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 primarily based in Europe, I’ve 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 never 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 below my belt, I used to be certain 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 sooner or later down the road, and that by some means seems like my house away from house.

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

It is lovely Albania that stole my coronary heart, and because of this I consider it’s the strongest contender for European Digital Nomad Capital:

The Landmark Castle In Kruja, Albania, South Eastern Europe

Why Albania Of All Locations?

Until 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 got handed via 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 important 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 all know what you are pondering: if it borders these two common trip spots, may Albania be yet one more off-path Mediterranean vacation spot ready on the sidelines to be found?

The quick reply is a powerful Sure!, 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 concept about Albania beforehand: as customary in Jap Europe within the twentieth century, the nation was dominated by an iron-fisted communist regime.

Why Have not You Heard Of Albania Earlier than?

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 effectively 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 have been questioning, Albania is now an open, progressive state, having adopted democratic rules 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 turn 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 turn into my secure haven as a digital nomad?

I do not learn about you, however like every 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 Coronary heart Of Albanian Tradition

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) isn’t closely-related to some other languages on the periphery, like Serbo-Croatian or Bulgarian share similitaries, and its tradition is markedly totally different from the Slavic-dominated Southeastern Europe.

Household is extraordinarily necessary, and it isn’t unusual to search out nuclei of relations dwelling collectively in the identical neighborhood, and even the identical avenue, and to them, hospitality isn’t solely a long-standing custom, however a nationwide worth.

Within 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 visitor, you see. So, earlier than it’s the home of its grasp, it’s the home of 1’s visitor. The visitor, in an Albanian’s life, represents the supreme moral class, extra necessary 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 have been definitely 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 primary phrases in Albanian would get me humorous smiles in response, pleasant pats on the shoulder, and extra raki invites: I am undecided earlier writers have coined this already, however Albanians are the Latin Individuals of Europe.

The Entire Of Albania Ought to Be A UNESCO Heritage Website

Ottoman Era City Of Berat, Albania

We all know you are right here for a few of that Outdated 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, 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 Metropolis 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 suffering from historic port cities as effectively, together with Durres, the place a Fifth-century fort nonetheless stands, the charming Vlore, with its Italian-inspired, pastel Outdated City, and the hilltop, whitewashed village of Dhermi, overlooking the turquoise sea.

For those who’re trying ahead to sporting your Indy Jones hat once more, Butrint is an unlimited 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 purpose is, Albania is probably not as common as a few of its closest neighbors, for the explanations already outlined above, however it definitely doesn’t endure from a scarcity of heritage websites. In reality, it is virtually as if it is taken a web page from the guide of each different Mediterranean hub within the neighborhood:

A Potpourri Of Every little thing That is Nice About Europe

With Its Personal Little Albanian Twist

A few of its settlements are as historic 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 am not averse to harsh winters myself, and I am a agency believer that, so as to really recognize the balmy days of summer time, it’s good to expertise the altering of the seasons, however when you can dwell with out the occasional snow, coastal Albania is not going to disappoint.

Temperatures can plummet to unfavorable ranges in northern Albania, however a lot of the coast stays completely sunny and a nice 64°F. Having visited in February myself, I used to be shocked to search out that the extra wool coats and puffer jackets I packed ‘in case’ have been under no circumstances mandatory.

Aerial View Of Ksamil Beaches In Albania, South Eastern Europe

For those who’re hell-bent on escaping the chilly, the laid-back coastal village of Ksamil, a stone’s throw away from the vigorous harbor metropolis of Saranda, is your greatest wager at year-round springtime climate, with lemon bushes, comfortable white-sand seashores and teal-colored waters making up the surroundings.

Do not Come To Albania On A Strict Food regimen

Albania could also be remoted by way of 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 definitely draw parallels between Gjirokaster’s qifqi rice balls and the extra mainstream Italian arancini.

That being mentioned, there are a variety of native delicacies solely Albania can lay declare to, with my private favorites being the deep-fried petulla fritter, crispy on the skin, comfortable 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 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-Pleasant Is Albania?

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

I will be trustworthy with you: outdoors main city facilities, life as a distant employee could be difficult (at occasions).

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

That’s notably true within the low season, when eating places and guesthouses on the coast usually shut down, and getting round with out a automobile is an journey you do not need to embark on.

Albania is nothing wanting beautiful, however it’s years behind in improvement in comparison with the common European nation.

