Saturday, June 15, 2024
HomeLatest JobsExploring the Jewel of the Balkans

Exploring the Jewel of the Balkans


If you’re fairly eager on maintaining with journey developments, you could have most likely observed the Albanian Riviera pop up in your Instagram feed up to now couple of years. Nevertheless, we enterprise to imagine that the majority westerners don’t even know the place this little Balkan nation is situated, a lot much less something concerning the treasure it holds for curious wanderers. Albania, within the humble opinion of this author, is likely one of the most underrated gems on the globe.

Albania is a wonderland of hovering mountain peaks, crystal Mediterranean waters, and wealthy historical past and tradition positive to intrigue even essentially the most seasoned vacationers. Nevertheless, journey right here continues to be a little bit of a problem. On this journey information, now we have gathered all the guidelines and tips you want for profitable journey in Albania!

Take the Let’s Roam app in your subsequent journey!

Everytime you’re about to embark on a brand new journey, you’ll want to pack the Let’s Roam app! This exploration companion will information you to the most effective native points of interest, scavenger hunt excursions, haunted historical past excursions, artwork walks, and bar crawls in a whole lot of cities. Allow us to enable you to expertise the most effective sights and sounds this world has to supply!

The place is Albania?

Sandwiched between the favored locations of Greece and Croatia (save a sliver of the Montenegro Coast), Albania largely will get neglected by these touring Southern Europe. It’s a disgrace, because it’s the proper different to both of those costlier nations. Whereas there is sufficient to justify a solo journey, Albania additionally works as an awesome pairing with one in every of its extra well-known neighbors. As a matter of truth, the southern tip of Albania, Butrint Nationwide Park, is a brief ferry experience throughout the Ionian Sea from the Greek Island of Corfu, so it’s simply paired with island hopping within the western Greek isles.

A Few Albania Information

1. It’s fairly underdeveloped by European requirements.

Albania is likely one of the least developed international locations in Europe. The water is just not secure for consuming. The general public transport is doable, however not nice (extra on that later). The minimal wage in Albania is the equal of round $275 per 30 days. Whereas the economic system displays this, and most issues are filth low-cost by western requirements, it’s nonetheless a stretch for a lot of locals to outlive.

2. Albanians are powerful cookies!

The discrepancy in pay, and the truth that the nation was shut off from the remainder of the world for many of the twentieth century, definitely has made it exhausting for the nation to catch up. The nation is opening up little by little although, and whereas discontent conversations on the economic system are widespread in Tirana, one can find that the majority Albanians are hearty and decided of us that make the most effective of what they’ve. They’ve been dealt a troublesome hand, all through their lengthy historical past, and they’re a inhabitants of survivors!

3. The spiritual and historic scenario is advanced.

Many of the inhabitants technically identifies as Sunni Muslims. Nevertheless, Albania prides itself as a spot the place folks can worship freely. In actual fact, underneath communist, Enver Hoxha’s greater than forty-year reign, all formal faith was outlawed. The federal government is secular, and whereas there are literally thousands of mosques, and you’ll definitely hear the decision to prayer within the morning, you’ll not really feel misplaced in case you are not a follower of Islam.

Albanians have historic roots, traced again all the way in which to Ilirians. The territory has been conquered by each main empire, and the inhabitants has needed to endure every part from monarchs, to Ottoman pashas, to domineering communist regimes, and every part in between.

It’s a difficult historical past and one which many Albanians don’t essentially all agree on. Until you’re a scholar of Albanian historical past, it could be greatest to not keep away from remarks on faith, historical past, structure, or economics. Though, they do love speaking about these items, and you’ll be happy to ask respectful questions.

4. Albania may be very small.

Albania is a small nation with a inhabitants of solely 2.8 million. Over 80% of the inhabitants are Albanian in ethnicity and share a robust historical past, language, and tradition. The Albanian language is like no different within the Balkans. Whereas it’s Indo-European, it sounds nothing like its neighbors, so don’t search for previous journey experiences that will help you out within the language division.

5. Albania makes use of the lek.

The Albanian foreign money is the lek. One USD converts to roughly 117 Albanian leks (in 2022 charges). Whereas bank card machines are definitely not unusual, you have to to have some money on you always. Simply make certain to alternate it again earlier than you allow as most surrounding nations received’t alternate it.

6. Mercedes is the one acceptable automobile.

Okay, that isn’t true, however you’ll discover an awesome majority of them. Albanian influencers typically joke that if you happen to present them a 1990 mannequin Mercedes with 200,000 miles on it, they’ll instantly hand over their cash. They will’t resist. There’s a little bit of fanaticism about name-brand clothes too. It’s fairly widespread to see Gucci and Prada-plastered t-shirts operating round city.

