Despite gaining in popularity in recent years, Albania remains something of a hidden gem. With pristine beaches, towering mountains, tons of historical sites, and a rich cultural landscape, this gorgeous little country is an ideal place to explore in 2024.
Albania is one of my favourite countries in Europe. It offers an unspoiled, authentic, and unique experience that’s increasingly rare in most of today’s well-trodden destinations.
Today, Albania is still relatively undiscovered. But come here soon – before everyone else gets the memo!
7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Albania in 2024
Every time I visit Albania, I find myself increasingly smitten by its breathtaking landscapes, incredible coastlines, generous locals, and crowd-free natural beauty.
If you’re tired of the usual tourist hotspots and want to discover a new place that will leave you breathless, look no further than Albania!
Here are 7 reasons why:
1. Stunning Natural Landscapes
Albania has more than its fair share of beautiful natural landscapes. From the majestic Albanian Alps to the idyllic beaches along the Ionian and Adriatic coasts, this country is packed full of gorgeous places to see and explore.
You can hike through rugged mountains and canyons, admire breathtaking views of snow-capped peaks, and swim in crystal-clear lakes. And then there’s the Albanian Riviera, one of the most jaw-dropping (and unspoiled) stretches of coastline in the entire Mediterranean.
The country’s national parks, such as Butrint and Theth, offer a chance to immerse yourself in the untouched wilderness. It’s hard not to be left in awe by this small, but incredibly diverse, country.
2. Rich Historical and Cultural Heritage
Albania boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage that is truly captivating. From ancient ruins to medieval castles, this Balkan gem is a treasure trove of historical sites.
One must-visit destination is Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This vast archaeological site showcases the region’s Greek, Roman, and Byzantine influences, with its impressive amphitheatre and other ruins.
Another unique place to visit is Gjirokaster, known as the “Stone City”. Its fantastically well-preserved Ottoman-era architecture and hilltop castle offer a glimpse into Albania’s varied and fascinating past.
And the country’s folk traditions and vibrant music are on display in practically every town and city you visit. Albania has a cultural tapestry that’s as unique as it is fascinating.
3. Tasty Local Cuisine
With its rich history and influences from neighbouring countries, Albania’s vibrant food culture is yet another reason to visit this beautiful country. Albanian cuisine is distinctive, hearty, and delicious, with its hearty meat dishes, fresh seafood, and delicious pastries.
One of the most popular Albanian dishes is byrek (or burek), a savoury pastry filled with a variety of ingredients such as spinach, feta cheese, or ground meat. It’s great for lunch or as a cheap and satisfying snack on the go.
Another must-try dish is tavë kosi, a baked lamb and yoghurt casserole that’s creamy, rich, and warming. One of my favourite vegetarian dishes is fërgesë, a hearty blend of sautéed peppers, tomatoes, and cottage cheese.
In the coastal regions, you’ll feast on grilled fish and seafood that’s as fresh as it gets. And, to round off the culinary adventure, baklava, a sweet pastry filled with nuts and drenched in honey, is a must-try dessert.
See also: 10 Best Restaurants in Tirana
4. Adventure Opportunities
If you’re a fan of adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities, Albania won’t disappoint. With its rugged mountains, pristine coastline, and wild landscapes, the country is a perfect playground for adrenaline junkies and nature enthusiasts alike.
You can embark on thrilling hiking expeditions to conquer the majestic peaks of the Albanian Alps or explore the untouched wilderness of the Accursed Mountains.
Paraglide over the incredible coastal landscapes, zip-line through lush forests, hit the mountain biking trails, ride horses through hidden valleys, or test your bravery with canyoning and rock climbing adventures.
For water lovers, the Albanian Riviera offers fantastic opportunities for swimming, diving, snorkelling, and kayaking in the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea.
Whether you want to discover hidden waterfalls, hike up to explore ancient ruins, or simply immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the Albanian wilderness, this country has it all.
5. Budget-Friendly Destination
Albania offers great value for money, especially compared to popular destinations in Western Europe. With its affordable prices, it’s an ideal choice for those seeking a wallet-friendly adventure.
Not only are accommodation and food reasonably priced, but transportation costs are also affordable, allowing you to maximize your travel experience without breaking the bank.
You can easily find comfortable accommodation for less than €45 ($50) per night. I tend to budget around €20 ($22) per person per day for meals (assuming you eat out 1 or 2 times per day in medium–priced places).
According to Budget Your Trip, two people can expect to spend approximately €870 ($950) for a one-week trip to Albania, including accommodation, food, transport, and sightseeing.
6. Warm and Welcoming Locals
The Albanian people are rightfully known for their warmth and hospitality. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be greeted with genuine smiles and open arms, as the locals are eager to share their culture and traditions with you.
Whether you’re walking the buzzing streets of Tirana or exploring the picturesque countryside, you’ll find that Albanians are usually quick to offer their assistance and make you feel at home.
I’ve lost track of the number of times a local Albanian person offered me a free lift, fresh fruit off their tree, an extra coffee or dessert on the house, or even simply a giant grin and a “Welcome to Albania, I hope you like it here”. I do – it’s a wonderful place.
7. Off-the-Beaten-Path Experiences
Albania is itself a relatively off-the-beaten-path destination. But even here, many unique and less-explored areas showcase the country’s rich history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture.
One particularly spectacular place is the village of Theth in the Albanian Alps. Nestled amidst breathtaking mountains, Theth offers a serene escape from the bustling cities. It’s also an ideal starting place for many of the best hikes in the area.
Another less explored area is the town of Shkoder, in the far north of the country, close to Montenegro. It’s known for its traditional Balkan culture, the impressive Rozafa Castle, and nearby Shkodra Lake (or Lake Skadar), the largest lake in Southern Europe.
Albania is an amazing destination that should be on every traveller’s radar in 2024. With its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality, this captivating country has so much to offer.
Unspoiled beaches, stunning national parks, picturesque lakes, bucketfuls of culture and ancient history, tasty food, low prices, and welcoming local people are just some of the reasons to visit this beautiful Balkan gem.
Make embracing the unknown one of your New Year’s resolutions. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
Additional Information on Visiting Albania
Albania Travel Tips:
- Albania is generally a very safe country for foreigners. But, as with anywhere, it’s wise to stay aware of your surroundings, particularly in busier areas.
- English proficiency varies across Albania. In major cities and tourist spots, you’ll find more English speakers, but in rural areas, knowledge of basic Albanian phrases can enhance your experience.
- Public transportation is available and economical for inter-city travel. However, renting a car offers greater flexibility to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and scenic routes.
Best Time to Visit Albania:
- The most popular time to visit Albania is between late spring (May) and early autumn (September).
- July and August are generally the busiest months, especially in popular beach towns. Temperatures are usually the hottest during these months too.
- Personally, my favourite month to visit Albania is September. It’s still warm and sunny, the sea is a beautiful temperature after the long summer, but you don’t have to contend with the summer crowds.
Top Destinations to Visit:
- Tirana: The capital city, known for its colourful buildings, vibrant street art, and rich history.
- Albanian Riviera: Famous for its dramatic coastline, stunning beaches, and attractive coastal towns like Sarandë, Ksamil, and Dhërmi.
- Berat and Gjirokastër: Two historic cities, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with unique and well-preserved Ottoman architecture.
- Shkodër: A cultural hub near the Albanian Alps, perfect for hikers, nature lovers, and anyone looking to experience a different side of the country.
- Korçë: Known for its charming old town, museums, and the nearby Voskopoja village, steeped in history.
- The Blue Eye: A magical freshwater spring known for its vivid, surreal colours, and local mythology.