Kyle is the writer behind The Travel Runner. He’s a full-time traveler and adventurer who’s visited over 20 countries, including places like Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and Albania. He prefers a slower pace to his travels to explore destinations more in-depth and to get a feel for what life is actually like there. When he’s not writing, he’s usually off exploring trails with his fiancée, Kaitlyn.
Is Albania worth visiting? It offers a lot with affordable prices and beautiful beaches. Here are the best reasons to visit Albania as your next destination.
Ever thought about swapping your predictable vacation for a dash of the unexpected?
Ever wondered what it would be like to enter a land filled with rich history, stunning landscapes, and unique culture?
Let me introduce you to Albania — the best-kept secret in Europe.
Many are unfamiliar with this small Balkan country, choosing more popular countries in Europe instead. But if you’re seeking a unique, off-the-beaten-path adventure, Albania is a great place to visit. Albania offers something for every traveler with its stunning beaches, towering mountains, ancient ruins, and delightful cuisine.
And in this article, I’ll explore some of the top reasons Albania should be on your vacation radar.
So sit tight, and let’s dive into why you should travel to Albania.
12 reasons to visit Albania
Wondering if Albania is affordable?
If affordability is your main priority, then Albania is one of the best places to visit.
And I’m not talking about settling for less; I’m talking about getting top-notch experiences for a fraction of the cost you would elsewhere.
Whether you are a budget-conscious backpacker or a luxury seeker, Albania has you covered. From affordable accommodation options to inexpensive yet delicious meals to pocket-friendly public transportation — Albania allows you to stretch your dollar without ruining your experience.
Imagine enjoying a lavish meal at a high-end restaurant, and the bill doesn’t make you choke on your dessert!
And let’s not forget about the shopping. The local markets and bazaars are brimming with unique and beautiful items that won’t break the bank. So, you can indulge in some retail therapy without the guilt.
I always look for affordable destinations, and a trip to Albania fits the bill (pun intended 😉).
So if you want to travel Europe on the cheap, Albania should be on your list.
2. Beautiful beaches
Albania is home to some of the most stunning coastlines in the Mediterranean!
It’s a paradise for beach lovers, boasting both sandy and pebble beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters. In a nutshell, the beaches in Albania will leave you mesmerized.
First off, let’s talk about the Albanian Riviera in southern Albania.
This stretch of coastline is simply stunning, offering a mix of quaint and secluded beach spots as well as more lively, bustling resorts. Places like Ksamil and Dhermi have the best beaches in Albania, but there’s a whole host of hidden gems I recommend visiting.
What’s more, the beaches of Albania are significantly less crowded compared to the rest of Europe. So you can easily find your own little corner of paradise, lay out your beach towel, and relax without being disturbed.
Let’s not forget about the Ionian Coast, either.
The sight of the sun setting over the Ionian Sea is genuinely something to behold. Picture this: you’re sitting on a quiet, unspoiled beach, the sand is warm beneath your feet, and the waves gently lapping at the shore fills your ears. As you watch the sun sink lower and lower, the sky morphs into a stunning canvas of oranges, pinks, and purples. Sound like it’s worth seeing?
It does to me!
Ultimately, Albania’s beautiful beaches alone will make you want to visit Albania immediately.
3. Rich history and culture
This little area of eastern Europe has a rich history dating back to the Illyrian tribes and the Roman Empire.
Its complex past includes periods of Ottoman rule, communist isolation, and a more recent transition to democracy. The layers of history are visibly etched into Albania’s architecture, from the well-preserved Ottoman towns to the concrete bunkers of the communist era.
Start your journey in the ancient city of Butrint, which is one of the coolest places to visit in Albania.
Once a major center of the ancient world, it boasts ruins from the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian periods. It’s like a history book come to life.
