Albania doesn’t only have beautiful beaches and nature, but also a rich culture and history. It’s no surprise that the last hidden gem of Europe is seeing a growing influx of tourists who discover that Albania is beyond their expectations. But what do you take home to remember your stay in Albania? Or maybe you want to bring home a special gift to your loved ones that is really unique to the ‘Land of the Eagles’? Look no further, as we have listed 15 suggestions of souvenirs for you to take home from Albania!
Tip: scroll all the way down for some final advise about buying souvenirs in Albania!
1. Miniature Bunker Ashtray
If you haven’t noticed yet, Albania is full of abandoned bunkers that were built during the communist era. Albania’s dictator Enver Hoxha was so paranoid about being attacted that he built thousands of bunkers along the entire coastline and at other strategic places to protect the country. Albania is moving on but won’t forget about its past and you can still find bunkers everywhere. Even if you don’t smoke, a miniature bunker ashtray will be a unique memory or gift from Albania.
2. Statue Or Painting Of Mother Teresa
Although born in Skopje, now the capital of North-Macedonia, Mother Teresa is considered of the larger Albanian descent. Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun and missionary and received the 1979 Nobel Peace Price for her charitable work to help overcome poverty in different parts of the world. You might notice many depictions and several streets (including Nënë Tereza Square in Saranda) named after her as she is considered a national hero by many Albanians.
3. Handwoven Rug
Weaving is still a common practice in Albania and handwoven carpets and rugs can be found in any household. They are usually amazingly colorful but you can find them in many different sizes, shapes and price ranges so you can always find something that fits in your own home.
4. Anything Depicting Albania’s National Hero Skanderbeg
Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu (1405 – 1468), known as “Skanderbeg”, is considered the national hero for his rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. You can find depictions of his face, buste or as a warrior on a horse anywhere, with his statue on Skanderbeg Square in Tirana being the most famous. Bringing home any object with the face of Skanderbeg will be unique to Albania, whether it is a painting, sculpture or even a wooden liqor bottle.
5. Handcrafted Jewellery
You will find all kinds of home made jewellery in many different colors on flee markets and souvenir shops and stalls so there’ll always be something for your taste.
6. Colorful Woven Fabrics
Apart from rugs and carpets, you can find many other colorful handwoven fabrics sold by locals at markets, souvenir shops or just on the side of the street. You can find anything from clothing peaces, to socks, table clothes or bags.
Since raki is the national alcoholic drink of Albania, you can’t really leave without having a taste of it. Raki made from grapes is the most commonly one drunk by Albanians, but there are many other flavors as well, including plum, mulberry, peach and cherry. Be careful when flying with glass bottles, and also make sure to check the quantities you can bring with you in your (hand) luggage. You can find raki bottles in many different sizes.
8. Skënderbeu Cognac
Skënderbeu Cognac, named after the national hero Skanderbeg, is a national drink and an export product with international fame. You can buy a simple bottle, but there are also many gift packages including nice wood sculptured items.
9. Albanian Wine
Albania has one of the best climates for growing grapes, and although raki is the national drink, there are also some decent locally produced wines. One of the local wineries near Saranda is called Kantina ISAK and their wine can be bought almost anywhere around town.
Bees and wasps might be pretty annoying when you want to enjoy your lunch outdoors in August, but at the same time they are also pretty useful insects. Albania is full of bees producing amazing honey which is being sold on the side of the street or at local markets like the Local Farmers Market in Saranda.
11. Woodcrafted Items
Woodcrafting is still very much alive in many villages in Albania and those who master the craft can make some amazing items. You can find anything from basic practical household items, to beautiful sculptures and other pieces of art.
12. Paintings Of Local Artists
Albania has some incredibly talented artists, so why not take home one of their amazing paintings? If you’re interested in art, also make sure to check out the Art Gallery in Saranda.
13. Olive Oil
Around the entire Albanian Riviera you’ll see beautiful landscapes full of olive groves, because the climate is extremely favorable for growing the best olives. Once the harvest seasons kicks in plastic bags are being placed on the ground around the trees. With a large stick the ripe olives are being shaken out of the trees and fall directly into the bags. Then the olives are being processed into the freshest olive oil you’ve ever tasted. Many farmers sell their olive oil directly on the side of the street, or on local markets like the Local Farmers Market in Saranda, but you can also buy it in many shops.
14. Handmade Ceramics
Hand crafted ceramics are another amazing souvenir to bring home from your trip to Albania. You can find mugs, plates, vases and even artworks with amazingly corlorful traditional Albanian patterns.
15. Antiques And Other Second Hand Objects
If you like retro or have an interest in history you will likely enjoy browsing around markets with antiques and second hand objects. Apart from everyday household objects you might also come across some old communist items or clothing.
Some Advise For Buying Souvenirs In Albania
- Shop locally. Spend some time to browse around local markets and shops, which is not only fun, but you also support the local communities. Anything with a label in multiple languages is probably imported and therefore also more expensive.
- Always check the authenticity of an item and whether it has really been produced in Albania.
- When buying souvenirs it’s also recommended to bargain for the best price.