Albania or Montenegro – Which Should You Choose to Visit?

Countries in the Balkans are often overlooked in favour of other European destinations when it comes to deciding where to visit on holiday. If you’re a traveller that prefers to discover ‘off the beaten track’ places then this part of the continent is perfect for you to explore, with countries like Albania and Montenegro perfect examples of ‘undiscovered’ locations.

Montenegro and Albania sit beside each other in the southeast of Europe, overlooking the Adriatic Sea. They’re both great destinations for beach holidays, hiking trips and cultural sightseeing, which makes it really difficult to choose between the two when deciding where to visit on holiday.

In this guide, we explore the history, culture, cuisine, landscapes and nightlight of Albania and Montenegro to help you choose which of the two destinations is best for your next trip.



The climate in Albania is Mediterranean, characterised by hot and dry summers and cooler, wet winters. The weather varies around the country, with lower average temperatures in the east where there are mountains and high temperatures along the coast, creating optimum conditions for the beach.

The best time to visit Albania for the weather is either MayJune or September – October, as it’s warm but not too hot, which is ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. At the start of the summer the average temperature is around 22°C, and at the end of the season highs can still reach up to 28°C.

Coast of Berat


Montenegro also has a Mediterranean climate with hot weather throughout the summer months and then wet and mild winters. The north of the country has plenty of mountains, so the weather in this area tends to be cooler with lower average temperatures and snow in the winter. On the coast, temperatures in the summer can reach up to 40°C, which can be uncomfortable if you’re unused to the heat.

There’s a relatively high chance of good weather if you visit Montenegro in the spring or summer, as the country sees around 2500 hours of sunshine every year. Unless you’re seeking incredibly hot weather, the best time to visit Montenegro is usually considered to be May-June or September, as the weather is still very warm but not unbearably so.



Albania was first conquered by the Romans in 167 BC and later became part of the Byzantine Empire, where the country prospered. Its location on the edge of this collection of countries meant that it was weakly defended, and a variety of invaders fought to seize control of or free the country until an independence movement started to take root at the end of the 1800s.

Albania’s independence was recognised in December 1912 but the country struggled to establish a successful system of governance and fell under the power of the Italian dictator Mussolini in 1939. A socialist movement swept the nation and it gradually isolated itself from every other country, which caused a lot of economic difficulties. Whilst Albania is now firmly open to visitors and a growing travel destination, it is still trying to come back from the financial and political challenges that it faced.


The area that we now call Montenegro was first thought to be inhabited by the Illyrian people that lived in many of the Balkans countries during the Bronze Age. After a brief inhabitance by the Ancient Greeks, the Roman Empire invaded the area and it became part of the Byzantine Empire after that until the Slavs settled in the 7th century, calling Montenegro ‘Duklja’.

Duklja’s small size and unstable structure meant that it was incorporated into the Serbian Kingdom in 1186 and then the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century. Modern-day Montenegro became part of Yugoslavia in 1918 and was governed under Josip Teto, who promoted a form of socialism that allowed the people to have a fair amount of freedom.

When conflict in Yugoslavia began in the 1990s and countries began to leave the republic, Montenegro remained connected to Serbia. Only recently, in May 2006, did the country hold a referendum where the people voted to become an independent country.

Perast Montenegro

Culture and Sightseeing


Albania’s history has a lot of political unease and tension, but the country’s culture today is diverse and welcoming. Mediterranean and Balkan styles and traditions influence the culture, cuisine and people and you’ll see Italian and Turkish flavours and approaches in the food in particular. Art and music in Albania are proudly unique, but there’s not the same kind of cultural offering in galleries that you’ll find in other European countries.

There are a great number of sightseeing opportunities around Albania with multiple UNESCO World Heritage sites taking centre stage, such as ancient Berat, the Butrint Archaeological Park or Ottoman Gjirokastër. There’s a lot of unspoiled landscape in Albania, but dotted around this are historic towns and cities with a range of architectural styles.

Butrint Archaeological Park


Despite its small size, Montenegro has a vibrant and distinctive culture that is fuelled by national pride and passion. An attitude prioritising rest and relaxation dictates many traditions and attitudes, but there’s also a very fierce sense of independence. Cuisine in the country is strongly influenced by Italian and Turkish flavours and you’ll see a lot of Soviet-era architecture alongside Venetian and Ottoman designs from the past centuries.

Montenegro has a variety of towns and cities for visitors to explore, with sightseeing opportunities mainly focusing on historic architecture and preserved buildings from previous inhabitants. Churches, squares and fortresses are common, along with some pretty spectacular natural scenery.

