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My two favourite topics are talking about solo travel (basically the point of this website!) and Albania (my favourite new country) so a guide to solo female travel in Albania was always going to drop.
I didn’t know much about Albania before visiting but I’m convinced it’s going to be the next Europe solo travel hotspot. Not only is Albania safe for solo female travellers, but it’s a beautiful and affordable country. I feel grateful to have visited while it was still a hidden gem and I’ll always think back on it as one of my best travel adventures!
Read next: the ultimate Albania travel itinerary
Is Albania good for solo travel?
Yes! Albania is a rapidly developing destination with great new hostels. Stone City in Gjirokaster is one of the best hostels I’ve stayed at (that’s a lot, by the way) with the feel of a boutique hotel and staff who make you a delicious free breakfast each morning. Given the good hostels, it was easy to make friends.
I will caveat this by saying only the main tourist destinations have hostels so if you go off-grid, you may not find backpacker hubs. But this is the same in most places.
When travelling alone in Albania, I found the locals to be helpful and friendly. Also, it was cheap enough that I could experience luxury for less when I wanted a private room.
Is Albania safe for female travellers?
Albania’s bad reputation is unfounded.
In the same way that the US sensationalizes danger in Mexico (I actually find Mexico very safe for solo travel), I believe that countries in Western Europe – particularly the UK – have long tried to convince the general public that Eastern Europe is full of seedy activity, perhaps to justify their harsh stance on immigration.
The 2008 movie Taken with Liam Neeson, set in Albania, certainly didn’t help, either!
I’d take Western media with a pinch of salt when assessing the safety of solo female travel in various countries. Especially with news, there’s always an agenda.
After travelling extensively in Albania for a month, I never once felt unsafe. After many years travelling alone, I have a good instinct when it comes to safety. It may not be the most glamorous or easy place to backpack (more about this next) but I can confirm that Albania is safe for solo female travel. I found the locals to be incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Is Albania suitable for first-time solo travellers?
I wouldn’t say Albania is the worst place for first-time solo travellers but it’s not the best either. Since local transport can be hectic to navigate (buses are hot and old-fashioned, you can’t book tickets online, there are no clear timetables, and there are often long, uphill walks between bus stations and city centres with no taxis around), you’ll have a more convenient time travelling in Western Europe.
Convenience isn’t always the number 1 thing I look for (I love an adventure) but if you’ve never travelled alone before, you may be best off somewhere with better-developed infrastructure while you adapt to the initial challenges of solo travel like making friends and getting comfortable eating alone.
Why visit Albania?
Albania is worth visiting, in my opinion, for its spectacular nature. The beaches are incredible, but so are the northern Alps. Then, there are striking canyons, rivers and waterfalls like this one below near Berat.
Also, we can’t forget the striking ‘Blue Eyes’! The most popular of these natural pools with stunning blue waters can be found on the road between Sarande and Gjirokaster, and there’s another one near Theth.
Albania is a destination that has it all because there are also wonderful towns and cities with cultural heritage, museums and fantastic food.
Despite not being my favourite city ever, Tirana is worth a visit to learn about the country’s history (the free walking tour is one of the best I’ve been on). It’s becoming a cool hub these days with third-wave coffee and international food should you need a break from hearty Albanian cuisine.
Small towns, Berat and Gjirokaster, are idyllic and totally safe for women travelling alone in Albania. More about specific destinations later…
Good things about Albania for solo travel
- It’s easy to get by with English – this is relieving because Albanian is, let’s say, quite hard. There are few expectations of foreign travellers to learn the local lingo although I do suggest learning some to be polite. I remember thanking a local in a shop in Albanian and him getting excited and teaching me the names for all the snacks. They really appreciate you trying! On that note…
- People are so friendly – Albanians are lovely people. Another time I got my fruit for free in a store after chatting with the owner. Having pleasant interactions makes solo travel much nicer
- Albania is affordable – so if you want to get your own room rather than doing dorm life, you’re not going to break the bank. Likewise, getting a taxi for one isn’t as expensive compared to solo travelling in Italy for example.
Challenging things about solo travel in Albania
- Albania is better suited for driving than taking public transport which is inconvenient for solo travellers who don’t want to hire a car solo. Don’t get me wrong, you can easily get around with public transport but buses are often hot and crowded. It’s fine for experienced solo travellers but not the most relaxing travel experience.
