We may know Valbona better than anyone else, but that still leaves a LOT of Albania to explore! Here are our recommendations for the Best Help you can get elsewhere!
In and Around Tirana
#1 choice for Trip Planning, Assistance and Accommodation:
We tell everyone who needs help in Tirana to contact Elton Çaushi and his wonderful staff at Albanian Trip. Elton is that rare thing, a capable idealist, and one of our favorite people in the whole world. Period. He can help you with car rentals, getting onto the right minibus (this is NOT easy), escaping Rinas airport, day tours around Tirana or longer tours around Albania (personally planned out of sheer joy for the love he has for all of Albania), accommodation in his charming “Villa with a Star” where he has the single best private museum of Albanophile odds ‘n ends there that we’ve seen anywhere.
He also has a lot of very very sweet tortoises.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.AlbanianTrip.com. tel: Elton Çaushi 355 (0)68 40 58 529 or Gjergji 355 (0)69 22 63 333
Best Hostel Accommodation:
When Ilir, Robo and Celeste opened Backpackers in 2005 it was not only the first in Tirana, but the first hostel in all of Albania! Backpackers’ is more of a mindset, than a location – so although the location changes every once in a while, the experience is always wonderful. Their good hearts and idealistic souls ensure that wherever they are, they’re the center of a very warm (and cool!) community. Staying here is not only comfortable, convenient, and all of those other sensible things, but also a GREAT way to take a short cut to experiencing the vibrancy of life in Tirana (which otherwise isn’t the most easy European capitol to get a handle on). They arrange bike tours and other good things, and if you’re an idealist, you should look into their non-profit: The Outdoor Albanian Association.
Contact: email@example.com, www.TiranaHostel.com, tel: 355 (0)68 46 82 353. Shqip, English, Dutch and who knows whatelse?
Great Accommodation and Wonderful Hosts:
It’s kind of a pity that Albania and Albanians are so wonderful, because we can’t tell you that one place is better than another. Everyone we mention here is fantastic. Freddy’s hostel has been Catherine’s most frequent home in Tirana. Freddy is a prince. When her (very nervous) mother was arriving for the first time, Freddy (unasked!) drove to the airport THREE TIMES in one day to check on her flight reservations (which she had changed, just about as many times). Catherine was at the time on a minibus heading south and paying nowhere near as much attention as Freddy was. Technically a hostel, Freddy’s also has good rates for private rooms, which is nice, if you’re tired and exhausted. It’s also around the corner from a fabulous restaurant . . . . oh, fond memories!
Contact Freddy: www.freddyshostel.com. tel: 355 (0)68 20 35 261
Larger Groups, Farther Afield
Of all the guides that come through Valbona, Dori of Elite travel is our favorite: Kind, polite, warm and generous, with a huge heart that loves us so much, we couldn’t help but love him. Therefore we’re quite certain that his tours are the BEST! Elite caters to large groups, travelling all over Albania. If you have a large group to organize, we recommend going through them. The website is a little slow, but the low-tech tells you it’s genuinely from here, I guess!
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.elitetravel-albania.com, tel: 355 (0)54 44 094
The first agency to adopt Valbona as destination, Outdoor Albania specializes in sporting, adventure travel. If you want to go skiing, kayaking or mountain biking they are definitely the people to arrange your tour. Their non-profit project (Outdoor Albania Association) was our first sponsor in the world of do-gooding!
Contact: www.outdooralbania.com, tel: +355 (0) 42 227 121