Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania (Budget, Albania backpacking Itinerary and More)

Solo Travellers’ Guide to Backpacking Albania (Budget, Itinerary and More)

This is your ultimate guide to solo backpacking Albania! Everything you need to know before you go, the budget, best hostels, possible itineraries and so much more! Strap up!

When did people start raving about Albania? When did Albania become such an up-and-coming destination and an essential part of the Balkans backpacking itinerary?

I tried to find some older YouTube videos and posts on the internet and the oldest ones I found were from 2015. I am sure people travelled to Albania before that year, but it looks like this is when Albania travel started becoming a thing. And so did backpacking Albania.

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania (Budget, Albania backpacking Itinerary and More)

Just a little over 30 years ago, Albanians were still completely isolated, cut off from the rest of the world, ruled by a crazy dictator, had no right to own a car, travel abroad and say what they think. Albania had the most brutal and strict regimes among all the communist countries and when it reopened to the rest of the world in 1990, it had a lot of catching up to do!

Nowadays, Albania is a must-do for any backpacker travelling to the Balkans! Albania’s tourism is booming and backpacking Albania is on the rise. And no wonder!

Albania is beautiful! The mesmerising Albanian Alps and Lake Koman, the incredible Albanian Riviera, rivers, canyons, Unesco cities with architecture you won’t see anywhere else in the world, the craziest language and above all great people, a rich history and culture and delicious food!

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania (Budget, Albania backpacking Itinerary and More)
Solo Travellers’ Guide to Backpacking Albania

Top it up with pretty affordable prices (by European standards) and you have a perfect backpacking destination – Albania!

But Albania is still a very much untamed and often an ‘anything goes’ kind of travel destination, so you will need a little bit of a manual for some things. But don’t worry, I’m here to give it to you 🙂

I travelled solo around Albania for 2 months, which included my longer stay in Shkoder where I volunteered at the hostel. There were many things I loved about Albania, but also some that I didn’t. And I’m always honest and vocal about it. So you will hear it all from me – the great and the not-so-great.

In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know before solo backpacking around Albania, as well as a backpacking budget and itinerary.

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania

Is Albania Safe for Solo Travellers?

I have never had any concerns for my safety while backpacking Albania. I was a solo female traveller and spent 2 months in the country and I found Albania very safe!

Of course, common sense needs to be applied when you travel solo to any country and this includes Albania. Theft can happen and I wouldn’t suggest walking around empty dark streets in the middle of the night. But I walked around different towns later in the evening alone and felt as safe as I would feel in my home country of Poland.

It is also totally fine and quite common to hitchhike in Albania which only shows how safe the country is. Both locals and travellers hitchhike across the country, although it is not something I would do as a solo female traveller unless I had to.

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Backpacking Albania Budget

Please note that year after year, prices increase in Europe and Albania is no different. You can hardly find a 10$ dorm bed, and the transportation cost has increased as well. In 2024 you are looking to spend an average of $14 on a dorm (in some places it is 12€ and in some places, it is more like 18€). This will also depend on the season.

How much money do you need per day to travel in Albania?

If you are a traveller or a backpacker travelling on a shoestring budget then the best option is of course to stay in hostels. You will have to budget around 14€ on average for a hostel dorm bed in Albania.

You will be able to find one for 10€ or 12€ in some places (like Berat, Shkoder, Tirane), but 14€ would be the average. In some towns along the Albanian Riviera like Himere or Saranda or places like Gjirocaster be prepared to pay between 12€ and 15€ per night for a nice hostel, which is still great by European standards!

You can get a good meal out in a local restaurant for around 700 to 800lek, excluding drinks.

So let’s say you travel to Albania for a total of 2 weeks. This will cost you as follows:

Hostels 200€

Transportation (if your itinerary is Tirane, Shkoder, Vlore, Berat, Gjirocaster, Sarande, Himera and back to Tirane) – 6900lek / 70€

If you wanted to do the Theth to Valbone hike you have to add around 85€. This will include a night stay in Theth (20€), one night in Valbone (10€), food (15€) and transportation both ways(38€).