- Health and safety has a way to go – so if you feel uncomfortable at the idea of kayaking without life jackets etc, I’d suggest avoiding adrenaline-inducing activities while in Albania
- Old-fashioned gender attitudes & male-dominated spaces – I couldn’t help noticing spaces like bars and cafes only full of local men. Although you can just go other places, it’s clear that Albania is still a man’s world in some ways. Gender equality has a way to go but it’s worth noting I didn’t feel unsafe.
Best places to go solo in Albania
These were my fave places in Albania, as well as the ones I found easiest to visit alone as a woman.
I loved this beach town! Himara is a great place for solo travel in Albania because, although it’s still a hidden gem in many ways, there are several sociable hostels where you can make friends to embark on adventures with. The main beach is beautiful with fantastic cliffs surrounding it, and there are even better beaches to find nearby like Lambjano Bay and Mateus Beach.
Given the Greek diaspora who have settled in Himare, the food is second to none. A gang of us from the hostel returned to the same, affordable tavern each day for fresh fish, moussaka, tzatziki, stuffed aubergine and feta salad. Divine!
Safety note – everyone will tell you to visit ‘Secret Beach’ but beware that the scramble down the cliff face is essentially abseiling with no harness, and the other way to arrive is by kayaking from the main beach (and no life jackets are provided). I did this with a friend I’d made in the hostel and we nearly capsized in the choppy waters. Give it a miss!
Although there are enough things to do in Tirana to keep you busy a couple of days, the capital isn’t my favourite city. However, I enjoyed the coffee culture, food and cocktail bars!
SushiCo is amazing for Asian food, Pastaria serve cheap and delicious pasta, and Gjelber and Happy Belly are great for healthy eats. Restaurant Piceri Era and Oda are your traditional Albanian spots.
Antigua Specialty Coffee and Coffee Lab serve the best coffee. For cocktails, don’t miss Colonial, Radio Bar, Nouvelle Vague and Komiteti Kafe Muzeum.
In terms of attractions in Tirana, the free walking tour here is an incredible walk through history. Between the 1940s and 80s, Albania was cut off from the world under a devastating communist dictatorship which is fascinating to learn about. The House of Leaves is a captivating museum covering the same period.
Is the capital safe for solo travel in Albania? Yes, I felt safe visiting Tirana alone as a woman. However, like most countries, the capital has the highest crime rates. I would suggest getting taxis rather than walking alone at night and watching your bag in crowded places to guard against pickpockets.
Gjirokaster is easily my favourite place in Albania. This small, colourful city with Ottoman influence is known for its crafts bazaar, cobbled streets and regional cuisine. The impressive Gjirokaster Castle offers the best views for miles around.
If you’re still wondering whether Albania is safe for solo female travel, you only need to take a glance at this idyllic, peaceful place and I think you have your answer! There’s no danger here apart from overeating and overshopping!
Although wandering, eating and soaking up the vibe are the primary activities in town, there are several historic things to do in Gjirokaster including touring the castle museum, visiting the preserved Ottoman houses (Zakate and Skenduli) to learn about the past residents and culture, and venturing underground into the Cold War bunker.
Note – you MUST stay at Stone City. It’s been voted the best hostel in Albania and I’d add the Balkans and possibly Europe. I loved it!
Berat isn’t dissimilar to Gjirokaster in size and nature (a charming, small historic city) and, although I slightly preferred Gjirokaster for the city itself, I loved the nature around Berat.
Bogove Waterfall and Osum Canyon are real highlights, easily visited as part of a day trip from any hostel or tour operator. Berat is also one of the best places to try Albanian wine: there are plenty of beautiful venues in the countryside where you can sip locally-produced wine, served with figs, olives and other regional delicacies.
Since the wineries are best reached by car, you might wonder how this works for solo travellers in Albania. Well, the hostel I stayed in, Maya, organised the trip so it was super easy!
This is a pleasant and safe city with great cafes and a fantastic hostel, Wanderers, where you’re bound to make friends. But the real reason people visit Shkoder is as a launching point for hiking adventures in the Albanian Alps (more about this next).
It’s also a convenient place to transfer to Montenegro if you’re completing a larger backpacking Balkans itinerary.
This was somewhere I didn’t visit but have since heard good things about. This quaint village on the Albanian Riviera between Vlore and Himare boasts cobbled streets, white houses and ocean views (and for a fraction of the price of Santorini!). I’ll send you to this guide to Dhermi for expert tips!
