Table of Contents
In this article, you will read about the Best Places to visit in Albania. There are many reasons why you should visit Albania. It is a truly unique and authentic country. In every turn, you will face a beautiful landscape or a beach. Also, the locals are very friendly and hospitable.
One of the questions anyone that visits Albania asks himself is: “which are the best places to visit?” In fact, Albania has many excellent cities, towns, and villages. Therefore, we have mentioned some of the best places to visit.
Read below about the main points to visit in Albania:
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.
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 a reminder of the city’s Ottoman past.
You can also see the home of former communist leader Enver Hoxha. We especially recommend going to the “House of Leaves”. There you can discover more about Albania in communism.
What to do in Tirana?
Tirana is unquestionably the dynamic center of Albania. Experience the theaters, restaurants, and clubs. Most of them are open all night. Bars and clubs are located throughout town, particularly in the “Blloku” area. There, you can listen to all kinds of live music: jazz, house, funk, even Latin. Tirana’s museums and theaters in recent years, have hosted many artists and world-famous performers. If you can visit only one place in Albania, Tirana would give you the most well-rounded view of our country.
In our opinion, Tirana is one of the most entertaining cities in Europe. There are many things to see. In the summer, when many people go to the beaches of Saranda and Durres, the city is not very popular. But in winter the city is vibrant again.
Best Places to Visit in Albania – Castle of Petrela
This castle is located on the national road Tirana – Elbasan, 18 km away from the capital. It arises on a rocky hill above the village with the same name. It has a triangular shape with two watchtowers. Its first construction belongs to the period of antiquity, while today’s form dates back to the 15th century. Discoveries show that the Castle of Petrela is the medieval fortress built during the rule of Justian I, in the 6th century AD. This was one of the castles raised by him as a defense system of the Empire.
It is a fortress set up on a terrain with steep slopes, even from the southeastern and south-eastern sides, which have protected the castle. It arose when the Castle of the Villa, the antique fortress, located opposite the Petrela Castle, lost its importance.
She was raised mainly for military purposes. The Petrela Castle controlled the Egnatia road, the Durrës-Tirana-Elbasan branch, which at the time had special importance. Today, there is a restaurant service and from there you can see a beautiful view over the Erzen valley, the olive groves, and the surrounding mountains.
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.
Berat is a small town that can be explored easily by foot.
Berat offers amazing walks on the ancient and beautiful streets. You will likewise enjoy the relaxing atmosphere. For those seeking to become part of the adventures, this city offers rafting sports through the Osumi river canyons. Plus, you can stay in an excellent hostel. There are also four wineries where you can enjoy local wine.
(Click the name to go to the wineries page)
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.
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. 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.
Why you should visit Gjirokastra?
The main reason why the city of Gjirokastra should be visited is the opportunity to explore the historic places within. These include the Old Bazaar, Ottoman historical houses, old churches and mosques, and the Gjirokastra Castle.
The Gjirokastra Fortress is also worth visiting. Included in the National Armaments Museum; it represents weapons of World War II. In the castle, if you climb in the army water tank you can enjoy stunning views. There’s plenty to see, including underground tunnels, a gun museum (where you can hold the guns yourself!), and abandoned castle rooms.
We also suggest visiting the Cold War Museum. This museum is located in an underground bunker. The bunker was built to preserve the security of the communist government in war cases. During your stay in Gjirokastra, you should try the traditional local dish: qifqi. The ingredients of this dish are eggs, rice, and spices.
Gjirokastra has a lot of reputation! If you are a tourist for adventure, we recommend that you stay in the “stone town” guesthouse. It’s an impressive guesthouse.
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.
* From the bottom of the tunnel, through which the water rises to the surface, the source gets the blue color, resembling the baby’s eye. The vegetation surrounding “the eye“ in its upper part looks like eyelashes. So it is best to call it the “Blue Eye”.
It is the largest and most interesting watering source among the 18 water sources at the foot of the Broad Mountain (Mali i gjere). Today it has the status of the monument of nature. Its depth is too great; it reaches up to 45 meters. It is located opposite the village of Krongj, 45 meters below the level of the Drinos valley. The Blue Eye is a source of fresh and sweet waters, surrounded by evergreen vegetation.
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.