Nine days in Albania - Complete itinerary and useful tips

Discovering Albania, the country where I was born and to which I often return to hug my relatives. 🙂 For years, I have been looking at this country through special lenses, seeing the potential in every street corner and in people’s smiles. In fact, unlike the popular imagination, Albania is a very safe country. So despite its problems and challenges given its turbulent past, I am extremely happy to see that it is slowly emerging as a popular tourist destination.

This is an itinerary among traditions, flavors and the sea, discovering a small part of a country that enchants and surprises at every step.

Day 1

Discovering Durres

We leave on a WizzAir flight bound for Tirana. As soon as we landed here we were immediately faced with the big question of the Internet!
I recommend that you do as I did: although I had already checked the prices of various providers such as Airalo and Holafly, I decided to wait until I got there. And it was the right choice. Vodafone Albania offers excellent packages. You find Vodafone Albania really everywhere and of course at the airport as well. I opted for a virtual eSim, keeping my Italian number (essential for my work contacts), while Fabio chose a physical sim. With 23€ you have 40 gigs for 15 days, while with 29.50€ you get 100 gigs for 21 days. Ps: don’t worry, Whatsapp doesn’t change, I remind you!

Outside the airport you will find the usual rental companies such as Avis, Budget and Europcar. Always useful as an option if you need a last-minute alternative. We preferred to rent the car at . This site allows you to rent directly from locals, with the benefit of assistance and coverage offered by the site itself for a small percentage. We made sure to choose a provider with numerous positive reviews and, big plus, without the usual very high deposit. And all this at about €300 for 8 days, including full insurance.

Our first stop on this tour is Durres (or Durrës). A city laden with history. The Roman Amphitheater of Durrës, built in the 2nd century AD, is an architectural gem, one of the largest in the Roman Empire. Walking along the Durres Wall is like stepping back in time.

Call me biased, but boy, there is beauty at every turn here! From the small stalls selling “petulla,” pancakes that immediately take me back to my childhood (they serve them sweet here, while my mom makes them savory) to the numerous waterfront cafes, perfect for a sunset stroll.

For our accommodation, we chose Lolas Apartment: here is the link to booking. The girl who greeted us speaks perfect Italian, and the apartment has everything you might need, besides being very central.

While prices may be higher in some tourist areas, in Durres you can still enjoy delicious first courses between 6-7€. Me, I opted for linguine with cherry tomatoes and basil “at €5.30. What if you like seafood? Linguine with seafood is a dream at only €6.80. The restaurant we chose? Bar Restorant Belvedere.

Day 2

From the flavors of Durres to the colors of Vlora!

The second day of our tour began with a quick breakfast, some sea to rejuvenate, and then straight back on the road.

From Durres we headed to Vlora (Vlore), a journey of about an hour and a half. We have two nights ahead of us here and, as always, we have already scouted out the perfect place to stay: Villa B&E. Here is the link from Booking.

We having a car opted for this accommodation 10 minutes from the center, if you are a true lover of the sea and beaches, I suggest you move south. Here the sea is, as it were, from another planet! At lunch, we were enveloped by the salty smell of the sea at the Emiral Beach restaurant.

And now, let’s talk about food: the heart (and stomach!) of every trip. I highly recommend looking for typical Albanian restaurants. One example is the Esmiani Restaurant. To give you an idea of the prices: half a liter of white wine, water, two appetizers, two main courses and a plate of French fries, all for only 15.00€ in total.

Day 3

Discovering Vlora

The day begins with a few hiccups. After hearing a suspicious noise from the car, we contacted the car’s supplier who promptly referred us to a mechanic in Vlora. Top speed and efficiency! A little warning for those who venture out on the road: Watch out for bumps and potholes. Drive safely!

We then headed south to Bora Bora Vlore . This is just one of the many heavenly beaches south of Vlora. Two sunbeds and an umbrella run around 10€, but regardless of your choice, the sea in this area is pure magic. You can also have lunch in their restaurant!

After spending the day at the beach we returned to downtown Vlora for our last evening here. We headed to another typical little restaurant that exceeded all expectations! If you pass through these parts, it is a must stop Restorant tradicional VANI. I recommend the eggplant stuffed with rice and vegetables and the Fergese, a typical dish of Tirana. Authentic flavors at a low price: 15€ total! And this is exactly why I always recommend experiencing local cuisine. End the evening with one of Albania’s most famous desserts: trilece!

In Vlora do not miss the area “Dhermi Beach” one of the most beautiful and famous beaches. It’s worth the drive, and in fact, another piece of advice I would give myself: an extra night in Vlora! 🙂

Day 4

Gjirokaster, Ksamil and changes over time.

