After having talked a lot about the Land of Eagles and our emotions today, here is a very practical post, a sort of useful vademecum for those who are thinking of organizing a trip to Albania . Yes, because when we first left for a holiday in Albania with a child many were skeptical: “ What are you going there to do? ”Was the most frequent question mixed with some prejudice about the Land of Eagles and concern for the child.
But Roberto was right, who had already been to Albania several times and fell in love with this country at the first blow.
Then during our first family trip to Albania, which lasted a month, many followed us on Facebook and Instagram where we shared some images and stories about our experience. So once we got home the questions came.
Because the Land of Eagles is an ancient land with a wonderful sea, a fascinating hinterland and cities full of history.
And, if it is true that as I wrote here, that Albania is a land of contrasts as well as beauty, I think this country is to be discovered, even with children. So much so that we then went back again, always with our son.
I’m not the only one to think so, however, since many have asked us for practical suggestions for organizing a trip to the Land of Eagles and for this reason I decided to write this post, with some advice for those who intend to go to Albania on vacation. And if you are looking for more information to go to Albania with children there is a post dedicated to just this.
All the advice you find below derives from the questions that have been asked to us and are taken from our experience in Albania. So don’t take them as a bible but… we hope they can serve you!
- Guides of Albania
- Books about Albania to read before the trip
- Best time to go to Albania
- Costs for a holiday in Albania
- Hotels and houses for rent
- Car rental in Albania
- Foreign languages and Albanian
- The most beautiful beaches in Albania
- Shopping in Albania
- Change money in Albania
- Restaurants in Albania
- Organized tours in Albania
- Don’t forget
- Albania with children
- Necessary documents
- Weather in Albania
- A must see
- Have a nice holiday (and contacts!)
1) Guide to Albania
First issue to be addressed: the leadership of Albania . At the moment there are few guides in Italian, here is a brief overview: that of the Lonely Planet is a bit sparse on the Land of Eagles because it deals with the Balkans (but useful if you think you will also see other countries). This Albania guide contains itineraries and many tips, the Tirana and Albania guide is very complete on the Capital and its surroundings (but not so well done for the south-east), the Kosovo and Albania one is interesting if you want to visit both countries while the Polaris guide is well done with regards to historical and cultural information.
2) Books on Albania to read before the trip
The Land of Eagles has a stormy history that helped shape (forge?) Its people. For this there are some books on Albania that I recommend you read before your trip or under an umbrella! 😉
The titles would be many, I suggest you read at least one of the books by Kadarè , the most famous Albanian writer. If you do not know some to choose ” The drums in the rain ” is a good start, a historical novel that tells the epic of the Albanian people from the time of Skanderbeg. To learn more about the history you can read ” History of the Albanian people ” while if you are interested in learning more about the ancient Albanian kanun I recommend ” The Kanun of Skanderbeg “.
Travel books on Albania are Roth’s ” Journey to Albania ” (light story of his 1927 trip to Albania) and ” In Albania in furgon ” (pleasant reading of a trip to the country in the Land of Eagles with this vehicle) .
3) When to go to Albania: what is the best time?
When is it best to go to Albania? Although we were also on holiday in Albania in August but this in my opinion is not the best time , both because it is the time when the Albanians also go on vacation, and because in this month the many expatriate Albanians also return to Albania.
In August, therefore, you will find more people, less offers and higher costs (just like in Italy!). Roberto had come here twice in winter and fell in love with it but if you want to live on the beach better than June or July but also September!
4) How much does a holiday in Albania cost?
Let’s talk now about costs. Although in these damages (since 2012, Roberto’s first trip) to date the costs have increased, we have found Albania not at all expensive , to be understood a bit like Croatia in the 90s.
