Albania is famous for its pristine beaches, dreamy cobblestone villages, and budget-friendly prices — but that’s not all. In recent years, it’s also become a popular hotspot for digital nomads!
While many people rave about other digital nomad destinations in the Balkans (I’m looking at you, Montenegro and Croatia), Albania is also making big headlines lately.
In fact, Albania has a lot going for it: it’s centrally located yet not in the EU, has an excellent mix of beaches and nature, and is one of the most budget-friendly countries in Europe.
Sounds nice, right? That’s exactly what I thought when we were looking for our next digital nomad homebase. I was already imagining chilling on a beach in Saranda, strolling between the charming white houses of Berat, and sipping some ice coffee while cranking out work for clients.
So you can imagine that one of the biggest questions before I came here was, Is Albania good for digital nomads?
… And that’s exactly what this blog post is all about! After nearly maxing out our allowed 90 days in the country, we have a much better idea of what it’s like to be digital nomads in Albania.
Keep reading if you’ve also been considering Albania as your next destination!
ALBANIA FOR DIGITAL NOMADS: OVERVIEW
Internet 4/5 — Fast speeds at low prices, great WiFi in cafes, and some free public WiFi availability as well.
Cafes and coworking spaces 3/5 — Large cities have a decent amount of work-friendly cafes and there are a few local chains (Mon Cheri and Mulliri Vjeter). However, many don’t accept credit cards. There are about a dozen coworking spaces in Albania.
Prices 4/5 — One of the most budget-friendly destinations I’ve been to so far 🙂
Language 4.5/5 — Almost everyone speaks English (and even a third language, like Greek, Italian, or German)
Convenience 1.5/5 — Not quite convenient for digital nomads, unfortunately. Credit cards aren’t accepted in majority of places and intercity transportation sucks.
Atmosphere 3/5 — Friendly and hospitable locals and a decent amount of tourist attractions (including 4 UNESCO sites). Tirana and other large cities have some urbanization issues (air pollution, dust, uneven pavement).
Safety 4/5 — Despite some negative stereotypes, I never felt unsafe in Albania (except that one time our bus had a tire blow out )
Overall Nomad Score: 3/5
Budget-friendly prices — Albania has a firm spot on typical listicle articles like ‘10 Cheapest Countries to Visit in Europe,’ and it’s no surprise why. Depending on your savviness, you can spend as little as $500 per month (including rent and groceries).
Not in the European Union — Albania is not part of the EU and, therefore, a stay here does not count towards your days in the Schengen Zone. This is a great option for digital nomads who want to save their 90 day allowance (or have already used it and are looking for a country to chill out until their clock restarts!)
Conveniently Located — Speaking of traveling… Albania is bordered by four countries and territories — Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Greece — and has ferries to Italy. If you’re planning to be a digital nomad in the Balkans, you’ll be well connected while living in Albania.
Fresh and Delicious Products — Some of the freshest and juiciest fruits and veggies I’ve tried in my life were in Albania. There is a nice variety of food, including influences from Italian, Greek, and European cuisines.
Not too many tourists — Everybody hates these two overused phrases, but I’m going to go ahead and write them anyway Albania is still very much off the beaten path and a hidden gem in Europe. The only time you’ll encounter tourists is during the summer, and they usually flock to the coast. We spent almost 3 months in Albania during spring and I could count on one hand the amount of other tourists we’ve seen.
Sandy Beaches and Crystal-clear Water— If you’re looking to do the whole lounging on a sunbed, drinking a pina colada and typing away on your laptop at the beach thing, South Albania should definitely be on your itinerary.
Power Outages — Not as bad as in Nepal, for example, but this may be annoying for people who need to be connected all the time (i.e. video meetings). The electricity usually goes out for 10 to 20 mins max, and it’s usually in the morning.
Infrastructure issues — Out of 60+ countries that I’ve been to, Albania is at the bottom of my list when it comes to convenient transportation.
There are no updated bus schedules anywhere (including the bus station, ironically), direct routes are lacking, and tickets can’t be pre-purchased. If you want the full story, check out the ‘By Bus’ section below.
Credit cards not widely accepted — This is going to be a common issue throughout my blog post, but about 80% of establishments we went to (i.e. cafes, restaurants, small stores) didn’t take credit cards.
With the pros and cons in mind, Albania earns a solid 3 out of 5 as a digital nomad destination. If it sounds like I’m salty about this country, I’m not.
I quite enjoyed our time in Albania, and believe that within a few years, it’ll definitely improve (i.e. please accept more credit cards and work on bus schedules ) and be even better!
