With an amazing blend of beautiful beaches, jaw dropping mountains, and other insanely cool landscapes, there is so much to explore in this underrated country. Not only that, but it is much cheaper and less crowded than the more popular surrounding countries!
In this guide we're going to share why Albania stole our hearts, as well as all of the great things to do, foods to try, and more. Here is everything you need to know when you travel in Albania.
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Where is Albania?
Albania is located in south Eastern Europe, a part of the Balkan region of the continent. The countries that border Albania are Montenegro to the north, Kosovo to the north east, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south.
Travel in Albania: Getting There
There are quite a few ways to travel to Albania, and we've done it a couple of different ways. Here are the different options.
Travel to Albania by Air
If you'd like to travel in Albania from outside the surrounding countries, the easiest way is to fly into Tirana, the capital of the country. Cities that fly direct into Tirana include Abu Dhabi, Ancona, Athens, Barcelona, Bari, Beauvais, Belgrade, Berlin, Bologna, Budapest, Catania, Charleroi, Dortmund, Dubai, Eindhoven, Forli, Frankfurt, Geneva, Genoa, Hamburg, Istanbul, Karlsruhe, London, Memminghen, Milan, Mulhouse, Munich, Nice, Nuremburg, Perugia, Pescara, Pisa, Rome, Torino, Treviso, Verona, Vienna, and Zurich.
In addition, there is a small airport in Kukes, which has flights from Basel, Karlsruhe, Memmingen, and Vienna, and is served by Wizz Air.
Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can put from "your city" to "Albania". This way you can see which is the cheapest airport to fly to. Also, you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates to get there.
Search for a flight to Albania:
Travel to Albania by Land
If you find yourself in the Balkans, it's actually quite simple to travel to Albania by crossing the land border. We had a rental car, and border control was very easy in all three borders we crossed with Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
Check car rentals from other areas:
If you don't have a rental car, not to worry. Traveling around Eastern Europe is super easy by bus, so there are plenty ways that you can make it to Albania via land. Here are some of the most popular routes that you can check out:
Travel to Albania by Sea
This is actually how I went to Albania the first time ever. While in Corfu, my sister and I saw that there were ferries to Albania, so we decided to visit for the day. We loved it so much, and it really made me excited to travel in Albania again 8 years later.
You can easily travel to Albania from this Greek island in just 30 minutes- an hour. Tickets online are around $30-45 each way right now to Sarande, which is a part of the Albanian Riviera in the south west of the country. We actually booked in person though, and remember it being much cheaper (granted it was a long time ago). Ferries leave at 8:50 and 9 am, so we suggest booking the day before.
Entry Requirements to Travel in Albania
Traveling in Europe can get a bit confusing, as there are different requirements for each country. This goes for within the European Union, as well as within the Schengen Zone. That's why we're here to clarify a few things before you travel to Albania.
Visa Requirements to Travel in Albania
In many European countries, the "90/180" rule applies for the people that are not European. This means that in a 180-day period, tourists can only stay within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in total.
Some countries in Europe are part of the EU, and aren't part of the Schengen Zone, while some are in the Schengen Zone and are not part of the EU. Some countries are apart of both, while some aren't in either of them. You can imagine that this can get extremely confusing when trying to calculate your traveling dates!
The good news is though, that Albania is not actually part of the Schengen Zone. This means that you can freely travel to Albania even if you've already expired your 90 days in the Schengen Zone (which is exactly what happened to us). Tourists are able to travel in Albania visa free for a total of 90 days within a 180 day period, despite any of the other European countries they had visited prior.
Covid Entry Requirements for Albania
While the entry requirements to travel to and stay in Europe may get confusing, luckily it is not when it comes to Covid. Albania is now open for all travelers, whether you have been vaccinates or not There are also no longer any requirements about wearing masks, nor will you really find anyone wearing masks anymore.
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Travel in Albania: Local Adjustments
Whenever traveling somewhere new there are things that may be different than from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind for when you travel in Albania.
What Language is Spoken in Albania?
The official language in Albania is Albanian. Unlike all of the languages around Albania, the Albanian language has zero to do with the Slavic ones. It is a rather difficult language to learn, and we were really only able to pick up a few words here and there.
Many older people don't speak too much English throughout the country, but the young kids really can speak it very well! Being in more "touristy" areas of the country we found much more people were able to speak English than in the small towns.
Currency Used in Albania
The currency used in Albania is the Albanian Lek. Currently (February 2024) the exchange rate is 96.05 lek for every USD or euro.
Euros can actually be used pretty much everywhere throughout the country, and we even found the exchange rate to be better than using lek at times! This is quite rare to find while traveling, so we suggest bringing as many euros as you can to travel in Albania.
Another thing to note is that many places such as beach or mountain towns only take cash. Even restaurants will claim that their "credit card machine is broken" in many establishments, even in bigger cities. Pretty much cash is key in Albania, so make sure to have plenty of euros or Albanian Lek.
Do European Plugs Work in Albania?
Albania uses the same outlets as the rest of Europe, which are for plug types C & F. The standard voltage in Albania is 230 V, with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.
If you're coming from the US or UK, you'll ned to get a travel adapter for you travel to Albania.