Why can we love Albania?

1. The Unimaginable Panorama

Albania is, fairly merely… attractive! It has towering mountains, the glowing Adriatic, and exquisite countryside for street tripping. Whilst you can take epic mountain climbing excursions into the Albanian Alps, in locations like Borsh, the mountains circulation proper right down to the sting of the Mediterranean, producing a dreamy environment that’s just about good.

2. Nice Historic Websites

The nation is outdated! It has among the most pristine Greek and Ottoman ruins on this planet, and a few of its historic cities are extraordinarily well-preserved. Plus, these historic websites are much less visited than the well-known ones of Greece and Rome, so you could have much less monitoring and a extra intimate expertise, which is sweet for historical past lovers. Whether or not you fancy Greek, Roman, Venetian, Ottoman, or Soviet historic websites, one can find that Albania has them in spades.

3. The Fascinating Tradition

Albania has a phenomenal tradition. You get the superior mixture of Center Jap hospitality and heat and sufficient European familiarities to not really feel utterly international. When you’ve got by no means traveled to the Jap world, Albania is a pleasant place to dip your toes earlier than leaping totally in.

4. A Charming Flashback

Effectively-traveled locals say that Albania is “like Greece fifty years in the past,” and that definitely appears true. Whereas the seashores are beautiful, you may also see a farmer herding goats throughout the rocks, throughout your sunbathing journey. Effectively, come to think about it, this nonetheless occurs on among the Greek islands too. Albania may be very conventional in some ways. This generally is a trouble on the subject of ease of public transit, or no matter, however in most methods, it’s so refreshing! Persons are simply pretty, and also you get a style of a slower tempo of life. Albania is a really distinctive sort of charming!

5. Extremely Reasonably priced

Except for SE Asia, Albania is likely one of the most inexpensive locations on earth. It’s uncommon to spend greater than $8-10 on a meal, even a really good one with wine. Transit is the quantity of some cents. Sights are very low-cost too. A lodge room, proper on the water, can value lower than $25. Most others value lower than $20 for 2 folks. An enormous beer is $1. For sure, Albania can spoil you if you happen to plan to journey to its neighbors on the identical journey. One meal in Athens could have you aching for Tirana!

Difficulties of Touring in Albania

On this part, we’ll talk about among the tougher facets of Albanian journey and offer you some suggestions for navigating this beast. Whereas we love Albania… loads, there are some not-so-nice facets that you’ll have to get round. It’s vital to say right here that each journey vacation spot has downfalls! In the event you keep lengthy sufficient, one can find them. Albania isn’t any totally different.

1. Public Transportation

There’s a mass public transportation system in Albania. Nevertheless, most cities don’t have a central bus station, so you could have little hubs of transit at every vacation spot, and you might get off your bus a couple of blocks away from the following bus it’s worthwhile to take. It may be complicated. There’s a mixture of bigger buses and mini-van shuttles. Most are nominal in high quality, however they get the job executed. There are a few main prepare traces within the nation, however none that run internationally.

One of the best ways to get round in Albania is to ask the locals, particularly those who work within the trade. Sit down the evening earlier than you propose emigrate and ask your Airbnb host the place to get the bus, what time it runs, and so on. They often know, and in the event that they don’t, they’ll name somebody for you and discover out.

Renting a automobile is kind of straightforward and inexpensive, and it offers you the flexibility to achieve seashores and mountain mountain climbing locations that you may’t with public transit. Taxis are additionally plentiful, however they’re one of many solely costly issues within the nation.

2. You is perhaps the one lady out.

Whereas Tirana is a contemporary metropolis, when you get into the villages, you might discover that you simply don’t see many ladies. The cafes and eating places are stuffed with males, having afternoon tea, and there aren’t many ladies or youngsters round. This isn’t in each space, extra touristed areas and bigger cities are totally different however don’t be shocked if you happen to stroll right into a espresso store in Borsh, and you’re the solely lady in it.

That being stated, it’s a secure nation, and you’ll be handled like household wherever you go! Attributable to conventional views and the issue of language and transport, we’d not suggest solo feminine journey to extra distant areas… except you’re a very seasoned traveler. It’s not that you’d be in any hazard, however you might expertise social discomfort and have hassle assembly folks.

