3 Best Places To Visit In Albania For A Short Trip
12 May 2023
If you are wanting to visit Albania, but only have a few days, there are still 3 great itineraries that you can do. Albania is a small Balkan country so the main arriving flights are into the capital of Tirana. There is another airport that was just built in the small mountain town of Kukes, but there aren’t many flights going there yet. Plus, it’s not the most accessible since it is quite remote. If this is your first trip to Albania, I would suggest sticking with the bigger airports like Tirana, Podgorica (Montenegro), and Corfu (Greece).
Short Trip To Tirana
If you plan on arriving in the capital, you could spend a few days based in Tirana. Some of the best things to do is to visit museums to learn about Albania’s turbulent past. Other places do have museums but they are usually small and don’t have a lot of funding. If you want to understand why Albania is the way it is, check the Tirana museums out.
There are also wonderful restaurants and cafes to try out – some of the best things to do in Albania is eat food and have great coffee. Tirana has a vibrant nightlife to check out, with some clubs but also quirky bars infused with history as well.
Tirana is also the best place in Albania to explore from because it’s the central hub of transport. There are some fun day trips from Tirana to places like the ancient city of Kruja, Cape of Rodon, the UNESCO city Berat, and the deepest lake in the Balkans, Lake Ohrid.
Best Time To Visit
Tirana is a great destination for the offseason. There is more life going on in the capital than anywhere else in the winter. Albania runs largely on tourism so it can be harder to get around via public transport in the colder months. Plus, because of the country’s infrastructure, especially the roads, it’s not possible to get to many places due to the weather.
Short Trip To Shkoder
Another option is to fly into the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, located only 40 minutes from the nearest Albania border crossing. From there, it’s another 40 mins to Shkoder. If you fly into Tirana, it’s a two-hour bus journey to Shkoder.
If you’re not a big fan of big cities, basing yourself in Shkoder would be great for a short trip. Nicknamed Albania’s ‘Ancient city’, Shkoder is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the Balkans. It has a long history of being a center for arts, culture, and religious diversity.
Shkoder has a unique vibe compared to the rest of Albania. You will see Venetian-style pedestrian walkways and locals riding bicycles everywhere. There is plenty of cool things to do in Shkoder, but you should get out of the city to see the surrounding nature.
The sea is only 30 minutes away, and there’s an abundance of rivers and lakes for plenty of swimming options. Shkoder is right at the edge of the Albanian Alps, which is hiking heaven. Don’t forget those hiking boots!
Best Time To Visit
Shkoder is alright if you want to visit during non-summer months, there is still plenty of life and activity. The absolute best time to visit is finding the sweet spot where it’s warm enough to do outdoor activities but not so hot that you get heat stroke while hiking. The weather in the mountains clears up towards the end of April, so May and June are great. This is when the waterfalls will be majestic from all the spring rain and snow too. September is drier, but it’s when tourism slows back down and there is still good weather.
Short Trip To The Albanian Riviera
If you are planning to fly to the island of Corfu, then Albania is an hour and a half ferry ride away. The ferry lands in Saranda, which is also the largest beach town on the Riviera. It’s a great place to base yourself because you can drive north along the coast to see ancient ruins and stunning, natural beaches. When staying in Saranda, you also have the option to go inland easier than if you were to stay in the middle of the Riviera due to a large mountain range with no roads going through it. Going inland means you can explore the bubbling Blue Eye Spring and the UNESCO town of Gjirokaster. If you really want to get off the beaten path, you can visit Nivica Canyon and the waterfalls.
Best Time To Visit
The south of Albania, but more specifically the Albanian Riviera goes crazy during the summer. Beach towns are triple or quadruple in size and the traffic is insane. Plus, at restaurants, it’s not unheard of that the amount of food you receive for a dish goes down, while the prices go up (it’s still pretty affordable if you’re coming from a Western country though). This is mainly from the middle of July to the end of August. June and September are the sweet spots for prices and weather. May and October are okay but they might not be the warmest for swimming.
I hope these 3 itineraries have helped you plan your short trip to Albania. No matter whether you enjoy the beach, mountains, or city, there are some great options in this small Balkan country.
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