Albania, the land of the eagles, is one of Europe's least discovered countries, which is nestled between Greece, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and the Adriatic coast as part of the Mediterranean Sea. From the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Christians, the Byzantines, and the Venetians to the Ottomans, they all left a fingerprint in Albania's architecture, religion, culture, cuisine, and politics.

Shqipëri, as Albanians call their country is rated as very digital nomad friendly, and the value for money is good. A few coworking spaces in Tirana work on putting the country on the list for the remote working community. Let's have a closer look at what Albania offers digital nomads.

🇦🇱 Entry requirements

To enter Albania which is no member state of the European Union, you need to apply for a valid visa that allows you to stay 90 or 180 days, depending on the chosen visa type.

  • Valid visa: For most travelers who plan to stay in Albania for less than 90 days, there is no tourist visa needed. You do not need a visa if you are a citizen of the Schengen zone, if you have a valid multiple-entry visa for the Schengen zone which is previously used in at least one Schengen country, or if you have a residency in a Schengen country. Further, you do not need a visa for Albania if you have a valid multiple-entry visa for the US or the UK and have been previously used in one of the countries. For further reading.
  • Travel health insurance: You need health insurance in order to match the Schengen requirements and minimum coverage of €30,000. Check out Genki's health insurance and tick this off your list.

🌱 Travel health insurance for Albania

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🏡 How to find a place

  • MerrJep: When staying longer in Tirana, check out MerrJep, a local rental platform. Unfortunately, the site is in Albanian language only so you might want to install the Google Translate browser extension to translate the website for you. However, it is a good site for stays between 1 to 3 months.
  • Gazetacelesi: The local newspaper comes in paper form, in case you are in Tirana already, otherwise check the website for rental ads. Same here, you might want to install a translating app/extension to translate the website.
  • Hotels: Albania is still more affordable than many other European countries, so I would defiantly check the hotel booking sites, such as booking.com and agoda.com to find a place to stay. With hotels, you have a proper refund policy, which got a bit difficult in the past years with Airbnb, which transformed from a guest-friendly platform to a host-focused platform with dynamic pricing and high fees.
  • Airbnb: Yeah, talking about it. It is unfortunately still the go-to site for private accommodation and short-term rentals. Check out Flatio.com for better prices.

✈️ How to get to Albania

  • Plane: Most important international airport in Albania is Tirana (TIA). There are several flights daily from and to cities like Dubai, London, or Warsaw.  You can take the shuttle (Rinas Express line) from the center of Tirana or travel by taxi. The bus ticket costs around 2 Euro and takes 20 minutes. Taxi fare is around 18 Euro. Make sure you look for the ATEx sign on the cars since they are the only approved taxi company at the airport.
  • Ferry: If you travel from Italy or Greece, you can also enter Albania by ferry. Most of them arrive at either Durrës, Vlorë, or Sarandë. Well-known Italian ferry operators are Adria Ferries, Adriatica di Navigazione, Azzurra Line, Venezia Lines and Ilion Lines. The prices depend on the number of passengers, whether you have a vehicle or not, and the time of year.
  • Bus: Due to the European bus network you also can find bus routes with Flixbus. Depending on your starting point, there are several routes available, such as from Skopje to Tirana in 7,5 hours for 20 Euro.

🚌 Public transport

Please be aware of the fact that public transport in Albania is in general pretty bad, and unreliable, and you need a lot of patience, insurance, and willingness to put up with that. It is definitely not for me, but if you have more tolerance, then here we go.

  • Taxi: A taxi from Tirana airport to the city center is between 10 to 25 Euro. A registered operator in Albania is Speed Taxi, which charges 10 to 15 Euro for the transfer.
  • Furgon: You can use public transport by using a Furgon, a local minibus, which brings you to the destination that will be displayed on the driver's windshield Mostly they don’t follow timetables or set fares. The good thing about Furgons is you can flag one down and they will usually stop for you and let you on if it’s not fully packed.

🏘 Where to stay in Tirana

  • Blloku: Blloku is one of the most famous, liveliest, and coolest neighborhoods of Tirana, but also the most expensive one. Within a 15-minute walking distance, you are in the city center or you are already sitting in one of its thousands of trendy bars. Depending on the month you are traveling, furnished and modern 1-bedroom apartments start from 700 Euro a month.
  • Kopshti Botanik: If you visit Tirana with your family, consider the area around the botanical garden in Tirana, Koshti Botanik. You are not just close to the center but also find a lot of green space here, lakes, and the University, and you are close to the Blooku district. Rent starts at 900 Euro a month.
  • 21 Dhejtori: If you want to experience the local coffee culture of Albania, 21 Dhetori is the best neighborhood for you. It's also a budget-friendly area so monthly rent starts from 570 Euro per month.
  • Don Bosko & Astiri: Two other budget-friendly districts are Don Bosko, around 3 km north of the city center of Tirana, and Astiri, north of 21 Dhejtori. You find lower-rise multi-family houses, local shops, small markets, as well as restaurants there.