3. Some areas aren’t properly saved.

This little side is livid to many locals and vacationers alike. Albania is likely one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, so to have it lined in trash is irritating. It’s not in every single place, however you is perhaps taking a hike down the coast on an ideal seaside, and as you traverse a ravine, you see that is filled with outdated tires and trash. It’s additionally fairly widespread to see folks simply toss their rubbish on the bottom.

4. There may be little or no vacationer infrastructure.

As you could have most likely guessed from the transit scenario, the tourism trade continues to be very up-and-coming in Albania. Whereas there are many nice inns and Airbnbs in areas like Sarande, Gjirokaster, and Ksamil, one can find that the variety of guided excursions is small. Even massive websites won’t be labeled properly or straightforward to get to. You can be climbing to that hilltop fortress on foot… no handy funiculars right here. You get the image.

5. Communication will be exhausting.

Many different blogs inform you that communication in Albania is a nightmare. That isn’t the case. Like most former soviet international locations, there was an explosion of English studying within the final decade, and one can find that many younger folks converse fairly fluently, particularly in Tirana, Sarande, Durres, Gjirokastra, and Berat. Whereas you’ll definitely want Google Translate a number of occasions, it is possible for you to to get by in English.

The Albanian language itself is troublesome to talk. As talked about, it’s not associated to another language, so don’t anticipate to bust out your Bulgarian and get anyplace. Nevertheless, Albanians typically converse Greek or Macedonian as a second language, and a few even get by fairly properly in Italian. Once you discover somebody who speaks your language, and who’s prepared, ask them as many questions as you may. They may greater than seemingly be glad that will help you!

6. The whole lot has three names.

It’s not unusual for a lodge in Albania to have one identify on Reserving.com, one other identify on Google Maps, and a totally totally different identify on the signal. The identical goes for cities and villages. It’s often only a spelling distinction like Gjirokastra vs Gjirokaster, Sarande or Saranda, Shkoder or Shkodra, and so on. Nevertheless, in some spots, it could actually get fairly complicated. Be certain to at all times double-check the precise tackle of your inns and locations. Don’t attempt to get there by identify solely.

Should-Go to Areas to Journey in Albania


Your journey will seemingly begin within the capital metropolis of Tirana. Whilst you can’t actually go on about its magnificence, there are a couple of attention-grabbing spots in Tirana to take a look at. You’ll be able to climb up the Piramida. This derelict constructing has turn into the image of Tirana. It was being constructed to be a museum honoring the post-WWII dictator of Albania, however after the autumn of communism, that plan was deserted, and it’s now house to graffiti artists and skate boarders. The native children prefer to climb it and slide down.

Head for Skanderbeg Sq.. This busy space is the place one can find the clock tower, Et’hem Bey Mosque, and the Nationwide Historic Museum, which if you wish to perceive something concerning the troublesome previous and historical past of Albanians, needs to be a prime spot in your listing. Go to Bunkart, a communist-era bunker that has been transformed right into a Chilly Conflict museum. An attention-grabbing truth about Albania, because of the slight paranoia of Hoxha, the bunker constructing within the nation was just a little overkill by most individuals’s evaluation. There are a reported 173,000 within the tiny nation, and you will notice them in every single place as you journey.

Tirana isn’t an enormous metropolis, and you’ll definitely tour every part in a day or so. Nevertheless, it does have a pleasant cafe tradition and some good buying streets. Replenish on hearty meals, purchase some snacks on your street journey, and get a superb evening’s relaxation. You’ve got tons extra to see!


Berat is called the “Metropolis of A Thousand Home windows,” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Metropolis. It’s a historic village with a stunning riverside promenade, incredible eateries, and a shocking mountaintop fortress advanced. The Berat Citadel (The Kala) capabilities simply as a walled metropolis would have a thousand years in the past. It’s nonetheless stuffed with lovely retailers, promoting conventional wares, and the unassuming St. Mary Teresa Church (the Museum Ikon Onufri) has art work and woodcarving that solely Venice’s St. Marks can rival. There are additionally a few lovely mosques, however that every one pales compared to the completely unbelievable view of town that you simply get from the fortress compound.

Wander the winding streets again right down to the principle metropolis, passing the Nationwide Ethnographic Museum. This conventional tower house has a beautiful assortment of Albanian artifacts and clothes by way of the centuries. On the base of the hill, town is historically break up into Muslim Mangalam, on the north facet of the river, and Christian Gorica, on the south facet. The 2 have existed in unity right here for hundreds of years, and there was a settlement on this space because the 2nd century BC. Wander the winding streets and snap some footage alongside the Bulevardi Republika, the broad strolling road alongside the river. That is the place to be proper earlier than sundown!

