Albania is one of my favourite new travel destinations. And yet, when I’ve told people I am heading to the beach in Albania, the perplexed looks I received were of genuine concern, confusion, and awe.
First of all there is an idea that Albania is unsafe. I do not know where this assumption comes from (movies?), but tourism in Albania has become increasingly more popular in recent years, crime is not tourist-related and World Nomads notes that it is limited to petty crime (valuables, small theft). Ihave been travelling alone for almost 25 years and I felt 100% safe in Albania as a female. However, I exercise the same caution as I would anywhere, but I had no negative vibes travelling around alone there.
You love budget travel. But why Albania?
Albania is one of the best-unexpected surprises I ha ve had in a while. Albania is maybe not what most people dream about when they think of paradise beach destinations, but every year, more people learn about this amazingly kept secret. My prediction is that it will not stay that way – so check it out now.
But it is nothing like I ever expected at all; Albania blew me away (sorry for the cliche!)
Here are the top five reasons Albania should be on every budget beach lover’s list:
So let’s get this out of the way since you probably found this article looking for cheap places to go. I am always on the lookout for some place new and exotic to explore within Europe, which is why in recent years, I have explored Eastern Europe and the Balkans more. Albania is perfect for budget travellers.
What do I consider budget prices?
Meals: Also the meals, where you can eat delicious meat or seafood, salad, and get wine or beer are very economic.
Transportation: The biggest challenge in Albania is transportation, but this makes it an amazing place because it is truly off the beaten path. Buses are cheap but not luxurious in Albania. The most expensive bus I took from Gjirokastër to Tirana. Here is an expat site that details the bus situation.
Accommodation: hostels are very cheap with a nice Albanian breakfast included. Most of the hostels included breakfast as well of toast, boiled eggs, tomato and cucumber, fig jam, and hot coffee. A studio apartment rental for 2 people with a kitchen and bathroom can start at around 30 EUR/night. Check booking.com in advance and ratings.
If you are someone who 100% needs sandy beaches, Albania is not for you. But do not let that stop you – trust me! I used to think a ‘real beach’ had sand. Unfortunately, that factor keeps some people away from the Adriatica region, where beaches are mostly pebbles or small stones, with exquisitely clear water that is a deep crystal turquoise. Just buy ‘beach shoes’ and you will be able to comfortably run around the beaches without worrying about your feet.
Here are my top beach recommendations
Dhermi – the best beach in my opinion, but less accessible. You can take the bus from Vlore, Saranda, Tirana or Himara and let them know you want to get off at Dhermi. They let you off at the side of the highway and you can get a taxi down to the village. There are various places to stay and it is better to stay down by the beach instead of by the village as there is mainly a boardwalk with restaurants and bars. Dhermi is small and there is not much to do but it is a beautiful and quiet place and great to relax.
Himara – this is a great place for activities, boat tours, restaurants. There are plenty of accommodation options that are affordable and many include breakfast as well. The public beach itself but it’s a place to stay to be close to everything and there are many beaches in the area to visit as well.
Gjipe – accessible best by boat from Himara either on a tour or you can also drive there but at the moment there is only camping, so itis more difficult to stay. Bring an umbrella or lots of sunscreens as this is a great place, but it does not have many shade options but the beach is spectacular.
Ksamil – this is a wonderful area with lots of different beaches. It is very family-friendly and there are many shallow water areas great for kids. Ksamil is a bit crowded in the summer but there are lots of activities, restaurants, beach nightlife. It is easily reachable from Saranda by bus or taxi.
Food and drink
Albanian cuisine is a fresh, delicious mix of foods from the region. If you like Mediterranean food such as Greek salads with feta, or Italian cuisines such as homemade linguini with seafood, or grilled fish or steaks and veggies, this place is like paradise. There is plenty of variety to cater to any kind of taste and if you like wine, Albania has lots of wonderful options.
The people in Albania are absolutely wonderful. They’re so helpful and are extremely excited that you’re visiting their country. I found that it was easy to get around with English, but many Albanians also speak Italian, German, French, or Spanish.
Because of its geography near Greece, Italy, Turkey, etc., Albania has been part of many prominent civilisations, including Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman, Roman empires. That means that there are incredible ruins in Butrint, Gjirokaster, Apollonia.
In short, if you’re tired of the crowded tour bus path and want something a bit more challenging but totally worth the extra effort, Albania is a wonderful place to add to your beach list!