Albania is a country as pretty as a picture. 70% of this place is covered by mountains, it has a coastline of about 476 km. Moreover, there are 799 Albanian protected areas. These include 2 strict nature reserves, 14 national parks, 1 marine park, 8 archaeological parks, 750 natural monuments, 22 habitats/species management areas, 5 protected landscapes, 4 protected landscapes, 4 managed resources areas and 4 Ramsar wetlands. The national parks cover a surface area of 210,668.48 hectares (2,106.6848 km2) or roughly 13.65% of the overall territory. So, as you may guess there are a lot of things to do in Albania. (read more)
Activities to shake your mind
Observe the Sea
Best Beaches in Albania
Learn more about the Albanian beaches here.
The non -material benefits you obtain by observing the sea are referred to as “cultural services”. The sea opens the human mind. Moreover, it inspires and motivates people to be more creative and to want to do things.
Observe the blue and turquoise waters of the Ionian and Adriatic sea that come in more than 50 shades of blue. You can observe the sea from some of our most amazing beaches.
Here is a list:
A beach with crystal clear waters. A place that looks almost exotic and unreal. The virgin beach of Gjipe in Albania has nice and clean sand, tiny caves and a great coastline. You can get there through the sea or the road built lately in the Monastery of St. Theodore. High cliffs of a canyon that surrounds the Gjipe beach. The canyon is not so deep but is overgrown with bushes and some rocks cover it but as you walk, it becomes deeper and narrower. It’s quiet, only birds sing, a murmuring brook and cicadas, and you, of course. Even if you are planning to go for a “nice walk” to the beach, take ropes, cord and webbing. You can observe the sea from the canyon and take with you breathtaking memories home. A place worth to visit.
Livadhi Beach is a great beach located just a lovely small walk from Himara. A place with crystal clear water and endless sea view. There you can witness beautiful sunsets. It is a lovely place for families and snorkeling.
Drymaddes is a pebbly beach located in the southern part of the Albanian Riviera. With clear waters and beautiful views. A clean place many people consider fantastic for the summer holidays.
Mirror Beach is a beach with smooth pebbles and clear water. There you can observe the beauty of the sea and enjoy your time in Albania.
Pulebardha beach is a very beautiful beach with very clear water and the most amazing sunsets you will ever see. Also, this place offers breathtaking views and a quiet atmosphere where you can hear the seagulls and the waves.
Borsh beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Albania, it is a place that is not overcrowded and is considered often like a paradise. The beach consists of white pebbles and a long coastline. It is very clean and offers stunning and gorgeous views.
Palasa beach has the clearest water and the most beautiful views. It is hard to believe how beautiful this beach is. It is quiet, unreal and there you can do such activities as sky and sea sports.
Jala beach is a place that offers amazing views and pristine water. It has glamorous nature and excellent beach and sand.
Ksamil Island, Ksamil beach, Sarande, Albania
There are a total of four spectacular islands in Ksamil. The most popular ones are the Twin Islands, which are connected to one another through a narrow sand belt. However, they have their own special beauty and charm and are all definitely worth visiting and easily reachable from the shore! The ideal tranquility and dense greenery of these islands resemble a tropical paradise that you won’t want to neglect! Here, you can go canoeing, diving, or book a boat trip. The beach of Ksamil is with calm water and delightful and lovely sand.
Sazani Island Beach
Sazan Island is Albania’s largest island. It lies about 15 km off the shore at Vlora and features mostly rocky shores, besides the magnificent Admiral Beach. In antiquity, this island was identified as Sason, and it has long been a great destination for divers and fishers.
Rana e Hedhun Shengjin
The slope of the Mountain of Rrenc descends onto the beach, where a few yards of sand elegantly melts into the sea. The dark color of the sand contrasts wonderfully with the sea’s deep color of blue, giving the entire beach a very special appearance. It is quite difficult to imagine the cause of the type of sand structure found here. At times, it appears as if the sand has descended from the mountain while, in other moments, it seems that the sea has a more active role in shaping it. Either way, it is at once a simple and magnificent sight! The pine trees surrounding the beach make it a perfect spot for camping or picnics but also for intermittently enjoying the rays of the generous Albanian sun.
Spille is a beach located on the Adriatic Coast. It is a nice beach with a sandbank in the water which makes it shallow and you can enjoy a lovely walk in the water. Also, it is a long and wide area beach which is great for families with kids. Moreover, it is cheaper than other places and worth visiting.
Kallmi beach is a very beautiful beach far from the noise and the crowds where you can relax and find your inner peace. This place is clean and natural. The human hand hasn’t yet touched this area so you will have a peaceful time.
Lalez Bay Durres
Gjiri i Lalzit is one of the best beaches in Durres. The views from there are breathtaking. Moreover, it is a pure and sandy beach with a long coastline and it is located under pine trees that offer serenity.
Cape of Rodon
Cape of Rodon is in Durres, and it is a small cape in the sea that offers beautiful views of the bluest watercolors and also beautiful sunset colors.
Albania has more beaches and some of them are still virgin and unexplored, where the main roads do not lead you. So take your backpack and start hiking around Albania.
