Albania Travel Guide
This Albania Travel Guide gives information on places to visit, how to get around, accommodation, food and all the details required to plan your itinerary in this interesting country.
Albania is a mix of mountains popular for hikers and skiing in winter, beautiful historic towns with museums and cultural attractions, and the Ionian Coast for beaches. So you can have all or some of the sea, mountains and culture.
Little visited for so long under communist rule , it is now becoming a popular destination for holidaymakers and hikers who enjoy the mountains.
You do need to be as informed as possible before arrival. Travelling in a country such as Albania is more challenging than many European countries.
There are several ways to get to Albania. If you have a car you can drive in from Macedonia ,Montenegro, Kosovo or Greece. The ferry from Corfu to Saranda is only 40 minutes. Buses run regularly from each of these countries.
We flew on a cheap charter flight with Belle Air from Rhodes in Greece to Tirana. These flights go every Sunday. This was but one of numerous airlines that fly to Tirana.The airport is new and pleasant. The taxi fare to central Tirana was 25EU ( June 2012)
How and where you arrive will determine how you plan your travel route in Albania. If you plan to rent a car you need to arrive in Tirana , which appears to be the only place from where you can organize a car rental.
Getting around Albania takes a little planning.
Buses are quite comfortable…..air conditioned and supposed to be non smoking! Our driver had a few sneaky puffs!Do not necessarily expect they will leave on time.
Alternatively you can take the small privately owned mini buses or furgons. However, there are no clearly designated stops! They just stop at different places rather so are probably less easy to plan for.
You need to try and find out from locals where exactly they are likely to stop, and unless the furgon is fairly full and they can get very full....you will have to wait until it has enough passengers. It will also stop often along the way. You need to be in the know....so ask locals.
You may prefer to try another option especially if you have limited time for travel!
You can only book a rental car in Tirana. To take the car to a neighbouring country is possible if you get the documentation, but very expensive.
Driving in Albania is not for the faint hearted. Apart from the actual driving which is aggressive and unpredictable, there are onerous rental conditions. But you do have flexibility with a car.
While the distances are not necessarily great, the time to get places is longer than you would expect due to the state of many of the roads. Many are not suitable for cars and buses and you will need to backtrack. When you plan your route you need to be aware of this.
Always ask hotel reception which is the best rout to get to your next destination.
Places to Include in Your Travel Route
- Blue Eye
- Ioniana Coast
- Skodra if you are traveling into Montenegro
You will want to plan a route that takes you to your departure destination – probably a circuit back to Tirana if you are driving.
Historic Towns,National Parks,Beaches
There are three UNESCO Heritage Sites in Albania all worth visiting
- a three hour drive from Tirana, has an old Ottoman town with a castle.
- is another lovely Ottoman old town and castle which can be included in a circuit route or if you have arrived at Saranda you can plan a small circuit route to include Butrint, Blue Eye and the Ioniana Coast road
- is a day trip from Saranda or en route from Gjirokaster. You pay to go into the grounds with fascinating historic ruins.
- the capital city is an interesting city and a day or two plus an extra day to go to Dajti Mountain is enough time to have a good look. It is also the best place to plan any travel. We found finding car rental offices and bus booking offices took some time!
- There are several national parks which include Dajti on the outskirts of Tirana.Butrint, Llogoraja National Park adjoins the coast. Thethi is in the north alongside Valbonbe Valley National Park
- The Ionian Coast road is in very good condition now and there is an abundance of hotel and B&B accommodation. Not all locations are attractive. The beaches are mainly stones.The sea crystal clear and generally clean.
The Lek is the national Albania currency. The Euro is also accepted in many places, but you get better prices with the lek.
There is no shortage of hotels or B&B’s in Albania although if you go in the peak season you should prebook where possible…. especially at beaches.
Locals often book for the family for a full two weeks in one place and I was told the hotels didn’t like to commit to just one or two nights. So it can be more difficult to get short term accommodation.
Visas for Albania
You need to check if you will require a visa. You can visit the
Albania Embassy HERE
for information relevant to your country.
Albania has delicious cuisine. You can try many traditional dishes which are special to each area and have been influenced by surrounding countries – Greece and Turkey in particular. The main meal of the day is midday.
There is plenty of meat - Lamb, Chicken, Veal, Rabbit, and vegetables and salads.
Lamb cooked on the Spit, or baked lamb are on many menus.
Ferghese is traditional to Tirana – Veal cooked with a cheese, sauce topping.
Try the traditional Leek soup and Tave Elbasani .... another lamb dish baked with a yoghurt topping, although it can also be made with chicken.
More Albania Information
Albania Car Hire
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