places to visit in albania

14 Best Places To Visit in Albania

Despite not being the most well-known in Europe, there are plenty of great places to visit in Albania.

Albania is an oft-forgotten place in Europe, which is a shame because it’s a beautiful and fascinating country with a lot to see. 

If you’re wondering what to do in Albania, you can check out the vibrant capital Tirana. Go hiking in the mountains in the north of the country and relax on some of the best beaches in Europe on the Albanian Riviera.

Some of the best places to visit in Albania can be found on the coast such as Ksamil and Saranda. While there are plenty of cultural and historical sites to see too in places like Apollonia and Durrës.

With so many great things to do in Albania, these places listed below will allow you to see a wide proportion of this amazing country! 

Places to visit in Albania

Backpacking Albania is a fantastic experience for many reasons. One of them is the wealth of places there are to visit in Albania.

If you\re wondering where to go in Albania, then I don’t blame you as you’re spoilt for choice. That much isn’t about the country by most people can make it more enjoyable when you do visit Albania, as you’re blown away by everything.

You might have seen the film Taken and be wondering: Is Albania safe? The answer to that is yes. Not only is the country safe, the people are really friendly and make travelling around even more enjoyable.

With so many beautiful places in Albania and great hospitality, you’ll be dying to come back after you finished your trip!

Tirana

Skanderbeg Square

As the capital of Albania, there are plenty of things to do in Tirana. The city is full of interesting places that reflect the country’s turbulent recent past.

Some of the most interesting sights are centred around Skanderbeg Square in the centre of the city. The National History Museum is the place to go if you want to find out more about Albania’s past.

One of the most interesting things in Tirana was the Bunkart installation, which are old bunkers in the centre of the city that have been converted into museums. Inside, you’ll learn about life in Albania under Communism and the paranoid rule of dictator Enver Hoxha.

Finally, the Grand Park of Tirana is a great place to relax on a warm day. It’s a huge park and is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of central Tirana.

Ksamil

View of the coast in Ksamil

Ksamil is part of the Albanian Riviera, but it’s worth visiting on its own such is the beauty of the place.

There are a lot of great places on the Albanian Riviera, but Ksamil is definitely one of the best. It’s quieter than most other places and is an ideal place to visit if you want some low key downtime.

The town isn’t the biggest but its peaceful nature and beautiful surroundings are why you should visit. The water here is so clear and the beaches are just as good as any other places you’ll find along the coast.

There are also small islands out to the sea, which you can take a boat to and explore too!

Shkodra

Shkoder

Shkodra is the biggest town in the north of the country and one of the most interesting places in Albania.

It’s considered the cultural capital of Albania because it hosts so many different festivals throughout the year. Carnival, Lake Day, the Children’s Festival and Shkodra Jazz Fest are just some of the festivals you can see while you’re there.

One of the best things to see in the city is Rozafa Castle, which has seen plenty of interesting sights over the years. You can also see the numerous pastel-coloured buildings in the centre which remind you of an Italian town.

Another place to check out is Shkodra Lake, which is a beautiful spot and one best seen via a boat tour.

Berat

nighttime in Berat

Berat is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Albania, which is saying something because there are plenty of incredible places throughout the country.

The town is known as the ‘The City of a Thousand Windows’ due to the nature of the buildings and because of the vast history of Berat. The houses are in an Ottoman and make for a stunning backdrop to the town.

Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage destination and it will become increasingly clear why when you visit. As well as the beauty of the town, you can check out Berat Castle, or what remains of it.

There are plenty more historical sites, as you’d expect from a town that has over one thousand years of history. The Church of the Holy Trinity and the remnants of the Red Mosque are just some of the places you have to check out!

Durrës

Amphitheatre of Durrës
Photo credit: Pudelek

A short drive from Tirana is Durrës, the second-largest city in Albania. As is common in this part of the world, there is plenty of history to be found in Durrës.

The main attraction is the huge amphitheatre in Durrës. It might not be the Colosseum but it’s impressive nonetheless. It was built in 100 AD, but only rediscovered in 1960!

Another of Durrës’s attractions is its beach, which is huge. I think the best time to visit Albania is during the summer and this makes Durrës a perfect place to visit and relax on its incredible beach.

As well as the above, there are plenty of museums, archaeological sites and great restaurants to check it as well.

Krujë

Kruje
Photo credit: Fingalo

Krujë is another place close to Tirana that’s worth checking out while you’re in Albania. It’s only a short drive away at under an hour and is a fascinating destination.

What makes Krujë one of the most interesting places in Albania is that it’s been inhabited since the 3rd century BC! One of the biggest attractions in Krujë is the castle overlooking the town.

From the castle, you’ll be able to get a fantastic view of Mount Tomori in the south, Ulcinj in the north and you can get a glimpse of the Adriatic too.

Krujë is one of the most underrated places to visit in Albania. If you’re in Tirana for a while, then it’s worth checking out during your visit.

Saranda

sunset in Saranda

Albania has some of the best coastlines in Europe and if you want to go to the beach while you’re in the country, Saranda is the place to go.

