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ALBANIA TRAVEL GUIDE

Albania offers a remarkable array of unique attractions, not least due to this very isolation: alluring azure lakes, surrounded by mountains and picturesque valleys littered with Roman ruins and charming Ottoman towns largely undiscovered by mainstream tourism. 


With its stunning mountain scenery, a thriving capital in Tirana, and beaches to rival anywhere else in the Mediterranean, Albania has become the sleeper hit of the Balkans. Despite its small size, Albania offers a diverse landscape from beautiful coastlines to rugged mountains, and it has a growing reputation as a tourist destination.

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  • Capital: Tirana

  • Currency: Lek (ALL)

  • Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug)

  • Language: Albanian (There are two dialects: Gheg and Tosk)

Interestingly, more Albanians live outside the country than within it, with significant populations in Italy, Greece, and the United States.

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

JANUARY

HOT

COLD

MODERATE

DRY

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FEBRUARY

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MARCH

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APRIL

HOT

COLD
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MAY

HOT

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JUNE

HOT

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JULY

HOT

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AUGUST

HOT

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

HOT

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NOVEMBER

HOT

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DECEMBER

HOT

COLD

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT ALBANIA

For a relatively small area, Albania has a high number of climatic regions. The country lies at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns throughout all seasons and with a coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas along with its highlands along the Balkan mass it creates remarkable diversity.

 

The coastal lowlands experience more typical Mediterranean weather; with the highlands a Mediterranean continental climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather can again vary markedly from north to south. The lowlands have much milder winters, averaging about 7 °C with summer temperatures averaging around 24 °C. Northerly and northeasterly winds blow much of the time and the best winds for kite-surfing in Albania are usually from March to November.

 

Inland temperatures are affected more by differences in elevation and low winter temperatures in the mountain regions are caused by the continental air mass that dominates the weather in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Average summer temperatures are lower than in the coastal areas and much lower at higher elevations, but daily fluctuations are greater. Daytime maximum temperatures in the interior basins and river valleys are very high, but the nights are almost always cool. During the rainy season, precipitation can be heavy with many storms accompanied by high winds and torrential downpours.


  • June - Enjoy the perfect Mediterranean climate and deserted beaches.

  • August - Albania's beaches may be packed, but this is a great time to explore the mountains.

  • December - See features and shorts at the Tirana Film Festival, while the intrepid can snowshoe to Theth.

BEST TIME FOR:

Albania offers a plethora of hiking opportunities, particularly in its mountainous regions. The Valbona to Theth trail, known as the Accursed Mountains, is a highlight for many hikers, offering breathtaking views and a challenging trek. For those seeking a variety of landscapes, the Via Egnatia Trail provides a historical journey through several Balkan countries. 


The best time for hiking in Albania is generally from May to October, with spring and autumn offering mild temperatures and the most comfortable hiking conditions. However, it's advisable to avoid the Valbona to Theth trail until June due to snow. September is often recommended for its cooler temperatures and minimal tourism, allowing hikers to fully enjoy the changing autumn colors.

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ALBANIA TRAVEL COSTS

Albania is relatively inexpensive for Western tourists, especially when compared to some of the nearby countries like Croatia and Italy.

 

You will find accommodation for a reasonable price and plenty of great cheap food options. Museum tickets and public transportation fares are also very affordable. Some prices could go up slightly during the summer, especially in seaside towns, since that’s the peak of the season.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR ALBANIA

If you find yourself landing in Tirana, which is where the only airport in the country lies, avoid expensive local taxis and head straight to the Rinas Express’s bus station. The bus connects the Tirana Mother Teresa Airport to the city centre, near Skanderbeg Square, and takes about 20 minutes for 300 Albanian Lek.

Tiranë - TIA: every one hour starting from 07:00 until 23:00

TIA - Tiranë: every one hour starting from 08:00 until 24:00

 

A taxi is much more expensive, costing about 2,500 lekë (20€), one-way.

 

Tirana is connected to the main Albanian towns only by bus, as Albania doesn’t have railways. While buses are always cheap, the journeys can sometimes be quite long, so keep this in mind if you need to get somewhere in a hurry.

 

To enter Albania with your own vehicle you'll need a Green Card (proof of third-party insurance, issued by your insurer); check that your insurance covers Albania. You should also be able to purchase insurance at the border.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF ALBANIA

Not surprisingly most visitors to Albania makes their way straight to the capital of Tirana - nowadays a buzzing city with a mash-up collection of traditional restaurants and trendy bars amongst wonderfully garish painted buildings. To seek the true Albania you should head to its mountains and explore drowsy hillside towns filled with friendly locals - Berat and Gjirokastra can easily be mistaken as open-air museums of life during the Ottoman times. For hiking head to the stunning valley of Valbona where the limestone mountains tower offers incredible biodiversity.

