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May 12 2014

Podgorica to Shkoder via Ulcinj: The Definitive Guide… For Now!

Podgorica to Shkoder

I had arranged to work in Albania for a couple of weeks and found a cheap flight from London to Podgorica in Montenegro. I knew it was a relatively short distance from Podgorica to Shkoder in Albania, so I booked the cheap flight and didn’t concern myself with how I would get there because, having travelled around Montenegro last year, I knew it was possible to get to Albania.  I had no idea what the route would be like but, when I checked on the Internet and from a reply to a message on my FB page about it, I discovered there were two routes:

 Podgorica – Ulcinj – Shkoder

OR

Podgorica – Tuzi – Hani i Hotit – Shkoder

Although the first route was longer in terms of distance and time, it seemed like the most straightforward way to go. It also gave me the option of staying in Ulcinj, if necessary. The second route seemed more of a challenge. That’s because, according to the information on the Internet, when you get off the bus at Tuzi, you have to get a taxi or walk to the border, then find another taxi to take you the remainder of the way. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work and couldn’t find any information on the Internet, so I decided to go with the first route. I left early for Stansted airport knowing that it would all become clear as the day progressed.

Podgorica Airport to Podgorica Town Centre/Bus Station

The Lonely Planet guide I bought last year states that you can get a shuttle bus for 3 from the airport to the centre of Podgorica every 30 minutes. However, I found conflicting information stating that there were no buses.  I wondered if the information in my Lonely Planet guide was out of date because I’ve come across that before on a few occasions.

When I arrived at the airport, I went up to the information desk and asked if there was a bus to the centre. I was told there were no buses at all and would have to get a taxi. The airport taxis charge a set price of 11.99 to the centre or to the bus station, which is less than the price quoted in the Lonely Planet guide.  As I had no choice, I went outside to find a taxi. I didn’t have to search because a taxi driver came up to me and asked where I wanted to go. I told him I wanted to go to the bus station. He kept asking where I was headed. I told him and said that I wanted to go to the bus station because I couldn’t afford a taxi. He offered to drive me to the bus stop/station in Hani i Hotit on the Albanian border for 40, but I kept telling him I didn’t have the money. He went on and on about the distance, but I was insistent. You have to be because they are. He finally gave in and dropped me off at the bus station and, as I was about to walk through the door, another taxi driver, standing by the door said, ‘Budva?’. I replied, ‘No’. He said, ‘Kotor?’ I replied, ‘No’. I smiled; he smiled back and I walked into the bus station.

Podgorica to Ulcinj

I went up to the counter and bought a ticket to Ulcinj for 6. I had only just missed a bus by a matter of minutes. So, just be aware, if you take a Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Podgorica, you might miss the 12.49 bus. If that happens, you can get the next one, as I did, which was at 14.13.  To get the latest bus times, you check them on the website for Podgorica bus station here.

I waited in the bus station because I didn’t see the point in going anywhere else. I read on the website that there is WiFi at the bus station.  It’s not open access, so I decided to leave it and didn’t bother asking.

When the time came, I boarded the bus and didn’t have to pay any extra for luggage. Some countries, like Croatia, charge extra for luggage. It’s worth being aware of that, as it isn’t always included in the price of the bus ticket. The bus stopped at Virpazar and Bar before arriving in Ulcinj. It’s a scenic journey and the roads are good, but it took a while due to a few pick ups and drop offs along the way. The journey took just under 2 hours, so I wasn’t sure if I would be in time for the last bus to Shkoder.

Ulcinj to Shkoder

I’d seen differing times on the Internet for the bus from Ulcinj. When I arrived, I saw a bus that had Shkoder as the destination, so I went to the desk and bought a ticket immediately.  It only cost €5.  The bus was due to leave at 16.30, so I had just under 30 minutes.  That gave me time to go to the loo, buy water, snacks, and I made use of the free WiFi.  Yes, amazing as it may seem, this small bus station has WiFi.  By the way, the toilet doesn’t have toilet paper or soap.  It might seem a bit random, but it can sometimes be handy to know this information in advance.  If you want to know the bus times in advance, you can easily check the bus timetable on Ulcinj bus station’s website here.

