Looking for a great holiday destination and wonder is Albania worth visiting?
In a previous blog about Albania and the Kanun, I described the Albanian culture and the book of ancient laws that are still present in today’s Albanian society. However, there is much more than the Kanun. So, is Albania worth visiting?
Let’s dive in!
Why do tourists visit Albania?
Albania attracts visitors for a number of reasons, including its breathtaking natural beauty, extensive history, and distinctive culture.
Together with rough mountains, pristine lakes, and dense woods, the country is home to some of the most stunning and undeveloped beaches in the Mediterranean!
You can engage in a variety of recreational pursuits like skiing, biking, swimming, and hiking as well as historical attractions like castles, ruins, and cities from the Ottoman Empire.
With its bustling arts scene, traditional music, and delectable cuisine, Albania’s distinctive fusion of eastern and western culture attracts a lot of tourists as well.
Tourists also often go to Albania because it is less expensive and less crowded than other major tourist sites in Europe. You can therefore experience a more genuine and local way of life because the country is still mostly unexplored by mass tourism.
What is typical for Albania?
While traveling through Albania, there are three things that always strike out to me. You’ll see Mercedes cars everywhere in the country. But literally everywhere. It seems like the most popular car to drive in for Albanians.
You’ll also see a huge amount of cranes and other heavy equipment for building purposes.
It’s the look of continuous development in the country. The last main thing that I want to point out is the stunning beauty of nature in Albania. The photo that I took below resembles the country for me in one image!
Is Albania worth visiting?
Let’s dive in and see whether Albania is worth visiting!
1. The capital city of Tirana
I’ll start off with the capital city of Albania, Tirana. This vibrant city is a must-visit location for everyone interested in discovering more about Albania’s history and culture.
You can visit some of Tirana’s museums while you’re there for a comprehensive look at Albania’s past, such as the National Museum of History or the Ethnographic Museum.
I particularly like the energetic and colorful atmosphere of the city. It’s pretty unique to me. You are definitely in the right place if you’re looking for some vibrant nightlife, bustling markets, and street art.
In addition, Tirana has a long history and a diverse culture, with elements of Ottoman, Italian, and Communist influence in its traditions, architecture, and food.
2. The Albanian Alps
If you’re more the type of sporty traveler combined with nature, I would suggest a trip to the northern mountain range of Albania known as the Albanian Alps. You’ll find a great variety of gorgeous hikes and other activities.
This location is a popular vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts. The Albanian Alps will surely impress you whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking for a casual stroll.
3. Lake Ohrid
My third recommendation is the beautiful Lake Ohrid. Albania shares this lake with North Macedonia, but it’s another must-see location. A very relaxed and beautiful place to explore, this deep and clear lake is surrounded by charming villages and historic churches.
You can go fishing on the lake or engage in other water sports if you’d like a more active holiday. There are some great restaurants along the water serving fresh and local food.
4. The Historical town of Berat
The historical town of Berat, also referred to as the ‘city of a thousand windows,’ should not be missed. You’ll see some amazing white Ottoman homes over there. Berat Castle is a sizable complex on a hilltop where local residents live.
Byzantine churches, the Red Mosque, and the Onufri National Museum, which houses Christian icons, are all located within its boundaries.
In an 18th-century home in the east lies the Ethnographic Museum, which showcases traditional crafts and a portion of a recreated medieval bazaar.
You can take a lovely stroll through the cobblestone streets, visit the numerous churches and museums, or just unwind at one of the many cafes while taking in the scenery.
5. The city of Shkoder
Another attractive city with a strong cultural legacy is Shkoder, which is situated in the northwest of Albania. This city is an interesting trip if you’re a fan of history, because it’s home to a number of historical buildings, such as the Marubi Museum of Photography and the medieval fortress of Rozafa.
Shkoder is really great whether you want to learn about the city’s history or just take in its quaint ambience. You’ll also find the nearby Skhoder Lake that Albania shares with Montenegro where you can wander around and enjoy some great views.
A great addition to your bucket list and your ultimate holiday in Albania.
6. The ancient beauty of Butrint
The trip to Butrint by bus is one that I will not easily forget. The steep and narrow roads were continuously filled with sheep and shepherds trying to keep the herd together. The road was so narrow that the outer tires of the bus were hanging half above the cliff.
I could look straight down the cliff and that wasn’t a comforting sight, to be honest. But I survived the bus trip and it was worth it in the end!
Butrint is a well-preserved archeological monument. You’ll find ancient Greek and Roman ruins, including a theater, a spa complex, and several other buildings. Butrint is a great place to visit on a day-trip, whether you’re interested in history or just appreciate exploring ruins.
You can also have a nice walk through the forest of Butrint and find some shade from the sun (it can be very hot in Albania during the summer). I would, however, recommend making use of a tour guide to get the most out of the Butrint experience.
