If you have social media, you've probably become inundated with videos and pictures of Albania and just how dreamy this country is. I've been lucky to spend a handful of months traveling throughout the country and can say without a doubt, the hype is warranted.
Year round Albania boasts stunning views, a variety of landscapes to explore, a buzzing cafe culture in the country's capital, and plenty of well preserved towns overflowing with history and unique architecture. And important to note for your trip planning, 4 distinct seasons.
How this country has remained off the typical tourist radar for so long is beyond me but I'm thankful it has. It's a wonderful reminder that there are still places far removed from shoulder to shoulder tourism in peak season and where you can experience life with the tourist lens more stripped away. But with how hard Albania is being promoted, walk don't run to this European gem.
So, if you're planning your trip to Albania and can't decide when to visit the best places in Albania, I've got you covered. Together we'll dive into the 4 seasons and see what each one is really like in Albania, the biggest holidays you won't want to meet, and where exactly you should spend your time here.
Let's see when is the best time to visit Albania for you.
How to See All the Seasons in Albania
Before I dive into the details of each season in Albania, let's talk about the nitty gritty of visiting here. In general, most nationalities are allowed to stay 90 days in Albania but be sure to double check if you need a visa for your nationality before you book your flight. From experience, I can say that US, UK, and Colombian citizens are free to enter visa free. Technically the rule is 90 days every 180 days but we heard from a lot of people that they aren't so strict about the 180 day rule.
Now here's the fun part for US citizens. We're actually given 1 year visa free in Albania. That means you can enjoy all 4 seasons in Albania and don't actually have to choose the best time to visit but can enjoy all the variety that this beautiful country can throw your way.
Unfortunately this is only for US citizens although I also heard that if your partner is a US citizen and you're not, you should be able to join them for a year if you can prove you're together (I assume a marriage license would work well). Since we decided to leave Albania and head to Kotor Bay, Montenegro instead, we didn't get to test this theory so be sure to do your research before taking my word for it.
If you want to cover a lot of ground in Albania, consider renting a car. That's how we were able to see so much of the country. While there are public buses, you'll get to your destinations quicker and a lot more comfortably if you opt to drive yourself.
Things to Know Before You Go
Now that you’re gearing up for your trip and planning the specifics of where and when you’ll go, there are a few things you don’t need to overlook.
I know just how easy it is to look towards the big hike, bucket list city, or beach of my dreams and forget about all of the little things in between that’ll make your trip run as smoothly as possible. Be sure to take into consideration these few things before you go to make sure you get all the good bits of your trip without the stress.
- Make sure you have travel insurance. A good travel insurance, like SafetyWing, will ensure you’re covered in case of emergencies. While you will have to pay upfront for your doctor or hospital costs, unless it’s for a pre-existing condition, you can file a claim and should be reimbursed. For any Americans reading this, fear not, healthcare in pretty much every other country is far more affordable than ours, even if you’re paying out of pocket.
- Do your best to learn a few local phrases in their language. No, I’m not expecting you to be able to have a fluid conversation with locals at the bus stop if you’re just visiting their country for a week but knowing your numbers (for prices), how to order something (“I would like…”), and basic greetings really will take you a long way. Mondly is a great app for phrases and vocabulary.
- Last tip certainly isn’t mandatory but it is helpful. Before you start booking your flights, hotels, and tours, consider opening up a travel credit card. Thanks to our Capital One Venture card, my husband and I have gotten countless free flights just by gaining points on everyday expenses.
Spring in Albania (Shoulder Season)
If you're craving moderate weather and not so many other tourists, spring is a great time to visit Albania. You'll have a lot of the country's most popular destinations and historical sites to yourself to explore at a leisurely pace.
Although on paper spring sounds like a great time to visit, it can still be really cold from March to May in Albania. We first arrived to Albania mid-March and very much still needed our winter jackets some days in Tirana and even in southern Albania. The temperature gradually rises from the cooler winter months, averaging around 15-20°C (59-68°F) so you'll want to pack accordingly.
