Rondreis Albanië

Round trip Albania: the ideal 2 to 3 week itinerary (2024)

Albania is a hidden gem in the Balkans waiting to be discovered. The country is becoming increasingly popular as a vacation destination, and for good reason. In Albania, there is something for everyone. From snow-capped peaks in the Albanian Alps to pearly white beaches in the south with delicious, local food. Since Albania is not very large, it is an ideal destination for a road trip. The roads in Albania are in fine condition and take you past beautiful landscapes and authentic villages. Quickly discover the ideal 2 to 3 week itinerary for a tour of Albania!

Practical information for your trip to Albania

Albania is a country with a heavy history. Until the early 1990s, there was a communist dictatorship led by Enver Hoxa and Albania was literally cut off from the world. No one was allowed in or out. One of our guides’ grandfather had never seen a banana or Coca-Cola like that until that time. Meanwhile, the country has progressed a great deal but you notice that there are still not many Western influences present. This makes it just as charming to travel through Albania. The hospitable people proudly recount their history and take you into their traditions.

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Albania is also not yet a member of the European Union and has its own currency. In Albania, you pay with the Albanian Lek. 1 euro is equivalent to about 104 LEK. Albania is not an expensive destination to travel. Prices there for accommodation, gasoline and food are generally lower than in Belgium or the Netherlands.

TRAVEL TIP : Cash is still widely used in Albania, especially in the mountains. At Credins Bank, you pay no additional fees when you withdraw money. With other banks, you often pay a €5 transaction fee.

How to move

The roads in Albania are in very good condition and easy to drive by yourself. In recent years, the country put a lot of effort into improving infrastructure to further promote tourism. Therefore, we recommend you to rent a car in the capital Tirana for your tour in Albania. It is also possible to travel around by public transportation, but you won’t have the same freedom to explore the many beautiful places in Albania.

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How to get to Albania

From Brussels or Schiphol Airport, you can fly directly to Tirana. In less than a 3-hour flight you are already in Albania, and through Skyscanner you can find the cheapest flights.

Day 1-2: Shköder

On day 1 you land in the capital Tirana. Since you also end this roundtrip here, depending on what time you land, you can drive on to Shköder (Shkodra in Albanian) that same day. This large city is known for Lake Shkodra, which forms the natural border with Montenegro. You can take a boat ride on this beautiful lake or have dinner at night along the waterfront and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

A sight not to be missed in Shköder is Rofaza Castle. This castle has a fantastic view of the city and nearby river. Another fun thing to do in Shköder is to rent bikes for a day. That way you can explore the area at your own pace. Be sure to visit the Mesi Bridge and take a refreshing dip in the river among the locals. We rented our bikes at Check-in Shkodra for €8 per person, for a whole day.

Shkodra
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Shköder is the perfect base for exploring the Albanian Alps. Here you can do the three-day hike from Valbona to Theth. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful hike in Albania and should definitely not be missed during your tour of Albania. We spent the night at Kultura Hostel in the heart of Shköder. Here we could also leave our large luggage for three days. We parked our car in this parking lot for €3 per day and picked it back up in Shköder after our trek before continuing on.

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Day 3: Valbona

On Day 3, get up early and take a minibus to Lake Komoni. Here you get on the ferry that takes you from Koman to Fierze. This ferry ride is worthwhile in itself, sailing for two hours through the beautiful mountain scenery of the Albanian Alps. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful ferry rides in Europe! After the ferry ride, another minibus will take you to Valbona. You can easily buy tickets online for the entire trip from Shkodër to Valbona through Berisha tours. Those who wish can also drive themselves to the mountain village of Valbona.

komani lake
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valbona albania
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In Valbona, you have several guest houses located along one road that goes through the village. If you are by minibus then you can ask the driver to drop you off at your guesthouse. The starting point of the hike from Valbona to Theth begins at the end of this road. Depending on your accommodation, you will sleep close or far from the start of the hike. We slept at Guesthouse Bujtina Arturi, where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and breakfast.

