5 Best Dog Friendly Weekend Breaks in Albania

Have you been wanting to take a dog friendly weekend getaway, day trip or vacation in Albania? Check out these ideas!

Albania is a actually a treasure trove of dog-friendly destinations because of the natural beauty that accepts both people and their pets. From the crystal-clear waters of Ksamil Beach to the historic streets of Gjirokaster, there’s something for every kind of dog and owner.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, Albania’s diverse landscapes and dog nonchalance make it an interesting choice for your next holiday especially during the off-season.

During our month-long adventure across Albania with our two terriers, we discovered a country rich in dog-friendly activities, though not without its challenges.

Navigating the limited transportation options and adjusting to a culture that views dogs differently than western Europe was part of the journey.

Despite these hurdles, the incredible experiences we shared made every moment worthwhile, and if you bring your dog here, we hope you enjoy the unique charm that this beautiful country has to offer.

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Vacation rental with yard in Ksamil

5 Best Dog Friendly Weekend Getaways in Albania

A boat in the beach at Saranda

1. Saranda

Why Saranda (Sarandë) is a great weekend vacation with your dog:

It might take a little bit of effort to get to Saranda with your dog, but once you do, you will be glad you came.

The tourism efforts are making the city very walkable with views at each of the levels. There’s also fabulous sea view dining around every corner. Dogs are allowed on almost every patio, but less frequently inside. Since the weather is quite pleasant even in the cooler months, it’s lovely to sit outside most of the year.

During the low season, dogs can run on the public city beaches and jump in for a swim. During high season, access to the beaches is more limited since the beaches will be quite full of sunbathers and swimmers.

In addition to beaches and dining, there are some great historical sites you can visit with your dogs at the Lekursi Castle and Forty Saints Monastery. If it isn’t too hot, dogs and their owners will really enjoy the hike up the hill to either of the sites. Each one gives a different but equally stunning view.

The Blue Eye is in a natural park about 30 minutes away. It’s a must see for everyone and very dog friendly with wide paved walkways at the beginning and more rugged hiking trails as you get further into the park. Dogs will really enjoy the adventure.

Best For: Promenade with your pups – it’s a place to see and be seen. You will always run into a friend of both two and four legged variety.

Our experience: why we think this is a great place to spend a weekend

We highly recommend a dog friendly getaway to Saranda NOT in the summer high season. We visited in spring. The weather was perfect for beach combing and hiking.

Since the tourist crowds hadn’t arrived yet, we had lots of access to visit these amazing places. Our dogs were even able to go off leash regularly because we basically had the place to ourselves.

We met lots of other travelers with their dogs as well, so it was great fun to have both impromptu and organized puppy playdates where they could run around the beaches and ruins together. Talk about dog friendly patios – Natyra Restaurant hosted 9 people with 8 dogs! We are grateful to the hospitality we received.

Norwich terrier on dock at Ksamil beach

2. Ksamil

Why Ksamil is a great dog friendly getaway:

Ksamil Beach is ideal for a dog-friendly escape from mid-September to early May. During these months, you can avoid the summer’s intense heat and crowds. Plus, many beaches that charge entry during peak season are open for dogs to roam leash-free in the off-season. It’s worth noting that visiting during the high summer season can be less ideal due to restrictions on dogs at these busier, paid beaches.

The water at Ksamil Beach is famously clear—recently winning awards for having the clearest water in the world. This makes it not only a stunning place to visit but a fantastic spot for your dog to splash around during the less crowded months.

When looking for places to stay, consider opting for a vacation rental with a private yard to give your pet extra space to play.

Don’t miss visiting the nearby UNESCO heritage site of Butrint. It’s dog-friendly, allowing pets leashed access through its ancient ruins and nature trails. The area also offers a variety of hikes and walks perfect for exploring with your canine companion.

Best For: swimming in the clearest water, a yard to roam in, Exploring historical sites and natural trails

Our experience: a stunning place to spend a weekend

We visited Ksamil Beach in March, when the number of tourists is low, often giving us and our dogs the beach almost to ourselves. We joined a dog-friendly meetup, where every pup found something to enjoy—whether it was swimming, chasing sticks, chasing the other dogs around the beach, or just lounging in the shade.

I don’t know how many times my jaw dropped from the unimaginable beauty, from the serene beach walks to the vibrant meetups, proving Ksamil Beach is a superb pick for travelers with dogs looking for both relaxation and adventure.

Norwich terrier in a field of daisies in Gjirokaster Castle in Albania

3. Gjirokaster

Why Gjirokaster is a great weekend break or day trip from Saranda:

Gjirokaster, with its distinctive Ottoman architecture and hillside setting, offers a charming escape that is a unique adventrue and their owners for much of the year.

It’s best to visit Gjirokaster outside the peak heat of July and August. Additionally, if you’re planning a last-minute trip, try to avoid rainy days as the town’s steep hills and cobblestone streets can become slippery.

While exploring Gjirokaster, don’t miss the chance to visit the castle. Many castles around Europe allow dogs to visit the grounds outside, but this one let’s your dogs join you inside as well. The walk up the hill is pretty making for a nice walk together. Inside, you can look at the architecture, arms and read about the history. The views of the town below and the surrounding mountains are stunning. There are signs asking people to stay off the grass, so that might be a bit confusing for dogs, but just see it as an opportunity to. practice heeling.

The journey to Gjirokaster is an experience in itself, with the drive along an ice blue river flanked by breathtaking landscapes and numerous dog-friendly patios at elegant roadside stops. If the mood strikes, you can simply pull over and enjoy a hike along the riverbank with your dog.

