Albania is a small country in the Balkans still ignored by mass tourism but at the same time stuffed with national parks, gorgeous mountain ranges, pristine rivers, 3 huge lakes and 2 seas at once - Ionian and Adriatic.
It is also a very cheap country to travel around and you will be pleasantly surprised by prices for lodging, transport, cafe and restaurants, food and drinks, activities during your Albania tour.
But don't even think that low prices mean low quality. The only reason for affordable prices - Albania is currently one of the poorest countries in Europe. And please bear in mind that Albania is a cash-based society, so take cash with you as even in the hotels they will only accept Albanian LEK or Euro.
This country is also very close to major European cities due to low cost airlines like Wizzair and Ryanair offering cheap flights London Tirana at 40 Euro round trip. There are only 2 international airports in Albania (Tirana and Kukes) and by spring 2025 there will be brand new one in Vlore, but in 2024 you're most likely to start your Albania visit from its capital - Tirana.
It is an incredibly modern and peaceful city with a perfect size for the town (800 000 inhabitants).
It has an enormous number of unique, high-end sorts of places like cafes, restaurants and terraces with Albania cuisine especially in Blloku district for relaxing and meeting with friends - the same kind of stuff you are used to in Paris or in London.
You can easily spend 3-4 days of your Albania trip in this wonderful city alone. We strongly advise you to visit the following local attractions:
Skanderbeg Square - huge open space in the center of Tirana
National History Museum (Muzeu Historik Kombëtar) and Bunk Art2 (a unique museum of Albanian history in a preserved Cold War nuclear bunker) located right on the same square
Restaurant & Panoramic Bar on top of Sky Tower hotel
New Bazaar market where you can buy organic fish, meat, fruits and vegetables
Tirana Castle & Kalaja - a historical place with lots of restaurants around
Dajti mountain with the height of 1613 meters east of Tirana where you can get by Express Cable Car for 7 EUR
Great Park - a magnificent park next to the Blloku area where you can run, walk or sit in one of the cozy restaurants and cafes
Lake Alltata (Liqeni Alltatës) - a small lake with posh water color in just 30 min driving south of Tirana where you can hike, swim and fish
Eye of the Cyclops, Syri i Ciklopit - a stunning lake surrounded by green mountains within 45 min driving south of Tirana. First you should get to Skutërrë village and then there is a narrow hiking trail to the lake from the village, sometimes very steep. So take suitable footwear with you and be ready for the best travelemotions as this adventure includes all: hiking, swimming, climbing.
Kruja is a small city just 30 km north from Tirana. It was the first capital of Albania state back in 12th century and has a picturesque Castle of Kruja with Skanderbeg Museum inside
Due to its position right in the center of the country from Tirana you can choose different routes to continue your Albania tour.
There are several ways to move around Albania:
Hire a car
Buses & Ferry:
It is very cheap (4-5 EUR for a 100 km drive) but you can’t book tickets online and the itinerary is flexible (not like in Germany:)
Bus station in Tirana is outside of the city and it starts when it is full.
So it really is chaotic but these days Albania is digitizing its entire bus system on an app in English which you can download on your phone and easily get to your destination. It will be ready by summer 2023.
Ferry on Komani Lake from Koman to Fierza is 1000 LEK per person (9 USD) and around 40 USD for a vehicle. But it includes 2.5 hours of stunning views in a true wilderness.
Here’s one with a mobile app - https://taxi.al/
Prices are like: initial charge 2.5 EUR + 0.7 EUR / km
Renting a car in Albania:
It is the best option when you travel with your family or when you’re 3 friends coming to Albania. Prices vary by the time of the year, but in general it can be as low as 12 - 15 EUR / day with unlimited mileage in Low season and 40 EUR / day with unlimited mileage during the top high season at the end of July.
So let’s imagine that you choose to go North first.
