• Currency – Albanian Lek
• 90 days Visa free for most countries
• Outdated trains and buses
The poorest country in Europe, with some of the richest history – the Albanian people have links to the earliest European settlers. A sweeping mediterranean coastline, good climate, and very cheap prices make visiting Albania a no brainer. Only in the last 20 years has the country truly been open to travellers, so get there now and see the country pre the impending mass tourism boom.
In a restaurant, you can get a main meal for between 3 and 7 Euros. Souvlaki is a common street food, sold for under €1 in many areas. For a cheap snack or light meal try Qofte – Albanian fried meatballs, again for less than €1. Beer starts from around the same price too!
All accommodation providers are taxed heavily by the Government, forcing prices higher than they otherwise would be. That said, hostels are on a par with surrounding countries – a dorm bed can be had for between 7 – 12 Euros, while a twin is from around €14 per person. Budget hotels start from €25 for a twin/double but are steadily increasing in price.
The Albanian transport system is very cheap. Buses and minibuses (furgons) cost a few Euros between cities. An inner city bus is under half a Euro. Infrastructure is not a strong point of the country and many roads are not in the best condition, making bus travel an experience all of its own! The railway network is limited, very outdated, but even cheaper. Tirana to Vlore is a 5 hour trip and costs under €2.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT
Friendly and colourful is one way to describe Tirana. Organized chaos and polluted another. Throw them all together and you have a strangely addictive city that is a hive of activity. Bazaars, the people, and intense cafe culture help to make the capital a place you can easily spend a few days.
Berat’s charm is in its history – hundreds of years of Ottoman rule have created a pretty town that is now a lived in UNESCO heritage site. Visit centuries old mosques and churches, or climb to the old fortress and gaze at the mountains in the distance.
As the most popular tourist resort in Albania, Sarande is a good taste of the country for beginners. The area has some of the best beaches on the coast. History is near too – Butrint ruins date from Roman times and include an amphitheatre and a temple. The Greek island of Corfu is a stones throw away for onward travellers.
Party at Dhermi – The long sandy beach hosts day and night parties around the Havana club bar.
Take a ferry through the mountains – From Shkoder you can head to the Village of Koman and catch the ferry. Sailing through a flooded gorge to Fierze, it is one of the most beautiful journeys you will ever take.
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