Solo Travel in Albania
Types of Girl about the Globe – History GatG, Intrepid GatG, Party GatG
If you planning on heading to the Balkans, Albania is a good country to choose. That's why we've given it 3 out of 5 stars for Albania solo travel. Albania tourism is relatively new and Albanians are very friendly and are proud that you’ve chosen their country to visit. Islam is the main religion here so it’s wise to cover up in the main cities such as Shkodra where you may encounter a few looks but anything goes along the Albanian coastline.
Don’t visit Lazarat, a lawless town that produces Cannabis and is known for its murders. After being highlighted to the rest of the world on Youtube by two Dutch travellers, they are extremely hostile towards tourists and even the police don’t go here. There are land mines on the northern border near Kosovo and Montenegro so be careful if you’re hiking in the towns.
Travelling here is a rustic experience and although there aren’t many women travelling alone, there are enough couples and males to make friends. If you enjoy getting on a bus and not being too sure of where you’re actually going then travelling solo in Albania is for you.
Below is our guide to how to travel solo in Albania as well as lots of practical information such as where to stay, which tour company to use and how to get around Albania. Find out how to get from the airports and what to do in each place.
All companies included have been recommended by solo female travellers and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. Just choose the relevant section or read the full article.
* Before you travel, check what paperwork or visas are required for Albania.
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- Things To Do in Albania
- Tours in Albania
- Accommodation in Albania
- Getting Around Albania
- From The Airport
- How Long Do I Need?
- Travelling Onwards
- Plan a Trip to Albania
- Map of Albania
- Related Posts
Things To Do in Albania
Albania is a country full of surprises and with more to offer than you may think. Bordered by Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece, Albania has its own Alps, Riviera, World Heritage Sites and a colourful, modern capital with surprisingly good nightlife. Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe and in areas lacking in infrastructure but visiting here is definitely an adventure.
There’s no denying that Albania has had a troubled past and concrete bunkers dotted amongst the landscape act as reminders of the communist times but Albania is slowly growing a new reputation as the place to visit with the Lonely Planet even naming it its Top Country of the Year in 2011.
Arriving overland from Montenegro, Shkodra is the first city that you come to and an authentic one at that. The city is quite male-dominated so keep yourself covered up if want to avoid the odd glance. The nicest area here is Shkodra Lake where you can camp but as it’s slightly out of the city it can be difficult to get to by bus so hire a car or get a taxi instead.
If you choose to stay in the city, the castle has fantastic views of the lake and is worth seeing but apart from a few casinos and restaurants selling Albanian food, there isn’t much more to keep you here longer than a couple of days.
The capital, Tirana, is a very different story and this colourful, modern city will actually surprise you. There’s a large manmade lake where you’ll find the locals relaxing during their lunch hour and plenty of avenues for shopping, or catch a shuttle from the big mosque to the city outskirts for the larger malls.
It doesn't take long to walk around the capital but make sure you include Skanderbeg Square on your itinerary. This central plaza has many colourful buildings to make your camera snap happy. Just don’t visit the museums on a Monday as they’re closed.
You can stay in hotels or hostels here and even if you forget to book, the hostels won’t turn you away. Instead, they will try to accommodate you wherever they can. It does get busy in the summer as there is only a small number of hostels so it’s worth booking before you get there.
From the city to the solitude of the mountains or the ‘Albanian Alps’ as the locals like to say. Athough more rocky than the ones in Switzerland they are great for escaping city life and are different from any other area in the country. The village of Theth is surrounded by limestone mountains with a rocky landscape, traditional stone houses and clean, mountain air.
You can stay in guest houses with local families who provide home-cooked food and take you trekking throughout the region. Getting there can be a bumpy ride from Shkoder as it takes five hours with over 20km of it on windy rocky roads but it’s rustic travelling at its best.
From here you can take the eight hour trek to Valbona through the valley pass and combine both villages for an extended stay. (Horses take your luggage if you’re only travelling one-way) then return via Lake Koman and Fierza by ferry back to the city of Shkoder.