Places not so good for solo travel in Albania (but don’t rule them out!)
The following places weren’t so straightforward to visit alone. But I figured it out so you don’t have to…
The Theth to Valbona hike in Northern Albania was one of the highlights of my year. The Albanian Alps are so underrated and beautiful. Even getting there on the ferry provides jaw-dropping scenery!
Hiking may not be the best solo travel activity because it can be dangerous if you get lost or hurt yourself. Luckily, for solo female travellers in Albania, there’s a great way to do this hike that’s safe and affordable…
I booked the excursion through Wanderers Hostel in Shkoder, the nearest city to the Alps. Since the hike includes two overnight stays (one in Valbona and one in Theth), you can take a day pack and leave your main luggage at the hostel. They booked my homestays and all my transport.`
It couldn’t have been easier… Well, apart from packing super light into a day pack knowing I didn’t want to trek with too much weight. Overpackers, this may not be the excursion for you!
In regards to the hike itself, you automatically have a group to hike with because other travellers are booked into your guesthouses by the Wanderers Hostel.
Saying that, half the people in my group were too fast for me and half too slow, so I ended up doing most of the hike alone. Although there are tough bits, the trail is easy to follow and not so deserted you feel uneasy. So it’s safe for solo female travellers in Albania! The guesthouse and other hikers were expecting me which made me feel secure.
You can’t research Albania travel without the popular beach town of Sarande (Saranda) popping up, or the luxe destination of Ksamil down the peninsular. However, I don’t rate either: Sarande has more of a holiday resort feel, better suited to partiers in groups or families. The only decent hostel is SR Backpackers (run by the legendary Tommy) which books up far in advance.
I visited Ksamil for a day trip and didn’t find the luxurious vibe to be suitable for the average solo traveller. The staff wouldn’t let me pay for one lounger (only two beds and an umbrella, which are overpriced to begin with). The beaches have little natural shade so just sitting on the beach for free isn’t an option.
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend Sarande or Ksamil for solo travel in Albania. They’re better suited to other traveller demographics.
Saying that, Sarande is a good launching point for the beautiful Blue Eye if you don’t have your own car. So it might be worth a visit for that alone.
Cost of travelling Albania solo
There are some solo travel destinations that are costly for one due to a lack of decent hostels or limited public transport. Luckily, Albania isn’t one of those places because there are hostels in every tourist hub, all of which are connected by regular bus services.
Compared to Western Europe, I think you’ll find Albania surprisingly affordable, in line with other Balkan countries like Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Bosnia & Herzegovina (and cheaper than travelling solo in Croatia and Montenegro, the more popular Balkan destinations). But I can’t promise how long this will last as Albania grows in popularity each year!
- Tourist attractions (museums etc) – 200-300 lek
- Intercountry bus rides – 400-800 lek
- Bed in a hostel dorm – 1,500-2,500 lek
- Budget hotel room – from 3,000 lek
- Theth homestay inc 3 meals – 2,500 lek
- Meal in a restaurant – 300-600 lek
- Glass of wine – 150-300 lek
- Coffee – 100 lek.
Overall, my Albania travel budget usually worked out about €50 a day after hostel dorm accommodation, three restaurant meals, at least one coffee, entry to attractions and the odd souvenir. You could definitely spend less or more!
Getting to Albania
Most travellers will fly into the capital, Tirana. Flights from other European cities start from €15. Browse flights to Tirana with Skyscanner, selecting ‘whole month’ (if you can be flexible) to get the best prices.
However, if you’re already in the Balkans, there are other ways to arrive and depart. Flixbus is a reliable bus service for Europe travel, connecting Tirana with Skopje (North Macedonia), Podgorica and Kotor (Montenegro), and Dubrovnik (Croatia).
Flixbus only connects the capital but there are local services from other cities, best booked at bus stations. For example, I arrived in Sarande from North Macedonia’s lake town, Ohrid (although this was a long journey) and exited Shkoder for Ulcinj in Montenegro.
Getting around Albania
Car hire: If you are confident hiring a car solo, I’d recommend Rentalcars.com. Calculate the costs and work out if the convenience is worth it for you because public transport will likely be cheaper.
Buses: the bus network is reliable although you have to be a little flexible. It’s best to ask locals, for example at your accommodation, where and when the bus goes from because there’s little online. The gjirafa website sometimes has accurate info.
