I Have Visited Every Country In Europe And This Was My Favorite Digital Nomad Destination

I Have Visited Every Country In Europe And This Was My Favorite Digital Nomad Destination

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As a digital nomad based mostly in Europe, I have traveled extensively across the continent, working remotely from each nation you’ll be able to presumably identify throughout the pond, from the vacationer hotspots of France and Italy to the lesser-known Baltic states and the multicultural Balkan Peninsula.

Nope, I have not skipped the millionaire-owned micro-state of Monaco, war-raging Russia and its neighbors, nor newly-born Kosovo, one of the poorest states in Europe.

With over 40 European international locations underneath my belt, I was sure to have a private favourite by now.

The Port Of Saranda In South Albania, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

That one particular place that retains pulling me again, the place I might truly see myself staying longer than the same old three months and even placing down roots in some unspecified time in the future down the road, and that in some way appears like my house away from house.

When I got down to go to each European nation as a digital nomad, by no means would I have anticipated an unheard-of, post-communist state most vacationers mistakenly imagine to be harmful, and even not value seeing, to rank on the prime of the record by the top of the five-year journey, but right here we’re.

It’s stunning Albania that stole my coronary heart, and that is why I imagine it’s the strongest contender for European Digital Nomad Capital:

The Landmark Castle In Kruja, Albania, South Eastern Europe

Why Albania Of All Places?

Unless you have been country-hopping round Europe as a vacationer for some time, having needed to give you ingenious methods to increase your keep past the restrictive 90-day Schengen rule, it’s unlikely you’ve handed by Albania, a lot much less heard of it.

We’re right here to treatment that collectively, however first, the place even is Albania?

Geography is not everybody’s forte, so I will not dawdle and waste your time going into the specifics of it: all it’s a must to know it’s situated throughout the Adratic sea from Italy, and simply north of Greece.

Old Mes Bridge In Albania, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

We know what you are pondering: if it borders these two widespread trip spots, might Albania be yet one more off-path Mediterranean vacation spot ready on the sidelines to be found?

The quick reply is a powerful Yes!, and the stunning half is it has been intentionally hid for many years.

What we imply by that’s it was truly saved hidden, so we would not blame you for not having the foggiest thought about Albania beforehand: as customary in Eastern Europe within the twentieth century, the nation was dominated by an iron-fisted communist regime.

Why Haven’t You Heard Of Albania Before?

Modernist Architecture And Modern Park In Tirana, The Capital City Of Albania, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

Albania’s dictatorship was among the many harshest in Europe, with only a few individuals being allowed to depart the territory, and likewise, solely a choose variety of guests had been allowed to enter properly into the 90s, which means this wing of the Mediterranean was just about off-limits solely three a long time in the past.

In case you have been questioning, Albania is now an open, progressive state, having adopted democratic ideas because the collapse of communism and being on a agency path to aligning with the Western World: it joined NATO in 2009, and it has utilized to develop into a member of the European Union.

Dhermi, Albania in the sunset

The latter aspiration has not been as profitable but, however we’ll get into that quickly sufficient – the query is, why has this unsung, troubled nation surpassed each different Southern European competitor to develop into my protected haven as a digital nomad?

I do not learn about you, however like several self-proclaimed Europhile, this continent’s immense cultural wealth was a decisive consider my resolution to remain a complete 5 years to date, and my expensive fellow nomads, positive Albania has so much going for it on the tradition entrance:

Hospitality Is At The Heart Of Albanian Culture

Friendly Looking Old Albanian Gentlemen Playing A Card Game On The Street, Unspecified Location In Albania, Eastern Europe

Albania is a one-of-a-kind-country, within the sense that its language (Albanian) just isn’t closely-related to another languages on the periphery, like Serbo-Croatian or Bulgarian share similitaries, and its tradition is markedly totally different from the Slavic-dominated Southeastern Europe.

Family is extraordinarily vital, and it isn’t unusual to seek out nuclei of kinfolk residing collectively in the identical neighborhood, and even the identical road, and to them, hospitality just isn’t solely a long-standing custom, however a nationwide worth.

