Located in southeastern Europe and with a Mediterranean coastline and inland mountains, Albania is a small country with a varied climate. Overall though, winters in Albania are milder than in many other European countries. Temperatures can drop below 32°F (0°C) in the mountains, particularly in areas where people go skiing. However, the capital city of Tirana, which is about 23 miles (37 km) from the coast, has an average December temperature of around 46°F (8°C).
Winter can also be quite wet, which can cause landslides and create travel delays in the mountains.
Crowds & Costs
December is the low season for tourism in Albania, as is the whole of winter. However, the country is never as busy as many other countries in the region, even during its peak season. The conditions at ski fields aren't at their best until January. While Albanian Christians (both Catholics and Orthodox) celebrate Christmas, they are a minority in the Muslim-majority country, so you won't see the same Christmas spectacles as you would in many other parts of Europe.
Note that many resorts and restaurants on the Albanian Riviera are seasonal and closed for winter.
Where to Go
Albania makes a great winter city break destination because of its milder climate than many other European countries, especially if you head to Tirana, a more temperate capital city. Don't miss the offbeat Piramida, the monuments of Skanderbeg Square, and the Christmas Tree in Mother Theresa Square in December. When the weather feels a bit cold for the outdoors, check out the National History Museum and Bunk'Art, a museum and gallery in an underground bunker.
Head to Krujë on a day trip from Tirana to explore a bit farther afield. Check out the medieval castle and the mountain views. A little farther beyond Krujë is lovely Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with well-preserved Ottoman architecture.
What to Do
Although conditions tend to be at their best for skiing later in the winter and into early spring if you're keen to ski in an underrated destination, head to the Albanian mountains in late December. Korçë is a good base for snow adventures to ski fields in the nearby Morava Mountains, and if the snow conditions aren't cooperating for skiing, you can enjoy this small city's cultural attractions.
If you'd rather enjoy the mountains without skiing, head to a mountainous national park. The Valbonë Valley in the Albanian Alps is in the country's far north. While some of the country's most popular ski resorts are in the south (see more below), this park is an excellent alternative for enjoying the wild beauty of nature. Most of the park is covered in forest, and in winter, the mountains will be covered in snow. Travelers love its beauty in all seasons.
Events in December
Christmas. Most Albanian Christians are Catholics (with an Orthodox minority), so they celebrate Christmas on December 25. In Tirana, you can find a large decorated Christmas tree in Mother Theresa Square. However, you may not find many other visible displays of Christmas due to Albania's Muslim majority and recent history of state-enforced atheism.