Food and drinks 210€ (if you spend on average 15€ per day which is doable but very tight)

This comes to a total of 565€ for 2 weeks, 40€ per day. If you skip the Theth/Valbone hike, your daily average will come down to 35€.

If you want to travel in Albania a bit more comfortably (while still staying in hostels), take part in a couple of tours or experiences, and eat out more often then you should be prepared to budget between 50€ and 55€ per day.

For those who want to stay in a private room, eat out almost every day, rent a beach lounger once in a while and take a tour or two – an ideal budget would be no less than 60€ per day.

Please note – that those estimates include accommodation and transportation which make for the biggest chunk of the daily budget.

Is Albania Solo Travel Friendly

Mostly yes, but sometimes no. let me explain.

Albania is very solo travel-friendly and an awesome backpacking destination. Especially towns like Shkoder, Berat, Gjirocaster or Tirana, which are packed full of incredible hostels and have a vibrant backpacker scene.

Things look slightly different the moment you venture towards the Albanian Riviera. While you will find a couple of great social hostels in Himare, Vlore or Sarande, the towns in itself are not always the best for backpackers or solo travellers. Especially Ksamil!

The infrastructure, restaurants and many facilities are geared towards those coming on vacation with families or as a couple. There is no way you could rent just one chair on the beach and some bars or restaurants will refuse you a seat if you are on your own which happened to me twice!

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania (Budget, Albania backpacking Itinerary and More)

It’s funny because in both instances, the place was almost empty (once a rooftop bar and once a restaurant), yet I was refused a table, just because I was on my own. I heard this has happened to some other travellers in some very popular destinations, but in my case, this has never happened in any other country I travelled to.

But suppose you are a traveller searching for a vibrant backpacker scene and solo traveller-friendly towns in Albania. In that case, you will not be disappointed in Tirane, Shkoder, Berat, Gjirocaster or even Vlore.

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania

Getting Around Albania

Getting around Albania by public transport is an art in itself.

If you are travelling between larger cities, especially from Tirana, you will most likely end up on a decent bus. Otherwise, many routes are served by so-called fourgons – minibuses.

These are usually privately owned. On some routes, you can book them in advance, but I recommend that you simply arrive at the bus stop earlier and secure a seat. Forgons often fill up very quickly and if you arrive late, you may end up sitting on a makeshift stool or missing the journey altogether.

Backpackers Guide to Visiting Gjirocaster, Albania (Things to do in Gjirocaster)

While we are on the subject of bus stops, these are also often somewhat elusive. Again, in larger and more popular towns there will be a bus station, but often you will find a not very well signposted bus stop (if at all) somewhere on the street.

On the plus side, you can simply wave the bus anywhere and if it has a spare seat, it will most likely stop.

There are no trains in Albania, so the bus is the only option. On this website, you can check current prices, operated routes and timetables. You will always pay for your bus fare in cash.

Each larger town will also have some kind of local bus system. The majority of towns in Albania are perfectly walkable so I didn’t find a need to use local buses much. I used local busses to get to the main bus stations in towns like Tirana, Vlore or Berat. Those are very cheap and pretty reliable. In Gjirocaster you will find a small local bus operating a couple of routes between the historical town and the main town down the hill. This was very useful!

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania (Budget, Albania backpacking Itinerary and More)

Best Time to Visit Albania

Albania can be visited at any time of the year but there are a few things you need to be aware of.

During the low season, between October and March, prices will be lower but many establishments might be closed. You will still find some hostels open and Tirana is a year-long destination, but many hostels or restaurants along the coast might be closed.

During peak months of July and August, prices will be the highest and most of the towns will be packed full of tourists. It is also pretty hot!

The best time to visit Albania for the best balance of weather, prices and lack of crowds would be shoulder season – between April and June and then September and October.

