Want to travel to Albania? It’s a wonderful country with beautiful beaches and mountains to explore. I traveled to Albania for the first time in 2016 and instantly fell in love.
Albanians are generally warm and friendly as people and they have an interesting culture. The price level is also cheaper compared to other countries in Europe, which means that tourists get a lot of value for their money.
Tourist destinations in Albania
Saranda is one of the most developed tourist destinations in Albania. The proximity to Ksamil, Butrint, and Syri I Kalter as well as the northern part of the Albanian Riviera makes it a great starting point.
Along the water, you will also find a lovely beach boulevard with bars and restaurants. There are also some shops and beaches, but the biggest reason for coming here is probably because it’s easy to get here and the range of hotels is quite big here.
I think Saranda is quite a charming port town, and I especially enjoyed my stay at Piccolini Hotel.
Ksamil is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Albania, and it’s located about 30 minutes from Saranda by bus. Here await some of the best beaches in Europe with turquoise water and white sand.
There are several bays you can go to. It gets pretty crowded here though in July and August. The 4 islands shouldn’t be missed either, from where you can snorkel, sunbathe and enjoy the water!
Another popular destination in Albania, that is located more north along the Albanian Riviera. If you want sun and sea this is a great place to go. It’s also close to the Albanian capital – Tirana.
Dhermi & Himara
Between Durrës and Saranda lie these two wonderful places with beautiful beaches. Close to Dhermi beach, you will also find the famous Gjipe Beach, which is said to be one of the best beaches in all of Albania!
If you want to combine your holiday with a bigger city, it will probably be interesting to visit the Capital. Here you will find a lively nightlife and a much different experience than southern Albania. If you’re visiting the Northern part of the country it’s better to fly direct to Tirana!
If you like hiking, staying with local families, and get a cultural experience, the Albanian Alps is recommended by many travelers, and especially Theth as a starting point. A cozy mountain village where you get to enjoy some Albanian culture and nature!
Popular beaches in Albania
There are some really nice beaches in Albania that are worth visiting. They are scattered along the Albanian Riviera.
- Gjipe Beach
- Ksamil Beach and the 4 islands
- Dhermi Beach
- Drymades Beach
- Jala Beach
Things to do in Albania
- Mountain Climbing
10 x Attractions in Albania
There are several historic and natural landmarks in Albania that are worth visiting. Below are 10 of the most popular attractions. Out of these, I would say that Berat, Gjirokaster, Lake Komani, and Theth National Park are my favorites.
- Syri i Kalter
- Lake Komani
- Shkodra Lake och Rozafa Castle
- Theth National Park
- Dajti Express (Cable Car)
- Kruja Castle
Flights to Albania
Many tourists who travel to Albania, and particularly the Southern part will fly into the airport of Corfu in Greece, which is just a short boat ride from Saranda in Albania.
There are currently no direct flights to Saranda or Ksamil, but it’s very easy to get from Corfu to Albania by the daily ferries. However, there are many international flights to Tirana, the capital of Albania, and if you’re visiting the northern part or go to Durrës it will be quicker and better to fly into Tirana.
Depending on where you fly from, the prices will vary. However, there are several destinations in Europe, where it’s possible to book flights from 50 Euros and upwards to Albania.
How to travel to Albania
In addition to flights, there are several ways to travel overland from neighboring countries as well as by boat from Italy.
Overland from Greece
There are regular buses between Athens and Tirana. The journey takes about 9 hours and a ticket cost €25. There are also buses from Ioannina to Gjirokaster.
Ferry from Greece
There are several daily departures by ferry from Greece to Albania, between Corfu and Saranda. It’s a short ride that costs around 20 Euros for a single trip.
Overland from Montenegro
From Montenegro, it’s possible to travel to Albania by buses from Kotor and Podgorica to the border town Shkodër and Tirana. If you want to travel from Montenegro to the southern part of the country, you’ll need to make a stop in Tirana where you can change buses to Ksamil and Saranda.
Overland from Kosovo
Buses run daily between Tirana and Pristina in Kosovo. This is also the same bus that you’ll take to Prizren.
Overland from North Macedonia
There are daily buses between Skopje and Tirana. Tickets can be purchased in local travel agencies or directly by the bus driver. However, during high-season, it’s better to book your tickets in advance.
Boat from Italy
There are several crossings by boat between Durres and Bari as well as to Ancona, Trieste, and Brindisi in Italy. There are a total of five ferry companies that offer trips to Albania from Italy.
How to get around in Albania
Bus or Minibusses (furgons) are the most common way to get around in Albania as a tourist. If you’re traveling shorter distances, it’s pretty cheap to take a taxi, but if you plan to explore a lot and go to many places, I would suggest renting a car.
