If you’re a history lover, I’m taking you to your new favourite location, Albania. This European gem will win your sympathy with its history, culture, and beautiful beach and mountain landscapes. Albania occupies a significant position on the Balkan Peninsula and is a tangle of Romanian, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman influences.
In the last decade, the country has seen significant economic and social growth and development, making it an ideal location for your one week in Albania trip.
Our full guide covers:
- Basic Introduction
- Where to stay in Albania (Tirana, Durres, Sarandë, Himara, Gjirokastër, Berat)
- How to get around
- What to see in Albania
- Things to do in Albania
- Tickets you have to buy before – must read
- Food and Restaurants
- Day Trips from Albania
- Itinerary for Albania
- Packing List
- City Map
As you journey through Albania, the winding roads will take you to ancient ruins, where history breathes through the stones. The coastal towns will invite you to indulge in delectable local cuisine, blending centuries-old recipes with a modern twist. The mountains, adorned with quaint villages, offer a serene escape from city life, providing a glimpse into the timeless traditions that have shaped Albania into the country it is today.
Embarking on your one week in Albania journey promises an immersive experience, allowing you to witness its progress. This guide doesn’t just make promises; it sets the stage for you to validate them firsthand, ensuring your visit exceeds your expectations.
Therefore, I invite you to explore my 1 week in Albania guide, and get inspired to book your trip here as soon as you can. Starting with a short layout, I will take you on a virtual journey, step by step, and tell you all you need to know before setting foot there.
1. Basic Introduction
I want to start with a simple intro to the things you need to know before planning your 1 week Albania itinerary.
Currency: Albanian lek (ALL)
Language Spoken: Albanian
Population: 2.8 million
Known for: Rich History and Culture; Beautiful Landscapes
Accommodation: budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to hotels and resorts
Find more details in our where to stay in Albania section below.
Public Transport: buses and minibuses
More under how to get around.
Safety: Safe destination
City name: Tirana
Electricity: 230V/50Hz (European plug). Remember to pack your travel plug adapter.
2. Where to stay in Albania
Although it is not the largest country in the Balkans, Albania has a lot to offer, making it a frequent and popular vacation destination for many Balkans. Let’s check which city you can stay in and where to find accommodation if you are with a family, alone, or on a romantic vacation.
2.1 Where to stay in Tirana
Welcome to Tirana, an evolving metropolis that reflects the dynamic spirit of the entire country.
In recent years, Tirana has become the City of Colours because it has colourful facades and is almost completely transformed. If you want to know more about the city’s history, visit the Pyramid of Tirana.
And now let me help you find the best accommodation for your 1 week in Albania stay!
If you are coming with a family, choose Kombinat Area, a quiet residential neighbourhood.
The liveliest cafes and lively atmosphere are in Blloku District, so you will surely like this place if you come alone or in a larger limited group.
If you’re travelling with your significant one, the New Bazaar and the central and historic surrounding attractions are perfect to entertain couples.
Mosaic Home is quite cosy and warm, perfect for a laidback one week in Albania. It is located in the city centre and offers rooms for solo travellers, but also a shared lounge, terrace and restaurant on the lower floor. All rooms have a sitting area and patio.
Doanesia Premium Hotel & Spa
Visitors highlight this hotel’s excellent hammam, steam room and fitness centre. Doanesia Premium Hotel & Spa has a seasonal pool and superb food, especially breakfast. It is located in a quiet neighbourhood 5 km from the centre and has free parking.
2.2 Where to stay in Durres
This is the oldest city in Albania, meaning it hides many historical stories. It stretches along the coast of the Adriatic Sea and abounds with Romanian architecture. Also, you can glimpse into Venetian’s past from the Venetian Tower. The first data about the city dates back to the 7th century and interweaves elements of Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian culture.
If you are planning your 1 week Albania itinerary with a family, choose the beachfront for accommodation or the Old Town for couples. The city centre is reserved for solo travellers who can wander the local markets and beautiful, bustling streets.
Modern apartment of 60 square meters, with a kitchen from which you can see a beautiful city view. SkyLine 574 has one bedroom, suitable for a maximum of 4 people. Pets are allowed. The parking lot is free of charge.
