Heading to Albania, and the topic of cafes and restaurants in Albania hasn’t been covered? In this article, we’ll rectify this misunderstanding. We’ll provide everything a tourist needs to know about dining in Albania. And if something isn’t clear, feel free to ask in the comments.

restaurants in Albania
On the southern coast of Albania, between Saranda and Ksamil, there is an oyster farm with a restaurant.

Cafes, restaurants, fast food in Albania: common aspects

In Albania, there is an abundance of eateries in every city, from small to large. You won’t go hungry here, that’s for sure. Coffee shops hold a special place, with menus featuring only coffee and water.

  • They are practically everywhere, and at any time of day or week, you’ll find visitors, mainly men, sitting, enjoying coffee, smoking, and pondering life. Meanwhile, women are probably busy taking care of household chores, work, and so on.
  • Coffee culture is highly developed in Albania. People drink it up to six times a day. You may not find ordinary black tea in every store. “You can have tea at home,” a waiter once told me at a restaurant. “Here, we only serve coffee.”
  • The preferred coffee style is Turkish coffee brewed in a traditional pot.

What to know about fast food in Albania:

  • Albania has legislation prohibiting the use of GMOs, which is why there is still no McDonald’s in the country. The KFC chain only has one restaurant in the center of Tirana, and it’s not particularly impressive.
  • Fast food in Albania is represented by two types of eateries:
    • “Byrektore” or simply “Byrek” – these are bakeries where you can buy fresh pastries and the famous Balkan “byrek” pies. These pies come with various fillings such as meat, cheese, or spinach and are popular throughout the Balkan region.
    • Pizzerias, where they sell pizza. Italian influence is strongly felt in Albanian fast food.
albanian byrek
Fast food in Albania mainly revolves around byrek with different fillings, and the price is around 40 Lek (approximately $0.4) per piece. Generally, it ranges from 50 to 100 Lek. This type of fast food is quite affordable.

Cafes and restaurants in Albania

These are places where you can have a proper meal. Everything is similar to what you would expect back home. Here are some general points:

  • Smoking is allowed in many eateries, especially in smaller towns. If that matters to you, pay attention to this detail.
  • Food is always prepared quickly. Typically, orders are served within 20 minutes.
  • Portions are usually relatively large, not huge, but quite substantial.
    • My wife and I would always share one salad and order two main courses. That was enough for us.
  • These eateries are usually open from 12 noon until midnight or even until 1 am.
  • “All-Inclusive” hotels are relatively rare in the country; you can count them on one hand, mostly found on the coast. See the article at the link: Beach hotels in Albania.
    • But don’t worry, even if your hotel doesn’t offer meals, let alone breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you won’t go hungry in Albania. There are numerous cafes and restaurants with affordable prices.

Restaurants in Albania: the menu

Useful to know:

Not all restaurants, especially in smaller towns, have menus in English. They might not specify the weight of the portions or provide photos. You can always trust the waiter and ask for their recommendations for delicious dishes. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. There’s no attempt to upsell expensive dishes, so don’t hesitate to communicate. Sometimes, it’s better than scrutinizing the menu.

In the menu of an Albanian restaurant, you’ll always find:

  • Soup of the day, usually a hearty broth with meat and vegetables made from what’s available in the kitchen.
  • Salads. The most common ones are:
    • Greek salad
    • Caesar salad
    • Tomato, cucumber, and arugula salad
    • Any other vegetable salad
    • The vegetables are cut into large pieces, mixed with cheese, olives, onions, and served at the table. You can usually season it with oil, salt, and pepper as you like.
dining in albania
These salads are often big enough for two people.
  • Main course.
    • There are some regional variations. The further south you are, the more Greek influences you’ll find in any restaurant’s dishes.
    • For example, in almost any restaurant, they’ll serve bread for free. And in restaurants from Dhermi, Himara, and Ksamil, you’ll always find the Greek appetizer tzatziki on the menu. It goes great with bread. However, you won’t find it as common in Northern Albania.
    • Popular hot dishes include:
      • Grilled meats, including beef, pork, and lamb.
      • Musaka, somewhat similar to lasagna, but with vegetables and cheese instead of pasta.
      • Tavë kosi, which is baked lamb with a yogurt crust.
      • Köfte, which are beef meatballs.
      • Larger restaurants have a fish menu, offering grilled sea bream, octopus, shrimp, and more.
restaurant prices in albania
This is how a portion of grilled meat for two people looks like. They prepare whatever they have: lamb ribs, köfte, chicken skewers, and so on. Sometimes, it might not even be on the menu; you can simply ask 🙂

All About Prices and Tips

Let’s start with the prices. It’s clear that eateries can vary significantly, but on average, the picture looks like this:

  • Salad – 250-300 Lek (2.5 – 3 euros)
  • Main Course – 500-600 Lek (5-6 euros)
  • Soup – 200-300 Lek (2-3 euros)
  • Seafood – 900-1000 Lek (9-10 euros)
  • Beer – 250 Lek for 0.5L (2.5 euros)
  • Wine – In 90% of cases, you’ll be offered homemade wine, usually around 1000 Lek per liter or bottle (10 euros).

Our bill for dinner for two:

Since the portions are relatively large, our usual dinner with my wife consists of 1 salad, 2 main courses, and 2 beers. The average bill without tips is around 1800 Lek (18 euros). With tips, it amounts to 2000 Lek. You can find information about the travel budget for two people in Albania in the article through the link.
cafe prices albania
The bill at an Albanian tavern in Berat. Our friends joined us, and we sat together the whole evening. We had 2 liters of wine, a kilo of grilled meat, and plenty of appetizers. The total came to 60 euros. We couldn’t leave the table; the atmosphere was so enjoyable.

And a few words about tipping.

  • In Albania, tips are not included in the bill in 99% of cases, unlike some European or Latin American countries.
  • Tipping is entirely at your discretion, and no one will ask or hint for it.
  • However, tips are appreciated, and if you leave one, the waiter will be pleased.
  • The customary tip amount is around 10% of the bill.

The main idea about tipping:

If you don’t want to leave a tip, you don’t have to. If you want to, you can. Nobody will judge you, and it won’t affect how you’re treated. Remember, Albania is wonderful because they don’t see tourists as walking wallets. They are already grateful that you chose their restaurant for dinner.
albanian restaurant
Here’s another dinner in Himara, also for four people. The total came to 26 euros, including 4 beers.

Restaurants in Albania: Travel Tips

  • In any Albanian restaurant, if you don’t have Lek, you can pay with Euros. They will convert it at the regular exchange rate and give you change in Lek. For more information about currency in the country, where to exchange money, and how to pay, read the article: Currency in Albania.
  • Paying with a card at restaurants is challenging; it’s rarely accepted.
  • I recommend trying the wine in restaurants; it’s always homemade and diverse.
  • Albanians are a hygienic nation; it’s perfectly fine to eat fast food on the street or in restaurants.

In conclusion: cafes and restaurants are everywhere in Albania. The most popular cuisine is Balkan. The portions are not huge but more substantial than what we might be used to. You definitely won’t go hungry. The prices for dinners in restaurants are affordable for tourists with any budget.

Wishing you wonderful gastronomic discoveries during your vacation 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