Is Albania Worth Visiting?
If you’re wondering ‘is Albania worth visiting’, you’ve come to the right place! When we first told people that we were going to be spending almost a month road-tripping the country, we were met with confused looks and questions such as “why would you want to go to Albania?” so we get it.
That being said, Albania has gained a lot of traction over on social media recently and rightly so. It’s one of our favourite countries for SO many reasons, so the answer is yes, Albania is 100000% worth visiting!
Filled with beautiful beaches, stunning natural beauty, vibrant towns and cities, friendly locals and a whole lot of history, Albania offers something for everyone.
We’ve put together the 30 best reasons why Albania is worth visiting below.
30 Reasons Why Albania Is Worth Visiting
1. Stunning Coastline
Albania has gained the reputation of being the ‘Maldives of Europe’ and whilst we’d say this may be a little over exaggerated, there’s no argument that the beaches are absolutely stunning. Think white sand, the bluest most crystal clear seas, warm temperatures, and you’ll understand.
If you’re heading to Albania for a beach holiday you won’t be disappointed. Reminiscent of the Greek Islands (and in fact you can even see Corfu from a lot of places), but at a fraction of the price, the beaches in Albania are definitely worth a visit.
With a rugged coastline stretching over 265 miles, there are so many beach destinations to choose from. Here’s just a few:
- Ksamil – Best for pristine beaches and relaxed atmosphere
- Saranda – Best for lively atmosphere and vibrant nighlife
- Himarë – Best for scenic coastline and outdoor activities
- Dhërmi – Traditional hillside town and laidback vibe
- Borsh – Longest sandy beach in Albania and serene atmosphere
- Vlorë – Best for history, culture, and delicious cuisine
2. Unspoiled Natural Beauty
The natural beauty in Albania is just next level. Think mountains of Austria and coastline of Croatia and you might be somewhat close to describing Albania.
Not only does it have incredible mountains, stunning beaches, pine forests and the like, Albania is full of some incredible natural wonders too, which we’ll go into more detail about below.
The difference between Albania and other countries in Europe, is that you’ll get these natural sites almost all to yourself!
3. Thermal Baths
Tucked away in the South of Albania (though perfectly accessible by car), is the Bënjë Thermal Baths. This little slice of heaven is home to four different thermal baths of varying temperatures, plus a beautiful Ottoman-era bridge.
This is a seriously hidden gem that is definitely worth a visit. When you arrive, you’ll be met by the bridge with the main pool on the right and a little pool tucked away on the left. If you walk upstream, you’ll find the other two pools.
Set in a stunning gorge with huge cliffs towering over you, it will feel as though you’re in Jurassic Park, not Albania!
4. The Blue Eye
Albania is home to two ‘blue eyes’ which are truly breathtaking. The first is located around a 30-minute drive from Saranda, while the other is located in Theth National Park.
These natural springs contain the bluest, clearest water you’ll have ever seen. No one really knows how deep the Blue Eye actually is, with divers reaching a depth of 50m and still not hitting the bottom.
The Blue Eye near Saranda can get pretty busy so we recommend visiting early to enjoy the peace and quiet of Albania’s nature before others arrive.
It costs 50 lek per person to enter (cash only) and is a short walk through nature to arrive.
Please note, that swimming in the Blue Eye is forbidden to protect this natural phenomenon.
5. Dramatic Mountain Landscapes
Did you know, approximately 70% of Albania is mountainous?! So if you love being in the mountains, Albania is definitely worth visiting!
At every twist and turn, you’re surrounded by towering mountains that make you feel so tiny and act as an amazing backdrop to your beach days. There really is something captivating about swimming in stunning blue seas whilst gazing up at the mountains all around you.
Whilst the whole country is mountainous, to truly enjoy the best of the mountains, we’d recommend heading north to Theth to explore the best of Theth National Park.
6. Amazing Hikes
Okay, so a country that’s 70% mountainous has to have some pretty good hikes right? Theth National Park is home to hiking in Albania, though it’s not the only place you can hike!
One for the bucketlist has to be the Theth to Valbona hike, where you’ll scale the 1795m Valbona Peak with incredible views over the surrounding landscape.