Is Albania worth visiting so far?
Some of the most amazing landmarks in Albania are the castles of this country. A country’s beauty is defined by its history, the people and the way they treat history. In Albania, you will find some of the most well-preserved castles.
Read more about Albania’s best castles here.
Scanderbeg’s Castle in Kruja
The castle of Kruja is located in central Albania on an impressive rocky peak, 557 meters above sea level. Only 30 minutes away from the national airport, the castle is one of Albania’s most visited touristic sites. It is known for the remarkable resistance of the Albanians led by Scanderbeg against the Ottomans, in the 15th century. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the castle of Kruja became the most important stronghold in the war of the West against Ottoman expansion.
Castle of Berat
Berati Castle, located in one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Albania, is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. The number of visitors, especially international tourists has been increasing lately. Berat Castle or as people call it “Kalaja”, is located on the right side of Osumi River and it is home to the ancient city of Antipatrea, which dates back to the seventh-fifth centuries B.C.
According to the data by DRKK Berat, Antipatrea is one of the most beautiful and important sites in Albania and a large number of visitors that confirm this fact. The castle of Berat has through different historical stages such as the Illyrian, Byzantine, the feudal principalities and the Ottoman invasion periods. A special fact about the castle is that it has 24 towers.
Book a tour of Berat here.
Castle of Gjirokastra
Gjirokastra, in the Drinos river valley in southern Albania, features a series of outstanding two-story houses dating from the 17th century. The town also retains a bazaar, an 18th-century mosque and two churches of the same period,” UNESCO says in its description about the city.
Yet, the castle is the most impressive building that a first time visitor may see not only in Gjirokastra but in the entire country. People also know it as the city of Argjiro. She was the sister of the city lord.
According to the legend, when the Ottoman troops surrounded the city, the princess together with her son jumped from the castle walls. This is a popular explanation of the city’s name. However, historians say that the name of Gjirokastra dates back to earlier centuries. Some linguists say that it is related to the typical gray color of the city. The castle had a military function. It was during the Middle Ages that the city expanded further the castle walls.
Discover Gjirokastra with one of our tours. https://sondortravel.com/destinations/gjirokastra-day-tours/
This stronghold was built around V-VI century C.E., during the Byzantine rule to protect this part of the Empire against Norman invasions.
It later fell under the rule of a local Albanian feudal family, a member of which married Scanderbeg’s sister. After her husband was killed in combat, Scanderbeg’s sister practically inherited this fortress. At that time, the castle represented a precious possession since it controlled the trading routes through Central Albanian that connected Venetian merchants with the Ottoman market. Also, it was a comfortable residence for the ones who stayed within its premises.
Castle of Tirana, Justinian Fortress
Its history dates back before 1300 and is a remnant from the Byzantine-era. The fortress is the place where the main east-west and north-south roads crossed and formed the heart of Tirana. The current fortification has three known towers and inside the fortified walls of the former fortress.
Best of all, there are many buildings that can be visited, including restaurants, hotels, and cultural institutions. About all that is left from the fortress above ground is a 6-meter (20 ft) high Ottoman-era wall.
Scanderbeg’s Castle in Cape of Rodon
The Cape of Rodon lays on the Adriatic Sea, north of Durrës in Albania. The rocky cape offers a wonderful landscape filled with small beaches and surrounded by wild vegetation. The most interesting site along the cape is the Castle of Scanderbeg, Albania’s national hero that led the Albanian army against the Ottomans from 1443-1468. In addition, the cape and its castle offer a wonderful landscape filled with small beaches and surrounded by wild vegetation. Scanderbeg started to build this castle during 1451-1452.
Later, in 1463 construction masters from the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) were brought in the castle to make other complementary works, they strengthened its defense and thus finished its construction. According to local tales, Scanderbeg used this castle as his private marital residence in times between battling campaigns. The relatively small size of the structure supports this claim.
He built it also to have his own access into the sea and to be closer to the members of the Aragon family who ruled southern Italy and were his allies. After Scanderbeg’s rule, the castle fell in 1500 under Venetian control. Soon after, the Ottomans invaded it but they abandoned it for centuries.
The Borsh Castle is located on the hill of the village of Borsh, about 500 m above sea level. The castle dates way back to the 3rd – 4th centuries, B.C. In the middle ages, it was known as the Sopot Castle. Furthermore, it was mentioned as early as 1192 in the memoirs of Anna Komnenos, daughter of Byzantine emperor, Alexios I Komnenos. During Ali Pasha’s rule, in the 18th century, a mosque was added to the castle which is well-preserved to this day, missing only a minaret.
Book a tour of Borsh here.
It lays above the village with the same name, in the hill’s crest. This is a small castle that started to be constructed at the beginning of the XIV century and was finished at the beginning of the XV century from the feudal family of the region, Topiajve. Besides, the castle is a ‘culture monument’. In her corners, the castle has four roundly towers. The watching dates from 1800 – 1850.