There are two must-do eating places within the metropolis, for very totally different causes. First, you must take within the view from the terrace balcony tables at Antigoni. The meals is okay, and the worth is sweet, however the view from the terrace, out over the river, to the well-known windowed homes on the alternative hill, is the most effective within the metropolis! Perhaps simply have a pleasant lunch right here.

For dinner, there isn’t any different possibility than the fabulous Home made Meals Lili! Name forward and get a desk as a result of this place is packed each evening of the week. Lili is likely one of the most great people you’ll ever meet, and his yard oasis is a welcoming and beautiful place for a romantic dinner or to satisfy different vacationers and locals. His spouse does all of the cooking, and we’ll simply say he’s a fortunate man as a result of every part she makes is excellent!

Creator’s notice: After dwelling in a minimum of 25 international locations, this meal at Home made Lili nonetheless ranks as one in every of my prime three favorites worldwide!

For just a little journey, contemplate reserving a day tour to Osum Canyon and Bogove Waterfall, or go to Roshnik Village for a Wine Tasting Tour.


Gjirokastra is one other UNESCO World Heritage Web site Metropolis, with metropolis partitions standing since a minimum of the third century. Town is stacked on a number of small hills and has pretty cobblestone streets, winding alleyways, and well-known Ottoman-era houses in mint situation.

Be certain to climb the hill to tour Gjirokastra Citadel. Not like Berat, this one is small and doesn’t nonetheless perform as a metropolis. It’s a fortress and museum with great details about the historical past of the realm and the most effective views within the nation. You may also tour a number of of the tower homes and revel in a conventional meal or two. Gjiorkastra additionally has lovely shows of conventional clothes and textiles. You’ll want to e book your lodging within the outdated city on the hill, as the brand new metropolis is only a regular-looking communist-era metropolis.


Schkodra is a stunning metropolis in Northern Albania that’s house to the most important lake within the Balkans. It is usually the doorway to the wilderness of the Accursed Mountains and widespread mountain climbing spots just like the Nationwide Park in Theth. Whereas within the metropolis, go to the Rozafa Fortress. A shelter since Illyrian occasions, greater than 2500 years in the past, the ruins you see at this time are Venetian, and it offers an unbelievable view of the realm, plus you may discover the underground tunnels and cave system beneath the fort.

For an journey, a voyage on the Lake Koman Ferry with the locals will deal with you to among the most wonderful surroundings you could have ever seen! In the event you plan to go mountain climbing in Theth, you’ll simply discover transport, mountain climbing gear, and guided excursions within the metropolis of Shkoder. You’ll need to plan a couple of days as a result of the journey to Theth is lengthy, and you have to to remain in a single day.


Ksamil is about as far south as you may go in Albania, and it is usually nearly as quaint of a seaside city as you may need. Ksamil is house to Butrint Nationwide Park, which is heaven for historical past and nature lovers. This extremely disputed nature reserve has been owned and fortified by the Illyrians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians, and the Ottomans, and so they all left their mark! You’ll be able to stroll by way of the centuries, unguided, in essentially the most beautiful pure environment close to the ocean. You’ll be able to take town bus to its final cease, or it makes for a stunning stroll from city.

Many guests additionally take guided excursions from Sarande or Ksamil to the “Blue Eye,” a pure spring with water so clear you may see fifty ft down. It’s a preferred place for swimming and leaping from the platform (regardless that it’s technically in opposition to the principles.)

Ksamil is a smaller seaside city, only a brief metropolis bus experience from the vacationer metropolis of Sarande. If you’d like extra nightlife and highrise condos, keep in Sarande. If you’d like a quiet and romantic beachside villa, keep in Ksamil.


Borsh is essentially the most underrated spot on the listing. It hasn’t hit the large time with worldwide vacationers but and primarily serves locals, however that isn’t a foul factor. It’s a wonderful white pebble seaside, with completely clear blue waters, surrounded by the Albanian Alps. Borsh solely has a couple of seaside cafes and a handful of good guesthouses. The primary city is up the hill a bit and has a number of pretty eating places, just like the fantastically lovely Ujevara, a restaurant constructed over a thundering collection of waterfalls.

For a little bit of train, take the stroll as much as the deserted “fortress.” The one factor that continues to be are bits of the partitions and an Ottoman mosque that you may discover. Nevertheless, it sits in a mountain cross and has an unbelievable view of the mountains and the ocean. It’s unmanned and free to go to. That is additionally a preferred place for paragliding and tryke flying! You may also stroll down the shoreline to some extra seashores, which is a enjoyable scramble, over tumbling rocks, with serene sea views!


