Albania travel advice
Olly Pemberton, from our supplier Exodus, shares his Albania travel tips:
Celebrating Albanian culture
“The passion’s evident from all our guides. All of them are really passionate people and they’re so concerned about people leaving Albania and not having the best time of their life. They really want people to realise how great it is. So they’ll go overboard talking about the history and taking them to places that visitors wouldn’t normally go to. Albanians wear these white felt hats, and in the rural areas people wear more traditional dress, you see it every now and again. They like to cling onto their culture – and quite rightly so. No one’s been able to see their culture for so long, and they’re not about to change it any time soon just to cater for tourists. The fact that you’re still in Europe and you’ve got so much culture and tradition is always quite nice to see. They’re very proud of it, and so they should be.”
“We stay in three star hotels and in guesthouses, which are comfortable, just a little more basic. But what you lack in comfort you make up for in experience and the unbelievable hospitality that you just don’t get in the hotels. The hotels are actually very nice, they are three stars but I’d say they’re actually a bit more. Tourism has only arrived in the last 10-15 years, so all the hotels are brand new and you don’t have anything that’s really ramshackle.”
Meeting the locals
“On our snowshoeing and trekking tours, we have a farmer with us who takes us through the mountains. We have a local guide as well who translates, but people love having the local guy who is telling the stories because you’re really getting an experience of the culture firsthand. He’s telling you stories about life during the winter, during the summer, what it’s like living up in this area... Our guests love the feeling of being taken through the area by a local guy who genuinely lives here. They really liked having this wealth of local knowledge, the guide is very culturally aware and he makes sure you’re walking though areas where you can interact with the locals – he’s a proud Albanian himself so he’s promoting Albania as much as he can. It definitely gets a thumbs up from me!”
Have the place to yourself
“The best thing is that you have all these places like Butrint that are Greek and Roman cities. Anywhere else – let’s say you had this Roman city in Greece – this place would be absolutely flooded with tourists. But because it’s in Albania, you’ve got nobody there. You’re walking around amphitheatres, temples... It’s like somebody’s shut the gate and allowed you to go in on your own. It’s brilliant – the fact you can spend time there without crowds bothering you.”
Our Albania Holidays
Why cross borders?
Mark Huggins, from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations, shares his advice on the Balkans: “Combining with neighbouring countries like Macedonia and Kosovo is a natural fit and much of the local history and culture is intertwined. Distances are not great and there is much to see including national parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, wineries and much more.”
Our top Albania Holiday
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HEALTH & SAFETY IN ALBANIA
More about Albania
The best time to go to Albania is spring, early summer and early autumn, when you can avoid seasonal extremes and make the most of walking and cycling trails.
One of those countries which is tantalisingly close to home, but you'd hesitate if you had to point to it on a map - Albania's delights are slowly but surely being revealed to the outside world after decades of despotic leadership.
Click on our interactive Albania map and highlights to get tips on where to go in Albania, from the sun drenched Riviera to the snow blanketed mountains.
Our top things to do in Albania include walking and cycling holidays – plus snow shoeing along those same mountain trails in winter.
Cycling in Albania is all about the undulations with lengthy, yet gradual, ascents into the Accursed Mountains matched by dreamy descents towards the Ionian Coast and the shores of lakes Ohrid and Prespa.
Walking holidays in Albania are all about experiencing an authentic and uncharted side to Europe that few other areas can match for wild and remote alpine trails.
Bringing out the best of the Balkans may involve crossing borders from Albania and finding out what’s on the other side.
Away from the bright lights and beaches of the Riviera, there’s an authentic and traditional side to Albania that tourists rarely see.
Albania is rich with history, soaring mountains and gorgeous Mediterranean coast – but many of its people remain incredibly poor.