Albania is a country I (Thomas) have visited twice; in 2017 and 2019. It’s honestly one of my absolute favorite countries, with a surprising mix of amazing nature and welcoming people. A visit to this unparallelled Balkan nation has a lot to offer for any type of traveler. In my two visits, I’ve stumbled upon a few hidden places and unique experiences. We shared them on our Instagram last year and have now gathered them in a blog. Read, be inspired and save these experiences for your visit to Albania!
Hidden gem 1: Cold War Tunnels, Gjirokaster
We’ll start with this impressive experience in the South of the country. For those who have been to Tirana: Gjirokaster’s Cold War Tunnel is comparable to BunkArt, only smaller in scale and much messier. We paid a negligibly small fee (it could not have been more than a few euros) to get a private guided tour through the extensive network of tunnels and rooms. Eery, authentic and plain cool to visit! Quite literally too, as the moderate temperature in the tunnels is a nice break from the Albanian summer heat.
We started at the tiny Tourist Information Center near the entrance of the cold war tunnel. There’s little information online, but we paid a small fee to get a private tour through the tunnels.
Hidden gem 2: Kadiut Bridge, Permet
Another hidden place is this remarkable bridge, located quite far inland near the small town of Permet. The bridge went from appearing on my Instagram feed, to waiting for a non-existing bus ride, hitchhiking and renting mountain bikes to get there eventually. Much easier to visit by car, but the adventurous route we took is worth trying too!
You’re just as likely to want to visit this place for the adjacent hot springs, which are less of a hidden gem for locals, judging by the crowds that were there, but you won’t find many foreign tourists there, at least not yet.
The bridge is located here. There is no public transport. Driving there is most certainly easiest, though the relatively easy 14KM bicycle ride from the town of Permet is an experience worth trying.
Hidden gem 3: Filikuri Beach, Himarë
This beach singlehandedly justified the choice of visiting Himarë instead of Sarandë or Vlorë. Most beaches around Himarë are quite easy to reach by buying your way onto a boat tour that’s slightly too expensive for what you’re getting, but as everything else in Albania still quite affordable. Don’t bother paying for a boat to get to this beach, the overland route is way more adventurous! From the town, take the road that dead ends about 300 meters from the beach. Either walk all the way, or cycle up the short and steep hill. From there, continue on foot and climb down using the ropes to this hidden beach. Hopefully you’ll be as lucky as I was, to find almost no-one there!
What country that you visited surprised you in the way Albania surprised me?