If you don’t feel quite up for climbing a mountain, Theth has other incredible (and easier!) hikes including the waterfall and blue eye hikes.
We personally also loved the Maja e Tujanit hike from Tirana.
7. Adventure Activities
Albania is an amazing destination for all the adrenaline junkies out there! From white water rafting down the spectacularly blue Vjosa River, to exploring the Osum Canyon, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.
8. Breathtaking Sunsets
I know you could say that about a lot of places, but honestly, we’ve never seen sunsets like we did in Albania. Every night the sky lit up in the most incredible shades of orange, pink and purple.
As the Albanian coast is west-facing, the sun sets over the sea every night – what’s more spectacular than that?!
One of our favourite memories from our entire Albania trip is spending one evening sitting on top of an old nuclear bunker on a clifftop near Ksamil, watching the sun set over the sea. It was just magical.
9. Easy To Get Around
One reason why Albania is worth visiting is that it’s so easy to explore. The small size of the country means most destinations are pretty close together which makes a multi-destination trip much more accessible.
The roads are well maintained and there’s public transport between major cities. To get more off the beaten path without your own car, taxis are very affordable.
10. Scenic Drives
Driving through Albania is honestly a pleasure. The roads are generally well-maintained and the drives are just so scenic.
With lots of little places to stop at along the way, Albania is the perfect place for a road trip.
11. Rich History
Just 30 years ago, Albania opened its doors to tourists for the first time following a strict and brutal communist regime. This story is told not only in museums throughout the country but by the people roaming its streets.
Yet, Albania’s history stretches back much further, from playing an important role in the Second World War, to four decades of Ottoman rule, Roman occupation, and the Byzantine Empire, it’s fascinating to learn about.
If you’re a history buff, Albania is definitely worth visiting.
12. Communist Bunkers
During Albania’s communist past, over 70,000 bunkers were built across the country by their paranoid dictator, Enver Hoxha.
Now, they’ve simply been destroyed or abandoned. This means you’re almost guaranteed a citing of the eery structures, a reminder of a dark period in Albania’s history, though they’re quite cool to explore.
One of our favourite road trip games was “bunker”, where the person to spot the most communist bunkers during a drive would win. They really are that frequent!
13. Impressive Castles
Almost every town in Albania is home to an impressive castle! And unlike other places in Europe, you’ll often have them almost all to yourself.
One of the best things to do is to spend a morning or an afternoon exploring, taking in the amazing views over the castle walls, and learning the stories that come with so much history.
14. Fascinating Museums
One reason why you need to visit Albania is the enormous number of fascinating museums. Even if you’re not normally the museum type (and we’re not overly), you need to visit at least a couple to truly understand the country and how it is now.
They’re truly eye-opening.
Best museums to visit:
- Bunk’Art 1 – Immersive experience focused on life during communism and the dictator Enver Hoxha
- Bunk’Art 2 – A more haunting experience about the atrocities committed during the communist regime
- House of Leaves – museum of the secret service during communism
- Gjirokastra Museum – Details the fascinating history of Gjirokastra (trust me, there’s a lot to take in!)
15. Archaeological Sites
As Albania has such a rich history, it’s no surprise that there are several unique archaeological sites to explore! From Byzantine to Roman and Ottoman ruins, they’re a blend of so many different cultures and stories.
Archaeological sites you need to visit:
- Butrint National Park – located just outside of Ksamil, this is probably the most famous and busiest! Arrive early and plan to spend 2-3 hours exploring. Entrance fee is 1000 Albanian lek.
- Apollonia National Park – our personal favourite. Located near to Fier and just off the main road, this feels like a true hidden gem! There won’t be many tourists but the site is HUGE! Spend 2-3 hours here (or longer to enjoy the countryside!). Entrance fee is just 600 Albanian lek.
16. UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Albania is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites that really are worth visiting. These include: the historic centres of Gjirokastra and Berat, Lake Orhid, and Butrint National Park.
These are all easy to get to, especially if you’ve got a car, and definitely worth their UNESCO title.
17. Unique Cities
You won’t find cities like those in Albania!