THE BASICS: BEING A DIGITAL NOMAD IN ALBANIA
When to go
Before planning your digital nomad life in Albania, it’s important to figure out which season works best for you. Just like neighboring countries, Albania has all four seasons.
Personally speaking, I highly recommend going during the shoulder seasons, which are Spring (March through mid-June) and Autumn (September through the beginning of November).
The peak tourist season in Albania is mid-June through the end of August, which means lots of tourist crowds (especially along the Albanian Riviera)!
Our digital nomad stay in Albania happened between March through June and I can personally vouch for spring. The weather was fantastic during the entire time we were there, which allowed us to explore Tirana and other cities (like Berat and Elbasan) without getting sunburnt or tired.
If you’re thinking of visiting Albania during the low season, you’ll be able to snag major discounts with accommodations, especially around the coast. However, keep in mind that, since it’s off season, some restaurants and cafes might not work.
If you’re worried about the language barrier in Albania, don’t be! You have absolutely nothing to worry about, as the majority of Albanians speak English or another second language.
In fact, kids have mandatory English classes starting from elementary school, and the majority of young adults we spoke with could easily hold a conversation.
Besides English, many Albanians are fluent in another language, such as German, Italian, and Greek (especially closer to the south). Older generations might know French and Russian, since these languages were taught during the communism era.
In any case, Google Translate has an Albanian language option in case you get stuck or need to figure out what you’re buying at the supermarket. 🙂
Fun fact: There are more Albanian speakers outside the country than inside Albania.
Albania is one of the most affordable countries in Europe and a great place to stay as a budget friendly-nomad.
To put it in perspective, we (2 people) paid $710/month to rent a studio apartment in Tirana and $430 for almost 3 weeks in Vlore. Both places were right near the city center, fully furnished, and had comfortable amenities (stocked kitchen, washing machine, etc).
We spent, on average, about $70 per week on groceries, mainly by going to grocery stores like SPAR and Conad (an Italian chain), plus another $50 to $75 per week to work in cafes and eat out in restaurants.
Of course, this can be much cheaper depending on your lifestyle, which place you rent (more on that in the RENT & ACCOMMODATIONS section), and your eating habits.
Overall, you can expect the cost of living in Albania as a digital nomad to be around $600 to $900 per month.
Visa & Residency
Albania has a very generous visa policy, which is perfect if you’re planning to come and stay here for a while.
If you hold a US passport, you’re in luck — American citizens are allowed to stay in Albania for up to 1 year without a visa!
Likewise, citizens of European Union countries, as well as Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and 50+ other countries may stay in Albania for a maximum of 90 days without a visa.
There are talks of an Albanian digital nomad visa, but, as of 2022, it’s still a draft law.
BEST DIGITAL NOMAD CITIES IN ALBANIA
Whether it’s the buzzing capital or a relaxing seaside escape, a UNESCO-listed town, or a quaint cobblestoned city, you’ll find many amazing Albanian cities for digital nomads. Here’s a quick primer:
Tirana, the capital, is probably the best city for digital nomads in Albania.
It’s especially great if you’re just starting out, as you’ll be able to get a feel for the culture and lifestyle while still having access to basic necessities.
Tirana has everything that you need to live comfortably, including grocery stores, farmers markets, shopping centers, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs, parks, and so on. There’s also a sizable expat group and a growing list of digital nomads.
The downsides are air pollution and noise; uneven pavement and roads in some areas; and stray dogs. However, these won’t bother you on a daily basis.
My favorite places in Tirana:
Antigua Specialty Coffee — Hands down, one of the best coffee shops to work from in Albania. No matter what you choose, it’s going to be delicious — and they have specialty coffee! Plenty of space, comfortable seating, and just an overall amazing atmosphere. Also, they take credit cards!
Harli Kafe — Located a few minutes away from the main square, Harli Kafe is a hidden gem (literally). I think because of its obscure location, there aren’t too many visitors at any given time, which makes it a perfect place to work or study.
Food — Golosa and Oxhakët for pizza and Italian food, ejona for Mediterranean and unique gastronomy, Serafina for brunch, and Stephen Center for American and Mexican food.
Grand Park of Tirana — A huge park that’s perfect to stroll and chill out after working.
As the second largest city in Albania, Durres is the perfect mix of city life and seaside. It’s less than an hour from Tirana and offers a nice stretch of beach, historical ruins, and a charming center. As a bonus, there are a ton of modern and work-friendly cafes around the city.
