Hello fellow cadets and others!
I have just returned from a fantastic trip to southern Albania. A group of friends and I rented an apartment in Saranda, Albania and used it as our base. There were some days we took day trips and others where we did absolutely nothing. I stuck around a few days longer with Mike to make a couple of extra trips around southern Albania. I have to say I am quite impressed with that area and even more satisfied with the time of the year we went. This post will list some reasons why you should visit southern Albania in late September.
1. The weather is fantastic
The temperature for the entire 11 days I spent in Southern Albania stayed between 24-29 degrees Celsius ( 75-83 Fahrenheit ). We had only one day where the weather was less than satisfactory, even that day the sun came out to make a brief appearance. The evenings were comfortable as well.
I have never understood why people want to flock to the Mediterranean in the pea of the summer months, aside from families with kids in school who have no choice. I’ve been to Greece, Albania, and Croatia in August in the past and had to say I prefer this time a hundred times more. Being originally from the deep south, I have had my fill of 40 degree summers.
2. You are not stuck with lots of other tourists
Despite the weather being perfect, we nearly had the entire southern coast of Albania to ourselves. We saw a German backpacker or two now and then. There were a few handfuls of people from some cruise ship one or two days in Sarande. The Albanian Riviera was basically empty. I was wondering if there were some flesh-eating bacteria found in the water or something.
Seriously where is everyone?
Even in its high season, Albania doesn’t have a high number of tourist as many places in Europe. Mike and I took the ferry to Corfu to catch our flights, the minute we arrived loads of tourists surrounded us, and it wasn’t high season.
3. Well, Southern Albania is lovely to visit ANY time of the year anyway so just go!
Southern Albania is just a great place to visit in general at any time of the year. The people are amiable and don’t treat you like you are some walking atm or some tourist that is just passing through.
It is an inexpensive country, and you can have a nice trip there on a budget. You can get a plate of freshly grilled seafood for 5-7 euro. A traditional Albanian meal goes for around 2-3 euros. A beer is about 1 euro, and a glass of wine runs about 3 euros. A raki ( Albanian ouzo) is less than 2 euros if you are brave enough. These are just restaurant prices in Saranda. The prices are less in other places.
The landscape is just stunning. Some beaches will make you feel like you are in Southeast Asia. If mountains are your more thing, you can have that too.
The infrastructure is a bit behind most places in Europe, but it is manageable if you are patient and have a good sense of humor. The people are more than helpful and happy to show you the proper furgon (minibus)you need to take to get somewhere. While Albanians are not known for being the most organized, they do have some level of efficiency when it comes to tracking down missing items. I left my phone in an unmarked taxi cab while returning from a day trip in Saranda. I realized it 2 seconds after the guy left and went on full panic mode. As it had been several weeks since I updated my cloud and I had some work and pictures that were not backed up. This other driver that drove some of my friends back to Saranda offered to help me reach by trying to reach the other driver. While he didn’t know the driver, he managed to track him down by calling a friend of his that knew this guy from his 2002 Nokia phone. I thought this was impossible, but I had nothing to lose. The driver drove me a little bit outside of the city, and we would wait for him. At first, I thought he was crazy but low and behold my taxi driver met us there, and my phone was returned 20-25 minutes after the entire ordeal. If this had happened in a Prague uber or Flix bus, I would have had to go to some online lost and found database and probably never see it again. I’m sure the infrastructure will improve over time as well. I was surprised at how different it was from the first time I went in 2014. More people visit there than in the past, and the Albanian economy is gradually improving. I’m sure in the future, it will rival its Greek, Montenegrin and Croatian counterparts in tourism.
So if you are bored with the same choices of places to go every summer, check out Albania. If you aren’t stuck with school-age kids and want a nice peaceful trip, go at the end of summer. If you are stuck with school-age kids, go there anyway even in the summer. It’s great.
Thanks for reading, Y’all. Stay tuned next time for a post that goes into greater detail on destinations you must see in southern Albania!