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Albania: Best Places to Visit and Where to Stay – Albanian coastline beaches – Durres City

Albania: Best Places to Visit and Where to Stay

Albania, a hidden gem in the Balkans, offers a stunning array of landscapes, from pristine beaches and rugged mountains to ancient ruins and vibrant cities. This guide will help you explore Albania’s best places to visit, where to stay, and tips for exciting excursions. If you’re considering Albania for your next holiday, you’re in for a treat.

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How to Get to Albania and Where It Is Located

Geographical Location

Albania is located in Southeast Europe, bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south. The western coast faces the Adriatic Sea, while the southwestern coast borders the Ionian Sea.

By Air

  • Tirana International Airport (TIA): The main gateway to Albania, located about 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) northwest of the capital, Tirana.
  • Airlines: Major airlines like Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, and Alitalia offer direct flights to Tirana from various European cities.

By Ferry

  • Durres Port: Ferries connect Durres with Italian ports such as Bari and Ancona, providing a scenic entry into Albania.
  • Saranda Port: Ferries from Corfu, Greece, operate regularly, making it a convenient entry point for those traveling from Greece.

By Car

  • From Greece: Cross the border at Kakavia/Kakavijë for the fastest route to southern Albania.
  • From Montenegro: The main crossing is at Muriqan, leading into northern Albania.

By Bus

  • International Buses: Direct bus services connect Tirana with major cities in neighboring countries, such as Athens, Pristina, and Skopje.

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Where to Stay in Albania

Albania offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Here are some top recommendations:

Where to Stay in Tirana

Luxury Hotels

Mid-Range Hotels

Budget Options

  • Mosaic Home: A stylish hostel with both private rooms and dormitories, perfect for budget travelers.
  • Trip’n’Hostel: Popular among backpackers, offering a vibrant atmosphere and affordable rates.

Where to Stay in Saranda

Luxury Hotels

Mid-Range Hotels

  • Titania Hotel: Offers spacious rooms and a great location near the beach.
  • Vila Era Beach Hotel: Facing the beachfront, Vila Era Beach offers 3-star accommodations in Sarandë and has a garden, terrace and restaurant

Budget Options

  • Saranda Backpackers: A budget-friendly hostel close to the beach and city center.
  • Kaonia Hotel: Affordable and centrally located, ideal for budget travelers.

Where to Stay in Gjirokaster

Luxury Hotels

  • Hotel Argjiro: A luxury hotel in a restored Ottoman-era building, offering beautiful views of the old town.
  • Cajupi Hotel: Located in the heart of Gjirokaster, offering comfortable rooms and a great restaurant.

Mid-Range Hotels

  • Kalemi Hotel: A boutique hotel with traditional decor and modern amenities.
  • Hotel Kalemi 2: Offers cozy rooms and a welcoming atmosphere.

Budget Options

  • Stone City Hostel: A popular choice among backpackers, offering affordable rates and a social atmosphere.
  • Friends’ Guesthouse & Hostel: A budget-friendly option in a historic building features a garden, shared lounge, a terrace and restaurant in Gjirokastër.

Where to Stay in Durres

Durres, Albania’s main port city, is known for its rich history, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches. Here are some top accommodation options in Durres:

Luxury Hotels

  • Adriatik Hotel: A five-star hotel located right on the beach, featuring luxurious rooms, a large outdoor pool, and excellent dining options.
  • Palace Hotel & SPA: Offers elegant rooms with sea views, a wellness center, and a private beach area.

Mid-Range Hotels

  • Hotel Arvi: Centrally located with comfortable rooms, this hotel offers stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and the Durres Amphitheatre.
  • Hotel Vila Lule: A charming hotel with modern amenities, situated close to the beach and the city center.

Budget Options

  • GUEST HOUSE VILA ELEZI: A budget-friendly guesthouse offers access to a terrace and free private parking, 24-hour front desk and a shared kitchen for guests.
  • Vila Beqja: Provides affordable accommodation with a homely atmosphere, beachfront property offers access to a balcony, free private parking, and free Wifi

Unique Stays

  • Hotel Epidamn Boutique & Spa: A boutique hotel offering stylish rooms and a unique, contemporary design, located near the beach. Each room at the 4-star hotel has city views, and guests can enjoy access to a hammam and a spa center

Tips for Nearby Cities to Visit

Tirana

Tirana City Highlights

  • Tirana Castle: Explore the ruins of this historic castle and enjoy the views of the city.
  • Bunk’Art: A fascinating museum located in a former Cold War bunker, showcasing Albania’s history.
  • Skanderbeg Square: The main square of Tirana, surrounded by important landmarks like the National History Museum and Et’hem Bey Mosque.