If you’re looking for art then Montenegro is a great country to visit, with examples of ancient frescos, statues and sculptures fiercely protected and celebrated by the people. There’s also a history of epic poetry connected to the leader Petar II Petrović Njegoš, so there’s a strong literary culture as well.

Food and Drink


Cuisine in Albania has a distinctly Mediterranean feel, influenced by the country’s Roman history and Turkish occupation. Seafood, fruit and vegetables make up most of the dishes on the menu, with regional differences based on the availability of ingredients and meaning that northern Albania has a heartier diet, whilst southern Albania enjoys more dairy products and citrus fruit.

Perhaps the most famous food in Albania is byrek, a pie made with filo pastry and filled with various ingredients. Tava e Kosit is another popular main course made of lamb, eggs and yogurt, whilst a common dessert is bakllava, the Albanian take on the popular Turkish sweet treat.


Local food in Montenegro differs depending on where you are in the country, with heartier dishes and stronger flavours typical in the north near the mountains, whilst seafood and healthier ingredients are usually on the menu by the coast. The country’s Serbian associations have influenced its cuisine, but Hungarian, Turkish and Mediterranean flavours and techniques are also present in the food.

A classic Montenegrin ingredient is Njegusi prosciutto, which came from the country’s old capital and has a distinctive flavour. A traditional dish that often comes recommended in the north of the country is Montenegrin lamb in milk, and a popular sweet snack served everywhere is palacinke, which is like a crepe.




Albania is one of Europe’s best-hidden gems when it comes to beaches. The Albanian Riviera is home to numerous beautiful pieces of coastline where golden sand is lapped by clear blue water, so if you’re looking for a beach holiday then you have a lot of places to choose from. 

Tirana and Sarandë are some of the most popular places to stay on the coast, whilst Ksamil is a small village that is famous for its beaches. In the summer, Albania’s coastline can get crowded, but if you visit in September you’ll enjoy quieter beaches with the same high temperatures.

Ksamil Beach


Montenegro is another destination on the Adriatic coast that is often overlooked when it comes to beaches. But the country is home to plenty of beautiful coves and bays, and their ‘undiscovered’ status means that Montenegro is a great place for a beach holiday if you don’t want the sand crowded with other tourists.

The Budva Riviera is one of the best places in the country for beaches and seaside scenery, stretching for 35 km around the city of Budva and offering a great range of villas, resorts and hotels.



Albania isn’t a country that is particularly known for its nightlife, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find any when you visit the country. If you’re looking for a fun night out then the capital of Tirana has the best range of clubs and bars, but in the summer some of the more touristy coastal resorts will hold beach parties that are also a big draw to party-loving travellers.


Montenegro’s nightlife is generally concentrated in the towns and cities along the coast and definitely peaks in the summer season when the country sees the highest number of tourists. Podgorica is said to have the best selection of clubs and bars but Budva is also well-known for its party atmosphere and popular events.

Best For…


Albania has a fascinating history that is particularly appealing to travellers because the country was separated from a lot of the outside world for so long. It’s got a really interesting range of historic sites to visit, and its large size means that there are more sightseeing opportunities than in Montenegro. 

The best place for a hiking or cycling holiday between the two is also Albania, as there’s a greater variety of terrain and more national parks to explore on foot or on your bike. If you’re searching for a rugged and ‘off the beaten track’ destination then Albania is the better choice, as it’s less developed than Montenegro and feels much more authentic as a travel destination.


Montenegro is generally considered to be the better option when it comes to beaches, as the resorts are well-developed but never feel overly busy because of the country’s small size. There’s also a bigger range of beaches, offering more variety if you’re planning a trip along the coast.

The culture in Montenegro is very distinctive and this can make it a more interesting destination for sightseeing tourists or travellers that want to stay somewhere that feels very unique. It’s also easier to get around the country as there’s more infrastructure, which makes exploring multiple destinations in Montenegro much easier than in Albania.

Bridge in Montenegro


Montenegro and Albania are both beautiful and fascinating countries that make brilliant alternative travel destinations if you want to explore somewhere different in Europe. Neither country has a world-famous nightlife scene and the weather and cuisine in both are quite similar, but both locations have incredibly diverse histories that have led to strongly independent cultures. They’re both also hidden gems when it comes to beach holidays and both have some incredible unspoiled natural scenery that is just waiting to be explored by adventurous travellers.

If you’d like to explore one of these often-overlooked locations, Undiscovered Destinations offers unique small-group tours around these countries in the Balkans. Take a look at our ‘Albania Explorer Tour’ and ‘Balkan Explorer Tour’ to find out more about the best ways to visit Albania and Montenegro.

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