The lesser known village in the north is Kelmend, a place with rugged mountain landscapes, canyons, waterfalls, glacial valleys, rivers and lakes – ideal for horse riding, trekking and mountain biking.
For integrating with the locals, Vuno is a little town in the mountainside overlooking olive trees, on the route between Dhermi and Himare with a really lovely vibe. There is only one shop which doubles up as a restaurant where you’ll find the locals and occasional donkey walking past.
Follow the hill down to beautiful Jal beach for some sea and sunbathing. You’ll also find locals at the sandy beach of Ksamil (not many tourists come here) just 10km south of Saranda and on the way to Butrint.
Going south the scenery is beautiful with mountain ranges on one side and the rugged coastline that reappears as quickly as it vanishes on the other. Dhermi is the first of the Albania coastal towns where you can wild camp if you’re travelling with a tent.
There are set-up campsites for those who aren’t and the area is popular with tourists who come for the nice beaches, clear water and warm sea. If you’re coming by bus it is a twenty minute walk down to the beach but this area is definitely worth staying in and has a great ‘holiday feel.’
If you’re wanting to meet others, Durres and Golem are the most popular destinations. Durres is brimming with hotels, restaurants and bars, all with a view of the ocean. Here is the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans, and you can visit the pink palace of King Zog or take a short ride to Lalzit Bay, a sandy beach and slightly quieter than Durres.
Not all off the coastline is worth visiting and many of the beaches have small stones instead of sand. Instead of Vlore, choose the seaside city of Saranda with a Mediterranean climate, great beaches, restaurants and nightlife.
This is one of our favourite places to stay Albania and you can even visit Greece for the day as ferries run from here to Corfu. Saranda is actually the Greek name for ‘forty saints’ named after the Monastery Church of Forty Saints and a hike to the ruins of the monastery gives a great view over the city and countryside.
There are hot springs here near the town of Permet and the Benja hot springs are known for their curative effects (just don’t forget your bikini). Other beautiful beaches are Palase and Gjipe.
One unique place in Albania is the Blue Eyed Spring known as ‘Syri I Kalter.’ Buses run here every hour then it’s a thirty minute walk to the geological phenomenon. Butrint is also nearby; this ancient city is a World Heritage Site and you can stop off for a dip at Ksamil on the way, a coastal town with its own islands.
Take the bus from Saranda to Gjirokaster then it’s a 2km walk to the entrance where you pay 50 Lek. Buses go back to Saranda every hour until 6pm.
For more history, Gjirokaster, known as the ‘museum city’ is an interesting day trip with steep cobbled streets leading to a 13th-century castle at the top of a mountain. The historic city was influenced by the Ottomans and is a well-preserved town which is a great place to stop if you’re travelling overland to Macedonia.
Voskopoja is home to churches and monasteries and also has several museums, then there’s Berat – the ‘city of 1001 windows’ also on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Other places to see are: the Greek influenced villages of Himare and Qeparo, and Shengjin, a growing coastal town on the route from Shkodra to Tirana.
Albania still remains relatively undiscovered but it’s not going to stay like that for long and construction is already underway to improve areas. Travel here quick to see the authentic Albania in its prime.
Tips For Albania
- Albanians stop for siesta from 13.30 to 17.30.
- Albanians may say ‘1000’ when they actually mean ‘100.’ Many still haven’t grasped the new currency and add an extra ‘0’ to the price. Check by asking them to write the number down instead.
Tours in Albania
If you are feeling apprehensive about travelling solo, sometimes taking a tour for part or all of your trip can give you the confidence you need before going it alone. G Adventures are a responsible tour company which mainly caters towards budget travellers. Most tours have an average of 10 people and there is no upper age limit.
Once you book your trip you pay extra for any excursions you want to do when you’re there. If you are planning on seeing more than just Albania, they have a 9 day adventure from Dubrovnik to Athens seeing some of Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece as well as Albania.
If you have longer, join their 15 day Zagreb to Athens tour which starts from Zagreb instead of Dubrovnik. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company. I have personally used G Adventures and recommend them as a solo female friendly company.