If you don’t want to rent a car, there are also quite a few tour agencies that offer and arrange guided tours and excursions. Between Saranda, Ksamil, and Butrint there are several buses daily. From Tirana, you can take a bus or minibus to almost any place in the country.
Driving in Albania
Renting a car will allow you to explore more of the country without relying on buses. Timetables can be somewhat limited, so you’re better off to rent a car to make the most out of your visit.
The roads in Albania are generally quite good and you don’t need a special type of car. They are driving on the right-hand side of the road in Albania, and a word of caution should be noted about Albanian drivers.
Some are driving pretty crazy, but as long as you’re focused on the road, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just make sure to get full insurance for your rental car, just in case something happens.
Speeding is relatively common and some drivers will pass on the wrong side. Another important thing is that you should always carry your driver’s license when driving in Albania. Also, remember to put your lights on since it’s required by the law.
Recommended Hotels in Albania
- Hotel Piccolino – A charming family-owned hotel in Saranda
- Mermaids – A good hotel if you want to stay in Ksamil
There are many interesting facts about Albania. Below is some general information.
- Population: 2 876 591.
- Capital: Tirana.
- National day: 28 November.
- National song: ”Himni i Flamurit”
- Timezone: UTC +1.
- Currency: Albanian Lek (ALL).
Tourism in Albania
Tourism has increased quite a lot in recent years, and it’s still growing. Tourists mostly come here for the sun and beaches, but some also discover the alps and other beautiful areas of the country. According to official numbers in 2016, Albania had 4.73 million visitors.
The high-season is definitely in July and August, and several destinations see a lot of visitors these two months. However, if you’re traveling in May and June, or even September and early October you can find beautiful places that you will have almost to yourself.
The most popular destinations such as Ksamil, Saranda, and Durrës are getting pretty crowded in July and August, particularly in August when tourism peaks. This is something that you should expect anywhere in Europe, and Albania is not an exception.
With that said, there are lots of hidden gems and beautiful beaches to explore, and the Albanian Alps is not very crowded either, so you still have selections if you need to travel in July and August, but to prefer to avoid the crowds.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to travel in Albania?
In general, I would say that the prices in Albania are about half compared to Sweden, Spain, Germany, France, and the UK.
In the Southern tourist resorts such as Ksamil and Saranda, the prices will be higher than the country’s average, and villages without tourism will be cheaper than the average.
Examples on prices in Albania
- Lunch/dinner at a regular restaurant – 4-7 Euro
- Three-course dinner for 2 people – 15 Euro
- Local beer at a restaurant (50 cl) – 1,5 Euro
- Local beer in the store (50 cl) – 70 Cent
- Coca-Cola/soft drink at a restaurant – 1 Euro
- Taxi per kilometer – 1 Euro
What’s the weather like in Albania?
The Albanian Weather and Climate is pleasant, and the Riviera has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers. If you go into the mountains it will be colder, and during the winter season, it will snow.
No matter where you travel in Albania during summer you can expect sunshine and average temperatures of 25-30 degrees with higher temperatures some days.
In June the average temperature in the water will be around 21 degrees, and in July, August, September it will rise to 25 degrees along the Albanian Riviera.
Can you drink the tap water in Albania?
Yes, the tap water is safe to drink in Albania, but as with any other place, it can taste different from what you’re used to. If you aren’t sensitive I would say that there is no harm in drinking tap water in Albania.
Is it safe to travel to Albania?
While the country’s past is rough, it’s nowadays a very safe country. As already mentioned, the locals are friendly and they have a strong hospitality culture.
Some people think that Albania is a dangerous country, but I will say that it’s just rumors from the past, and nowadays you don’t have to worry about traveling to Albania.
Internet and Wi-Fi in Albania
Wi-Fi connection is pretty good in the cities and tourist destinations. Of course, it can vary from hotel to hotel, but in most parts, we had pretty good Wi-Fi. Just a quick reminder, Albania is not an EU-country, so your free EU-roaming will not apply here.
If you need internet connection besides for what your hotel offers, I will suggest that you buy a local sim card.
What power plug is used in Albania?
Standard European outlets, and 220 volts. If you’re not from Europe, you will most likely need a travel adapter.
Where is Albania located?
Until a few years ago, Albania was relatively unknown worldwide. In recent years, tourism has put the country on the world map, but some might still wonder about the exact location.
Albania is located in the southern part of Eastern Europe, in the Balkans. It borders Greece in the south and North Macedonia and Kosovo to the east and Montenegro in the north. It also has a coastline along the Adriatic Sea.
