Albania is one of the top 5 poorest countries in Europe. This is immediately visible just across the border with Montenegro. People beg for money, the houses look less well finished, there is rubbish on the street, I mainly see poverty. But it is also THE new travel destination because of the beautiful beaches, impressive historic cities and beautiful nature. I’m curious and go on adventure in Albania!
The first campsite is just across the border in the city of Shkodër. Today I’m going to see the Rozafa Castle (known from the TV program ‘who is the mole’). It is an 8 km walk back & forth and most of the time I walk on the highway, just like the Albanians do.
At the campsite I get some tips about Albania from my German neighbors and a tasty spinach pie from the campsite owner. Awesome, I feel welcome here!
Mountain village Kruje
Driving in Albania is a bit different than in the well-organized European countries where I was before. The first part of the road is ok, but as soon as I turn towards Kruje it becomes next level. Who has priority and who takes priority? Sometimes the road is suddenly too narrow for 2 cars and then those huge holes in the road. It is a very active and alert way of driving, especially today because it is raining heavily and I am also going into the mountains…
When we arrive at the campsite in Kruje it is still raining. Leo and I walk to the beautiful castle of Kruje and back to the campsite via the old bazaar. We’re soaked! The neighbors offer me a drink and I let my stuff dry a bit, the campsite has now become a big mud puddle.
Divjaka-Karavasta National Park
We drive a long way south for better weather and visit Divjaka-Karavasta National Park. A park with wetlands, forest and a beach. It’s wonderful to be in nature and it’s perfect walking weather.
From the national park the road is local and narrow, there is only one road and everything happens there; people walk, sit and drive wheelbarrows, old scooters with even older drivers, cars, stray dogs, trucks and tour buses, everything. We drive to the Albanica Winery because there we can spend the night for free in exchange for dinner, great deal. The terrace overlooks the vineyard and I enjoy a beautiful sunset.
The next day I drive to the Apollonia ruins, an ancient archaeological excavation from Roman times. The city was named after the god Apollo and had approximately 60,000 inhabitants. The adjacent monastery is also beautiful and between the ruins are very large olive trees.
Llogara National Park
I drive further south via the seaside resort of Vlorë. Along the long boulevard with palm trees, sea, beach and many terraces, it looks perfect.
In Llogara National Park we walk the Ceaser Trail to the viewpoint, I take some nice pictures of the beautiful view and then suddenly a lot of rain! We arrive at the car soaked.
I put on some dry clothes and then follows a beautiful ride through the park, the mountains and along the coast. I drive through small villages where the houses are built on the slope, the streets are very narrow and I drive right past the front door of the houses. It is so different from the countries I previously visited with the camper.
We will spend the night near the coast in the small village of Himare. I can also stand for free at the beach, but choose the campsite, I think they could really use the money here. In the evening I eat at the campsite restaurant and order chicken, get 3 pieces of chicken or no 1 piece of which is pork? With a smile I give it to Leo.
Besides all the beauty in this country, there is also a lot of rubbish along the road, on the street and on the beach. At the above beach bar it seems as if they suddenly left and left everything behind. But 500 meters away I take a selfie with the same, beautiful and clean, beach in the background, the contrasts of Albania!
Butrint National Park
A little further south in Butrint National Park we view a unique excavation located on the saltwater lagoon, Lake Butrint. Here you can see Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Venetian remains. Leo is allowed to come along and we enjoy a nice walk around. The ruin of the theater is super big, about 1500 people could take place here. Some parts of the ruins are beautifully submerged in water.
Syri i Kalter, Blue Eye, is a special nature reserve with a freshwater source of more than 50 meters deep where water bubbles up under high pressure. It is a real tourist attraction and many people like to swim in the Blue Eye.
We spend the night at the campsite just outside the village of Gjirokaster. After a delicious coffee from my Dutch neighbor Pierre, today one of the oldest cities in Albania is on the schedule, Gjirokaster!
Ww walk through the old narrow streets to the bazaar with all kinds of souvenirs and rugs (kilims), it looks colorful. Then we go up to the castle with a beautiful view of the city!
Near Permet are natural thermal baths with a temperature of approximately 20 degrees. Here are also some nice hikes, so a great place for (off-grid) camping.
After a very quiet night under the clear starry sky and a fantastic sunrise over the mountains, I can say: what a fantastic place to be!
Leo and I are going for our morning walk and I’ll take half a liter of water with me, maybe I’ll see a nice route to walk. Well sure! We follow 2 German ladies and the total round turns out to be 5 hours, oh that’s too far for me with only 0.5 liters of water. We walk along to the next viewpoint and that is the view of the gorge, it is again stunningly beautiful!
Then I go for a nice bath in the warm water of the ‘thermal bath’ and Leo is sweet next to me while I sunbathe. What a prime location!
Back in time
From Permet we drive in the direction of Lake Ohrid at the border with North Macedonia. There are fewer gas stations in the mountains and I really need diesel now. I first drive to the village of Leskovik to refuel, which works very well!
At a small grocery store there I buy some fruit and vegetables and they are weighed with weights, how wonderful to step back in time!
In the mountains
The road to Korcë is bad and the view fantastic! There are hardly any cars on the road, so little stress and plenty of time to swing between the holes.
In Mollas we spend the night at the campsite next to a restaurant where I eat the best trout ever. It freezes at night, the windscreen and skylight are frozen. It is pretty cool in the camper!
At Lake Ohrid the weather is great! The border with North Macedonia is so close that I walk there with Leo.
Bunkers are still present along the lake and the road to Pogradec. Some are nicely painted, like the ladybug in the main photo of the blog.
I buy two Albanian kilims and then it’s time to leave this beautiful country. Albania thanks for the hospitality, it was a great adventure!
Do you want to read the continuation of my journey? Please click on this link! https://www.marianaroundtheworld.com/en/europe/autumn-in-north-macedonia/
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