* Click here for the full itineraries, prices, and start dates
Tours for Independent Travellers with Outdoor Albania
Albania Day Tours – Get Your Guide helps you to find top-rated activities and day tours in worldwide destinations including Albania. Choose from a full day trip to Berat and a historic walking tour of the city, a visit to Shkoder Rozafa Castle with a local guide, or trip to Tirana and Kruja. Some of the tours require a minimum of 2 people but there are plenty to book as a solo and it’s really simple to use. Just check the reviews, price and availability then book online.
* Check all tours and prices here
Accommodation in Albania
You can camp, stay in hostels or with local families. Camping in Albania is incredibly easy. Wild camping means you can camp anywhere although you may get approached to pay €5 for pitching your tent. If you don’t have your own tent and don’t want to camp alone then consider staying in a pre-pitched tent within camping grounds with entertainment and others for company.
In the Albanian Alps, you can choose homestays where you get to stay with a local family on a full-board basis. There is also Airbnb which connects you to staying with locals whether you choose to just book a room or a whole apartment. Save $20 off your first stay with this Airbnb link.
For those travelling on a budget, hostels in Albania are generally good and Tirana Backpackers in the capital are helpful with information for your onward travel. White Dream Hotel in Tirana is also recommended. In Saranda stay at Saranda Backpackers, and in Berat choose Lorenc Guesthouse & Hostel.
All of the accommodations below have been recommended by solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. For all other Albania accommodation, click on the link below.
Berat – Olive B&B
If you’re heading to Berat, this B&B is in a great location both near the river and the Old Town and walking distance to the castle. You’ll be welcomed with warm hospitality as the hosts are lovely and provide a delicious breakfast with ingredients from their own garden. It’s only a short walk to the bus stop. Choose from a double or twin room or a standard double room.
- Prices from £28 / €33 per night for a double room
- To book, check prices or availability for: Olive B&B
Sarande – Hotel MS
If you plan to visit Saranda, this friendly 3-star hotel is well-situated within reach of the beach and the promenade. It has a terrace that overlooks the sea, an onsite restaurant and a 24 hour front desk. Each room has either a balcony or a terrace, toiletries and a hairdryer, and breakfast is included too. Choose from a standard double or twin room with a garden view, a superior king room, or a deluxe double or twin with a seaview.
- Prices from £66 / €77 per night for a standard double with garden view
- To book, check prices or availability for: Hotel MS
Tirana – The Rooms Apartment Tirana
Located in Tirana, these 4-star apartments are less than a mile from the city centre and the main attractions. The apartments are modern, spacious and come with air conditioning and some with a balcony. You can work out in the fitness centre, take a dip in the indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam room, or treat yourself to a massage and spa treatment (you do need to pay extra for the spa). Choose from a double or twin room or a studio apartment.
- Prices from £51 / €60 per night for a double room
- To book, check prices or availability: The Rooms Apartment Tirana
Getting Around Albania
Getting around Albania can be challenging and driving is only for the brave hearted. Private cars were illegal for Albanians during the communist era so driving is quite new to the country.
There are trains from Tirana to Durres, Vlore, Milot and Shkodra but don’t expect them to be very comfortable. The best way is by local buses or minibuses (called furgons).
There are no central bus stations so finding where your bus departs from can be tricky, then once you’ve found it you may find yourself waiting for them to fill up with passengers before they depart. They usually shout the destination to get people on the bus.
Buses from the capital to the coast (Dhermi) take 6 hours, cost 1000 Lek and depart from stop ‘K’ near the river. Buses do stop en-route for refreshment breaks. Read here for the bus timetable.
Note that the bus from Saranda to Korca leaves daily except on Fridays and Sundays. If you prefer to take the coastal route from Saranda to Tirana instead of via Gjirokaster, take the 05.30 or the 21.00 bus.
Travelling around Albania outside of villages it can be difficult to reach tourist sites. Hitchhiking is really popular so if you find a travelling buddy, it’s just as easy to hitch a ride to get around. Trust your instinct if you decide to hitch alone.
From The Airport
Tirana – Taxis run from outside and cost approx 3500 Lek for the 12km journey to the city centre.