Dhermi is a beachside city in Vlore County, between Borsh and widespread Himare. It is likely one of the greatest seashores within the nation and would take our vote for a seaside escape above the bigger two neighbors.

As you progress farther north alongside the coast, the cities get larger, and the oceanside promenades extra glamorous and busy. Himare nonetheless seems like a village, however Vlore and Durres are positively seaside cities with extra nightlife and bigger condo-style lodging.

The Dos and Don’ts of Albania

Do be part of within the Backgammon.

Backgammon is a conventional recreation performed all around the area. Be happy to hitch in or a minimum of watch!

Don’t speak about how every part is affordable.

As mentioned, Albania generally is a troublesome place to stay. There are 3 million Albanians in-country and 10 million dwelling elsewhere. You’ll encounter many Albanians who’re dumbstruck as to why you’d wish to go to their nation. Their view is tainted by troublesome experiences that you simply as a vacationer received’t encounter or perceive. Simply benefit from the costs, and don’t go on about them with locals.

Don’t be shocked if you happen to witness an argument.

Albanians are very passionate, and so they oft show this ardour on public transit. Don’t be shocked if you happen to witness heated (or what seems to be heated) conversations in public. They’re seemingly simply speaking politics!

Do interact in dialog.

Albanians are pleasant and interested by vacationers. Not like many places on earth, it’s thought-about well mannered to have interaction in dialog on public transit. Most are usually not making an attempt to observe or hurt you, they’re genuinely interested by the place you got here from and what you could have deliberate in Albania. Additionally, the locals enormously respect it if you try to study a couple of phrases of Albanian!

Don’t refuse a present of any variety.

Albanians observe a codebesa, which is akin to religion and belief. You’ll obtain the most effective seat in the home, the premier raki, and their very best meals. Even your Airbnb host might greet you with a present. Settle for it graciously. To say no is taken into account extraordinarily impolite.

It’s possible you’ll be invited to hitch a party or take dinner in somebody’s house. Ask questions, however if you happen to don’t really feel unsafe, at all times be part of. Albanians know the right way to rejoice!

In relation to eating places, don’t settle for extra meals on supply with out ensuring you received’t need to pay for it.

Do drink the Raki, however don’t underestimate it!

Raki is basically native moonshine, made by people, and varies in power and style. Drink it typically, however watch out!

Do be versatile.

Albania is just not a top-notch vacationer vacation spot. It isn’t cultivated. It’s refreshingly actual. It’s not going to circulation like a crafted tour of Italy. So be affected person. Float, and benefit from the slight chaos of all of it!

Do eat the meals.

Albanian meals is hearty and great, with that Mediterranean freshness that’s exhausting to search out elsewhere. Benefit from the salads. Style all of the styles of Byrek. Eat a couple of road stand Sufllaqe (soo-flauch-eh), very like Greek Souvlaki. The costs are nice, so it’s a good nation to indulge your self in.

Closing Ideas on Journey in Albania

If you’re searching for an unbelievable journey expertise, in an off-the-beaten-path vacation spot, Albania is prime of the world listing. It has the incredible meals, historic websites, and hospitality of Turkey at 1/3 the worth. Plus, it’s a type of uncommon locations that has a lot to see with out being tainted by mass tourism. You’ll be able to expertise first-class eating places and lodging at backpacker costs, and that could be a true discover! This may seemingly change within the subsequent 15 years, so go now! See Albania in its virgin state, and also you received’t remorse it!

Nonetheless not satisfied to e book your trip on this area? Check out “Twenty Causes to Go to the Balkans!” From attractive Lake Ohrid in Macedonia to the historic cities of Bulgaria, the Balkans are stuffed with A+ journey experiences.

Oh, by the way in which, do you know that you may journey Europe and never come house broke? We promise! Try our piece on touring Europe for reasonable. The following pointers and others are ready for you inside our Explorer weblog!

Often Requested Questions

Is it secure to journey to Albania?

Touring in Albania is usually secure. Whereas pickpocketing can happen, and there’s some gang-related violence, Albanians are protecting of vacationers, and crime in the direction of guests is uncommon!

What’s Albania well-known for?

Albania is legendary for spiritual tolerance and interesting historic websites. The Albanian Riviera can also be turning into a preferred vacationer vacation spot.

Is Albania price visiting?

Albania is an undiscovered gem! Take a tour of Tirana, go to the historic cities of Berat and Gjirokaster, and spend a couple of days on the glowing Mediterranean. Don’t neglect so as to add your favourite spots to Let’s Roam Native!




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments