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Dog-friendly Albania - me and my dogs in Saranda

Dog-Friendly Albania: Travelling With Two Dogs In Albania

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Last Updated on 29/03/2024 by Claire Coney

So, you want to travel to Albania with your dog, but you have some questions! Is Albania dog-friendly? How easy is it to travel with a dog in Albania? However, the information on the internet is limited and confusing, right? In this blog post, I will share my experience of visiting Southern Albania with my husband and our two dogs. We explored the area and had a great time. I will also provide tips and advice to help you make the most of your trip.   

I visited Southern Albania during the off-peak season (January to April 2024) and was excited to explore the country’s diverse landscape of mountains, plains, rivers, and lakes. Albania’s stunning coastline runs along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, making it a great destination for travellers interested in history, culture, and nature. It is also an affordable option. As Albania is not yet part of the EU or Schengen, it is ideal for travellers who need to extend their stay in Europe. 

Me and my dog at Finiq, Albania. Views of valley, mountians and sea.
Me, Abigail and Charlie at Finiq. We are admiring the views.

We based ourselves in Saranda, a coastal city on the Albanian Riveria, which is famous for its beautiful beaches, historical sites, and lively nightlife. Saranda is also a gateway to the region’s attractions, such as the ancient city of Butrint, the UNESCO town of Gjirokastër, and the Blue Eye Spring. While it is a popular summer destination, it can also be enjoyed in the off-season when it is less crowded and more affordable. 

Ksamil Beach – Meeting new like-minded people when travelling is a great experience. Shoutout to Emily & Chris – Pets around the world & Warren Julie Travel.
If our paths cross & you’d like to meet up Contact me.

Regulations for Travelling in Albania with a Dog  

If you plan to travel to Albania with your dog, there are some regulations you need to be aware of. Albania is a non-European country with pet travel regulations like those of EU countries.  

Here are the key points you need to know:  

  • Ensure your pet is microchipped with a 15-digit ISO-compliant microchip and has had a rabies shot no less than 30 days before travel. 
  •  Obtain a Veterinary Certificate for Albania from a licensed veterinarian before your trip.  
  • No import permit is required for personal pets entering Albania.  
  • Pets can only enter Tirana through the Nene Tereza Airport in Rinas or a recognized land border checkpoint. 
  • Upon entry, your pet should be free from any diseases communicable to humans.  
  • Albania does not have a list of banned breeds, so all breeds are welcome.  

Top Tips

When travelling with your furry friend, it is essential to research the latest pet transportation information and know the requirements for entering and leaving Albania with your dog. You can find information about travelling to Europe with your dog here and check the latest rules and regulations. 

Driving Across the Greek-Albania Border with a Dog  

I drove our van from Greece to Albania. The road from Igoumentisa was narrow and climbed a hill up to Mavromati. The views of the Ionian Sea from the border checkpoint were stunning.  Driving across the Greek-Albania border with dogs can be time-consuming due to the required checks. The Greek border officials were quick and efficient with their checks. We were on our way to the Albania checkpoint within 20 minutes.  

On the Albania side, we experienced a delay of about an hour while officials checked our paperwork and searched our van. However, the officials were friendly and apologetic about the delays. 

Van in Albania
Our Van in Albania. A quick pit-stop.

Other Options for Dog-Friendly Travel to Albania

If you prefer not to drive, there are other options for dog-friendly travel to Albania.

Flying To Albania with your Dog  

Travelling to Tirana Airport in Albania with your dog is possible, but it is crucial to review the pet policies of your chosen airline.  

Travelling to Albania by Train with your Dog  

International train services to Albania are not available, but trains within Albania may allow pets. 

Travelling to Albania by Ferry with your Dog  

Ferries offer a pet-friendly travel option. Companies such as Adria Ferries offer pet cabins and other amenities for your furry friend. 

Travelling in Albania by Bus with your Dog   

Buses in Albania are typically privately owned minivans, and the rules for pet travel are less clear and vary by provider. Before you go on a trip, call the bus company to check their rules for pets. 

Dog-friendly Accommodation in Albania  

Dog-friendly accommodation is not difficult to find in Albania. There are many options available, but you need to research and plan. Not all accommodation providers accept dogs. The accommodation that does may have different policies on size, number, and breed. In Albania, extra fees may apply. It is important to respect the rules and regulations of the place you are staying. Options include hotels, apartments, and camping sites. 

Austin and I rented a dog-friendly apartment through Airbnb. It had a garden, parking, a roof terrace and sea views. The apartment was spacious, clean and comfortable. It had everything we needed for our stay. The owners were very welcoming and helpful. The neighbours gave us oranges from their tree, making it a delightful experience. 

