English may not be widely spoken or understood in Albania, but with an app like this, you can manage to have a somewhat-complete conversation with the locals. Depending on you travel style Albania can be very cheap. There is a beautiful church in the middle of town at the top of a pedestrianised street. The host said that the car would be absolutely fine (and so it was!) We did manage to grab a bite at a local eatery serving Greek food. The Best Time to Visit Barcelona: Should You Go in Summer or Winter? Travels of a Bookpacker are participants in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Booking.com Affiliate Partner Program. The water is a constant 10 degrees Celsius! A full list of van life essentials. . You can also find Skanderbeg's famous statue on his horse in the center of this Square. On the way, I recommend a stop to Borsh Beach, the longest strip of beach along the Albanian Riviera. The host at our guesthouse in Theth arranged for a jeep and driver to drop us to Shkoder early after breakfast. Kruja is one of the best places to see in Albania. Google Translate - This is hands down, one of the the best inventions ever! It was quite a challenge finding a car at this price point, but we finally managed to do so. It was once the ancient capital of Albania, and the birthplace of Skanderbeg, the country's national hero. Apart from checking out Dhermi and relaxing near the seaside, you can also visit the nearby village of Vuno. Van living necessities that will have you ready to hit the road! Getting to the beach is a bit of a challenge, with the single-lane endless roads that lead to the parking bay, and a short 30-minute hike to get to the beach. It spans 120-kilometres (74.5 miles) along the Albanian coast. As a city, Shkoder felt a little chaotic in terms of crowded streets, road traffic, and undisciplined driving.

The beach is phenomenal and the water is SO blue and clear. This park is one of Sarandas best-kept secrets. The food is good and the restaurant itself has a nice, modern vibe. Next morning, visit the Gjirokaster fortress and museum, Drive along the riviera, stop by the Blue Eye of Sarande, You should be able to arrive at Theth in around 7 hours but we took a little longer as we stopped a couple of times on the way to take pictures and some epic drone shots. Read my full list of the best Saranda hotels. If youre still looking for somewhere to stay, here are the best hotels in Tirana. Butrint has seen the rise and fall of several empires and civilizations in its time. You could even choose to leave behind the main luggage at your hotel reception in Shkoder in case you do not have a rental car. One of the highlights of Theth is the Instagram-famous cute, little church against the mountain backdrop - definitely a rewarding sight after a long, tiring day. Luxury: For a luxury accommodation option tryFantaSea Apartments. And in case you have any questions on details we may have missed out, PLEASE drop us a comment under this article and we will see you there :), Also, do FOLLOW US on our Instagram page @roads.we.take for our video highlights of our Albania trip! Have a read of her article about Tirana and Kruja. Drive to Gjirokaster, spend the night at a guesthouse The first call of action is to visit Bunk Art. Tonight, you should see for yourself! However, we arrived during peak season when all the affordable cars were sold out, and we had no choice but to look for options inside the city centre. The cool winds were also a peaceful respite from the hot weather in the south. TOP TIP: Wondering where to stay in Manhattan? Have a coffee at one of the restaurants at the blue eye and enjoy nature! But if you are short of time, then we recommend at least one week where you choose to do either only the north, or the south. The next day we drove off to Gjirokaster, which is hands-down, Gjirokaster, like Berat, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and although both are, The streets of Gjirokaster are some of the most beautiful we have ever seen. T, Since we were in Shkoder only for the night, we just dined at, Day 7 - Ferry Ride along Lake Koman to Fierze >> Stay overnight in Valbone, We were to spend the next two days in the Albanian Alps, so, we left our rental car parked beside our hotel in Shkoder. Stay overnight in Valbone, Hike from Valbone National Park to Theth National Park, 14km, about 6-7 hours. Weve made a list of all our favourite wild camping spots in Albania. We had the Spaghetti Aglio-e-Olio, Tagliatelle with Tomato, and traditional Japrak (stuffed vine leaves). So I created this Albanian Riviera itinerary for those who only have 10 days to explore the south of Albania. The rooms are spacious, and very tastefully designed with contemporary elements. Backpacker: There is currently no hostels in Dhermi however, if you look on Booking.com there are very cheap private room options. Along the street is Albanias first school and a quirky looking observation tower. This can be a good option if you are a group of people or want to reach somewhere more off the beaten path. We were offered a tour by their lovely daughter, Ermi who showed us around the vineyards, wine cellars, followed by a fantastic wine-tasting session. Another thing you should do is check out the old town on the hill if you are not already staying up there. Mid-range: For a mid-priced hotel try Irinis Garden Hotel. We were amazed at the sheer beauty of those snow-capped peaks, winter vegetation, and the sweet sounds of nature - a much needed respite from our busy lives. Syri-i-Kalter transported us to a tropical forest, with its clear blue waters shimmering under the sunlight seeping through a dense green canopy! One week in Albania could be a bit short but if its all you have then stick with Tirana and one or two easy to reach places. But the views along the way, especially at Llogara Pass, were just breathtaking! north is known for its mountainous topography, We traveled via FlyDubai Airlines that has direct flights between Dubai to Tirana.