Vila One Beach Hotel
Besides free parking, an ideal location is a private beach, which is located in front of the Vila One Beach Hotel. Although there are also family rooms, I highly recommend this hotel for a romantic vacation with your partner.
2.3 Where to stay in Sarande
Saranda is a small town with no separate neighbourhoods; everything is nearby, allowing you to see the sun-soaked beaches from almost every corner. Nearby, you can visit Butrint’s Old Town, which dates from the 7th century and is protected by UNESCO.
Venetian culture has left its most significant mark on the place; you can see it in the architecture and local recipes.
Аs for natural beauties, I recommend you visit Blue Eye hot springs, but remember to enjoy Lekuresi Castle, the Monastery of 40 Saints, and Bougainvillea-lined streets surrounded by flowers.
Hotel Mano is painted in warm colours and is located on the coast- only 800 meters from the first beach. Offering rooms for 2 people, it is good value for the money. Couples evaluate it with the highest rating, which is also the case with those travellers who come by car because the parking lot is large and free of charge.
Ngjela Apartments have free WIFI and an intimate atmosphere, ideal for a relaxing 1 week in Albania. All rooms have a private bathroom and are suitable for up to 3 people.
2.4 Where to stay in Himara
Hirama is an impressive city on the Albanian Riviera that combines the peaceful sea and the stunning background landscapes. It is a popular attraction for nature enthusiasts, professional hikers, and cyclists. The old town has traditional stone houses inhabited by pleasant, generally older locals who are always willing to tell you an anecdote, even if you don’t speak their language.
If you are planning your one week in Albania as a family, stay in the Livadhi Beach area and leave the Old Town for romantic couples. This place is great to visit with family because of the large sandy beaches. It is unsuitable for couples who need to escape the hustle and bustle.
Solo travellers will find the central area interesting, full of musical performances and people in the mood for conversation.
And now to see where to find accommodation for your 1 week in Albania stay:
A bright apartment with a beautiful garden and a balcony from which you can see her all the time and admire her. It is located only 300 meters from the beautiful Spille Beach.
Himara Apartments can host from 4 to 10 people with separate private bathrooms and a shared kitchen. Presented like this, this apartment is ideal for a larger company or group.
These apartments have a kitchen and 2 bedrooms, but the offer also includes an outdoor swimming pool available for use in the summer months. It is only 1 kilometre from the beaches and the main events. Jona Rooms accommodates 2-5 people and has free parking and WIFI.
2.5 Where to stay in Gjirokaster
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is a picturesque town in southern Albania. It is recognizable by the cobblestone streets that predominate throughout the Old Bazar region. The main town castle dominates the entire city’s skyline and is relatively easy to spot. It even serves as an orientation spot for some visitors.
The first buildings date back to the 12th century. From the 18th century, you can see the Zekate House, an Ottoman mansion that used to be the residence of prominent state and city residents.
The Old Bazaar district is an excellent choice for a family vacation, but there are also spots suitable for couples. The city is compact, so it is OK to reach it on foot during your one week in Albania solo trip.
Friends’ Guesthouse & Hostel
Friends’ Guesthouse & Hostel offers accommodation to solo travellers in rooms with 8 people for a budget option. Also, these larger rooms can be rented for groups, which is an even more exciting experience. Guest houses have a shared kitchen and beautiful balconies in every space.
If you are looking for a short day trip, ask the receptionist about the quick way to Zaravina Lake (44 km away).
The Stone Sky Hotel
Another traditional house with historical motifs specific to these people. The Stone Sky Hotel has a garden, shared lounge, and patio on the slope. This 3-star hotel also has a restaurant and parking for both the restaurant and the hotel is free.
Hotel Freskia can accommodate 2 to 4 people in one room with a private bathroom. The perfect service is for 5 stars, not the three stars that the hotel has. If you are driving, you’ll be thrilled to discover the building offers a free parking space, as well.
The distance from the nearest airport (Ioannina) is 83 kilometres.
