Travel Guide to Albania What to Do and See in Albania
Picture of Yves Alarie on Unsplash
General Information About Albania
Albania, also known as the Republic of Albania, is a small country located on the European Balkan Peninsula. This country has coastlines on the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea and is bordered by land with Greece to the south, Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, and North Macedonia to the east.
The capital of Albania is Tirana, where the outstanding National Historical Museum is located, and its official language is Albanian. The current currency in the country is the Albanian Lek and the most widespread religion is Islam.
Albania is characterized by its proliferation of mountains, since the lowlands represent only one seventh of the territory and the average height of the region exceeds a thousand meters above sea level.
Furthermore, Albania has a coastline with many gulfs, capes and extensive typical Mediterranean vegetation, and in the mountainous interior it is possible to find beautiful forests, as this fascinating country is crossed by the Albanian Alps.
Likewise, Albania possesses a vast historical-cultural heritage. Some of the treasures that can be found in it are its incredible castles and archaeological sites.
Location of Albania
Here's where Albania is located:
Map of Albania on Google Maps
What to Do in Albania?
Albania is a country that stands out both for the immense variety of landscapes it offers, and for its cities, declared World Heritage Sites, thanks to the traces of its busy history that we can see everywhere.
Here are some of the highlights that you cannot miss on your trip to Albania.
First of all, Berat, a city with more than 2,000 years of history in which each culture has left its mark, making it a kind of living museum, which is why it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. This is the most famous site in Albania and you definitely cannot miss it.
Also, close to this city is the Osum canyon, a spectacular journey to walk or, why not, rafting.
Another fabulous destination is the coast of the Ionian Sea, as these beaches will leave you in awe thanks to their crystal clear waters and fabulous views.
The ancient city of Butrinto is another of the jewels of Albania, there you will find a fabulous archaeological center where the ruins of ancient civilizations are intermingled with nature that covers the territory.
Another Albanian treasure is the archaeological site of Apollonia, where you will find incredible historical constructions, such as the Temple of Artemis, that you cannot miss.
In the same way, we recommend you visit Gjirokastra, another city included in the Unesco World Heritage list, where you will find traditional Ottoman architecture everywhere from when this empire dominated the region. Its mountainous landscape, its palaces, monuments and parks make it one of the most amazing destinations in the country.
Shkoder is another beautiful city in Albania, where you will find Lake Skadar and the castle of Rozafa, as well as some picturesque bridges.
The Banjat Hot Springs, in turn, are another destination to include in your trip to Albania, as you will love these sulfurous waters and their incredible views of the mountains.
Finally, the Albanian Alps are a mandatory stop on your itinerary. Thanks to the fascinating landscapes that you will see on its trails and the picturesque villages that you will find there, this is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Albania.
Activities To Do in Albania
Albania offers wonderful attractions and things to do for all types of travelers, whether it be for those who enjoy a pure adrenaline holiday, those who enjoy relaxing and contemplating the most beautiful landscapes, or the curious, lovers of history and culture.
Here we mention some of the most entertaining activities that you can carry out in this fascinating country.
Tour Historical Sites
Albania is home to many ancient ruins, including the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its immense archaeological value.
If you travel to Albania, immerse yourself in the past by walking through its incredible traces of history.
Explore the Albanian Alps
The Albanian Alps are home to some of the most beautiful and least explored landscapes in Europe. These offer great opportunities for climbing, camping and adventure sports.
On your trip to Albania do not miss the best kept secret of the old continent
Enjoy the Beach
Albania has a long coastline at the foot of the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. For this reason, the country offers amazing beaches with crystal clear waters for swimming, sunbathing and water sports.
Without a doubt, the beaches of Albania are a great proposal for lovers of relaxation and connection with nature, either resting and appreciating the landscape or interacting with its waters in a day of pure fun and adrenaline.
Explore the Capital City of Tirana
Tirana is a bustling city with an extremely rich cultural legacy, since you will find in it a mixture of Ottoman, Italian and Soviet influences in the architecture of the different buildings that can be seen in it.
Likewise, you will discover in the city museums, galleries and restaurants that will fascinate you.
Explore the Local Cuisine
Albania is known for its delicious food, its thousand-year-old local recipes will make you feel very comforted.