The host, Naira, is very friendly as well and helped us with a lot of recommendations within the city. On our way we stopped by, the most popular alcoholic drink consumed in Albania. A trip to Albania wouldnt be complete without a visit to the off-beat capital, Tirana. This is a great base to start your south Albania itinerary. So we decided to explore more of Tirana at the end of our trip (Day 10). You may find trouble communicating with them in English, but we used the Google Translate app and copy-pasted our translations and managed to converse. The images of a dense green island plopped in the middle of a sea-green lake looked SO stunning and we were determined to find this place in real. The host is a beautiful, old mother who manages the property and we shared an incredible bond in the little time that we were there. They welcomed us with some fresh bread and berry jams along with some 'Raki', and we had some of the most touching and heartwarming conversations with them on their terrace (thank you, Google Translate ) The rooms are incredible, and the views from our room and the breakfast terrace were simply the BEST! The hike is not too difficult as long as you have a minimum level of fitness. Their policies are made for world nomads and other people who love to travel a lot in mind! Here you will find an abundance of bars, restaurants and trendy cafes. This is the most beautiful old Albanian village in my eyes. Magical sunset at Plazhi Pasqyrave, also known as the Mirror Beach. Explore the town and stay overnight, Drive to Tirana post lunch. The only one that was left in all of Tirana - what happens when you travel during peak tourist season. We stayed at Ksamil but we would recommend Sarande or Himare instead, Visit Butrint National Park in the morning Gjipe is almost hidden in a little cove on the Albanian riviera. Tagged: albania itinerary, albania, balkans. NOTE : *We have listed the exact names and costs of accommodations under the relevant headings in the itinerary below this Q&A. The entire trip cost us a mere 16 per person for the following : - Minivan pick-up from our hotel in Shkoder at 7 am, - 1.5 hour ride to the ferry station at Lake Koman, - 2 hour ferry ride along Lake Koman to Fierze, - Minivan transport from Fierze to Valbone (drop-off to your doorstep in Valbone). Do I need to take a COVID-19 RT-PCR test for Albania? Byrek (Savoury crepes with a spinach filling), Yaprak (Stuffed vine leaves like the Greek 'Dolmas'), Qifqi (Stuffed rice balls) - a dish native to the town of Gjirokaster, Good food is very affordable in most restaurants across the country. We checked out of our hotel in Valbone right after breakfast to start the hike at 8 am. A 14 km stretch through the Albanian Alps, this hike is absolutely breathtaking! Located around 37 km south of Gjirokaster, it took us about an hour to get here. Luxury: A great luxury option is The Plaza or Xheko Imperial Luxury Boutique Hotel. On Day 2 early in the morning, we checked out of our hotel in Tirana and set off on a hunt for our, By mid-day we set off to Berat, which is about 100 km from Tirana, a two-hour journey by road. We're never without our trusty backpacks and a good book! The Albania Riviera runs from the south (Saranda), to Vlora in the north. The advantage of renting your car from the airport is that you can drop it off there at the end of your trip. We set off towards the north of the riviera to get to, The BEST part was we spontaneously decided to, just 9 per person, inclusive of a humble breakfast, Day 6 - Drive to Shkoder along the Llogara Pass, We woke up to some of the best views you can imagine in our camping tents at Gjipe beach. The BEST part was we spontaneously decided to camp overnight at Gjipe! Find out more information about the Theth to Valbona hike. Closer views of the ruins around the Roman amphitheater from the 3rd century BC, Closer views of the Great Basilica from the 6th century AD. However, we recommend that you visit Oda Restaurant which