The two central beaches, Mango Beach and Saranda Beach, are where you should go. If you visit Albania during the summer, then the beaches at Saranda are a must-visit. Add the nightlife and lively atmosphere in the city and Saranda becomes an even more attractive place to visit.

Aside from the beach, Lekursi Castle is the top attraction in Saranda. Its hilltop ruins are spectacular and are a perfect place to get some fantastic views of Saranda and the wider area.

An added bonus is that the Greek island of Corfu is only a ferry ride away. If you’re in Saranda for a few days, then a visit to Corfu is well worth doing.

Apollonia

ancient ruins in Apollonia

If you want to check out one of the best places to visit in Albania from a historical perspective, then Apoolnoia is the place to go.

As the name suggests, Apollonia has Greek origins and was founded sometime around 600 BC! The Apollonia Archaeological Park contains the ruins of the ancient city and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One of the most impressive parts of Apollonia is the ruins of the theatre. They’re not as big as some of the other ones, perhaps not even in Durrës, but they are impressive nonetheless. 

As well as the theatre, the House of Mosaics and the old facade of the Monument to Agonothetes are worth checking out as well as the museum in the park too.

Korçë

Old Bazaar in Korce
Name: ArminFlickr: flickr.com/octopuzz/, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most beautiful cities in Albania is Korçë. This is due to its Ottoman architecture that gives the city a picturesque feel.

Korçë really is an incredible place and you have to walk around to get a feel for it and appreciate its beauty. The bazaar, Resurrection of Christ Cathedral of Korçë and the National Museum of Art are must-sees while you’re in the city.

An interesting fact about Korçë is that it’s the home of Korca beer, with the brewery based in the city. If you feel like sampling some, you can either head to the brewery or order some in one of the numerous restaurants in town.

Gjirokastra

tops of white buildings in Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra is another of the places to go in Albania that has a lot of historical character. 

Along with Berat, it’s been recognised by UNESCO for its cultural heritage and it’s clear why when you first visit. The cobblestone streets, Ottoman architecture and bazaar give Gjirokastra an ancient feel to it.

One of the things you have to do when you’re in the city is to visit Gjirokastra Castle. From here in the hills above the city, you not only get great views of the surrounding area and mountains, but you’ll also find a weapons museum, which is a fascinating place to check out.

An interesting fact about Gjirokastra is that it’s the birthplace of two famous figures in Albania’s past, Enver Hoxha, the Communist dictator and the famous writer, Ismail Kadare. You can check out the houses they used to live in, as both are now museums detailing the lives of both men.

Theth

Stone castle in Theth Albania, with a big cross atopt the roof against the backdrop of mountains

Theth is one of the lesser-known places in Albania, but it’s one you should check out if you’re in the country for a decent amount of time.

Located in the mountainous north of the country, Theth is a place full of outstanding natural beauty. Theth National Park is one of the most parts of Albania, and might just be the most beautiful of all, which is some statement.

If you’re a nature lover, you’ll love spending time here as you can wander around the many trails and admire the beauty all around you.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, then you can even attempt hiking one of the mountains in the area, such as Thethi, Boga, Razma and Vermoshi. All of which provide spectacular views of the surrounding area and from the top!

Vlorë

Street in Vlore

Vlorë is located on Albania’s south coast and is a great place to visit during the summer months.

The reason is that it’s a resort city and has some of the best beaches in Albania. If you want to relax in the sun, then there aren’t many better places in Albania to do so.

As well as the fantastic beaches, you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants that come alive at night. You’ll also find plenty of historical sites too, such as the Cold Water area at Uji i Ftohte.

Perhaps the most interesting place though is the Independence Proclamation Building, which is where Albania declared independence in 1912.

Llogara Pass

Llogara Pass
Dori, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Llogara Pass is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Albania.

You can find it in the Llogara National Park which isn’t too far from the Albanian Riviera. You’ll get some fantastic views of the country from the park, which are worth visiting by themselves.

However, the main attraction is undoubtedly the Llogara Pass. It’s a mountain pass that reaches a maximum height of 1,027 meters (3,370 feet) and is an epic bit of road to drive. 

The scenery in this part of Albania is incredible and you’ll be split for choice as you make your way through the pass. Keep your eyes peeled too, as you might some of the magnificent wildlife in the region, such as golden eagles!

The Blue Eye

Blue Eye Spring
David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër in Albanian) sounds like a bizarre place, but it’s actually one of the best-kept secrets in Albania.

The name refers to a water spring near the town of Muzinë, not far from Saranda that has some of the clearest blue water you’ll ever see.

The phenomenon is caused by a karst hole that’s more than 50 meters (164 feet) deep, which is where the spring comes from. The remarkable thing about The Blue Eye is that you can see down a large part of the hole due to the clarity of the water.

You need to walk a fair distance through a forest to get to the spring, but it’s well worth it. Although it’s not encouraged, you can even dip your feet in the cold water if you wish!

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