Albania: what you need to know

Before you joyfully board the plane to Albania, guarantee yourself a pleasant stay, without making a panic phone call to a friend – which is an extremely expensive decision, or a trickle of cold sweat running down your neck because you are left with no transport option in the Albanian wilderness … In other words , these few points that I prepared for you are not a blog post. This is a guarantee of a pleasant holiday in Albania!


The currency in Albania is LEK. Converter to EURO (2023) looks like this:
1 LEK – EURO 0.0088 doesn’t say much, right? Therefore…
100LEK – 0,90 EURO so let’s say 1EURO to make it easier for you

Be sure to have albanian currency before departure! Although it can be difficult, not all exchange offices offer this. The solution is to buy euros. You can easily buy a bus ticket from the airport or pay for a taxi paying in euro. And most importantly, you can easily exchange euros for LEK in Albania, in every city, in every exchange office, and there are a lot of them!
Card payment is respected, but not everywhere (you can pay in some restaurants, cafes or shops; in buses, taxis only in cash) and usually from a minimum amount. Therefore, for your own peace of mind, I suggest you take cash in euros, then exchange it for LEK. Why am I suggesting this solution to you? Well, because there are ATMs, but … not all of them support every card. My VISA was not recognized by 90% of the ATMs, so twithdrawal was either impossible or involved a fee (the amount differs, depends on the bank, usually it was +/- 5 EURO). Better, in my opinion, to take more euros and, if necessary, gradually exchange them for LEK, as much as you think you gonna need.

Protip! Do not exchange money at the airport, the rate there can be the epitome of robbery in broad daylight. There are plenty of exchange offices in the city and you can easily exchange money there. Protip no 2! The bank which doesn’t charge at all, it’s Credins Bank.


Your family is worried that you will get lost in this “wild” Albania and warns you that you have to check out immediately after landing? Wait, wait, hold your horses :d The first step at the airport after landing should be made directly to the Vodafone store. There, after buying an Albanian SIMcard (30 days – 18 euros, unlimited calls and text messages, plus the Internet is almost unlimited, there is no smaller package) you can write on Whatsapp that you are alive and doing more than well :d Why is that? Albania is not in Schengen, charges for calls like for gold! Even just receiving a text message can cost a lot, and if it happens to you and the amount is several dozen euros, you can consider yourself as lucky devil … seriously 😀


First of all, Albania has everything: buses, minibuses, trains. It may seem that getting somewhere is not an issue at all and I don’t wanna play a devil advocate but I need to tell you a few things about it… You probably think right now: Oh, it’s just another European country,only more sheep on the roads. Oh no, no, no. It’s like playing a Russian Roulette, you can win, sure, but also you might as well be hit – not deadly, ofc, but deadly scared :d Railways in Albania are rather for railway enthusiasts: you will get old as Dumbledor trying to get anywhere by them.

Buses. For me, it’s a ghost being. Supposedly, there are even timetables of courses, and the websites of particular cities enthusiastically inform that they depart from Vlore to Saranda every hour! Maybe in an alternative reality :d Despite my best efforts, I’ve never even managed to see one :d So what can you rely on?

On minibuses! My favorite form of transport – not many left, in fact but reliable!

There is one snag: you have to get along with the driver. The timetable may be found, but remember, consider it as an inspiration, where you can go, rather than precise information: d On the other hand, Mr. Bus Driver knows exactly when he will go and on what day and whether he makes a return trip. And you can rely on his word. Make sure it’s him, not his friend or brother-in-law, making a course and voila, an elegant bus which has seen better days with a blanket on the seats takes you to a given place.
How to get along?

I used the reliable Google Translate :d

It is not as black as it is painted! Actually, it’s like a piece of byrek, believe me, I’ve been there and I’ve done that 🙂 Many times! Bear in mind, Albania is not only for tourists, but also locals who also need to get to a given place somehow. Minibuses are the solution, and over time you will master it to perfection, I swear to cheap flights!

Car rental! In my opinion, it’s also an option worth considering – especially if you’re traveling with your partner in crime :d For sure, if you’re in a group! The cost of such a thing is within the range of 16-20 euros per day (depending on the homie you rent from, it’s always worth haggling :d) the cost of petrol, duh, how much will you use. But consider that such an option is obviously major freedom, no need to make puns in front of the bus driver and a HUGE exploring opportunity! Don’t worry about the quality of the roads, for several years the Albanian government has been putting a lot of work into modernizing them and connecting individual cities, or improving existing connections.


