What you should know before you travel to Albania

Albania, the most understudied Balkan country in the world, is nestled by the gentle waves of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, surrounded by its more popular coastal neighbors, Greece and Montenegro. For many years Albania has remained isolated from the world, which is why most people know frustratingly little about its rich cultural heritage and beautiful nature with beautiful canyons and beautiful clean beaches. The local population is hospitable in the Balkan way, which is reflected in the abundant and delicious food, more than reasonable prices for accommodation, and respectful, if not the affectionate attitude to everyone who has shown interest in their humble country.

What you should know before you travel to Albania

1. Two Seas

The Adriatic in the morning and Ionica in the afternoon. These are not just beautiful words from advertisements, this is a reality in the Albanian resort of Vlora. The city stretches along the coastline, whose sandy beaches in the north are washed by the waters of the Adriatic Sea, and fine pebbles in the south by the waves of the Ionian Sea.

2. Three lakes

Albania is a country not only on two seas but also on three huge lakes. The Skadar Lake, the largest in the Balkans, is shared by Albania and Montenegro. Here, according to the local fishermen, the most delicious Albanian carp can be found. The trout from Lake Ohrid, which is located on the borders of Albania and Macedonia, is loved by Queen Elizabeth II. And Lake Prespa, with its national park of the same name, covers three countries – Albania, Macedonia, and Greece.

3. The Albanian Maldives

Albania has its own Maldives – it’s a small resort town Xamil in the south of the country. Turquoise water, stunning white sand beaches – this place is nothing like the Balkans. From there, you can see the Greek island of Corfu – between the two countries it is just 2,5 km by water. You can get there by ferry, which runs several times a day.

4. The best Italian cuisine

And Italian Bari is only 300 km over the Otranto Strait. Italians admit that the best Italian cuisine outside their country is served in Albania. And here the role was played not only by the proximity of Italy, but also by the occupation of Albania by Fascist Italy during World War II.

5. Patriotism

The Albanian people have suffered from various people in their time – the Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Italians, Germans… Getting independence in 1912 was such a long-awaited and important event for the Albanians that to this day they are great patriots, and national symbols are in every home.

6. Bunkers

The bunkers in Albania remind the inhabitants of a time when they had to suffer not only from external tyrants, but also from internal tyrants. Such was Enver Hoxha, the Albanian dictator, friend of Stalin. Under his leadership, the country became a closed country, and it was necessary to have a bunker in every yard in case Albania was attacked. A total of 700,000 bunkers were built, which today remain a symbol of that era. 

7. Difficulties of translation

Albanians remain open and sociable people. But communicating directly with them will not be easy – only in Tirana people speak English, in other cities no with the exception of hotel staff and large restaurants. The Albanian language is unlikely to be understood intuitively – it does not resemble any language familiar to Europeans. But northern Albanians speak Italian very well, southern Albanians – Greek. In either case, they will try to understand your wish and fulfill it.

8. Mother Teresa

The fact that Mother Teresa is an Albanian tells us how wonderful Albanians are. She was born into a Catholic Albanian family in Skopje, then part of the Ottoman Empire.

9. Tasty and cheap

By the way, by the number of cafes and restaurants per capita, Albania beats any European country. The portions in Albania are big, but the prices are small. So do not deny yourself the pleasure to try as many dishes of Albanian cuisine, which is based on vegetables and lamb. It is a must to try “imam balaidi” which means “fingers you can taste” – eggplants stewed with meat. The most unusual Albanian dessert is trileche, a biscuit soaked in cream, melted, and condensed milk with caramel. Of alcoholic beverages, the most famous is Skanderbeg cognac, named after the national hero of Albania.

10. Three harvests

A kilogram of strawberries in Albania costs €1.5. And in general, the harvest here is taken three times a year, so you will always have fresh, juicy fruits and vegetables on your table.

11. Artifacts from different eras

The patronage of other empires and countries has left its mark not only in the culture and cuisine of Albania, but also on its land. Here you can see the Roman thermae and amphitheater of the II century AD, the medieval city of Kruja, Venetian fortresses, the city-museum of Berat, the “city of a thousand windows”, which is already 2400 years old and many more artifacts from different eras.


Top questions before you go to Albania

1. What to take with you to Albania?

It is not necessary to write about trivial things. It is better to mention those that may not be in your luggage, but they will not be superfluous.

Warm socks

    • Warm socks or slippers.
    • There is no central heating or hot water in Albania. And 95% of apartments and rental housing will have tile on the floor. Those who are always cold will suffer. Especially if you travel in spring and fall. Since the rooms are always brisk and fresh.
    • As a rule, blankets are warm enough and it’s not cold to sleep, but just walking around the apartment is very uncomfortable.

Long cable to the phone

    • A three-meter charging cable to your phone and a small tee.
    • This thing is generally useful on any trip. But in Albania it is especially relevant.
    • You checked into the apartment, and the outlet in the room is, as usual, in the farthest corner. 
    • If you like to relax on the bed, surf the Internet and check your email, without a long cable, you’ll be sitting on a chair in the corner. And if there is an outlet in a convenient place, it is one, and there might be two of you.
    • A 3 meter cable and a tee will cost $3 on Aliexpress. Once you buy it, you forget it.

Coral slippers

    • Coral. If you have them at home, take them with you. They don’t take up any space, but they are very useful.
    • You can wear them in your apartment instead of slippers
    • In general, at the very least, they will be useful:
      • on all the pebble beaches of Albania: and these are Saranda, Ksamil, Dermi, Himara. Rating of the best beaches in Albania.
      • are obligatory at the hot springs of Benjamin and Langarica Canyon. It would not be easy without them.
      • at all the waterfalls where you are going to swim. The bottoms there are all sorts.
      • or simply, to wade across a mountain river when you go trekking in the mountains. And there it occurs several times in an hour.