Stop in Gjirokaster, an ancient Albanian town, also known as Gyrokastra or, in the local language, Gjirokaster, is one of the jewels of Albanian cultural heritage, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Berat. One of its main attractions is the castle dating back to 1300, which can be visited inside.

I don’t think there is a restaurant in town that doesn’t deserve a visit! From the reviews, all offer a wonderful selection of traditional Albanian dishes. An unforgettable dining experience we had at the
“Lani Tavern”
. A true spectacle!

Walking through the center, we came across the famous bazaar, a place full of charm and history.

We then continued our journey to Ksamil, where we will spend the next four nights. We chose to stay at Vila Chelsea: direct link. It boasts the main street only a 5-minute walk away and the beaches 10-15 minutes away.

One thing to note is that Ksamil seems to have undergone some sort of evolution over time. With prices now almost in line with those in Italy, it is as if it has become the Porto Cervo of Albania. I have a vivid memory of coming here years ago with my parents; the prices were definitely more affordable.


For those looking for nightlife, Ksamil may not be the ideal place. The real attraction here are the beautiful beaches. On my previous trips, after days at the beach in Ksamil, we would move in the evening to Saranda, which is only a 20-minute drive away, to enjoy a vibrant nightlife.

Day 5

Field trip to the Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter) and day in Saranda

The day started early, waking up at 7 a.m. to visit one of Albania’s natural wonders: the Blue Eye. We parked at the second parking lot you will find once you arrive at the site after about a 45-minute drive from Ksamil. 3€ parking and 0.50 cent each for entry.
This is a spring with an intense shade of blue, fed by groundwater from the surrounding mountains. Despite several dives, its exact depth remains a mystery. It is believed that it may exceed 50 meters, but could be even deeper.

We decided to have breakfast right here at the Blue Eye, enjoying the breathtaking view. For those who want to visit, I strongly recommend arriving early, around 8 a.m. as we did, because by 9:15 a.m. the area already starts to fill up.

Due to the weather forecast announcing rain in the afternoon, we opted for a walk in Saranda.

For lunch, I suggest you try Te Bequa 2, a restaurant that offers traditional dishes at very affordable prices.

Also for dinner, we chose another delicious place, Taverna Rrapo. Let me just tell you that we returned here for dinner 3 times!

The evening ended with a walk through the enchanting lights and atmosphere of Saranda.

Day 6

Saranda to Corfu

Today we’re off on a new excursion: trip to Corfu! Where to find tickets? Wandering around Saranda, you will notice several agencies where you can buy A/R tickets to Corfu. Any agency will do, we spent 40€ each for a round trip. There are several options as to times: a half-hour trip by “fast boat” or an hour and a half by a slower boat, but at the same price, only the times change.

If you have a car, don’t panic! You can park directly at the port for only €5 for the entire day by showing your travel ticket.

Once we arrived in Corfu, we rented a scooter from Green Motions (35€ for the day). You can also find it here:

Old Town of Corfu: This UNESCO gem is a treasure trove of Venetian, French and British architecture. We headed to the Spianada Square, one of the largest squares in the Mediterranean. After a brief exploration we stopped at Taverna Nino, where Fabio opted for a vegetarian pita, I for a pita with tzatziki. Despite the long line (arm yourself with patience), the food was good and we spent 27€ in total.

Riding the scooter again, we headed to Palaiokastritsa. However, this place with dreamy waters has prices on par with those in Italy during the high season. Fabio, after paying €20 for a spritz and a Coke, decided to go back to Albania! 😀

After another brief exploration of the island with the scooter, the day was now at an end and we headed to the harbor to catch the fast boat again in the direction of Saranda. Finished the evening with dinner and Albanian “Zupa” for dessert.

Day 7

Exploration of Hidden Beaches

Finally came the excursion to the hidden beaches reachable only by boat in Saranda.

We decided to purchase one of the many tours offered on the Saranda waterfront. I recommend making reservations locally by choosing the one that inspires you the most. Our tour was from“Dhako Boat Tours,” and we paid €20 each. It was cheap, but the trip was rather slow. You can also consider one of the faster boats that might cost about 10€ more. And don’t forget to inquire about travel times as well!

Our first stop was at Kakome Beach. Comparable to a crystal clear pool, the sea here was breathtaking. Second stop at Kroreza Beach. Here we made a stop for lunch. Although there are some restaurants, the choice is limited. Consider bringing a packed lunch.

After about a 2-hour stop in this piece of paradise we again boarded the boat for the return trip to Saranda. Meanwhile, one of Fabio’s favorite parts, diving from the boat!

We returned to Saranda around 5 p.m., ready to enjoy our last evening in town. To end our stay in Saranda, after dinner, we decided to indulge in a dessert at the “Lala Buke Embelsira,” which according to our experiences, offers the best trilece in all of Saranda.

Day 8

The Ancient Streets of Berat and the Beating Heart of Tirana

We left the sea at Saranda and headed inland to Albania.