In the phrases of famend Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare, who could not have phrased it higher:

Women Passing Over Albanian Food During A Banquet, Albania, South Eastern Europe

‘Of God and the guest, you see. So, before it is the house of its master, it is the house of one’s visitor. The visitor, in an Albanian’s life, represents the supreme moral class, extra vital than blood relations. One could pardon the person who spills the blood of 1’s father or of 1’s son, however by no means the blood of a visitor.’

There had been actually events the place Airbnb hosts would invite me to partake in rounds of raki tasting shortly after we have made acquaintances, and hospitable locals would invite me again to theirs to share high-spirited conversations and a sizzling meal.

Kosovar Albanian Girl Smiling At The Camera As She Wears Traditional Albanian Attire, Pristina, Kosovo

As a digital nomad touring solo, actively looking for to distance himself from different expats to completely immerse within the native lifestyle, it was undoubtedly not a problem to befriend Albanians, even when the older generations are more adept in Italian than they’re in English.

If something, my rusty Italian and poor makes an attempt at mouthing fundamental phrases in Albanian would get me humorous smiles in response, pleasant pats on the shoulder, and extra raki invites: I’m undecided earlier writers have coined this already, however Albanians are the Latin Americans of Europe.

The Whole Of Albania Should Be A UNESCO Heritage Site

Ottoman Era City Of Berat, Albania

We know you are right here for a few of that Old World aptitude, the cobbled cities with origins misplaced to time, and fairytale castles Disney has tried their greatest to emulate in kitsch theme parks, and you will be glad to know Albania has its fair proportion of artifical wonders.

From the Accursed Mountains within the north, house to the ethnic village of Theth, greatest recognized for its rustic cottages and solitary church, to the medieval citadel in Kruje, south in direction of a UNESCO-listed, Ottoman-built Berat, and the Stone City of Gjirokaster, this nation’s magnificence is really boundless.

Clock Tower In The Inner Citadel Of Gjirokaster Castle Set Against The Backdrop Of Green Mountains, In The Old Town Of Gjirokaster, Albania, South Eastern Europe

The 296-mile lengthy Mediterranean coast is plagued by historic port cities as properly, together with Durres, the place a Fifth-century citadel nonetheless stands, the charming Vlore, with its Italian-inspired, pastel Old Town, and the hilltop, whitewashed village of Dhermi, overlooking the turquoise sea.

If you are wanting ahead to carrying your Indy Jones hat once more, Butrint is an enormous archaeological zone courting again to the tenth century BC, encompassing flooded Byzantine palaces, partially-preserved colonnaded agoras, and a landmark Greek theater.

Greek Amphitheatre In Butrint, Albania

The level is, Albania is probably not as widespread as a few of its closest neighbors, for the explanations already outlined above, however it actually doesn’t endure from a scarcity of heritage websites. In truth, it is nearly as if it is taken a web page from the guide of each different Mediterranean hub within the neighborhood:

A Potpourri Of Everything That’s Great About Europe

With Its Own Little Albanian Twist

Some of its settlements are as historical as Italy’s, it’s simply as heat as Greece, the pebbly seashores as pristine as Croatia’s, the native delicacies rivals Spain’s, and it’s as topographically numerous as France, with a territory that includes each towering alpine peaks and a subtropical coast.

Old Catholic Church In The Historic Village Of Theth, Albanian Alps, Accursed Mountains Of Albania, South Eastern Europe

I’m not averse to harsh winters myself, and I’m a agency believer that, with a view to actually recognize the balmy days of summer time, you might want to expertise the altering of the seasons, however if you happen to can stay with out the occasional snow, coastal Albania is not going to disappoint.

Temperatures can plummet to destructive ranges in northern Albania, however a lot of the coast stays completely sunny and a pleasing 64°F. Having visited in February myself, I was shocked to seek out that the extra wool coats and puffer jackets I packed ‘in case’ had been by no means crucial.

