Best Food in Albania: 25 Incredible Dishes & Drinks to Try on Your Trip

Nothing Familiar Albania Food Guide

We spent two weeks eating our way up the coast of Albania and couldn’t get enough of all the local Albanian dishes! There was so much that surprised us about this country, and the meals were definitely at the top of that list. Albanian food is deliciously hearty and uses local vegetables and seafood to pull out the flavors. Our traditional food guide is sure to make you hungry, and most importantly excited for all the amazing food that awaits you in Albania! 

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Albania Travel Inspiration

Finding the Best Albanian Food

So how did we decide what traditional Albanian dishes to include in our post? First, you should know we took on the task of completely emerging ourselves in the local foods and tasting everything that we could get our hands on!

There are still several other Albanian foods that we read about, but after searching high and low couldn’t find them. So use this as a guide while also branching out and finding your own amazing Albanian dishes!

All costs represent the amount we paid for the meal in the photo. Overall, we found the food in Albania to be extremely economical and downright cheap compared to the rest of Europe.

Best Food in Albania Guide

1. Byrek

Cost: 50 Albanian Lek (.46 Cents USD)

This specialty can be found throughout the Balkans, and in each country, it will vary from bakery to bakery. Our go-to is always the spinach, but you can also find them stuffed with minced meat, onions, and cheese!

Of all the tasty byrek treats we had in Albania, the best came from the mountain town of Gjirokaster. The friendly owner was proud to explain that the spinach used came from her garden that she picked that very morning.

Byrek Albania

2. Cheese & Olive Pie 

Cost: 50 Albanian Lek (.46 Cents USD)

The Byrek isn’t the only thing you’ll find at the many bakeries in Albania! The center of a light piece of dough is filled with different meats, cheeses, and vegetables. We loved the ones topped with cheese and sliced olives.

Cheese & Olive Pie Albania

3. Local Fruit Stands 

Cost: 120 Albanian Lek Per kg ($1.11 USD)

In addition to the unique traditional food in Albania, don’t travel through this country without stocking up at all endless fruit stands.

Selling everything from potatoes to oranges and everything in between, Albania is known for having some of the best produce in Europe. However, there’s one thing we didn’t realize about Albanian food… The delicious Cherries!

At home, a small bag would cost us at least $5 USD so my jaw almost hit the floor when a large bag rang up at just .90 cents! It’s safe to say from that moment forward we stuffed our faces with all the local fruits we saw.

Local Fruits in Albania

4. Rice Balls

Cost: 200 Albanian Lek ($1.86 USD)

This is something we first had in the mountain town of Gjirokaster at a small family-run restaurant. By now you should know you’ll be hearing the name Gjirokaster a lot as it had some of the best traditional food in Albania.

Rice balls are extremely simple yet a yummy addition to any meal. Fried balls of rice are seasoned with mouthwatering special herbs. The main one that will hit you is actually the mint that is infused into the rice!

Albanian Rice Balls

5. Tomato Balls 

Cost: 300 Albanian Lek ($2.79 USD)

While we’re on the topic of fried items… The tomato fritters completely took us by surprise! We expected them to be filled with bread and very dry, but they weren’t at all.

They were actually juicy, soft, and filled with a mixture of other vegetables. Each restaurant will make them slightly different, but the best we had were served with a dill and sour cream dipping sauce.

Guide to Traditional Albanian Dishes

6. Brushull or Pispili

Cost: Free with Our Meal

This Albanian dish is cooked in many areas of the country and is a traditional cornmeal flatbread filled with green leaves and onions.

We first tried it in a local restaurant in Saranda where the waiter asked his mother (who was an amazing cook) to write down the name for us.

It’s not something that can be bought out at a bakery, but instead made in the household or served at a restaurant as a gift from the kitchen. If you’re lucky enough to be served this traditional food in Albania say “faleminderit” (thank you) and dig in!

Brushull Albania

7. Baked Cheese

Cost: 300 Albanian Lek ($2.77 USD)

There’s a huge dairy industry in Southern Albania, and that means cheese comes in almost all forms! With so many options at lunch or dinner, this baked goodness is perfect for any cheese lover.

Used from traditional Albanian hard cheese it’s simply baked into a clay pot. The bottom and edges are crispy while the top and inside are soft and creamy! This is one of the many appetizers or side plates in Albania that’s great for dipping your bread.

Best Food in Albania

8. Fried Cheese with Honey

Cost: 200 Albanian Lek or ($1.86 USD)

You didn’t think that we could only mention one amazing cheese dish, did you? Now don’t worry about the health factors of this traditional Albanian food…

Just think about how much you’ll deserve it after hiking up to castles and swimming all day in the ocean! Cheese is battered and deep fried, then drizzled in honey and topped with sesame seeds. We promise this is a plate that you won’t stop dreaming of once you leave Albania!