2.6 Where to stay in Berat
Berat, the best-preserved Ottoman city is called the City of Hundreds of Windows precisely because of its preserved architecture. What I would like to single out for you to visit during your one week in Albania is Kalaja or Berat Castle, which, behind its walls, hides narrow streets, churches, mosques and traditional Ottoman houses. From the top of the castle, there is a beautiful panoramic view I’m certain you’ll enjoy.
Two important neighbourhoods adorn this place, namely Mangalem and Gorica. Mangalem is calmer and safer, so it’s a better option for family travel, while the Gorica district has more romantic hideaways and accommodations.
Hotel Gorica – UNESCO quarter
Hotel Gorica offers a mountain and river view. It resembles a traditional Ottoman or Albanian house. The offer includes a bed and breakfast; the rooms are intended for 2-3 people. What sets visitors apart is the friendly staff.
White City Hotel
It is near the park and has a rooftop terrace overlooking the Old Town. Here, you can find single rooms that are beautifully decorated. White City Hotel also offers bike rental or guided hiking tours if you need extra adrenaline.
If I had to single out something for this hotel, it would be the delicious breakfast. Guesthouse Emiljano is traditionally decorated with specific carpets with conventional embroidery and details.
In winter, you can sit in front of the fireplace in the middle of the accommodation for gathering activities. In the summer, however, you can transfer those activities to the particular picnic area the hotel provides. And let’s not forget to mention that the parking is free of charge and the WIFI connection is excellent.
3. How to get around Albania
This country offers you a mix of transport options at affordable prices, making your one week in Albania a seamless experience. Before you go there, I would like to inform you that the traffic can be pretty busy in Tirana.
In the coastal cities, however, this can occur only during summer, mainly in July. However, the rest of the country is quite relaxed regarding traffic. What options would be available for planning your 1 week Albania itinerary? Check here:
Car rental: The main advantage is the flexibility offered by this option and the quick access from the metropolis to the coastal towns. Almost all rent-a-car agencies are located in Tirana, but a few are in smaller cities. Contact them online before you go. They will meet you at the airport.
Public buses: If you opt for a more affordable option, you can also choose to travel with a bus. Tirana is the central hub, and the schedule varies depending on the time of the year. Check it out online.
Mini Buses: also known as Furgons, these vehicles drive through the suburbs. Keep in mind that they don’t have a specific schedule. They go here when they fill up.
4. What to see in Albania – The Must-Do’s
Albania is a Balkan hidden gem eagerly waiting to be explored. From ancient ruins to vibrant cities to stunning beaches, it offers you all the beauties on a plate. Take a look below at some suggestions on how to spend one week in Albania.
The Must Do’s are:
- Skanderbeg Square (Tirana)
- Et’hem Bey Mosque (Tirana)
- Berat Castle (Berat)
- Gjirokastër Castle (Gjirokastër)
More great sights to see in Albanian are:
- Rozafa Castle (Shkoder)
- Shkodër Lake (Shkoder)
5. Things to do in Albania
The locals are friendly and always ready to advise you on spending one week in Albania as beautifully as possible. Well, check out some of their tips here:
Explore the Albanian Riviera
We have already mentioned some of the most beautiful beaches in this region. Apart from them, I suggest Gjipe Beach, which can be reached by a short hike, and Jale Beach, on the south side of Dhermi.
Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites
I also mentioned the UNESCO-protected historical sites, but I still want to emphasize the City of Stone or Gjirokaster and Berat, which houses the Monastery of 40 Saints. Don’t miss Berat Castle here.
Discover Historical Sites
Another interesting historical site is Apollonia, which dates back to the 6th century and witnesses the mixed cultural moments of Greek and Romanian culture. The library and the theatre occupy a special place in the locality.
Also, visit Byllis, the epitome of the Roman and Hellenistic periods.
Finally, go to Rozafa Castle in Shkodra, where, according to legend, the woman Rozafa was walled alive in the castle wall.
Experience Tirana’s Vibrant Culture
Walk through lively streets and colourful markets. Witness the perfect harmony of historical and modern elements.
Also, visit some festivals and concerts, such as the festival of Albanian music.
Finally, I advise you to enjoy nature and visit the popular canyon. A result of years of erosion located in limestone, it is a real treat for spa lovers who will get to enjoy its relaxing hot springs.