Dog-friendly Beaches in Albania  

One of the main reasons Austin and I chose Saranda was because of its dog-friendly beaches. Our dogs love the water and playing fetch with sticks, so they had a blast on the sand and in the sea. Some of our favourite beaches were;   

Saranda Beaches

Saranda has sand and shingle beaches set on a curved bay. While the beaches in Saranda itself may not be the most spectacular in the region, they offer clear, calm waters and are conveniently accessible, making them perfect for a relaxing swim or sunbathing. For those seeking more secluded spots, the surrounding areas of the Riviera provide a plethora of unspoiled beaches to explore. Charlie and Abigail frolicked and played on these beaches.  

Dog-friendly beach, Saranda Albania
Saranda Beach – Charlie’s swimming in the Sea. Can you spot him?

Ksamil

This hidden gem is a slice of paradise with its Caribbean-like beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Nestled about 15 km south of Saranda, there are several islands and coves to explore. Without a doubt, this was our favourite beach day out with our dogs. 

Dog-friendly Beach Ksmil Albania
Charlie and Abigail Playing on Ksmil Beach. Do you think they are having fun?

Borsh

Heading north 38km from Saranda will find Borsh. It boasts the longest stretch of beach in Albania. It had a natural beauty and a more laid-back vibe. Austin and I liked this beach as it was ideal for a walk with our dogs.  

Dog-friendly Beach, Borsh, Albania.
Charlie on Borsh Beach. Playing in the waves.

In the village, there is a charming restaurant with a waterfall cascading through it. Lunching outdoors was a delightful experience. Austin and I enjoyed the panoramic view of the sea. Times like these capture our senses with delicious food and beautiful views. Sharing this with our furry friends, created a lasting memory. Such occasions are a gentle reminder of life’s simple pleasures.  

Waterfall Restaurant Borsh
Waterfall Restaurant Borsh.

Porto Palermo Beach

Another 11km north of Borsh is Porto Palermo. Austin and I loved this pretty bay with its historical castle and clear waters. We visited the castle with our dogs and were welcomed by the tour guide.  

Charlie on Porta Palermo Beach
Charlie on Porta Palermo Beach

Himare Beaches

Continue north for 7km to Himare. This pretty town has a mix of pebble and sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Austin and I had a lovely walk on the town’s sandy beach with our dogs. Then, we went for morning coffee in one of the seafront cafes where Abigail and Charlie were welcomed. It provided a serene setting with picturesque views of the Ionian Sea. The southern Pebbly beach was an excellent spot for our picnic lunch. Our dogs played happily on the beach.  

Abigail on Himare Beach
Abigail on Himare Beach having a rest on the wet sand.

Top Tip: These beaches are dog-friendly during off-peak seasons. However, it’s advisable to check local regulations for specific beaches during peak season.  

Blacks Outdoor Store

Dog-friendly Tourist Attractions in Albania  

Saranda and its surrounding areas offer a lot of attractions for dog lovers. One of the places to visit is Gjirokastër, a charming town located 55 kilometres from Saranda. During our visit, Austin and I took our furry friends, Abigail and Charlie, to explore some of the town’s famous landmarks. 

Gjirokastër

First, we visited the Gjirokaster Castle, a magnificent hilltop fortress that offered a panoramic view of the city, river valley, and surrounding mountains. Abigail and Charlie accompanied us as we explored the castle, and they seemed to enjoy the adventure as much as we did. 

Dog-friendly Gjirokaster Castle, Albania
Exploring Gjirokaster Castle with my dogs

Next, we went to the Gjirokaster Bazaar, an old market area with zig-zagging streets. It was the perfect place to stroll with our dogs, as they were welcome everywhere. Austin and I enjoyed browsing the shops and looking at the local artisan products, while Abigail was fascinated by the teddy bears sitting on chairs in the streets. Later, we stopped at a quaint café for morning coffee before continuing our tour. 

Abigail and the Gjirokaster Teddy Bears
Abigail and the Gjirokaster Teddy Bears

Although pets can’t enter the Ethnographic Museum, you can take them for a walk around it. This area is great for learning about the local culture and history while enjoying a stroll with your pet. 

Another lovely area to walk with your dog is the Manalat Quarter, known for its beautiful homes and wide views. It’s a quiet neighbourhood that offers a calm walk, and there are fewer people around, making it an excellent place for walking dogs. 

Abigail - Gjirokaster Street Bazaar
Abigail exploring Gjirokaster Street Bazaar. Can you see the Castle?

Finally, we visited the Zekate House, an old house from the Ottoman times that shows how people built houses and lived back then. Dogs are welcome to visit too from 8:15 in the morning until 8:00 at night. 

Butrint National Park

We went to Butrint with our furry friends Abigail and Charlie, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most popular archaeological parks in Albania. The park offers a perfect blend of historical structures and natural landscapes. During our visit, we packed some water and snacks for a picnic which we enjoyed in the castle while admiring the breathtaking view of the National Park.   

Dog-friendly Butrint, Albania
We loved exploring Butrint with our dogs

Butrint has a rich historical significance that dates back to the 8th century BC. The ancient city has ruins from various civilizations such as Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Besides the historical landmarks, the park’s natural features make it even more intriguing, and the wetlands are an absolute must-see. 