Although we didn’t have much expectations for Vlore, it blew us away. Honestly, Vlore is such an underrated digital nomad hub, and it became my favorite city in Albania towards the end of our time in the country. There’s a nice seaside promenade, a sizable town center, plenty of cafes and restaurants, and even some nice beaches. What more could you want?
My favorite places in Vlore:
Mon Cheri — The best cafe to do work. Seriously. The drinks are delicious (they have small snacks as well), there’s a huge comfortable table with electric plugs, and the atmosphere is peaceful and productive.
Novus – While it looks upscale, Novus is actually a buffet-style restaurant with delicious homemade food. Seriously, we ate here almost every day and even took takeout for lunch. Pro tip: The spinach breakfast casserole is fantastic 🙂
Bold Bistro – We worked here the first few days (before discovering there was a Mon Cheri right next to our apartment lol) and it’s a great restaurant specializing in grilled meats and comfort food.
Mulliri Vjeter – Whenever we were walking back to our place and needed a caffeinated drink, Mulliri was always there. The drinks are delicious and the employees are super friendly at this place!
If there was an award for the most charming city in Albania, Korce would be a strong contender. Known as the City of Serenades, Korce is also famous for being the cultural heart of the country and hosts art exhibitions, festivals, concerts, and events.
Thanks to its location in eastern Albania, Korce is also an excellent digital nomad hub if you’re planning to travel to other Balkan countries. In fact, Korce is only 50 km (31 mi) to border with North Macedonia and 35 km (22 mi) to the border with Greece
If you’re visiting outside of peak tourist season, Saranda (also known as Sarande) is an excellent choice. You’ll be able to take advantage of off-season prices (how does a seafront apartment for $350/month sound? ) and enjoy less crowds.
Also known as the capital of northern Albania, Skoder is a hidden gem (there’s that word again) with a distinctly European feel. Another bonus is that it’s just a short drive to Montenegro. Check out one of my favorite cities (Ulcinj) if you decide to hop over the border!
Of course, you can choose whichever city speaks to you, but be aware of infrastructure and transport. A good example of this is Berat — it was my favorite city in Albania, but because we rely heavily on our credit cards, it wasn’t a good match in the long run. 🙁
RENT & ACCOMMODATIONS
Although Albania is still a fairly ‘off the beaten path’ destination compared to other European countries, the price of rent and accommodation is comparable to its Balkan neighbors.
Average Cost of Accommodations in Albania
When we arrived in Albania in March 2022, we rented a 35 m2 studio in the center of Tirana for $710 per month through Airbnb. This was comparable to other places listed on Airbnb, which were between $600 to $850/month.
After exploring a few cities in between, we settled in the southern Albanian city of Vlore. We rented a 30 m2 studio with a spacious balcony (that had a gorgeous view of the sea — see the photo above!) for 17 days, and it came out to $430. There was also free weekly cleaning included but we opted out. 🙂
What to Keep in Mind
When looking for accommodations in Albania (especially as a digital nomad), keep in mind that you can save a fair amount of money by scouting through Facebook groups or asking locals. One-bedroom apartments in Tirana can be as low as $350/month if you know where to look. However, one downside is that landlords typically want someone for a longer term (i.e. 6 months or more).
If you prefer to embrace the budget-friendly nomad life, you can get accommodations even cheaper — hostel beds start at just $5/night, or $150/month!
Another important thing to consider is that Albania is quite seasonal. If you’re looking for a place along the coast (i.e. Saranda, Vlore, Durres, Ksamil, etc) during the summer, you might pay a hefty premium. One friend said her apartment tripled in price once June came around.
TLDR: If you’re just starting to plan your digital nomad trip to Albania or are planning to stay in one city for a long time, you can save a nice chunk of money by looking through local groups for rentals.
FOOD & DRINK
Thanks to its location on the map, the cuisine in Albania is a delicious mix of Italian, Greek, and Balkan food. In fact, you’ll see pizza and pasta on almost every menu, and maybe even souvlaki and grilled meats (especially in southern Albania).
Best of all, the produce in Albania is super fresh and organic thanks to the many farms and orchards found around the country (agriculture is the second biggest industry in the country!)
Seriously, if you have some free time, I highly recommend visiting a local bazaar or farmer’s market at least once and buying some fruits and vegetables — you won’t regret it. I ate some of the most delicious strawberries in my life, which I bought from a friendly lady in the Pazari i Ri in Tirana. 🙂
Restaurants & Eating Out
There’s a nice mix of restaurants, bistros, and cafes around Albania, with the most ‘gastronomic’ options in Tirana (i.e. fusion food, international cuisine, etc).
