7 best places to visit in Albania
Curious about the best places to visit in Albania? Situated right across the Strait of Otranto from Italy, Albania is its lesser-known neighbour.
Despite the fact that Albania receives the same amount of sunshine as Southern Italy, has a Mediterranean climate and a lot of interesting places to discover, it receives much less visitors than its more popular neighbours — Greece and Italy.
Albania is small, but there’s no lack of natural and man-made wonders. Idyllic beaches, spectacular mountain scenery, lovely ancient towns and rich history. This and so much more you can experience in Albania!
And it’s highly likely that you’ll fall in love with it! But where to start? What to do and see in Albania?
Start with our list of some of the best places to visit in Albania. Here it is.
7 best places to visit in Albania
Tirana is Albania’s capital and largest city.
Being lively and colourful, it is one of the best places to visit in Albania.
Tirana is home to interesting museums. And the BUNK’ART museum is a must-visit!
Albania has a huge number of bunkers left from the Communist Regime. And since these bunkers are hard to destroy, Albanians have decided upon an alternative use for at least a couple of them.
The BUNK’ART project is a contemporary art and history museum that is set in former Cold War bunkers. There are two bunkers at the BUNK’ART museum where you can learn more about Albanian history during the Communist regime.
But there are plenty of other things to do in Tirana besides museums.
Explore Tirana’s Soviet Heritage. Start with the derelict Pyramid of Tirana. It used to be a museum about the legacy of the country’s dictator Enver Hoxha (died in 1985 after 40 years of rule). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Pyramid ceased its function as a museum and now lies derelict.
Take the Dajti Ekspres — a scenic 4670 m-long cable car line which will take you to the top of Dajti Mountain.
Admire The Resurrection Cathedral — one of the largest Orthodox churches in the Balkan Peninsula.
Visit Et’hem Bey Mosque — one of the city’s top landmarks.
Do not miss the Great Mosque of Tirana, Tirana’s newest and largest mosque which still isn’t finished. It is a seriously impressive structure and looks magnificent. When completed, it will be the largest mosque in the Balkans
Krujë is a town in north-central Albania. The town is only 20 km north of Tirana, and its proximity to the capital makes it a perfect day trip destination.
Krujë is known for its historic castle. Inside the castle is the Teqe of Dollme of the Bektashi (an Islamic Sufi sect), the National Skanderbeg Museum, the remains of the Fatih Sultan Mehmed mosque and its minaret, an ethnographic museum and a Turkish bath.
Do not miss Krujë’s iconic Old Bazaar. Its paved streets are lined with shops selling arts and crafts, as well as antiquities and souvenirs. The Kruja Old Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars in Albania.
Berat is a beautiful historical town in the south of the country.
Visit the famous Berat Castle — remains of a large 13th-century fortress. Built on a rocky hill on the left bank of the river Osum, the castle overlooks the town. The Berat Castle area numbers many Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques.
Do not miss Gorica Bridge — one of the oldest and most popular Ottoman bridges in Albania. The bridge connects two parts of Berat. It was originally built from wood in 1780 and was rebuilt with stone in the 1920s.
Visit Berat’s historical neighbourhoods — the Muslim Mangalem Quarter and Christian Gorica Quarter. These two old neighbourhoods sit on either side of the Osumi River.
Along with the Historic Centre of Gjirokastër, the Historic Centre of Berat forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the ‘Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra’.
The Albanian Riviera, also known as Bregu, is a very popular holiday destination for locals and foreign visitors alike.
It is roughly 80 km long and encompasses the districts of Sarandë and Vlorë in Southwestern Albania. The Albanian Riviera coast features stunning beaches and is dotted with resorts.
But there’s more to the Albanian Riviera than its beaches and resorts.
The area has plenty of other things to do and picturesque places to visit. Even if you are not a fan of a beach holiday, you’ll be amazed at the number of marvellous places in the Albanian Riviera.
Here are some of our most favourite places in Albanian Riviera:
- Sarandë — one of the most important tourist attractions of the Albanian Riviera. Lekursi castle boasts great views of the city and bay below.
- Gjipe Canyon & Beach — a beautiful area with numerous rock formations and caves. At the end of the canyon, there’s a beautiful, secluded beach.
- Himarë — a resort town, famous for the ruins of the Himarë Castle.
- Ksamil — one of the most popular coastal resorts. It was included in the Guardian’s 20 of the best bargain beach holidays for 2013.
- Butrint Archaeological Site And National Park — the remains of the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Llogara Pass — a high mountain pass with marvellous views. One of the best places to visit in Albania.
- Qeparo Village — a seaside village, known for its semi-abandoned old quarter. Located on a hill, it has beautiful traditional architecture, cobbled alleys and old churches.
Lake Koman is situated on the Drin river next to the Albanian Alps.
With an area of 12 km2 and a maximum depth of 175.5 m, it is an artificial lake created by two dams.
Being one of the most picturesque places in the country, it’s among the best places to visit in Albania. Lake Koman sometimes is compared to the Scandinavian fjords, due to a number of rock formations, caves, canyons and waterfalls.
To enjoy astonishing mountain views and the beauty of the lake, take the Lake Koman Ferry which operates daily. It connects Koman to Fierze, and the journey takes about 2.5-3 hours. The Lake Koman ferry ride is one of the best things to do in Albania.
Gjirokastër is a town in the Drinos river valley in southern Albania.
Its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, described as ‘a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town’. The Old Town of Gjirokastër features a series of magnificent two-story houses which were built in the 17th century.
Visit Gjirokastër Castle — one of the biggest castles in the Balkans. Situated at a height of 336 metres, the castle dominates the town.
Explore Gjirokaster Old Bazaar. Its winding cobbled streets are lined with restaurants and shops selling various crafts (including traditional rugs) and souvenirs. In the surrounding area, you will find plenty of charming Ottoman-style houses.
Visit Gjirokastër’s 18th-century mosque and churches of the same period.
The Valbona Pass is a high mountain pass within the Albanian Alps in northern Albania.
With an elevation of roughly 1800 m, it is one of the highest mountain passes in Albania.
The area is known as a great hiking destination. The Theth to Valbonë hike is a very popular hiking route in Albania, and one of the most beautiful hikes you can do in the region.
The hike takes roughly six to seven hours. It takes around three hours to trek from Theth to Valbonë pass, then a further two hours to Rragam and 1.5 hours along a riverbed towards Bajram Curri.
Many tourists combine a trip to Valbona with a trip to Lake Koman as these places are quite close to each other.
Albania travel tips
- Holders of passports of more than 80 jurisdictions (including EU, UK, Canada, Australia) can enter Albania without a visa for a maximum stay of 90 days.
- If you have time, we suggest you combine a trip to Italy with a trip to Albania. You can catch a ferry from Italy to Albania. Ferries connect 4 ports in Italy with 3 ports in Albania.
- Albania is a cheap destination in Europe. If you are looking for a budget destination that offers beaches, scenic nature, mountains and rich history, then Albania is a great option.
- A cheap meal will set you back around 2-6 EUR, and a cheap room — starting from 20 EUR. Dorms are super cheap — starting from 7 EUR per person. Bus tickets cost 3-15 EUR, depending on the length of the journey.
- The bus is the most popular mode of public transportation in the country. Albania’s rail network is quite limited.
- Albania has a Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild winters. The best time to visit Albania is during the spring (April-early June) or autumn (September-October). The weather then is perfect for a beach holiday and hiking in the mountains.
- They don’t use the Euro in Albania. Albania has its own currency called the Albanian lek (ALL).