Saranda Castle

We also visited Saranda Castle, which was on a hill overlooking the city and the sea. It was built by the Venetians in the 14th century and had a church inside. Nowadays it serves as a restaurant perfect for watching the sunset into the sea.  

View from Saranda Castle
View from Saranda Castle. Austin taking photos of Abigail and Charlie.

The Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër)

Austin and I had a fun day at The Blue Eye. Abigail and Charlie were excited to walk alongside the stunning lake. They loved exploring the nature trails by the blue river.  It was a tranquil environment surrounded by forests.  

Dog-friendly Blue Eye Spring Saranda Albania
Charlie enjoys a walk around the trail at the Blue Eye Spring.

The Blue Eye is a natural water spring and a popular tourist attraction in Albania. It is famous for its stunning deep blue waters. It’s located near Saranda, about 22 km from the city, and is the source of the Bistricë River. The depth of the Blue Eye has not been fully explored, but divers have reached up to 50 meters.   

Dine Out with Your Dog in Saranda.  

In Saranda many restaurants welcome dogs. This means that you can bring your furry friend along with you when you go out to eat. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy a meal without having to leave your pet behind.  

Our favourite dog-friendly restaurant in Saranda is Natyra, located on Rruga Kalaja e Lekursit in Saranda, Albania. We loved this restaurant because we were able to bring our dogs, Abigail and Charlie, inside and the staff showed them lots of attention. The scenic views from the restaurant were breathtaking.  

dog-friendly restaurant in Saranda is Natyra Albania
Natyra restaurant is dog-friendly and has fantastic views.

Another great restaurant is Kristiano, located on Naim Fraseri in Saranda, Albania. This restaurant is situated at the south end of the Promenade and offers a beautiful view of the sea. We loved sitting on the terrace with our dogs. 

Dog-friendly Kristiano Restaurant saranda, Albania
Kristiano Restaurant and I’m taking photos again.

You might also like to try;  

  • Restaurants like Haxhi and Centrali welcome dogs at their outdoor tables.  
  • Taverna Laberia is a warm and welcoming place with a staff that is always friendly. They also welcome dogs, making it a great spot for pet owners. 
  • Demi Restaurant offers a special eating experience with a private area on the beach where you might be able to bring your dog. 

Top Tip: It’s always a good idea to call a restaurant and confirm the current pet policy. Also, make sure there’s space in the restaurant for you and your dog. Trying local cuisine with your companion can be a delightful experience. It makes your trip more memorable. 

Dog Parks  

Saranda doesn’t have any parks where dogs can run without a leash right now. 

Pet Care in Saranda Albania  

For pet owners, finding a reliable veterinarian is crucial, especially when travelling. During my visit to Saranda, Albania, I had the pleasure of using the Pet Care Veterinary Clinic, which is led by Dr. Sheme Cela. Dr Cela is renowned for providing excellent care to pets. It’s essential to ensure that pets stay healthy by obtaining health certificates and booster shots, particularly when travelling. It’s comforting to know that expert veterinarians like Dr. Cela are readily available to assist with the health needs of pets. 

Stray Dogs in Albania  

We noticed that there were many stray dogs on the streets of Saranda. While some of them looked friendly, others seemed nervous and hungry. To ensure our dog’s safety, we kept them on a leash whenever stray dogs were present.  

Stray dog at the Blue Eye Spring
Stray Dog at the Blue Eye Spring

The issue of stray dogs in Saranda, Albania, has become a concern for the community. However, it has also prompted local groups and individuals to take action. These kind-hearted volunteers provide medical care, and food, and even help find adoption opportunities for these animals. Their compassionate work shows how much they care for these dogs and how everyone can help make a difference. 

Stray Dogs in Saranda Albania
Stray Dogs in Saranda Albania

The Albanian Attitude to Dogs and Other Animals   

We had a wonderful experience in Saranda with our dogs. People were very friendly towards them, often stopping us to ask about their names, breeds, and where they came from. They would also say nice things about our dogs’ appearance and behaviour and sometimes offer them treats or water. This made us feel very welcomed and appreciated. 

The Best Time of Year to Visit Albania with a Dog  

If you plan to travel to Albania with your furry friend, it is best to visit during the spring or autumn, from April to June or September to October. The weather is nice and not too hot, and there are fewer tourists, so you and your pet can enjoy the sights more comfortably. You can explore Tirana’s colourful streets or relax by the sea on the Albanian Riviera. 

Wrapping It Up  

During our stay in Saranda, we had no trouble finding dog-friendly accommodation. We enjoyed the sunny weather, the ocean, and learning about the city’s rich history and culture. We highly recommend Saranda to other dog lovers who want to travel with their pets.  

If you have any experiences of travelling with your dog in Albania, please share them in the comments below. Also, if you are looking for more information about travelling to Europe with your dog, you might like to read The Fido Trail’s Greece Archives. 


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