Visiting Albania with kids is a really great holiday and one we’d highly recommend. Albanian people love children and you will be warmly welcomed wherever you go. In terms of things for kids to do in Albania, we felt like there was a good selection. From cool historical ruins to explore, to beautiful beaches to play on. We also found the capital, Tirana, very child-friendly, with plenty of playgrounds and green open spaces.
Travelling around Albania with kids
If you’re travelling around Albania with kids you will need to plan ahead. A big thing to think about is car seats if you plan to drive around yourselves. The car hire company we used did offer to provide us with car seats. However we prefer to travel with our own, as we feel comfortable with the level of protection they offer and we know how to fit and use them.
Most airlines will allow you to take a car seat in addition to your luggage allowance. But check in advance what your airline’s policy is.
In terms of driving in Albania, be sure that whoever is your designated driver is confident behind the wheel. This is because it can be a bit precarious on the roads at times. This is mainly due to the Albanian’s love of overtaking (sometimes on blind bends!). Plus, the total disregard of indicators, which means frequent surprise lane-changes.
Arriving in Tirana airport with kids
Most visitors will arrive in Albania at Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza. When arriving in Tirana airport with kids, there are a couple of things you should be aware of. The first, if you’re travelling with lots of bags, is that luggage trolleys are very hard to come by. There are a few dotted around, but most new arrivals do not have the 50 Lek coin needed to release the trolley.
We packed two cases and also had two car seats. So Mr A had to carry the car seats while I pushed the pram and pulled the two cases. It was do-able, but only just!
Also, if you hire a car and expect to pick it up at the airport, it’s worth knowing that you may be collected by someone from the company and driven to a nearby office to pick up the car. This means there may be some waiting around in the heat, which our kids struggled with a bit after a long day.
Family friendly accommodation in Albania
Family friendly accommodation in Albania is easy to find. Most hotels and AirBnB hosts accept children. However not all accommodation is able to supply items like travel cots and highchairs. So it’s worth thinking about what you need and deciding whether to bring your own.
After a couple of bad experiences in AirBnBs elsewhere, we decided to take our Intex Kidz Travel bed with us. It’s a bit bulky to travel with. But on the plus side, our little adventurer is used to sleeping in it so settled quickly.
Something else to consider is that safety levels are quite different to what you might be used to at home. Not all AirBnBs provide smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms (you can check this on the info page). Plus, things like balconies may not always be secured. So make sure you take a good look around your property when you arrive.
One of the things that we noticed is that keys are often left in the doors of bathrooms and bedrooms for privacy reasons. With an inquisitive toddler this was a definite no-no for us and we removed them as soon as we arrived in a new place.
Travelling in Albania with a baby
Travelling in Albania with a baby is relatively easy. However, be prepared that you are unlikely to find facilities for babies which you may have at home. Very few restaurants had highchairs and other than at the airport, we didn’t see a single baby changing room. It is also advised to bring your own car seat if you are hiring a car.
People in Albania love babies. So don’t be surprised if you are approached in the street by old grannies eager to say hello. We also found schoolchildren were very eager to wave at us and practise their English.
One of the things we found the most difficult, especially in the UNESCO World Heritage towns of Berat and Gjirokaster, was navigating the extremely steep, cobbled streets with a pushchair. Even though our Babyzen Yoyo is extremely lightweight and practical for travelling, it is not cut out for Albanian cobbles! We often ended up just carrying the pram and putting our little adventurer in our Osprey Poco Lt baby carrier.
Eating out with kids in Albania
The good thing about eating out with kids in Albania is that you will be welcomed anywhere. It is very normal for families to eat out together and you shouldn’t be worried about taking your children to more fancy restaurants if you wish to do so. Restaurants don’t offer child-specific menus, but food is usually served in a communal style. This makes it easy for little ones to help themselves and try new things.
Something to note if you have babies or toddlers is that not many restaurants have high chairs, so you may wish to take a travel one. We have both the Chicco Pocket Snack Highchair and the Tommee Tippee Chair Harness and found the Tommee Tippee one to be enough now that our little adventurer is almost two.
Likewise, restaurants and cafes do not normally have specific baby changing areas. This means you have to get used to changing your little one across your lap, or doing a standing nappy change if they’re big enough. We use the JoJo Maman Bebe travel changing mat which I like as it folds up small, but opens up into a decent sized changing mat.
When we’re travelling we love to eat in local restaurants and were always greeted with genuine warmth. One of the things we were really surprised about was how much everyone enjoyed interacting with our little adventurers. Even teenage boy waiters, who sometimes have a reputation for being a bit surly at home, loved giving them high-fives and practising their English with them.
During our visit to Albania we also ate in a couple of more fancy restaurants, including Mussel House in Ksamil and Resturant Ballkoni Dajtit in Tirana. However we were always welcomed in exactly the same way and were never made to feel bad about taking children there.
The food in Albania is delicious. Lots of fresh salads and plenty of fantastic fish along the coast. Inland there are lots of meat dishes, including lamb, beef and pork. We usually aimed to order a selection of dishes at each meal and then encouraged the children to try a little of everything.
Different regions also have their own specialities. Some of our favourite dishes included qifqi (rice balls made with fresh mint) in Gjirokaster, locally sourced mussels from Lake Butrint in Ksamil and traditional handmade noodles in Tirana.
Things for kids to do in Albania
There are so many things for kids to do in Albania, which is one of the reasons we thought it made such a great family holiday. From cool historical ruins to run around and explore, to the most beautiful sandy beaches, with calm bays to swim and play in.
When visiting local attractions most entry prices for kids in Albania are either free or extremely reduced. This includes historical sites, such as Berat Castle and the UNSECO World Heritage site of Butrint, as well as museums like Bunk’Art.
Of course, one of the most important things, for my children at least, is a park! There are plenty of play parks in Albania. Most villages and towns have one in the centre, which means the bonus is that there is somewhere for parents to grab a coffee. One thing I would flag is that their condition varies from place to place. Some of the parks we came across looked as though they had seen better days and we spent quite a bit of time hovering anxiously around gaping holes in the equipment, while our children had the time of their lives! However, we did find others that were really good.
Our favourite was definitely the children’s playground at the top of the Dajti Express in Tirana. I’m not sure we’ll ever find another park with such amazing views.
Keeping kids cool in Albania
Keeping kids cool in Albania is really important, especially if you travel in the height of summer when temperatures can reach 40C or more. Most hotels and AirBnB accommodation have air conditioning, but it’s worth double-checking in advance. Make sure to pack hand-held fans, flannels to soak in cold water and, of course, decent water bottles to ensure your children don’t overheat.
The car we hired had a good aircon system and all of the accommodation we stayed in did too. However, one night a storm led to a power cut across the whole of Ksamil. So we were without aircon for a few hours, so it’s worth being prepared for situations like that.
Restaurants often have misting devices and fans to keep you cool whilst eating. So we found that breaking up our day with lots of cafe breaks really helped.
If you’re visiting the coast during your trip, one of the nice things about the sea in Albania is that it’s a refreshing, cool temperature. So it is the perfect place to escape the heat. We often headed to the beach first thing in the morning and then later in the afternoon. In between we’d chill out in our apartment during the hottest part of the day or go for a long lunch.
Overall, we absolutely loved our holiday in Albania with kids and we would definitely return.
Hopefully this post answers all of your questions about visiting Albania with kids. But if there’s anything else you’re wondering about then please do let me know.