Day 4-5: Theth

Today you will take the most beautiful hike in Albania! After a delicious breakfast in Valbona, depart towards charming Theth crossing the Valbona Pass. For 17 kilometers you will hike right through the Albanian Alps, with one view more beautiful than the other. This hike is part of the Balkan trail that goes through Albania, Montenegro and Kosovo. In summer it can already get a bit crowded on the walk, but still you should not miss this during your tour of Albania!

hike valbona theth
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church theth
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Once we arrived in Theth, we slept at Guesthouse Flodisa which we can only recommend. In the morning, you’ll be treated to fresh cow’s milk and homemade jams. If you have time, spend two nights in Theth. This gives you a full day to enjoy the beautiful mountains surrounding Theth. You can hike from Theth to the Blue Eye of Theth and the Grunasi waterfall. Be sure to take a look at Theth’s picturesque church and don’t be surprised if you walk behind a shepherd and his flock of sheep.

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Day 6: Krujë

At most guesthouses in Theth, you can book a shuttle that will take you back to Shkodër the next day. This shuttle costs 1100 LEK or €10 per person and will take you back to the city in 1.5 hours. Those who wish can also drive themselves to Theth. The road to this village was completely renewed in 2021 and you can now drive it by yourself just fine. Pick up your car in Shkodër or catch the bus towards Kruje.

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From Shkodër, it is about a 1h30 hour drive to Krujë. Arriving here, you imagine yourself back in the Middle Ages. This picturesque village is known for its colorful bazaar. Stroll past the many market stalls filled with handmade rugs, fun souvenirs and local delicacies. Be sure to visit the Krujë Castle where you will also find the ethnographic museum. Stay overnight at Rooms Emiliano and enjoy an incredible home-cooked dinner in the evening as you watch the sun slowly set behind the mountains of Krujë.

Day 7-8: Berat

A 2-hour drive from Kruje you will find beautiful Berat. This city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic center with its beautiful, Ottoman architecture. The many white houses overlooking the Osumi River give the city of also the name “the City with a Thousand Windows. Be sure to admire the Byzantine churches and go to the top to explore Berat Castle. Especially during sunset, it is wonderful to explore the castle that rises high above Berat.

Berat
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berat castle
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Stay in Berat in one of the many, traditional guesthouses such as Tradita e Berartit or Hotel Mangalemi. Here you can also enjoy the authentic Ottoman interior. There are also more budget-friendly options such as Berat Backpackers Hostel.

TRAVEL TIP : The river divides Berat into two neighborhoods: Gorica and Mangalem. In Gorica it is cheaper to stay and you are a stone’s throw away from Mangalem.

Day 9: Osumi Canyon

From Berat, you can take a day trip to Osumi Canyon. This piece of nature in Albania is very impressive to see! You can drive yourself there, being sure to stop along the way to admire the Bogove waterfall. A short 30-minute hike will take you to the waterfall where you won’t easily encounter other travelers. Then you drive on to the impressive canyon. The drive to Osumi Canyon is two hours, but it is well worth the trip. Do you like adventure? Then you can also book a rafting trip from Berat where you race through the canyon on the Osumi River.

osumi canyon
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Day 10-12: Gjirokastër

Gjirokaster is another authentic village full of history in Albania and is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List. From Berat, you drive for three hours through the beautiful Albanian countryside. Be sure to take your time on this scenic drive before arriving in Gjirokaster. Then be overwhelmed by the many cozy streets of Gjirokaster. You will find cute little stores where you can again find colorful souvenirs, ceramics and handmade carpets. Also interesting to do is visit the underground bunkers that were used during the communist era.

gjirokaster
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bunkers gjirokaster
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In Gjirokaster you will find several Ottoman houses that are still in very good condition. You can also visit the beautiful, white facades with wooden balconies inside. Skënduli House and Zekate House are both houses that are definitely worth a visit and where you will get an interesting tour about the way of life at that time. In addition, also in Gjirokaster you will find a fort with an interesting museum and back here you have a great view of the city and the surrounding ridges. Overnight accommodation is available in Gjirokaster at Hotel SS Kekezi or Argjiro Traditional.