North region of Albania has several astonishing places:
The city of Shkoder and Skadar Lake - the largest lake in the Balkans. Buy a boat tour during your Albania visit and enjoy watching those 250 bird species plus the green mountains around this huge reservoir.
Shkoder itself is famous for its History Museum and ancient Rozafa Castle which is located on a hilltop surrounded by 3 rivers (Buna, Kir and Drin). See accommodations with 9.5+ rating in Shkoder here.
Ulza Regional Nature Park where you can do mountain biking, hiking and fishing on a gorgeous reservoir on Mat river.
Valbona valley - National park in the Albanian Alps with virgin nature and hiking trails
Theth National Park with diverse flora, valleys, forests and 20 species of mammals. Take our advice and see Grunas Waterfall (Cascada de Grunas) plus Reconciliation Tower while traveling through the park.
Shala River and the river beach near Eagles Land guest house where you can swim, sunbathe, take a bottle of cold beer with another local culinary masterpiece and stay there for the night.
Komani Lake which appeared in 1979 after the construction of a dam on the Drin River. Take a ferry trip from Komani to Fierza, absorb this natural beauty and purest air possible.
If you want to explore another beautiful region in Albania, go north-east from Tirana to the city of Pogradec - the main city on the Albanian part of the Ohrid lake with a long promenade and a beach. Attractions in the area include:
Ohrid lake, is the deepest lake on the Balkans with maximum depth around 300 meters, surrounded by mountains on the Macedonian side and is included in UNESCO World Heritage list. Stay at least 1 night in one of the hotels or apartments in Pogradec.
Prespa lake is situated at an altitude of more than 800 meters and is divided into 2 parts. Both lakes are several millions years old and host endemic species like belushka, koran.
Parku Kombëtar i Prespës is a National Biosphere Reserve along Prespa lake with swamps, wild forests, steep mountains and popular hiking trails
Parku Kombëtar Shebenik - A national park near North Macedonia border with lean lakes, hiking trails and and mountain peaks that remind you that only mountains can be better than mountains
Maja e Valamares (a summit overlooking 2 amazing lakes) & Liqeni i Dushkut (a glacial lake at 1100 meters altitude) are in just 2.5 hour driving from Pogradec and you can visit them within 1 day
So now it’s time to move south and let’s visit Berat area first (you should definitely stay there for at least 1 night):
Berat is a city with unique architecture from the Ottoman Empire, home to 36000 inhabitants, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. There is a nice Castle in Berat, Ethnographical museum, Berat Viewing Platform and Osumit river
Tomorri Mountain National Park - is a sacred mountain range inhabited by wolves and eagles and is also a place of pilgrimage
Osumi canyon can offer you a rafting tour with stunning waterfalls included in your unforgettable travelemotions
Choose one of the accommodations in Berat here.
After so many mountains and lakes&rivers it’s time to continue our tour to the seaside to Vlore area and make a stop for 2-3 days there to see:
Vjosë-Nartë Delta Protected Area which includes a coastal lagoon with migratory birds, sand dunes, swamps, and a Byzantine monastery
Apollonia Archaeological Park representing ruins of an ancient Greek port city built in the 6th century BC and Archaeological Museum
Llogara National Park with mountains, forests, hiking trails via Caesar’s path and gorgeous views to the Adriatics meeting the Ionian sea
Llogara Pass - a winding road up to the Park along the seaside. On top of it you can go paragliding or visit one of 3 bunkers (Big Bunker, Bunker Near Panorama Llogara and Bunka on Cika Mountain)
Grama Bay on Karaburun peninsula where you can get there either by hiking Palasë-Grama Bay path (1 way is 13 km) or by speed boat.
Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park which is definitely a must-see location to visit Albania and comprises the ruins of ancient Greek ships, vessels of the Second World War, corals, Shen Nicolo Bay and Devil’s Bay (Gjiri i Djallit)
Everybody should definitely head to the south-east part when they visit Albania. This mountainous region on Greece border has unusual places like:
Permet - a cozy small town on Vjosa river with long traditions of wine making.
