Today’s is one of those “useful tips” posts (at least I hope!) For those who intend to organize a traveling trip to Albania . In particular, today I try to give you some tips to create an itinerary in Albania from north to south.
But before sharing which were the Albanian cities that I recommend you visit I must make a premise. We travel with a child who loves the sea . For this reason, during our travels in Albania we have always chosen to rent a car and move independently by making several stops at the sea along the southern Albanian Riviera which is splendid. Obviously, however, there is also much more and the north of Albania is just as beautiful.
- Tips for a traveling trip to Albania
- Four itineraries for a holiday in Albania
- Rent a car in Albania
- Moving to Albania
Tips for an itinerary in Albania from north to south
- Roads in Albania: Albanian roads are often steep and winding, so the distances get longer even if the kilometers to travel are few. Consider this when planning your itinerary.
- How to get around in Albania: we have always rented a car, which, if you have an itinerant trip in mind, is the best way to get around in the Land of Eagles. Personally, until now we have always booked through the comparison portals that allow you to save a little on the cost of car rental. Check out Rentalcars which usually has good rates.
- When to book for Albania: Plan your trip in time if you plan to go to Albania in August: this is the month when many Albanians go home for holidays and both flights and ferry costs go up significantly!
- When to go to Albania: August is not the best month to go to Albania because it is the most crowded and the most expensive, especially if you choose its central weeks of August. So if you can, go there in June, July or September, you’ll be fine and you’ll have wonderful beaches all to yourself! 🙂
- Travel guides and maps of Albania : Bring with you a good map of Albania and a travel guide. The guides on the market in Italian are few, among them: this guide of Albania is good if you are planning an on the road because it contains several itineraries as well as advice, that of Morellini is focused in particular on Tirana and its surroundings, this travel guide it is full of details and historical information while the Lonely Planet of Albania is a bit sparse on the Land of Eagles because it deals with the Balkans in general (but if like us you are addicted or are thinking of a wider trip you cannot miss it! ).
- Books for a trip to Albania: Before leaving (or during the trip) read some books about Albania that will help you understand the history of the country. We recommend ” The history of Albania and the Albanians ” (which tells of the courage of this people and its vicissitudes) but also ” The drums in the rain” a classic, written by Kadarè who is the most famous Albanian writer and tells of epic of his people starting from Skanderbeg. If, on the other hand, you prefer travel books, we would also like to point out a classic in this case, namely ” Journey to Albania ” written by Roth following his trip to the Land of Eagles in 1927 but also ” Albania in furgon”A light and pleasant reading of a trip to Albania with this vehicle.
- Albania with children : If you are thinking of organizing an itinerary in Albania with children, read the ad hoc post following the link that contains all the information based on our experience.
Here are some practical advice based on our experience for those who intend to organize a holiday in Albania by car. Ready?
An itinerary for a trip to Albania from the north of the country to the south
What I propose here are some itineraries in Albania, designed as a mix of the various trips . Obviously, depending on how long you have you can make a part of them or even combine them all together to create a single itinerary in Albania. If you follow the links you can read the posts related to the various stages and we have also included where possible the hotels tested where we found ourselves well.
1) Itinerary in Albania from Tirana to Saranda and Ksamil
Leave Tirana and, after dedicating at least a couple of days to the city, go down towards Berat , not along the coast road but from the inside. Sleep at least one night in the “City of Hundred Windows” and then move south . A hotel in Berat that we recommend is the Guest House Vila Lili with family management and a truly home-like welcome.
You will then reach Gjirokaster , the UNESCO “Silver City”. Stay at least one night in the city but if you have time even two, in the area you can visit the ruins of the ancient Antigonea and Tepelene , a city that is not touristy at all but that has entered our hearts because it is very “real”! A hotel in Gjirokastra that we suggest is the Hotel Argjiro in the center, in one of the old Ottoman houses.
From Gjirokaster if you want to spend a few days at the sea, turn towards the sul going towards Saranda. You can decide whether to stop in the “white city” or continue to Ksamil . To sleep in Saranda we recommend the Sunny Apartment with large spaces and sea view.