7. The Heroic Place of Kruja
Another significant place to visit in Albania is Kruja, the town where Skanderbeg, the country’s national hero, was born. This city is the perfect location to learn more about Albania’s history because it has a historical castle and a museum devoted to Skanderbeg’s life.
Curious who Skanderbeg is? Well, in the 15th century, being a military leader, he tried to stop the Ottoman Empire from encroaching on Europe.
He organized an uprising against Ottoman control and created an independent Albanian state that persisted for twenty-five years after his passing. He’s perceived as the Albanian symbol of resistance.
But the city’s bazaar, where you can find traditional Albanian crafts and other products, is another option to check out in Kruja as well.
8. The Alpine village of Theth
I mentioned the Albanian alps before but those who want to take in the country’s natural beauty must go to the charming alpine village of Theth.
When visiting this community, which is renowned for its traditional way of life, you can explore the nearby mountains and valleys, swim in one of the many natural pools, or just unwind and enjoy a relaxed ambiance.
If you’re looking for a get-away from your busy life, this is a great place to do so.
9. The Coastal Town of Saranda
If you are a beach enthusiast, you should visit Saranda. It’s a popular seaside resort town on the Albanian Riviera. This town has some gorgeous beaches and beautiful waters, making it the ideal place to unwind and enjoy the sunshine.
Saranda offers both calm retreats and action-packed vacations, so there is something for everyone. You can also shop around on the long boulevard as you’ll find a variety of shops and stands.
By the way, I know that there are prettier photos out there of Saranda, but my camera skills let me down during my quick visit per boat. You’ll have to visit Saranda yourself to see how beautiful it is, especially when the evening sets in!
They keep on building and investing in Saranda which makes the place only more and more attractive to go to.
10. Valbona Valley National Park
Last but not least, northern Albania’s Valbona Valley National Park is an amazing natural area that’s really worth visiting. You’ll be spoiled with soaring peaks, clear lakes, and a variety of species, making it the ideal vacation spot for individuals who enjoy the outdoors.
This National Park will provide you with a wonderful experience if you enjoy trekking, wildlife viewing, or simply to take in the gorgeous environment.
How many days do you need to see Albania?
I would say that a week is typically enough time to see the main attractions of the country. This would give you enough time to explore Tirana, the country’s capital, as well as Berat, the Albanian Riviera, and the charming towns of Gjirokastra and Kruja.
However, you may want some additional time if you wish to delve deeper into the country’s rich history and culture or visit off-the-beaten-path attractions. Two weeks or more would be great for people who want to experience Albania at a more leisurely pace.
By doing so, you’ll have the opportunity to discover lesser-known regions, engage in outdoor sports, or simply take in the local way of life.
Is English widely spoken in Albania?
In Albania, many people, especially the younger generations and those who live in cities, speak English. English is a foreign language that is taught in schools, and many Albanians have been exposed to it through travel, employment, and media.
Hotel workers, restaurant servers, and tour guides frequently speak English in Tirana, Saranda, and Berat, three of the most popular tourist sites.
It’s important to keep in mind that the level of English may be lower outside of tourist hotspots. It may be useful in these situations to carry a little phrasebook or translation software, have a rudimentary understanding of Albanian, or both.
Are euros accepted in Albania?
Generally speaking, Albania does not accept euros. The Albanian Lek (ALL) is the nation’s official currency.
Although certain establishments in tourist areas may accept euros, I would still advise to use local cash to avoid any misunderstandings or inconsistencies with exchange rates.
Also, keep in mind that utilizing euros instead of Lek may result in greater costs due to unfavorable exchange rates. As soon as you arrive in Albania, it is advisable to exchange your euros for Lek at a bank or exchange office.
The good thing is that credit cards are accepted by many businesses, and ATMs are widely available in large cities and villages.
Is Albania dangerous?
You can generally feel safe traveling to Albania. Albania has a comparatively low crime rate, and violent crimes are uncommon. You should, however, take reasonable safety precautions, as you would at any location, to protect you safety and prevent any potential risks.
In busy places like marketplaces, transit hubs, and tourist sites, petty theft and pickpocketing can happen. In addition to avoiding carrying significant amounts of cash, you should take care of your personal goods, your wallets, phones, and cameras.
As in many other Balkan countries, the challenging road conditions and aggressive driving habits make driving in Albania difficult at times. It is advised to use a trustworthy automobile rental agency and drive defensively.
Also, political protests may turn violent. Try to avoid any protests and sizable crowds, especially during election seasons.
The Wrap Up: Is Albania worth visiting?
Yes! Albania is worth visiting and it’s there to impress you. And maybe even to surprise you. It’s as simple as that.
For some of the places like Butrint, I would recommend booking a guided tour upfront. I’m glad that I did this looking back.
However, before planning your trip to Albania, it’s always a good idea to check the official Albanian government website for important and the most up-to-date information.
If you’re interested in moving to Albania, check out my blog here.
Are you also wondering how it is to drive in this amazing country? Check out my post about driving in Albania!
Your restless voyager,