I guess that since if you’re reading this you know English 🙂 So sweet but …Albanians don’t :d Maybe knowledge of Italian would be useful, but not always. Not to mention the obvious fact: speaking Albanian. Nevertheless, believe me that gesticulation and mutual willingness to get along are enough :d When you say “Berat”, you can be sure that you will be taken to a specific bus, and your self-proclaimed guide will make sure for you with the driver that he goes where you want. Say “tojlet”, and in less than a few minutes you will be presented with at least three options for dealing with this imperious necessity.

There is nothing to be afraid of, Albanians are such an open and warm nation that you will easily get along with them 🙂


I would advise you to choose one city, located so that you can easily get to it from the airport, and then to the places that interest you.

Of course, I suggest “my” Vlora – I lived here for almost 3 months and I think it’s a PERFECT starting point and a final destination itself! It’s super accesible, from Tirana Airport to Vlore takes around 2/3 hrs by bus (1200LEK). Close to Berat, Gjirokastra, Saranda, Himare or trails like the Llogara Pass! City offers a lot! Lots of places worth seeing, things worth trying and food worth eating! What’s more, the prices will be more pleasant than in the aforementioned Tirana, and the views will be incomparably better!

I stayed at Valza hotel – I worked there as a content creator, so my choice was simple, but I would recommend it to you wholeheartedly anyway 🙂 It was my home for 3 months so I know what I’m talking about – I got to know it inside out! The kindest people, the owner having a heart on his sleeve, delicious breakfasts and insane VIEWS! And that rooftop! About a few minutes to the beach, to the best cafe in the city, and although the area is sometimes a quiet reminder of times rightly past (communism in Albania was one of the harshest and its remains are visible in the city) I still consider it as a great place!

Thinking about stayin in Berat or Gjirokastra? Read my recoomendations <3


Subject as broad as Albanian love for byrek :d d It’s not without reason that I devoted a separate entry to it! In Albania, you will definitely eat tasty, even very 🙂 The country is built on love for meat and cheese, the confirmation of it is visible on every step and in every bite :d This is not good news for vegans but if I have vegetarians here, don’t worry, you will find there are a lot of meat-free options here (like Pispili, which is a kind of cake made of cornmeal baked with spinach, or grilled peppers stuffed with ricotta, my favourite). For more inspiration, I invite you to this post – I warn you, do not read it being hungry :d


The one in Albania does not disappoint! I arrived at the very beginning of March and after leaving the plane on the airport in Tirana, I had one thought: “I’m melting” 😀 It wasn’t a 30 degree wave, but for someone who came from Poland, which was still cold at that time, the difference was huge!

Even in winter, Albania has such a plesant temperature – that’s why I’m surprised that so few people think about it as getaway, honestly perfect winter escape! From the moment of my arrival on early March, the temperature only increased, from about 15 degrees gradually upwards, just sayin

Vlore boasts that it is a city with 300 days of sunshine and I can agree with that! Although the Albanian sky can get cloudy, it does not last too long. What is worth bearing in mind is that weather conditions can vary depending on the cities: the north will be cooler, the south will be warmer – that’s the drill. When thinking about Albania, I would go for cities like Vlore, Saranda, Durres – those southern spots just gonna be warmer.


Probably the most frequently raised issue when Albania is mentioned… Years of communism, bad press, lack of status as an EU member and Sekielski’s famous report about “blood revenge” have made Albania perceived as a country where kidneys are stolen more often than byrek is eaten. Complete nonsense. Just like in any other country, unpleasant situations can happen, the point is not to provoke them. You know what I’m talking about: the city looks charming at night, but maybe that’s not a reason to wander around it at two in the morning; it’s great to thrill to the music at the party but watch your cocktails – in a nutshell: EVERY place will be safe as long as we are reasonable.

In Albania, I would really advise you to watch out for stray dogs – unfortunately, there are a lot of them. However, they will not attack if unprovoked. Just like in the song, whenever, wherever, be reasonable in Albania as well, and that’s the deal my dear 😉


As Dante wrote “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here” :d But maybe don’t lose hope, but … expectations!

You can prepare yourself for Albania, that’s what this post is for, but there’s no point in making expectations. Let yourself be surprised by Albania – that’s more than certain – and enchanted. It is a country of contrasts: insane, almost surreal views, but also wild garbage dumps and vacant buildings. People are extremely polite, helpful but sometimes stuck in the narrowness of their own beliefs (just like everywhere). These are European aspirations but with communist foundations.

It’s Albania 🙂

Hope you will find my little guide to Albania useful! Read other posts about one of my the most beloved places on earth to have unforgettable memories from the Balkans.

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