Keep in mind that the road to Saranda crosses a mountain pass , so it is better to do it during the day, and that a stop not to be missed along the way is the ” Blu Eye ” or Syri i Kalter , a frozen spring that flows from the depths of the earth and forms a blue lake of freezing water where the bravest dive. To stop here you will need to have a car, drive a piece of dirt and pay a toll but the road is well signposted.
After experiencing the nightlife of Saranda and its seaside restaurants, then continue to the beautiful Ksamil : here the sea is wonderful, with small coves of crystalline water equipped and you can also visit Butrint . To sleep in Ksamil we recommend the Baci Aparment , with large apartments and close to one of the beaches of Ksamil.
Returning to the north you can stop along the most beautiful beaches of southern Albania , perhaps stopping in Borsh , still little known but delicious. To sleep in Borsh we recommend the Guest House Luiza a small farm that has wooden apartments overlooking the sea with a large garden.
2) Itinerary in Albania from Tirana to Lake Ohrid in the east
If you are not attracted by the Albanian sea, another itinerary in the hinterland of Albania . From Gjirokaster you can go east and go up to Korca (Coriza in Italian) where a fantastic beer festival takes place in August. Along the way, stop for at least one night in Permet , the spa town of Albania where you can sleep in the Ilir Guest House , run by a very kind family for typical hospitality.
From Permet continue to Korca where you can stop for a few days to visit the surroundings and of course try the local beer. Do not miss Moscopoli and the Prespa lake which are two gems of eastern Albania. To sleep in Corizza we recommend the Bujtina Leon apartments , spacious, clean and a stone’s throw from the city center.
From Corizza you can return directly to Tirana or extend your itinerary in Albania by stopping on Lake Ohrid , with a stop in Pogradec and Lin . To sleep in Lin we suggest Camping Lin which also has a hotel part and some apartments. From here the view over Lake Ohrid here is simply fabulous.
3) Itinerary in Albania by the sea: Ksamil, Saranda and the southern Albanian Riviera
If you prefer a relaxing holiday in Albania by the sea, head to Ksamil one of the most famous Albanian seaside resorts for its small coves that are located in front of Corfu. Here you can spend slow days, perhaps with some trips to see the source of the Blue Eye or Butrint. To sleep in Ksamil we recommend the Baci Apartment with apartments right next to one of the beaches.
From there, head north along the coast. The whole Albanian Riviera is very beautiful to see, stop a few days in Dhermi or Himare and go up to the small abandoned village of Qeparo . If you are looking for a place to sleep, the Luiza Guest House in Borsh is perfect, surrounded by greenery and close to the sea.
Then leave the wonderful beaches behind and head north, crossing the Llogara Pass , on one of the steepest and most evocative roads in all of Albania. If you have time, stay overnight in the Llogara Park, first of all because the area is beautiful for those who love trekking and then because you eat wonderfully well! There are also the remains of the camp of Julius Caesar who crossed it during the civil war. A property with beautiful bungalows and beautiful gardens is the Llogara Tourist Village .
At this point, leave behind the green of Llogara and the flag pines and if you want a bit of worldliness stop in Vlora . The city is one of the most important ports in Albania so don’t expect the sea of Ksamil, but among the trips to do there are the ruins of Apollonia and the island of Zvernec . If, on the other hand, you are looking for a beautiful sea, but also for history, they recommended a stop in Orikum , just before Vlora.
From there you can continue your itinerary to the sea in Albania heading north, perhaps stopping in Durres and the northern beaches or returning to Tirana. To sleep in Durres the Hotel Aragosta has sea view rooms and a private beach.
4) Itinerary in Albania from Durres to the north of Albania
Finally, an itinerary in the north of Albania cannot be missing . If you arrive by ferry in Durres you can stop a few days in the city to see the amphitheater, the museums of the city, the surroundings and stop for a drink or eat on the beautiful promenade. A very nice hotel in Durres with sea view and private beach is the Aragosta Hotel .
