Traveling to Albania from UK
Are you planning a trip from the UK to Albania? We understand the complexities and possible challenges in finding an affordable and convenient flight, especially since there aren’t numerous airlines operating this route. This comprehensive guide is designed to ease your travel planning process and offer alternatives that could save you time and money. Let’s dive into the details.
Albania, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Balkans, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for UK travellers. Its stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality make it a must-visit for those seeking a unique European adventure. If you’re planning on travelling to Albania from the UK, here’s a comprehensive guide to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.
Table of Contents
- 1 Airlines Offering Direct Flights from the UK to Albania
- 1.1 The Journey Duration
- 1.2 Distance from the UK to Albania
- 1.3 Alternative Travel Options from the UK to Albania
- 1.4 Connecting Flights: The Most Cost-Effective Options
- 1.5 Journeying to Albania via Corfu Island
- 1.6 Traveling to South Albania via Thessaloniki
- 1.7 Getting to North Albania via Podgorica
- 1.8 The Italy-Albania Route
- 2 What to Expect When You Land in Albania
Airlines Offering Direct Flights from the UK to Albania
There are primarily three airlines offering direct flights from the UK to Albania: British Airways, Wizz Air, and Albawings. All these flights depart from different airports in London, with British Airways departing from London Gatwick, Wizz Air from London Luton, and Albawings from London Stansted.
While British Airways is a reputable, globally recognised airline, their charges might be on the higher end depending on the season. Therefore, considering other airlines could be a cost-saving option.
The Journey Duration
The average flight time from the UK to Albania is approximately 3 hours. All three airlines operate from London airports, and the time of flight remains consistent.
Distance from the UK to Albania
The distance from the UK to Albania by plane is roughly 2339 kilometres or 1453 miles, translating to the 3-hour flight time.
Alternative Travel Options from the UK to Albania
For budget travellers or those looking for an adventure, there are several alternatives to direct flights. Here are some cost-effective options:
- Book a connecting flight through countries such as Italy, Germany, or Austria.
- Fly to Greek Corfu Island, then take a ferry to Albania.
- Take a flight to Thessaloniki in Greece, then catch a bus to South Albania.
- Fly to Podgorica in Montenegro, then take a bus to North Albania.
- Take a flight to Bari or Brindisi in Italy and then take a ferry to Albania.
Connecting Flights: The Most Cost-Effective Options
If the ticket prices for direct flights seem high, consider booking a cheaper connecting flight. The best connecting flights from the UK to Albania have a layover in Italy, Germany, or Austria.
For instance, flights between Italy and Albania are frequent due to the large Albanian diaspora living and working in Italy. Therefore, it’s quite possible to book a low-cost flight from the UK to Italy, then secure a connecting flight to Albania.
Airlines such as Lufthansa also offer good connecting flights, with a layover in Frankfurt, and Austrian Airlines provides flights from London Heathrow to Tirana with a layover in Vienna.
Journeying to Albania via Corfu Island
If your destination is South Albania, flying to Corfu Island in Greece and taking a ferry to Saranda in Albania could be a more affordable option. From Corfu, the ferry ride to Saranda takes about 30-70 minutes, depending on whether you take a high-speed boat or a regular ferry.
Traveling to South Albania via Thessaloniki
For those venturing to South Albania, consider flying to Thessaloniki in Greece and then taking a bus to your Albanian destination. The bus journey from Thessaloniki to Albania can vary between 10-12 hours depending on your specific destination.
Getting to North Albania via Podgorica
If North Albania is your desired destination, flying to Podgorica in Montenegro and then taking a bus to North Albania could be the most suitable option. Once in Podgorica, the bus ride to Shkodra in North Albania takes approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes.
The Italy-Albania Route
For those who don’t mind a longer trip, you can fly to Bari
or Brindisi in Italy and then take a ferry to Albania. Both Bari and Brindisi have ferry connections to the Albanian cities of Durrës and Vlorë. The ferry journey typically takes around 9 hours from Bari to Durrës and 4-5 hours from Brindisi to Vlorë.
What to Expect When You Land in Albania
Once you’ve arrived in Albania, it’s essential to know what to expect, especially if it’s your first visit.
Tirana International Airport
Tirana International Airport, also known as Nënë Tereza, is the main international airport in Albania. While it’s small in scale, it offers several facilities, including car rental companies such as Eurocar rentals, Enterprise rent-a-car, Europcar, Avis, Sixt, Hertz, Albania Airport Rent a Car, and ARA Auto Rental. Car rental rates are typically between €20-€30 per day for an average car rental in Albania.
Keep in mind that the airport offers only European flights. If you are flying from another continent, you will need to buy an interconnecting flight.
Albania has two airlines, Air Albania and Albawings. Air Albania mainly operates in domestic destinations, while Albawings offers flights to several European cities, including Düsseldorf and London. Albawings has a code share agreement with Blue Panorama Airlines, meaning Blue Panorama sells tickets for Albawings on their website.
Are There Trains in Albania?
While there are national trains in Albania, there are no international trains crossing the border. Moreover, the trains that travel within Albania date back to the communist period and need refurbishment. So, unless you are taking the train for the experience, traveling by bus is usually faster and more convenient.
According to the UK government’s travel advice, British citizens can enter and remain in Albania for a maximum of 90 days in every 6-month period without a visa. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into Albania.
As of 1 May 2022, all COVID-19 related travel requirements have been lifted. Travellers no longer need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative PCR test in order to enter Albania. However, it’s always a good idea to check for any updates before your trip as these regulations can change with little warning.
It’s more important than ever to get travel insurance and check it provides appropriate cover. The British Embassy continues to carry out essential work including providing 24/7 consular assistance and support to British nationals in Albania.
Safety and Security
Public security in Albania is generally good, particularly in Tirana. Crime and violence do occur in some areas, but it is not typically targeted at foreigners. Gun ownership is widespread in Albania, but incidents involving tourists are rare. It’s recommended to avoid any political rallies or demonstrations as there is always a possibility they could turn violent.
Weather and Natural Disasters
From December to February, severe weather may cause flooding, particularly in northern Albania. It’s advisable to check the weather forecast and plan your travel accordingly.
High levels of air pollution can occur in Albania, which could affect travellers with respiratory issues. It’s recommended to check the health advice provided by the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Culture and Etiquette
Albanians are known for their hospitality and are generally welcoming to tourists. English is commonly spoken in tourist areas and major cities. It’s recommended to learn a few basic phrases in Albanian as a sign of respect.