08 Days / 07 Nights
Self Drive Tour
Tirana – Gjirokastra – Riviera – Berat – Përmet – Korça – Lin – Tirana
This 8 day Albania self drive tour is designed for the first-time visitor, and combines the key cultural cities and sites with some of the most spectacular landscapes in the entire western Balkan region
When to go: Spring / Autumn
Overnights – 8 Day Albania Self Drive
The “City of a Thousand Windows” is a must-visit on any south Albania tour. Berat was an important strategic hub well before the Roman era, and its imposing Citadel has been inhabited continuously for at least 2,500 years. Berat owes its UNESCO World Heritage status to its three surviving historic neighbourhoods, Mangalemi, Gorica and Kalaja (castle). We recommend it for a one-night stay, which gives you plenty of time to explore its cobbled alleyways and take in the views from Kalaja.
Most people associate Lake Ohrid with North Macedonia and the eponymous UNESCO City. But if you want a less touristic experience, the Albanian shore is the place to go. The city of Pogradec on the lake’s southwestern corner is all very well, but we much prefer the sleepy little village of Lin (secretly we want to live there). There is an extremely simple hotel, but better to stay in one of the friendly B&Bs on the waterfront. You can swim from the gardens if you like, or walk 20 minutes to the other side of the Lin peninsula for complete privacy.
Without a doubt, Korça is our favourite Albanian city. It may not have the UNESCO prestige of Berat or Gjirokastra, but it’s much more energetic and competes with them for charm and architectural interest. Its cobbled streets are endlessly diverting, and the Museum of Medieval Art has some quite extraordinary icons by the famous Onufri. In the evening the city comes alive - be sure to head to the recently restored bazaar to eat and people-watch, and later on we’d stroll down Boulevard Republika to one of the extremely chichi bars.
Albania’s second UNESCO World Heritage City is like something from a fairytale, with crumbling old stone mansions clinging to the side of a mountain, in the shade of a huge and frankly creepy fortress. No, Gjirokastra doesn’t lack for either history or atmosphere. We think it offers so much interest, in fact, that we recommend it as a two-night stay. Be sure to visit one of the better-preserved houses (not the ethnographic museum; it’s a fake), the Cold War Tunnels and of course the castle. It’s even worth paying a couple of euros extra to visit the castle’s unreformed military museum, which is a real throwback to the Communist era.
Please don’t expect a wild party when you go to Përmet. It’s perhaps the sleepiest “city” in Albania (famously, it recorded a grand total of zero crimes in 2015). Do expect a unique experience, though. Përmet seems to be stuck in 1973, right down to the Mercedes 240s that are still in use as daily transport. Lately it’s becoming a hub for adventure tourism, with rafting, hiking and horse riding all available close by. You might prefer to just sit in the main square with a raki and people-watch, before eating at one of its excellent traditional restaurants.
The Albanian Riviera (thankfully) has a very short season. In July and August it is jam-packed, and honestly not our favourite place to be. Go in Spring or Autumn, however, and it's heavenly, with empty beaches and charming laidback vibe*. Driving the coast road from Vlorë to Saranda is an experience in itself, though we don't recommend staying in either city unless you have a passion for cheap concrete apartment blocks. We think you'll have a better experience at one of the villages in-between, and that's where we'll put you unless you insist otherwise.
* Really laidback - in the second half of October most hotels and restaurants will be closed.
What We Miss Out
DURRËS, VLORË, SARANDA, POGRADEC
You’ll notice our itinerary doesn’t include Durrës, Vlorë, Saranda, Ksamil or Pogradec. Sadly they have been horribly over-developed, and offer very little interest unless you are fascinated by concrete apartment blocks. We generally drive right by without stopping.
We don’t include Tirana as the tour starts and ends there. You might want to spend just one night there, or perhaps you really want to get to know the city. This is obviously something we can’t predict, so we leave this up to you!
Syri i Kalter (Blue Eye Spring)
You’ll pass Syri i Kalter as you drive from Gjirokastra to the Riviera and are welcome to take a look, but we are confident you’ll find it a depressing experience. As Joni Mitchell put it, they paved paradise to put up a parking lot
8 Day Albania Self Drive Tour
Based on travel 01 April – 15 June and 01 September – 31 October
02 travellers / 01 car / 01 room / €530 per person
02 travellers / 01 car / 02 rooms / €660 per person
03 travellers / 01 car / 02 rooms / €460 per person
03 travellers / 01 car / 03 rooms / €545 per person
04 travellers / 01 car / 02 rooms / €356 per person
04 travellers / 01 x car / 04 rooms / €490 per person
If you are travelling with a larger group, please let us know via the contact form.
You can find our full terms & conditions here.
- Compact road car (VW Golf or similar) with full insurance; Dacia Duster if 4 travellers
- 7 nights’ accommodation in 3* hotels in Berat, Korça, Gjirokastra, Përmet & Riviera and a family-owned B&B at Lin
- Route planning & road books
- 24-hour support
- Personal travel insurance
- Personal expenses
- Meals (unless specified)
- Museum & attraction entrance fees
- Local guides (can be arranged on request)
- Optional activities (such as rafting, horse riding etc)
- Parking fees & tickets, any road tolls or fines
Book With Confidence
As a UK company, we have to comply with strict consumer protection laws. If you book a trip with Drive Albania Tours, your payment will be made to a British HSBC account administered by the trustees of Protected Trust Services, for your peace of mind. You can read more about the scheme here.