How Many Days for Backpacking Albania

I suggest spending at least 2 weeks backpacking Albania, but you could easily spend a month in this wonderful country and still have so many places to visit and things to do! Ideally, you’d spend 3 weeks backpacking Albania, which would allow you to spend time in Shkoder and hike the Albanian Alps, spend some time on the beach and visit the historic towns of Berat, Gjirocaster and Korce.

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania
Solo Travellers’ Guide to Backpacking Albania

Staying in Hostels in Albania

There are some really awesome hostels in Albania and there is a bunch of new ones popping up every year! Hostels in Albania are great – affordable, social, clean comfortable and on a very high standard! Some hostels around Albania became a destination on their own like the Stone City Hostel in Gjirocaster, Wanderers Hostel or Mi Case as Tu Casa in Shkoder or Trip’n’Hostel in Tirane.

Helpful Tips – Backpacking Albania Guide

  • The official currency in Albania is Lek. Cash is a king, so be sure to always have some on you. You can pay by card in larger supermarkets and some restaurants or bars, but I had one supermarket in Himare that only takes cash once or twice, so it’s better to be ready.
  • You can pay with Euros in more touristy locations, and many hostels will also accept euros.
  • English is spoken, especially in tourist establishments, and young folks widely speak English. But you will also often come across someone who doesn’t, so be sure to download the Google Translate app. Comes in handy!
  • If you are travelling in Albania for longer than just a few days, consider getting a local SIM card. I used both Vodafone and One, and I much preferred One. Coverage is pretty good and so is the internet speed.

Are you wondering what are the best tourist SIM cards in Albania? Head over to this post, where I compare all the sim card providers in Albania and their plans and will tell you what was my favourite sim card provider in Albania and why.

considering renting a car in Albania? If you are travelling in high season, book early. Prices increase the later you book a car. Of course, you can also rent a car at the airport. There are several car rental agencies outside the arrival terminal and you can also negotiate the price.

You can also search for the best prices and pre-book online on Expedia or Discover Cars website

  • I don’t recommend drinking tap water in Albania. I have seen enough people being sick (some on the trail in Theth) that filtered or bottled water is what I advise.
  • There are many entry points to Albania and flying to Tirana is not always the best option. It of course depends on which direction you are travelling from and what is your travel plan. You can enter Albania by bus from Montenegro to Shkoder, by ferry from Corfu if you are travelling to the Riviera or by bus from Ohrid in North Macedonia or Kosovo.

Albania Backpacking Itinerary

Here you will find a very typical extended Albania backpacking itinerary, which can be completed during a 2 to 3-week trip. Of course, if you are travelling for a week or 10 days only, you will have to deduct some of the destinations.

I will also add recommended time spent in each destination (my personal recommendation) but again, this is totally up to you!

  • Tirana – 2 to 3 days
  • Shkoder + Theth to Valbone hike – minimum 4 nights altogether but if you can, add one more night in Shkoder (you will not regret it!). The 4 nights will include one night stay in Shkoder, one night in each Thetreh and Valbone and then one last night in Shkoder to take a rest after the hike. The additional time in Shkoder could be spent biking to the charming lakeside Shiroke, or taking a trip to Shala River.
  • Vlore – 2 full days
  • Himare – 2 full days
  • Berat – 2 to 3 full days
  • Sarande – 2 nights plus two extra days for Blue Eye, Butrint and Ksamil. One extra day if you choose just one of them.
  • Gjirocaster – 1 to 2 nights
  • Permet – 2 full days
  • Korce – 2 full days
  • Pogradec – 2 full days

The suggested length of stay in each location is, in my opinion, a minimum stay. I personally suggest that you stay a little longer in places like Himare, Berat or even Sarande so that you can relax a little and really enjoy fantastic Albania! I even often suggest spending 2 extra nights in Theth as this mountain village is simply magical!

Solo Travellers' Guide to Backpacking Albania
Solo Travellers’ Guide to Backpacking Albania

Albania is a great backpacking destination and I am planning to return and visit a couple of places I missed the last time! You will love it! It’s a beautiful country full of adventures!

If you have any further questions, please comment below! I always answer 🙂

Until then, happy travel!


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