    • A tip for any trip. It is always a good idea to take with you, for example, several bars of our chocolate bars or any other small souvenir characteristic of your country. In Albania, this is especially relevant.
      • Checking into an apartment or gesthouse in the mountains. You can give it to the hosts. It doesn’t cost you anything, but it is very pleasant for them, and not every guest does it.
      • You make them like you right away. 
      • And their level of hospitality is so high that in most cases they bring you a small gift in return. And this can be a jar of jam from grapes, homemade wine, a welcome shot of rakii or a bag of ripe pomegranates and a juice squeezer.
      • It’s also a great gift, for any help or service rendered, for which the hospitable Albanians don’t want to charge you.
      • Continuing the theme of gifts: you rent a car, when all the documents are signed, the car is checked and the keys are given out, give the manager a chocolate bar. Everyone is most afraid of returning the car and being nagged at every unnoticeable detail. Remember, a candy bar in the beginning, will simplify the process of returning the car at the end.

Fumigator in the socket

    • In Albania, the situation with mosquitoes is not critical. They are there – seasonally, but one mosquito can ruin the whole night.
    • A fumigator in the socket will not be superfluous.
    • Checked in, immediately put it in the socket and let it be there all 24 hours a day.
    • There are no malarial mosquitoes in Albania, and there are not many mosquitoes in general. But in certain weather conditions there are more of them, and then they cause some problems.

2. Arrival in Albania

By plane

When planning your vacation, you should of course think about how long you want to travel and how to make the most reasonable way to travel to Albania. From the many airports in Europe, you can get to Tirana International Airport in about two to three hours. The most popular international flights are: 

  • Rome – Tirana, 
  • London – Tirana, 
  • Milan – Tirana, 
  • Bologna – Tirana, 
  • Athens – Tirana, 
  • Bari – Tirana, 
  • Pisa – Tirana, 
  • Turin – Tirana 
  • Istanbul – Tirana.

Alternatively, you can simply fly to Corfu and combine a holiday in Corfu with a subsequent trip to Albania. Did you know that the resorts of Kassiopi on the Greek side and the Albanian resort of Xamil are separated by just a few kilometers, passing through the Strait of Corfu?

The ferry takes you from Corfu City to the Albanian Riviera in just under an hour, to be exact, to the picturesque resort of Saranda.

By car

If you have a lot of time, it is better to come in your own car or pick up a rental car after you arrive at the airport. 

Tip: While planning your trip, you should rent lodging halfway through and spend the night in a hotel so you can start your trip rested.

If you decide to vacation in Albania, you should consider two routes.

First, you can reach Albania via Italy by ferry. The port city of Ancona and the cities of Puglia, Bari, and Brindisi, are among the possible ports of departure.

You also have the possibility to plan your journey through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro. If you ever pass through these Balkan countries, you should include in your trip several stops, for example in Maribor, Zagreb, Zadar or Split.

But if you are traveling by car, you should also be aware that you may have to pay tolls upon arrival and that you must have a “green card” to cross the border into Albania, i.e. proof of liability insurance for vehicle owners. Read more information about traveling by car…


Albania by bus

Albania by public transport – is it possible? If you are traveling alone or want to do without a car, of course, the question arises about possible alternatives.

Traveling by bus should not go unnoticed on the list of tips about Albania. However, unlike a rented car, when you travel by bus, you cannot organize your vacation as flexibly and spontaneously.

But first of all, you should know that you can easily get from point A to point B between major tourist centers and cities. But schedules are usually not published, and the motto here is to ask questions. You can also count on local help.

Camping area in Albania

Traveling around Albania in my own van and pitching tents in the middle of the wilderness? Just thinking about it makes me feel pure longing and wanderlust.

In Albania, you can spend the night among unspoiled nature, whether overlooking fabulous bays or in the middle of endless mountains. Falling asleep under a bright starry sky and waking up with the first rays of the sun sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Is free camping allowed in Albania?

In principle, you are free to stay anywhere in Albania and enjoy life in your camper.

However, you should be aware of the restrictions in the stunning national parks and, of course, stay off private property. You should also behave respectfully in your interactions with nature and the locals and, of course, leave your accommodations clean.

If you crave sanitary facilities or generally prefer to stay in an official campsite, you should consider the best campsites in Albania.

Best campings in Albania:

  • Paradise Camping
  • Camping Gijrokastra
  • Camping in the jungle in Borsche
  • Camping Legend
  • Moscato Camping
  • Camping ARBI
  • Camping in Clandestino
  • Camping Nirvana
  • Ladybug Alpine Resort
  • Caravan Camping Ksamil
  • Albturist Ecocamp Përmet

Best weather for traveling in Albania

Every time the question arises: When should I plan a trip? If you want to enjoy good weather on the Adriatic coast and combine your trip with a vacation by the sea or a trip to the mountains, you should consider the months of May to September.

If you are planning sightseeing and want to avoid the heat, you will have to limit yourself to the months of May, June and September. And especially in the off-season, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself even more in the uniqueness of the country and fully enjoy its many benefits.

Of course, the travel time also depends on your plans locally. Albania is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, and the spring and fall months are especially suitable for outdoor activities in the mountains of Albania.

But, of course, in the summer months it is a little cooler in the highlands than by the sea. And in winter, nature often turns into a windy fairy tale landscape and lets you get to know the Balkan state from a completely different perspective.