The Ottoman architecture is apparent throughout, with every city having a completely different vibe! For example, Berat is known as the city of a thousand windows whereas the streets of Shkodër are painted in pastel colours and reminiscent of Paris.
18. Vibrant Capital City
While most people skip Tirana, the capital of Albania, it’s worth visiting in our opinion!
The city has so much life, the hospitality is incredible everywhere you go, people just want to chat with you (despite a language barrier) and it’s so colourful!
Following the fall of communism, Tirana was full of the typical brutalist-style grey buildings and the people had low spirits. To cheer everyone up, the president, who was also an artist, decided to paint all the buildings bright colours and it definitely worked!
19. Warm Hospitality
As we mentioned previously, everyone we met in Albania was so so kind. From our guesthouse hosts to restaurant owners and people we passed by on the streets, our hearts were so warmed by the kindness of everyone. We’ve never been to a country quite like it.
We wanted to go to a restaurant in Berat we’d heard a lot about, but when we arrived it was fully booked and the owner genuinely almost cried at having to turn us away!
We had locals help us get a tire changed, and others that pumped them up for free.
If we had an issue, the locals went out of their way to help us. If they didn’t understand, they’d use Google Translate or find someone else who could help.
The kindness of the people really made our time in Albania. They welcome you into their country with open arms and genuinely want to make your stay unforgettable.
20. Albania Is Cheap!
Compared to a lot of places in Europe, particularly those located along the Mediterranean, Albania is very affordable! With hotel rooms and apartments from £25 per night in high season, and a meal out setting you back around £12 for two people, your money can go far!
It is a very affordable country to travel and the value for money is exceptional. Oh, and did we mention, you can get homemade gelato for just 40p?!
21. Lively Markets
Every town and city in Albania is home to a market that is unique to the place you’re visiting! For example, Krujë is known for its wood, so a lot of the products are wooden, whereas Gjirokastra is known for stone so you can find more items like this.
Bigger cities such as Tirana and Shkodër are home to huge fresh fruit and veg markets which are super affordable and way better quality than we’d find in the UK.
22. Albanian Food
We couldn’t talk about why Albania is worth visiting without mentioning the food. It’s incredible.
Dishes you need to try:
- Dollma – One of my favourites, is grapevine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs and cooked in a tomato sauce.
- Stuffed peppers – Often stuffed with rice and vegetables though meat options are available
- Stuffed aubergine – Another of my favourites, the aubergine is stuffed with onion and garlic and baked in tomato sauce for a super tender dish.
- Byrek – Layered pastry stuffed with various things from herbs to cheese and meats. Albania has little byrek stores where you can get a piece for just 60 Albanian lek (50p!)
- Rice balls – Deep fried rice, bound together with egg and containing various herbs.
23. Longest Cable Car in the Balkans
Did you know Tirana is home to the longest cable car in the Balkans?
This cable car ride is super scenic, rising above the hills and into the Mt Dajti National Park. It was honestly the most relaxing cable car ride we’ve ever been on – it was so quiet!!
At the top, there’s a little adventure park where you can play crazy golf and go horse riding, or you can head for a hike in the mountains.
24. Weather in Albania
Albania is blessed with some amazing weather. The coastal areas have a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters, making it a good year-round destination to visit.
If you’d rather see a bit of snow, then you’re in luck too! The mountainous regions can receive up to 3m of snow every winter, with ski resorts found in the Valbona National Park.
25. Fewer Tourists
Whilst Albania is growing in popularity, it still has nowhere near the number of tourists as nearby Greece or Croatia. With plenty of space on the beaches and towns where you quite possibly could be some of the only tourists there, it still feels like an undiscovered gem.
2024 is the perfect time to visit Albania as tourism levels are expected to keep on rising! Visit now while you can still experience its authentic culture and charm.
26. Albania Is Safe To Visit
Albania has a reputation for being a dangerous country, but let me set that straight right now. Albania is NOT a dangerous country at all. In fact, we felt incredibly safe the entire time we were there, even when flashing our cameras about.
Whilst we’d still recommend you take the usual precautions you would when visiting anywhere, Albania is a very safe country to visit in our experience.
27. Hidden Gems
As Albania is still relatively undiscovered, it’s home to some real hidden gems for you to explore! You can even get places almost all to yourself.
