Updated: Jul 18
Albania is one of those countries that has lacked mass tourism for a long time, but it's on the rise and here’s why. People are starting to realise it has the natural beauty of its Balkan counterparts like Greece and Croatia and now it finally has the infrastructure to support this wave of expected tourism. Its turbulent history is an obvious reason that explains its low tourist numbers, but the most important thing you have to realise is that it is an incredibly safe country, than its former communist days.
5 useful facts about Albania
The main language is Albanian, although Albanians are known to speak Italian, French, Greek, German and English to good levels.
The country is ethnically homogenous which means there is a low variety of different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, languages etc.
The capital and largest city is Tirana, which is the home of approximately 500,000 people. This is also the most popular route into the country via Tirana Airport.
Albania in Albanian is Shqipëri and the currency they use is the Lekë.
The country gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912 when the Vlorë proclamation was signed.
Why you should visit Albania
Whilst it may seem obvious, summers are hot and dry which make it the best time to visit Albania. Going at this time will allow you to truly see what the Balkan country has to offer such as its seriously sublime coastlines. It is also home to a truly-wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site called Butrint, right on the Albanian Riviera and the border with Greece.
The locals are incredibly friendly, and often don't get enough credit. Take a walking tour of the capital Tirana to not only understand the country's amazing history and culture but to meet these wonderful locals. If you'd rather not walk take advantage of the city's handy public transportation.
Albania's history is very complex but incredibly interesting, and visiting the wonderful country now will allow you to see how far it has come since the communist era.
Unlike some of the more touristy areas on the “med” like Greece, Italy, Croatia, South France and East Spain, Albania is considerably cheaper. The GDP per capita in Albania is just $5.2k which is a fraction of their neighbours. Therefore, you can expect to spend almost nothing on food, hotels and shopping.
For UK tourists, travelling to Albania doesn’t offer many routes but British Airways, Wizz Air and easyJet offer direct flights from London airports. No visa is required either for British arrivals, as long as your not planning on staying for longer than 90 days.
Best Hotels in Albania
Here are some of the best places we have found to stay in Albania:
Villa Pascucci, Durrës.
This stunning 5 star hotel has been rated superb on Booking.com, 5 out of 5 on Tripadvisor and 4.8 stars on Google. This hotel gives you the opportunity to pay a fraction of the price for a luxury hotel compared to other countries in Europe. The hotel is just 750 yards away from the beautiful Durrës beach, which is perfect for those wanting a relaxing break.
Capital Tirana Hotel, Tirana.
Located in central Tirana, in the New Bazaar district, is the spectacular Capital Tirana Hotel. Traditional Albanian design dominates the hotel’s interior which adds a beautiful uniqueness. Prices tend to stay around the £50 mark all year round which is why we believe it's one of the best places to stay in Albania.
Areela Boutique Hotel, Tirana.
If romance is the motive of your trip, then the Areela Boutique Hotel might just be exactly what you’re looking for. Its beautifully elegant rooms and idyllic theme provide the perfect base for a romantic getaway. Google has it down as a 3 star hotel, but you would absolutely be forgiven for thinking it was a 4 or even 5 star hotel.
Best Restaurants in Albania
Here are the best places to get a taste of authentic Albanian cuisine
ODA provides some of the best, authentic Albanian food. It is TripAdvisor’s traveller’s choice for Albanian food in 2021. Expect brilliant portion sizes and a brilliant representation of Albanian cuisine. Make sure you try their Fërgesë, which is one of the country’s national dishes, consisting of cottage cheese and peppers.
Artur Restaurant, Durrës
The home of some of the most amazing seafood is Artur Restaurant in Durrës. All seafood is sourced locally which is why it is rated so highly by locals and the tourists that visit the city. Artur says that they put their heart and soul into every dish and create everything from scratch so you can be sure to have an amazing dining experience.
Novus Traditional Food, Vlorë
As the name suggests, this restaurant specialises in traditional Albanian food and is perfect for those travelling on a budget. Dishes tend to range from £4-£9 so expect to pay minimal prices for wonderful food. Novus cooks everything fresh to order and will leave you wondering why you never tried traditional Albanian food earlier in your life.
Make sure you get travel insurance before travelling as healthcare is not free, unlike the UK, however, we wish you a trouble-free and brilliant holiday! For more travel advice, tips and to keep up with the latest blogs follow us on Instagram.