Then you can continue further north reaching Scutari and what many say is the real Albania. Here you can spend a few days between the city, the lake and the surroundings to visit the beauties of the area and play sports. To sleep on Lake Skadar there is the Shkodra Lake Resort in a splendid position and with bungalows right on the shore.
If you have time from Shkodra, go up to Thethi (but be careful because the road is in poor condition!) And then take the ferry that crosses Lake Koman to get to Valbona . Stay there for at least a couple of days and then go back, perhaps passing through Kosovo.
Otherwise, on your return from Shkodra as you proceed towards Tirana, stop in Kruja the city of Skanderbeg (Giorgio Castriota) and if you want to close the circle, with the story of Skanderbeg but also with the sea, stop in Lezhe . Here you will find the tomb of Giorgio Castriota and a shallow sea with dark sand that will certainly appeal to children (a little less to the sea lovers of Ksamil!): Shengjin .
Tips for a road trip in Albania
Visiting Albania by car: better your own car or a rental car?
We have always chosen to arrive in Albania by plane, rent a car in Tirana and then move from there, first to the south and then to the north and east. Other possible alternatives are to arrive by car through the Balkans or to embark the car on the ferry, from Bari, Trieste or Ancona.
The ferry option, on the other hand, must be carefully considered . The point where the crossing is shorter and cheaper is Bari. Ancona or Trieste can also be convenient to go to Albania from Italy, but if you move late the costs of the ferry are no longer so convenient.
For the rental we have always booked in advance from Italy because our planes always arrive late at night. If you arrive during the day, consider looking directly at the airport where there are several small operators, in this way you could save a little. But keep in mind that they are all closed in the evening!
Our advice is, even in this case, to evaluate the prices well in the comparison portals that offer different alternatives with the rental companies. We always do it and you can save money, there you can also find the most famous companies but with perhaps lower costs than on the official website or smaller companies (which often have offices outside the airport and this allows you to lower a bit ‘ prices). We also point out a comparison portal of car rentals that we use and with which we are comfortable, follow the link to check the rates.
Travel to Albania by car: how are the roads?
Distances on Albanian roads are greater than actual kilometers . The Albanian roads are often winding and outside the main arteries you will also find roadways in poor condition, so you can’t do a hundred kilometers in an hour ! Remember this when preparing your Albania itinerary.
On the other hand, however, the Albanian roads are well marked so you will not struggle to reach your destination even without a navigator. Our advice – borrowed from an Albanian friend – is therefore if you want a navigator to visit Albania to download Navigator and follow that.
Organizing a traveling holiday in Albania: what to pay attention to?
Traveling in Albania by car is neither difficult nor dangerous , but remember that there is a lot of police and therefore respect the speed limits. One thing you will notice is that many will play you: do not worry , in Albania it is used like this, a sort of ” I saw you, now I overtake you ” before overtaking.
On the secondary roads you will often come across goats, cows or flocks of sheep, also for this reason it is better to be cautious and respect the limits. You will find some dirt road to the south to reach some beaches, nothing insurmountable, if you are used to Croatia , Albania is nothing compared! 😉 We also encountered some poorly paved roads in Vlora and north, to reach Koman.
Last advice: if you intend to leave the borders of Albania you must declare it at the time of rental , consider it because if you go south Greece is close and from the north you can easily reach Montenegro.
Traveling holidays in Albania by bus: are there other means of transport besides the car?
In our experience, the most comfortable way to travel to Albania is by car. However, we have met guys who have toured Albania by bus (which here are called Furgon) and they told us they were fine. What they have told us is that to understand the times and days of departure is good to ask more people to be sure to get the correct information and that the distances are getting longer because the media are slow.
The Albanian railway network is practically non-existent therefore it is unthinkable to organize an itinerary in Albania by train.
Here, so far our advice for an itinerary for a holiday in Albania by car . If you need other advice write to us, we will be happy to answer you! And if you liked this post, share it and leave a comment below.