Gjirokastra - has the status of a museum city and is the birthplace of the Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha. It is just 1 hour driving from Permet.
Benje, which is 1:15 hour driving from Permet, has public Thermal Baths and Kadiut Bridge constructed in the 17th century by the Ottoman Empire.
Langarica Canyon is 20 minutes further from Benje, is a perfect place for hiking in the purest air possible.
Vjosa river where you can see one of the last intact river systems in Europe and take rafting before you continue your travel to the coastline.
Among other routes to continue your travel to Albania we recommend moving south to the Albania Riviera with major resorts like Palasë, Dhërmi, Himare, Qeparo, Borsh, Lukovë and, of course, Saranda & Ksamil. Let’s explore them going from North to South:
Dhermi is a Greek village which many people see as the most beautiful village in Albania. The majority of buildings are painted in white and the best beaches around are: Drimadhë Beach & Palasa Beach (north of Dhermi), Dhërmiu Beach, Gjipe Canyon & Beach (south of Dhermi).
Gjipe Beach - a remote place where you can get by 4x4 car, by boat or hiking the canyon.
Himare - a small cozy town on the coast of the Ionian Sea with 3 splendid beaches (Sfageio Beach, Livadi beach, Gonia Beach, Gjiri i Akuariumit) plus Himara Castle with an awesome sea view.
Qeparo Village & Porto Palermo offers Porto Palermo Beach, Submarine Bunker and Ali Pasha Tepelena Fortress.
Borsh - Bay of Kendesa (Gjiri i Kendesave), Buneci Beach and Plazhi i Borshit.
Saranda and Ksamil beaches are the quintessence of summer tourism in Albania with the best Ksamil hotels and 9.5+ Saranda hotels & apartments to stay. These sea, sand and sun resorts are overcrowded in July and August, so you'd better come here in May -June and September - October or even in February for European winter sun!
Here you can see a full list of Activities in Albania Riviera including fishing, sailing, diving, jetski, SUP, kayaking, parasailing, etc.
The best months to visit those resorts and beaches are May-June plus September-October because in July and August, most of the population of the Eastern Balkans rushes to the coast, prices go up dramatically and you may face an “everything is fully booked” situation. Not to mention that it is extremely hot in those 2 months.
When you first decided to travel to Albania maybe you were thinking of local Maldives, i.e. Ksamil Islands (Tetra Islands). This small archipelago with 4 islands in front of Ksamil village may be the best place on Albanian shore.
See the list of local attractions you should try whilst traveling in Southern Albania below:
Sarande is the biggest sea resort located in the very south of the country overlooking the Corfu - Greek island reacheable by fast Corfu Albania ferry. Choose an accommodation with a 9.5+ rating in Saranda here.
Butrint National Park - a UNESCO World Heritage site representing the archaeological spot of the Greek, Roman and medieval city of Butrint. Outside the city walls, the Roman aqueduct, fortresses, villas and churches are in practically untouched condition.
Venetian Triangle Castle and Ali Pasha's Castle which was initially built in the late 15th century by Venetians.
Shpella e Pëllumbave Beach and Edon-Bina Beach near Ksamil are ideal for lovers of privacy.
This enchanting country has everything you need to make your travel to Albania an outstanding one. You can do the following activities here:
Hiking in Theth - Valbona valley, along Via Egnatia near Elbasan, Llogara pass, Mali i Thatë near Pogradec with Prespa lake view, Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park, etc.
Fishing all across the seacoast, in 3 major lakes (Skadar, Ohrid, Prespa) and in numerous rivers and reservoirs.
Rafting on Vjose river, Shala River, Bistrica river, Osumi canyon, etc.
Surfing, kitesurfing, windsurfing.
Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle.