What to eat when you travel to Albania
Food in Albania often includes meats, especially beef or lamb. Along the Albanian Riviera, it’s very common with fish and seafood. Pizza is something that you will find in many places too, and they are just as delicious as in Italy!
Byrek and Tave Kosi is some of the most famous Albanian dishes.
- Tavë Kosi
- Speca me Glizë
- Fish and Seafood
- Mixed grill (meat)
- Perime Zgjare
- Spec te mbushura pa mish
- Sallate Shtepia/Grek
- Tavë me Presh ska Mish
Map of Albania
As you can see, Albania is an elongated country. From Saranda in the South to Theth in Northern Albania it is about 8 hours by car.
What is it like to travel to Albania?
First of all, it’s good to know that tourism is quite new and only started to grow in the last years. This means that there will not be a huge amount of hotels everywhere. There is still some work to do with infrastructure and you shouldn’t expect luxury while traveling to Albania.
With that said, you will get an authentic and lovely experience. The hotels are mostly owned and managed by local families, and you won’t find many big international hotel chains here. That’s a part of the charm, and the same goes for restaurants. It gives Albania a big advantage to other tourist destinations where you don’t get the same cultural experience.
Albania is still quite untouched compared to other nearby regions in the Balkans and the Meditteranean, but more and more tourists discover this beautiful country, so don’t wait too long if you want to discover the hidden gems of Albania.
You’re unlikely to have any troubles when traveling around Albania on your own, no matter if you travel solo or with others. And if you do come into a situation or don’t know how to get to a specific place, just remember to ask the locals, they will more than likely help!
Another positive thing is the fact that most locals are honest and don’t try to rip you off. For example when we arrived in Tirana at a bus station outside the city center without a clue on how we could get to the hotel from there. The taxi driver could’ve tricked us, but he didn’t, he gave us a fair price and drove us straight to the Skanderbeg square.
I hope it will stay this way, and even though more tourists will come to Albania, I hope the locals will remain friendly and helpful with great hospitality!
Cultural norms in Albania
Albanians are quite expressive in general, and they typically make gestures with their hands while talking. Some might also find Albanians to be quite loud when having a conversation, and sometimes it might sound like they’re arguing, but most likely they’re just talking.
I would describe Albanians as people with a lot of passion and opinions. Many of them are social and won’t have any trouble talking to strangers. So, don’t be afraid if you’re approached by the locals, they are most likely just curious to know more about you.
Additionally, it’s also a normal thing to stare at other people. Some foreigners might find this odd or uncomfortable at first, but it’s just a part of local customs to express curiosity.
Furthermore, in some parts of Albania, you’ll notice how people will do a headshake from side to side when saying yes and up and down to say no. This can be quite confusing for some tourists since it’s the opposite in many other countries.
Things that I noticed while traveling around Albania
- People are in general very curious and helpful
- It was much appreciated to say a few phrases and words in Albanian
- Albanian old ladies are the most adorable
- The nature is so clean and beautiful
- Albanians are very proud and the Albanian flag can be seen everywhere
- The language is something very unique and not like any other I’ve heard
- It’s very cheap for Western tourists
- The cafe culture is strong just like the rest of the Balkans
7 Albanian phrases and words
Not everyone is fluent in English so it’s always nice to learn a few Albanian phrases and words to get a better interaction with the locals.
Don’t worry though, most people working within tourism will at least have basic knowledge of English, but below are some of the most common phrases and words.
|Hello||Përshëndetje! / Tungjatjeta|
|How are you?||Si Jeni?|
|Do you speak English?||Flisni Anglisht?|
|Excuse me, how do I get to…?||Më falni..Si mund të shkoj…?|
|What is the name of this dish?||Si quhet kjo gjellë?|
Religion in Albania
Most official reports will say that the majority of Albanians are Muslims. However, if you ask them, you’ll likely get the answer that religion isn’t of much importance for most people in Albania.
It was originally a Christian country, but during the Ottoman empire, many switched to Islam for various reasons. But even if most sources will state that Albanians are predominantly Muslim these days, it’s not really true because the majority will eat pork, drink alcohol, etc.
It’s a complex thing to discuss, but most Albanians will be happy to explain more about the matter to foreigners who are curious.
Drone Laws in Albania
If you’re planning to travel to Albania with a drone, you’ll be happy to know that there are no regulations other than that you’re not allowed to fly too close to airports, and need to respect people’s privacy.
All airspace must be avoided, but other than that, you’ll be free to fly your drone in Albania.
Want more tips before you travel to Albania? Leave a comment below!