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There are so many countries in Europe to discover. We all know this, yet, every time I look up any European destinations, it is always the same ones that pop up. Think Paris, London, Rome. Rarely do I ever see any mention of the less-popular spots. It's not just about the tourists hotspots like France or Greece, look beyond those places and you'll find more affordable places to visit that are safe and have a lot to offer. The best part? Beat the crowd. While you may see some tourists, you won't find as many as you will in other parts of Europe. From my experience, I only came across Europeans.

From not knowing where to go next, to ending up in Tirana, I was curious to learn more about this hidden gem of a country, located in the Balkans. But how did I end up in Albania in the first place?

I was in Bosnia for the summer and I had a few weeks left before I had to go back to work. I was debating where to go next and I really wanted to explore Croatia, but I changed my mind.

Some of the factors that impacted my decision to choose Albania as a solo Muslim female traveler included:

Affordability: It's cheap compared to other places in Europe. When you are on the road for an extended period of time, every single dollar counts and bills rack up quickly. As a solo traveler, I find that it is especially more costly, since I never stay at hostels. Since I spend more money on accommodation than I would if I stayed at a hostel, I budget my money in a way that I can split the costs among other things I want, such as tours, transportation and food. When the destination is affordable, it helps in saving a little more or being able to allocate more of the budget to other areas of interest. 

View of Corfu from Saranda

 Convenience: Did you know you can take a ferry from Albania to Greece? There is a direct service operating between Saranda (also known as Sarandë) and Corfu. You can also come from Greece and that way, you get to see two places at once! Transportation is efficient. I found it easy to move around from one place to the other. I took the mini buses to move between cities and used public transportation with ease.

Food: The food is flavorful and delicious. I've had the best seafood pasta of my life in Tirana and the second best freshly squeezed orange juice (#1 is Morocco). I had a better experience with the food options in Albania than I did in Bosnia. If you decide to visit the coastal towns in Albania, you get to choose from a wide selection of fresh seafood, at less than one third of the price that you would pay in Canada.

Hospitality: Albanians are known for their open and friendly demeanor. They are quick to strike up conversations and are genuinely interested in learning about different cultures. I met a student on one of the bus routes I took and she was very nice, giving me tips of where to go, what to see and do, and even offered to show me around. Besa is a traditional Albanian code of honor that emphasizes hospitality, generosity, and the protection of guests. It is deeply ingrained in Albanian culture and is considered a sacred duty to uphold.

This mosque dates back to the 18th century! It is one of the oldest mosques in the country.
Sulejman Pasha Mosque, Tirana

History: Tirana might just be one of the most interesting cities I've been to. It is a unique blend of old and new. After the end of communist rule, the city transformed all of its grey and dreary buildings into colorful works of art with interesting geometric patterns, bright colors, murals and graffiti. To this day, you can still find the bunkers around the city as well.  

Muslim population: I feel safer going to places with a large Muslim population, but the interesting thing about Albania is that due to its past and the Communist Era, you will find that people are not very practicing here (this is not the case for everyone though).

Nature: While I find it easier to get around in cities, I am always drawn to natural landmarks over buildings. Mountains? Count me in. Views paired with a beautiful beach? Yes please! The landscapes are very different from one region to another. I took a coach bus from Tirana to get to Saranda and was fascinated by the views along the way. Albania boasts a beautiful coastline along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque seaside towns.

Safety: Albania is considered one of the safest countries in Europe, with low crime rates and a welcoming attitude towards visitors from around the world. In 2022, when I visited, Tirana had been crowned as the Youth Capital of Europe. As a solo female traveler, I felt comfortable walking around and did not have any issues. I preferred the small town vibes over the city, but regardless of where I was in the country, I felt safe.

I honestly think that Albania is an underrated destination that is guaranteed to catch people's attention in the years to come.

As time goes on, I am sure it may get more expensive. These are just a few reasons why Albania is worth visiting. Whether you're drawn to its stunning landscapes, rich history, or affordability, Albania has something to offer to every type of traveler.

Is Albania on your list yet?


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