search burger
search ×

5 things to know before going on holiday to Albania

A new exotic and low-cost Mediterranean destination after Croatia's entry into the euro, the State of the Eagles must be handled with care to avoid nasty surprises


After Croatia's entry into the euro, with the consequent increase in prices for services and accommodation, the more morose and careful travellers, in short those who find themselves willingly or unwillingly having to maximise a less than stellar holiday budget, have shifted their attention southwards. And going down along the Adriatic coast, after Croatia, we come to Montenegro, which is still a little too exotic for many and also has a less than stellar tourist promotion. Going further down we arrive in Albania, the new promised land of low-cost travel.

Last year, all hell broke loose on many social media sites (since these were positive comments we should write paradise, but it doesn't quite make the same sense) of fabulous reviews, with dispassionate advice on the best beaches and resorts to visit. But since, as popular wisdom has it, not all that glitters is gold, let's see if you really should book a nice 2024 summer holiday in Albania with your eyes closed.

Visualizza questo post su Instagram

Un post condiviso da VisitAlbania 🇦🇱 #visitalbania Ilir Kokoshi (@visitalbania__)

Although this is not a thriller, let us start at the beginning to analyse the five clues that suggest caution and cold bloodedness before compulsively pressing the BOOK button and starting to pack.

  • When you read too many posts and see too many positive videos/reels/stories/whatever about a certain destination, it is best to rely on the healthy art of doubt. It's all very well the little place my cousin recommended that nobody knows about, but some alarm bells need to be heeded. Excessive exposure, with experiences that are all fantastic, is abnormal even for Hawaii. And between Tirana and Durres there are very few straw skirts to be seen.


  • Better therefore to rely on Big G to do some research. And the engine gets the job done, referring us to articles in Sole 24Ore, Mattino, Libero and Open (there are also others, of course), whose eloquent headlines are worth quoting: "The dark side of holidays in Albania: crowded beach umbrellas, sky-high prices and pos "seen as the devil"". ; "Travel to Albania? Yes, but not for everyone" ; "Albania, the sea not always a dream and scam prices: the pros and cons of the Italians' favourite destination (for this year)" ; "Albania, the truth about low cost holidays: what no one says".


  • In Albania, of course, you have to get there first. The Milan-Tirana flight takes less than two hours and takes you to the state capital at a cost of less than 100 euros, then you have to see about dates, luggage and other small details. Alternatively, you can fly to Corfu, which, yes, is an island in Greece, but is very close to the southern beaches of Albania. Having done this, you will then need to think about booking a car, as wandering around the beaches, towns and bays, public transport may be impractical. Alternatively, one can embark, with car in tow, on one of the ferries covering the Bari-Durrës or Ancona-Durrës route. However, this may be inconvenient and uneconomical for those who do not live near the two ports.


  • Once in Tirana or Durres, you will have to choose which shores to head for to enjoy the vaunted crystal-clear waters of the southern Adriatic. The Albanian coastline stretches over 400 kilometres, so you are sure to find a place you like. Popular spots include the beaches of Pulebardhat, Velipoje, Shengjin, Currila, Vlora, Jaliksari and Shkambo, as well as Lalzi Bay. Difficult to review them all. But, before you book your hotel, it is better to spend an hour or so browsing through reviews and opinions, recent ones, of real travellers (not those with only one review, obviously 5-star). You will then be able to decide more serenely where to plant your umbrella and where to stretch out your towel.


  • Prices and cleanliness. Many travellers would express some reservations about these aspects. However, prices that are often lower than the Italian average would correspond to general conditions that are sometimes inadequate, even for the most discerning holidaymakers. For example, the best beach in Albania according to Big T is Gjipe Beach. Beautiful the sandy shore, discrete the panorama, remarkable the context. But reading the latest comments we find: plastic bottles and rubbish; not particularly clean; rubbish, rusty objects, light cables out of order; some doubts about the hygiene of the place; the campsite which at times gives the air of a shantytown... Filth and stench.


In short, Albania could really be the low-cost exotic destination around the corner, but it is best to spend a few afternoons planning your trip well to avoid nasty surprises and to mortgage yourself on the other side of the Adriatic Sea.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios