Mediterranean Albania Would Be Wonderful For Long-stay

This wasn't our first visit to Albania. We had crossed the country on our previous Balkan tour ten years earlier but didn't get a very good impression then. Now everything was different. We stayed longer, tried different parts of the country from north to south, and fell in love with the Mediterranean coast. We ended up staying in Saranda close to the Greek border, a 30-minute ferry ride from Corfu. Saranda is a small former fishing village with approximately 15 000 inhabitants. It is big enough to have different kind of supermarkets and services and small enough for it being laid-back.

Renting in Saranda was straightforward. We came in May when the season hadn't started yet and found a very nice 1-bedroom apartment. In June the rents hike everywhere in the city, and the absolutely worst time is in July-August. Although there is too much supply, locals try to keep the price levels up. As a result, many hotels and apartment buildings are empty. The prepandemic year 2019 was the best ever for Albanian tourism. Many new businesses started at that time and the existing ones made big investments. Then came the two bad years and businesses had to scale down. Some went bankrupt, others survived somehow.

Saranda has a small beach boulevard, and the mostly empty tourist part of the city is great for walking. There is also a small public beach right in front of the city center. Water is not very clean but locals do swim there so it's probably not too bad. The weather in summer is hot and humid with occasional thunderstorms.

We also visited Shkoder in North Albania, which is nice in a way that it is just a normal Albanian city and not living merely of tourism. The capital, Tirana, is also attractive despite its Soviet look and feel. It reminded us of Yerevan, however the Albanians tend to be more relaxed and open — they even smile to you! What we also loved was the Albanians' service-mindedness and honesty. They want you to enjoy your stay and do their best to help you in every way they can. What more can you hope for — except perhaps that you could stay longer than 90 days!

Comments

  1. So you left because after 90 days you would have needed a visa? Crossing the border to one of the neighboring countries and coming back doesn't give you another 90 days? If one would like to stay longer, do you think it would be difficult and/or expensive to obtain the necessary permits?

    How do you usually search for apartments to rent for medium long stays like a few months? Browsing announcements in local newspapers or bulletin boards, Internet portals or some other sources?

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    Replies
    1. With our passports the maximum stay is unfortunately 90 days within 180 days so we had to leave. So visa-runs would not have been possible. Obtaining permits has been expensive and arbitrary everywhere and we didn't check those.

      We asked around if anyone knows someone who has long-stay flats available and it took only one day to find a flat. Although they were fuzzing about "high season", there were too many flats available all the time making it quite easy. This blog post was particularly helpful. Happy travels!

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