23 Places to visit in Albania this year
This article is the ultimate list of the best places to visit in Albania. Albania is a small country in the Balkan Peninsula. The country is still an undiscovered and unknown destination for tourists. Therefore, it can be hard to plan your travels. But Albania has plenty of attractions and sights to offer tourists. Albania has magnificent high mountain peaks, UNESCO World Heritage and stunning beaches. This article will give you a nice overview of Albania’s highlights.
1. Blue Eye Albania
The Blue Eye Spring is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the South of Albania. The spring is one of the best places to visit in Albania, due to its astonishing beauty. The water of the spring has a fantastic bright blue colour. The colour is so bright, you cannot imagine it is natural. The spring has been called the Blue Eye, because of its resemblance to a human eye. Since the water is light blue it looks like the iris of the human eye and the black, underwater cave is the human pupil. The blue eye albania is surrounded by nature and trees. It is a magical place and for that reason, it is one of the best places to visit in Albania.
2. Rozafa Castle
Rozafa Castle is a great attraction to visit if you plan to travel to the North of Albania. The castle is located on a hill top near the city of Shkodra. From the hill top you have a panoramic view towards the Lake of Shkodra and the massive rivers on the foot of the hill. The view itself is worth a visit to the castle.
But there is more, because Rozafa castle has a intriguing history. According to the legend, three brothers build the castle’s walls during the day but very night the walls would collapse. A wise old man told to the three brothers that they needed to make a human sacrifice. The three brothers decided to sacrifice one of their wives. In fact, the wife, who would bring them lunch the next day, would be sacrificed. However, the two older brothers cheated and told their wives; therefore, the wife of the youngest brother brought lunch the next day. The youngest brother’s wife agreed to sacrifice herself, but she had one condition. As she was worried about her new born son. She asked her family to expose her breast, so that she could feed her new born son.
After your visit to the castle, travel down the hill towards the touristic Shkodra city and enjoy a glass of wine on one of the many terraces on the boulevard. Rozafa castle in Shkodra city is one of the best places to visit in Albania.
3. Dajti Mountain & Cable Car
One of the best things to do in Tirana city is: to take the cable car to Dajti Mountain. From the city centre, it is about a 20-minute drive to the foot of the Dajti mountain. From the foot of the hill, you can step inside a cable car. The cable car journey takes you from the foot of the hill to the upper station in 15 minutes. The journey is absolutely worth it, because you will have a stunning view from the cable car. You will look down on the tree tops, the city of Tirana, little cabins below and the beautiful nature.
After the cable car journey, you will arrive to the mountain top. The upper station has a lovely cabin restaurant. The restaurant was built on the top of the cliff and it has floor to ceiling windows overlooking Tirana city. It is the perfect place for a relaxing lunch, before you embark on the journey down the hill.
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4. Llogara Pass
If you plan on visiting the Albanian Riviera in the south of Albania, you will most likely drive down the coastal road. The coastal road leads you along all of Albania’s best beaches. When you drive from Vlore city to Saranda city on the coastal road, you must plan a stop on the Llogara Pass. The Llogara Pass is the highest point on the coastal road. You will drive up the zigzag road, and at the highest point you will be stunned by the amazing view. From the Pass, you will have a panoramic view towards the Ionian Sea. From the pass you look down on popular coastal villages and beaches like Palase, Dhermi and Drymades. The Llogara pass is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Albania!
5. Porto Palermo Castle & Bay
Just south of the city of Himare, you will find the castle and the bay of Porto Palermo. There is a castle in the middle of the bay on a little peninsula. The castle is almost on an island, since it is only connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. From the walls of the castle you can enjoy a lovely view of the bay. There is some confusion as to who built the castle, because the former communists rewrote history to fit their agenda. Therefore, many tour guides say it was constructed by the Albanian lord Ali Pasha, but it is more likely that the Venetians constructed the castle. If you like historical sightseeing, then Porto Palermo is one of the best places to visit in Albania.
6. Kruja Castle & the Bazaar market
One of the most popular destination for a day-trip from Tirana is the town of Kruja and the nearby Bazaar market. Upon arrival, you will walk uphill towards the castle, which is located on the top of the hill. Before reaching the castle, you will first cross through the bazaar marketplace. The little shops along the road offer a variety of souvenirs and handicraft products. After the Bazaar, you will enter the castle, which offers a panoramic view of the mountains, the city below and the Adriatic Sea. In the past, the castle used to belong to lord Skanderbeg, who is a national hero because he fought against the Turkish Ottoman armies to defend Albania.
Ksamil beach is the best beach destination of Albania, because it is a paradise on earth with perfect blue water and white sand. The beach site is in Albania’s most southern part, therefore, the best way to reach it is flying to the Greek Island Corfu and taking a boat across the sea to Albania. From the Ksamil beach tourists often swim or canoe across the bay to the nearby Ksamil islands to enjoy some more privacy. If you would like to explore the Albanian Riviera, then Ksamil is one of the best places to visit in Albania.
8. Valbona National Park
The Valbona National Park is the ultimate mountain destination and therefore very popular amongst hikers. Albania is a mountainous country, but even more interesting is that the country has Europe’s second highest peak after the Mont Blanc in France. One of the most popular hiking trip usually lasts 3-4 days. Firstly, the you will arrive in Shkodra city. Secondly, from Shkodra city you can take a minibus to the Lake Koman Ferry and you will reach the Valbona village. Thirdly, in Valbona, you can hike across the mountain range to reach the mountain village of Theth. And finally, you can travel by minibus back to Shkodra city.
