The best places to visit in Albania article will start with Tirana. Tirana is not only the capital of Albania, but it is also the main economic and cultural center of the country. Life in Tirana revolves around the beautiful Scanderbeg Square located in the center of the city. This retreat in the middle of the bustle of the biggest city in Albania boasts museums, an Opera house, the Palace of Culture, and countless shops and cozy cafes. The buildings you will see as you walk around the square are a reflection of the periods that have influenced Tirana’s architecture. Only the Clock Tower and Et’hem Bey Mosque remain as reminders of the city’s Ottoman past.
Tirana is unquestionably the dynamic center of Albania thanks in part to its lively nightlife. Experience the theaters, restaurants, and clubs, most staying open all night. Bars and clubs are located throughout town, particularly in the “Bloku” area. In them, you can find all kinds of live music, from jazz to house, to funk, and even Latin. Tirana’s museums and theaters have in recent years hosted many artists and world-famous performers. If you only have time to visit one place in Albania, this would give you the most well-rounded view of our country.
Kruja for sure deserves to be one of the best places to visit in Albania.
Kruja, Albania was the most important Balkan town during the 15th century. It successfully withstood at least three major sieges by the Ottoman Empire. The medieval hero Gjergj Kastrioti (a.k.a. “Scanderbeg”) had a base of operations there. The Albanians consider him a symbol of resistance and a savior. Even the Ottomans believed that a supernatural force dwelled in him. Because of this, after his death, they destroyed his tomb in order to take parts of his bones as good luck charms. Visit a fortress dating from before this time as well as a museum (nestled inside a castle!) dedicated to Scanderbeg’s life and military exploits.
In the southern region of Albania along the banks of the Osumi River, you will find one of the most ancient towns in Albania. The innumerable monuments and characteristic architecture of the houses have proclaimed Berat, Albania a “Museum Town”. The town itself has three distinct parts: Gorica, Mangalem, and Kalaja. Within Gorica, you will find the well-preserved ruins of a castle dating from the 4th century BC. On the other side of the river, you will find the old district of Mangalem. Next to that is the Kalaja fortress and the residential quarter still housed within. Crossing the Gorica bridge leads you from Mangalem to Gorica. Both are well-preserved areas containing buildings with characteristic architecture from the Ottoman Empire.
The city of 1001 windows has it’s spot in the list of the best places to visit in Albania.
As you walk through narrow, charming paths, you will see a great number of windows overlooking the town. These large windows give Berat, Albania, the name “Town of a Thousand Windows.” This living piece of history abounds in cultural and religious heritage, historic architecture, and natural beauty. It is a remarkable scenic town, just as important today due to its rich history and architecture as it was over two thousand years ago for its political and commercial significance.
Gjirokastra is one best places to visit in Albania. Called the “stone town”, it is of particular interest for its native architecture. The characteristic houses are built one above the other around the fortress which looks like a huge battleship. In fact, even the houses look like small fortresses in themselves. From the outside, they perfectly combine roughness with the beauty of windows, small rooms, and small, light pillars supporting the roofs. Their most attractive and unique feature is the intricate stonework. UNESCO has included Gjirokaster as a world property of cultural heritage and protection, reflecting even more this city’s cultural significance.
Durres, located half an hour from Tirana, is the city of ancient culture. Archeological excavations have uncovered sections of the thick protective walls that used to surround the city. Lively modern restaurants and shops now surround and integrate with these beautiful ancient reminders.
Why Durres is one of the best places to visit in Albania.
Durres was the site of one of the largest harbor cities of antiquity on the eastern shoreline of the Adriatic. Despite the devastations that the city had suffered through the centuries, people have inhabited it up to the present day. The construction of the new city on the leftovers of the old one has made it difficult to discover the relics of antiquity. Urns dating from various epochs, as well as Illyrian ornamental objects and gravestones, have brought to light the very important role played by Illyria in the lifestyle of the city.