Plus, there’s the capital city of Tirana, which is the center of the country — geographically and culturally. You won’t run out of things to do in Tirana. You can walk around Tirana and explore the buildings and delicious restaurants for the best experience. For a tip, start in the middle of Tirana, where most of the attractions are.
Then, it’s time to venture outside of Tirana, where you can visit Vlore. This beach town makes the perfect day trip from Tirana.
And let’s not forget the culture.
The Albanian culture is a beautiful tapestry woven from threads of different eras and influences. It’s characterized by its unique music, dance, and art that reflect the country’s rich folklore. The traditional music, known as Iso-Polyphony, is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage.
And for the culture vultures, brace yourself for Albania’s bustling art scene.
From traditional iconography to contemporary visual arts, Albania has it all. The National History Museum and National Gallery of Arts in the capital city of Tirana are the perfect places to immerse yourself in the artistic side of Albania.
So, what’s travel in Albania without some history and culture thrown in? Long story short, this country has so much to offer.
4. Delicious food
Albania’s cuisine is highly underrated.
With its Mediterranean influence, Albanian cuisine is a delightful fusion of Italian, Greek, and Turkish flavors. Hearty, home-cooked dishes with fresh, locally sourced ingredients are the norm.
And that results in dishes like:
- Tavë Kosi: This is a national dish that you absolutely must try. It’s a savory baked lamb and rice casserole smothered in a tangy yogurt sauce. Comfort food, Albanian style!
- Byrek: Think of it as the Albanian take on a pie. Flaky, buttery pastry filled with various ingredients such as cheese, spinach, or even meat. Perfect for a quick snack while you’re exploring.
- Fërgesë: A traditional dish made with peppers, tomatoes, and cottage cheese, this one’s a treat for all vegetarians!
- Trileçe: Get ready for a sugar rush with this divine, caramel-soaked sponge cake. It’s the sweet ending every meal deserves.
- Qofte: Albania’s meatball. Meat, spices, bread, and love mixed up into one delicious patty.
But it’s not just about the food; it’s about the experience, too.
You’ll love how food is celebrated throughout Albania, from bustling food markets to cozy family-run taverns.
And don’t forget the local wines and raki, a traditional Albanian spirit guaranteed to start your evening with a bang!
So, bring your appetite, eat until you can’t anymore, and experience everything Albania has to offer at the dinner table.
5. Vibrant nightlife
Whether you’re a party animal or appreciate a relaxing evening with good music and delicious cocktails, Albania’s nightlife scene has everything.
And while it can get wild, you’ll find great nightlife primarily in two places:
- Tirana: The capital city of Albania has a famous bar-laden district, Blloku, which pulses with life and energy. The options are endless, from stylish rooftop bars like Radio and Nouvelle Vague to quaint pubs like Komiteti! And if you’re a fan of the club scene, head over to Folie Terrace or Cinco Cavalli for an unforgettable night.
- Saranda: If a seaside nightlife scene is more your style, Saranda won’t disappoint. Lively bars overlook the sparkling Ionian Sea, offering the perfect backdrop for your evening out. Mango Beach Bar is a local favorite, known for its delicious cocktails and breathtaking views.
Albania’s nightlife isn’t just about partying, though.
It’s also about the unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else. And how about traditional Albanian live music to set the mood?
It’s just the cherry on top of your perfect evening.
6. Cultural diversity
This small yet incredibly diverse country is a treasure trove of different cultures, languages, and traditions.
It’s like stepping into a history book but way more fun!
Albania’s cultural diversity is mainly due to its geographical location and complex history. Just imagine, within a day, you can sip coffee in a lively city, wander through an old castle, and participate in a traditional folk dance in a rural village.
How’s that for variety? Here’s a quick overview of the culture in Albania:
- Albanian Culture: At its core, Albania is home to the Albanians, with their own unique language and traditions. They love hospitality, epic poetry, and their traditional music called Iso-polyphony, which UNESCO recognizes.
