Best Places to Visit in 2017: Albania

Best Places to Travel to In 2017: Albania. The Ottoman houses of Berat, Albania

Best Places to Travel to In 2017: Albania. The Ottoman houses of Berat, Albania

Welcome to 2017 my fellow travelers and wanderlusters. I know it’s already February, but it’s never too late to plan your travels for this year! And I am here to help you. Below is my list of the best places to visit in 2017. These are places that I’ve visited, spent quite a bit of time in, and loved with all my heart and soul. They’re also very good for the wallet (read: inexpensive). So, enough rambling. Let’s get to. In alphabetical order.  Check out tomorrow for the next country on this list!

Best Places To Visit In 2017: Albania

Albania was one of the many pleasant surprises during my years of wanderlust. To start with, I had no expectations before I first visited the country. I knew even less. Trying to find information online was difficult because not many people visit Albania, so it took a little bit of digging in order to craft a 10 day itinerary, but thanks to a friend’s help, I was able to visit many of the sights this country had to offer and loved what I saw.

The Positive

Best Places to Travel to In 2017: Albania. Roman ruins in Butrint, Albania

People: While many people couldn’t speak English, they were nice and very down to Earth. Those that can speak English do try to help you out, and those that don’t, well, you’ll just have to rely on your sign language. If  you can’t speak Albanian, knowing either German or Russian would be beneficial. For the most part, the people were honest, and not many tried to rip me off by putting me on a bus that was going where I didn’t want to do. Overall, I enjoyed the local Albanians, and besides a few ignorant comment here and then, there was definitely a unique Balkan flavor to them.

Culture: Because Albania lies at the crossroad between Europe and the Middle East, you can bet there’s a lot of culture in this small country. Towns like Berat and Gjirokaster had castles and beautiful Ottoman-style houses while places like Butrint had ancient, well-preserved Roman ruins.

Cost: Albania is inexpensive. Like, very inexpensive. Buses to go between cities are never more than $5 USD, while hostels are always less than $10 USD. Alcohol is below $2 USD and if you go to Sarande, a coastal resort city, in the evening, there’s a guy selling pretty decent ice cream, where you can get 2 scoops of ice cream for…get this…0.20 cents.

Best Places to Travel to In 2017: Albania. The UNESCO site of Gjirokaster

Food: Albanian food is actually quite good…if you can find it. My Albanian friend explains it like this. In Albania, because most people are not rich, if they do have the money to eat out, they would rather eat non-Albanian food like French or Italian. If they want to eat Albanian food, they’d just eat it at home. Because of that, authentic Albanian restaurants are actually quite hard to find in Albania. The best place to get your grub on would be in the capital city of Tirana. Not much here, but quite cosmopolitan (for what it is), and lots of cool bars and restaurants (again, when I said lots, I mean like, under 10).

Nature: For a small country, it sure does have quite a diverse landscape. On its eastern border you there are rolling hills and mountains with small towns and cities nestle into the valleys. On the western side, you have the Mediterranean Sea with coastal mountains that make some of the scenery drop dead gorgeous. I heard the northern border is quite nice too, but it’s a dangerous area, so I wouldn’t recommend going up there (a few weeks after I left Albania, some tourists were killed up there…yipe!)

The Negative

Best Places to Travel to In 2017: Albania. A spring near Sarande, Albania that comes out from deep under the Earth.

Transportation: Do not trust any schedule you see online. Do not trust any schedule someone tells you. Hell, don’t even trust the schedule people print up near bus stops. Transportation in Albania was frustrating, to say the least. Couple with the language barrier, and it made for quite an interesting time. While the vans themselves were not that bad, the lack of information on how to get from one city to the next was frustrating at times. But hey, just another part of the adventure right?

Final Words

So there you have it. Because of all of the above, Albania makes it onto my list of Best Places to Visit in 2017. I really enjoyed Albania. The country, the people, the food. There’s a lot of heart to a country that has had such a troubled history, and it’s definitely one of the less-visited destination of Europe. Next time you’re looking to travel to a place off the beaten path, check out Albania.

Best Places to Travel to In 2017: Albania. The Ottoman houses of Berat, Albania

My Itinerary: 

    Total cost: $225 for 8 days for an average of $28.14 (counting everything).

    Bonus Insider Tip: If you go to Berat, stay at this Airbnb place called Villa Lilli. Her breakfast is amazing, and they’re such an adorable and sweet elderly Albanian couple. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3649525?checkin=02%2F22%2F2017&checkout=02%2F23%2F2017&guests=2&adults=2&children=0&infants=0&s=_1Ajilyd

    Tell them Tony says hi. Here’s a video of when I was in Ksamil.

     

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