If you’re wondering whether you should visit Albania, I’ve got two words for you: DO IT!
And if Albania isn’t on your bucket list yet, or you aren’t sure why you should visit Albania, you’re in the right place. This post is entirely about why you should visit Albania and I guarantee that after reading, you’ll be adding this hidden gem to your travel list!
Where is Albania?
Albania is considered a Mediterranean country, with close to 300 miles of coastline on the Adriatic Sea.
It’s definitely overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, but Albania is a hidden gem that still has plenty to offer!
12 Reasons to Visit Albania
1. Gorgeous Scenery
Whether you are into beaches or hiking, there is something in Albania for you.
From the gorgeous beaches on the Albanian Riviera to the stunning scenery of the Albanian Alps, the country is filled with amazing scenery!
2. Beautiful Beaches
Being on the Mediterranean coast, Albania has some fantastic beaches! In fact, some say the beaches in Albania are among the best in Europe!
The southern part of the coast is often called the Albanian Riviera, with plenty of gorgeous sand beaches to choose from.
But unlike other countries in the Mediterranean, Albania’s beaches aren’t too crowded.
Unfortunately we visited in November and it was too chilly to swim but that didn’t stop us from still enjoying the beaches!
3. Albanian Alps
You’ll find mountains all through Albania, but the Albanian Alps in the northern part of the country are spectacular!
There are plenty of excellent hiking opportunities in the Albanian Alps, including both short day hikes or longer hikes, such as the well-know hike between Valbonë and Theth.
4. It’s Not Crowded
While Albania is becoming a popular place to visit, there are still not as many tourists as you will find in other European countries.
Which is a good thing – you won’t find yourself waiting in long entrance lines or stuck behind groups of tourists. Go and visit now while it’s still relatively tourist free!
5. Great Weather
Albania has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Temperatures rarely dip below zero, except during the winter in the mountainous regions.
(For a Canadian, this is still considered warm for us!)
Summer in Albania is gorgeous, with plenty of sunshine, especially along the coast!
6. Ancient History
Albania has a history that rivals both Greece and Rome.
Throughout Albania, you’ll find traces of ancient Roman rule, such as the remains of a Roman amphitheatre in Durres and Roman ruins in Butrint that are about 2000 years old.
Albania was influenced by the Ottomans as well, and you can see this in Berat, with its beautifully preserved Ottoman architecture.
7. Fascinating Recent History
Until a few decades ago, Albania was under strict communist rule and completely closed off to the outside world. In the 1990’s, Albania started opening its borders and the western influence started trickling in.
You can still see evidence of the communist rule throughout the country as there are still thousands of bunkers left.
In Tirana you can visit the Bunk Art Museum to learn more about Albania’s communist history.
8. The Xhiro
Albanians are known for many things, but among those is the evening walk, or xhiro.
Many Albanian towns have a pedestrian street and after dinner, you’ll see Albanians, young and old, go for their evening walk.
It’s a great time to sit at a cafe and people watch – unless you want to join in and take your own xhiro!
9. Cheap Prices
While most of Eastern Europe is fairly inexpensive, in Albania your money will go even further! Food and accommodations are both VERY inexpensive and as mentioned below, the food is excellent!
(We paid 25 euro for two nights in a private apartment, just minutes from the beach in Vlore! Dinner, including a glass of wine, was around 5 euro)
10. Excellent Food
Every region of Albania will have own specialties, but I guarantee that it’s all delicious! Ask for a recommendation of what the local specialties are and you won’t be disappointed!
Albanian cuisine is influenced by both the Mediterrranean, the Balkans and neighbouring Greece.
Byrek is a popular pie, made with filo pastry and similar to other versions found throughout the Balkans.
Olives, cheese and fish are staples, as well as the popular qofte, which are grilled meatballs.
There are plenty of vegetarian options as well, including the popular stuffed peppers, speça me gjize.
11. Friendly People
Albanians are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we’ve met!
Whether you are trying to find a bus stop or figure out where to catch a furgon, somebody will always step up and try to help – without asking for anything in return!
Albanians are also very generous. Many hosts will offer a shot of Rakia (Albanian brandy) as a welcome, whether at a hostel, hotel or local restaurant.
As I was travelling with young kids, we were also gifted small oranges on more than one occasion.
Albanian people are very helpful and will always check to see if you need anything!
Once when I was confused about directions to our accommodation, a neighbour offered to drive our car there for us (looking back, I can’t believe we took him up on that, but we did and it was fine!).
12. Albania is very safe!
Last but not least, Albania is a safe place to travel!
Although there is a misconception about it being unsafe – especially if you are travelling with children – we found it to be the complete opposite.
It was one of the few places, other than Canada, where I have been asked to show paperwork when travelling alone with kids.
And throughout our time in Albania, we never once felt unsafe or uncomfortable. As we were visiting Albania in November, the sun sets early and we felt safe going out after dark, while I can’t always say the same for other countries we have visited.
As you can see, Albania is an amazing country to visit.
The fantastic food, stunning scenery and amazing people really make it a country to visit.
If you were unsure, or didn’t even have Albania on your travel list, hopefully this post has convinced you why you should visit Albania!