Albania traditional food

9. Grilled Vegetable Plate

Cost: 300 Albanian Lek ($2.78 USD)

Grilled vegetable plates are one thing that you will be quick to notice on all menus in Albania. Due to the plentiful crops in the country, the vegetables are abundant and can be blended into many Albanian dishes.

Still, some of the most delicious things are best kept simple! The grilled vegetable plate is a great and healthy way to start a meal. Typically they are topped with a balsamic or garlic glaze.

Albanian Food

10. Country Salad

Cost: 300 Albanian Lek ($2.77 USD)

Albania and the lower Balkans do their salad a little differently than other parts of Europe. Sharing its style with neighboring Greece, they have onions tomatoes, cucumbers, and are topped with olives and local cheese. Who needs lettuce on a salad anyway?

Country Salad

11. Vegetable Soup

Cost: 200 Albanian Lek ($1.84 USD)

As we’ve already mentioned, the traditional food in Albania is impacted by all the local produce the country has to offer. The vegetable soup is one of those staples that are perfect to warm you up during the colder winter months. Usually, it’s served with a side of town bread and is a great light appetizer or lunch.

Albania Traditional Food Guide

12. Fish Soup

Cost: 400 Albanian Lek ($3.69 USD)

There is also a second soup that you’ll find popular among all the Albanian foods. Fish soup is served in a thin broth that is packed with flavors of the ocean.

This can also be seen as an upgrade from the vegetable soup as they both have the same light veggie base. Found commonly on the coastline in beach towns like Dhermi and Himare, this is a must-try Albania food if you’re in the mood for fish!

Albania Traditional Food

13. Sardines

Cost: 430 Albanian Lek ($3.96 USD)

There’s no beating around the bush. People either love or hate Sardines! I’m the sardine lover in our relationship while Jake typically tends to stay away. That was until we got them in Albania!

They are very fresh here and don’t have a strong or overpowering fishy flavor. Served drenched in olive oil they’re perfect with a little slice of bread to soak up the unique tastes.

Best Food in Albania Sardines

14. Fava Beans

Cost: 300 Albanian Lek ($2.77 USD)

These large and juicy beans will explode with flavor from the very first bite. You will usually find them stewed in a tomato and oil sauce, making fava beans a must order on any Albanian food menu. The hearty and flavorful beans are usually found inland in local villages and towns, as opposed to places on the coastline. 

Stewed Fava Beans

15. Albanian Fëgesë

Cost: 300 Albanian Lek ($2.77 USD)

Fëgesë is something you probably haven’t heard of before but will know all too well after traveling through Albania. As one of Albania’s national dishes, you can find it everywhere from the small corner stores to almost any restaurant. In the south it’s more of a snack, while in the north the pepper and cheese dip is served as a full meal.

Albania traditional food Fëgesë

16. Meatballs

Cost: 450 Albanian Lek ($4.18 USD)

Meatballs come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, and even with different toppings in Albania. Most of the time you’ll have it in a classic tomato sauce, but at some local restaurants, it can get wild. As a traditional food in Albania, meatballs can come with melted cheese, in a yogurt sauce, and sometimes onions and oil!

Best Food in Albania

17. Stuffed Peppers

Cost: 300 Albanian Lek ($2.79 USD)

Green peppers stuffed with a rice and herb mixture and cooked until tender. Sometimes served in a red sauce or with a side of potatoes, they can be an amazing addition to your lunch or dinner! Hungry yet?!?

Must Try Albanian dishes - Stuffed Peppers

18. Stuffed, Stewed, & Baked Eggplant

Cost: 400 Albanian Lek ($3.71 USD)

We would be shocked if you went out for traditional food in Albania and they didn’t have some type of eggplant on the menu. We had it stuffed with cheese, stewed with onions, and also baked with meat. The eggplant dishes were some of our favorite in Albania so we hope you’ll indulge, too!

Albanian Baked Eggplant

19. Albanian Moussaka

Cost: 400 Albanian Lek ($3.71 USD)

If you thought Moussaka was only good in Greece, think again! We’ve actually had amazing versions of this dish all over the Balkans, and Albania was no different.

They serve it up all over the country and proudly promote it as one of their own local dishes. We can promise if you love Greek Moussaka you will LOVE the Albanian version. Honestly, we found it to be more flavorful and juicy!

Albanian Moussaka

20. Baked Rabbit

Cost: 750 Albanian Lek ($6.92 USD)

Rabbit is a specialty of Eastern Europe, and when cooked right is absolutely delicious! In Albanian food circles, it’s baked in the oven with mixed root vegetables, tomato sauce, and hints of local herbs.