🧑🏻‍💻 Where to work from in Tirana

Coworking spaces

  • Innospace: Nestled next to cool pubs and busy bars, the Innocspace gives you a really good basis for diving into Tirana's nightlife after your busy workday. The coworking area is bright and offers outside areas like balconies or a veranda. Monthly membership is 135 Euro.
  • Hot Spot: This fancy venue has a prime location near the center of Tirana and comes with a cozy working atmosphere and healthy food options. A monthly pass with access from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm is 120 Euro per month.
  • Coolab: Within 10 minutes walking distance from Tirana city center, CooLab is an easy-to-reach workplace. Tons of themed events will keep you busy throughout the month. Membership costs 180 Euro per month.
  • Destil Creative: A trending coworking community among local remote workers and international nomads is Destil Creative, a coworking and coliving space.

Coffee shops

  • Nouvelle Vague: The street it’s located on is nice an quiet and it’s shaded so you can sit outside on nice days and enjoy the view, decor, and fresh air. If you’re looking to do some strategy sessions or calls, this is the place to be. Plugs are a bite rare, but you can find some inside.
  • Trinity Bar & Restaurant: It can be a little bit noisy from time to time but if not then it’s a great place for working. The Restaurant has comfy seating with plugs around and serves great coffee.

🚊 How to travel around Albania

Please be aware of the fact that public transport in Albania is in general pretty bad, and unreliable, and you need a lot of patience, insurance, and willingness to put up with that. It is definitely not for me, but if you have more tolerance, then here we go.

  • Furgon: You can take a Furgon for going longer distances within Albania. Don’t forget to negotiate the prices with the driver before you enter the vehicle.
  • Train: The railway system is currently under construction. Trains connect the cities of Shkodra, Fier, Durres, Kashar, Elbasan, and Vlora. Reports from tourists say the trains are in bad condition and lack cleanliness and comfort. Schedules do exist but as I mentioned they don't come on time, leave on time, and sometimes don't operate at all.
  • Car rentals: Car rentals are affordable, driving is easy, and a car is the best way to discover the inland or the coast. However, the Albanian driving style is a bit rough, and the roads are not in their best condition, but hey, the whole visit was labeled as an adventure, please see my first point. You can find Avis, Europcar, and Hertz in Albania.
  • Safety: Be careful of landmines in the area of the Kosovo border.

🎖 Must see

  • Bunk’Art: There are two Bunk’arts in Tirana, both covering different aspects of Albania's past.  Both museums tell the dark stories of the cruel regime Albanians had to go through in the last centuries. The ticket costs 5 Euro.
  • Piramida: Maybe starting with a building doesn’t sound super interesting but this one is a must-see of Tirana. The building is from 1987, completed not long before the fall of communism, and was once planned for honoring the communist dictator Enver Hoxa who died in 1985. Since 2021 renovation of the graffiti-covered Piramida started and transformed it into a  youth-focused cultural hub.
  • Dajiti Ekspres: For getting a good overview of Tirana, take the gondola. Is always a good option. Within a 15 minutes car drive from the city center, you reach the station of Djati Ekspress in Linze. From the top, you can also plan half-day hiking tours for exploring more of Tirana's mountain area. The ticket for the cable car is 6 Euro.
  • Albanian coast: The Albanian Riviera surprises with breathtaking panoramic views, crystal clear water, pebble, sandy beaches, and little coastal hamlets. The downside is that the Albanian Riviera is not quick and easily accessible. The best is to take a flight to the Greek island of Corfu and take the ferry to the Albanian Sarande. When you are in Tirana already, hire a car and take the 3 hours drive to Dhermi. Taking the bus from Tirana to Sarande takes about 5 to 6 hours.
  • Bird's view: In the event, you don't suffer from vertigo, take a 15 minutes tour with the Dajti Ekspres cable car and go to the top of the 1,600 meters tall Dajti mountain.

