Camping in AlbaniaTravel
For all the campers and mobil-home drivers,
here we go with the information about camping in Albania in general, tips for free pitches and campsites that we used on our trip (in order of touristic regions) and our experience with them.
We stick to our own experience and observations, as you can find general information about immigration, speed limits, vignette etc. easily on the internet or in the relevant literature.
At the beginning we have to mention that we are not interested in big and fancy camping-complexes with pool, entertainment, restaurant etc.. We would always prefer a snug place somewhere in the wild to a mediocre campsite. Besides we are not depending on an external power connector because of a photovoltaic system and we’re okay with some days without showering! Correspondingly we’ve chosen our pitches.
We have reached all of the spots with our Carado T132, (Fiat Ducato multijet, 5,98m lengths, 2,32m width, 2,91m height, FWD), if there were any difficulties you’re gonna find that mentioned in the text.
Albania is one of the few countries in Europe where free camping is allowed!! We have been there during off-season (end of September to mid October) and we’ve found all of the beaches lonesome and deserted. In summer during July and August party is on and most of the spots we describe will probably not be usable. If you possess a 4WD, there shouldn’t be a problem to find a nice spot in the wild.
All the campsites we’ve visited have been a real positive surprise! Well-kept and clean!
And we never had any problems! The people are extremely friendly and helpful and we’ve always felt absolutely safe and at ease! The only exception was, that we sometimes got the feeling that some guys try to rip you off, e.g. claiming 3€ for a dusty, improvised parking lot in the middle of nowhere. Or during high-season it can happen that someone just pops-up a price-tag somewhere and tries to collect 5-10€ for a spot that probably doesn’t even belong to him. One or the other seems to have problems to properly judge how much a simple day-parking could cost, when a proper camp-site can be booked for 10-15€…
What can we say about the road conditions?? I would call them „Albanian“, which could be translated as „unpredictable“! A lot is in a state of flux and roads, that have been described as unnavigable for a normal camper-van in our guidebook from 2013, are now well-built asphalt roads. But the majority of roads is so and so and as said „unpredictable“! You have to always be prepared for the following, even if the precedent 20km have been perfect: potholes huge as truck-wheels, suddenly broken off parts of the road and missing surface, warping of the streets in giant waves, cattle, dogs, goats and donkeys running around freely, pedestrians with heavily loaded pack animals, that are at least as wide as a car, speed bumps without marking, market-stalls in narrow freeway-exits, mini-busses that stop everywhere etc. etc..
Using the blinker doesn’t seem to be known in Albania neither and overtaking is practiced regardless of losses as everywhere on the Balkans! The incredible number of commemorative plaques on the roadsides can be likely attributed to this fact…
1.) TIRANA, HOTEL BARON
Elbasan Street 274 H.1, Sauk, Tirana
Tel.: +355 42467649
The Hotel Baron is one of the few possibilities in Tirana to stay with your camper van. We haven’t been there ourselves, but got the information from 2 reliable sources that have already been there several times. There are only a few parking spaces, which can be used by campers, which usually costs 10€/night. If they have free rooms, you can use a shower and toilet in one of the rooms. But most of the time, the owners offer you one of the rooms for an extra charge of 5 €. The rooms are said to be very spacious and everything is very clean. The owners speak good German and are glad to help with any questions and organizational stuff! There is a direct bus service to the center.
1.) SPILLE BEACH, SEVERAL SPOTS
Spille, according to weather, season and visitor numbers
e.g. N 41° 05’ 01“ E 19° 27’ 39“ (1) or N 41° 05’ 52“ E 19° 27’ 33“ (2)
The beach of Spille is long, wide and has a pretty promenade with several beach bars and restaurants. In summer there is certainly a lot of tourism going on, but with the beginning of September almost everything closes down. Along the beach you can find some possible sites in front of the bars, but it’s rather cramped. There is a small meadowy area on the northern beach road at (1) which could be used. Due to heavy rain we couldn’t use it and had to park a bit uncomfortable on a small concrete area in front of the little used road.
