Albania is part of the Balkan region that is made up of several countries which are all rich in culture and traditions. Being beautiful with plenty of outdoor sites for everyone to visit the Balkans is the new most sought-after travel destination in Europe. However, Albania which is a part of the Balkans is not yet explored and under the radar of travelers. There are a lot of cool and unusual things in Albania.
What is Albania?
Albania is a country rich in history, historic castles, fascinating museums, amazing traditions, stunning beaches, beautiful national parks, high mountains, and the last wild river of Europe.
Where is Albania?
Albania is a 28,748 km² area located on the Balkan Peninsula. This means it is located on the European continent. Albania is a beautiful country enjoying a Mediterranean climate.
The Adriatic Sea surrounds the Northern part of Albania stretching further into Montenegro and Croatia. On the southern part, it is surrounded by the Ionian Sea which continues on to Greece.
Cool and unusual things in Albania
Blue Eye Albania
The Blue Eye is one of the cool and unusual things in Albania. It is a natural spring that gushes from the bottom which is over 50 meters. The deep subsurface is breathtaking. Tourists travel from miles away to catch a glimpse of its beauty. The deep blue sapphire color and the turquoise around is a color that typically belongs to saltwater springs. You can swim around in the freezing colors.
The pyramid of Tirana
In the middle of Tirana is situated the Albanian monument that belongs to communism. From 1944 to 1992 Albania suffered the communist regime. The pyramid was built as a museum in honor of Enver Hoxha, a former Albanian leader who furthered the ideals of Stalinism for decades. However, the purpose of the marble tile-covered structure shifted from museum to convention center to military staging area to television station. Later on, it was meant to be demolished by the government, however, the votes of the locals were against the demolition so it is now being renovated.
Benja Thermal Baths
Another one of the cool and unusual things in Albania that deserves to be in this article is the Benja Thermal Baths. Small natural pools with hot water that gushes from the earth’s core are located in Benje, Permet. A stunningly beautiful place, surrounded by an old arched bridge that was built during the Ottoman-Period to cross the Vjosa River. The pools are said to have curative effects. They are accessible all year round, with a temperature in the winter inside the water that reaches 24 degrees and in the summer..probably a bit hotter.
What else deserves to be on the list of the cool and unusual things in Albania? The Bunkers are one of the many things that Albania has from the communist time. 750,000 bunkers were built under the regime of Enver Hoxha who ruled Albania as one of the most isolationist countries from the end of WWII until his death in 1985.
Long after his cold regime, these Bunkers exist as a memoir of the past. The grey, tall and wide Bunkers, built for each to fit a limited number of people in them. These small buildings became homes for homeless people and stray dogs. However, many of them are empty and you can see the architecture of them.
Since we are writing about the cool and unusual things in Albania, and precisely for Bunkers, Bunk’art is a bunker that is reconstructed into a museum of communism. The Bunk’arts are two, in two different parts of Tirana, both of which show the truth about communism, they show the life during the years under the dictatorship. This shelter was built in the 1970s under the orders and direction of Enver Hoxha. What was once intended to protect Hoxha and his cabinet in the event of a nuclear attack is now a mixed-use art and culture center.
This might not be one of the cool and unusual things in Albania, but sure is a great idea..or maybe not the greatest as raki is a strong alcoholic beverage that is close to the moonshine in taste but not in alcohol percentage. This drink is made from different fruits and comes in different tastes that are all the same by the end of the day, and you are – drunk. You haven’t experienced Albanian culture until you try a glass of raki. It’s the local moonshine that nearly every family in Albania makes themselves.
A city may not be one of the coolest and unusual things in Albania but Berat is. This small town located a 2-hour driveway from Tirana, with its beautiful Ottoman-style houses, the city center, the castle, the cantinas around, and the legends is one of the coolest and unusual things in Albania. To experience Berat, you need to see the 1000 windows and learn why the old town has only 1000 windows. You need to see the castle which is located on the hill and overlooks the whole city from a potential enemy.
Now once you are in Berat, take another short trip to the waterfalls of Bogove. Not far from Berat, this is a trip you shouldn’t miss out on. The road to the village of Bogove is very calming. The canyon is accessed at the very entrance to the village although navigation may claim otherwise. If you are coming from the direction of Berat, the blue signpost and the turn to the local macadam road to the waterfall will be on your left.
Paraglide the Albanian Sky
If paragliding the Albanian Sky over the Albanian Riviera isn’t one of the cool and unusual things in Albania then I don’t know what it is. One of the most beautiful views of Rivera can be reached from this point of view.
The Sari Saltik
When it comes to holy places Albania has many, for each religion, there is a place considered holy. So, just close to Tirana, is situated the tomb of the ancient dervish monk who was considered a saint in the Balkans. A place which is very interesting to visit, and if you are lucky, you might even get a hashure by the people who live nearby.
Butrint Archaeological Park
An ancient archaeological site is located in the southern part of Albania, just 20 min away from Saranda. If an ancient site isn’t one of the cool and unusual things about Albania then what is? This beautiful ancient wonder once was the center of the Illyrian civilization. Discovered later on by the Helenus the song of Priam and Hecuba. (Greek History)
This place was very important in Albania, the ruins that remain show the importance it had back in the days. The walls are written in old greek letters by Illyrian women, who back then had rights to rule.
We all love good architecture, but we also love unusual architecture. From the blue-green Adriatic Sea, with no harbor in sight for miles, this house looks like a ship.
Ethnographic Museum in Kruja
The Ethnographic Museum is located near Scanderbeg’s museum. It resides in one of the characteristic dwelling houses of Kruja, this one dating back to 1764. Within, you can find 16 rooms, each exhibiting original historic ceramics, wood, cotton, wool, silk, stone as well as folk dresses. Together, these give you a clear picture of the history of the district as you become acquainted with its traditions and customs.
The museum is in a lovely old house built in 1764 which belonged to one of the wealthy families living in the castle. It is set in a walled courtyard with two gateways. It is a typical Ottoman-style house with storage rooms on the ground floor and with the living quarters above. Most of the items are original.
The colors of Tirana
Many buildings across eastern Europe, had a dominant landscape that made them look beautiful and unique. However, Albania was not so lucky, until Edi Rama (now prime minister) gave the city a colorful makeover.
Before being a mayor Rama was an international painter. So after a few weeks in office, he jumped into fixing his city. He demolished illegal buildings, built new parks, and started the painting campaign to change forever the dull grey colors of Tirana.
If you take a walk around the city, you will see buildings striped in reds, blues, greens, and other designs that sprawl across facades. Recently, many street artists started painting the grey electric boxes and added figures to many buildings. This is considered one of the cool and unusual things in Albania, which many love about Tirana.