In the past, getting from Ohrid to Tirana has been a struggle, a half-day process at best and longer at worse.
Now, crossing the border between North Macedonia and Albania is actually quite easy thanks to regular shuttles which have started running between Ohrid and Tirana.
However, those shuttles (which I took on my most recent trip from Ohrid to Tirana) are seasonal and depend on demand. If you are doing a Balkans trip in the off-season, and you are trying to get between Ohrid and Tirana, the easy shuttle option may not be available.
That’s why I’ll explain both ways of getting from Ohrid to Tirana – the most direct and simplest option and the more complicated, timely option – just because one or the other may work better for you depending on your timing and schedule.
How to Get from Ohrid to Tirana (Easily) by Private Shuttle
This is by far the easiest option to get between Ohrid and Tirana and it’s not even that expensive. My ticket was 925 MKD, about 15 euro or $17 USD.
You can buy your tickets in the Old Town on Tsar Samoil Street, the main street that goes from the old bazaar and fountain area all the way up to St. Sophia Church. I bought mine at Kompas Travel at the following address: Tsar Samoil 8.
The bus leaves at 7 AM from the giant Macedonian flagpole near the city square with all of its cafés and restaurants. If there’s a small number of people, it’ll just be a simple minivan – a larger number and they have a larger bus.
Traveling in mid-May, a bit before high season, I and one other girl were the only two tourists in the parking lot! We later picked up another traveler in Struga on our way to the border.
This shuttle departs daily at 7 AM and reaches the border around 8 AM, about an hour later. The border formalities were pretty standard, and I think it took us about 30 minutes to pass between Macedonia and Albania.
In total, the trip took us about 3.5 hours, including border crossing and a short coffee and bathroom break on the other side of the Albanian border, about halfway through our trip.
Our driver offered to drive us directly to our hotels/hostels for an additional 2 euro / 120 MKD each, as the bus station where you normally get dropped off is quite a bit outside of the center of town – I believe we would have gotten dropped off at the Tirana International Bus Station, near Zogu I Zi Square.
I chose to take up our driver on his offer as I knew I’d be unlikely to get a better deal from a taxi driver at the bus station. I’d save quite a bit of time, effort, and money by paying the extra for the direct door-to-door service. However, it’s up to you, and I’m not sure the driver would offer this option to a full bus or if it’s something he only does if he has a smaller number of passengers.
For less than $20 USD for basically door-to-door cross-border service, I was super satisfied and would definitely recommend using this shuttle service via Kompas Travel (aka Euro Bus) to reduce stress and have an easy, hassle-free trip from Ohrid to Tirana.
How to Get from Ohrid to Tirana (The Hard Way)
If you’re traveling in the off-season there may be a chance that these shuttles between Ohrid and Tirana aren’t running. In that case, you’re going to have to get yourself to Struga first, where there are buses to Tirana.
To get to Struga, expect to pay about 300-400 MKD, or you can take a minibus from Ohrid’s bus station to Struga which leaves a few times an hour and only cost 40 MKD. As far as I can find, there is one bus from Struga to Tirana per day, and I think it leaves at 9:30 AM and is run by Durmo Tours, costing 12 euro / 740 MKD.
I’ve also heard that there’s a 4:30 AM direct bus from Ohrid to Sofia, but I can’t confirm this, nor could my guesthouse owner.
Combining that bus with the cost of getting to Struga, you are much better off taking the shuttle option offered by Kompas Travel / Euro Bus!
Where to Stay in Ohrid
If you’ve yet to settle your Ohrid accommodations, here are our recommendations for each budget category.
Budget: For people wanting to stay in Ohrid on a budget but not wanting to sacrifice their privacy and stay in a hostel, Vila Dudinka is perfect. It’s where I ended up staying during my time in Ohrid and it’s a great place for budget travelers. The host, Zarko, is insanely nice and the rooms are basic but warm and welcoming. For the price and hospitality, you can’t beat it in Ohrid. The location on a quiet side street off of the main ‘road’ of Old Town Ohrid, Tsar Samoil, is quite literally perfect. Check prices, reviews, and availability here.
Mid-Range: For an affordable 4-star hotel in the heart of old town Ohrid, I recommend Villa Sofija right next to the gorgeous St. Sofia Church. It’s a short walk to all the best restaurants of Ohrid and its location on top of a hilly part of Ohrid means that you have unparalleled lake views while still being situated in the Old Town – the best of both worlds, in my opinion. Rooms are cozy and modern, with recently redone bathrooms, in keeping with the slightly elevated price point compared to other places in town. It’s still a steal for the quality to price ratio! Check prices, reviews, and availability here.
Luxury: Most of the luxury hotels of Ohrid aren’t located in the old town of Ohrid itself, because since it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site they can’t exactly bulldoze old houses and erect a 5-star hotel right in the middle of it. Because of that, most of the luxury hotels you’ll find are located in other villages around Ohrid, namely Lagadin and Trpjeca. Lagadin is quite close to Ohrid (I stayed there, though not at this hotel, my first time in Ohrid) and it’s great if you want a lake escape and don’t mind being outside of town. Hotel Dva Bisera is probably the fanciest hotel on Lake Ohrid, with an excellent restaurant, private beach with sunbeds, and if you want to get to Ohrid, a taxi is about 300 MKD (~$6 USD) away! Check prices, reviews, and availability here.
Where to Stay in Tirana
Our Tirana recommendations are coming up soon, so stay tuned!
Albania Travel Resources
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Tirana with Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that getting travel insurance is a good idea for traveling anywhere in the world! Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.