In the pinewood between beach and street there are several spots, that are probably used in the summer as parking lots and campsites. Many of the entrances are too narrow for vehicles bigger than a car, but at (2) there were suitable pitches.
2.) BERAT CARAVAN CAMPING
Ura Vajgurore, ca. 12km von Berat, N 40° 46’ 42“ 19° 51’ 27.6“
Tel.: 0035 5694263697
Price: (09/2016) 15€ incl. electricity
Small but very well-kept place in the garden of the owner family. You will be greeted warmly with iced coffee, which was severed several times during our stay. The lady of the house speaks English. Very good, extremely clean sanitary facilities.
2 washing machines (400Lek = 2,90€), complete supply and disposal, Wifi. Small playground. In the restaurant they serve a very delicious, hearty omelet in the morning, in the evenings simple Albanian home cooking.
From here you can take the mini-bus to Berat, it stops directly in front of the campsite which only costs 100 Leke (approximately 0.75€) and spare yourself the difficult search for a parking space.
3.) OSUMI CANYON, PARKING LOT NEAR THE RIVER
N 40° 26’ 18“ E 20° 16’ 48“ ,
turn-off at the sign „Visit Skrapar / URA E ZABERZANIT“
Located just off the riverbank, below the road that runs along the Osumi Canyon, there is a small, leveled, graveled car park. We’ve spent a quiet night. There are 2 wooden houses on a terrace, which were abandoned in September. From here you can start hiking into the canyon, in summer rafting tours have their starting point. Waste bins, otherwise no facilities.
4.) SEMAN BEACH
Coming from Fier on the SH94 direction beach, N 40° 47’ 32“ E 19° 22’ 37“
West of Fier stretches a long, wide, sandy beach. A fairly well developed road leads to the coast. We parked in front of a beach bar (Bar Germani) closed end of September. Behind the bar you’ll find more parking lots on a meadow. Attention, the beach is used as a road and you shouldn’t block the access to it! During daytime you’ll meet some fishermen and local beachgoers, at night it is very quiet. No facilities off season!
5.) APOLLONIA, ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION SITE
Parking lot on a meadow below the site, N 40° 43’ 22″ E 19° 28’ 52“
Below this magnificent archaeological site, the most important in Albania, there is a small field where you can park and stay overnight. The official parking lot is a bit sloping. Very quiet. Only dustbins.
6.) BEACHES BETWEEN RADHIME AND ORIKUM, SEVERAL SITES
Between Vlora and the Llogara Pass, e.g. N 40° 20’ 49“ E 19° 29’ 5“
Follow the coastal road from Vlora towards Llogara Pass direction south, the spots are between the villages of Radhimë and Orikum. Outside of the season (July / August) you can find several parking spaces between closed or decayed beach bars. The underground is meadow or gravel and mostly flat, but the places are quite close to the road, however at night it was very quiet. The sunsets are legendary! Depending on the spot there are garbage cans, maybe even water in some bars.
1.) PALASË BEACH
Coming from the North it is the 1st beach after the Llogara Pass, N 40° 9’ 59“ E 19° 35’ 18“
South of the Llogara Pass the Albanian Riviera with its beautiful beaches begins! Most spots are already touristically developed and relatively crowded with apartment blocks and hotels. On the 1st of the beaches, after you’ve crossed the pass, tourism (so far) has left some vacant land. You can camp trouble-free at different points. However, there are no facilities, a greengrocer comes by now and then. How long this place will exist is questionable, since a huge (eco) resort is being built at the moment.
2.) CAMPING KRANEA, LIVADH BEACH NEAR HIMARÄ
Livadh Beach, Himarë, N 40° 06’ 27“ E 19° 43’ 37.5“
Price: (09/2016) off-season 11€ incl. electricity (even less in winter),
high-season 13€ + 2€ electricity
Situated directly on the beautiful pebbled beach of Livadh, Camping Kranea is already an institution and well visited all year round. The owner speaks various languages, amongst others German and English. Spacious single pitches under olive trees, clean sanitary facilities, supply and disposal, washing machine, WiFi at the bar/restaurant (relatively weak). Own beach chairs and sun loungers. The restaurant offers simple, decent cooking, a bit overpriced.