Resorthoppa operates a cheap airport shuttle that will take you to the city centre or your hotel or the Rinas Express bus runs from 6am to 6pm to the National Museum in the centre and costs only 350 Lek.
How Long Do I Need?
At least one week to see the capital and the coast or the mountains. We would recommend two weeks as there are so many areas to see and getting around by bus can take a lot of time.
Where can I go from here?
- Italy – 2 hrs
- Greece – 1.5 hrs
- Turkey – 1.5 hrs
Travelling Onwards (check visas before you travel)
To Montenegro – This is the first joint border crossing in the Western Balkans. There are daily departures from Shkodra to Ulcinj leaving at 6am and 12.30pm. Buses also run from Durres and Tirana.
To Kosovo – The bus from Durres to Pristina takes approx 5 hours and costs £12. The bus departs from Rruga Pavaresia street (the north end by the beach).
To Macedonia – Either take the bus from Tirana or from Pogradec then a furgon to the border Tushemisht then a minibus to Lake Ohrid.
To Italy – From Vlore passenger ferries operate to Brindisi and some allow you take your vehicle across. Click here for Aferry’s website. You can also take a boat from Durres to various ports in Italy. Click here for Venezia Lines.
To Greece – Catch a ferry to Corfu from Saranda but it’s not cheap and will set you back £23 one way or by bus to Athens.
- Can I drink the water? No.
- Is tipping in Albania expected? Yes, tip 10%.
- Fixed price or barter? Fixed price in shops but barter with street sellers or taxis.
- Any ATMs? In the main cities such as Tirana, Shkodra, Saranda.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Right.
- Good for vegetarians? Creperies and pizzerias cater for vegetarians.
- Any seven wonders of the world? No
Plan a Trip to Albania
If you are ready to plan a trip to Albania, below are some useful links to help you plan your trip including events and festivals, where you can volunteer and eco accommodation.
Budget – £30 a day
Capital – Tirana
Population – 3,195,000
Language spoken – Albanian, Many also speak Italian
The Best Time to Visit Albania – June, July, August
Events and Festivals in Albania
Did you know? For most of the 20th century Albania was cut off from the rest of the world.
Lingo – Useful Albanian Phrases
Stay at Shkolla South Hostel in Vuno
Volunteer with children with Love Volunteers
Cultural Albania Trips with Outdoor Albania
Mind Body & Soul
No retreats in Albania as yet!
Spa Treatments at Palace and SPA Hotel
Weather in Albania – Below is an annual weather chart for Albania
Map of Albania
- Solo Travel in Europe
- Solo Travel in Greece
- Solo Travel in Macedonia
- Solo Travel in Italy
- GatG Adventures in Albania
I have just got home from a month of travel in Albania. I loved it.
I’m so glad. It’s a fascinating country isn’t it. Where did you go?
I am so glad I found this page, this is my favourite about traveling in Albania so far!
I will travel for 2 weeks in September, could you draw a quick route of what you would recommend doing in two weeks – arriving and departing in Tirana?
Thanks so much in advance!
Thanks 🙂 I loved Albania. I would go from Tirana to the Alps then back to Tirana, then south to Vlore, Sarande and Gjirkaster. One of the girls in our Girls about the Globe Facebook group is currently in Albania and I’m sure she’ll be happy to give you some more tips. You’ll find the link to join at the bottom of this page http://www.girlabouttheglobe.com/first-time-solo/ x
hi! I am traveling alone as a female and I was wondering if it’s better to stay in Sarande and use that as a base for which to see Dhermi and the other surrounding nice beaches instead of staying alone in Dhermi? There doesn’t seem to be a hostel there so I didn’t want to hang out alone there. Also, I need to get back to Tirana on a Friday. Are there any busses other busses than the one you mentioned? Thank you!
