Albania is located in Southeast Europe. On its northern border, you’ll find both Montenegro to the west and Kosovo to the east. The Republic of Macedonia is located on its eastern side. Greece is to the south and southeast.
Things To Do In Albania
A significant portion of the country’s income is from tourism. The Adriatic and the Ionian Sea Coast represent the majority of Albania’s tourism industry. Unsurprisingly, pristine beaches are one of the area’s many draws. It has taken two decades, however, for Albania’s tourism industry to soar. This industry boom is due in large part to its long history of communist government.
Fortunately, its unique attractions have increased its popularity. In fact, many of them have ranked the country as one of the top tourist destinations. See ancient mountains, archaeological haunts, national parks, world heritage sites, and villages unchanged by time.
However, do not neglect to explore each separate region! Three distinct areas make up Albania. Each section is beautiful and unique.
Coastal Albania: The Albanian Coast that borders both the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. Albanian Riviera is the area under the Ceraunian Mountains, which begins south of Llogara National Park, and runs along the Ionian Sea. It has become internationally known after the Top Gear episode with a fascinating car pursuit along the coast. And in 2012 Frommer’s has called it Top Value Destination of the year. Albanian Riviera is a major eco tourism, luxury vacation, and nightlife destination. It also hosts several world famous music festivals.
Northeastern Albania: The interior region found to the north of the Shkumbin River, it borders Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia.
Southeastern Albania: The inland region found south of the Shkumbin River, it borders both Macedonia and Greece. This area includes both of the great border lakes, Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa.
WHEN TO GO
Albania Has a varied climate all throughout. The temperature is decided by the elevation in the mountainous region rather than latitude or other factors.
Winter temperatures are a mild 5-7 degree Celsius. Summers are great to explore the beaches. And as it is not a hyped tourist destination, the tourist places remain sans crowd around the year.
WHAT TO WEAR
Even though Albania is thought to be a Muslim-majority nation, it is not true. Most of the population is either atheist or agnostic. And the rest are Muslims, Catholics, and other religion.
That is why the country has a secular feel to it. In the beaches, you can wear shorts, tanks, and flip flops. But when you visit mosque or churches you need to cover up your shoulders, knees, and head( especially in the mosque).
If you visit in summers, then wear comfortable t-shirts and shorts, and if it is in winters, then a light jacket will suffice.
Albanian is the major language used in the country. If you do not know Albanian, then Italian can come in handy because most of the population speak Italian. And if you do not know Italian then it is better you learn some important words and phrases before going there.
English is understandable in most of the tourist cities and Tirana. You can say “Per-shen-det-yeh” means Hello and “Fa-la-min-dair-eet” means Thank you, In Albanian.
FREE Wi-Fi & SIM CARDS
Finding free Wi-Fi in Albania is tricky. There are a few areas where you can find an internet connection. But once you are in the rural area then Free Wi-Fi is a no-no. Tirana has an abundant amount of Free Wi-Fi- Many hotels and hostels have spots.
Saranda also has a few places, but other than that it is hard to find it anywhere in Dhermi, Gjirokrasta, and Korce. Not many hotels have free Wi-Fi. Check with the hotel before booking, so you can know whether it provides Free Wi-Fi or not.
The official currency is Lek. The approximate exchange rate is Lek130 for US$1. Currency exchange is available at bureaus de change and banks. Credit cards are acceptable only by major hotels and restaurants. However, ATMs are available widely. Every town has at least one.
ELECTRICITY & PLUG TYPE
In Albania, they use electric sockets of types C and F, as everywhere in Europe. The standard voltage is 230V.
Many people in Albania are of Muslim Heritage, and a fair amount is of Greek Origin as well. The Albanians live a balanced life of traditional and modern. They respect their guests, and you also need to be open minded and respect their tradition.
Albanians are serious about their food. That is why you might see gardens in every house- growing various kinds of herbs and vegetables. And the locals also love visiting the restaurants.
You can taste the variety of pies and puddings here. The main meat used here is Lamb, which is bred and fed with much care. Another thing to try is the famous dish of Balkans- Baklava( a dessert made of nuts and almonds).
If you want to travel like a local in Albania, then use “furgons.” These are fastest, expensive and traditional means of transport. There is no station of furgons like a bus stand, but when you see a group of white and red minibusses huddled together, you will know it.
Most furgons run from Tirana to various tourist locations. The cost of furgons is higher than buses. And it won’t leave until all the seats are filled up. Buses are also a good way to get around but they are slow, there are no bus stations, so they leave from street corners.
Roads are in poor condition. The mountain rides you take in a bus is going to be frightening. There are no barriers to protect the bus if it goes out of control. In that case, the bus goes downhill. Other than the roads in the cities and tourist areas, much of the in-between roads are not well kept. And the speed limit keeps changing frequently.
RENTING Vs BUS, TRAIN, TAXI
You will choose either the bus or the furgons which are the only means of public transport. The railroads are in miserable conditions, so don’t bother with it.
Taxis are relatively economical for short journeys around cities. However, for intercity journeys, it is better to rent a car. Car hire service is available in Tirana from international companies. Roads are in good condition. Cars drive on the right. However, many roads are mountainous. Also, car rental may be more expensive than in Northern Europe and North America. It can be cheaper to book a car with a driver in advance.
Be ready to be blown out of your mind as Albania is most probably the cheapest country in Europe. A double bedroom with ensuite bathroom costs you only $20. And just keep aside $10 for a meal + $ 5 for a drink. If you go on a shopping spree, then you can get five chic dresses in $100. So, $40 -$50 a day is enough for an Albanian tour.
HOW MANY DAYS TO VISIT ALBANIA
You can visit Tirana, Berat, and Saranda in a week, and make a day trip to Ksamil and Butrint for the beaches. Ten days is enough to discover Albania’s underrated beauty. But if you want to visit other European countries like Greece, Macedonia along with itthen you can expand your time also.
HOW TO REACH
If you are touring the European countries, then you can take a bus from Istanbul, Athens, and Tetovo to Tirana. But there are also air services running between the countries. Mother Teresa International Airport is the Airport in Tirana with just 20 minutes from the city center.
You can reach the city by taking a taxi from the airport (book online on MerrTaxi) or take the bus Rinas Express that runs every hour from the airport to Skanderberg Square.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel rooms in cities or major tourist areas cost as low as $18 for a luxurious room. Finding hotels in less developed areas is hard. Still, there are a few in Gjirokastra.
And if you do not find a room you can befriend a local and ask to be a paying guest. It is the best way to experience the Albanian culture, above all they will treat you superbly.
HOW SAFE IS ALBANIA
As a sensible traveler, you need to avoid sketchy areas in Albania. You also need to be extra careful if you are driving on Albanian Roads. And above all beware of the no traffic lights in some streets. Water is not safe to drink everywhere, so ask for bottled water.
Although overlooked by many, Albania is well worth a visit. Be sure to consider adding it to your travel itinerary!
July 12, 2016 12:00 am 1 Comment