There are 2 more campsites at the beach, that also looked nice.
At the end of the beach you’ll even find few spots for free camping.
3.) BORSH BEACH, SEVERAL SPOTS
Borsh, e.g. N 40 2’ 34“ E 19° 51’ 25“
On the long beach of Borsh, which is completely abandoned off-season, you’ll find several graveled or tarred pitches between the road and the beach, that invite you to stay! Very quiet and relaxing spot. Pebble beach with clear waters, olive groves and mountains in the background, very idyllic! At the end of September, a mini-market and a bar/restaurant were still open. There are some garbage cans, otherwise no facilities.
1.) KSAMIL CARAVAN CAMPING
Ksamil, N 39° 46′ 41.2″ E 20° 0′ 21.5″
Tel.: +355 694263697
Price: (09/2016) per person 7€, children under 18 years 2€, electricity included
Fine, small campsite, somewhat hidden, but to find without problems if you follow the many well-distributed blue signs! Situated approx. 150m from the beach in a residential area. Very friendly welcome with iced coffee, free water and sweets! Extremely clean sanitary facilities, kitchen with gas-stove and refrigerator that can be used for free. Each pitch has it’s own disposal pipe and fresh water supply, the site even has its own drinking water filter system! Wifi (relatively weak) for free, washing machine 3,50€. They also rent out apartments. The hobo team, a German couple who wrote the first real German camping guide for Albania and also organizes off-road tours in the country, can also be found on site.
2.) MESOPOTAM, NEAR THE GRAVEYARD AND THE MONASTERY OF SHËN KOLLË
Mesopotam, N 39° 53’ 16“ E 20° 4’ 29“
At the end of the village of Mesopotam, coming from the coast, turn right to the graveyard and monastery of Shën Kollë. At the driveway you’ll see an open metal gate. If you pass through, you will find a beautiful, flat meadow, on which we’ve spent a quiet night and from where you have a wonderful view all around. If you drive a little further along the right side of the cemetery, you will reach the monastery. In front of it there’s another parking possibility. The monastery is normally closed and can only be visited by appointment. In front of the cemetery, there is a trash can.
3.) PARKING LOT SYRI I KALTËR (BLUE EYE)
Syri i Kaltër, N 39° 55’ 23“ E 20° 11’ 29“
Entrance-fee to the park: 200 Leke, around 2€
The karst spring at Syri i Kaltër with its incredibly clear and turquoise waters is an Albanian natural monument and definitely worth a detour! In the parking lots there are 2-3 usable places, where you can spend the night. There are 2 restaurants, but they are only irregularly open outside the high season. Dustbin, possibly you could get water in the restaurants and use the toilets.
4.) PUBLIC PARKING LOT AT LAKE VIRO, GJIROKASTRA
Viro See/Liqeni i Viroit, north of Gjirokastra at the SH4,
N 40° 5’ 59“ E 20° 7’ 31“
The Viro Lake is located about 2 km north of Gjirokastra on the SH4. It is a recreational area for the city with trails around the lake and 2 restaurants. In front of the restaurants there are public parking lots, which are spacious enough for mobile homes. The place is even “supervised” by the police during day-time. Many joggers and strollers. At night it was quiet enough. Dust bins, otherwise no facilities.
5.) SHPELLE-BEACH, LUKOVE
Shpelle Beach, Access from Lukove
you have to cross a steep concrete ramp and after that follow a dirt-gravel road
N 39° 58’ 19“ E 19° 54’ 50“
Be cautious!! During rainfall, deep mudholes form and you’ll have huge problems getting out without a 4WD!
Beautiful, long sandy beach that is completely lonely off-season except for cows, dogs, goats, pigs, donkeys and few other humans. There are a few pitches between the closed beach bars or at the end of the beach on a meadow. Unfortunately, the strip behind the beach is quite messed up, as the existing garbage cans, full of litter from the summer, were not picked up and got rummaged through by the animals. No facilities.
At the beginning of the beach a farmer rents out a terraced site and takes around 10€. Probably there is also a water supply here.