For that purpose, I’d suggest you spend most of your time in a big metropolis like Tirana, the place there’s sufficient of a social scene and nighttime providers 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 Past The Gray Clusters Of Communist House 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 possibly can’t deny it’s intriguing, with communist-era bunker museums, manmade lakes and eccentric high-rises dominating the skyline.

For those who’re a daily cafe-goer, it is 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 is really no surprise Tirana has proudly taken up the mantle of Europe’s middle for digital nomadism, internet hosting a Digital Nomad Convention since 2022 and with an expat neighborhood that continues to develop yr after yr.

The High 5 Greatest Digital Nomad Locations In Albania

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

The way in which 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 filled with verdant parks for quickly escaping town crowds and loopy site visitors
  • Shkoder: the cultural coronary heart of Northern Albania, well-known for its revitalized, restaurant-lined Outdated City and an imposing 2,400-year-old Rozafa Fortress
  • 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 certainly one of its meals meccas, the place I attempted the most effective jani me fasule on the journey (be sure to add Taverna Kala to your record of eating places)

Albania Is The Least expensive Nation I’ve Been In Europe

Albanian banknotes

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

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

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

Regardless that lodging prices aren’t included on this estimate, lease could be as much as 69% cheaper than Paris or London, two overpriced cities that may wipe your pockets clear when you’re not cautious sufficient. Fortunately, dwelling prices are nowhere close to as exorbitant in Albania.

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

It Is Extremely Secure For Foreigners

Young Female Waving An Albanian Flag In Downtown Tirana, Albania

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

That is not my very own judgment, however the U.S. State Division’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

Whereas I would not take my probabilities going for a late night stroll in Tirana – Albanian cities aren’t notably well-lit at night time – crime ranges are below acceptable ranges, and guests are not often, if ever, affected by violence.

Your major concern right here is pickpocketing, although I by no means felt the necessity to disguise my cellphone when out in public, and judging by the quantity of bijou Albanian girls put on and the flowery sportscars the lads drive, no person’s visibly anxious 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 superb. As soon as I used to be lulled to sleep by the mild sound of crashing waves at a busy Ksamil seaside, with my laptop computer bag by my aspect, and I startlingly woke as much as discover it nonetheless untouched the place I left it.

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

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

Are You A U.S. Passport Holder?

You Can Keep An Complete 12 months In Albania
Traveler Holding USA Passport At Airport

Each digital nomad primarily based 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 am 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 one draw back to Schengen? You possibly can solely be current within the Schengen territories for 90 days out of any 180-day interval. In different phrases, when you’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 isn’t a member of the European Union (EU), and it isn’t certain to hitch the borderless space anytime quickly sooner or later.

International 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.

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

Regardless of 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 all the continent, with fares ranging from $19 on Ryanair.

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

View of Tirana Albania

What are a few of the unfavorable elements about life in Albania as a digital nomad, chances are you’ll be asking?

I’ve already touched on a few of these all through this text, however I’d say a few of the major ones embody:

  • The dearth of public transport (good luck getting from level A to B when you’re not renting a automobile and you’ve got reservations about hitchhiking)
  • Except the primary motorways linking Tirana to the coastal ports and resort cities, the regional street community could be fairly precarious, with numerous potholes and lacking street indicators (when you’re driving, I’d advise towards hitting the fuel, particularly after sunset when visibility is decrease)
  • Reception could be poor in distant areas, notably up within the mountains, so be sure to save your drafts working out of your laptop throughout that bumpy journey up the Accursed vary, otherwise you may need to put in writing that 1,500-word article from scratch once more (not that it is occurred to me…)
  • That is no spotless, idyllic, First-World European nation: mainly, 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 services, like work-friendly cafes and coworking places of work could also be more durable to return throughout outdoors cities like Tirana, Shkoder and Durres (I’d 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 certainly one of Europe’s handful of Muslim-majority international locations, however I would not encourage you to point out affection together with your same-sex accomplice in public when you do not need to get grumpy Albanian nonos to curse you lowly, or extra not often, an unfriendly shoulder bump
  • For those who’re flying, your solely approach into and out of Albania is through 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 simplest method 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.

For sure, the nice far outweighs the dangerous, and I can not wait to be again in Albania myself this summer time. I am now primarily based in Paris, and there is no approach I am sticking round to see how totally anarchic this metropolis will get as soon as the Olympics – or ought to I say Hunger Games? – start.

Learn Extra:

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Opinions expressed listed below 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, authorized or in any other case endorsed by any of the entities included throughout the submit.

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