Albania: Beaches and Best Kept Secrets

Albania just might be Europe’s best kept secret!

Albania: a true hidden gem!

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When I first arrived in Albania, I was less than impressed.

My trusty travel partner, Taliha, and I had just arrived by bus from serene Lake Ohrid into the bustling city of Tirana.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

We did a bit of shopping, visited the must-see-sights, and ate some typical Balkan food.

Within a day I was ready to move on.

What to do in Albania

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

I think I was just a bit tired of the typical Balkan hostels, breakfasts, and restaurant menus.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

Yes, that says piglet.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

Aside from some gorgeous old buildings in Skhoder, I wasn’t thrilled with the city life in Albania.

What to do in Albania

Now, a few people had mentioned to us that Albania had nice beaches. Having gone nearly three weeks without swimming in the sea (gasp!), Taliha and I were both keen to find some saltwater.

We knew that there were plenty of buses in Albania that could take us to a few of the bigger towns along the coast, but we wanted more freedom.

After doing a bit of research, we decided to rent a car so we could explore isolated coastlines and ancient ruins on our own schedule.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

Albania’s coastline is dotted with pristine pebble beaches.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

We drove from Tirana down to Hirande and stopped a few times along the way to swim.

What to do in Albania

We befriended a Kiwi gal named Rebecca at our hostel in Tirana* who was headed to Greece. She came with us on our road trip, and it’s a good thing she did because I was way too hungover that first day to act as navigator.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

The three of us had a blast sunning ourselves on abandoned beaches and singing along to 90’s tunes in the car.

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Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

Driving through the mountains was a harrowing experience.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

The road winds you up all the way into the clouds!

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

If the height doesn’t scare you, the Albanian drivers will.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

When we made it to Himara, we picked up another traveler at our hostel.* Benny, a tall German backpacker also on his way to Greece, hopped in the car and drove with us to Saranda.

What to do in Albania

Being Europe and all, there were naturally some old fortresses along the highway to explore.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

Saranda is a great place to enjoy dinner with a view.

Backpacking Abania - what you need to know

In Saranda, we made yet another friend at our hostel* (are you noticing a pattern here?). This time with an Aussie girl named Emma. With all five seats full, we drove to Ksamil.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

Ksamil isn’t as big as Saranda and didn’t have as many hostel options, so we decided to just visit for the day and then make the quick drive back to Saranda in the evening. We enjoyed a spectacular day drinking fruity cocktails on the beach!

If you’re interested in fitting some culture into your itinerary, make a detour before you get to the beach. Near Ksamil are the ancient ruins of Butrint.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

Butrint was inhabited way back in prehistoric times, and was later a Greek colony before it was turned into a Roman city.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

There’s a museum within the ruin complex which offers great views of Butrint National Park.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

For those interested in natural wonders, Albania has a special treat just for you.

Not far from the ruins is Syri Kalter, known as the Blue Eye in English.

What to do in Albania

The Blue Eye is a natural water spring bubbling up from under a stream.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

It’s outrageously beautiful and definitely worth a visit!

Albania: a true hidden gem!

You can go for a little walk along the stream and enjoy a cold beer at the nearby restaurant.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

We loved these huge plants for some reason.

Albania: a true hidden gem!

Before we knew it, it was time to part ways with our three new friends.

We drove through the mountains back to Tirana to return the car and make our way North torwards Montenegro.

What to do in Albania

There is truly so much more to Albania than the capital city of Tirana. I’m so glad we had the chance to explore this hidden gem!


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September 28, 2017 | Last Updated on October 1, 2018 by Linda

5 thoughts on “Albania: Beaches and Best Kept Secrets”

  1. Hi, nice to meet you! I love your blog! If you haven’t, don’t miss Las Vegas. I just came back from Vegas and had an amazing experience there. I don’t gamble but still had lots of fun. I went on a helicopter tour flying above Grand Canyon and loved it so much! Definitely beautiful. Also I completed one of my childhood dream to take a hot air balloon here! You can’t imagine how excited I was… Hahaha ;P Just wanted to share my great experience with you… I also watched a couple of the most popular shows there such as The Reve and K show. Loved my trip… I am so happy… btw I was lucky to meet Nvstarr for giving me this wonderful experience in vegas. Talked too much…. Please keep posting! Love how you can travel the world! My dreeeeeaaaaaaaammmmm!

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