When you think of an Albania trip, you may imagine thoughts of the quintessential Eastern Europe that many western countries have been fed via movies, television, social media, etc. (Think, Borat.) Admittedly, I suppose, that I too expected and secretly wanted to experience this during my Albania Backpacking trip but Albania simply wasn’t that. It truly broke the preconceived stereotypes I thought I would have of Albania.
Albania backpacking was very easy, as the country is quite modern, affordable and stunning. Full of culture, history and continuing to grow, be sure to add this destination to your list if planing a visit to the Balkans. Many Americans have begun to visit as my flight from Germany was full of American tourists.
Get all the travel information, tips and recommendations you need, from my Albania Backpacking adventure to plan your own travel in Albania using this full guide on Albania.
Albania Backpacking Table of Contents
Plan Your Visit
Albania Backpacking Trip Itinerary
5 Day Trip : 3 days in Tirana, 2 days in Shkodra
Albania Travel Tips
|Cash is king.|
|Credins Bank is the preferred bank to take out cash from ATM’s as they don’t charge fees.|
|Albania is safe for tourists.|
Albania Travel Questions
|Is Albania safe for tourists?||Albania is a safe country to visit as a tourist. People are very friendly and helpful despite the language barrier and many places will have English speakers.|
|How many days are needed to visit Albania?||I would recommend 5 -14 days in Albania depending on how much you want to explore the country. There is a lot to see, do and eat here. We travelled via car for 5 days which allowed us to leisurely visit the northern part of the country but I hear the southern part is very beautiful.|
|Is Albania cheap to visit?||Albania is another budget friendly country in Eastern Europe. Private accommodation will range around $32 USD and meals at about $12 USD per person.|
|When is the best time to visit Albania?||The best time to visit Albania is summer. The weather will be warm and dry. I visited during the month of May and would recommend this time of year as the weather was very favorable without being too hot.|
|What language do they speak in Albania?||People speak Albanian here and as I mentioned above, most tourist places will have English speakers to help any potential language barriers you may have.|
🚗 Car – Since we did a 3 week trip through the Balkans, we opted to rent a car using Qeeq.
Super easy to book, collect and drop off at our final destination which was not the original pick up point.
- You will have to pay for a cross-border insurance card (green card as the locals will call it) when you pass customs from one country to the other. The cost for this green card is 40 EUR ($42 USD) for 15 days and is good for all European countries including Greece.
- Albanians have only been driving for 30 years when communism was abolished and it shows with their driving.
🚗 Bus – Public transport such as buses to get you to other cities in the country are available. Speak to your hotel / hostel for times and how to best book.
What To Eat
- Pispili – Cornbread leek pie
- Fërgesë – Baked cheese with tomatoes and peppers
- Speca te Mbushur me Oriz – Bell peppers stuffed with rice
- Patëllxhan të Mbushur – Baked eggplant stuffed with vegetables
- Petulla – Fried dough
- Qofte – Lamb meatballs (sometimes filled with cheese and resemble more like hamburger patties)
- Tave Mishi – Mixed meat platter
- Sarme – Cabbage rolls filled with meat and rice
- Raki – Traditional alcoholic beverage
Where I Went:
The capital city of Albania and where 1/3rd of the Albanian population resides.
- Vanilla Sky Boutique Hostel – Boutique hostel perfectly located in the night life area of Albania; Block Area. $48 USD a night for a private room & bathroom.
- The Golden Rooster – Super clean and spacious hostel in the more residential side of the city center – 10 min walk from Skanserbeg aka still really close. I say this because some reviews said this hostel was far from the city center which simply isn’t correct. $32 USD for a private room with a shared bathroom.
- Al Pazar Zagra – Simple, tasty grilled meat based restaurant. Try “Traditional Tirana food”, yes vague but delicious and vegetarian.
- Oda – Traditional Albanian cuisine with lots of vegetarian options which in Albania is a big plus. Be sure to make reservations in advance as this restaurant books up quickly.
- Miro – The go to for brunch & breakfast Mon Amour Pasticeri – For those with a sweet tooth, this bakery will not disappoint. Try their pistachio eclairs and almond cookies.
- Hemingway Bar Tirana – Hemingway theme bar with cool decor and a wide selection of rums and tequilas.
- Skanderbeg Monument and Skanderbeg Square in the central city.
- Tirana Free Tour – If you get Eri as your guide, you’re in luck! Eri is simply fantastic and personable. Tours happen everyday at 10am / 6pm daily and the meeting point is in front of the Opera house in Skanderbeg Square.
- Bunk Art 2 – This sprawling bunker was once the nuclear fallout shelter for the dictatorship and contains over 24 rooms full of Albanian communist history. Entry ticket is $4.50 USD pp.
- Block Area – The Bar and nightlife district in Tirana.
- Grand Park of Tirana
- Markata E Peshkut – Popular market with lots of restaurants and activities.
- Durres – [50 min drive from Tirana] The ancient port city, is a destination in its own right, and features some incredible Roman ruins and castles. For beach fun, visit Green Beach Park.
- Gjiri i Lalëzit beach – [46 min drive from Tirana] A local favorite, since it’s a long sandy beach between Durres and Cape of Rodon.
- Cape of Rodon – [1 hour 20 min drive from Tirana] Situated on the northern coast of Albania, the Cape of Rodon is the perfect place to relax with breathtaking views. Entry is $2 USD pp and $1 USD per car and is open from 8am – 8pm daily.
- Driving Tip – At a certain point, the road becomes a curvy dirt road, so an SUV style car is recommended.
Don’t have a car, no problem. Another option is to book a day trip using Get Your Guide which is the preferred booking site for tours in Europe and includes this and other Albanian tours.
Some areas in the city will feel more like the stereotypical Albania we are sold in the western world.
Stay : Mi Casa es Tu Casa, Shkodra Backpackers Hostel – A fantastic, mission driven / woman owned hostel. Personally, a must stay in my opinion if you are in Shkodra. $29 USD for a private room with a shared bath.
- Te Fisi -Traditional/modern cuisine restaurant.
- Any “Cafe Bar” in the town – There are more “Cafe Bars” than restaurants and it feels like such a way of life for Shkodra than any other city in the Balkans I visited. So sit back, relax and enjoy a coffee with locals.
- Shiroka – Gorgeous coastal town with beach access.
- Rozafa Castle – Stunning and a well kept castle. Also the best place in Shkodra to catch the sunset. $3.50 USD pp.
- Tour Komani Lake via ferry – [1.5 hour min drive from Shkodra] If you aren’t driving, there are many tours that offer this as a day trip but if you have the time, I recommend you add multiple days to explore the area. Ferry is $16 USD pp for a return ticket.
Want to discover where else you can visit in the Balkans?
See my Travel Guide Section for tips and recommendations for other bordering countries from Albania. Learn how to get there, where to stay, eat and what to do!