Just before the bus left at 16.30, the driver collected all the passports. It took about 3/4 hour to get to the border. We were stopped for about 10 minutes before we got going again. There’s a special lane at the border for buses so, unlike other vehicles, we didn’t have to queue. That speeded up crossing the border. I got off the bus briefly, while we were stopped, because it smelt of stale smoke and I needed some fresh air.  Once through the border, we arrived in Shkoder about 20-30 mins later.

It was funny when we arrived because the bus driver stopped and said we were in Shkoder . I said I wanted to go to the bus station and his reply was, ‘There isn’t a bus station. This is the centre.’ ‘Oh’, I replied.  For your information, the buses stop on a few roads near the theatre (Tearti Migjeni) and on the main road into the city with the Ebu Beker Mosque on one side and the Raiffeisen Bank on the other.

It’s worth finding out from your hostel/hotel in Shkoder if they can organise an airport pick-up and the cost to do so.  The guesthouse I was staying at offers it at a very competitive rate.  If I had been travelling with someone, I would have definitely gone for it because it would have been a much quicker journey and it would have worked out slightly cheaper per person to do that than the route I took.

To summarise the route:

  • Taxi from Podgorica airport to Podgorica bus station

  • Bus from Podgorica bus station to Ulcinj bus station

  • Bus from Ulcinj bus station to Shkoder

Location

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Have your say

Do you have any information on the other route via Tuzi and Hani i Hotit?  I have on a more recent post, which you can view by clicking here.

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

8 comments

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  1. Andrew

    Thanks for writing, I found this very helpful. I am planning a trip later this year and will probably do a circular – Tivat. Budva, Podgarica, Shkoder, Ulcinj, Bar, Budva, Tivat

  2. Teresa Keane

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m glad you found it useful. Your trip sounds fantastic! I’m sure you will have wonderful time.

    Best wishes,
    Teresa.

  3. Fort Mac

    Hi Terese

    How are you?
    -late this month i will make a trip from Belgrade to Podgorica or Bar, however I would like to know the shortest route from Montenegro to Albania
    Should i get off at podgorica and take a bus to shkoder which seems shorter?

    Should i stay on the train all the way to Bar then take a bus from Bar to Shkoder?

    Or Podgorica to Tirana then Tirana to Skopje.I am using public transit only and my final destination is Skopje

  4. Teresa Keane

    Dear Fort Mac,

    Thank you for getting in touch.

    The quickest route depends on where you are going from and to in both countries. Buses in Albania are quicker than trains, from what I was told when I was there. Bus travel is certainly more popular in Albania. If you are travelling by train, it would probably be better (quicker and easier) to stay on it rather than get off and find where to get a bus.

    Enjoy the journey!
    Teresa.

  5. Fort Mac

    so you are saying I stay on the train till bar and then connect from Bar to Tirana?I will be coming from bELGRADE using the day train to podgorica and I would like to cross over to Albania and end up in Sofia

    I prefer not walking around too much as I am a black man and i heard that the Balkans are not friendly to black people for the most part

  6. Teresa Keane

    Hello again, Fort Mac!

    I don’t have first-hand experience of the journey you will be taking, so I can’t advise you any further. I generally suss out journeys when I’m in the country. One option would be to email hostels in the area. They tend to be good sources of local information, including transport options.

    It sounds like a fantastic trip!

    Best wishes,
    Teresa.

  7. nigel moss

    I see on the internet there is a bus which I can book online from Podgorica to Skhroder at about 13 euro each, also return at about 20 e, would this not be easier and better? The bus seems to do the route Tirana to Dubrovnik all in one day?

  8. Teresa Keane

    Hi Nigel,

    At last! The road was built years ago, and they were talking about having a bus from Podgorica to Shkoder. I’m glad to hear they have finally done it. Tirana to Dubrovnik – fantastic! That makes travelling around a lot easier. Thanks for the update!

    Best wishes,
    Teresa.

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