Spring brings a lot of windy and rainy days with it but when the blue skies come out, the weather is perfect for walking around the ancient ruins Butrint National Park or having picturesque Gjirokaster all to yourself. If you plan on hiking in the northern mountains, expect not to be able to do any big hikes, like the famous Theth to Valbona trail because of snow and dangerous conditions.
It's important to note that since the tourism infrastructure isn't quite what it's like in nearby Greece or Croatia, a lot of places only open in summer seasons. This is especially true on the coast. In places like Tirana and other bigger cities, most things should be open but in many (not all) places, smoking is allowed indoors so if you plan on dining in to escape the cold, you might be surrounded by smokers.
A Few Best Places to Visit in Spring in Albania
Other than the two places I've already mentioned, Butrint National Park and Gjirokaster, spring is also a great time to visit:
- Berat: Known as the "City of a Thousand Windows," Berat is a UNESCO-listed town with Ottoman-era architecture. Spring is an ideal time to explore its historic streets and visit the Berat Castle for panoramic views.
- Llogara Pass: This scenic mountain pass offers stunning views of the Albanian Riviera and the Ionian Sea. Spring brings lush greenery and wildflowers, making it a perfect spot for hiking and photography.
- Lake Ohrid: Straddling the Albanian-North Macedonian border, Lake Ohrid is one of Europe's oldest and deepest lakes. Spring is a peaceful time to explore its shores, visit the town of Pogradec, and take boat trips.
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Summer in Albania (Peak Season)
Summer in Albania is the peak tourist season, and for good reason. Most people who visit Albania in the summer flock to the stunning beaches along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. If you want to experience Croatia on a shoestring budget, you really should plan your trip to Albania instead. Although the prices in the summer will be more than any other season (especially for accommodation), it'll still be cheaper than visiting other European countries. Trust me, the crystal clear waters and pebbly coastlines don't change much from country to country.
Summer is the prime time for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying various water sports. The coastal towns and cities come alive with festivals, outdoor events, and a bustling nightlife. We were living in Saranda during the transition from spring to summer and every day we saw more and more shops and restaurants open up and more people arrive to the previously quiet town.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the mountains in Albania if you're a fan of hiking or just want a respite from the coastal summer heat. One of my favorite hikes in the Balkans was the hike in Thethi National Park from the small town of Theth across a mountain range to Valbona. We did this hike mid-June and although there was a small patch of trail with some snow on it, it was melted enough to not be dangerous. The weather at that time was heating up but was cooler temperatures than you can expect later in summer in July or August.
If you're going to do some hiking or other adventurous activities, it's a good idea to have travel insurance. I mean, it's a good idea no matter what your plans are but especially so if you'll be doing anything even slightly risky.
The weather is warm and sunny and you can expect temperatures ranging from 25-35°C (77-95°F). You'll definitely want to pack your swimsuit and plan for a beach holiday if you're visiting Albania in the summer. The country has a super long coastline so there's plenty of Mediterranean beaches on the Albanian Riviera to choose from but Ksamil on the Greek border was my personal favorite.
While it's the busiest season, Albania's summer charms lie in its festive atmosphere, offering a blend of relaxation and excitement.
A Few Best Places to Visit in Summer in Albania
Although Ksamil and the Albanian Alps have my vote for summer destinations, I'd also recommend you check out:
- Dhermi: A popular coastal destination, Dhermi boasts beautiful beaches with clear waters. Summer is the prime time to enjoy the Mediterranean sun, relax on the beaches, and experience the vibrant nightlife.
- Borsh Beach: Borsh Beach is one of the longest beaches in Albania, stretching over 7 kilometers. The beach is backed by olive groves and offers a mix of sand and pebbles. It's a peaceful spot for a leisurely day by the sea.
