Solo Travel in Albania
Types of Girl about the Globe – History GatG, Intrepid GatG, Party GatG
If you planning a solo travel Balkans trip, Albania is a great destination to choose. It's authentic, cheap and a great alternative to Croatia. I spent two weeks backpacking Albania and have included all my tips and recommended places for a solo trip to Albania below.
I've included where to stay on an Albania solo trip, 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 for your Albania solo female travel trip.
* Before you travel, check what paperwork or visas are required for Albania.
N.b. By booking through this page for your solo trip Albania, you are helping to improve the lives of vulnerable girls about the globe. Thanks for helping.
- Solo Travel in Albania
- Things To Do in Albania
- Tours in Albania
- Accommodation in Albania
- Best Places To Stay 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
Solo Travel to Albania
I've given Albania 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.
When you do solo travel Albania, avoid Lazarat, a lawless town that produces Cannabis. They are 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. Overall, Albania is a good country to explore independently but you may feel more comfortable visiting here on a group tour.
Tips For Albania
- Albania has siestas! So expect the locals to stop for siesta from 13.30 to 17.30.
- Most museums in Albania are closed on Mondays so plan your visits to the museums for the other days of the week.
- 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.
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 making solo travel to Albania 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 (even the Lonely Planet once named it its top country of the year!)
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 you may prefer to dress a bit more conservatively here if you want to avoid the odd glance.
If you choose to stay in the city, Shkodra Castle has fantastic views of the lake and is worth seeing. Also known as Rozafa Castle, this historic fortress holds significant historical and cultural importance for the region and has been a strategic stronghold for various civilisations, including the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans.
The nicest area here is Shkodra Lake where you can camp overnight. The Lake is slightly out of the city and out of the way for public transport so you will need to hire a car or get a taxi here instead.
Aside from the castle and the lake, you can also explore the Marubi National Museum of Photography for a visual journey through Albania's history. Wander Pjaca Square, known for its local market and restaurants selling Albanian food, and don't miss the Ebu Beker Mosque, showcasing Ottoman architecture.
While the castle and Shkodra Lake are must-visit spots, there isn't that much to keep you here for longer than a couple of days so you may prefer to spend time somewhere else.
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 you can take a shuttle from the big mosque to the city outskirts for the larger malls.
Tirana is a great destination for museum lovers. You'll find the National History Museum where you can learn about the nation's evolution, the Albanian National Museum with artefacts from ancient civilisations, and the Natural Sciences Museum that exhibits Albania's biodiversity.
For art and literature lovers, the National Art Gallery showcases Albanian art, paintings and sculptures from the 13th century. The Fan Noli Museum honours the famous Albanian poet and writer, Fan Noli, who was also a former Prime Minister.
For culture and to learn more about the communist era, Bunk'Art 1 and 2 are converted underground bunkers where you can delve into the secretive Communist past and explore the secret police activities during that time. The House of Leaves (called Shtëpia e Gjetheve) is another museum focused on the surveillance control during that era.
The Et'hem Bey Mosque is a significant religious and cultural site in Tirana and you can go inside and learn more about its history and architecture in the small museum.
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. And pay a visit to the Pyramid of Tirana, originally built as a museum which you can climb for panoramic views of the city.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
Saranda is one of my 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.
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.
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. Solo female travel Albania to see the authentic Albania in its prime.
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. * Check rates and availability for G Adventures Albania tours
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 rates and availability for all Albania day tours
You'll find a variety of accommodation in Albania. You can camp, stay in hostels, with local families or choose an apartment or a hotel. In the Albanian Alps, you can choose homestays where you get to stay with a local family on a full-board basis.
Hostels in Albania are really good value and sociable, 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.
For those travelling on a budget, 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 (I did this in Dermi). 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.
If you’re unsure of the best area to stay in Albania, I’ve listed my recommended destinations for solos below. For the best places to stay in Albania, all of the accommodations below have been recommended by both myself and solo female travellers from our Girls about the Globe community and come with our Solo Female Friendly endorsement. For all other Albania accommodation, check rates and availability for all accommodation in Albania here
Where To Stay in Albania
Beach Solo – Ksamil: A small village near Saranda, Ksamil is renowned for its picturesque islands and white sandy beaches. It offers various hotels and resorts, making it an excellent place to relax and unwind.
City & Sightseeing solo – Tirana: As the capital city, Tirana offers a wide range of accommodation options, including luxury hotels, boutique hostels, and apartments. You can explore the city's vibrant culture and historic sites.
