Albania is one of the most memorable places we have visited in Europe to date. It’s a country that has a ton to offer, but which is oddly overlooked. Hopefully, if you have read some of our past posts about Albania, you will find yourself tempted to visit this interesting little Balkin country. And if you do, this itinerary will make sure you visit all the best spots.
One Week in Albania
We visited Albania in the winter. We didn’t visit any of the sea side towns, although this itinerary does include a stop of the seaside town of Saranda (we drove though, but didn’t stop). Even though we did not visit any of the seaside towns, we have heard from other travellers that they really enjoyed their experience there.
Day 1 and 2 – Tirana
Tirana, the capitol of Albania is the best place to start your trip in Albania. The main city is the best place to start to familiarize yourself with Albanian culture, food and history. It is also the best place to start planning the logistics of your up coming trip. Will you take furgons or rent a car? You will need to make your choice in Tirana.
Day 3 – Berat
Heading south from Tirana, the first place of interest you will come upon is Berat. This is the first of the three Albanian UNESCO sites that you will visit. The town is characterized by the castle on the top of the hill, and has some of the best restaurants we found in Albania. It is a great place to wonder around in and you can easily spend a day here.
Day 4 – Gjirokaster
The next UNESCO site you will visit is Gjirokaster. Both Gjirokaster and Berat are listed with UNESCO for the same reason, and yet both towns have very different atmosphere’s. Gjirokaster also has a castle on top of a hill, but it isn’t the highlight of the town. The highlight of a visit to Gjirokaster is exploring the narrow, winding streets and touring the historic houses from the Ottoman period. For the whole experience, choose a hotel that is situated in one of these historic homes.
Day 5 – Saranda
Saranda is a quiet seaside town south of Gjirokaster. It was winter when we visited, and this sleepy town was even sleepier. We didn’t stop, but we wished we had, as the drive from Berat – Butrint – Gjirokaster was epic and something we would not recommend trying to do in one day!
If Saranda is not your style, or if you are also visiting in winter, then we recommend choosing either Gjirokaster or Berat and spending an extra day there.
Day 6 – Butrint
Butrint is my favourite UNESCO world heritage site in Albania. It’s a beautiful, ruined village, claimed by Virgil to have once been the home of the Trojans. I loved Butrint. The flooded theatre, the moss covered fortifications, the quiet lake surrounding it…. Butrint is like a fairytale spot.
Day 7 – Onward to Athens, or head back to Tirana
Depending on where you are headed to next, you may either want to set off early for the long drive back to Tirana. Or perhaps you will jump on an international bus bound for Athens. Which ever direction you head, your holiday in Albania will not be something you will soon forget.