 

From an affordable ski destination at the snow-capped peaks of the interior to its Ionian coastline with immaculate, undeveloped beaches Albania will be a revelation. In a mountainous country with a long coastline, the main activity attractions are pretty obvious – there are some amazing places to swim along the Ionian coast, while the most accessible hiking is in the national park area of Mount Dajti.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN ALBANIA

  • Tirana - Albania’s colourful, chaotic capital is better for strolling than sightseeing, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied and you should take the time to sit down and sip an espresso while watching the world go by. The looming Mount Dajti is easily visible from Tirana and city dwellers head to its forested slopes in droves over sunny days. The mountain’s network of paths feels surprisingly remote even though you’re only 25km from Tirana.

  • Kruja - This ancient city is the hilltop scene of national hero Skanderbeg’s resistance to the Ottoman invasions of the fifteenth century. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, Skanderbeg's castle is a tourist focal point that contains museums, restaurants, even a hotel. Kruje also has an old-style Ottoman bazaar with shops selling traditional and vintage goods amid its cobblestone streets.

  • Berat - The 'town of the thousand windows' is known for its pretty rows of Ottoman houses lining the hills. Thought to be one of the oldest towns in Albania, it is now a new member of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Berat has a well-preserved citadel with residents still living inside its protective walls. The 14th-century Kalasa citadel towers above the town and is accessed via a steep, cobbled road.

  • Gjirokastra - Another UNESCO-listed city located in the south which is known for its unique Ottoman period architecture. Gjirokastra is one of Albania’s most attractive towns and home to some of its friendliest people. It's the birthplace of former communist leader Enver Hoxha and Albania's most internationally famous author, Ismail Kadare who's homes both now serve as museums. Other than the imposing 6th-century castle dominating the town skyline, Gjirokastra's most appealing sight is its collection of Ottoman-style houses.

  • Korce - Located in southeast Albania, several miles from the Greek border, this city is full of life during the summer, when you can find couples and families strolling through the city's main park, Parku Rinia. You can hike to the top of the beautiful mountain Moravia and view the city and its surrounding landscape. Don't miss the Korca Brewery, famous throughout Albania, which has a nice beer garden.

  • Tirana - Albania’s colourful, chaotic capital is better for strolling than sightseeing, but there’s plenty to keep you occupied and you should take the time to sit down and sip an espresso while watching the world go by. The looming Mount Dajti is easily visible from Tirana and city dwellers head to its forested slopes in droves over sunny days. The mountain’s network of paths feels surprisingly remote even though you’re only 25km from Tirana.

  • Kruja - This ancient city is the hilltop scene of national hero Skanderbeg’s resistance to the Ottoman invasions of the fifteenth century. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, Skanderbeg's castle is a tourist focal point that contains museums, restaurants, even a hotel. Kruje also has an old-style Ottoman bazaar with shops selling traditional and vintage goods amid its cobblestone streets.

  • Berat - The 'town of the thousand windows' is known for its pretty rows of Ottoman houses lining the hills. Thought to be one of the oldest towns in Albania, it is now a new member of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Berat has a well-preserved citadel with residents still living inside its protective walls. The 14th-century Kalasa citadel towers above the town and is accessed via a steep, cobbled road.


  • Gjirokastra - Another UNESCO-listed city located in the south which is known for its unique Ottoman period architecture. Gjirokastra is one of Albania’s most attractive towns and home to some of its friendliest people. It's the birthplace of former communist leader Enver Hoxha and Albania's most internationally famous author, Ismail Kadare who's homes both now serve as museums. Other than the imposing 6th-century castle dominating the town skyline, Gjirokastra's most appealing sight is its collection of Ottoman-style houses.

  • Korce - Located in southeast Albania, several miles from the Greek border, this city is full of life during the summer, when you can find couples and families strolling through the city's main park, Parku Rinia. You can hike to the top of the beautiful mountain Moravia and view the city and its surrounding landscape. Don't miss the Korca Brewery, famous throughout Albania, which has a nice beer garden.

WHAT TO EAT IN ALBANIA

Albania, like the Balkans in general, has a primarily Turkish influence in its cuisine. This influence stems from over 400 years of Ottoman rule in the region. Recent influences after the fall of communism in the early 1990s have been from Italy and Western Europe in general. Most Albanian people make their own bread, but going out for meals is very common. Some sort of hearty stew is commonly included in Albanian suppers - easy to make, and flexible with ingredients which usually include potatoes, onion, and rice.