Aerial View Of Ksamil Beaches In Albania, South Eastern Europe

If you are hell-bent on escaping the chilly, the laid-back coastal village of Ksamil, a stone’s throw away from the full of life harbor metropolis of Saranda, is your greatest wager at year-round springtime climate, with lemon bushes, tender white-sand seashores and teal-colored waters making up the surroundings.

Don’t Come To Albania On A Strict Diet

Albania could also be remoted when it comes to language and tradition, however the meals served in Albanian houses and eating places is usually Mediterranean and Eurasian in character, having been closely influenced by Italy, Slavic gastronomic practices, and even Turkish delicacies.

Albanian Food Set On The Table At A Restaurant In Albania, Eastern Europe

Its cheese and spinach-filled, flaky-dough byrek pastry is a variation of the Turkish burek, the chilly cucumber soup takes direct inspiration from Bulgaria’s tarator, and I might actually draw parallels between Gjirokaster’s qifqi rice balls and the extra mainstream Italian arancini.

That being mentioned, there are a selection of native delicacies solely Albania can lay declare to, with my private favorites being the deep-fried petulla fritter, crispy on the surface, tender on the within, usually served with butter and jam, and tavë kosi, lamb baked in yogurt.

Lamb Yoghurt Tave Kosi, A Traditional Dish In Albania, South Eastern Europe

Given Albania’s ample collection of dairy and hearty meat-based dishes, to not point out the recent seafood and fruit rising in abundance within the verdant hinterland, relaxation assured you may by no means go hungry right here, whether or not you are staying in a small qytet on the shores of the Adriatic, or the sprawling capital metropolis of Tirana.

How Nomad-Friendly Is Albania?

How about digital nomad infrastructure, a.okay.a. long-term leases, availability of coworking cafes, foreigner-friendly companies, and so forth?

I’ll be trustworthy with you: outdoors main city facilities, life as a distant employee may be difficult (at instances).

A Young Handsome Man Working With His Laptop From A Cafe In France, Digital Nomad In Europe

That is especially true within the low season, when eating places and guesthouses on the coast usually shut down, and getting round and not using a automotive is an journey you do not wish to embark on.

Albania is nothing wanting gorgeous, however it’s years behind in growth in comparison with the typical European nation.

For that cause, I would advocate you spend most of your time in a big metropolis like Tirana, the place there’s sufficient of a social scene and nighttime companies to maintain you entertained, in addition to bus connections to the resort zones on the Adriatic coast, until a quaint village life resonates with you.

Tirana Beyond The Grey Clusters Of Communist Apartment Blocks
Skanderberg Square In Tirana, Capital City Of Albania, Western Balkans, South Eastern Europe

Tirana is probably not the prettiest of capitals – a lot of the previous metropolis has been razed to the bottom in favor of a modernist makeover – however you’ll be able to’t deny it’s intriguing, with communist-era bunker museums, manmade lakes and eccentric high-rises dominating the skyline.

If you are a daily cafe-goer, it’s best to in all probability know Albania is a global leader within the variety of cafes, with round 654 such institutions per 100,000 inhabitants.

There are no Starbucks, however there are many local-owned and Mulliri Vjeter coffeehouses round.

Smiling Female Digital Nomad, Remote Worker Working From Her Computer In An Alfresco Cafe As She Ships On Some Tea Or Coffee, Unspecified Location

Mulliri Vjeter is the oldest espresso chain in Albania, and shops are usually rustic in character, providing visiting nomads free WiFi and a comfortable nook to work from. Central Tirana is loaded with these, and never a day goes by that I do not miss their signature Capuccino Chocomel.

It’s actually no surprise Tirana has proudly taken up the mantle of Europe’s middle for digital nomadism, internet hosting a Digital Nomad Conference since 2022 and with an expat group that continues to develop yr after yr.

