Are you considering Albania as your vacation destination? Let me tell you about the pros and cons of travel to Albania. I will also dispel many stereotypes about Albania, both positive and negative. The choice will be entirely yours.

why albania
In Albania, you can enjoy over 300 sunny days a year and two seas!

Pros and Cons of Travel to Albania: A Brief Introduction

The main purpose of this article is to provide an honest overview of the pros and cons of travel to Albania, specifically for tourists. Believe me, when you visit any country, there are aspects that don’t bother you as a tourist but may annoy you if you decide to live there. Conversely, some things may shock you when you first visit a country, but later you simply don’t pay attention to them.

Therefore, below you will find only what concerns travelers who come to Albania for two weeks.

Pros of Albania for Tourists

  • Two seas.
    • The shores of this small Balkan country are washed by two seas. It’s cool, and you can proudly say that you took your wife on vacation to two seas at once.
    • For more details about the sea and resorts in Albania, read the full article here.
  • Incredibly beautiful mountains.
    • In Albania, 71% of the territory is covered by magnificent mountains. Few people realize this before their trip, but Albania is a mountainous country.
    • Here, you can find both the Balkan Mountains and the Alps. The beauty of Albanian mountains is on the photos below.
    • And a detailed overview of the mountains in Albania is available through the link.
    • So, people come here not only for beach vacations but also for exciting mountain routes.
cons of albania
We stayed in that little house. With mountains like these, who needs the sea?
pros and cons of travel to albania
An ordinary canyon in the wilderness of Albania, and me
  • The country is completely safe for tourism.
    • There is a low level of crime, theft, and robbery here.
    • You’ll be surprised, but Albania is one of the safest countries in Europe. It’s much calmer and safer than Barcelona in Spain or Paris in France.
  • Kind, hospitable, and helpful locals.
    • The main thing I like about this place is that people don’t see you as a wallet.
    • No one tries to deceive you, overcharge you, or squeeze extra dollars out of tourists.
    • The service and markets are minimally intrusive. It seems like they need you more than you need them.

Pros of Albania That Many Consider a Cons

Often on the internet, you can read that drivers in Albania are crazy, that it’s easier to die on the road than anything else, that you shouldn’t even get close to a car in Albania. I was shocked by such statements and wondered who writes such things. It seems either those people have never been here or only one person wrote it, and others just keep repeating it in their own words.

Here’s what you need to know:

Albania is perfect for traveling by car. Without a car, you won’t be able to see even half of what you can with one. Many attractions are simply unreachable by public transportation.

Even if you’ve never rented a car before, know that Albania is an ideal country for first-timers because:

  • It’s safe.
  • There’s a high level of driving culture on the roads (more on that below).
  • Traffic rules are the same as anywhere else.
  • Except for Tirana, traffic intensity is low everywhere else.
  • Rental companies have a friendly attitude towards tourists.
  • Good roads.
  • It’s affordable.

Now, let’s talk about driving culture and the aspect that annoys expats but doesn’t bother tourists, as I mentioned at the beginning of the article.

It’s useful to know:

Albanian roads don’t have teachers, rude drivers, or fools trying to teach you a lesson. Drivers in Albania are calmer and more courteous than on our roads. There are some reckless drivers, but there are far fewer of them in Albania, and when they see a tourist, they apologize profusely.
Moreover, it’s perfectly fine to turn around at a pedestrian crossing or simply stop in the traffic, turn on your hazard lights, and go have a coffee. As a tourist, I found these moments amusing. However, when I started living here and regularly encountered such situations, it became incredibly irritating.

There’s a comprehensive article about car rental in Albania and its pitfalls.

pros of albania
For example, you won’t be able to reach the hot springs without a car. If you’re not interested in such places, then you don’t need a car.

All the downsides of Albania for tourists laid bare

In reality, the only downside that tourists will notice within the first hour of arrival in Albania is the garbage. Garbage is everywhere in Albania, in cities, along the roads, often on beaches, and near popular attractions. Typically, it consists of plastic bags, plastic bottles, cigarette butts, a lot of plastic in general, and overall untidiness and negligence are frequently felt.

It’s useful to know:

However, Albanians are very clean when it comes to their homes or food. There’s always cleanliness and order. Why do they create such a mess outside their homes? I don’t know. It’s a peculiar characteristic. But you’ll agree with me that we also have this tendency, unfortunately.

Yes, the center of Tirana and other major cities are clean and well-maintained. In Saranda, for example, cleaners work daily to pick up every speck of dirt. But that’s more of an exception than the rule.

A little bit of optimism:

After about 3-4 days, you won’t notice the garbage everywhere anymore. You arrive in the mountains, admire a beautiful waterfall, and the garbage around you becomes invisible. Perhaps the locals operate the same way. They simply don’t notice this garbage or pretend not to.

Stereotypes about Albania

There are many stereotypes about Albania, and usually, they are known to those who are around 40 years old and above. If you’re 20-25 years old and reading this text, you might be hearing about these things for the first time. But people like me, who are a bit older, have definitely heard about them.

So, here are three well-known myths about Albania, and I’ll debunk them:

  • All Mercedes in Albania are stolen.
    • The people’s car in the country is a Mercedes. Even today, they make up about 30% of all cars on the roads.
    • If you don’t have a Mercedes, you haven’t made it in life.
    • The obsession with Mercedes in Albania originated during the rule of dictator Enver Hoxha. He believed that a real car could only be a Mercedes.
    • Since the country was very poor, it was considered that only very wealthy individuals could afford a Mercedes. However, with a population of 2.8 million people and 1 million cars on the roads, all residents being poor, it’s registered that 300,000 Mercedes are in Albania.
    • Hence, the myth emerged that they are all stolen. In reality, most of the Mercedes cars here are 20-year-old wrecks that are worth nothing.
mercedes of albania
The driver of this minibus is a respected person in society. This is what success looks like in Albania.
  • Albanian mafia and organ trafficking in Albanian mountains.
    • Indeed, there was mafia and racketeering here, but that was in the 1990s.
    • Let’s go back to the beginning: today, this is an absolutely safe country where all gangs and criminal authorities have long been in prison, deceased, or left. And tourists are treated like sacred individuals; no one will harm them.
    • As for the danger in Albanian mountains, there’s nothing to fear there either. 20 years ago, they were remote mountains without roads and connections to the outside world. The lack of information generated such rumors.
    • Today, even the most remote parts of Albania have roads, and the quality of mobile internet will surprise many. 4G coverage exists in 99% of the country’s territory.

The ultimate stereotype about Albania

The cinema of the early 2000s created the stereotype that everything in Albania is incredibly cheap. If you have $10, you’re a king here. This was further fueled by rankings of the poorest countries in Europe, where Albania consistently ranked among the top.

But how is it really?

In reality, calling Albania a cheap country doesn’t quite fit. During the season, apartments can cost you €30-€50 per day. Dinner for two in a restaurant may cost around €20. There are attractions with entrance fees of €10.

In summary, a vacation in Albania cannot be called expensive, but it’s also not cheap. I would say that prices for many things here are comparable to our own. Some things are cheaper, such as restaurants and cafes, while others are considerably more expensive, like gasoline.

In conclusion, you’ve read about all the pros and cons of travel to Albania as a tourist. Yes, there might be some aspects I haven’t mentioned, but they don’t change the overall picture. The pros outweigh the cons significantly. The only unpleasant aspect is the issue of garbage. Everything else in Albania is wonderful. Come here and explore different facets of Albania.

And remember, each year Albania becomes more expensive. Visit while it’s still reasonably priced 🙂

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