Hi Andrea, Sarande is such a nice place that I think that would be a better option for a base. I only know of the buses mentioned but you could try Rome2Rio for any additional buses back to Tirana. This is their website https://www.rome2rio.com. Are you a member of our Girls about the Globe Facebook community? I would also post your question in there too. Here’s the link to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/369115206621307/
Thank you so much! I keep reading mixed reviews of Saranda some say it’s ugly and like a concrete jungle. but it sounds like it’s a good base? I was going to hang out there maybe 4-5 days? Does that sound right? Then head to
Gjirokastër for a day then back to Tirana. ( I have 2 weeks to make a little circle in and out of Tirana via Vlore-Himara- Saranda and Gjirokastër back to Tirana. What do you think? Should I stay longer in Himara and less in Saranda? I am leaning that way at the moment. I want relaxing beautiful beaches and it doesn’t look like without a car it’s so easy outside Saranda no? Are there day trips? Thank you!!
I really liked Saranda because I enjoyed the nightlife there. I haven’t been to Himara so I can only recommend Saranda. If you want to meet others and enjoy the nightlife then it is worth going otherwise Himara may be more suitable for you. Look at what activities are in both and what you want to get out of it to decide. You can book a day tour or take a bus but they aren’t that regular so if you are short on time maybe Himara is the better option x
if you book a hotel in Himara, you can get the shuttle to Vlora and will stop you in the main street to walk down to Dhermi. Taxi will do too. Quite cheap. Himara is in the middle of few nice beaches and traveling in both sides will do. as such, hotel in Himara is best. Food is amazing and cheap. Apart of hotels there are local people offering apartments. It’s very safe. I’m going in August and can’t wait.
That’s great advice. Thanks. Have an amazing time there this month! x
Hi there, I happened to read your page on Albania. The information is rather dated I would think. I am a British Albanian living in London originally from Durres, a seaside town only a few miles away from the Capital. It is a shame that Durres hasn’t been mentioned. Also, the comment, and I quote you “Albania isn’t a country which stands out as a safe place for solo females but the Albania of today is surprisingly safe for women. That’s why we’ve given it 3 out of 5 stars. Relatively new to tourism, Albanians are very friendly and are proud that you’ve chosen their country to visit”, is not based on any evidence as Albania is one of the safest destination in the world and not relatively new to tourism as it has been opened up to tourists since 1991. It is the World politics that have ignored the Albanian beauty and tourism. A very high percentage of Albanians speak 3 to 4 languages, English, German, Italian and Greek and Albanians are very hospitable. Thank you for spending your time in creating the page though.
Hi Ed, thanks for your comments. That’s great that you live there; I loved Albania. The page does need to be updated which I’ll be doing this month so I can add Durres to the guide. Albania is a safe country but it doesn’t attract that many solo females who seem to travel to other countries in the Balkans as women seem to be more apprehensive about travelling to Albania than guys. I’ll update the information about tourism too. Enjoy your time in Albania and thanks for taking the time to comment.
That first sentence irked me too. I was born in Tirana and now live in Milan. I have visited many European countries and I would say I feel safer in any Albanian city compared to the main European capital. So much for “a country which stands out as a safe place for solo females but the Albania of today is surprisingly safe for women”.
Hi Livia, thanks for your comment. I’ve changed the wording.
Liked your article! I have a few questions about visiting Albania for a few months. I’m deciding between Sarande and Vlora. Everyone says: Saranda is the best, but I watched some youtube videos and it seems like only buildings are there, no real parks, mountains aren’t green 🙁 Not so appealing. Vlora on the other hand looks pretty and green. I would love to be closer to Montenegro, because we go later to Montenegro and Croatia, but it doesn’t really matter as long as we choose a really awesome and green beach town in Albania to explore! What would you suggest? It seems like safety is not an issue in Albania. I don’t trust the media anymore, as I felt much safer in Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey and Romania than in France, Italy, US and UK…so :)) Waiting for your reply!
Hi Gloria, that’s fab that you’re heading to Albania. I have yet to go to Vlore so I can only recommend Saranda as I loved it there. But you’re right as Vlore is meant to be greener. If Sarande doesn’t look very appealing to you, I would choose Vlore. It’s approximately 8 hours from Vlore to Montenegro and 9 from Sarande so Vlore could save you that extra too! x