be warned that most rural roads are in very poor condition.
① Motorways (Rrugë Autostradale: A roads) are typically multi-lane carriageways and they form a partial north-south spine down the country. The speed limit is 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) but they are relatively scarce as there are only three (A1 – 3). Hitch-hiking on them is a grey area.
② State roads (Rrugë Shtetërore: SH roads) are the bedrock of the Albanian transport system and are the main city-to-city linking roads. They are typically single-lane carriageways with a speed limit of 90 kilometres per hour (56 mph). Hitch-hiking on them is legal.
③ District Road (Rrugë Rrethi: RR roads) complement the main road system and typically have a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour (25 mph) in built-up areas or otherwise 80 kilometres per hour (50mph). Traffic is light and hitch-hiking is legal.
There are four general speed limits in Albania:
40 km/h (25 mph) within inhabited places
80 km/h (50 mph) outside inhabited places
90 km/h (55 mph) on expressways
110 km/h (68 mph) on motorways
.Road map of Albania
Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook
– Hello – Tungjatjeta. (toon-jah-TYEH-tah) formal Tjeta. (TYEH-tah) informal
– Thank you – Faleminderit. (fah-lehm-meen-DEH-reet)
– Yes – Po. (poh)
– No – Jo. (yoh)
– Please – Ju lutem. (yoo LOO-tehm)
– Excuse me. (getting attention) – Më falni. (mah FAHL-nee)
– How are you? – Si jeni? (see YEH-nee?)
– Well, thanks. Jam mirë, faleminderit. (yahm-MEER, fah-lehm-meen-DEH-reet)
– Goodbye pafshim (meer-oo-PAHF-sheem)
– Hitch-hiking – autostop – (ow-toh-STOP)
– I don’t have money – Unë nuk kam para (OO-neh nook come PAH-rah)
– We don’t have money – Ne nuk kemi para (neh nook KEH-me PAH-rah)
– Money – Para (PAH-rah)
– I’m going … – Unë po shkoj … (OO-neh poh shkoy…)
– We are going to … – Ne po shkojna … (neh poh shkoy…)
– Where are you going? – Ku po shkoni? (koo poh SHKO-nee…)
– Can we go with you? – A mund të vij me ju? (a moond teh veey meh you?)
– I am … – Unë jam… (OO-neh yam)
– My name is … – Quhem … (CHYOO-hem …)
– I am from … – Unë jam nga… (OO-neh yahm ŋga…)
– What is your name? – Si e ke emrin? (see keh EHM-reen?)
– Pleased to meet you. – Më vjen mirë. (muh VYEHN MEER)
– I don’t understand. – Nuk kuptoj. (nook koop-TOY)
– now – tani (tah-NEE)
– today – sot (soht)
– yesterday – dje (dyeh)
– tomorrow – nesër (nehsr)
– friend – mik (meek)
Very useful when they ask you where you’re staying. The concept of Couchsurfing is often too difficult to explain, so just say you’re staying with a friend. You can also use this word to express the relationship between you and your fellow travellers.
– Can you stop? – Mund të ndalosh?
– I want to get out. – Dua të dal jashtë (dua teh dahl YAH-shteh)
– Turn left – Kthehu majtas (ktheh-HUH mai-TAHS)
– Turn right – Kthehu djathtas. (ktheh-HUH dyahth-TAHS)
– Straight ahead – drejt (drayt)
– here – këtu (KER-too)
– Do you have …? – A ke … ? (a keh…?)
– Bus station – Stacion autobusi (STAH-tsyon AW-toh-boo-see)
You should know this word and listen out for it to avoid situations when your driver, in their best intentions, takes you off the road and drives you to a station.
– Train station – stacion treni (STAH-tsyon TREH-knee)
– Help! – Ndihmë! (ndeem!)
– Look out! – Kujdes! (kui-DEHS)
– street – rruga (rroo-GAH)
– road – rrugë (rroog)
– roundabout – jodrejtpërdrejt (YO-dreht-per-dreyt)
– crossroads – udhëkryqi (oo-theh-kroo-CHEE)
Albania – Montenegro
There are three border crossings between Albania & Montenegro:
- The busiest border crossing is located at Hani i Hotit (Albania) – Božaj (Montenegro) on the E762 – SH1 and links the important Albanian town of Skhkoder and the capital Tirana with the Montenegrin capital Podgorica. It is the obvious crossing if you are heading south. We have used this border crossing ourselves and it was completely hassle-free, but be prepared to wait long if you are in a truck. There are lots of lorry drivers and it’s possible to negotiate your ride with them while they are waiting for their papers to be stamped.
- The coastal crossing at Muriqan (Albania) – Sukobin (Montenegro), which is on the E851 – SH41 and connects Ulcinj (Montengro) to Shkoder (Albania), is also simple enough to cross but expect long waiting times, especially for cars, and try to avoid walking across the no man’s land because it is an extremely long way.
Albania – Kosovo
There are four border crossings between Albania & Kosovo
- The busiest, and most convenient border crossing at Morinë (Albania) – Vërmicë (Kosovo) lies between Kukës (Albania) and Prizren (Kosovo) on the SH5/M25 main road.
- The northern crossings are more difficult to reach from the Albanian side, with a lot less traffic, but if you trying to head north to Pec (Kosovo) or Gjakovë (Kosovo) then you can use the Qafa e Prushit (Albania) – Gjakovë (Kosovo) crossing hassle free.
Albania – Macedonia
There are four border crossings between Albania & Macedonia
- The two most important border crossings are located on the north and south side of Lake Ohrid. The northern Qafë Thanë (Albania) – Ќafasan (Macedonia) crossing is located on the SH3 / A2 highway and was quick and problem free when we passed through it.
- The southern Tushemisht (Albania) – Sveti Naum (Macedonia) crossing is located 5km east of Pogradec and is normally crossed on foot, so if you are travelling by bus you will need to wait for another bus the other side,
Albania – Greece
There are five border crossings between Albania & Greece
- The Kakavia (Albania) – Ktismata (Greece) border crossing lies on the SH4/22 highway and is the busiest route if you are travelling nearer to the coast. There are also three other border crossings located within a few hundred kilometres and reports say they are also possible to cross on foot, however at the Tre Urat – Konica crossing expect long delays.
- If you are travelling to Thessaloniki (Greece) take the Kapshticë (Albania) – Krystallopigi (Greece) border crossing which connects Korçë with the north-east of Greece.
Written by: Jon