Albania Tours and Travel Guide
Albania Attractions & Landmarks Guide
Why Visit Albania on a Tour?
Much of Albania is underdeveloped. The civil wars in the 1990s and the fall of Communism left much of the roads in disrepair. Also, there is little to no public transportation system. It can be difficult booking bus tickets from city to city because of the lack of structure and most Albanians only speak their native language.
However, there is much to see in Albania. Albania is rich in history, towering mountains, and beaches that rival the French Riviera. Visiting Albania on a tour is the best way to see all of these. Tours to Albania offer you the chance to explore this small, but special country and its unknown areas with detailed itineraries and ease.
If you are a quirky souvenir collector, Albania is your dream destination. Albania has some of the most unique and country specific souvenirs in the world. Just make sure to leave enough room in your suitcase!
- Skenderbeau Paintings and Artwork: These unique pieces of art are only found in Albania and are portraits and portrayals of the Albanian national hero who led the rebellion against the Ottoman Turks in the 1400s.
- Bunker Ashtrays: Throughout Albania you will found over 170,000 bunkers. These bunkers were built during the rule of Enver Hoxha to protect against foreign threats. The bunkers are no longer in use, but you can buy ashtrays designed like these domed concrete structures.
- Cifteli Instruments: Ciftelis are a traditional instrument of Albania. Reminiscent of a guitar, the cifteli is a string instrument with only two strings and is used in many weddings and concerts in Albania.
- Qilim or Kilim: These are traditional rugs of Albania. Historically designed in reds, blacks, and whites in geometric patterns, qilims can be purchased in stalls throughout the old towns and cities of Albania.
Albanian cuisine has its basics in the Ottoman Empire and the Mediterranean. Traditional cooking styles of salted and grilled meats date back to Ottoman rule. Heavy stews, soups, and stuffed pies are also common dishes throughout the country.
With Albania sharing a border with Greece, much of Greece’s ingredients have made their way into Albanian food. Cucumbers, feta, peppers, and eggplants are a frequenter to Albanian tables and menus.
Vegetarian travelers to Albania will likely be relegated to salads, but the food will be good because Albanian produce is always fresh.
Top Albanian Tour Activities
1. Cable car in Tirana
Albania’s capital city of Tirana sits at the base of Mount Dajti. While visitors can hike their way up to the top of the mountain and back down, you can also take the cable car up and enjoy the Tirana landscape before taking in the sunset at the restaurant at the top of the mountain.
2. Relax on the beaches
Albania has miles of beaches that rival those of the French Riviera. These white, sandy beaches and teal waters are the perfect place to rest your weary feet and enjoy the warm Adriatic Sea weather. You can visit the popular beaches, or walk a little off the beaten path and discover the countless hidden beaches Albania has to offer.
“The City of a Thousand Windows” is a UNESCO World Heritage site in central Albania. A short day trip from Tirana, this historic city gets its name from the architecture of the buildings. Most of the homes and buildings of Berat feature multiple rectangular windows on their facades.
4. Rozafa Castle
Rozafa Castle sits on a hill outside of the northern Albania town of Shkodra. The castle has a sad, but important myth and has withstood multiple sieges throughout the years.
One of the top things to do in Albania is to visit the country’s vast national park system. Albania has 15 national parks spanning over 520,000 acres. The parks include natural lands, archaeological parks, and marine reserves.
Albania has four major ecosystems: Dinaric Alpine, Balcanic, Pindus Mountain, and Illyrian deciduous. The national parks are spread out over each of these different natural regions of Albania.
Butrint National Park is one of the most famous of Albania’s national parks. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this archaeological park was abandoned in the late Middle Ages and is home to ruins from the occupation of the Greeks, Romans, and Venetians.
Two of the natural parks visitors must see are the Divjake Karavasta and Karabarun Sazan national parks. Divjake Karasvasta is home to the Karasvasta Lagoon, the largest lagoon in Albania and Karabarun is a recently opened marine park that was formerly a military area and sits on an almost untouched peninsula.