Durres

Durres City Highlights

  • Durres Amphitheatre: An ancient Roman amphitheater, one of the largest in the Balkans.
  • Durres Archaeological Museum: Features a collection of artifacts from Albania’s rich history.
  • Durres Beach: A popular destination for sunbathing and swimming.

Vlore

Vlore City Highlights

  • Independence Monument: Commemorates Albania’s declaration of independence in 1912.
  • Kuzum Baba: A hill offering panoramic views of Vlore and the surrounding area.
  • Vlore Beach: Enjoy the beautiful sandy beaches and clear waters.

Gjirokaster

Gjirokaster City Highlights

  • Gjirokaster Castle: One of the largest castles in the Balkans, offering stunning views and historical exhibits.
  • Gjirokastra Bazaar: A charming old market area with traditional shops and cafes.
  • Zekate House: An excellent example of Ottoman architecture, open to the public.

Kruje

Kruje City Highlights

  • Kruje Castle: A historic fortress offering beautiful views and a museum dedicated to national hero Skanderbeg.
  • Ethnographic Museum: Showcases traditional Albanian life and culture.
  • Old Bazaar: A great place to buy local handicrafts and souvenirs.

Tips for Excursions in Albania

Albania Best Places and Best Albania Beaches to Visit

Ksamil Beach Albania

Ksamil is known for its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters. Located near the Greek border, it’s part of the Butrint National Park.

  • Korali Ksamil: A popular beach known for its clear blue waters and lively atmosphere.
  • Veranda Apollonia Ksamil: A beach club offering sunbeds, umbrellas, and a great selection of food and drinks.

Gjipe Beach

Gjipe Beach is a hidden gem located between Dhermi and Vuno. Accessible by a short hike, it offers a secluded and pristine beach experience.

  • Hiking to Gjipe Beach: Enjoy a scenic hike through a canyon to reach the beach.
  • Camping at Gjipe: The beach is perfect for camping, offering a unique experience close to nature.

Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera stretches along the Ionian Sea, offering some of the best beaches in the country.

  • Himara: A coastal town known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere.
  • Dhermi: Famous for its long sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Albania Travel Tips

Northern Albania

Northern Albania is known for its rugged mountains, traditional villages, and outdoor activities.

  • Theth National Park: A remote and beautiful area offering hiking trails, waterfalls, and traditional stone houses.
  • Valbona Valley National Park: Known for its stunning landscapes and outdoor activities like hiking and rafting.

Gjirokaster

  • Gjirokaster Bazaar: Explore the old bazaar, a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with shops and cafes.
  • Gjirokaster Castle: Visit the castle for panoramic views of the city and learn about its history.

Albania Itinerary Suggestions

7-Day Albania Itinerary

  • Day 1-2: Tirana: Explore the capital city’s attractions, including Skanderbeg Square, Bunk’Art, and Tirana Castle.
  • Day 3: Kruje: Visit Kruje Castle and the old bazaar.
  • Day 4-5: Gjirokaster: Discover the historic center, Gjirokaster Castle, and Zekate House.
  • Day 6: Blue Eye: Visit the Blue Eye, a stunning natural spring near Saranda.
  • Day 7: Ksamil: Relax on the beautiful beaches of Ksamil and visit the ruins of Butrint.

10-Day Albania Itinerary

  • Day 1-2: Tirana: Explore the city’s attractions.
  • Day 3: Kruje: Visit Kruje Castle and the old bazaar.
  • Day 4-5: Shkodra: Discover the historic city of Shkodra, including Rozafa Castle and Lake Shkodra.
  • Day 6-7: Gjirokaster: Explore the historic center and Gjirokaster Castle.
  • Day 8: Blue Eye: Visit the stunning natural spring.
  • Day 9: Ksamil: Relax on the beautiful beaches.
  • Day 10: Saranda: Explore the coastal city of Saranda and visit nearby attractions like Lekursi Castle.

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