6. Tickets you have to buy before (Must Read)
To get the most out of your one week in Albania, we strongly recommend booking all tickets and reservations in advance and online.
- Museums and Historical Sites
- Special Events and Concerts
- Boat Tours or Excursions
7. Food & Restaurants
Believe me, you will fid it an honour to experience the fusion of Mediterranean flavours, the influence of the Balkans and the touch of Ottoman tradition in the lovely dishes prepared by the skilled Albanian locals.
Here are my recommendations for food you have to taste in Albania:
- Tavë Kosi
My recommendations for the best restaurants in Albania:
- Mullixhiu (Tirana)
- Restaurant Alba (Durres)
- Cajupi Hotel and Restaurant (Gjirokastër)
- Limani Taverna (Sarande)
8. Day Trips from Albania
How to do the day trips? There are 3 options:
Here are the list of sights that you might want to check out for your day trips:
- Tirana: Skanderbeg Square; Bunk’Art 2; Blloku District
- Durrës: Durrës Amphitheatre; Durrës Archaeological Museum; Durrës Beach
- Sarandë: Lekuresi Castle; Butrint National Park; Mirror Beach (Pasqyra Beach)
- Himara: Himara Castle; Potam Beach; Gjipe Canyon
- Gjirokastër: Gjirokastër Castle; Old Bazaar; Ethnographic Museum
- Berat: Berat Castle; Mangalem Quarter; Onufri Museum
9. Itinerary for 7 days
Day 1: Arrival in Tirana
On you first day of your one week in Albania, you arrive at Mother Teresa Airport, which is 17 km from the city centre.
Day 2: Tirana
After resting, head to Skanderbeg Square or explore the BunkArt museum of a nuclear bunker.
Next, you head to Durres on the SH2 highway, 33 km or 30 min to 1 hour.
Day 3: Durrës
On your third day, visit Durres Castle, which captivates with its Byzantine beauty.
If you’re travelling during summer and are looking for beaches, I recommend Golem Beach, which is near many hotels where you can stay, and Dhermi Beach, which has the most beautiful turquoise water. If you want to relax on a closer beach, choose Currila Beach in the heart of Durres.
Day 4: Sarandë
On day 5 of your 1 week Albania itinerary, you can also go to Ksamil Beach, a beautiful, calm and picturesque beach, or to Mirror Beach, which is captivating with lush vegetation.
Day 5: Himara
Also, drive to Himara and climb Himara Castle on a hill overlooking the Ionian Sea. You can also visit Potam Beach and Livadhi Beach here.
Day 6: Gjirokastër
Escape the crowds at the Blue Eye, a beautiful spring, then learn more about history at the Ethnographic Museum dedicated to Enver Hoxha, a figure significant in the country’s development, as this is his birthplace.
Day 7: Berat
Finally, finish your one week in Albania by visiting Berаt and visit the Onufri Museum, which tells the story of the Ottoman Empire. To see what actual Ottoman architecture means, go to the Gorica Bridge. Then, return on the SH4 highway to Tirana to catch a plane. It would take you 2.5 hours or 120 km.
10. Packing List
There are a few things we recommend for your packing list Albania.
- Travel plug adapter
- Mountain Towel
- Sun Cream
- Portable Charger
- Albanian Phrasebook
- Hiking Shoes
- Water bottle with a built-in filter
Optional but always useful:
I hope this one week in Albania itinerary will make a memorable trip with pleasant impressions of Albanian hospitality, the charm of historic cities, and the taste of Albanian cuisine.
If you have specific plans or destinations in mind, feel free to share, and I can provide more precise suggestions!
11. Printed Guides & Map
These guides are best for the ones looking for a printed version.
Once you come to Albania, you will also receive a paper map of the city.
- Albania (Bradt Travel Guide)
Here is again our map of Albania with the recommended hotels and neighborhoods.
Questions? Contact us
I tried to make this guide as useful and complete as possible. However, chances are you still have questions left.
Therefore, any questions? Anything not clear?
Please get in touch with us, I would be very happy to help. I want to make this guide as useful as possible for you.
You see, your question actually helps me as well.
Do not be shy and send me an email.