- Italian Influence: Thanks to its proximity to Italy, there’s a healthy dose of Italian influence in the Albanian culture, too, especially in the food and architecture. Think you can resist the allure of Italian-style gelato on a warm Albanian day? We dare you to try!
- Greek Heritage: Then, there’s the ancient Greek history still visible in the southern parts of Albania, like Ksamil, with its ancient ruins and traditional Greek villages. Be sure to try the Greek-inspired cuisine while you’re there; it’s delicious.
- Ottoman Impact: Don’t forget the Ottoman era! You’ll see this influence in the language, music, clothing, and even the delicious Turkish coffee that is a staple here. You can see this history with many things you do in Shkoder.
When you visit Albania, you’re not just seeing one country.
You’re embarking on a journey that will take you across multiple cultures and periods, all in one place.
So, pack your bags and be open-minded because Albania’s cultural diversity will surprise you at every turn.
7. Stunning natural beauty
Ever dreamt of a place where the mountains meet the sea?
Well, this small Balkan country is brimming with stunning landscapes that leave you breathless.
From the azure blues of the Ionian Sea to the soaring peaks of the Albanian Alps, the country’s natural beauty is diverse and awe-inspiring. You’ve got pristine beaches, unspoiled forests, dramatic canyons, crystal-clear lakes, and even a piece of the Mediterranean coastline!
And let’s not forget about the national parks. Albania boasts three of them, each unique and offering a distinct taste of the country’s natural splendor. Theth National Park is a paradise for hikers, while Llogara National Park is famous for its stunning mountain pass and diverse wildlife.
So, whether you’re a beach bum, a mountain goat, or a forest nymph, Albania’s got you covered.
Pack your swimwear, hiking boots, and a good camera. You may look funny with three different items, but at least you’ll be prepared!
This small country is as authentic as it gets.
No commercialized Disneyland-like setups here. Just pure, unadulterated Albania.
Visiting Albania is like stepping back in time, a slice of life untouched by the homogenizing effects of mass tourism. Charmingly disorganized markets are brimming with locally grown produce, ancient streets that have witnessed centuries of history, and a traditional way of life still alive and kicking.
It’s refreshing at times.
And Albanian people are fiercely proud of their heritage.
This is reflected in their music, dance, clothing, and festivals. From traditional polyphonic singing that will give you goosebumps to the mesmerizing moves of the traditional dances, it’s a cultural feast that’s as unscripted as it is captivating.
Then, there’s the architecture.
From the Ottoman-era houses in Gjirokastra to the communist-era bunkers scattered across the country, the buildings tell a story of a nation that’s been through a lot and has remained resilient, preserving its character in the face of change.
And you can’t forget the age-old traditions.
Sheep herding, making raki, and cooking slow food over an open fire are all integral parts of daily life in rural Albania. It’s not a show put on for tourists — it’s just how things are done here.
So if you’re tired of the same old, same old, and you’re craving a travel experience that’s genuine, Albania is waiting for you with open arms.
9. Adventure sports
From paragliding over the breathtaking coastline to rafting in the wild rivers, Albania offers an array of adventure sports that even the most seasoned athletes would find irresistible.
Here are a few:
Imagine soaring through the sky like a bird, feeling the wind in your face, and looking down at the stunning panorama of Albania’s landscape.
This isn’t a dream! It can be your reality in Albania. Dajti Mountain is considered one of the best spots for paragliding, especially for beginners, due to its easy take-off and landing spots.
Remember, the sky is not the limit; it’s just the view!
Albania is blessed with several rivers that are perfect for rafting.
The Osumi canyons and Vjosa River are the champions of Albanian rafting destinations. The Osumi canyons, known as the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Albania, offer an unforgettable rafting experience during the spring season. One moment, you’re calmly floating along. The next, you’re screaming and laughing your way down thrilling white-water rapids!
So, if you’re into water sports, Albania’s got something for you.
Suppose cycling is more your speed. Albania is home to some of Europe’s most challenging and spectacular biking trails.