While Albania is widely known for its natural landscapes, the cities are just as unique and beautiful. A few of the cities included on Albanian tours are:
The colorful capital of Albania is the epicenter for the future of Albania. With an influx of consumerism, pedestrian streets, and forward thinking city planning, Tirana represents the future of where Albania can go, while holding strong to its past.
Berat is famous for its Ottoman architecture and distinct homes. Throughout the city you can fine perfectly, preserved traditional Ottoman archways and structures and you won’t be able to turn a corner in the city without running into a Byzantine church.
This northern Albanian city sits on the lake of the same name. Shkodra is one of Albania’s oldest cities and is famous for its relaxed atmosphere and Rozafa Castle, an Illyrian castle built on a hill overlooking the city.
Saranda is the center for the Albanian Riviera. Visitors can enjoy the day relaxing at the many beaches or cafes lining the waterfront or visit the local hill, Lekuresi, for sunset. Saranda is also one of the closest Albanian cities to Greece and is only a short ferry ride from the Greek island of Corfu.
Things to Know Before You Go
Where is Albania?
Albania is located at the southern end of the Balkan region of Europe. The country sits on the Adriatic Sea and is surrounded by Montenegro and North Macedonia and shares much of its southern border with Greece.
Is Albania Safe?
Overall, Albania is safe. The people of Albania are very hospitable and kind. However, there are a couple of areas you should know about.
The Kosovo/Albania border is not recommended to visit because of the unrest that is still present after the Albanian Civil War in the 1990s. Additionally, there has been car thefts reported in this area so it is important to secure your items while traveling.
If you are hiking in certain parts of Albania, keep to the trails. Due to the Civil War, there are some unexploded landmines in the areas near the Kosovo border.
While some areas of the country still face unrest, the country is safe for visitors. The people are welcoming and if you remember to avoid certain areas, there shouldn’t be any issues.
What is the Weather Like in Albania?
Since Albania sits on the Adriatic Sea, the coastal part of the country has a typical Mediterranean climate. The summers are warm and dry and the winters cooler. The farther you travel inland in Albania, the cooler the temperature gets. Albania has a very rugged landscape and the mountains can be very cold.
Albania does see quite a bit of rain throughout the year. The capital of Tirana has similar weather to Rome, but is much rainier. Including rain jackets and umbrellas in your suitcase are essential.
Albania Travel Tips
- While Albania is generally safe and the people are generous, there has been petty theft reported in some areas, including near the Kosovo border. However, most tours in Albania do avoid these areas, but it is important to properly secure your items.
- Due to the past conflict in Albania, the roads are in poor condition. If you are on a tour that is traveling by bus or van, be forewarned that it may get a little bumpy from time to time.
- Also, Albania is very affordable to visit. You can spend less than $10 or $5 on a meal and even $20 on a room. But do exchange your money in Albania before you leave because you won’t be able to outside of the country.
- It is recommended to not drink the tap water. While some locals drink the water, it is best to drink from bottled water to prevent any illnesses.
- Most Albanians only speak their native language. Learning a few important words in Albanian will be extremely helpful for visiting the country.
When is the Best Time to Visit Albania?
Like most of the other coastal Balkan countries, the summers are warm and the winters are cool. This means you can visit the coast of Albania throughout the year without worrying too much about weather.
Summer is an ideal time to visit because the weather is perfect to enjoy the beaches and coast of the country. This is also the high season for Albania. While Albania is not as busy as Croatia during the summer, word about Albania is getting out there and you should visit before the crowds start to arrive!
If you are visiting Albania to hike or bike, going during the spring or fall is the best time. The weather is cooler, but still sunny enough for you to enjoy the mountains and beaches without the crowds.
What to Pack for Albania?
First and foremost, good walking shoes. Albania has some of the best hiking trails in Europe and stunning national parks. You’ll want to get out and enjoy this amazing landscape without sore feet.
Albania’s weather greatly depends on what part of the country you are in. It’s warm on the coast, but cooler the farther inland you go. Make sure to pack layers because the weather can turn on a dime. If you are visiting the mountains, you’ll need to pack warmer clothes because it is cold throughout the year.
Sunscreen and a hat are paramount. Albania has amazing beaches that are reminiscent of the the French Riviera with aquamarine waters and white sand. The ideal places to relax and unwind.
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