You’ll typically find a smorgasbord of Albanian, Italian, and Balkan food on most menus. As always, make sure to ask about credit cards before ordering.
Groceries & Cooking at home
Like I mentioned before, Albania has delicious and fresh produce.
There’s at least one farmer’s market or bazaar in every city, as well as smaller mom and pop shops.
In Tirana and other major cities, you’ll also find large grocery stores like Spar, Conad (a popular Italian chain), and Big Market (an Albanian chain).
The only food delivery service in Albania is Baboon, which currently operates in 4 cities: Tirana, Durres, Vlore, and Korca. There are also a few smaller companies, such as ToGo, but they don’t seem to have as much market share. Likewise, some places offer the option of calling the restaurant and ordering directly.
If you’re thinking of ordering delivery, there’s no need to worry. The majority of delivery drivers speak English fluently, and if they don’t, they’ll hand over the phone to a coworker that does. In the dozen or so times we ordered food, we had zero issues.
However, the biggest issue is — you guessed it — that deliveries are cash only. Be sure to have some money on hand before placing your order!
Cafes, Coworking & More
Just like the rest of its Balkan neighbors, Albania is very into cafe culture. From leisurely sitting and chatting with friends, reading a book, or stopping by for a quick latte, there’s a cafe designed for every need — including digital nomad-friendly cafes. 🙂
Tirana, just like any good capital, has a fantastic up-and-coming cafe scene. Many cafes are suitable for work and have a good amount of electric outlets, quiet music, and comfortable seating (and, of course, an extensive menu of caffeinated drinks!)
The only downside, as noted before, is that not all cafes take credit cards. Keep this in mind and ask beforehand to avoid problems.
Besides many small mom-and-pop cafes, there are two popular cafe chains in Albania.
The first Mulliri i Vjeter (old windmill), has 20+ cafes, mainly in Tirana and along the coast. The menu has a large variety of coffee, tea, and smoothie drinks, plus bite-sized snacks (sandwiches, muffins, doughnuts). There’s also Mulliri Plus near the center of Tirana, which is a fully functioning restaurant.
The second chain is Mon Cheri. While it’s newer, Mon Cheri has more locations around Albania, including a ton in Tirana, plus Vlore, Korce, Durres, Fier, Elbasan, and even international hubs in Kosovo and Hungary. 🙂
If you’re looking for the best cafes to work from in Albania, I mentioned a few of my favorites under the BEST DIGITAL NOMAD CITIES IN ALBANIA header above.
Although being a digital nomad is still quite uncommon in Albania, there are about a dozen or so coworking spaces in the country. The majority are centered in Tirana, the capital, with one or two coworking spaces in smaller cities like Durres and Korce.
You can expect to pay around $5 to $10 for a day pass, or around $100 to $150 per month.
Some of the most popular coworking spaces in Tirana include Innospace, Collab, Destil, and Dutch Hub.
The internet speed in Albania is fairly average, and I consistently had speeds of 19 download / 5 upload in different parts of the country.
Do keep in mind that power outages may be common (it happened about 4 times during the month we stayed in Tirana), but they usually last only a few minutes.
The SIM cards in Albania were very good in terms of the price to quality ratio. We paid about 1,500 LEK ($13 USD) for a Vodafone SIM card that included 3,000 minutes, 1,500 SMS, and 21 GB of internet for 30 days. It was also easy to top up data on the same SIM card — just walk into any store, pick the amount you need, and voila. 🙂
If you’re arriving at Tirana International Airport (TIA), there are two telecom kiosks in the lobby area: Vodafone and One. You can also find them all around the city.
Not an actual form of transport, but still pretty cool 😉
GETTING AROUND ALBANIA
If you’re planning to travel around Albania, you’ll most likely fit into one of two categories: using the bus or renting a car. Here’s everything you need to know about getting from Point A to Point B:
Albania has two working airports: Tirana International Airport (TIA) and Kukës International Airport Zayed (KFZ). There’s also talks of a new airport being built in south Albania (near Vlore), but it’s going to be a few years before that airport is functional.
There’s a 95% chance you’ll end up arriving at Tirana Airport, since Kukës is much smaller and only has 5 seasonal routes.
If you’re planning to start off your digital nomad adventure in Tirana, there are airport shuttles that leave every half hour or so and go to Skanderbeg Square in the heart of the capital.
If you’re planning to go elsewhere, there are scheduled buses that go to popular cities like Vlore, Saranda, and more.
However, that’s not all — there’s actually a really cool lifehack that you can also use to get to south Albania without spending a bunch of time in transit. Just take a flight to Corfu (a Greek island that’s only 40 km from Albania) and then a 30-minute speedboat to Saranda. Voila!