Hitchhiking: although this doesn’t sound especially safe for solo travellers in Albania (or anywhere really), it’s a popular way to get around. I did it several times when I was with someone from my hostel en route to the same place. I’m not sure I’d have done it totally solo!
Taxis: for inner city journies, you can get into taxis off the street.
Best hostels in Albania for solo female travellers
If you’re concerned about the safety of solo travelling in Albania, I can assure you the hostels are great.
Generally, I find hostels safe around the world because the same demographic of young, open-minded folk look out for each other. The staff also have your back more than hotels which feel less personalised. Hostels have a community feel around the world and Albania is no exception!
How to meet people travelling alone in Albania
This is largely the same as anywhere and I have a whole blog post about how to meet people traveling solo. A quick summary for Albania is:
- In hostels – check the reviews to see if past guests mention a fun vibe or a calmer, boutique-style hostel. The photos are also often a giveaway
- On buses – both locals and tourists take Albanian buses so it’s easy to spot yellow foreign backpackers. Since you’re headed to the same destination, make convo at rest stops; they may be staying in your next hostel or you may exchange numbers to meet up on arrival
- Activities – get chatting on free walking tours, day trips (for example to the canyon and wineries in Berat) etc
- Tirana bars – there are lots of cool cocktail bars in the capital. As a solo traveller, I feel more comfortable in this kind of space solo than a club, for example. Maybe you’ll get chatting to some cool travellers or locals!
Best season for Albania travel
Although it gets really hot (up to 40 degrees during my August trip), you can visit Albania in the summer without breaking the bank or needing to book accommodation months ahead, something that’s virtually impossible in Western Europe these days.
So it’s a great summer solo destination in Europe if you don’t want to deal with the prices and crowds of Greece or Italy! However, I’m not sure how long this will last as it’s growing in popularity each year…
The shoulder seasons of spring (April-June) and autumn (September-October) are great times to visit with lower temperatures and prices and fewer crowds.
Going in winter (November-Febuary) is possible but expect temperature lows of 0 many places to be closed. The beaches are off limits and so is hiking in the Alps.
How long to spend in Albania? Well, I spent a month in Albania and it was not too long! But I’m aware not everyone has that much time. I would recommend spending 2 weeks in Albania to get a feel for the diverse scenery and have time to visit beaches, cities and mountains. With a week, prioritse just 1-3 places.
Can you drink the tap water in Albania? The jury’s out on this one. I did so and felt fine but many people will tell you not to. Ideally, drink bottled or filtered water especially if you have a sensitive stomach.
What is the language? Locals speak Albanian which is an unusual language with no close relatives. Perhaps because of this, many Albanians speak English, too.
What is the currency? It is lek and it’s easy to calculate because 100 lek approximately equals €10 so just knock a zero off.
What to wear during solo travel in Albania? Whatever you want! Although Albania is a predominantly Muslim nation, it’s not very conservative so you don’t have to cover up as you would in the Middle East for example (unless you go inside a mosque of course). I generally just wore what I would in the UK… Well, in our rare 2 weeks of summer!
Should you tip? Albania doesn’t have a big tipping culture but 10% will certainly be appreciated especially since local wages are low.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you have a better idea of whether Albania is safe for solo female travellers. I think you know by now my answer is YES it is! Have a fantastic trip and ask me any questions in the comments…
Read more solo travel guides:
- 101 solo female travel tips
- How to take photos while travelling solo
- 10 benefits to solo travel
- Pros and cons of travelling alone
- Solo travel vs group tours
Guides to solo travel in Europe:
- The perfect solo trip to Lisbon
- Is Portugal safe for solo female travel?
- Complete guide to solo travel in Croatia
- Solo female Italy travel
- Is it safe to travel to Romania solo?
Solo travel in the Americas:
- A solo travellers guide to New York
- Is Cuba safe for solo travel?
- Mexico solo travel guide
- Solo female travel in Belize
- Guatemala solo travel guide
Guides to solo female travel in Southeast Asia:
- Solo travel in Bali
- Where to travel solo in Vietnam
- What to know about solo female Malaysia travel
- Thailand solo travel guide
- Solo Taiwan travel
- How to stay safe as a solo traveller in India
TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING ALBANIA
Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner and search by month to see the cheapest dates.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
For buses around Europe, I use Flixbus. It doesn’t connect cities in Albania but it does connect Tirana to other European capitals.
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide and Viator.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!