is highly rated and serves some of the best traditional Albanian cuisine in Tirana. Drive to Berat, spend the night at a guesthouse Below are two one-week itineraries and a two week itinerary for Albania as well as some other ideas for spending longer in this beautiful, diverse and affordable country. and that there are no parking tickets charged in the city. If you have a bit more time and want to do Albania in 2 weeks rather than 10 days, I highly recommend a few extra days in Saranda. Buses in Albania are mostly reliable and cheap. You will need your own transport to get here or to hire a driver but its worth it. The town has a pleasant waterfront, an amphitheatre and some cool street art to explore but the real draw card is the beach. With only one week in Albania you wont be able to fully explore all the beaches but Durres is a good start. We landed here on a weekend evening and wanted to set off on our road trip the following morning. We had a very comfortable stay at Hotel Kristal. I recommend a quick trip to Ali Pashas castle before visiting the main site. We were mesmerized throughout the drive, with our jaws dropping after every few kilometers on the riviera. Average price for a 2 or 3-Star hotel/guesthouse, inclusive of breakfast - 35 per night, An average meal for one person (main course + drink) - 4, Average rate for a basic, automatic rental car (not including fuel) - 30 per day, One of the best hotel experience ever at Vila Dini, Valbone. By mid-day we set off to Berat, which is about 100 km from Tirana, a two-hour journey by road. Whilst you relax or party in Jale make sure you hire a kayak and go to the nearby beach paradise of Gjipe. We stopped here because it was on our way towards Macedonia but were pleasantly surprised by the things to do in Korce and the array of restaurants and cafes. Note that upon reaching Theth, you will have to walk all the way to your accommodation, so it will be nice to factor in that distance as well. We left Gjirokaster by mid-day and our first stop on the way was, Syri-i-Kalter, also known as the Blue Eye of Sarande. The town is interesting to wander through and there are plenty of nice cafes and restaurants (although a little overpriced). Visit Butrint National Park in the morning We stayed at the most amazing campground with a luxury pool and a brilliant restaurant onsite. We stayed at Stone House Obelisk, a beautiful guesthouse right next to the famous Obelisk of Gjirokaster, yet situated in a quiet, secret corner away from the hustle and noise of the centre. We traveled via FlyDubai Airlines that has direct flights between Dubai to Tirana. For restaurants, we highly recommend these two : Restaurant Tradicional Odaja - This is a highly rated venue, and the food and quality ingredients justifies so! The test costs 35 per person*, which is also one of the cheapest and quickest you can find in all of Albania. Further right is the Venetian Castle of the 14th and 16th century. Ksamil has gained huge popularity over the last few years and is a must for any Albania itinerary. We went to Plazhi Pasqyrave (Mirror Beach) in Sarande, a stunning pebble beach with beautiful blue waters surrounded by white stone cliffs. 1 Euro = 120.97 Albanian Lek (dated August 2021). Generally the Albanian Riviera is considered to be between the cities of Vlore and Sarande. Gjirokaster, like Berat, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and although both are historical Ottoman towns, they are both unique in their own ways. But if you delve a little deeper into the best places to see in Albania youll find a country with so much more to offer than just the quirky remanence of its communist past. Stay overnight at one of the beach towns. Read my disclaimerfor more information. :). COST - A large double-bed room with a private modern bathroom and balcony, cost us 36 for the night, inclusive of a breakfast buffet.

It was a long drive of about 290 kilometers to a city called Shkoder, and it took us about 5 hours.

