ALBANIA ITINERARY FOR 10 DAYS | DISCOVER THIS HIDDEN GEM
Are you looking for an exciting Albania itinerary? Then read on because you will find many travel tips on how to spend 10 days in Albania – one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.
Albania is a beautiful destination tucked away in southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula. This relatively small country has a wide variety of interesting towns, natural beauty, and historical attractions to discover. And if you are planning your Albania itinerary, this post is for you. Here you will find out about the top things to do along with many travel tips for Albania in 10 days.
Until 1991, Albania was in relative isolation in terms of tourism due to its turbulent communist history. In recent years though, the country has started to develop rapidly and welcomes visitors from all around the globe.
Albania’s blend of breathtaking natural scenery, quirky cities, lovely beaches, and welcoming locals makes it a hidden gem that is well worth discovering. Bordering the more popular Greece, as well as Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro, it has a Mediterranean climate and a stunning coastline. Add to that mixture its affordable prices, and you have a very attractive vacation destination.
If exploring this hidden gem sounds like something you will enjoy, keep reading to discover Albania’s top destinations to help you plan your dream getaway.
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR ALBANIA
So, here are some of the most important travel tips I can give you for your itinerary.
HOW MANY DAYS IN ALBANIA?
10 days is a good amount to spend in Albania – two weeks would allow you to add 2-3 more places to your itinerary but even with ten days, you get to see the many different sides the country has to offer. If you have only one week, then you can just skip a few places but you will not regret adding a few extra days in Albania.
HOW MANY DAYS IN ALBANIA?
If you stay in Albania for 10 days, I suggest changing hotels about 3-4 times so you can stay in one place for 2-3 nights and do day trips from there before continuing your trip. This itinerary is not possible to follow if you just want to stay in one place – for that, travel time would take too much of your time.
HOW TO GET TO ALBANIA
PLANE: If you arrive via plane, you will most likely arrive in Tirana – the main international airport, so I only focus on that airport. If you arrive in Albania, you can easily take a bus and get to the city center by bus. Buses run frequently, and there is no need to book train tickets in advance.
If you arrive late at night or very early in the morning, you might want to take a taxi to the city center. Alternatively, you can also pick up your rental car here at the airport. There are many rental companies -just outside the airport.
This is what I did: I arrived quite late at night and thus booked a night at this hotel near the airport. They have a free shuttle bus and picked me up – the next morning they dropped me off at the rental company at the airport and then only my Albania road trip started.
CAR/BUS: Many visitors also come from neighboring countries. There are international buses, e.g. from Kosovo or Macedonia – riding them might be an experience in themselves (at least that is my experience) but safe and you can get to Tirana and start your trip also from there.
10 DAYS IN ALBANIA – HOW TO GET AROUND
Following this itinerary, the best way to get around is via car. I hate to say it but public transportation in Albania is not that far advanced to allow you to see these places within that short amount of time (yes, 10 days is not a lot).
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FOR AN ALBANIA ITINERARY
Public transportation in Albania is still developing, and it varies in quality and availability in different parts of the country. In some areas, there are modern buses and minibusses, while in others, older buses and unmarked cars serve as transportation.
Major cities in Albania, such as Tirana, have extensive public transportation networks, including bus and minibus services. However, outside of these cities, public transportation options can be limited, especially in rural areas. Additionally, while schedules are typically displayed at bus stations, departures tend to be based on a flexible, “when full” model, so it may be necessary to factor time into your travel plans.
Overall, while there are public transportation options available in Albania, their quality and consistency are variable. Following this Albania itinerary it will be almost impossible (if not impossible) if you just use public transport.
DRIVING IN ALBANIA
Renting a car can be a good idea in Albania if you’re an experienced driver and you’re comfortable driving in unfamiliar places. However, it’s important to keep in mind that driving in Albania can be challenging for drivers who are not accustomed to the local driving conditions.
It’s also essential to note that the driving culture and behavior on the roads in Albania can be somewhat unpredictable, so it’s essential to exercise caution and stay alert while driving.
Driving in Albania is an experience – from being frustrated to being in awe, I experienced all that while driving there. There are some new roads and streets – they are fine – but there are also many streets in terrible condition. This is why a 300km drive will take 7-8 hours (without the breaks). But after all, it is still fine and I would choose a road trip in Albania
Stick to the speed limit (they take it very seriously there) – there is quite a lot of police on the road. I was never stopped by them but I know from friends who were stopped several times – if you do not drive too fast and have the car papers/license, you should not worry about that though.