Places that felt like complete hidden gems to us include: Përmet, Dajti National Park, Apollonia National Park, Dhërmi old town, Lake Shokdra, and Theth Waterfall.
28. Coffee Culture
If you’re a coffee lover, Albania is for you! There is a huge café culture and the locals love to sit outside with an espresso whilst people-watching and gossiping with their friends.
If you head to any major city you’ll be met with an abundance of (cheap) cafés. An espresso will typically set you back just 100 Albanian lek (80p!).
For Albania’s answer to Starbucks, head to Mulliri Vjeter (hint: it’s a lot better!).
29. Religious Diversity
Nowhere does diversity quite like Albania. During the communist dictatorship, religion was banned and all religious buildings were either destroyed or turned into public places such as libraries and sports halls.
Today, Albania is a blend of Muslim and Christian faith, with mosques built next to cathedrals and everyone respecting each other’s religion.
There is no religious tension like there is in other countries as everyone knows what it was like to lose their faith. If there’s a Christian holiday, Muslims will also close their shops and restaurants out of respect and vice versa.
The harmony in Albania is like nowhere else and it has to be experienced.
30. Unique Blend Of Old And New
With such a complex history and such a bright future, Albania blends old and new perfectly. You can be walking through an Old Bazaar and be met with a beautiful luxury hotel the other side.
This might sound like a shame, however, Albania does it in a way that it just seems to blend perfectly. The architecture is innovative and interesting and adds a vibrancy to the cities that you may not expect. It’s definitely worth seeing.
Visiting Albania: FAQs
Should I visit Albania in 2024?
YES! As you can see above, there are SO many good reasons to visit Albania and 2024 is the perfect time to go as it’s just going to keep getting more popular! We urge you to go now and see the real authentic Albania and revel in its beauty.
Is Albania safe for tourists?
Albania is most definitely safe for tourists. It’s home to some of the most friendly people we’ve met in any country, always eager to help. We never felt unsafe once on our trip through Albania.
Of course, take all the usual precautions you would while travelling and make sure you have good quality travel insurance, but honestly Albania is a perfectly safe place to travel.
Can I travel Albania on a budget?
Albania is the perfect place to travel on a budget!
Compared to most European countries, including its neighbours of Greece and Croatia, Albania is pretty budget-friendly.
You can get a nice hotel room for less than £25 per night and a meal out will generally only set you back around £12 for 2 people.
What’s the best way to travel Albania?
This completely depends on what you want from your trip. If you want to see beautiful natural places and move away from the beaches, we would recommend hiring a car to get the most out of your time.
Public transport is available between major cities such as Tirana and Sarande, though it can be a little unreliable.
What’s the best time of year to visit?
Honestly, there’s no bad time to visit Albania! Winters in Albania are cold and snowy, whilst summers can be incredibly hot. To avoid the extremes (and a lot of the tourists) consider visiting from April-June or September-October.
What language do they speak in Albania?
Albanian is the official language of Albania with 98% of the country speaking it. It’s worth being aware that very few people in Albania speak English, particularly the older generations, so have Google Translate at the ready! The language barrier was never an issue for us and locals were more than happy to communicate via Google Translate.
What currency do they use?
Albania has its own currency – the Albanian Lek – although a lot of places do accept Euros. However, paying in Lek will always get you a better rate.
Please be aware that very few places in Albania accept card so make sure you’re always carrying cash. The only bank in Albania offering cash withdrawals with no transaction fee is Credins Bank though you won’t find it in every town and city.
Wrap Up: Is Albania Worth Visiting?
If you’re after stunning beaches, jaw-dropping mountain ranges, vibrant cities, and welcoming locals, Albania is most definitely worth visiting.
Albania has something to offer for every type of traveller. If you’re after a laidback holiday by the beach or want to challenge yourself to a hike in the mountains, this is definitely the place for you.
Whilst it is still relatively undiscovered, the locals are waiting to welcome you with open arms and the people you meet will be the highlight of your trip.
There really is no country quite like Albania. If you’re still wondering whether Albania is worth visiting, just trust us and add it to your bucketlist. You won’t regret it.