Looking for a Southeast European destination where you get the ultimate bang for your buck? Then look no further than this Albania one week itinerary! There’s no gatekeeping this location anymore, mainly because the secret is out and travel to the Balkan Peninsula is becoming more popular.
I went to the Balkans a couple of years ago as part of a series of trips after I quit my job to become a full-time content creator and professional photographer. The other destinations I traveled back to back included Lisbon, Savannah, and Miami. The main reason I wanted to go to Albania, and the Balkans, was because it’s a budget-friendly alternative to Greece, Croatia, Italy, and the South of France. Also, my friend is from Kosovo so she showed me a local perspective. When given the option, I prefer to go on trips where my friends are from!
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Albania is part of the Balkan region which is in Southeast Europe. One of the biggest draws to European travel is the fact that there are so many ways to get around the continent. The deciding factor usually depends on budget, origin, and time.
If you’re flying in, there’s only one international airport, Nënë Tereza (TIA) which is in the capital city, Tirana. Since my friend is from Kosovo, I took a flight into Pristina (PRN) instead, with a layover in Istanbul. There are two airports in the city, with Istanbul Airport (IST) as the larger one on the European side. I flew on Turkish Airlines, and definitely want to take advantage of their stopover program in the future because Istanbul Airport is the nicest airport I have ever stepped foot in!
Flying to this region is on the pricier side. I had a bit of sticker shock since I got a bargain for my flight to Lisbon. For this flight, I paid $818.95 out of pocket. It was peak season in the summer though.
If you’re departing from other countries in Southeast Europe, like parts of Italy or Greece, taking a ferry is a recommended way to get to Albania. Prices vary based on the time of year. I absolutely enjoy traveling by ferry so I will have to try these routes in the future!
Other forms of public transportation, like buses, are also a feasible, budget-friendly option. However, distances can be long. If you’ve got time then there are a number of cities around the Balkans that offer bus routes. Prices for bus tickets vary depending on your origin.
Since I flew into Pristina, my friend and I rented a car because we were crossing the borders of different Balkan countries and it was faster than the bus. The car we rented had 300,000 miles on it and I was worried it might die on us, but thankfully it was a champ and we had no issues. Something to note if renting a car: you’ll most likely get an older model.
There are so many places to visit along the Balkan Peninsula. While not universally agreed upon, the Balkans are made up of ten countries, with parts of Greece and Türkiye too. Since I didn’t plan this trip, and didn’t have enough time to go everywhere, this was my Balkans travel guide with a one week itinerary in, and around, Albania.
You heard it here first: Kosovo has some of the cutest cafes ever! I ate at a bunch of different spots in Pristina for around 10 euros a full meal. Tokyo, New York City, or Paris could never! Food there would be twice the price.
Located on the southern coast of neighboring Montenegro, Ulcinj is an old town with dirt roads and cobblestone streets. It’s also a beach town, and I got to see the Adriatic Sea for the first time here! Ulcinj is a party town, and I got to see why. Parties are spilling out into the middle of the main street by the seafront, even mid-week!
The trip ended in Dhermi Beach, a picturesque village on the Albanian Riviera. When I went, Dhermi was partly under construction as an up-andcoming coastal resort town. On the drive to get to Dhermi, I also passed Vlore, which had the clearest blue water I’ve ever seen! I can definitely see this place giving places like Positano, Mykonos and Santorini a run for its money. There are so many beautiful beach towns like this along the Balkan Peninsula, and from what I’m aware, the people of the region want it to remain gatekept.
Albania is now becoming a popular tourist destination as an alternative to the more expensive places I mentioned earlier.
Whenever I travel internationally, I ALWAYS get supplemental travel insurance to the coverage I have from my travel credit cards. The main reason is for medical purposes because if something happens while overseas, you don’t want to be SOL or stuck with some crazy bill. It’s not expensive and gives peace of mind to know medical expenses are covered should any negative situation happen. I typically shop around insurance companies to compare prices, and went with Safety Wing’s Nomad Insurance.
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