RENT A CAR IN ALBANIA
Overall, renting a car can be a good idea in Albania if you’re an experienced driver, comfortable with navigating unfamiliar roads, and cautious on the road. If you plan to rent a car, it’s best to do thorough research in advance, familiarize yourself with local road rules, and ensure that you have comprehensive insurance coverage to protect against any unforeseen incidents.
I rented my car via this site. While I most often drive in my own van/car, it was not possible for this trip, so I used the site to find a good deal. If I rent cars, I always buy full insurance, so it costs more but it covers all costs in case something happens. After this positive experience, I really do recommend finding your rental car there.
WHERE TO GO IN ALBANIA IN 10 DAYS
Okay, without further ado, here is how I would create my 10-day Albania itinerary. I stayed in the country for about two weeks and saw a few other places which I do not think are must-see places, so I did not include them on this itinerary.
DAY 1 – TIRANA
Drenched in culture, history, and distinctive architecture, Tirana is a fantastic starting point for your Albanian itinerary. It enjoys a central location surrounded by the Dajti mountains and hills to the east and a valley overlooking the Adriatic Sea to the west.
The city is bright and colorful with its stunning pastel-colored buildings, contemporary street art, and kaleidoscopic murals. Tirana’s lively and fun atmosphere is perhaps best experienced by strolling through Skanderbeg Square in the center of the city. It’s Tirana’s focal point and home to places like the Et’hem Bey Mosque and Skanderbeg Monument as well as several restaurants.
Bunk’Art 1 sits on the outskirts of town and was initially intended to be a hideout in the event of a nuclear attack. Today, it’s now a museum detailing Albania’s history through conceptual art, preserved rooms, and eerie sound effects.
Tip: If you’re a history buff, consider this communism history tour which includes a tour of several museums and landmarks.
- TRAVEL TIME TIRANA – BERAT: About 2 hours (100 km)
WHERE TO STAY IN TIRANA
DAY 2 – BERAT
One of the highlights of traveling to Albania is undoubtedly Berat, set in the middle of the nation. It is home to stunning buildings, scenic natural surroundings, and vibrant culture.
Berat is a picturesque town often referred to as “The Town of a Thousand Windows”. This nickname is due to the gorgeous sandstone houses with antique window frames perched side-by-side on a hilltop overlooking the city.
Berat Castle is one of its most iconic landmarks, an ancient fortress with roots dating back to the fourth century. Within its walls, you will find old Byzantine churches mixed in with ruins from other periods. Given its hillside location, the castle offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and its surrounding scenic landscapes. You can also enjoy a view of the city along the Osumi River. Also by the stream, you’ll find Dimal where there are remnants dating back to 200 BC.
There are a few museums worth visiting here – the best one might be the National Ethnographic Museum, an 18th-century building that details how life has changed since Berat’s beginnings. However, given your limited time, you might have to prioritize what you want to do in Berat.
TIP: The famous Blue Eyes are a pair of otherworldly water springs in Albania, one in the north and one in the south. The one in the south is beautiful – but not as stunning as the one in the north. With only 10 days in Albania, I would skip this one – it is just quite a detour from Berat, and remember the roads of Albania make distances even longer.
- TRAVE TIME BERAT – GJIROKASTER: Almost 3 hours (180 km)
WHERE TO STAY IN BERAT
DAY 3: GJIROKASTER
Situated on a hillside in the south of Albania lies Gjirokastёr, fondly referred to by locals as “the City of Stones”. This ancient town perfectly illustrates the country’s well-preserved Ottoman architecture and rich history.
Gorgeous cobblestone streets wind their way to the city’s most dominant feature – Gjirokastёr Castle. This eerie 13th-century fortress was initially a communist regime prison. However, it now contains many interesting and unusual artifacts. Inside the castle are two fascinating museums, an arsenal collection, crumbling ruins to inspect, and many more unusual communist-era relics.
You can’t leave without exploring the Gjirokastër Bazaar, which features Ottoman-style architecture throughout. Here, you can do some great shopping of new and second-hand treasures and souvenirs.
Gjirokastër is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and enchanting towns on the Balkan Peninsula. Not only does the city have plenty of fascinating places to visit, but it also has a vibrant nightlife scene. It was my favorite town as it is livelier than Berat, so I highly recommend making this a must-see spot.
- TRAVE TIME GJIROKASTER – HIMARE: Almost 3 hours (180 km)
WHERE TO STAY IN GJROKASTER
DAY 4 AND 5: ALBANIAN RIVIERA
The Albanian Riviera is one of the most popular seaside destinations in the country. The coastline along the Riviera features rocky mountains, white sand, and clear blue waters. As such, it’s a paradise for beachgoers. Albania’s Mediterranean climate is generally pleasant, but it does get rather warm between July and September.