- Gjipe Beach: Gjipe Beach is a hidden gem accessible through a hike or by boat. Nestled between towering cliffs, this beach offers a unique and secluded atmosphere. The turquoise waters and dramatic landscape make it a favorite among adventure seekers.
Fall in Albania (Shoulder Season)
Honestly, I think September and October are two of the best months to visit almost any country. You're greeted with cooler temperatures but not cold enough weather to want to keep you indoors. The crowds have dispersed but there's still enough going on to keep you entertained.
To me, the fall shoulder season is really hard to beat.
Early enough into fall, it's the perfect weather to still go swimming and enjoy the beaches. The Ionian and Adriatic Sea have been heating up all summer so the water is plenty warm enough for a dip, even if the air outside is slightly cooler than in the summer. Plus there are fewer people in town so you won't be fighting for space to lay your towel down. Just like in spring and winter, you can expect prices for accommodation to be more affordable, too.
It's also a great time for hiking in the Albanian Alps as the snow hasn't come in yet but the trails aren't quite as hot. You really can enjoy pretty much anywhere in the country at this time of the year. Plus, you'll get to enjoy the leaves changing colors and the mountainous regions dressing themselves up in oranges, reds, and yellows.
The weather in the fall season is pleasant with temperatures around 15-25°C (59-77°F). You'll want a light jacket or a sweater for the evening but otherwise you should be pretty comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt most days.
A Few of the Best Places to Visit in Fall in Albania
Ok, so I stand by what I said above that really everywhere is great to visit in fall in Albania, if I had to narrow down to a few that really shine during these months, it'd be:
- Theth: This remote mountain village becomes accessible during the fall months. It's a great time for hiking in the Albanian Alps, exploring Thethi National Park, and experiencing the changing colors of the landscape.
- Shkoder: Shkoder sits on Lake Shkoder in northern Albania, right at the border with Montenegro. It's known at the gateway to the mountains and the perfect place to base yourself for a few days before or after hiking.
- Tirana: The capital city is a year-round destination, but autumn is particularly pleasant for strolling through Skanderbeg Square, visiting museums, and enjoying the city's cafes and restaurants.
Winter in Albania (Low Season)
Winter in Albania is really for those that crave a quiet place to settle down. Unless you're in the capital city, Tirana, you can expect places to be closed for the season and most locals to stay inside and spend time with their families. If you're looking to do much of the same, you'll love Albania in the winter.
It's a great time to get really good deals on hotels or apartment rentals and enjoy the beautiful views of the landscape around you, even if outside it's as pleasant.
While the coastal areas experience milder temperatures around 8-15°C (46-59°F), the mountainous regions embrace colder weather and even snowfall, creating a scenic winter wonderland. Most people don't realize but you can actually go skiing or snowboarding in Albania in the winter. The main ski resort is Bigëll Dardha in Korça, in the southeastern most part of the country.
Now before you get too excited, it well worth noting that you'll get at best bunny slopes at these mountains and not much diversity in runs. I'd recommend instead heading over to Zlatibor, Serbia for cheap prices and beginner-friendly slopes or to Sarajevo for more diversity and advanced infrastructure.
A Few of the Best Places to Visit in Winter in Albania
- Korça: This charming town in southeastern Albania offers a cozy winter atmosphere. You can explore the local bazaar, visit the National Museum of Medieval Art, and enjoy the city's cultural scene.
- Dardha: For a winter escape, head to Dardha in the Korçë region. This village is known for its ski slopes and offers opportunities for winter sports and relaxation.
- Gjirokastër: The "City of Stone" takes on a quiet charm during winter. This is ideal for those that really want to cozy up in winter. Explore Gjirokastër Castle, visit historic houses, and enjoy traditional Albanian cuisine by the fireplace.
When Will You Visit Albania?
Now that we've covered the 4 seasons in Albania, when will you visit? For me, the best time to visit Albania depends on what you want to do in the country but if you're looking to accomplish a lot, early fall or June are my choice for the best time to visit.
Hero photo of Berat by depositphotos.com
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