Albania- Underrated destination that you MUST see

For most of the people when you mention Albania as a vacation spot they will look at you as you are crazy . Many people don`t know much about this country located on the Balkan Peninsula. But this is land of fantastic mountains and very beautiful cost line. Another thing that goes in Albania favor is cheap prices of everything.Accommodation is cheap, food is cheap and fantastic and of course lot of friendly people and plenty of history. But lets start my story about Albania.

albania sarande

Way to Get to Albania

For most of the people like me that live in the Balkan area getting to Albania is mainly by Car.Also Macedonia , Montenegro , Kosovo and Greece have a bus connections with Albania. For those who come from other parts of the world Tirana international airport is the place to arrive.Many low budget companies flies from Tirana. And also is possible by boat /ferry from Italy or Greece.

My Travel Story- road-trip around  Albania

As a traveler and blogger i have been to many countries. My travels start with neighbor countries like Bulgaria, Greece, Albania. Since 2005 when i was for a first time to play music as a dj in Albania i have been several times.Driving with a car to Albania is the most used way. From Veles to Ohrid i have 187 km around 3 hours and something driving mainly on good motorways.

We have 3crossings with Albania, Stene in Prespa, Saint Naum in Ohrid and Kafasan in Struga.  I always choose Saint Naum crossing near Ohrid. Its smaller and less traffic. Kafasan is the main one and will take you on the motorway to Tirana directly and further to the sea coast Durres. From Ohrid  we decide to go to South Albania and make a tour so we went through Saint Naum crossing. Not much cars so we pass super fast in few minutes.

sarande albania castle

Right after the border is the first city Podgradec. In the center of the city across the banks was some cofee place where we stop first on coffee. After hour or so we continue our trip toward Saranda. Driving on not so good road from Podgradec to Korca 40 km distance took us 45 min to get there. On the road you can notice many of bunkers that left from the dark times of Enver Hodza ruling till 1990.

Korca is nothing special a ordinary city so we didnt spend much time there, got few things from the local market and continue our journey to South of Albania near the Greek border, to Saranda. 254 km of distance took us 6 hours to get there. Saranda is city in south Albania on the beautiful Ionian Sea. Across the city is greek island Corfu . There is saw some of the most beautiful beaches, amazing clean water and white sand beaches.

vlore albania

One of the not so nice things is that they do many construction work and building so sometime is bit messy .But.. what is the nature offering there is TOTALLY worth for the effort.Got to the hotel that cost us 25 euros a night  and was placed in the center of the city. Nice clean 3 star hotel with very friendly owner that was talking with us a lot.

Guy offer us to take us to Lekuresi castle. View was an amazing on the valley ahead and beautiful nature around.From there we went to another great place with some ancient ruins. Butrint National park is great place for those who want to hike and also some midevil ruins. First day in Sarande finish with lovely visit of Forty Saints monastery .

We heard a lot about the Blue Eye. So we decide to visit it once we were near. The Blue Eye is a water spring and natural phenomenon occurring near Muzinë in Vlorë County, southern Albania. A popular tourist attraction, the clear blue water of the river bubbles forth from a stunning, more than fifty-metre-deep pool

blue eye albania

Second day before we hit a road we decide to relax on a lovely Pulebardha beach. Day and a half we spend in this city got some nice lunch in one of the cities taverns and hit the road . Our next destination was Vlore. On our way we make a break in the national park near Mount Chika . Like any other mountain in Albania this one is also magnificent. The view on the sea coast from there is amazing.

When we arrive in Vlore was a night. Got some hotel again, bit more expensive here 40 euros for 3 star hotel and 65 for 5 star. Take a rest and walk around the city at night. Vlore is one of the oldest cities and biggest cities in Albania. Old city looks really nice especially Muradie mosques. We sit in several places to have some drinks and of course again … food.Albania kitchen is diverse and fantastic. Meat mainly so can be a little bit less convenient for vegetarians like me but still there is some nice veg dishes as well.

Vlore beach are nice as well , we have some really nice morning there and also one person told us  about some small island called Sazan . Nice beaches and also interesting ex secret military base that you can enter and have a tour. We come back later that night, have a sleep and next day we hit the road… Next stop Berat.

berat albania

Berat is an old fortification city . Lot of history and wonderful old city. When you go on the fortress above the city you have a beautiful look over the city .We continue our journey to Durres. Again we have a nice and wonderful drive on the highway parallel with the sea. Durres is the biggest port in Albania.

It’s known for its huge Roman amphitheater. Nearby is a 9th-century church with mosaic-covered walls. The Archaeological Museum displays pieces from the Greek, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Broad Durrësi Beach has shallow waters. Nearby is the former summer villa of 20th-century King Zog.

After we enjoy quite a lot in Durres was a time to continue with our road-trip around Albania. We hit the road toward Tirana, the capital of Albania.

durres albania

Tirana, the capital of Albania, is known for its colorful Ottoman-, Fascist- and Soviet-era architecture. Pastel buildings surround the city’s focal point, Skanderbeg Square, which is named for its equestrian statue of a national hero. On the square’s north end is the modernist National History Museum, covering prehistoric times through Communist rule and the anti-Communist uprisings of the 1990s.

What was fascinating for me from Tirana was that capital of Albania was a vibrant cultural center of the country. Great night life that we experience in our 3 days visit and also you can find everything you need. Lot of cultural tours about Albania, art galleries and fancy restaurants. Lot of underground bunkers from the time of the communism and most of them are turn into the art places.

tirana albania

However what is a bit tricky in Tirana is the public transport, so if you want to use a bus to Macedonia on other place you need to call the company and arrange it. There is no classical bus station for international routes so buses pick up people around the center on the street.

Our 10 days road-trip around Albania finish and we were taking the highway through the mountains from Tirana to Ohrid. We were happy to spend this time in Albania and promise to come back again soon.