Albania, the hidden gem
If there’s one thing I’ve heard many times over the last few weeks in person and online it’s: “Albania looked amazing!”.
I probably went a bit overboard sharing photos from this former Eastern Bloc country on social media but I simply could not help it! It’s such a beautiful country with so much to offer.
Albania makes an excellent addition to any Euro trip here are some handy tips to help plan your visit.
We got to Saranda in the south of Albania by taking an overnight bus from Athens, Greece. Trains aren’t really a thing in Albania so travel within the country is predominately by bus and car.
We took a bus from Saranda to Drymades beach for 700 lek (about 5 euros). To get the bus we just walked into the center of town and asked each bus driver for ‘Dhermi’ until we found one going there an hour and a half later. We left our big backpack on the bus and went to have lunch in the meantime. It was a small bus that they packed full to the brim.
To get from Drymades to Tirana, the capital, we knew we had to get two buses; one from the highway near Drymades to Vlore and then a second from Vlore to Tirana. Unfortunately, the first bus just didn’t seem to exist, so we paid a man to drive us. This is common in Albania, where some cars have a ‘taxi’ sign and others don’t. We were traveling in a group of 4 so I felt safe and would have if it was just the usual two of us.
To leave we took a bus from Tirana to Durres to then take an overnight ferry from Durres to Bari, Italy. This was actually less painful than I anticipated! But did involve a night of sleeping on the floor.
On one day in Saranda, we hired a car to get to the Blue Eye spring, Butrint ancient ruins, and a beach. It cost 40 euros for the day. The roads in this area were mostly good but the drivers were quite aggressive. Albanians like to joke they are bad drivers because they only got cars 25 years ago (after the fall of communism). You need to keep an eye out for animals; we passed goats, donkeys, horses, and cows on the road!