The Top 5 Best Digital Nomad Destinations In Albania

Modern Pedestrianised Street In Tirana, Capital City Of Albania, Eastern Europe

The means I see it, the highest 5 greatest locations for digital nomads in Albania are:

  • Tirana: the thrilling capital metropolis, full of quirky cafes, oozing city artwork, and stuffed with verdant parks for quickly escaping town crowds and loopy visitors
  • Shkoder: the cultural coronary heart of Northern Albania, well-known for its revitalized, restaurant-lined Old Town and an imposing 2,400-year-old Rozafa Castle
  • Durres: the busiest port, providing ferry connections to Italy and distinguished by its ruined, recently-unearthed Roman amphitheater and Venetian Tower
  • Saranda: the biggest metropolis within the Albanian Riviera, bounded by the teal-colored waters of the Adriatic and inside quick driving distance of the up-and-coming leisure zone of Ksamil
  • Elbasan: the fourth-largest metropolis in Albania, and considered one of its meals meccas, the place I tried the most effective jani me fasule on the journey (be sure you add Taverna Kala to your record of eating places)

Albania Is The Cheapest Country I’ve Been In Europe

Albanian banknotes

It solely took me a few days of being in Albania to grasp, at the least partially, why nomads like me are discovering an unlikely house on this neglected Adriatic gem: costs are the most affordable I’ve seen wherever in Europe.

On common, Albania is 40.6% inexpensive than Western Europe, with meals in cheap eating places costing a suitable $10.43, based mostly on information gathered by Numbeo, and month-to-month bills for a single individual capping at roughly $700, excluding hire.

A young woman looking at the historic city of Berat in Albania, UNESCO

Even although lodging prices aren’t included on this estimate, hire may be as much as 69% cheaper than Paris or London, two overpriced cities that can wipe your pockets clear if you happen to’re not cautious sufficient. Luckily, residing prices are nowhere close to as exorbitant in Albania.

A fast Airbnb search led me to seek out seafront condos in Vlore for under $617 per month this April, entire residences with devoted workspaces in Saranda for a negligible $343, whereas in Tirana, there are non-public, centrally-situated flats for as low cost as $520 month-to-month.

It Is Incredibly Safe For Foreigners

Young Female Waving An Albanian Flag In Downtown Tirana, Albania

Not solely is Albania remarkably low cost to stay in, it’s simply as protected as fellow Southern European states Italy and Spain.

That’s not my very own judgment, however the U.S. State Department’s, which formally considers Albania a low-risk vacation spot, as seen here.

Having spent most of my time between Tirana, Shkoder and Durres, by no means as soon as did I really feel unsafe strolling the streets through the day, or get ‘jumpy’ in crowded areas, as a lot as I usually do in busier areas of Barcelona, or sketchy zones of South Dublin.

Aerial View Of A Beach In Durres, Central Albania, A Port On The Mediterranean Sea, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

While I would not take my possibilities going for a late night stroll in Tirana – Albanian cities aren’t notably well-lit at evening – crime ranges are underneath acceptable ranges, and guests are hardly ever, if ever, affected by violence.

Your predominant concern right here is pickpocketing, although I by no means felt the necessity to conceal my cellphone when out in public, and judging by the quantity of jewellery Albanian ladies put on and the flamboyant sportscars the boys drive, no person’s visibly frightened about petty theft, both.

Ksamil In Albania, On The Ionian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

Naturally, basic security recommendation applies, however odds are you may be fantastic. Once I was lulled to sleep by the light sound of crashing waves at a busy Ksamil seashore, with my laptop computer bag by my facet, and I startlingly woke as much as discover it nonetheless untouched the place I left it.

I’m undecided this lucky end result was an exception to the rule, or whether or not Albania is absolutely so protected your private unattended gadgets will probably be in all probability left alone, however it would not change the very fact I’ve by no means felt on edge, nor remotely suspicious of the individuals round me.

Believe it or not, I’ve saved the most effective for final:

Are You A U.S. Passport Holder?

You Can Stay An Entire Year In Albania
Traveler Holding USA Passport At Airport

Every digital nomad based mostly in Europe has a love-and-hate relationship with Schengen.

In case you are not aware of the time period, it corresponds to a 27-country-strong, passport-free zone the place customary cross-border checks usually don’t apply.

