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First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know

If it's your first time visiting Albania then you are in the right place! From travel advice to insights into local culture, this guide has you sorted for your first visit Albania.

If you’ve recently come across stunning images of Albania on social media or heard your friends rave about its beautiful beaches and landscapes, you may want to explore this country you’ve just discovered.

But apart from its natural beauty, you might wonder what daily life in Albania is like and crave more information.

Well, you’re in the right place! We’ve got you covered with all the essential details for a seamless and enjoyable for your “first time visiting Albania”. 

From travel advice to insights into local culture, this guide has you sorted for your first visit to this destination.

Let’s get started!

How to Arrive in Albania?

Albania has two airports, with the primary one being located in Tirana, the capital, which is home to nearly one million people. And up north, you’ve got another airport tucked away in Kukes.

As Albania experiences a surge in tourist interest, not limited to the summer season, there’s exciting news for travelers. Low-cost airlines are increasingly interested in collaborating with Tirana’s international airport. As a result, after Wizzair, Ryanair is now offering flights to many more destinations. 

Tirana international airport
Source: Tirana International Airport

So, maybe that will be your next flight.

How do I Get From the Airport to the City Center?

Alright, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of getting from the airport to the city center in Albania. You should know that the country is still developing its transportation system. So, here’s the deal: there are no trains or trams connecting the airport to the city center.

Tirana center
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 40

But don’t worry, you’ve got options. You can grab a minibus conveniently located near the airport or opt for a taxi. And here’s the sweet part – taking a taxi in Albania won’t break the bank, unlike in other places where it’s considered a luxury.

Still, there is no app such as Uber. To book a taxi, all you need to do is give them a call or send a WhatsApp message.

Lucky for you, there are a few wallet-friendly and trustworthy taxi companies to choose from. Check out GreenTaxi, LuxTaxi, and BlueTaxi

Fun Fact: They are all electric taxis. So, not only are they affordable and reliable, but they’re also eco-friendly – a win-win!

Pro Tips:

  • The yellow taxis waiting at the airport are expensive, so you could call the taxi listed above.
  • You can pay for the taxi in euros.
  • The distance from the airport to the city center is 30 min if there is no traffic.

Tirana Destinations: 5 Places to Visit

Now that you’ve set foot in Tirana let’s dive into what this city has to offer. We’re going to highlight the must-visit places.

Bunkart

Imagine this massive underground nuclear bunker constructed back in the 1970s for Albania’s political and military elite. 

Now, it’s not just a bunker but a captivating museum and art space. Inside its five sprawling levels, you’ll find over 100 rooms, with around 40 hosting exhibitions that delve into the bunker’s history. It’s a significant step in discussing Albania’s previously unspoken history.

Pyramid of Tirana

Piramida tirana
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 41

Back in 1988, they constructed the Pyramid of Tirana to honor the memory of the Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha. It’s one of the city’s most unique structures. However, when communism crumbled a few years later, the pyramid faced neglect.

Now you got to see the newly constructed one! Here’s a video of how it looks now.

New Bazaar

The New Bazaar is a super historic and one of the oldest neighborhoods in the Albanian capital. It’s named after the food market there, which has a rich history.

When you wander through, you’ll stumble upon a wide range of fresh goodies – from fruits and veggies to meats, seafood, and spices. What’s cool is that the friendly farmers at the New Bazaar won’t just hook you up with top-notch products; they’ll also regale you with tales about the market’s bustling past.

Dajti Mountain

If you’re looking for a change of scenery in Tirana, away from the city, make your way to Mount Dajti National Park. It’s a hotspot among Tirana locals, who love it for its fresh air and peaceful countryside strolls. To get there, you have a couple of options: hop on the Austrian-built cable car or catch a ride on the city bus.

Once you’ve arrived, you’ll discover a selection of hotels, guest houses, and restaurants in case you’re in the mood to extend your stay and enjoy the serene mountain atmosphere.

Lake of Tirana

The large, leafy park is a go-to spot for plenty of Tirana locals who need a breather. Whether they fancy a spot of fishing in the man-made lake, a leisurely picnic on the lawns, or just lounging at one of the many cafe bars, this park has it all. 

It’s a welcomed escape from the sometimes hectic traffic of Tirana, letting you fully soak in the city’s Mediterranean vibes.

Blloku

Blloku neighbourhood tirana
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 42

Pro Tips: 

  • Get a new SIM card. You can find wifi everywhere in Tirana, but getting a new SIM card might be easier. Plus, it is cheap.
  • Always have cash with you; euros are also widely accepted.
  • In Tirana, the widely spoken foreign languages are English and Italian.
  • Late autumn might not be the best time to visit Tirana since there is heavy rain.

Other Destinations to Visit: How to Get There?

A trip to Tirana is just the beginning. If you’re eager to explore other cities in Albania, there are two great ways to make your way around: by bus or renting a car.

Of course, the best choice depends on when you plan to visit Albania and where you’re headed. For instance, if you’re coming in the summer, you absolutely shouldn’t miss the stunning southern regions with their azure beaches

On the other hand, if you visit autumn months, you’re in for a treat with the breathtaking northern mountains. But let’s dive into the top destinations for each season and help you plan your adventure.

First Time Visiting Albania: South Albania Destinations

If you’ve ever checked out those stunning blue beaches with water so clear you can practically see through it, it’s time to point yourself south. 

Get ready to closely explore these sceneries:

Berat

Berat
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 43

Apolloni, Fier

Apollonia fier
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 44

Dhermi

Dhermi village
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 45

Himare

Himare beach
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 46

Sarande

Saranda
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 47

First Time Visiting Albania: North Albania Destinations

If you’ve caught a glimpse of the awe-inspiring Alps landscape, then make sure you head north.

We are talking about these views over here:

Theth

Theth albania
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 48

Shkoder

Shkoder
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 49

Valbone

Valbone
First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 50

Amazing right?

Pro Tips:

  • If you choose to get a rental car, then be aware of the heavy traffic and a bit chaotic drivers.
  • In certain spots, English may not be the go-to language.

Must Try Dishes in Albania

Albania has a Mediterranean culture, which means its cuisine is a delightful blend of Italian, Turkish, and Greek flavors. Whether dining anywhere in the country, you’re in for a treat. In a nutshell, you’ll savour traditional dishes and some more upscale options like delectable seafood delicacies. 

We made a list of the most famous Albanian traditional dishes which most tourists approve of.

First Time Visiting Albania: All You Need to Know 51
  • Byrek
  • Tavë Kosi
  • Fërgesë
  • Qofte
  • Baklava.
  • Raki
  • Petulla

When you dine at a restaurant in Tirana or elsewhere, don’t forget to put this list on your notes – you wouldn’t want to miss a thing!

If you want to know more about food in Albania: Delightful Food in Albania: The Expat’s Dining Guide

For more information about Tirana specifically, don’t forget to look at our Tirana city guide.

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