💡 Good to know

  • Internet: Download internet speed in Albania is an average of 38 Mbps for mobile, and 38 Mbps for fixed internet.
  • Sim cards: ALBtelecom, Vodafone, and One are three sim card providers with good packages and good coverage. Vodafone and ALBtelecom are more popular among tourists. You can get a sim card already at the airport.
  • Sockets: Type C, Type E, Type F
  • Digital nomad community: Try the Dutch Hub Korca in Tirana's old bazaar quarter, and the Destil Creative coworking space.
  • Climate: The climate in Albania consists of rainy and mild winters and hot and sunny summers.
  • Safety: Albania ranks 48 on the Global Peace Index, which is the area Chile, Vietnam, and Uruguay are ranked too. Therefore, the country can be seen as fairly safe. However, pickpocketing is happening, like in any other place of the world.
  • Cost of living: The cost of living is cheap for foreigners, as Albanians' average monthly wages are around €400 only, which makes the country very affordable for foreigners. You can stay in Tirana for about 1,000 Euro a month including rent.
  • Currency: Official currency of Albania is the Albanian Lek. 1 Euro is 117 Lek.
  • Must try: Raki, the national schnaps, is not just very strong but it is also the answer to everything. Have you had a good day? Raki. Bad day? Raki. Wedding? Raki. Accident? Raki. Well, not really healthy but it is part of the culture and it is worth trying at least once.
  • Walking: Xhiro is the tradition when locals get out of their homes in the late afternoon and early evenings to go for a walk, chat with their neighbors, sit in front of their houses, or even start little BBQs. It is a lovely tradition that values the social community of neighborhoods.
  • Festivals: The annual Kala festival in Dhermi is on my bucket list, check it out here. If you happen to visit Tirana during June, visit the International Film Festival.

🚧 What to avoid

  • Yes, no, no yes: Getting confused over yes means no, and no means yes. What? Albanians nod their head when they mean no, and they shake their head when they mean yes.
  • Google maps: Trusting in Google Maps is more about getting a rough idea but it is most likely that you will be dropped off at the wrong address.
  • Public transport: Making yourself dependent on public transport. There is basically no nationwide public transport system. Overland buses, Furgon, use little handwritten signs in the window shield but the destination can change during the ride. The buses are neither on time nor do they follow a reliable schedule although there is, in theory, an official schedule but who cares between Shokzë and Grejan. By the way, the reason behind the car shortage in Albania is that private ownership of cars was banned until the early 1990s.
  • Noise: Don't expect Albania to be a quiet country. The local language sounds beautiful and Albanians make use of it. When you hear people yelling at each other, it doesn't mean they fight. They probably just chat about what happened over the weekend.
  • Being shy: Albanians are welcoming, friendly, curious, open-minded, and generally interested in people. As, unfortunately, many Albanians have limited travel history, due to the fact that wages are so low that every country outside of Albania is really pricy for many Albanians, people love to hear who you are, where you are from, what you love about Albania, how long you stay, and if you know some words in the Albanian language. Don't be shy and tell them about your home country and name a few things you really like about Albania.
  • Not shaking hands: Don't hesitate to shake hands with Albanians as this is how locals show respect. Maybe this tradition has changed during Covid but once the world allows us again to be more human to each other, shake the Albanian's hands.
  • Quality of accommodation: The tourism industry is improving but doesn't be offended when a 5-star hotel might feel like 4 stars or less. The quality of housing, furniture, and amenities might not be the best quality, but the people are amazing hosts. Just turn a blind eye to the missing [fill the gap].
  • Scarecrows: Making fun of scarecrows, as they bring luck to the house and scare away the enemies.

🚴🏻‍♀️ How to stay healthy

Stay healthy

  • Hiking in the Albanian Alps: A trekking tour in the Albanian Alps brings you either to Europe's most southern active glacier that was formed in the Ice Age or to Lake Koman. I found an interesting itinerary on John's blog. Also, Feride dedicated a blog post to the Valbona pass, which is ranked as one of the most beautiful hikes in the world.
  • Hiking from Valbona to Theth: This 6 to 8 hours trek is one of the most beautiful passages in Albania and leads from one remote mountain village to another. Stunning views, lush flora and fauna, and ensured leg training.
  • Gijrokaster Old Town: Walk around the old town of Gijrokaster. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a well-preserved heritage from the Ottoman empire with unique architecture, an impressive fortress overlooking the town, the Cold War Tunnel, and a vibrant Greek-Albanian community.
  • Boat trips on Lake Koman: Well, not really an activity, but Komani Lake and Shala River offer boat trips of different lengths that pass Albanian fjords, forests, and mountainous landscapes.
  • Rozafa Castle in Shkodër: Although the tale around Rozafa is tragic, the castle is worth visiting when traveling to Shkodër.
  • Trekking to Gjipe Beach:  From Dhermi in the Albanian Riviera, go for a short 4 km walk to Gjipe Beach. When coming from the village of Vuno, the hike is 5 km long. You can also go by kayak or boat.
  • Hiking to Benja Hot Springs: The thermal baths of Benja are fed by the waters of Permët and some believe the water has healing powers. It takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to hike from Permët to Benja.

Health risks

  • Water quality: No. You should not drink tap water in Albania.
  • Air quality: The air quality in Albania is moderate.