Is Albania Tap Water Drinkable?
The water potability actually changes quite a lot throughout Albania. You'll find that in the mountain regions the water is great to drink, while the cities don't have the most drinkable water.
Tipping Culture in Albania
The tipping culture in Albania is pretty relaxed. Most people tip in bars by simply rounding up, while in restaurants most will leave 100-200 lek (between $1-2). We always left about 10% to our servers that did a good job, as wages are pretty low in Albania. However, if you don't receive super great service, you don't have to feel obligated to tip like that.
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Travel in Albania: Places to Visit & Stay
Now that you know almost everything you need to know to travel in Albania, here are the best places to see throughout the country.
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We believe that every capital city is worth checking out, as it is where you find the most variety, great restaurants, the best nightlife, and the history & culture of a country.
While our favorite places to travel in Albania were certainly outside the capital, we do believe that Tirana is worth a stop, even if it's for a night or two.
Some of the highlights of the city include the Bunk Art museums, Et'hem Bej Mosque, and Skanderbeg Square. We suggest doing a free walking tour if you spend the day, and heading to Blloku for some of the great nightlife in town.
Want to learn more about Tirana? Make sure to check out our full Tirana travel guide!
This is definitely one of the most beautiful areas of the country, and is a small town tucked away in the mountains of northern Albania. Theth has a beautiful waterfall, the clearest spring, a long river, and some great trekking to take part in. Want to learn more? Take a looking at our full travel guide for Theth.
The Albanian Riviera
Now let's head down south for one of the most beloved regions of the country. The Albanian Riviera is a super popular area for both tourists and locals to travel in Albania. Gorgeous beaches, picturesque towns, and chic beach clubs line the entire southern coast of the country, and it's an absolute must for your trip.
Want to learn all about the best places to visit along the Albanian Riviera and everything to expect? Take a look at our complete Albanian Rivier travel guide that we've written.
Located right in the heart of the country is another one of our favorite cities in Albania. Berat runs along a river and is super picturesque with all of the houses built into the hill, as well as the huge fortress sitting at the top of the city.
This city is also home to some amazing festivals, so definitely take a look before booking to see if you can line up your dates to experience one. We happened to be in town for a beer festival in July and had such a great time.
Take a tour to Berat:
We feel like Girokaster is truly one of the hidden gems of Europe. This fairytale town in the mountains has cobblestone streets, a beautiful fortress, and an amazing local vibe. We suggest staying at Hotel Kodra, as it has spectacular views, a great restaurant, and cozy rooms. We also loved Girokaster for its Bazaar which has some amazing local vendors, and super delicious authentic restaurants.
Other Great Places to Visit When You Travel in Albania
Now that you know the top spots to base yourself in Albania, here are some other spots you won't want to miss out while you travel in Albania.
Right outside Girokaster is another one of our favorite hidden gems of the country. Benje is an area with natural hot springs scattered along a river, and is the perfect place to spend a few hours exploring and relaxing. We suggest getting here as early as possible, as it gets super crowded!
The whole area is completely free of charge to visit, but does not include a ton of amenities, so make sure that you are properly prepared.
Vjosa River Bend
While you're in Benje, if you have a car you can head to the nearby Vjosa River Bend. There is a cool viewpoint where you can get a great panorama of the snake like figure of the beautiful river running through the mountains. We simply parked on the side of the road, and it took just 5-10 minutes to reach the point where we got this photo.
Osum Canyon is actually the Grand Canyon of Albania! It is a great day trip from Berat, as you can enjoy the canyon in a number of different ways. There are excursions that you can schedule straight from Berat, or you can visit Osum Canyon on your own like we did.
Hidden gem alert! This canyon is located a bit in the middle of nowhere, but we stopped here on our way from Berat to Ohrid Lake. The canyon is unique because it actually features natural thermal waters which have a milky blue color! Not only that, but there is a cool resort style club right outside so that you can chill by the pool or grab a bite to eat before or after visiting the canyon itself.
The canyon is 100% free of charge to visit, and we found it to only have a few other people when we visited.
This may just be the perfect day trip from Tirana. Bovilla Lake is an artificial lake that can be admired with stunning views from above. It's important to note that Google Maps may not be correct.
We followed a point on the map that had us drive an hour and a half to the other side where you can't reach the lake at all. In order to reach the right point, make sure to plug in "Bovilla Rock Climbing Line" or "Bovilla Restorant".
The parking is free, and there is a restaurant on site. In order to get to the epic viewpoint, it is just a 5-10 minute walk up the stairs. It isn't really for the faint of heart, but the views are truly worth it.
Shkodra Lake is located all the way in the north of the country, and is actually shared by Montenegro. We actually visited from the Montenegrin side, but imagine that the experience visiting on the Albanian side is quite similar. We rented a kayak and rowed through a beautiful trail of Lilly pads, experiencing a variety of wildlife for just 10 euros/hour.
This is another amazing lake that is shared by Albania and another country (Macedonia). We actually visited Lake Ohrid on the Macedonian side, but do know that you can visit via Albania as well. Want to learn more about Lake Ohrid in Macedonia? Make sure to check out our full travel guide.