Arriving from Greece in the early morning I am excited for an opportunity to see what Albania has to offer. Albania was the only European Country, at the time, to not have any requirements for COVID-19 protocols, which made it move high up on my list of places to visit.
I am meeting my friend Bryan here as he moved out for the summer to get away from lockdown protocols. The plan is to meet up in Vlore for a week and then go our separate ways. I have no idea where I am going next but I plan to stay in Albania for at least two weeks.
Day 1 – Arrival in Tirana 07.15.2021
If you’re ever going to visit Albania, I’m going to give you a few free tips to take away. First getting a sim card at the airport is your best bet, it was very cheap I paid $15 USD and was able to have 10 GB of data for my time there, they did not offer any unlimited data plans and my sim from Greece did not work and I did not have great service from Verizon.
Second, take the shuttle bus when going to cities. DO NOT let anyone convince you that the busses are slow or going to take forever to get you to your next location. This happened to me, I took the bus back from Vlore to Tirana and it was fast easy and cheap. Huge mistake, it cost me 50 euros one way to Vlore and I just keep getting kidnapping vibes the whole way.
I’m alive so that wasn’t an issue but still, just take the shuttle bus.
Day 2 – Berat Castle & Waterfall 07.16.2021
To get to Berat Bryan and I needed to hire a car. We hired one and I believe it was from Rent Car Belo. A few things to square away when you rent in Albania.
First, there is no option to buy insurance, if you cause the accident you’re at fault, if someone hits you they’re at fault. So any damage done to the car that wasn’t caused by someone else hitting you, then you are going to pay. I’m not sure if credit card rental car insurance or US car insurance or traveler’s insurance would cover this. They seemed convinced it wouldn’t so I would just check with your provider.
Second, rental car places DO NOT fill up the tank to full before they hand it off. Whatever they give it to you at is what you return it with. However, not only did they not tell us this policy, they gave us a tank on E so we filled it all the way up and when we returned it had 3/4 tanks and they refused to compensate us for it. We eventually got them to buy the remaining tank at 50% of what we paid for it, better than nothing I suppose. Hard lesson learned.
The drive to Berat is about an hour and a half from Vlore, drivers a bit aggressive, Greece is worse so if you’ve driven there then you will be fine. The first stop was Berat Castle they only accept cash and small bills. They took Euros and Lek and the cost is €2.
The coolest part of the castle was the view overlooking Berat and the city of 1,000 windows.
The next stop was to go on a hike to find this hidden waterfall, called “Ujëvara e Bogovës”. This waterfall is located in Bogovë. The GPS made it pretty difficult to find but if you look at a map its not too hard. A pro tip here is at the base of the road the trail starts but if you’re okay driving up a narrow (very narrow) dirt road with potholes, you can cut the hike in half easily by parking at the top. The parking lot is across from Roi Bogova.
The hike from the parking lot to the road isn’t anything special so I recommend parking at the top of the road and then hiking along the river to get to the waterfall. The trail isn’t very obvious but if you follow the river you will eventually get to the waterfall.
The water is very cold but well worth jumping in and swimming around a bit, I’m not sure how deep it is, but I did try to touch the bottom and I wasn’t able to when I jumped in.
Day 3 – Relax & Dinner in Vlore 07.17.2021
I didn’t do much today, grabbed a few beers hoping for restaurants, and then had dinner downtown. The only reason I am making a post about today is the restaurant we were brought to in the evening by our Airbnb host had an amazing balcony and great views. The place was called Lime Lounge Cocktail Bar and it’s located at Maritim Marina Bay Resort & Casino. On another side note, if you ever visit Vlore, this area of Vlore is much better, and cleaner, however more expensive.
Day 4 – Caves & Coves 07.20.2021
After taking a few days off of doing absolutely nothing the adventure day returns. This was the main event for me when coming to visit Vlore, I’ve seen all the videos on IG, mostly for Saranda and Ksmail but this was high up the ranks as well.
The cost was $100 and I booked with a place called Antaneb travel. The tour takes us to view caves and coves. The main cove was Grama Bay and then the main Cave which is massive is Haxhi Ali Cave.
The tour ends at Orikum Beach. Opportunity to relax and have some food and drinks.
Anyway the video below does it more justice than I can type up.
Day 5 – Last Day in Vlore 07.21.2021
This is my last day in Vlore and then tomorrow I will hire a car and drive to Sarande making stops along the way. There isn’t too much I can say here, the old town was really nice to walk around and I had a great time. I would probably spend a shorter amount of time in Vlore if I were to do it again or even recommend the city.
Thanks for reading. Safe Travels, Cheers!