In 2019 I visited Albania. The journey was planned with a friend whose parents owned a cottage at the coast. Unfortunately, my friend broke his arm one week before the departure, so I decided to travel alone.

I created a GeoJSON with the route and some points of interest I visited.

  • Day 1 (2019-05-29) Flew from Leipzig, Germany via Vienna to Tirana with Austrian Airlines (EUR 304.12 return). Rented a Škoda Fabia from ALBANIA RAC (EUR 81.83) for the whole trip. Stayed at Hostel Durrës for two nights (EUR 19.80). Met a couple of very interesting people there. Amongst them was a guy that drove with his bicycle from Münster, Germany to Sulawesi, Indonesia.

  • Day 2 (2019-05-30) Drove to Berat, the beautiful “Town of a Thousand Windows” which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spent the evening at Shëngjin beach.

  • Day 3 (2019-05-31) Destination of the day was Saranda which is about 250km from Durrës. A guy at the hostel joined the trip as he also wanted to go to there. On the way south we visited the Island of Zvërnec with the monastery, stopped at Dhërmiu Beach. Visited Porto Palermo Castle, that was built by Ali Pasha of Ioannina and later served as a Soviet submarine base. Stayed at Saranda Backpackers (EUR 21.00 for two nights with breakfast).

  • Day 4 (2019-06-01) Visited Lëkursi Castle and enjoyed the unobstructed view over Saranda. Went to Plazhi Ksamilit Beach. Drove down to the archeological site Butrint, close to the Greek border. Visited Syri i Kaltër, the “Blue Eye” that is a water spring and natural phenomenon. Went to a bar at the harbor to watch a football game and have some beers. Met a guy from Berlin to repair his camper trailer in Albania and an elderly Norwegian couple that enjoyed the cheap alcohol prices.

  • Day 5 (2019-06-02) On my way to Shkodër (330km from Saranda), I stopped at Gjirokastra (also UNESCO World Heritage Site). Visited the Pyramid of Tirana and BUNK’ART 1 bunker museum. Stayed at Our Way Hostel Shkodër (11.90 EUR for two nights).

  • Day 6 (2019-06-03) Rainy weather. Drove to Velipoja beach. Visited Rozafa Castle near Shkodër and the Ura e Mesit bridge.

  • Day 7 (2019-06-04) I wanted to hike in the Albanian Alps and booked a 4x4 tour to Theth. I’m glad I didn’t drove there with my rental car as the street to the town of Theth is brutal. Hiked from the town at 800m to the Valbona pass (Qafa e Valbonës) at 1800m. I had only hand luggage so I couldn’t bring my hiking boots which was a problem as there were snow fields on the way to the pass and I had to walk extra slow and carefully. The trail went through the Valbona valley. Suddenly, it started to rain and the rivers and currents in the valley which I had to cross swelled up to the point where I had problems to find a spot where I could cross without getting wet. Luckily, there was a guy in his 4x4 with his family that asked if I need help and drove me to a safer spot. I stayed the night at Guesthouse Mehmeti (EUR 30). The dinner was made from local produce, very authentic and delicious.

  • Day 8 (2019-06-05) Went to Fierza Ferry Terminal by Taxi. Took the ferry along the Drin river to Koman, switched to a bus that threw me off near Our Way Hostel in Shkodër where I spent another night.

  • Day 9 (2019-06-06) Drove back to the Tirana airport and flew back to Vienna. The connecting flight to Leipzig was cancelled due to bad weather conditions. As I had to work the next morning, I took a FlixBus from Vienna via Prague and Dresden to Leipzig that departed at 10 p.m. and arrived at 5 a.m. the next day.

Ferry on the Drin river to Koman

Traveling alone is a complete different experience compared to traveling with other people. You don’t have to pay attention to the needs of fellow travelers and can organize the trip the way you want. At the same time you are more open to talk to other people. I really enjoy this kind of travel. To my surprise Albania is a very diverse country when it comes to people and scenery. It is not as developed for tourism as other countries in the region and that’s what defines it. I absolutely recommend this country for independent tourism.