City & Sightseeing solo – Shkodër: Located in the north of Albania, Shkodër is a city with a rich history and vibrant cultural scene. The city offers a mix of hotels and guesthouses, with some accommodations offering views of Lake Shkodër.
Cultural solo – Gjirokastër: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gjirokastër is a beautiful Ottoman-era town known for its well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets. Staying in one of the traditional guesthouses here can provide an authentic experience.
History solo – Berat: Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Berat is famous for its “City of a Thousand Windows” and its unique hillside architecture. Staying in a traditional house in the historic center can be a memorable experience.
History solo – Shkodër: Located in the north of Albania, Shkodër is a charming city with a rich history. The city offers a mix of hotels and guesthouses, with some accommodations offering views of Lake Shkodër.
Nature solo – Valbona Valley: If you're into nature and hiking, consider staying in the Valbona Valley National Park in the Albanian Alps. The area offers guesthouses and lodges, providing an excellent base for exploring the stunning landscapes.
Party solo – Saranda: Located on the southern coast of Albania, Saranda is one of the best party cities in Albania. This popular tourist destination is known for its stunning beaches and proximity to the ancient city of Butrint. There are numerous hotels and resorts along the coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea.
Best Places To Stay in Albania
Hostel – Guesthouse & Hostel Lorenc is a sociable hostel with a large terrace, clean spacious rooms and great views. It’s walking distance to UNESCO district and you can either stay in a shared dorm room or a private room. Prices from €12 p/n * Check prices & availability: Guesthouse & Hostel Lorenc
Budget – Olive 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. Prices from €34 p/n * Check prices & availability: Olive B&B
Budget – Villa Gjecaj is a guesthouse and restaurants in the Albania Alps. I stayed at this homestay and found the family so welcoming. The homemade food and view of the valley is amazing too. And you can trek from here too. Prices from €52 p/n. * Check prices & availability: Villa Gjecaj
Hostel – Tirana Backpackers is a great hostel. I stayed here and because it’s a small hostel it was really easy to meet others. There’s a lovely courtyard and a welcoming atmosphere. It’s perfect for solos. Breakfast is included too! Prices from €19 p/n for a bed in a mixed dorm. * Check prices & availability: Tirana Backpackers
Budget – Areela Boutique Hotel is a 3-star hotel in the heart of Tirana. The hotel has a homely feel with a colourful design staff that will make you feel really welcome. Prices from €47 p/n. * Check prices & availability: Areela Boutique Hotel
Comfort – The Rooms Serviced Apartments Tirana are less than a mile from the city centre and the main attractions. 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. Prices from €143 for 2 nights (a minimum of 2 night stay). * Check prices & availability: Apartments Tirana
Hostel – Saranda Backpackers is the hostel that I stayed in Sarande. It’s Tomi is an amazing host and helps you with anything that you need. It’s in a great location, close to the beach and really easy to meet others. I even went partying with people I met at the hostel and made a travel buddy. Prices from €13 p/n for a mixed dorm. * Check prices & availability: Saranda Backpackers
Budget – Close to the ferry, Hotel Villa Margarit is a family-run hotel in a great location with attentive hosts. There’s a lovely courtyard and garden and the rooms come with their own fridge and sea view. Prices from €32 p/n. * Check prices & availability: Hotel Villa Margarit
Comfort – Hotel Lindi is a 3-star hotel in a central location, close to restaurants and shops as well as the ferry terminal and bus stops. The rooms are spacious and comfortable and all the staff are friendly too! Prices from €49 p/n. * Check prices & availability: Hotel Lindi
Hostel – I stayed at Mi Casa es Tu Casa. It has a chilled out vibe with a bar and garden where you can meet others. Plus there’s a really good kitchen to cook your own meals. Prices from €13 p/n for a dorm room. * Check prices & availability: Mi Casa es Tu Casa
Hostel – I stayed at Shkolla Hostel & Camping which was great value. It’s easy to meet others here but it does have cold showers so expect it to be basic and back to nature. Prices from €11 p/n for a dorm room. * Check prices & availability: Shkolla Hostel & Camping
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?
You'll need at least one week to see the capital and the coast or the mountains. I 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 you drink water in Albania? 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
Did you know? For most of the 20th century Albania was cut off from the rest of the world.
Lingo – Useful Albanian Phrases
Cultural Albania Trips with Outdoor Albania
Mind Body & Soul
No retreats in Albania as yet!
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