gjirokaster castle
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bazaar gjirokaster
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Day 12-15: Ksamil

You will spend the last part of this tour of Albania along the beautiful coast, with the first stop being Ksamil. When driving from Gjirokaster to Ksamil, be sure to make a stop at the Blue Eye of Sarandë (Syri i Kaltër). This natural phenomenon gets its name from the increasingly dark blue color in the center of the pool that makes it look like an eye. From the parking lot you can walk to this clear pool in 20 minutes. You used to be allowed to swim there, but that has been banned since 2023. Still, it is definitely worth taking a look. You can walk around it and have a drink on the banks of the Blue Eye.

blue eye sarande
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Then drive an hour further towards Ksamil. This resort is often described as the Maldives of Europe. With its pearly white beaches and turquoise blue waters, it did not steal its name! In Ksamil, you can visit the various beaches or take a trip to the impressive Butrint National Park. Off the coast of Ksamil you will also find islets that you can explore on your own with a pedal boat or SUP. In short, there is a lot to do in Ksamil!

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Ksamil and Sarandë are both popular seaside resorts. From Sarandë you can take the ferry to Corfu and this seaside resort is known for its many entertainment options. Ksamil, in turn, is quieter and has nicer beaches. Stay at Heksamil Hotel so you are within walking distance of the beaches.

Day 15-18: Himarë

Wake up on day 15 of this tour of Albania and travel on to beautiful Himarë. Drive on in two hours to this pearl on the Albanian Riviera. Along the way, you’ll pass Palermo Castle, a triangular fortress perched atop a cliff. You can visit this for 300 LEK (€2.5) and here you will learn more about Ottoman history. At the bottom of the fort you also have a nice bay where you can swim or relax on the beach.

himare
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dhermi
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Himarë itself is a beautiful beach destination on the coast of Albania and much quieter than Ksamil or Sarandë. Most hotels are on the bay where you have a view of the sea, such as at Argileos Rooms or Soñar en el Mar. Also in Himarë itself you will find the ruins of a castle, which is definitely fun to visit during sunset. Be sure to also try a trip to nearby Dhermi. This authentic village is a joy to the eye with its pretty cobbled streets and beautiful churches. Another fun stop to make by car from Himarë is Gjipe Beach (Plazhi i Gjipesë) beach. Located on a gorge and with the clear waters, this is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Albanian coast.

beaches himare
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Day 18-20: Tirana

We end this tour in Albania in the bustling capital city of Tirana. From Himare you will drive in three hours and a half to Tirana airport where you can drop off your rental car. From there you can take a cab or shuttle bus to downtown. Tirana is not very big so you can easily do everything on foot. There are lots of great accommodation options in Tirana such as Garden Boutique BB or stay in one of the many modern apartments in the city center as we did at Retreat Apartments.

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By taking a free walking tour, you will learn a lot about the history of Albania and Tirana. During the tour, you will also pass by many impressive buildings in Tirana such as the bright pink Ministry of Tourism Environment. Here you will also find the Bunk’Art 2, one of the many bunkers from the time when Albania was a dictatorship. In this museum you will learn a lot about the communist regime and how its impact is still felt among the people today. In the evening you can stroll around the center of Tirana where you will find plenty of nice restaurants and bars.

Opening hours Bunk’Art 2: daily from 9:30 am – 6 pm | price: 500 LEK or € 5 per person

Best travel time Albania

The best travel time for touring Albania is from April through October. In the summer months, however, it can get very hot, with temperatures up to 40°C. This is also the high season and it is busier in Albania. We ourselves went there in June which was ideal, and this along with September is also the best period for hiking in the Albanian Alps.

Round trip Albania
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Still have questions about a tour of Albania? Let us know in a comment below! Or discover all our blogs about this beautiful country here. Looking for more information about your next trip? Please do not hesitate to contact us or send an email to snoezelsontheroad@gmail.com

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