Albania is just a wow kind of place. A tiny country with 28,000 KM landmass and just 3 million people, strategically located in the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe. I was not fully aware of the communist regime that lasted until 1991, it’s a new baby in the democratic world. I traveled from Skopje to Tirana by road on a sunny day, and the country surprised me with beautiful landscapes and smiling people.
Visa to Albania
I planned my Balkan tour when I came to know that most of the countries in the region give visa free access to those who have a valid US or Schengen visa on their passport. and so I also luckily had US visa which worked for me in the Balkans. Entry to Albania was hassle free, and since the country is a secular Muslim country, it is very welcoming to tourists in the aftermath of communist era.
How much it cost per day?
Literally, most of the Balkan region is much cheaper in terms of almost everything. if we compare it to Central Europe then we can live here on almost half price or even less. I spent $25 per day in Albania which included hostel room. Food cost as little as $5 per meal, and the hostel I got was $10 USD per day. However, it was a bit of off season.
Transportation is available in Tirana city in shape of buses and taxis which can easily be found anywhere in Tirana city. Taxi cost around $3 to $5 for a few KM ride. and buses are $0.50 per ride within the city. I used both bus and taxi and enjoyed the trips because the fare was very reasonable and trip was luxury.
The Albanian People
The people are just good, they are new people. I was amazed to see that almost everyone on the streets was asking me “where are you from?”. when I went to a local store, the lady asked me where are you from?, then I went to a restaurant and the guy asked me where are you from?. since Albania was not open to the world before 1991 in the strict communist regime. Therefore, people are now very happy and enjoying the atmosphere.
The Albanian people love their country and they are very friendly to foreigners. I’m saying this because I experienced it myself. people are chilled out. the country is apparently Muslim, but not very religious which is a very good thing.
Where to stay in Tirana?
City Center is the best place to stay in Tirana and I did the same. I always use Agoda.com to book my hotel/hostel room especially in Europe. you can put the specific place name on Agoda.com’s search box and it’ll give you a huge list of hotels and hostels. from city center in Tirana, you can go to most of the attractions and historical places.
Tourist Attractions in Tirana?
Tirana city is surrounded by mountains which is good because you can go to the mountain and get a panoramic view of the city. There is a cable car, which goes to the top of the mountain, and from there you can have the best view of Tirana city. many other attractions are located in the city center such as Museums, Opera house, Churches, historical Mosque and the popular Plaza hotel, and I explored most of them by walking myself. However, you can check with your hotel/hostel about different tours to near by areas such as trekking/hiking and mountainous things.
Free Walking Tour in Tirana
This was the best part of my Tirana tour, in the city center square which is also called “Skanderbeg Square”, there is a place called “Opera” which you’ll see when you enter the main City Center Square. from there, you can take the free walking tour which starts every day in the morning at 10AM and lasts two hours. This is a guided tour and the guy is very nice and fluently speaks English. he gives information about history of Albania as well as other important facts. The main focus is on communist regime of Albania which was fun, because I didn’t really know that Albania was under strict communist rule for quite a long time.
The Bottom Line
Albania is a country that really touched my heart. I loved it from the core of my heart. I wanted to remain in Albania for a long time with immigration status but they didn’t let me in because they only want European, American, Canadian and Australians. this was told to me by a consultant who I met in Tirana.
don’t forget to watch my travel vlog on Albania which shows you the city and activities I did during my landmark visit to Albania in October 2017. Albanian currency is called LEK and $1 USD is equal to 113 LEK as of November 2017.