Best of all, there are about a dozen flights to Corfu every day — Check tickets to Corfu here.
In a nutshell, Albania has a long and complicated history with its rail transport.
It was the only country in Europe not to have any rail service before the 1940s, and, after Enver Hoxha came into power, it was the main (and only) form of transportation, because cars weren’t allowed.
After Hoxha died and communism fell in Albania, the 400+ km (250 mi) railway network also fell into disrepair, and unfortunately never recovered.
TLDR: Albania doesn’t really have train transport, except for a few small lines, so don’t count on it. However, some parts are being renovated and (hopefully!) there will be more opportunities to take the train in the future.
Lovely views of the Albanian countryside from a bus window 🙂
If you love adventures and/or spontaneity, you’ll love Albania’s intercity buses.
No, seriously, traveling Albania by bus is like a mini journey in itself. Like I mentioned in the beginning of this blog post, using buses isn’t for the faint of heart. Let me tell you why…
In most cities, there isn’t a ‘bus station’ per se — it’s usually just a huge parking lot with a bunch of mini buses (also known as furgon) parked and waiting for passengers. If you’re not sure which platform to wait at, no worries. One of the bus drivers will usually walk up to you, ask where you’re going, and direct you to the proper place.
Okay, okay, that’s not too bad, you think. But wait, there’s more.
There are no set bus schedules. That’s right — you won’t find any bus schedules online, and the ones that are posted at the bus station may not be working any more.
We ran into this issue when we were planning to travel from Berat to Vlore. When we got to the bus station it said that there were direct buses every hour, but unfortunately the route was canceled on that day. () So instead we had to go Berat -> Lushnjë -> hitchhike until we found a taxi that was also going to Vlore -> the taxi got a flat tire in the middle of the road -> were picked up by a furgon -> finally made it to Vlore.
Speaking of routes, that brings me to the third point: sometimes, there is a lack of direct routes. Granted, this is if you’re planning to go from one end of the country to the other. It’s better to break up a longer journey into smaller pieces if you want to take advantage of the most convenient routes (and see more of the country!)
Last but not least, furgons typically leave when they’re full, so don’t be surprised if it’s past the departure time and you’re still chilling in the parking lot.
Whew, that was a wall of text! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not salty at all — it was fun to travel Albania by bus and see the beautiful countryside, but just make sure you’re well-prepared in advance. 🙂
Last but certainly not least, the best way to see Albania on your own schedule (and convenience!) is to rent a car.
Renting a car in Albania is the easiest way to get around — the major roads are in great condition, the country is fairly compact (it’s only 5 hours from Tirana to Saranda), and you can stop for as many breaks as you like.
If you’re planning to be based in one city as a digital nomad, you could rent a car for the weekend and easily do multiple trips across the country — think Sarande and Ksamil one weekend, Korce and Pogradec the next, maybe even a trip up to Shkoder…
The famous white houses of Berat, Albania
OUT OF OFFICE
Where to Travel in Albania
You’ve clocked out of Toggl, set your Slack status to offline, closed your laptop for the day, and now it’s time to relax…
Here’s a quick overview of things to do in Albania by interest:
Culture — Berat and Gjirokastër are two of the most famous tourist attractions in Albania (and both are on the UNESCO World Heritage List as well!). Berat is known as The City of a Thousand Windows and is bound to enchant you with its traditional white houses, while Gjirokastër, conversely, is known as the City of Stone for the same reason. 🙂
Tirana also offers a handful of places to get to know the culture of Albania better, such as the extremely well-curated Bunk’Art 2 museum, National Museum, and the beautiful interior of the Et’hem Bey Mosque.
Nightlife — Party animals will find the most nightlife in the capital, Tirana, as well as Saranda (where the vibe is similar to Budva, another seaside destination in Montenegro).
Beaches — This country has nearly 450 km (280 mi) of coastline, which gives you pleeenty of options. Some of the most popular beach destinations in Albania include Sarande, Durres, Ksamil, and Dhërmi — although you really can’t go wrong with any of the towns along the Albanian Riviera.
Hiking & Nature — Albania is home to a whopping 14 national parks (and 1 marine park!), and, as such, has a ton of hiking trails and places to get away. Some of the most popular hiking routes include Valbona to Theth (also known as the Accursed Mountains), Peshkopi, and Llogara Pass.
Likewise, don’t miss a day trip to the Blue Eye, a gorgeous natural pool (where you can swim!) or the unreal turquoise colors of Lake Bovilla