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 possibly can presumably title 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 beneath 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 may truly see myself staying longer than the standard three months and even placing down roots in some unspecified time in the future down the road, and that by some means looks like my dwelling away from dwelling.

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 high of the checklist by the top of the five-year journey, but right here we’re.

It’s stunning Albania that stole my coronary heart, and this is the reason 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’ve got been country-hopping round Europe as a vacationer for some time, having needed to provide you with ingenious methods to increase your keep past the restrictive 90-day Schengen rule, it’s unlikely you might have handed by means of 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 you need to know it’s positioned 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 considering: if it borders these two standard trip spots, may Albania be one more off-path Mediterranean vacation spot ready on the sidelines to be found?

The quick reply is a powerful Yes!, and the surprising 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 have been allowed to enter nicely into the 90s, which means this wing of the Mediterranean was nearly off-limits solely three a long time in the past.

In case you’ve got 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 change 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 change into my secure haven as a digital nomad?

I do not find out about you, however like all self-proclaimed Europhile, this continent’s immense cultural wealth was a decisive consider my determination to remain an entire 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) shouldn’t be closely-related to every other languages on the periphery, like Serbo-Croatian or Bulgarian share similitaries, and its tradition is markedly completely different from the Slavic-dominated Southeastern Europe.

Family is extraordinarily necessary, and it isn’t unusual to search out nuclei of relations residing collectively in the identical neighborhood, and even the identical road, and to them, hospitality shouldn’t be 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 necessary than blood relations. One might 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 have 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 scorching meal.

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

As a digital nomad touring solo, actively searching 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 primary phrases in Albanian would get me humorous smiles in response, pleasant pats on the shoulder, and extra raki invites: I’m unsure 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 justifiable share of artifical wonders.

From the Accursed Mountains within the north, dwelling to the ethnic village of Theth, greatest identified 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 actually 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 suffering from historic port cities as nicely, together with Durres, the place a Fifth-century fortress 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 unlimited archaeological zone relationship 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 might not be as standard as a few of its closest neighbors, for the explanations already outlined above, nevertheless it actually doesn’t endure from a scarcity of heritage websites. In truth, it is virtually as if it is taken a web page from the e-book 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 various as France, with a territory that contains 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 purpose to really recognize the balmy days of summer time, it is advisable to expertise the altering of the seasons, however in case you can reside with out the occasional snow, coastal Albania won’t disappoint.

Temperatures can plummet to unfavourable 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 search out that the extra wool coats and puffer jackets I packed ‘in case’ have been in no way 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 energetic harbor metropolis of Saranda, is your greatest wager at year-round springtime climate, with lemon timber, 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 may 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 number of dairy and hearty meat-based dishes, to not point out the contemporary seafood and fruit rising in abundance within the verdant hinterland, relaxation assured you will 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 will 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 with out a automotive is an journey you do not wish to embark on.

Albania is nothing in need of beautiful, nevertheless 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, except 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 might not be the prettiest of capitals – a lot of the previous metropolis has been razed to the bottom in favor of a modernist makeover – however you possibly can’t deny it’s intriguing, with communist-era bunker museums, manmade lakes and eccentric high-rises dominating the skyline.

If you are an everyday cafe-goer, it’s best to most likely 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 comfy 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 really no marvel Tirana has proudly taken up the mantle of Europe’s heart for digital nomadism, internet hosting a Digital Nomad Conference since 2022 and with an expat neighborhood 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, filled with quirky cafes, oozing city artwork, and stuffed with verdant parks for briefly escaping town crowds and loopy site 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 one in all its meals meccas, the place I tried the perfect jani me fasule on the journey (be sure to add Taverna Kala to your checklist 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, no less than partially, why nomads like me are discovering an unlikely dwelling on this neglected Adriatic gem: costs are the most cost effective I’ve seen anyplace in Europe.

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

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

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

A fast Airbnb search led me to search out seafront condos in Vlore for under $617 per month this April, entire flats 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 reside in, it’s simply as secure 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 in the course of 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 are usually not notably well-lit at night time – crime ranges are beneath acceptable ranges, and guests are not often, if ever, affected by violence.

Your principal concern right here is pickpocketing, although I by no means felt the necessity to cover my cellphone when out in public, and judging by the quantity of knickknack Albanian ladies put on and the flamboyant sportscars the lads 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 will be tremendous. Once I was lulled to sleep by the mild sound of crashing waves at a busy Ksamil seaside, 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 unsure this lucky end result was an exception to the rule, or whether or not Albania is basically so secure your private unattended objects will probably be most likely left alone, nevertheless 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 perfect 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 acquainted with 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 high locations are signatories to Schengen. I’m speaking France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Spain, and the checklist 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, in case you’ve used up your 90 days in Spain, one other Schengen nation cannot be your subsequent vacation spot for an additional three months.

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

Foreign nationals get an entire 90 day-stay in Albania, no matter 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 an entire year-long vacationer visa upon arrival, on the premise of being a U.S. passport holder alone, making Albania the perfect long-term destination, in case you’re not merely in search of a gray zone to attend to 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 entire 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 number of the unfavourable 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 number of the principal ones embody:

  • The lack of public transport (good luck getting from level A to B in case you’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 will be fairly precarious, with plenty of potholes and lacking street indicators (in case you’re driving, I would advise towards hitting the fuel, particularly after sunset when visibility is decrease)
  • Reception will be poor in distant areas, notably up within the mountains, so be sure to save your drafts working out of your pc throughout that bumpy trip up the Accursed vary, otherwise you may need to jot down that 1,500-word article from scratch once more (not that it is occurred to me…)
  • This isn’t any spotless, idyllic, First-World European nation: principally, as a lot as you attempt to flip a blind eye, you possibly can’t simply ignore the poverty-stricken areas
Young Man Working From The Computer
  • Nomad-friendly amenities, like work-friendly cafes and coworking places of work 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-about well-equipped)
  • Social attitudes in Albania are fairly carefree, contemplating that is one in all Europe’s handful of Muslim-majority international locations, however I would not encourage you to indicate affection together with your same-sex accomplice in public in case you do not wish to get grumpy Albanian nonos to curse you lowly, or extra not often, an unfriendly shoulder bump
  • If you are flying, your solely means into and out of Albania is through Tirana: mind-boggling as it might be, there are not any airports but on the Adriatic Coast, and the nation’s solely different operational worldwide airport is positioned in Kukës, close to the Kosovo border (with a single seasonal flight path to Basel in Switzerland)*
*The best technique 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 dangerous, and I cannot wait to be again in Albania myself this summer time. I’m now based mostly in Paris, and there is not any 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? – start.

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This article initially appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed listed below are the creator’s alone, not these of any financial institution, bank card issuer, lodge, airline, or different entity. This content material has not been reviewed, accepted or in any other case endorsed by any of the entities included inside the submit.

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