Updated: Nov 9
Back from our fifth trip of 2021 but, if you noticed, it hasn't been without a theme. This year has been all about discovering off beat unconventional countries. We started our year in Uganda, then went to Kyrgyzstan for Spring. That was followed by a non-beachy to Seychelles, and a whirlwind trip to four Central American treasures and now - Albania.
The Balkans have always been popular with crowds, why then has Albania been left behind I wonder? Is it because of their previous communist rule? I have no idea about why but I do know that traveling to these hidden countries in an instagram-obsessed world has been the biggest joy of my year.
Though this feels like a packed itinerary, it was surprisingly relaxing since we were back to the room by 5 p.m. on all days. Let's jump right into the detailed guide, including a day wise breakdown and tips to make your trip extremely memorable. Read on.
Day Wise Itinerary Breakdown
Day 1 Tirana to Shkoder
Day 2 Shkoder to Theth
Day 3 Theth to Kruje
Day 4 Kruje to Prespa Lake
Day 5 Kruje to Korca
Day 6 Korca to Gjirokaster
Day 7 Saranda, Butrint National Park
Day 8 Himare, Vlore & Berat
If you are traveling with Fly Dubai, from Dubai, you don't need a PCR test to go to Albania. Just your vaccination certificate.
You do need a PCR test to re-enter Dubai.
The test should cost 6000 LEK or EUR 25 per person.
You have to make sure the test is RT-PCR and not an Antigen test. Also make doubly sure that you are doing your test with a registered clinic that is recognized by the Albanian Airport. If you do it at any clinic you found, you could get rejected at the counter.
Testing Tip: we got ours done at Berat on the day before we were due to fly. Got the results in 8 hours.
Flights, Visa and Immigration
We flew direct with Fly Dubai - directly to Tirana, around 5.5 hours.
Albania offers visa on arrival for residents of UAE. No visa cost.
The immigration was quick and efficient. Not a lot of questions.
Safety and hygiene
Not the safest of places from a COVID point of view. Though they say most people are vaccinated in the bigger cities and towns, not a single person in any city or town was wearing a mask. If this bothers you, perhaps you are better off picking another place.
We wore ours every time we sat in a restaurant or entered a museum. Since most places were empty, social distancing was no hassle.
Best time to visit
May - August if you want to party it up in the sandy beaches. Also a good time to hike. September-October is the best time to avoid crowds. We had most places to ourselves, just what we love.
Language and People
People are genuine and welcoming. Not everyone speaks English but if you have your guide with you, you should be able to manage.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
Travel Insurance is highly recommended. USD accepted at all resorts. Carry local currency for small purchases.
Safety for Traveling Solo or as a woman
The country felt extremely safe. Should be no a problem to go solo here.
Albania is still relatively untouched by mass tourism - so it is extremely backpacker and budget-friendly. Most hotels or lodges are small or owned by loc