We headed for Berat, one of the oldest cities in Albania and also known as “the city of a thousand windows.” And it’s not just a charming nickname: the historic center of Berat has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.

If you are leaving from Saranda or Ksamil bound for Berat, start by following the signs to Tirana. Otherwise, you may find yourself on SH74, a 60-kilometer dirt road that may not be suitable for all cars. In fact, if I went back I would insert this leg starting from Tirana.

Arriving in Berat at lunchtime, we immediately headed for a typical Albanian restaurant. We had lunch at Eni Traditional Food.

Berat’s houses are known for their characteristic white facades dotted with countless windows. It is a fascinating mix of Ottoman and Albanian influences. Walking through the stone streets of Old Town is like stepping back in time to a medieval era.

If you can, take a climb up to the castle for a panoramic view.

Now headed for Tirana, the capital city. First stop: the main square, Skanderbeg Square, which houses historic buildings such as the Opera House, the National Historical Museum and the Et’hem Bey Mosque. An equestrian statue of Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero, towers in the center. This legendary man is an icon of resistance and freedom.

Tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to climb Tirana’s pyramid for a panoramic view of the city!

If you decide to dine atOda Garden, make reservations in advance if you want a private table. Otherwise, you might find yourself at a communal table, but with the addition of a raki offered while you wait. Recommended place for food and atmosphere.

Day 9

You cannot say you have truly experienced a city if you have not visited its local market. We strolled among the stalls, being enveloped by the scents, colors and sounds typical of a local market.

Be sure to spend time in the“Blloku” area. This place, once the heart of communist power and accessible only to the party’s top leadership, has turned into the hub of Tirana’s nightlife. It is impressive to think how those same villas where the hierarchs resided have now become locations for trendy clubs designed by the best architects.

Byrek lunch: one of Albania’s specialties! Get them from street shacks, they cost only 0.50 cents, but the real reason to try them is their authentic taste.

If you need to get to the airport, there is the option of electric cabs, a cheap alternative given the high cost of gasoline. But if you are looking for an even cheaper option, there is a bus that runs airport service and costs only 4€.


Food and restaurants

Albania offers a wide range of traditional dishes worth trying. I will list a few so that at the restaurant you will know what to order:

Tave Kosi: for meat lovers a lamb and rice dish, cooked in a yogurt and egg sauce.

Byrek: the famous layered puff pastry, which can be filled with cheese, meat or vegetables.

Fergese: typical of Tirana, a dish of peppers, tomatoes and cottage cheese. Get a portion of bread and go!

Qofte: fried meatballs served with tzatziki or tarator.

Bakllava: for dessert lovers, layers of phyllo dough filled with nuts and sugar, soaked in sweet syrup.

Trileçe: a caramel dessert combining three types of milk.

Oh, and a little foodie tip: If you go to a typical restaurant, you CANNOT miss the fried potatoes. They are something divine.

Don’t stop at the first waterfront restaurants, explore the hidden streets, avoid Italian restaurants (pizza only in Italy amiciii). Avoid the chic and central ones and look for those places where grandmothers are in the kitchen. It will be an experience you will not forget.

Money and change

Don’t worry about changing your euros into lek. All places, from bars to restaurants and gas stations, accept European currency. Few accept credit cards, always better to have cash behind. Finally you already start with liquids because all ATMs charge a withdrawal fee that starts at about €3-4.


After the trip I would definitely change the base of the nights in Ksamil. In August, the small town was really taken by storm, and we ended up hardly ever being there. I would definitely take something in Saranda. I leave you with some interesting proposals in my opinion perfect as a location:

House of A&Arwen Rruga Jonianet, 9702 Saranda –
link booking here

Doka Center Apartments Road ” Skenderbeu & Thoma Spiro ” Sarande
link booking here

Hotel Magllara Rruga Naim Frasheri , 9702 Saranda
link booking here

Albania, while a hidden gem of Europe, is only now emerging as a top tourist destination. This tourist “explosion” is doubly fascinating, as it allows us to discover a country that, for a long time, has remained in the shadows. Its evolution as a tourist destination will require sustainable development that respects its roots and traditions.

As visitors, we must approach this land with an open and respectful mindset. As we approach this growing country, we must do so with a sense of curiosity and commitment to truly understanding what it offers us, rather than trying to fit it to our traditional tourist expectations.

The true beauty of Albania lies in its authenticity and the opportunity to discover something unique. Let us look at Albania with fresh eyes, and give it the time and space to show the world its incredible potential.

Hugs and have a good trip friends!


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  • Introduction to Albania: learn about the country from its roots, understand its rich history and culture, and prepare to immerse yourself in an authentic experience.

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You can purchase it at a cost of €5.90 here: Albania itinerary and guidebook

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