We are so lucky with the life we lead. This year, we spent the full Summer in Vlora, Albania. I didn’t really know what to expect of this country, because it was never on my radar before this year. We rented a nice top floor apartment with a big roof terrace that had a view over the sea. Every evening we saw the most beautiful sunsets!
So, what is our honest impression about Vlora? It is a relatively new tourist destination, it’s beautiful, but in our opinion, still a work in progress. Let me explain this a bit more.
Before I start, I have to explain that as former hospitality workers we are probably a bit more critical about this, than others. We weren’t very impressed with this sector in Vlora. There’s definitely a lot to gain. Most of the staff are really young and inexperienced, this really shows in the service. There’s also a lot of inconsistency in the food and what’s on the menu. As a vegetarian you will struggle here, as there are not a lot of vegetarian options in the restaurants. The food is decent though. We had some nice meals, and the prices were very cheap!
The beaches are actually really nice. It depends a bit on the current, but the water overall is really clear. Renting 2 beds and 1 parasol will only cost you 500 LEK (this is around 4 euros). There are a lot of smaller beaches in the area which you can reach by car, bus or taxi. There is a beautiful pebble beach within walking distance. Definitely worth a visit.
Supermarkets / Fresh produce
In the tourist area of Vlora there aren’t any big supermarkets, but a lot of small ones. The supermarkets are quite cramped and doing your weekly groceries in 1 trip is not recommended. We liked that you had to buy your fruit and vegetables at the smaller shops with the locals. You will not find any in the supermarkets.
The local currency is Albanian Lek. There are a lot of ATM machines around, but for each withdrawal you’ll pay 800 LEK (around 7 euros!) which is quite steep. You can pay by card in most supermarkets, but when you buy your fruit and vegetables, it’s only possible to pay cash. At some local restaurants it’s also not possible to pay by card.
The traffic is mental!! Cars do not like to stop for pedestrians or for each other. They block off the road, stand still to take a photo of things, take sudden turns on the road and even drive on the sidewalk. We only saw one accident and were genuinely surprised that it didn’t happen more often. Make sure to watch each direction TWICE before you cross the street.
Albanians are very friendly. Especially the younger generation. Their English is very good as well. The older generation struggle a bit more with this, but if you make an effort in learning a few words in Albanian, they really appreciate that!
If you are looking for a place to spend your Summer, Vlora is absolutely worth it! It’s cheap, the beach is nice, the weather is really good and (most of) the people are very friendly. We had a good Summer!