You know, try the delicious cuisine of Albania and enjoy a hug on a plate!
Participate in Cultural Events
Albania has a very rich culture, so you will find that its calendar is marked by many traditional festivities and events to enjoy the Albanian culture.
Delve into the typical events of Albania and live like a local during your trip to this jewel of Europe!
What to Eat and Drink in Albania
Albania is a great destination for lovers of good food, as it has a delicious gastronomic offer, whether you choose to eat in a beautiful restaurant or choose to try one of its street delicacies. Here are some of the tastiest dishes for you to try on your trip to Albania.
First of all, you have to try Byrek, the most famous Albanian food, which is a savory savory cake made with filo pastry of different sizes and types. The most popular version is Byrek with spinach, but they are also frequently sold with gjize cheese or meat.
Likewise, one of the dishes that you cannot miss during your stay is Fërgesë, a typical cream from central Albania made with peppers, tomatoes and cottage cheese, which is usually accompanied with homemade bread.
And if sweet is your passion, you cannot stop ordering the famous Trilece dessert, a cake made with milk, cream and concentrated milk.
As for the most typical drinks of this country, we encourage you to try Raki, a brandy, or the Typical Albanian Skanderbeg Brandy.
Festivals in Albania
The festivities in Albania are very important. These recover the folklore and typical traditions of the region and there are plenty of them, undermining the country's calendar of festivals and a climate of celebration.
Here we mention some of the most outstanding events so that you do not miss them on your trip to Albania.
National Festival of Urban Popular Songs
This festival performs a modern interpretation of traditional music. The city of Elbasan hosts the celebration on the first day of spring every year, in March, and hosts talented artists from all over the country.
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about Albanian folklore and enjoy its beautiful music.
Korca Beer Festival
In this celebration there are four days to exclusively celebrate the love of beer. It has this name in honor of the oldest beer in the country and is celebrated in August.
If you travel to Albania around these dates, enjoy the local beers, you might even end up speaking Albanian.
International Festival of Modern and Contemporary Dance
It is celebrated in Durres in the month of October and it is a cultural festival where you can enjoy the best performing arts and marvel at the skills of the dancers.
Without a doubt, it is an artistic event that you will not regret having participated in.
Albanian Independence Day
It is celebrated on November 28, in commemoration of that date in 1912 when the country achieved independence from the Ottoman Empire.
This national holiday is celebrated with military parades, cultural events and other festivals throughout the country and is a very important time for Albanians to reflect on their history and cultural heritage.
Gjirokaster Folk Festival
This festival is held every four years in September and its objective is to preserve Albanian folk music and culture, named intangible cultural heritage by Unesco.
The curious thing about this festivity is that, because Albania is a center where different religions meet, in this country there are two Easter, one on March 28, the date of Catholic Easter, Pashkët Katolike, and another on May – May 2, the date of Pashkët Ortodokse Orthodox Easter.
Tirana International Film Festival
This festival takes place in November and combines short films and large format films. It has been taking place since 2003 and brings together moviegoers from all over the world to enjoy the seventh art.
How to Get Around Albania
To move around Albania you will find different options. Undoubtedly, the most comfortable will be by car, so renting a car or booking private transfers from Greca are the best alternatives.
If this doesn't convince you, you can also move around the country by bus and minibus, one of the cheapest options to go from one city to another.
You should also take the train into account, as there are many sections that can be done by this means.
The options to organize your itinerary are multiple, so you can access all the highlights of Albania without much difficulty. Of course, keep in mind that some paths require some physical effort, as you will find sections to do on foot.
Best Time To Visit Albania
The best season to visit Albania is from May to September, so we recommend that you take these months into account if you want to enjoy the ideal climate. If you do not have these dates available, do not worry, because you will be able to visit the country the rest of the year, just keep in mind that you may not find the best weather for beach vacations.
What to Give If You Travel to Albania
If you are one of those who enjoy bringing typical gifts from the place you went on a trip to give to your loved ones and you are planning a trip to Albania, you should know that this picturesque country has a vibrant culture with unique folklore that will captivate you.
That is why you will find lots of interesting gift options.
A good option is always to look for handicrafts characteristic of the place, which you will not find anywhere else, and in Albania you will find them of all kinds.