In 30 AD, Romans turned it into a colony after a successful conquest of the city. During the 1st two centuries B.C, the Romans built some very magnificent works such as the “Egnatia Road”, the aqueduct, amphitheater, the public baths, library, temples, mosaics, and beautiful sculptures. All can be found dotted around the city.
Saranda is also one of the best places to visit in Albania, with its pristine waters and beaches, is one of the largest tourism centers in Albania. Every year tourists from around the Balkans and the World consider it the best opportunity for relaxation and entertainment. The many nearby beauties and the pleasant atmosphere of the city make this one of the top places to visit in Albania.
Saranda’s natural attractions include the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea, the natural spring of pristine water called the “Blue eye,” and the nearby sandy beaches of Ksamil. Its historic attractions include the characteristic small villages, and the cultural and historic archeological park Butrinti (UNESCO). Because of its strategic position near the island of Corfu, cruise ships covering the Mediterranean have enlisted Saranda’s port as an important destination.
Shkoder is known as an old artisan center, it is one of Europe’s oldest towns and one of the best places to visit in Albania. In the 3rd century B.C., it was the capital of the Illyrian Kingdom of the Ardians. It has been an important center of industry, where its economy was built on producing electric wire and cable works, wood, paper, fabric, and food processing. One of the most important places to visit in Shkodra is the Rozafa Castle. It is one of the most fascinating places because of its location and the history it holds. The castle is situated at the top of the hill, overlooking the town.
Unlike the other cities we’ve mentioned on this list, Apollonia isn’t a modern, occupied city. Instead, it is the ruins of a city that used to be a major port and departure point for travelers along the Via Egnatia. Today it is an archeological park and museum open to the public with footpaths and sights spread over several hectares.
On the way to Apollonia, you will notice traces of communism dotting the hillside. During communism, Enver Hoxha built 173,371 bunkers throughout the country. Many of the most impressive can be found in the hills around Apollonia. They were never used for the purpose they were built for during the communist regime. Nowadays they function mostly as a touristic attraction.
A list with the best places to visit in Albania wouldn’t be complete without Korca. Korça lies at the foot of Morava mountain next to an ancient Illyrian settlement. By the early middle Ages, Korça was a bustling urban center. Among it’s most breathtaking developments are a 9th century orthodox church and a 15th century mosque. The orthodox church has since been remodeled and is a beautiful place to visit.
The old Korça Bazaar has great early historical, cultural and artistic value for the city. The bazaar is characterized by one and two story buildings in classic Korça style, separated by narrow cobbled streets that open onto a central square—the Bazaar is sure to attract the attention of visitors.
In past centuries, the bazaar has functioned as a market for trade not just within Albania, but also from Turkey, Greece, Trieste and Venice. It [has] row of inns, including the Old Elbasan and Old Monastery Inn, which served to host travelers visiting the market from outside the city. The market reached its apex during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with more than 1,000 stores.
With so many shops, the bazaar was like a city within a city. The two parts of the bazaar were separated by the old river and linked by two wooden bridges, while the main road through the city crossed the river on a vaulted stone bridge that rose above the shops.
Over the course of its history, the bazaar was burnt down three times, to be built again. The entire complex underwent a complete renovation in 2015, planting the seed for a historical, economic, and touristic transformation not just for the city but for the region. The renovation has returned the bazaar to its original historical image, returning its historical and cultural value.
Theth is a pleasant village in north Albania’s Shkodra region. Theth is set between the peaks of the Shala mountains. Just the journey here is very incredible, whether you approach over the mountains on foot from Valbona or by vehicle across the high passes from Shkodra.
Both a sprawling village along the valley floor amid an amphitheater of slate-grey mountains and a national park containing beautiful landscapes and great hiking routes, Theth is now well on its way to being Albania’s next big point.
An improved asphalt road from Shkodra has made access to this once virtually unexplored village far easier in recent years, drawing with it the familiar problem of overdevelopment. Come quickly while Theth retains its incomparable romance and unique charm.