Be sure to check out this guide to help you plan what to pack for Europe in the summer. There are a couple of places you can add to your Albania itinerary.
The stunning coastal town of Himarё was originally a quiet fishing village. But, it has steadily grown into a popular beach holiday destination. There is a lot of natural beauty in the area, from secret coves and golden beaches to crystal-clear turquoise waters ideal for swimming.
Himarё is generally less crowded than neighboring Ksamil, which makes it a great spot if you are looking for relaxation and tranquillity.
TIP: If you do not mind driving, you can also visit Ksamil, which is located a bit more south.
WHERE TO STAY IN HIMARE
Ksamil is a gem of the Albanian seaside with its picturesque beaches and thrilling water activities. These include jet skiing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and speed boat rides. However, the most exciting and idyllic experience is swimming to one of the three stunning islands a short distance from the shoreline.
The town is also known for its vibrant nightlife, especially during the summer months (July to September). Its promenade is full of vendors selling local produce and souvenirs to take back with you.
- TRAVEL TIME HIMARE – THETH: About 7 hours (a bit less than 400 km)
DAY 6: THETH
It will be a long drive – from the Albanian Riveria, it is time to head to the north. And believe me – this is heaven. Beautiful. Stunning. Jaw-dropping. Beautiful as Switzerland.
Up in Albania’s northern reaches is the tiny mountain village of Theth. I consider this to be one of the most stunning destinations in the country. It has only a handful of residents and has the magnificent Albanian Alps in its surroundings. This makes it look like a village out of a fairytale. And it is not only the village – it is the whole region.
The traditional houses in Theth feature stone walls and wooden roofs, adding to the charming scenery. Its most iconic landmark is the small stone church with its astonishingly beautiful backdrop. This quaint, picture-perfect village is one of Europe‘s best-kept secrets.
Stunning waterfalls and a dramatic canyon await in the surrounding Theth National Park. The park has two fantastic hiking trails leading you to various picturesque viewing points before meeting up at the stunning Grunas waterfall. Another can’t-miss sight here is the Church of Theth. It’s a small building with an awe-inspiring backdrop of mountains and lush greenery.
- TRAVEL TIME THETH VILLAGE TO BLUE EYE: About 30 minutes
DAY 7: NORTHERN BLUE EYE
Similar to the Southern Blue Eye, this natural spring water pool with magnificent blue colors is a breathtaking sight. What sets the Northern Blue Eye apart is the beautiful small waterfall feeding into it and the many scenic hiking trails around it.
Jagged mountain peaks and a deep river valley surround the pool, which adds even more beauty to the picture-perfect scenery. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the natural landscapes, wildlife, and variety of bird species that frequent the area. You’ll find the Northern Blue Eye about four miles from Theth Village.
There is an easy hiking trail that starts in the village and leads to the spring. If you’re brave enough to endure its cold temperatures, you’re free to jump in and swim in the azure waters.
I do believe it is so worth it – there were several people along the hike selling some drinks and snacks.
Then it is time to go to my most, absolute most favorite place in Albania.
- TRAVEL TIME THETH VILLAGE TO VALBONA: About 6,5 hours (250 km)
DAY 8 AND 9: VALBONA VALLEY
Valbona Valley is a stunning natural area located in the northern region of Albania. It is part of Valbona Valley National Park, established to protect the region’s diverse ecosystem and natural beauty.
Nestled within the valley lies the tiny village of Valbona. It has a long tradition of folk music and dance celebrated with many local festivals that take place throughout the year. It is also home to several ancient churches and monasteries, which offer a glimpse into the region’s rich history and cultural heritage.
One of its main attractions is the Valbona Pass, a mountain pass that offers astonishing views of the surrounding landscape. It is particularly popular among hikers, and you can see the peaks of the Accursed Mountains and the Adriatic Sea in the distance. Many people hike from Valbona to Theth – this takes about 6-8 hours one way. While I wanted to do the hike, I just did not know how to organize it.
- TRAVEL TIME VALBONA – TIRANA: About 5 hours (265 km)
WHERE TO STAY IN VALBONE
DAY 10: RETURN TO TIRANA
It is time to say goodbye to the stunning part of Albania and head back to Tirana. The travel time is about 5 hours, so you might have some time left on your last day in Albania to explore the vibrant city of Tirana.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST ITINERARY FOR ALBANIA IN 10 DAYS
From its stunning coastlines to mountainous scenery, many castles, and archaeological sites, Albania is an upcoming holiday destination with a lot to offer. Its affordable prices and lovely climate make it a great choice for a European adventure. And with 10 days in Albania, you can see some of the most beautiful places.