What to bring from Albania as a gift for friends and colleagues is always a relevant question. The selection of Albanian souvenirs is quite limited, and original gifts can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Nevertheless, read on for interesting ideas both for your friends and yourself.
\What to bring from Albania as a gift: general aspects
In this article, I will specifically talk about Albanian souvenirs and gifts with a national flavor. I deliberately read ten articles from the top search results of Google, and I see that they all copy the same information from each other. Moreover, a significant portion of them has clearly never been to Albania. Yes, from Albania, you can bring what’s written on the internet:
- Carpets. Exactly the same ones are sold all over the Balkans.
- Spices. They don’t grow many spices here. Albanian spices include pepper, paprika, bay leaf, basil, and mint. Most of these grow in your garden.
- Sweets. I don’t know who writes this :). Sweets are not popular in Albania at all; Albanians are not fond of sweets. The sweets that are sold are not Albanian but purely Turkish, as Albania was under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for several centuries.
- If it’s okay to bring Turkish sweets as a gift from Albania, then go ahead.
- But then, from your future travels, you should definitely bring Spanish ham from Poland and Russian matryoshka from Paris.
- Clothing. Yes, there are many factories in Albania that produce clothes for Italian brands. But that doesn’t mean much. Read all about shopping in the country here.
- In short, there are hardly any large shopping centers in Albania that we are used to. The whole market for fashionable clothing (excluding counterfeits, of course) is dominated by mass-market brands.
- If you miss Zara or H&M at home, then there’s no problem, you will find them here. But anything more premium – definitely not.
Interesting to know:The only clothing items with Albanian flavor are T-shirts, caps, and bags with a black eagle on a red background. If you are looking for branded clothing shopping, you’ve chosen the wrong country.
List of Albanian souvenirs and gifts
Now, let’s talk only about gifts that you will give with your head held high – proudly declaring that they are purely Albanian.
- Mountain Albanian tea Mali – Caj Mali.
- It is collected in the Albanian Alps and dried entirely with branches.
- It is sold in every store. If you don’t know how to find it, ask using the word “Mali.” They will understand you.
- You can buy it by weight from women in villages, in gift packaging at the market, or in bags at the store.
- Price: approximately 2 euros per pack or per 100g or per bunch 🙂
- Skanderbeg Brandy.
- They label it as brandy on the bottles, but it seems it’s cognac, as the French prohibit from using the word “cognac.”
- This is the only brandy produced in Albania.
- Named after the Albanian national hero who led the anti-Ottoman uprising.
- Alcohol content 38%.
- There are a huge number of different bottle sizes and gift sets.
- The process works like this: entrepreneurs buy brandy in tanks or barrels from the factory and bottle it themselves for souvenir shops. That’s why there’s so much Skanderbeg in different bottles with different labels.
Important to know:You can confidently buy any labeled bottle. But if you’re concerned, get one from a regular store in a bottle; those are bottled at the factory.
- Prices for a 0.3-liter bottle start at 3 euros.
- There are gift sets with a beautiful stand and glasses for up to 20 euros.
- There is also Albanian herbal liqueur Fernet. But be attentive, it is also produced in Italy. And often in Albanian stores, they sell Italian Fernet. It tastes somewhat similar to Jägermeister.
Many people are surprised, but yes, in Albania, they grow a lot of grapes and produce wine. Moreover, in every household, you may be treated to their homemade wine. But there are also wineries that produce excellent wine for both the domestic market and export.
The region around the ancient city of Berat is considered the wine region of Albania, where most wineries are located. In an article about Berat by the link, you can read about my favorite winery in Albania. There, you can not only take a guided tour but also taste and purchase authentic Albanian wine.
Important to know:If you want to bring back an authentic taste of Albania, avoid buying Vranac.
- Vranac is a grape variety that grows all over the Balkans. Vranac wine is made in Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania. It is a Balkan regional wine.
- Instead, opt for Albanian wines as shown in the photos below.
- Price per bottle: from 7 euros to 30 for a superiore.
Yes, these drinks are not exclusive to Albania. But if you have friends who are connoisseurs, why not bring a bottle of Tirana beer, for example? The beer is of average quality, as Albania is not known for brewing. They produce only classic lager, and it’s quite watery. However, Tirana beer is unique and not available anywhere else.
- If you want something more special than Tirana, go for Eldbar or Korca. They are much tastier.
- Price for a 0.5-liter beer: just under 1 euro.
- Follow the link to read all about wines and spirits in Albania.
Yes, magnets, but not ordinary ones – unique ones. In Albania, you can buy magnets in the shape of military bunkers.
Useful to know, if you haven’t heard about it yet:Albanian bunkers are a unique phenomenon in the world. There are 700,000 of them in the country! And the population is less than 3 million people. That’s almost one bunker per family. You can read more about this symbol of Albania in the article on the brief history of Albania. By the way, an interesting fact: the Albanian language has no word for Albania. The country is officially called Shqipëria.
These bunker magnets stand out from all the rest. They’re not like the amber ones sold in “16 countries” along the Baltic Sea.
- Price per magnet: 1-2 euros.
- Other souvenirs featuring bunkers or in the shape of bunkers are also popular.
- And of course, any possible souvenirs with the Albanian eagle (the national emblem and flag).
What to bring from Albania as a gift: Travel Tips
That’s essentially the entire list of genuinely Albanian gifts. In this country, there is not much variety, and apart from bunkers, there are no other symbols that could be creatively turned into gifts and souvenirs for tourists.
Yes, you can also bring, for example:
- Olive oil – it is made in every household in Albania.
- Cheese – brine-cured sheep cheeses are available in a wide assortment in any store.
- Albanian honey and preserves – fig and grape jams are very popular.
Below are some general tips about souvenir shops:
- You can hardly pay by card anywhere. Only in lek and only cash.
- It’s hard to say that souvenirs are sold at every step in Albania. If you find something you like more or less, buy it. It might not be available later.
- At Tirana Airport, you can buy, for a high price, if you haven’t already purchased them: Skanderbeg brandy, rakia, and Mali tea. However, there are no magnets or souvenirs available there. You can read all about the only international airport in Albania and duty-free prices by following the link.
- At the flea market in Tirana, you might find Albanian items from the period of Enver Hoxha’s rule. It’s very cool, but it’s for people with specific interests and hobbies. Those who know will understand. Read more in the article about markets in Albania.
In conclusion: What to bring from Albania as a gift for family, friends, and colleagues is not a difficult question. Yes, the choices are somewhat limited, but wines, Mali tea, and bunker magnets are always well-received. These are items you won’t find everywhere.
Wishing you impressive gifts and even more impressive reactions to them!
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