Best For: walking through history, al fresco dining with spectacular views, scenic drives along the river with stops for quick hikes

Our experience: a delightful weekend with a historical twist

Visiting Gjirokaster was a treat, especially since it was our dog’s first visit to the inside of a castle. The castle has a low charge for people, but was free and welcoming to dogs.

Even though dogs are often not allowed inside stores inside of Albania, the souvenir shop owners in the historic district still welcomed us with our dogs. They probably figured it was worth it to make a sale.

Although finding a place to stay was a bit tricky since not many accommodations are keen on hosting pets even when they say pets allowed. “Allowed” definitely didn’t mean welcome and there were often a list of rules including not to get on the furniture, so bring your dog’s bed if you visit.

In Gjirokaster, our days were packed with historic sights and breathtaking views, making it a standout choice for travelers with dogs who love a mix of history and nature.

Tank in Tirana painted with flowers

4. Tirana

Why Tirana is a great dog friendly city break

Tirana is a vibrant city that caters well to dogs, especially those who thrive in urban environments. It stands out due to its green spaces scattered throughout, providing a breath of fresh air amid the urban hustle. The city’s high end restaurant, cafe and museum culture are are perfect for calm dogs who enjoy leisurely strolls rather than rigorous activity.

The city’s dining scene is notably trendy, featuring a range of high-end, beautifully designed patios that offer more than just a meal—they provide a full dining experience. The city is working really hard to make Tirana a go-to destination. They converted a castle into a lovely indoor/outdoor shopping and dining complex offers a unique ambiance that both you and your dog can enjoy.

Urban walks are a big part of the attraction in Tirana. Places like Skanderbeg Square, Tanner’s Bridge, and the Pyramid of Tirana offer opportunities for you and your pup to explore.

If you’re visiting in the summer, plan for relaxing indoor activities during the hot daytime hours and take advantage of the lively, cooler evenings when the city really comes alive. It’s safe, well-lit, and bustling with outdoor activities, perfect for nighttime strolls with your dog. During cooler seasons, the afternoons are ideal for exploring.

Best For: strolling through urban parks and green spaces, high-end patio dining in a trendy urban setting

Our experience: delicious dining, shopping and strolls

Our dogs, Denver and Sam, loved the vast open spaces of Tirana’s parks.

They were initially a bit overwhelmed by the busy and noisy streets, but quickly took to the pedestrian-friendly areas with lots of patio dining.

We strategically chose accommodations centrally located to most of our activities, which allowed us to walk everywhere. Sticking with places you can walk to meanswe didn’t have to negotiate the complexities of if the bus driver would allow us on with our dogs.

This accessibility of being in the middle of the city made our stay not only convenient but also highly enjoyable for us and our dogs.

Pogradec view of lake

5. Pogradec

Why Pogradec is a great weekend break

Pogradec, nestled along the shores of Lake Ohrid, is an ideal retreat for dogs who love water and prefer a cooler climate. This serene lakeside city offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle, making it perfect for dogs and their owners looking for a peaceful getaway.

The lake itself provides ample opportunities for dogs to swim and play in the water, while the surrounding areas are great for leisurely walks and exploring nature.

The climate in Pogradec tends to be milder compared to other regions, which means it’s comfortable for pets year-round, especially during the warmer months when the lake breeze can be particularly refreshing. The town’s laid-back atmosphere, combined with its beautiful natural surroundings, makes it a wonderful spot for relaxation and enjoying outdoor activities without the discomfort of extreme temperatures.

Best For: Swimming, playing, relaxing and nature where you can reset

Our experience: #1 On our Albania bucket list

This lakeside town is on our list to visit for the fall. We’ve heard from a number of people, it’s a hidden gem for pet owners.

The town is known for its friendly atmosphere and welcoming local community, making it an inviting place to visit.

The availability of numerous dog-friendly outdoor activities, combined with the picturesque setting by Lake Ohrid, ensures that a trip to Pogradec would be both memorable and enjoyable for dogs and their owners alike.

Getting Around

The best way to get around is in your own or a rental car since public transportation options with dogs. Plus, there’s a lot to do that’s on the way to or from a location, so having your own car helps with that flexibility.

Small dogs may or may not be allowed on a bus. It’s really up to the bus driver. I know many people who didn’t have any issues especially with dogs in carriers. Large dogs on leashes were rejected.

If you need someone to drive you, we used a wonderful taxi service based out of Tirana, Taxi Gazi Tirane. He allowed our two dogs in carriers and I confirmed, he would be allow large dogs outside of carriers as well.

Final Thoughts: The Best Dog Friendly Weekend Breaks in Albania

If you’re already in Albania or a neighboring country and looking for a weekend escape, day trip or longer vavation that both you and your dog will love, Albania has plenty to offer.

Each location boasts unique attractions—whether it’s the historical explorations, beachside frolics, or café culture. Our own journey through these diverse landscapes with our terriers was full of fun and beauty.

So why not take the opportunity to explore the hidden gems of Albania with your dog by your side? It’s an experience that promises enriching moments and joyful memories.

Resource Guide for Travel with a Dog

🧳 What’s the best carrier for my dog when traveling?

You need different carriers for different types of travel

This is my favorite carrier for a small dog – Sleepypod Air

This is my favorite car harness for medium-large dogs – Sleepypod Clickit

This is the best for a large dog on a plane – Skymate Kennel

This is my favorite backpack for a small-medium sized dog – Mr. Penuts Tahoe

You can read more about my review of types of dog carriers for travel here.

🏨 What’s the best site to find cheap pet-friendly hotels?

To find cheap hotels, I recommend Expedia

Vacation Rentals are often the best option for people with pets VRBO

Stay for free or have someone watch your pet with Trusted Housesitters!

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