 

  • Byrek - a common type of savoury pie made in different ways depending on the region. Some variations include spinach and feta cheese or ground meat and onion.
  • Tavë kosi -a simple dish of baked lamb and rice served with a yogurt sauce. It is often referred to as the national dish of Albania.
  • Qofte të fërguara - Albanian fried meatballs with feta cheese. Traditionally served with fried potatoes or rice.
  • Ayran - a drink served with food is made by mixing yogurt with chilled or iced water (sometimes carbonated) then seasoned with mint. Two byreks and an ayran is a very common breakfast option!
  • Gjirofarma - cheese is similar to the Greek feta cheese and one of the few cheeses that are exported from Albania.
  • Don't forget to check out the many pastry shops (pastiçeri) offering a wide variety of tasty pastry including delicious cakes.
  • Baklava - is a popular dessert and is usually made as a dessert during New Year's Eve.
  • Oshaf – A fig and sheep’s milk pudding

LGBTQ IN ALBANIA

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WHERE TO STAY IN ALBANIA

When visiting Albania for the first time, choosing the right area or region to stay in can greatly enhance your experience. Each region offers its own unique attractions and accommodations to suit various budgets. Here are some recommendations:


WHERE TO STAY IN TIRANA:

In Tirana, Albania, you'll find a variety of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some highly-rated options in each category:

Budget:

  • Hotel Baron: Hotel Baron provides budget-friendly rooms in a convenient location near Tirana's main attractions. The hotel offers comfortable accommodations with basic amenities and friendly service.

Mid-Range:

  • Hotel Theranda: Hotel Theranda offers comfortable mid-range accommodations in a central location. The hotel features stylish rooms, a restaurant serving Albanian and international cuisine, and a rooftop terrace with city views.


Luxury:

  • The Plaza Tirana: The Plaza Tirana is a luxurious five-star hotel located in the city center. The hotel features elegant rooms and suites, a rooftop swimming pool, spa facilities, multiple dining options including a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views, and a fitness center.

  • Rogner Hotel Tirana: Rogner Hotel Tirana offers upscale accommodations surrounded by lush gardens. The hotel features spacious rooms and suites, a swimming pool, tennis courts, spa facilities, and several dining options including a traditional Albanian restaurant.



Best Value Tip: Accommodation prices in Tirana are generally lower during the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn), offering excellent value for money.


WHERE TO STAY IN DURRES:

In Durres, Albania, you'll find a range of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some highly-rated options in each category:

Budget:

  • Hotel Aragosta: Hotel Aragosta offers budget-friendly accommodations near the beach in Durres. The hotel features simple yet comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving Albanian and international cuisine, and a bar.

  • Hotel Dyrrah: Hotel Dyrrah provides affordable accommodations with easy access to the beach. Guests can stay in clean and comfortable rooms, enjoy access to a restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, and relax in the hotel's garden area.

Mid-Range:

  • Hotel Durres Beach: Hotel Durres Beach offers mid-range accommodations overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The hotel features modern rooms and suites, a swimming pool, spa facilities, and multiple dining options including a beachfront restaurant.

  • Hotel Nais Beach: Hotel Nais Beach provides comfortable mid-range accommodations near the beach. Guests can stay in well-appointed rooms, enjoy access to a swimming pool, fitness center, and restaurant serving Albanian and international dishes.

Luxury:

  • Tropikal Resort: Tropikal Resort is a luxurious beachfront resort offering upscale accommodations in Durres. The resort features elegant rooms and suites, multiple swimming pools, spa facilities, tennis courts, and several dining options including a seafood restaurant and beach bar.

  • Adriatik Hotel: Adriatik Hotel is a five-star luxury hotel located on the beachfront in Durres. The hotel offers luxurious rooms and suites with sea views, a private beach, swimming pools, spa facilities, tennis courts, and multiple dining options including a rooftop restaurant.



Best Value Tip: Consider visiting Durrës during the offseason (late spring or early autumn) to find great deals on accommodations and enjoy quieter beaches.


WHERE TO STAY IN SARANDE:

Sarandë, located on the Albanian Riviera, offers a unique and memorable experience for travelers.

Budget:

  • Hotel Blue Sky: Hotel Blue Sky offers budget-friendly accommodations near the beach in Sarande. The hotel features simple yet comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving Albanian and international cuisine, and a bar.

  • Hotel Alpha: Hotel Alpha provides affordable accommodations with easy access to the beach. Guests can stay in clean and cozy rooms, enjoy access to a restaurant serving Mediterranean dishes, and relax on the hotel's terrace.

Mid-Range:

  • Hotel Santa Quaranta: Hotel Santa Quaranta offers mid-range accommodations overlooking the Ionian Sea. The hotel features modern rooms and suites, a swimming pool, spa facilities, and a restaurant serving Albanian and international cuisine.


Luxury:

  • Bougainville Bay Hotel: Bougainville Bay Hotel is a luxurious beachfront resort offering upscale accommodations in Sarande. The resort features elegant rooms and suites with sea views, multiple swimming pools, spa facilities, tennis courts, and several dining options including a beachfront restaurant and rooftop bar.


Best Value Tip: Look for accommodations in Sarandë during the shoulder seasons (May-June or September-October) for lower prices and fewer crowds while still enjoying pleasant weather.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are our favorite flight search engines. They index other travel websites and airlines across the globe to easily find you the best deal.

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Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

TRANSPORT

DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

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