Albania

If you think you know Albania, think again. This addictive country has a myriad faces. In the rugged north, the Alps are so fierce they're 'accursed', while the south enjoys one of Europe’s least known and most beautiful coastlines. Tirana is filled with craziness, from its traffic to its nightlife, but on its doorstep are mosques, citadels, Ottoman architecture and a stunning dose of medieval Balkans. The real surprise of Albania is the people. Their warmth to strangers is infectious and you’re bound to find yourself swapping stories over a glass of raki or three.

Albania Tours & Travel

All our Albania trips

Ohrid lake

Dubrovnik to Athens

15 days from
USD $2,857.50
CAD $2,902.50
AUD $2,857.50
EUR €2,358.00
GBP £1,795.50
NZD $3,289.50
ZAR R27,616.50
CHF FR2,907.00

Explore highlights and hidden treasures while travelling through Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Greece on...

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Colourful fishing boat, Syros

Dubrovnik to Santorini

22 days from
USD $4,195.00
CAD $4,250.00
AUD $4,395.00
EUR €3,070.00
GBP £2,640.00
NZD $5,235.00
ZAR R40,185.00
CHF FR3,785.00

Witness the jewels of the Mediterranean, from Dubrovnik to Santorini. Explore the old towns of Montenegro, Croatia’s...

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Temple Zeus, Greece

Dubrovnik to Istanbul

29 days from
USD $5,285.00
CAD $5,360.00
AUD $5,565.00
EUR €3,870.00
GBP £3,330.00
NZD $6,595.00
ZAR R50,655.00
CHF FR4,775.00

Travel from Croatia through Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia and Greece to finish in Turkey. Explore fabulous European...

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About Albania

At a glance

Trips Available: 3
Capital city: Tirana (population 300,000)
Population: 3.2 million
Language: Albanian
Currency: ALL
Time zone: (GMT+01:00) Sarajevo, Skopje, Warsaw, Zagreb
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth)
Dialing code: +355

Best time to visit Albania

While the interior of the country sweats it out, summers along Albania’s Riviera are warm, fresh and bustling. When winter arrives so does the rain, but with temperatures above freezing for most of the country, it’s still easy to get out and about. November to March can mean heavy snowfalls in the Alps, so if you’re a fan of the white stuff it’s a great time to head to the hills.

Albanian weather chart

Geography and environment

River Gorge In Albania
Perched along the western coast of the Balkan Peninsula, Albania borders some of Europe’s most colourful countries. Italy is within waving distance across the Strait of Otranto, Greece is to the south and Montenegro and Kosovo border to the north. This is one wild country. Most of the interior is covered with rugged mountain ranges and deep valleys. In the south, the snowy peaks give way to the sparkling waters of the Ionian Sea; Albania’s Riviera where honeymooners flock and Corfu Island is just within arm’s reach.

Top Picks

Berat

Top 5 Albanian Citadels

1. Berat

Albania's most charming medieval town is home to an amazingly well-preserved citadel. Surrounded by ancient stone walls, the citadel encloses dozens of churches and historic buildings while the white Ottoman houses clambering up the hillside to the castle have earned the town the nickname ‘City of a Thousand Windows’.

2. Gjirokastra

This 13th-century citadel is hammered into the mountain top and boasts beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture. Explore the kules and the fortress once used as a prison by the Nazis. Don’t forget to look at the views of the valley plunging below and say ‘Ohhhhh…’.

3. Kruja

Once the headquarters of Skanderbeg, Albania's national hero, Kruja Castle dates back to the 4th century, but it wasn’t until the 15th century that it really started to earn its keep. For 30 years it resisted the advances of the Turks, before finally falling to the Ottomans. Now it’s a little more peaceful and a nice spot to take in the views of olive groves, goats and the sprawling landscape.

4. Rozafa

Like all good citadels, Rozafa once rose imposingly over the region. Now in partial ruins, it’s still impressive. A stroll along its walls will transport you back to Illyrian times.

5. Pertrela

Perched on a rocky hill near Tirana, the fortress of Pertrela was part of the signalling and defense system for Kruja Castle during the 15th century. Today, it’s one of Albania's best preserved fortifications with spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains.

FAQs on Albania

Tipping isn’t mandatory in Albania but it’s common to round up the bill in a restaurant and a tip of 5-10% for good service will always be appreciated.
Albania’s cities and tourist centres have plenty of Wi-Fi hotspots and internet access is available in pretty much all hotels. Outside of the major towns, access is less reliable but most towns will have an internet café.
Mobile phone coverage may be limited outside of major centres. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone.
Albania’s toilets are usually of the flushing kind, but don’t be surprised if you come across the occasional squat toilet. Expect to pay a small fee when visiting public toilets.
Cup of coffee in a cafe = 100 ALL
Beer in a bar or restaurant = 200 ALL
Simple lunch = 300 ALL
Dinner in an inexpensive restaurant = 750 ALL
Tap water may not be safe to drink in Albania. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, bring water purification tablets or ask your leader where filtered water can be found.
Only the major hotels in Tirana accept credit cards and outside the capital they’re unlikely to be accepted. Be sure to carry multiple methods of payment.
ATMs are becoming more and more common throughout Albania. In most towns you should have access to a machine. Always be prepared by having enough cash just in case.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Mar 7 Orthodox Christmas Day
Mar 15 Summer Day
Mar 21 Nowruz (Persian New Year)
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labor Day
May 5 Orthodox Easter Sunday
Aug 8 Lesser Bairam
Oct 15 Greater Bairam
Oct 19 Beatification of Mother Teresa Day
Nov 28 Flag and Independence Day
Nov 29 Liberation Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/albania/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Albania Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Albania

1. Be considerate of Albania’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

8. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Hidden MacedoniaChristopher Deliso
Gypsy of the SeaHelen Dean Brewer
Chronicle in StoneIsmail Kadare
BiografiLloyd Jones
The Three-Arched BridgeIsmail Kadare
Out of AlbaniaLawrence O. Abbott