Albanian cuisine is an exquisite mix of Ottoman, Balkan, Mediterranean cuisines so you can experience a gastronomic orgasm in any tavern, restaurant or cafe.
Local cuisine is full of grilled meat dishes whereas seaside locations are specializing in fish.
Top culinary masterpieces are as follows:
Fëgesë stew - a slow-cooked stew made of peppers, onions, spices, tomatoes and cottage cheese
Tavë kosi - lamb and rice baked with yogurt and eggs
Byrek - flaky filo stuffed with savory fillings
Speca me gjize - peppers in cottage cheese
Baklava - a sweet layered pastry covered in syrup
Trilece - three-milk cake with caramel on top
Prices in Albania
We have no words to describe this unique combination of service level and price level here. Just imagine the trip of your dream accompanied with such prices:
Air tickets from Poland, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Denmark, France, Spain, nearly all West European countries cost 100 euro return ticket to Albania, Tirana
Accommodation cost is around 30-35 EUR for a double room with 9.5+ rating
Public transport is very cheap - you will get from Tirana to Saranda (270 km) by bus for only 11 EUR
A glass of big beer at 1- 1.5 EUR in a bar
1 coffee + 0.5 bottle of water + rakia at 1.5 EUR
A glass of wine in a restaurant at 2 EUR
Seafood main course at 8 - 10 EUR
Show us one more country like that in Europe.
With such prices you can simply LIVE here and afford yourself the food, the drinks, the nature, beaches like nowhere else in the world.
So you can extend your usual 2 weeks vacation to the whole year!
Albania used to be the most closed country in Europe for the entire 20th century due to its geography and because of communist totalitarian regime of Herver Hoxha which lasted from 1944 till 1985.
But everything changes.
Who in our time would believe that 30 years ago the poorest country in Europe was Ireland (!!!)? But it was exactly like that.
The same will happen with tourism in Albania: it will become the number 1 destination in the Balkans over the next ten years.
And the reasons for this lie on the surface as the country represents a unique mix of:
Very noticeable rural culture as around 40% of the population still lives in the countryside
Due to that you have lots of organic food (fruits, vegetables, seafood, dairy products, meat, honey, etc.) made by villagers and sold on green markets
Outstanding cuisine - salads, first course, fish, meat, bakery, desserts, literally everything
Local hospitality which will be shocking for people from Western Europe as you’ve lost that long ago
Unbelievable full set of wild nature beauties - beaches on Adriatics & Ionian sea, mountains of all kinds, rivers, lakes, canyons, waterfalls
Rich history with traces of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman empires and cultures
All of that is located on a territory less than Belgium and within only a 3 hour direct flight from London at the price of 100 EUR return ticket
And like a cherry on the cake come Albanian prices. You will be blown away when you will pay in a restaurant for 300-400 grams of grilled meat + a plate with olives + sauce from cucumbers and yogurt + 1 big (0.5) beer totally 5.5 EUR
This is what they call a “killing offer’ in business.
So grab your chance and travel to Albania until the average salary here is still 400 EUR / month and the country isn’t spoiled by mass tourism. Trust us, it won't last for long:)
Welcome to Albania in 2023!
What kind of currency should I take to Albania?
Take cash with you in Euro or USD. Euro is more preferable as they accept it in some hotels and for some activities. In general, you will be changing USD/EUR for local currency LEK and pay with that. And don't bet too much on your credit cards: in Albania cash is the king and the commission the local ATMs will charge you for withdrawal will make you very upset. Don't give those banks a single chance:)
How cheap is it in Albania to travel by public transport?
It is extremely cheap as there are no routes inside Albania with the price over 10-12 USD.
What’s the best time to visit the country?
Try to avoid July&August as people from Kosovo, North Macedonia, Greece, local Albanians, Albania diaspora living abroad, guests from Eastern Europe plus some from Western Europe simultaneously come to Albanian Riviera. Choose May&June or Sepbenber&October.