The Albanian markets, like everywhere else, are the center of life, culture, and many traditions. The market can tell you a lot about the country, and Albania is no exception. I will tell you everything a tourist needs to know. This information may not save you money, but it will certainly help in some unclear situations.
Albanian markets: general information
Concisely and to the point, here’s what you can expect at the markets in this country.
- Albanian markets are not like Eastern bazaars where vendors hassle you and try to sell you something. The service is minimally intrusive.
- Even if a vendor invites you to come in, a simple “no” is enough to be left alone. Just remember, in Albania, a negative head nod means “yes.” There are even more interesting facts here.
- Haggling is not customary at the market; all prices for fish or fruits are fixed.
- It’s pleasant that the prices are the same for both locals and tourists. They won’t try to overcharge you or give you incorrect change. You’ll be treated the same as the locals.
- Haggling is only appropriate at the flea market.
- But if you know a few basic words in Albanian, you’ll create a sensation at the market. You might even get a few extra tomatoes as a bonus. It’s all about the complex Albanian language.
- Payment is only accepted in cash and lek. No one accepts cards at all.
- For information about Albania’s currency, where to exchange money, and where to use cards, you can read a comprehensive article through the link.
- Market hours, including fish markets, usually start at 9 a.m.
Useful to know:When I lived in neighboring Serbia, you would go to the market there at 8 a.m., and there would already be a crowd, and trading would be in full swing by that time. In Albania, most vendors only start setting up their goods at 9 a.m. Coming to the market around 10 a.m. is ideal. There are small fish shops in small towns that open at 8, but that’s more of an exception.
- Albanians are a cleanliness-conscious nation. Although there is a lot of litter on the streets and along the roads, the markets are always clean. There’s hardly any smell, even at the fish market. The floors always shine; you could even walk barefoot.
Fish markets in Albania
If you’re staying in an apartment with a kitchen while vacationing in Albania and you love and know how to cook seafood, be sure to visit the fish market.
Important to know:Whatever you buy at the market, they can clean or prepare it for you for free, just ask. This is convenient for squid and octopus; I don’t like cleaning them myself. And of course, when you buy a whole sea bass or sea bream, they can clean and cut it into steaks for frying. But there’s no problem with shrimp; I fry them in olive oil with garlic without cleaning them.
The fish markets, if they can be called that, are divided into three categories:
Classic Fish Market
- A fish market in the way we expect it. Many stalls, a wide variety, and lively trading.
- There’s only one such market: in Tirana, at the new-old bazaar. You can find its location on the travel map. And you can read all about this place in the article about Tirana.
- To spoil the surprise, it’s the country’s main market. Here, you’ll find the fish section, the meat section, the fruits-vegetables-nuts section, and even the flea market.
- There’s nowhere else with a greater variety.
Small PESHK Fish Shops
- Small shops.
- In Albanian, fish is called “peshk.” Look for this word on the signs in your town. They are very inconspicuous because they are quite small in size.
- Usually, such a shop is literally 5 by 3 meters.
- They always, or almost always, sell only the morning catch, what they’ve caught. That’s why the selection is quite limited.
- There’s always fish, sometimes shrimp. But often, they are very small. For example, it’s difficult to find octopus in such a shop as they are quickly bought by restaurants.
- These shops are typical in all cities except Tirana. Look for them like in the photo below in Durrës, Golem, Vlora, Dhermi, Himara, Saranda, Ksamil, and others.
Useful to know:If there’s an excellent place with fresh fish in any city in Albania, I will definitely write about it in the article about that city. You can find the general article about Albanian cities, the list of places worth visiting for tourists, and where not to go through the link. There, you will find detailed information about each city.
The Fish Market in Saranda Port
This phenomenon is unique to Albania, and for tourists, it’s the ultimate delight they expect from a fish market. Such a market exists only in Saranda.
- It is located in the main harbor of the city, right in the center, where all the boats are moored.
- The sale of fresh catch begins every morning when the fishermen return from fishing.
- Usually, between 7-9 a.m.
- They sell their catch right from the boats. You simply walk along the pier and see what each vendor has to offer.
- It looks like the photo below.
- I recommend everyone to visit this place in the morning, even if you don’t need fish. It’s a very atmospheric place: the sea, the harbor, the boats, the fish, many stray cats, with the Greek island of Corfu in the background, all during your vacation in Albania.
You can find all the details about this place and its coordinates in the article: What to do in Saranda.
Markets in Albania: Vegetables and Fruits
This chapter is brief because there are no significant differences from vegetable markets and stalls in our country.
- In Albania, in every city, village, and everywhere, there are points for selling vegetables and fruits.
- They also sell chestnuts and olives, if it’s the season.
- Such points can be found practically at every step.
- Below are a few photos of the assortment in such places.
- Usually, it’s self-service everywhere. You take the bags hanging near the cashier and choose what you want, then go to the vendor.
- But if you’re a tourist and unaware of this, simply tell them what you need, and the vendor will take care of everything.
Interesting to know:The locals prefer to buy vegetables and fruits in such places. Although grocery stores have produce sections, they are not always available everywhere.
For information about prices for vegetables, fruits, seafood, and everything else that interests tourists, read the comprehensive article: Prices in Albania.
Markets in Albania: Flea Market
Here, I specifically mean a flea market, not a second-hand market, although those exist too. The situation with flea markets in Albania is as follows:
- There’s something resembling a flea market only in Tirana. It’s at the same new bazaar I mentioned in the previous section about fish. However, even that is relatively small-scale.
- Operating hours: the first vendors start setting up at 9 a.m., and by 3 p.m., there’s no one left. They are there for leisure and socializing, not for money and profit.
- The highest number of vendors can be found on weekends, but on weekdays, there are always around ten people.
- Additionally, on the street near the new bazaar (marked on the map), there are 3-4 antique shops. If you enjoy such things, be sure to take a walk there.
All other flea markets in Albania in other cities are represented by individual sellers. They bring out their unwanted items and lay them on blankets on the road. Typically, they can be found in the central square or the main park of any city on Saturdays and Sundays until noon. But it’s literally 2-3 people.
Useful to know:The flea market niche in Albania is more dead than alive. If you love flea markets like I do, then the only option is the new bazaar in Tirana. Everything else is a matter of luck and chance encounters with such vendors.
The markets in Albania are quite different from Eastern bazaars, even though more than 60% of the population practices Islam. It’s pleasant to stroll through these markets, as tourists are welcomed everywhere. They are not seen merely as wallets, and there’s no attempt to deceive them in any way. The fish markets in Albania holds a special place, and I recommend visiting even if you don’t need seafood.
Wishing you fresh fish, juicy fruits, and fantastic shopping experiences!
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania
- Flights at the best prices with juicy discounts
- Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
- Hotels and apartments throughout the country: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card in Albania
- Taxi and transfers: Intui.Travel