This part of Tirana is my favourite part. This Albanian Riviera itinerary can easily be extended and adjusted according to your wants and needs. COST- We got a massive room (almost like a junior suite) that cost us only about 25 for the night, inclusive of a splendid breakfast prepared by the host herself. Only a 20-30 minute bus ride from Saranda is the UNESCO site of Butrint. Explore the city or drive to Lake Boville. Tirana is a must on your Albania itinerary. I highly suggest a visit to the Blloku area. Another great sunset spot that is more popular is Lkursi Castle. We stumbled across these by accident but once we saw a sign to thermal pools we couldnt ignore it. You can lay out on the beach and soak up the Albanian Riviera rays. We took the SH4 highway from Berat, around 120 kilometers long or two-hours by road, but the views are just gorgeous! The north is known for its mountainous topography - the Accursed Mountains, also known as the Albanian Alps, as well as the ancient capital, Kruje, a very culturally-rich, medieval town. Backpacker: There are no hostels but there is a great camping spot in Jale! But the spectacular views makes it all worth it! If you're in a hurry, you can skip the Q&A below and head straight down to the ITINERARY. It is perfectly located close to the main city sights yet nestled away from the noise and bustle. Driving or Hiring a Driver - We rented a car and drove ourselves, which gave us so much flexibility and freedom to explore areas we would have otherwise never seen. This is a way for people to catch up with each other. The Great Basilica, built in the 6th century AD, marks the establishment of the early Christian period in this region. Soaking in the last few rays of the sun before it sets, Morning swim views. The location is a 10/10 (the pictures below speak for itself!) In summer this place can get super busy but for good reason, its incredible. We traveled during peak season, and we were mostly staying in either hotels or guesthouses, spending an average of 28-35 per night for a spacious double-bed room, inclusive of breakfast. Good food is very affordable in most restaurants across the country.

The temperatures vary a lot from north to south but the shoulder seasons often have warm temperatures and sunny days. This gives you enough time to enjoy all the best Albania south beaches and have a fun Albanian road trip through the south. Check out accommodation if you have the time to relax on the beach for a few days. Silver limestone cobbled streets with traditional colourful shops on either sides, sometimes with items spilling onto the streets, is such a wonderful sight to behold. I highly suggest you stay for longer of course, or maybe, The Albania Riviera runs from the south (, I recommend starting your Albania itinerary bustling capital of Tirana, If you want to organise your own things to do in Tirana, then read my, If youre still looking for somewhere to stay, here are the. Overlooking the valley, these are some of the best views you can get while devouring a meal. Albania's rich gastronomical scene has its roots in the Ottoman empire, and Turkish influences are quite noticeable too. But, Gjipe is worth ALL the effort! We literally stumbled upon Lake Boville when playing with the Google Street Views feature on the Albanian map during our trip research! Just half an hour from Tirana is the brilliant Albanian coast. Ferry ride along Lake Koman to Fierze Views of Kalajat-e-Berat (Castle of Berat) - This was easily our most favourite part about Berat. If you prefer to stay in an apartment have a look at Airbnb and get $30 off your first booking. Theres also a small beach by the castle. The waves of the Ionian Sea are some of the craziest we've seen! Stay overnight in Valbone, Day 8 - Hike from Valbone to Theth National Park Luxury: Make sure you stay at Vila Kosteli or Guesthouse 1932. We left Gjirokaster by mid-day and our first stop on the way was, We then continued our journey to the coastal town of Sarande. But it was definitely not impossible to drive, and as long as you stick to the speed limits and practice safe driving, you should be fine :). After a relaxing afternoon, I highly recommend you take in the beauty of the centre of the city and go for an Xhiro. Cobbled paths leading around the village which was pretty much abandoned during the fall of communism. We then continued our journey to the coastal town of Sarande. Kudos to capturing these great views. A similar experience in the Swiss Alps or Austria would cost yo. Blue Eye is a natural spring that has an unknown depth. You can always find a spot for yourself here. If you've got more time on your hands, we recommend visiting Bunkart 2, which is actually an anti-nuclear bunker built by the Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, now converted into a fascinating museum! You ought to spend at least one night in this up-and-coming Albanian city. We had our last 'brunch' in the country, re-fueled our rental car, gave it a little wash at a local garage, and finally returned it to the rental company. But if you want to give Butrint a miss, we would recommend staying further up-north on the riviera, in a town like Dhermi or Vlore. With incredible castle views, cute restaurant-lined streets and some interesting history, youll find plenty of things to fill a day or two in Shkoder. A similar experience in the Swiss Alps or Austria would cost you 10 times the price or even more! Although we would still recommend choosing another guesthouse that serves lunch and dinner, Day 9 - Return to Shkoder >> Drive to Kruje, The host at our guesthouse in Theth arranged for a jeep and driver to drop us to Shkoder, We also enjoyed dinner at the open-to-sky restaurant on the top-most floor of, Day 10 - Drive back to Tirana & Explore Lake Boville.