If you visit Saranda, you should definitely make a stop at Lëkursi Castle. This fortress dates back to the 16th century and has the shape of a square with two round towers sitting diagonally to one another. Its strategic position on a hill of about 300 meters in height as well as its panoramic views of Saranda, the Butrint Lagoon and even the island of Corfu, make this destination a tourist favorite.
Visit Lekursi Caste by booking one of our tours.
Rozafa’s Castle in Shkoder
An impressive beautiful castle that overlooks the city. Just 200m walk uphill to see the gorgeous views it offers. Since the castle is very rich in history very little is shown in the information points around the castle so to enjoy and learn about the castle you will need a tour guide. The castle is built in various stages. But what makes it more interesting is the legend of the three brothers.
The three brothers built the castle but every morning they found it crumbled down. Until in a dream, an old man told them that if they really wanted to build the castle they had to sacrifice one their wives. Moreover, the one who would bring food the next day. The next day the younger wife comes to bring food and they tell her the story. Since she had a newborn baby she decided to be sacrificed in one condition.
Book one of our tours to learn that.
Tirana’s Clock Tower
Tirana’s clock tower is an important landmark that dates back in the medieval times when the ottoman empire had invaded Albania. This tower was built by Et’hem Bey the same person who built the mosque of Tirana. Moreover, the clock tower is the face of Tirana now.
Learn more about Tirana here.
The National History Museum of Tirana
The national history museum of Tirana is an important landmark of Albania as in the museum you can see valuable items that date since ancient times. The museum has corners for each historical event in Albania and is worth visiting while in Albania.
Learn more about Tirana here.
Ethnographic Museum of Kruja
The ethnographic museum of Kruja is an amazing place to understand the life of Albanians. The museum in each room has portrayed a different aspect of life in Albania.
You can learn more about Kruja here.
Gjon Mili Museum in Korca
Korca is a beautiful city in Albania that has a lot to offer. Named the city of Serenades in Korca you can find more than just beautiful songs. There you will find the museum of Gjon Mili, a photographer who in his time has photographed Picasso. This museum is worthy of a visit, all the while you can find out that Korca has a lot of famous and important landmarks to offer.
You can learn more about Korca here.
It’s been an important place historically for the Muslim community with great architecture. The mosque is bright and makes you feel calm and in peace when you are around. Be sure to respect the dress code and the believers. It is located in the center of Shkodra and it’s easy to find.
You can learn more about what to do in Shkodra here.
Albania’s Bunkers are the most famous bunkers in the world. Back in the day when Enver Hoxha ruled, he banned traveling in foreign countries and the following of religion. He created the campaign that the only religion of Albania is Albanianism. But his happiness didn’t last. Because when the great powers were joining forces in creating the NATO he became dreadful of what would happen to him. The country had enough concrete and iron. He ordered the Albanian army to build these mushroom lookalike bunkers. The sole purpose of the Bunkers was to protect the country from a potential war during the cold war era. The bunkers planted a sense of paranoia with the Albanian people. They waited for a war that never came. The regime was over in 1985, the day he died and freed the country from isolation and fear. Visit Albania and learn what happened to those bunkers.
Read more about the Bunkers of Albania here.
Independence Museum of Vlora
Vlora is a beautiful coastal city laying on the shore of the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. Also, Vlora is an important historical city. It is the city where independence was declared. There you will find the independence museum and you will find small parts and valuables that belong to the years of revolution in Albania.
Explore Vlora with this tour: https://sondortravel.com/destinations/vlore/
However, there are many more important landmarks in Albania, we just have mentioned some of them. You need to explore and travel Albania to discover what this hidden gem of Europe offers to you.
Shopping in Albania
Shopping is an important part of traveling and discovering a place. In Albania, there are many places to shop, as there are stores located in every corner of each city.
Tirana Shopping Points:
- TOPTANI Shopping Center is located almost in the heart of the capital of Albania. Toptani is a great place to eat, have a coffee break or shop. There are international brands and you will find quality items.
- TEG Shopping Center is located on the Tirana to Elbasan highway, it also is a great place to eat, watch movies, have a coffee break, shop and find quality items. There is a children’s area where you can spend family time.
- QTU Shopping Center is located on the Tirana to Durres highway, this place also has a cinema, quality items, and jewelry and places to eat or drink.
New Bazaar in Tirana
The new bazaar in Tirana is the perfect place to shop for fruits and vegetables. Also, you can buy dairy products and fish and meat. However, there you can also find souvenirs to take home with you.
Book a tour of Tirana here.
Kruja Bazaar is a place where you will find traditional things. Also, there are people who still make handicrafts and handmade goods. Do not hesitate to buy a memoir from Albania.
Book a tour of Kruja here.
Shkoder Venice Mask Factory
Once you visit Albania, do not forget to visit Shkodra. There you will find the factory where the masks that are sold in Venice are made. The owner will tell you the history of the masks. The Masks are high quality and handmade and you will find the most unique masks. It is one of Europe’s largest mask factories. Stop by and by a unique mask, and you will save more than buying it in Venice.
Book a tour in Shkoder here.
However, this is an overview of what Albania has to offer and what to do in Albania. In our next blog, we will mention the rest of the things you can do in Albania. Stay Tuned.