The trails in the Albanian Alps take you through small villages, high mountain passes, and lush forests. And it’s a thrill ride as you take in some incredible scenery along the way.
10. Friendly locals
The Albanians are some of the most hospitable and friendly people you’ll ever meet.
With hearts as warm as their sun-drenched beaches, they’ll welcome you with open arms into their homes and lives.
What could be better than getting an insider’s perspective on the best places to eat, party, or see historical sites? The locals are happy to share their customs, traditions, and hidden gems with you.
And no, it’s not because they’re trying to make a quick buck. They’re just that nice!
Imagine this scenario: You’re lost in Berat’s narrow, winding streets, an ancient city known as the “City of a Thousand Windows.” Instead of a dismissive shrug or pointing finger, you’ll likely find a local willing to personally escort you to your destination, sharing stories about the city along the way.
If that’s not hospitality, I don’t know what is.
You’ll be greeted with genuine smiles and friendly chatter everywhere you go, whether spending one day in Tirana or hiking in serene mountain villages.
11. Easy accessibility
Albania is conveniently located on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, flanked by Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.
Thanks to its well-connected roads and sea routes, it’s a popular add-on destination for visitors exploring Albania and the Balkans. Flights to Tirana are serviced by numerous airlines, making the country easily reachable from multiple European cities and other parts of the world.
And public transport is available and reasonably priced once you’re in Albania. Buses and taxis can zip you around the cities, while ferries offer a scenic way to explore the coastline.
Plus, you can’t forget the joy of walking! Many of Albania’s city centers are pedestrian-friendly, allowing you to soak up the local vibe at your own pace.
But the cherry on top?
Due to the country’s size, you can quickly visit multiple cities or regions. If you rent a car, then travel around Albania becomes even easier. You can squeeze in some day trips and visit multiple places in Albania much faster. So, I highly recommend driving in Albania if possible.
So, is it worth exploring Albania? Maybe the question should be, why wouldn’t you?
12. Albania is safe
Freaking out about safety before your Albania trip?
Well, let me assure you, Albania is one of the safest countries you can visit in Europe!
Crime rates are relatively low, and the locals are known for their hospitality and willingness to help visitors.
But, like any travel destination, you should take basic precautions. Avoid walking alone at night in less crowded areas, keep your personal belongings secure, and be aware of your surroundings.
But generally speaking, you’ll find that Albania is as safe as any other European country.
What’s more, the local police are very friendly and help keep Albania safe. They’re always ready to assist, giving you the extra peace of mind you need when exploring a new country.
And with the safety in Albania, that’s just one less thing to worry about when visiting.
When is the best time to visit Albania?
Typically, the best time to visit Albania is between April and June or September and October.
These periods offer mild temperatures, usually between 20°C to 28°C (68°F to 82°F), making it pleasant for sightseeing, beach escapades, or challenging mountain biking.
Want a good beach day on your vacation in Albania?
The summer months from July to August are perfect for soaking up some sunshine on the idyllic Albanian Riviera. Be warned that Albania in the summer can get hot, with temperatures soaring to 30°C (86°F)!
But wait! Are you a history buff or love culture?
The cooler months from November to March might be your perfect pick. The temperatures drop, tourist crowds thin out, and museums and historical sites like the ancient city of Butrint or the iconic Skanderbeg Square, which makes Tirana worth visiting, can be explored at leisure.
Remember, though, every season brings its own charm to this Balkan beauty.
Do you think Albania is worth visiting?
Those are the top reasons why Albania should be on your must-visit list.
And, as you can see, there are tons of things to do in Albania.
It’s an affordable destination that combines stunning natural beauty, a rich history and culture, delectable culinary experiences, and many exciting outdoor activities. Not to mention the warmth and friendliness of the locals. I mean, what’s not to love?
But I want to hear from you. Do you think Albania is worth visiting? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!