To give you some idea of the costs I can tell you that a house for rent in Ksamil – which is one of the most famous seaside resorts in Albania – with two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom can cost around € 50 while a B&B in Berat – a tourist city but in the hinterland – around € 30. An umbrella with two sun loungers on the beach costs around 500/600 lekh (about 3 euros), while a fish lunch by the sea for three people costs around 20/25 €. Here if you want you can find some more information on how much our holiday in Albania cost .
5) Hotels and houses for rent: how to book in Albania?
There is no shortage of hotels and houses for rent in Albania . We have often booked in advance on the portals, if you choose to do so on site you will find a lot of offer of ” Dhoma Plazhi ” – or “beach houses” – and you will save a little. If you book from Italy I recommend you to use Booking which has always proved reliable during our stays in Albania, with several solutions. But check the reviews carefully, in Albania everything evolves quickly and the house that this year had a sea view might not have it again next year (here are the tips for using Booking at its best).
If you have children, prefer the areas a little further away from the sea , as far as we have seen there by choosing to stay where there are no restaurants or bars you will be more relaxed.
6) Renting a car in Albania: what you should know?
In Albania you can drive with an Italian license, the main roads are almost always in good condition while you will often find dirt roads or with holes in the hinterland or to reach the more distant beaches, but also to get to some less touristy places (also if in the north less than in the south.) Often the roads are narrow and winding so be prepared for long hours by car even when the distances are not that wide.
We booked the car directly from Italy through a price comparison portal that allows the comparison of the rates of the various car rentals so as to save a little (take a look, it’s called Rentalcars ). Also in this case by booking directly at the airport in Tirana you can save but we always landed late in the evening and the renters are closed. If you want some more information on our itinerary in Albania and on the itinerary you can read this post.
As for the other means of transport in the country, there is no efficient railway network. There are buses, however, although they are often slow and not so easy to find. There are also private companies that organize transfers from Tirana Airport to the city (or vice versa) and also from the port and from the main locations.
7) How to get by on a trip to Albania: what language is spoken?
In Albania, especially in the North, you will find someone who speaks Italian very easily , perhaps because they worked in Italy for a while. In the south, on the other hand, many speak Greek but also English and in general we have never had problems with the language and we have always met very kind people ready to give us a hand.
8) Going to the sea in Albania: which are the most beautiful beaches?
In general, if you want to organize a beach holiday in Albania, I recommend the south, where the sea has beautiful colors. In the area of Saranda and Ksamil you will also find sand, on the Riviera you will find mainly stones but still beautiful coves. In the north, however, at least as far as we have seen, the sea is much more similar to the Italian Adriatic, but the beaches are wider and often well equipped for children with games or merry-go-rounds.
In this post if you want I have summarized the most beautiful beaches of Albania at least in our opinion.
9) Shopping in Albania: supermarkets and shops
In Albania you will find many markets and shops that sell the necessary and many fruit markets or even simple improvised stalls along the road with excellent prices and fresh fruit.
If you plan to take a holiday in Albania with small children, don’t worry, at Conad you will find everything, including many Italian products, even if the costs are those of Italy! In general, however, even the smaller markets are well supplied.
10) Change money and credit cards: Do they accept euros in Albania?
In Albania the official currency is the lekh but in some cases we paid in euros. You will find many money changers, right from the airport, we have often paid by card or withdrawn at ATM points. But be careful that often the ATMs are not near a bank but … A gas station. 😉 This is useful information to avoid searching for them for a long time in vain!
If you want some more advice on changing money on the go you can read this post.
11) Eating in Albania: restaurants and bars, what to choose?
Our personal opinion is that in Albania you eat well, even when you choose Italian cuisine . Pasta and risotto are cooked to perfection and the fish is delicious but if you like, try some typical dishes (normally all dishes cooked “in the crock” are “typical”), you will not be disappointed!
If you choose to take a beach holiday in Albania you will see that each beach has its own restaurant with honest prices and excellent cuisine . If you are looking for a quick and cheap snack, you can opt for a kiosk where byreks or suvlaki are sold (the former are a kind of savory pie, the latter are a food of Greek origin usually based on bread and meat) or to eat something in beach (there are many vendors of fruit, sweets and corn on the cob passing by to offer their goods).
