This article will help you understand accommodation in Albania – its peculiarities, what to expect as a tourist, and what to be prepared for. It will provide a lot of useful information and, of course, tips on where and how to find accommodation. Some aspects of Albanian accommodation are unique to the world, while others are typical for the region but unfamiliar to us.

hotels of albania
Hotels in the center of Tirana are available, but such rental options are only found in the capital.

Accommodation in Albania: General Features

In this part of the article, I will describe some features that you will encounter in 90% of accommodation options in Albania. Most of these features are familiar to Balkan residents and neighboring countries, but it’s essential for us to know about them, as some aspects may be critically important for some.

So, let’s go through them one by one:

Central Heating and Room Heating

  • In Albania, there is no such thing as central heating. All residents, regardless of the type of housing, must arrange their own heating.
    • For information about the weather in Albania by months, read here. But to sum it up briefly, winters in coastal regions and resorts range from +5 to +15 degrees Celsius, while mountainous areas experience snowfall.
    • Therefore, apartments, guesthouses, and other accommodations are always cool and brisk. Locals dress warmly inside their homes and sleep under three blankets.
    • Of course, this aspect is not relevant during the summer and hot weather. However, if you plan your vacation in October, for example, consider bringing warm socks with you. By the way, you can read about what to take with you to Albania in a separate article.

Tip:

If you are sensitive to cold, choose accommodation with air conditioning. It will be more expensive, but you can use it for heating as well.
  • Energy resources in the country, such as electricity and gasoline, are quite expensive. You can find more information about prices in Albania here.
    • Hence, having air conditioning is more of a luxury and not available in every accommodation.
    • I would even say that accommodations without air conditioning are much more common. So, pay attention to this aspect when booking if it’s crucial for you.
  • There are cities situated at an altitude of 500-700 meters above sea level where the temperature is always about 5 degrees lower than on the coast. In such areas, the heating issue is particularly acute.
    • The largest of these cities is the resort town of Pogradec, located on Lake Ohrid.
    • During the cold season, many residents heat their apartments with wood, leading to smog covering the city in the evenings.

Hot Water – A Luxury!

  • In Albania, there is no such thing as centralized hot water supply. Only cold water is available, and each resident is responsible for heating it.
    • Everyone has water heaters installed.
    • However, considering the high cost of electricity, locals also try to save on this aspect.
    • As a result, having a luxurious bath is not common in Albania.
    • You will find only showers, and even then, you won’t be able to stand under hot water for too long. Most water heaters have small capacities, so you’ll have to be quick, and that’s it.

Tiled Floors

  • Tiled floors are prevalent in every room, typical of the entire Balkan region.
    • In 95% of cases, the entire apartment or room will have only tiles.
    • Advantages include its practicality, ease of cleaning, and durability.
    • But the biggest drawback is that the floor is always cold. Hence, we return to the advice of bringing warm socks with you on your trip. They don’t take up much space but will be very helpful.

Microwave in the Kitchen – A Rare Find

  • Here’s a peculiar feature specific to Albania. Almost no accommodation in Albania will have a microwave.
    • The reason is the same: expensive electricity. Besides, you can heat food on a stove using a frying pan.
    • As for stoves, there are both gas and electric ones available, and it varies from place to place. However, there is no centralized gas supply in the country, so if there’s a gas stove, there will be a gas cylinder nearby.
apart hotel in tirana
Standard kitchen in apartments. No microwaves, and sometimes there’s an oven, though.

Accommodation in Albania: Types and Differences for Tourists

Next, you will learn about the variations and types of accommodation available for tourists in this country. It’s essential to know this because most travelers don’t stay exclusively in hotels. During a 1-2 week vacation, they often switch between 3-4 types of accommodations in different regions of the country.

Important to know:

The most popular type of vacation in Albania is a road trip across the country, exploring resorts and mountains. You can read all about the travel trends in Albania in this link.

Hotels in Albania

I won’t dwell on this extensively, as hotels in Albania are similar to those found in any other country. You’ve already understood that tiled floors are common, so pay attention to the presence of air conditioning if it’s important to you.

  • One point I’d like to highlight is that hotels offering “all-inclusive” services are very scarce in Albania. The vast majority only provide breakfast.
  • However, dining independently in Albania is not a problem. You can find information about cafes, restaurants, and fast food options throughout the country.
  • In a standard hotel room, you’ll have a bedroom and a bathroom.

Apartments and Apart-Hotels

In principle, they are quite similar; the only difference is as follows:

  • Apartments: These are regular apartments owned by locals in typical residential buildings. You rent the entire apartment for a day, and you won’t even see the owners.
  • Apart-Hotels: These are also apartments, but in a building where all apartments are rented out in the same manner. There will always be a service organization to handle cleaning every 2-3 days, and a maid takes care of it.

Useful to know:

Apartments are the most popular accommodation choice for tourists in major cities and resorts in the country. They are often cheaper than hotels and offer many more advantages.

The main two advantages of apartments and apart-hotels are:

  • Kitchen Facilities: Unlike regular hotels, apartments always have a kitchen. You might not end up cooking yourself, but it’s very convenient. Apartments come with a refrigerator, all necessary utensils, forks, knives, glasses, and a kettle. I can’t imagine traveling without a kitchen:
    • Buy wine for the evening to enjoy on the balcony.
    • Heat food for your child.
    • Simply cut up some fruits or make a sandwich.
    • Hotel rooms won’t even have a knife, corkscrew, etc., but apartments have it all.
  • Spaciousness: In Albania, a one-bedroom apartment is like our two-bedroom apartments in a civilized country.
    • If you rent a one-bedroom apartment, you’ll get a living room, bedroom, kitchen, corridor, bathroom, and balcony.
apartments near the sea albania
One-bedroom apartments in Saranda. A living room and a balcony. Plus, there’s a kitchen, a large bedroom, and a bathroom.

