An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983.
Small group escorted tours to Albania. Places of interest for like minded travellers who are curious.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Buses are cheap and commonplace in Albania, and are a fairly convenient way to get around. Furgons (privately run minibuses) are also common, though they tend to become crowded and and timetables are not always strictly followed by drivers. The rail network is quite limited, so taking the train might not make the best option for transportation.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Much of Albania is comprised of hills and mountains, with several mountain ranges, such as the Albanian Alps, the Sharr Mountains, the Pindus Mountains, and the Ceraunian Mountains running down the length of the country. Numerous rivers run through the country, the longest of which is the Drin, which flows for 285 kilometres. Despite being a relatively small country, Albania is home to a diverse array of wildlife, with 799 protected areas in Albania.
Albania experiences variations in climate, depending on the region – the coastal areas tend to experience hot summers and cool winters, while the mountainous areas feature short, mild summers and cold winters. Depending on when and where you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World heritage sites
Albania has 3 properties listed on the World Heritage List, with a further 4 listed on the Tentative List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/al). The listed properties include:
Butrint, an archaelogical site containing the ruins of previous settlements of Greeks, Romans and Byzantines
Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra, which preserve the architectural styles characteristic of the Ottoman period
Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests, which stand as a prime example of undisturbed temperate forests and the remarkable ecological patterns characteristic to this tree species
Festivals & Events
Albania celebrates its heritage and cultural traditions through several festivals and events throughout the year. Every year, the National Festival of Urban Folk Songs is held in March, with the traditional folk songs and music of Albania celebrated through the staging of live performances and recitals. The Gjirokaster Folk Festival is another event of national significance – held every 5 years, it showcases traditional Albanian clothing, music, dance, and arts. More contemporary-minded events include the International Festival of Modern and Contemporary Dance and the Tirana International Film Festival.
Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy in Europe, by Fred Abrahams
The Albanians: A Modern History, by Miranda Vickers
Albanian Folktales and Legends, by Robert Elsie,
Broken April, by Ismail Kadare
Eating & Drinking
Dairy, seafood, and meat feature prominently in Albanian cuisine. Yogurt, whether sweet or sour, frequently appears in Albanian dishes, including tavë kosi, which is lamb baked in an earthenware dish with eggs and yogurt. Seafood is widely available and consumed along Albania’s coastline, with mussels, shrimp, fish and grilled octopus featuring prominently in Albanian coastal food. Meats are important part of Albanian cooking, whether grilled and skewered, cooked as a stew or ground up and eaten as meatballs (kofta). Perhaps the most popular dish in Albania is byrek, which is made from sheets of filo pastry layered over spinach, cheese, and meat.
Like elsewhere in the southern Balkans, rakia (fruit brandy) is popularly consumed and is served as an apertif. Coffee remains a central part of social life in Albania, with Turkish coffee being particularly popular.
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Albania is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Albania’s electricity supply runs at 230V and 50Hz. Albania uses Type C and Type F electric plugs, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Albania has a single time zone, Central European Standard Time (UTC+1). Daylight savings in Albania commence on the last Sunday of March, and conclude on the last Sunday of October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not particularly common in Albania, though is appreciated. That said, it is reasonably common to round up the bill for restaurants or taxis.
Wifi should be freely available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Albania. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Albania
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of lekë in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing on your trip, contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.