12) Going to Albania: autonomous or organized trip?
Up to now, we have always organized our trips to Albania independently . Among other things, during our itineraries in Albania we met many Italian-Albanian guys who were there to spend their holidays and in our experience if you have friends from this land they will be happy to give you advice to organize your departure. We did so and their advice was very useful, we also booked the accommodations with Booking and always found ourselves well. For the various locations we have also included information on rented apartments / hotels.
However, several local travel agencies operate in the area as well as some associations that offer beautiful charitable travel realities, with the possibility of staying with local families and living much more authentic experiences. It is also possible to buy guided tours for one day or even excursions of two or more days with some tourist portals specialized in these experiences (useful even if you don’t have a car but want to visit the surroundings).
13) What not to forget when leaving for a holiday in Albania
If you love the sea during a trip to Albania I advise you not to forget the mask, fins and rock shoes because swimming is really a pleasure in the Land of Eagles! Sunscreen and a hat are also essential as the sun beats down a lot in Albania.
If you plan to go to the free beaches – there are not many but there are – you will need to get an umbrella and maybe even an anti-sun and windproof curtain for the children because, especially in the afternoon on the Albanian Riviera we noticed that there was a lot of wind.
14) A holiday in Albania with children: is it safe?
Here we come to the sore point: in our case the grandparents were terrified at the idea that we were going to Albania with the child. Go find out why … It turned out that we returned home from our first trip with an “adoptive grandmother”, the owner of our B&B in Berat that the Patato wanted to adopt as a grandmother.
Seriously, there are no problems traveling with children in Albania , everyone is kind and you will find lots of children! Follow the link to read the post where we have collected some tips for going to Albania with children.
15) Is an identity card enough to go to Albania?
For a trip to Albania you just need an identity card, obviously valid. However, we advise you to pay attention to the Italian health card which is not valid in Albania. This means that if you have any medical problems, you will have to pay any expenses.
The alternative in these cases is to take out medical insurance or … cross your fingers hoping you don’t need a doctor! 🙂 In the event that superstition is not for you and you need some more information to purchase a travel insurance policy, in the link above you will find some aspects to keep in mind when purchasing.
16) Albanian climate: Is it very hot in Albania in August?
Another question that many have asked us is what is the climate in Albania . Obviously every year can be different, but we tell you that the heat is not a problem, at least it was not for us. This means that Albania in August is hot, of course, but nothing unbearable. In the sea areas, there was also a cool breeze in the evening which pushes you to close the windows! 😉
17) What are the things to see in Albania absolutely?
Scattered around the blog (and for this post) you will find many stories of our trip to Albania . For simplicity, below we present some articles of the places not to be missed that could be useful to organize your departure, if you click on the links you can learn more by reading the articles dedicated to each location:
- Northern Albania : Valbona , Shkodra , Koman Lake and Kruja are just some of the good reasons to organize an itinerary in Northern Albania , which does not have the crystal clear sea of the south but is very fascinating.
- Southern Albania: Southern Albania is not just the sea of Saranda and Ksamil . If you go there do not miss the beautiful archaeological park of Butrint but also Gjirokaster , the silver city.
- Tirana and Durres : Your trip to Albania could start from one of these two locations. Instead of “running away” immediately towards the South Sea, however, we advise you to give them a chance. After all, these are two cities that have made the history of the country. They might surprise you! 🙂
- Itinerary for a trip to Albania : Finally we leave you the link of our itinerary in Albania.
18) Have a nice holiday in Albania!
So far we have tried to collect some questions that could come to your mind if you are thinking of organizing a trip to Albania and some useful information. As you may have understood by now we love the Land of Eagles, so … Have a good holiday in Albania with the whole family, I’m sure it won’t disappoint you! if you liked this post, share it and leave a comment below.