Hostels

The most affordable option, just like anywhere else. A hostel in Albania is similar to hostels worldwide.

  • They offer rooms with 6-8 beds.
  • There are rooms for couples where it’s just the two of you.
  • Often, each hostel has a couple of rooms for 2-3 people with a private bathroom.
  • Therefore, always pay attention to these details when booking.

But the main features of every hostel in Albania are:

  • Shared Kitchen: Hostels always have a communal kitchen equipped with everything necessary for cooking.
    • As a plus, you can usually find salt, pepper, oil, and other little things that you usually have at home but need to buy during your trip.
  • Shared Toilet and Shower for Multiple Rooms
  • However, it’s very inexpensive. Usually, a separate room for two people will cost around 15-20 euros per day, and a bed in a shared room is even cheaper.

Useful to know:

Hostels are more popular in cities. They are almost non-existent in villages and remote areas. They are convenient for those on a tight budget. I often book hostels when I only need a place to sleep and continue my journey. For example, I check-in at 10 pm, and I know I’ll be leaving at 7 am the next morning. Or on the last day when I’m flying back home and need a place to stay near the airport. If I’m staying in a city for two days or more, I always choose apartments.

GuestHouses

This is the most popular accommodation options in Albania in small towns and remote regions, where hotels and apartments are scarce. If you plan to travel across the country and visit exciting places like the Prokletije Mountains or the Benje Hot Springs, there are few options other than guesthouses.

Typically, it’s a house located in a private area, as there are no other options in villages and rural areas. Below are the main features of Albanian guesthouses:

  • In one part of the house, the owners live, and in another, you stay. You’ll have your own bathroom, often a kitchen and a living room. The owners won’t even meet you.
  • Sometimes it’s like this: the owners reside on the ground floor, while the entire second floor is yours, complete with a terrace overlooking the sea or mountains.
  • I love this option because it allows you to experience authentic Albanian living and the hospitality of the locals.
  • Another important feature: almost all guesthouses can prepare dinner for you at an additional cost, especially in very remote regions where there are no shops or restaurants.
    • You have a unique opportunity to try Albanian cuisine.
    • Remember, the portions are always generous, with plenty of meat, cheese, vegetables, and delicious flavors.
  • Plus, every guesthouse has homemade rakia and wine available at a fairly low price. You can purchase it for dinner or take some with you on your journey. The hosts will be more than happy to share.
  • By the way, breakfast is often, but not always, included in the price. It won’t be a buffet, but whatever the host prepares, you won’t go hungry.
dinner in albanian guesthouse
Here’s a dinner that the host of a guesthouse in the northern mountains of Albania served us. The cost was 10 euros per person.

Accommodation in Albania: No House Numbers

This is a unique feature of the country that shocks some people. Here’s a brief backstory:

  • Enver Hoxha, who ruled the country for over 40 years, was a terrible paranoid.
  • He lived in constant fear of an attack on Albania and sought ways to protect it.
  • During his reign, over 700,000 bunkers were built. That’s one bunker for every family.
  • He also eradicated house numbering in Albania, so that when enemies came, they couldn’t find the people they sought.
  • By the way, if you’re interested, you can read a brief history of Albania, including the period of Enver Hoxha’s rule, in this article.

Interesting to know:

House numbering does exist, but on-site, about 90% of all buildings in the country lack house number signs. So, when you book accommodation in Albania, the address will consist of the postal code, city, and street. As for finding the correct house on the street, you’re on your own. It’s fine if the street is only 50 meters long, but what if it’s 5 kilometers?

Open Google Maps or your offline map and try finding house numbers. You’ll find them only in Shkoder; no one knows house numbers in the rest of Albania.

I don’t know how people managed before the internet and GPS coordinates in Albania. But now, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for accommodation, a restaurant for dinner, or calling a taxi. Everywhere, they send you coordinates or a map link.

no building numbers in albania
These are Google Maps of Tirana’s city center. Is something missing, by any chance?

Accommodation in Albania: Tips and Useful Links

Below are some tips that will greatly simplify your travel experience in Albania:

  • Before your trip, install one of the two offline map apps on your phone and download the map of Albania there:
    • Maps.me
    • Organic maps
    • Both work offline, both are free, and available for both Android and IOS. Choose whichever you prefer; their maps are equally detailed and comprehensive.
  • Immediately add all your booked accommodation in Albania to the app. The links to accommodation booking services are provided at the end of this article. Each booking will include either coordinates or a map with the location.
  • When calling a taxi or arranging a transfer to the Prokletije Mountains, simply share the coordinates; it’s normal here.
  • You can find a list of 5-star hotels in Albania by following this link.

In conclusion: accommodation in Albania has its distinctive features, and everyone can find their preferred option based on price and amenities. Albania’s rental market is vast, so the key is to understand the differences and what to expect from each option.

Wishing you an excellent journey and unforgettable experiences in Albania!


Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania

  • Flights at the best prices with best discounts
  • Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
    • DiscoverCars – a major international resource
    • LocalRent – the leader in the Albanian car rental market. Very low deposits, even in cash.
  • Hotels and apartments throughout the country:
    • Hotellook – compares prices among dozens of platforms and offer you the best one.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Albania.
  • Tours, excursions and activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 550 tours
    • Viator – 920+ excursions and activities throughout the country
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo eSIM in Albania from $4.5
    • DRIMSIM – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfer: Intui.Travel