All of Europe’s prime locations are signatories to Schengen. I’m speaking France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Spain, and the record goes on: flying, taking trains, or boarding ferries between any of the Schengen states, you’ll not be topic to passport management.

A Border Officer Stamping A Visa Page On An Unspecified Passport, International Travel

The solely draw back to Schengen? You can solely be current within the Schengen territories for 90 days out of any 180-day interval. In different phrases, if you happen to’ve used up your 90 days in Spain, one other Schengen nation cannot be your subsequent vacation spot for one more three months.

In Albania’s case, the strict Schengen coverage doesn’t apply, as it’s not a member of the European Union (EU), and it’s not sure to hitch the borderless space anytime quickly sooner or later.

Foreign nationals get a complete 90 day-stay in Albania, regardless of time spent elsewhere in Europe.

Gjipe beach with white sand, tourist tents and umbrellas, the turquoise Ionian sea hidden between mountains in canyon on a sunny day in Albania.

If you are an American citizen, nonetheless, you are issued a complete year-long vacationer visa upon arrival, on the premise of being a U.S. passport holder alone, making Albania the perfect long-term destination, if you happen to’re not merely on the lookout for a gray zone to attend in your Schengen clock to reset.

Despite being outdoors the EU, Albania stays on the coronary heart of Europe, sharing land borders with 4 different international locations, and boasting low-cost flight connections to your complete continent, with fares ranging from $19 on Ryanair.

What Are Some Of The Main Downsides About Life As A Nomad In Albania?

View of Tirana Albania

What are a few of the destructive features about life in Albania as a digital nomad, it’s possible you’ll ask?

I have already touched on a few of these all through this text, however I would say a few of the predominant ones embrace:

  • The lack of public transport (good luck getting from level A to B if you happen to’re not renting a automotive and you’ve got reservations about hitchhiking)
  • With the exception of the primary motorways linking Tirana to the coastal ports and resort cities, the regional street community may be fairly precarious, with numerous potholes and lacking street indicators (if you happen to’re driving, I would advise in opposition to hitting the fuel, particularly after sunset when visibility is decrease)
  • Reception may be poor in distant areas, notably up within the mountains, so be sure you save your drafts working out of your pc throughout that bumpy journey up the Accursed vary, otherwise you might need to jot down that 1,500-word article from scratch once more (not that it is occurred to me…)
  • This is not any spotless, idyllic, First-World European nation: mainly, as a lot as you attempt to flip a blind eye, you’ll be able to’t simply ignore the poverty-stricken areas
Young Man Working From The Computer
  • Nomad-friendly amenities, like work-friendly cafes and coworking workplaces could also be tougher to come back throughout outdoors cities like Tirana, Shkoder and Durres (I would add Berat and Gjirokaster, however in comparison with the capital metropolis, they’re not even near being thought of well-equipped)
  • Social attitudes in Albania are fairly carefree, contemplating that is considered one of Europe’s handful of Muslim-majority international locations, however I would not encourage you to point out affection along with your same-sex companion in public if you happen to do not wish to get grumpy Albanian nonos to curse you lowly, or extra hardly ever, an unfriendly shoulder bump
  • If you are flying, your solely means into and out of Albania is by way of Tirana: mind-boggling as it could be, there are not any airports but on the Adriatic Coast, and the nation’s solely different operational worldwide airport is situated in Kukës, close to the Kosovo border (with a single seasonal flight path to Basel in Switzerland)*
*The best solution to get to Southern Albania is definitely flying first to the Greek island of Corfu, which lies simply offshore, after which take a ferry to Saranda. The journey takes simply over half an hour on common.

Needless to say, the nice far outweighs the unhealthy, and I cannot wait to be again in Albania myself this summer time. I’m now based mostly in Paris, and there is no means I’m sticking round to see how completely anarchic this metropolis will get as soon as the Olympics – or ought to I say Hunger Games? – begin.

Read More:

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This article initially appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed listed here are the writer’s alone, not these of any financial institution, bank card issuer, resort, airline, or different entity. This content material has not been reviewed, authorised or in any other case endorsed by any of the entities included throughout the put up.

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