I'll assume you are driving. From Dubrovnik, the quickest and most scenic route is to take the coastal road south, cross Kotor Bay in Montenegro by ferry, continue south through Budva to Bar. After bar you can either continue down the coast to Ulcinj or go inland a little to head directly for the border crossing point at Muriqan (the Albanian name). From there it's an easy drive to the main highway heading south. This route bypasses Podgorica and the terrible road from there to Shkoder.
From Shkoder take the only highway south to Tirana, then south to Elbasan over a very twisty road. Beautiful views but little un-nerving. From Elbasan to Qafe Thane the road is all new and in good shape. South along Lake Ohrid to Pogradec and then south to Korce. The road was under construction last year and should be nearing completion now. from Korca to Kapshtice the road is perfect and the border crossing easy. From there to Thessaloniki is about two hours.
In all, this route should take about 14 hours driving, including border delays. I'd plan to do it in two days minimum. This is with no sightseeing. If you want a more scenic/historical route to Greece, let me know and I can give you some different advice.
Thanks for the information. I would be very interested to hear which route you would take from the UK. We were thinking of going via Austria, slovenia, croatian coast, through Albania and onto Greece but I have to say I am a little worried when I read of unexploded mines etc. Do you live in Albania?
I do live in Albania. I have travelled extensively in the country and to most of the neighboring countries. I also have advised other tourists on travel and itineraries in Albania. I recently helped a German couple with a 2-year old child as they spent two weeks in the country and had a great time.
Albania is as safe (or safer than) Greece. Albanians are very friendly, especially with children and are always eager to help out foreigners. There is poverty and crime, but no worse than many large cities in the West.
As for route suggestions, it all depends on why you are travelling. Tourist or just passing through during a business re-location? How long do you have? What do you want to see? If you are looking for speed/comfort, drive to Trieste and catch a ferry to Igoumenitsa or Patras in Greece. It's a nice boat ride and avoids a long drive. If you want scenery, drive the coast road slowly, stop everywhere, and it can take three weeks!
I agree with Triana Translant, only I would take the road to Durres, Rogozina, Elbasssan, it is better, though less beuatiful view. If you go in the middle of summer than take the road Tirana Transplant said since Durres road is busy with tourists.
You can have a break in Pogradec, very nice hotel and good prices, Millenium.
Have a great time,
Many thanks to you both for your advice. I may contact you nearer the time for advice on hotels etc.
Thanks for the advice above. I will be doing pretty much the same route in April and stumbled across this whilst researching.
I think i will take the second advice and head towards Durres and then south. Is the road quality much better driving this way towards Elbasan?
Regarding the ferry at Kotor - is driving around the fjord a viable option as opposed to the car ferry? If not what is the cost of the ferry and is it regular?
I drive to greece every year and sometimes we go through italy and catch the ferry and others we travel down through the Balkans. I can tell you the best way (quickest and easiets driving wise) to head down towards Slovenia and the Croatian coast is to travel north towards belgium, into holland and then germany before heading down past stuttgart, munich and into austria passing. Then head towards maribor and ljubljana. there are different options to get to the croatian coast from there but i think it best to head towards zagreb before heading back coastwards. We are going to take the motorway all the way to Zadar and then take the coastal road all the way to Dubrovnik and then the exact same route you are planning, past Kotor into Albania and into Greece. Only difference is once we are in Greece we will be heading south to catch the ferry from Piraues to Rhodes, our final destination. If you get any more info you think i would find helpful please send me a message, i will do the same. If not i will post here how the journery was in April!!!
>I think i will >take the second advice and head >towards Durres and then south. Is >the road quality much better >driving this way towards Elbasan? >Regarding the ferry at Kotor - is >driving around the fjord a viable >option as opposed to the car ferry? >If not what is the cost of the >ferry and is it regular?
The difference between the two roads not which road is "better". Both are well paved and fairly heavily travelled. The road direct from Tirana to Elbasan is a mountain road in the extreme. It rides along the top of a ridge in places with a drop of 400 meters on both sides. Very scenic but not for the acrophobic. The Tirana-Durres-Rrogozhina-Elbasan route is less lofty but is busy and portions are under construction. In summertime, the road is packed with tourists.
As for the ferry at Kotor, I work with people who have travelled the road several times. The ferry costs about 10 Euro per car and is very regular. You can drive around the bay, but it is a long, windy road.
Thank you very much for your prompt reply.
In that case I think I will have to go via Durres. I would like to go that way but my mother is in the car and she will not like the drops at all, even though she is used to the old fashioned Greek roads!! I may have to go that way when we come back as it will just be me and my brother!!
I hope you have a great journey in April and look forward to hearing all about it.
In case either of the travelling parties wants to have a local contact in Albania, I live in Tirana and am willing to provide personalized advice/assistance if desired. If you're interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.