A great alternative is to bring handmade pottery, you will find it everywhere with the most picturesque motifs, or Raki, a typical drink to bring something from Albanian cuisine to the table in any home.
Another good idea is to bring a Cifteli, a native Albanian musical instrument similar to a guitar but with two strings, or Pupas, knitted socks used to stay comfortable inside the home.
Finally, keep in mind the handmade wooden souvenirs, they are a very nice option characteristic of the place.
Cultural Aspects of Albania
The current territory of Albania was inhabited in antiquity by the Illyrians, a group of Indo-European tribes that the Romans called that. The Illyrians did not seek to dominate the seas since they were already under the power of the Greeks, the Romans, the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, therefore, they dedicated themselves to agriculture and livestock.
This generated that many of the previously mentioned towns easily incurred in piracy, invading the coasts and looting the closest inhabitants. However, inland the territory became hostile to non-locals, and this allowed the Illyrians for a while to lead a life protected by the isolation generated by the natural wall of mountains.
However, at some historical moments they had to submit to other civilizations or, at least, join them. This is how the Illyrians were part of the Empire of Alexander the Great, who integrated them into his army to pursue his company to conquer Asia.
Now, with the death of Alexander the Great, the Illyrians rebelled against the Macedonians and expelled them from their territory. In turn, they formed a strong army and fleet, which not only served to defend their State but also dabbled in piracy.
When Roman trade was threatened by the Illyrians, the Romans sought to regain their dominance and a long period of warfare began, ending with Roman domination of the region.
This romanization of the territory of Albania brought with it the Theodosian Line, which divided the Roman empire into two parts. This forever marked the history of Albania, since from then on it became a border between East and West. Border that was exacerbated by the multiple confrontations in the region between peoples with different religions and even more so after the 50 years of communist regime that the country experienced.
The Cultural Legacy of Albania
Albania is one of the most fascinating destinations to visit, not only for its natural beauty but also for its historical interest, since very different cultures passed through this territory and that has left great cultural remnants.
In fact, the five centuries of Turkish rule have determined the main religion in the region: Islam. For this reason you will find that many of their customs are crossed by Islamic culture.
However, the rules of Islam are applied less rigorously than many of its neighboring countries, as this country has a multicultural past.
The Albanians are very cordial and you will find a very hospitable treatment when you arrive at this destination.
Is It Worth Visiting Albania?
Definitely yes! Albania is a region famous for its amazing natural environment and its historical-cultural heritage. In it you will find archaeological sites, forested trails and the most amazing mountainous landscapes.
In turn, due to its proximity to countries like Montenegro and Greece, many tourists combine these destinations with their trip to Albania.
You also have day tours of the sights of Albania. Do not wait any longer to book your excursions through the beautiful land of Albania!
There are many options to stay in Albania, from budget hostels and homestays to luxury hotels with all the comforts. You can also stay in a traditional village or in an apartment for a more authentic experience.
This will depend on the type of trip you want to make around the country. The price of a meal in a cheap restaurant is 1500 Albanian Lek, that is around 12 euros. The price in a mid-range restaurant is 2,500 Albanian Lek, about 20 euros, and in a luxury restaurant 4,000 Albanian Lek, 32 euros, or even more.
This will depend on the type of trip you want to carry out, as you will find options with more comfort and also those that fit a more moderate budget. Of course, this destination is much cheaper than other European destinations and you will find good quality services at an affordable price.
Albania's low season is from November to April, when temperatures are low.
You must have a 6-month passport to enter Albania.
The currency used in this region is the Albanian Lek.
This will depend on your itinerary and your personal preferences, however if you only plan to see the most outstanding sites in Albania, about 7 days will suffice. If, on the other hand, you are interested in knowing a little more than the popular sites, add 3 more days and witness those less explored jewels.
Traveling to Albania is completely safe. However, as in any trip to another part of the world, it is recommended to be cautious.
In Albania there is not a high rate of violent crimes at all, although there are cases of pocket thefts. So by taking some basic precautions you can enjoy a great trip safely.
To book your trip to Albania, you can contact one of Greca's sales representatives or contact us through our official page, completing the form for your site and date of interest.