The meat falls off the bone like you wouldn’t believe, and flavors jump right out of the pot! One of the best rabbit dishes we’ve ever had came from the incredible mountain town of Berat. By now you can probably tell the local food is extra tasty the further you get into the mountains.

Albanian Baked Rabbit

21. Chomlek Berati in the Oven 

Cost:  600 Albanian Lek ($5.59 USD)

We also found this dish in the mountains where the Albanian food is heartier. As we went further north we noticed a theme of food like this, so it must get cold there in the winter! Chomlek Berati comes to the table hot and bubbling cooked with stewed onions. The meat is very tender and the entire dish is unlike anything else we’ve ever had.

Albanian Chomlek Berati in the Oven

22. Mussels from Lake Butrint

Cost: 700 Albanian Lek ($6.51 USD)

When we first ordered the mussels from Lake Butrint we were skeptical. Especially when the waiter proudly proclaimed they were the best in the Balkans! Well, we can’t say that for certain, the Mussels in Southern Albania sure were some of the best we’ve ever had.

Each restaurant makes the sauce of this Albanian food slightly different from wine to a spicy tomato base. Make sure to try these if you visit anywhere near the famous ruins of Butrint in Southern Albania.

The Best Albanian Dishes

23. Whole Fried Fish

Cost: 900 Albanian Lek ($8.36 USD)

With the seafood along the Albanian Riviera being so fresh, the local fish has become a staple of traditional Albanian food. Typically you’ll see it served pan-fried with a garlic mayo sauce. As with almost all seafood in Albania, make sure to squeeze the large lemon and drizzle it on top!

Traditional Albanian Dishes

24. Elbar Beer

Cost: 100 Albanian Lek (.93 Cents USD)

Elbar has grown in popularity so much that it is now the #1 choice for beer in Albania. If you sit down at a bar or restaurant and ask for a cold one, this is almost always what you’re going to get with your Albanian dishes. Even if we’re in wine country we always make a point to try every local brew. Cheers!

Elbar Local Beer of Albania

25. Local House Wine

Cost: 350 Albanian Lek or ($3.25 USD)

There is no better end to the day than with a cheap craft of chilled wine and enjoying the view! The house wine here was some of the best we tasted in Europe which is really saying a lot.

It’s light and sweet and goes perfectly with any Albanian dishes. With that said, whether you’re sitting on an overwater dock in Ksamil or taking in this view of Berat, wine is always a good idea!

Local House Wine with a View in Berat

More Amazing Albanian Dishes?

If this post doesn’t make you excited to eat your way through Albania we don’t know what will! The traditional food in Albania is so diverse that you won’t have a problem getting your fill. It won’t matter if you’re a vegan, veggie, or meat lover, there’s something for everyone in Albania. 

What’s crazy is we still feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface with Albanian food. There are so many more amazing dishes and meals to try! Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite food in Albania? Let us know in the comments below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Albania Travel Planning 

Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to explore when traveling. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic road trip! 

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld can be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. You can book a private hike through the Gamti Mountain, jump on a Tirana Walking Tour, or day trip to the beautiful village of Berat Albania

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Albania Travel

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7 Comments

  1. Fanny
    May 31, 2021 / 9:53 am

    Iā€™m currently traveling in Albania and Iā€™m really enjoying your posts. Thank you for the good work!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      May 31, 2021 / 10:21 am

      We love Albania! Thanks for reading and have fun (:

  2. Adam
    September 3, 2019 / 10:04 pm

    Great post to bring back a few food memories.
    You missed out on some delectable sweets! They share a bit with the Turks, but are great in their own right. Baklava (swimming in syrup), kadaif, and gliko (candied walnuts/watermelon rind, orange rind, tomatoes in syrup).
    The savory food item you must try on your next visit: ajke me spec-creamed cheese (sort of) with banana peppers. This one is highly prevalent in Kosovo. A bite of this is pure joy.
    As for drinks, a draught Korca dark is a welcome departure from the lagers and pilsners. A glass of Skanderbeg and raki should be had at least once on a visit.

    • Brigitte & Jake
      September 4, 2019 / 1:40 pm

      Oh wow! I know we definitely missed a lot of food because we were only there for 2.5 weeks. Can’t wait to go back and try all of these suggestions. Thanks for commenting!

  3. July 3, 2019 / 6:49 am

    Look so delicious. I want to go to Albania šŸ™‚

    • Brigitte & Jake
      July 3, 2019 / 3:56 pm

      The food is sooo good there! Definitely make the trip if you have a chance (:

      • July 5, 2019 / 9:40 am

        I hope Friends šŸ™‚

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