kamila

Can’t live without travels! Wherever she goes she always looks for alternative spots or street art. A huge fan of Central Europe and off the beaten path places and a living proof that you can balance full time job and extensive travel!

What to see in Albania – my favorite places and more!

In recent few years Albania tourism has been blooming. While it’s not so safe anymore to travel to some of the favorite holiday destinations on the south-east shore of Mediterranean Sea people were looking for a good alternative and many have decided to visit Albania. I’m definitely a big supporter of that idea!

Albanian coast is spectacular and Ksamil beach is already a world famous gem but the country has so much more to offer! Beautiful stone towns, spectacular wonders of nature, breathtaking mountains and the funky capital – you can see it all if you decide to visit Albania!

I’ve been twice to the country (the first time when the Albania tourism was still just crawling) and even if slightly challenging I loved my time there! I’m already thinking of the return as my list of what to see in Albania is getting longer and longer! I really hope the next year will see my visiting Albania again and seeing more of its beauty!


Before we continue can I have few announcements, please?

Thank you! And now on to the post!


How to get to Albania?

Travelling to Albania has always been the biggest issue. Fortunately it is changing slowly and now you can easily find charter flights to Tirana, also Wizzair started to operate on Budapest-Tirana route (hopefully it’s just the beginning and there will be even more options of direct flights to Albania soon!). I always randomly browse Skyscanner and find the best deals on flights there.

When I visited Albania twice it was more challenging to get there but not impossible. Both times I flew to Thessaloniki, Greece and then I took the bus. When I was going to Berat it was supposed to be a direct bus but we had to change somewhere at 5am – overall it was a crazy and absurd journey that took me 50 hours from Poland but eventually I got exactly where I wanted to.

When I was going to Gijokastra I first took the bus from Thessaloniki to Ioannina (which was surprisingly beautiful and made a perfect stop along the way) and from there it’s only 2 hours by bus to Gijokastra (including crossing the border). Since there’s a huge Albanian population living in Greece there are daily connections from Athens to Thessaloniki to probably every city in Albania.

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Berat

Another option (that my friend did recently) is flying to Corfu island in Greece and then taking the ferry to nearby Saranda. Albania makes a popular day trip destination among tourists from Corfu and there are few boats to choose from – the fast one takes only half an hour.

You can also reach Albania from Macedonia and Kosovo – there are bus connections between those countries. From Ohrid you might use the southern border crossing and you will find yourself in the town of Pogradec that already offers decent connections to Tirana or other places in Albania.

From Montenegro 360Monte agency offers direct transfers between Kotor, Budva, Shkoder and Tirana.

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Pogradec

How to travel around Albania?

That’s where the challenging part starts. In most of the places there are no bus stations and no schedules – you need to go to the certain place from where the mini bus to your destination goes. Sometimes it sounds scary (like “big tree on the left side of the roundabout”) but in reality it’s not so bad – local people will direct you and the drivers will find you – that’s what happened to me in Elbasan or Tirana.

Just like in former USSR mini buses wait to fill up so sometimes it might take a while for the bus to depart. Between some big cities like Saranda and Tirana there are regular connections with schedule which makes everything so much easier.

The road condition isn’t very good so sometimes the journey takes much longer than you’d expect from the distance. The Albanian drivers, just like in other Balkan countries, are a little bit crazy.

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Gjirokastra

Is Albania safe?

For some reason Albania doesn’t have the best reputation (but that’s also changing slowly). If you are wondering is Albania safe I can assure you there is nothing to worry about. This is just a normal country (with more difficult language than anywhere else) so if only you use your common sense you will be fine.

During my both trips I always felt safe and there wasn’t even one situation when something was wrong. Cities are always full of people, especially in the late afternoons and evening as walking around seems to be the favorite pastime activity of Albanians.

The fear of Albania comes from the unknown but it really is a safe country, like many others in the area.

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Gjirokastra

Solo female travel in Albania

My first trip to Albania (to Berat only) was with a friend, the second time I’ve spent a week there travelling solo. I felt really safe for all the time, no one bothered me or harassed me, people were really friendly, welcoming and helpful when needed. Some of my friend have been travelling solo around Albania too and they say only good things about it!

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Tirana

Albania tourism – what to see in Albania

During my two trips to the country I could see some of the best places Albania tourism has to offer. I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed them all and can recommend them!

Both times I went to visit Albania in autumn (beginning of October and mid November) and I can definitely recommend this time of the year! The weather is still really good but the summer crowds are gone and you can easily find cheap accommodation or travel between places.

I’ve heard so many people complaining about Albanian beaches being overcrowded in the summer but what I saw in early autumn at Ksamil beach was amazing – crystal clear blue waters, sand and hardly anyone around! Autumn is the time to visit Albania!

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Ksamil

And when you finally decide to go there here is a list of what to see in Albania

Tirana

The infamous capital city, hated by many. On the contrary, I found it super cool and funky and really enjoyed my time there! Tirana is not a beautiful city, you will not find many (or any at all) historical monuments there. But the vibe is one of the best I’ve ever encountered!

The main tourist attraction of Tirana is a big concrete pyramid – a rather intriguing structure that now serves as the broadcast center of the local TV station and the major hangout spot for youngsters. And that’s how Tirana is – quirky yet fascinating. And super colorful!

Even if the paint slowly comes off the buildings and colors are fading the overall impression is still great! Tirana, and especially its neighborhood Blloku, is home to one of the best cafe cultures I’ve ever encountered and that’s already a good reason to spend some time there!


You can see my photo gallery from Tirana here!

Are you looking for a place to stay in Tirana? Click here for the best deals on accommodation there!


Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Tirana

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Tirana

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Tirana


Berat

Berat was the first place I’ve visited in Albania and I couldn’t ask for a better introduction, especially since it’s on the UNESCO list. The city is often called “the town of thousand windows” and it has this title for a reason – numerous beautiful houses with big windows pile on top of each other making one of a kind view.

It’s especially beautiful from the promenade (where locals hang out) or from across the river. It’s also worth to climb all the way to the castle as the views of Berat and the surroundings are really spectacular and this area itself is pretty charming too!


You can see my photo gallery from Berat here!

Are you looking for a place to stay in Berat? Click here for the best deals on accommodation there!


Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Berat

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Berat


Gjirokastra

While Berat is called the city of thousand windows Gjirokastra has a title of the town of thousand stairs. Walking around might be a little exhausting as the streets can get pretty steep but then the views from the castle (and the abandoned plane that looks so random there) are the great reward for the effort.

Gjirokastra itself is a beautiful stone town that kind of looks like the time has stopped there. I really enjoyed wandering around as the place definitely lives up to its hype. Together with Berat Gjirokastra is part of UNESCO World Heritage List.


You can see my photo gallery from Gjirokastra here!

Are you looking for a place to stay in Gjirokastra? Click here for the best deals on accommodation there!


Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Gjirokastra

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Gjirokastra


Ksamil

A real gem of Albanian seaside – Ksamil beach is considered to be the most beautiful one and I can see why everyone thinks so good of it. Turquoise water, sandy beach and nearby islands make Ksamil look like a paradise.

I was there at the very beginning of October and it was blissfully empty but I’ve heard many horror stories about visiting Ksamil beach in the summertime. My advice – go there in the off season and you will love it!


You can see my photo gallery from Ksamil here!

Are you looking for a place to stay in Ksamil? Click here for the best deals on accommodation there!


Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Ksamil

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Ksamil


Butrint

Only 5kms away from Ksamil you will find Butrint – another UNESCO listed place in Albania. This ancient sight, dating back to 8th century BC, is a truly fascinating place with so many remnants of the past that it will keep you occupied for few hours. It can get busy with day trips from Corfu but it’s not too difficult to escape crowds here. If you’re fan of the history you will love it!


You can see my photo gallery from Butrint here!


Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Butrint

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Butrint


Saranda

At first it looks like unattractive seaside resort with nothing but concrete but Saranda might be much more interesting than it seems. If you’re looking for the lively holiday destination this is your Albanian answer.

But the town is more than just the place to have a good time in. You can find some monuments too in Saranda, including ancient ruins right in the middle of the city. Saranda also makes a perfect base to explore the area (that includes Ksamil, Butrint, Gjirokaster or the Blue Eye).


You can see my photo gallery from Saranda here!

Are you looking for a place to stay in Saranda? Click here for the best deals on accommodation there!


Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Saranda

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Saranda


Pogradec

Lake Ohrid is one of the most beautiful place I’ve seen in the Balkans. But while everyone goes to the town of Ohird in Macedonia (that I just adore!) Pogradec on the Albanian side of the border is also a great place to visit.

The lake looks just beautiful in here, with magnificent mountains in the background. The numerous restaurants’ jetties are a great opportunity for the lunch with the stunning view. If you go for a walk along the beach (which is one of the main activities in Pogradec) you will for sure stumble across some bunkers around.


You can see my photo gallery from Pogradec here!

Are you looking for a place to stay in Pogradec? Click here for the best deals on accommodation there!


Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Pogradec

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Pogradec


And now comes my bucket list part of what to see in Albania. But I will make it there soon, no doubts about that:

Lake Koman

The journey across Lake Koman is on top of my Albanian bucket list. Some call it the most beautiful in the world and while I’m usually a little bit skeptical about such titles this place really looks amazing on the pictures! With all the twists, cliffs and waterfalls it must have look similar to Norwegian fjords!

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Lake Koman picture taken by my friend Osmól


Valbona and Theth

These are two of the most important and most beautiful mountain villages in Albania, located on both sides of Albanian Alps. I’m just dreaming of visiting them as they look so untouched, so pure and so pretty! Once I almost made it to Valbona but the weather turned out for worse and there was no point in going all the way there! Next time, Albanian Alps!

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Albanian Alps

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Albanian Alps pictures taken by my friend Osmól


Shkoder

I’ve been to Lake Skadar only on the Montenegrin side but this biggest lake in the Balkans has stolen my heart. It was so peaceful and pristine I could have stayed there for weeks!

Now I’m more than tempted to see the Albanian side of the lake and Shkoder would be a perfect base for that. But the town itself is really interesting too, with Rozafa Castle (offering great views around the lake) and the revitalized center.

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Shkoder Picture taken by my friends Ania and Mateusz from NaszeBalkany.pl


The Blue Eye

Hidden few minutes away off the Saranda – Gjirokastra road, this pristine spring is a true paradise with clear blue waters and oak trees giving the shadow. It must be especially pleasant in the hot, summer day – a perfect nature getaway.

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Blue Eye Picture taken by my friend Osmól


Kruja

Kruja makes a perfect day trip from Tirana (that I had in my plans but didn’t do because I enjoyed the capital way too much). There’s the castle with really impressive location, surrounded by mountains but the main reason why you might want to visit Kruja is the bazaar – it is considered to be the best one in Albania for souvenir shopping.

Kruja is also a birthplace of national hero – Skandenberg.

Albania tourism - what to see in Albania - Kruja Picture taken by my friend Osmól



Have you been to Albania? What did you like there the most? If you haven’t – would you like to visit? Let me know in the comments below!


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26 Lis '17

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