9. Pyramid of Tirana
The pyramid of Tirana is certainly one of Albania’s oddest buildings. First of all, the pyramid was opened as a museum about the former communist dictator in 1988. But after the collapse of the communist regime in 1991, the building was transformed into a conference centre and exhibition venue. Afterwards, it was also used as a base of operation by NATO and humanitarian organisations during the war in Kosovo. Shortly after it had another purpose as a broadcasting station for the Albanian TV and Radio. And finally, as you will see on your visit, the pyramid is not in use today. Even more interesting is that it is undecided what it will be in the future. As you can image, the future and the history of the pyramid are both highly controversial subject.
10. Theth National Park
Theth is a little, mountain village in the North of Albania. The little village is an excellent destination for hikers. Therefore, it is one of the best places to visit in Albania if you like active holidays. There is a popular hiking route across the mountain pass. You can start from Valbona village and plan a 1-day hike across to path to Theth. Moreover, the Theth village is also well-known for its natural beauty. You can hike to the Blue Eye of Theth, which is a fresh water pool in the mountains. Or you can visit the Theth waterfall and the Canyons. If you like nature and hiking, then Theth is one of the best places to visit in Albania for you!
11. Lake Koman Ferry
The ferry boat journey across the lake of Koman in the north is one of the best places to visit in Albania. The Brandt Guide, for instance, describes the 3-hour ferry journey as one of the best boat rides in Europe. The ferry boat was built for locals as a way of transportation. Just by coincidence the boat ride became a popular tourist attraction. That is why, the journey across the lake does not feel like a tourist trip, but rather like a great adventure. From the ferry you can enjoy views over the water which are breath-taking.
12. Bunk Art, the Bunker Museum
‘Bunk Art’ is a museum of Albania’s history inside a massive bunker. It is one of the best place for sightseeing in Tirana, because entering the bunker is an experience. The bunker was built while Albania was ruled by the former communist dictator. Albania’s history is scary, but most certainly fascinating. In one of the rooms, for instance, you can hear dictator’s voice. Furthermore, the museum also shows nuclear weapons and protective gear, because the former dictator was paranoid and feared a nuclear attack. In his fear for a nuclear attack, the paranoid dictator constructed tens of thousands of bunkers. The Bunk Art museum is one of the best places to visit in Albania as it is very impressive and admittedly a little creepy…
13. Berat City
Berat is a historical city just two hours south of Tirana and it is a perfect destination for a day trip. The city is has traditional houses on the hillside. You can explore the old neighbourhood as if you are going back in time. Furthermore, there is a beautiful bridge over the clear blue water river, which is a beautiful location for taking pictures. Alternatively, there is a castle on the top of the mountain, which gives you a panoramic view of the entire city. And finally, you can end your day trip in one of the many little coffee houses and restaurants around.
14. Gjirokastra City
Gjirokastra is a hillside town in the south of Albania and one of the best places to visit in Albania. Gjirokastra is called the ‘stone city’, because of the traditional stone houses and cobblestone streets. Another attraction is the historical ‘Zekate House’. The house was built in 1811 and it is a perfect example of an Ottoman house. Furthermore, there is also a lovely bazaar market where you can see traditional stone carvers. And finally, the fortress on the top of the hill offers a beautiful view over the town and surrounding hills.
Apollonia is an archaeological park in the south-west of Albania and it is also one of the best places to visit in Albania. Inside the park, you see the ruins of a former ancient Greek city. A roman philosopher visited Apollonia and wrote ‘Apollonia is a great and important city’. The most famous sight are the enormous pillars of the administrative centre dating back to 2nd century AD. The archaeological park is a very popular place to have a picnic lunch, because it is surrounded by beautiful olive trees.
Pogradec is a lake-site town on the shores of the Lake Ohrid. The massive lake Ohrid is the deepest lake in the Balkans and it is on the border between Macedonia and Albania. You can also visit the springs of Drilon, which offers a beautiful environment, where you can take a boat ride or feed the many swans. Furthermore, you can see fishermen came ashore with fresh fish. If you are a foodie, then you must try the local speciality, which is a traditional trout fish dish. Progradec is one of the best places in Albania to relax.
17. Permet & the Thermal Baths
In the south of Albania, not far from the Greek border, you will find the town Permet. The town is popular amongst locals, because of the the Benja Thermal Baths. The springs close to Permet are naturally hot. The temperature of the water is between 29-30 degrees year-round. The water streams into several pools, that can be used every season. Moreover, the hot water is said to have healing powers. If you were not convinced yet, the beautiful medieval bridge across the river. The fantastic landscape, the hot springs and the medieval bridge, make Permet one of the best places to visit in Albania.
Butrint is an archaeological park in the south of Albania, close to the Greek border and the city Saranda. At the site you can see the ruins of an ancient Greek town dating back to the 6th century BC. Butrint was a commercial centre for the Greeks, the Romans, the Byzantines and the Venetians because of its link to the Mediterranean Sea. Today, the site has ruins from all the different periods in history that it was developed. The park has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, therefore, it is one of the best places to visit in Albania.
19. Korca City
Korca is a historic city in the south of Albania, which is rather close to the Greek and Macedonian borders. The city certainly has many highlights; Firstly, it is one of the most beautiful cities in Albania with cobblestone streets and grand villas. Secondly, the massive Resurrection Cathedral in the city centre has recently been renovated and is certainly worth a visit. Thirdly, you can visit one of the many lovely cafes or stroll through the bazaar market place. Fourthly, Korca is also the name of Albania’s oldest beer and it is possible to take a tour of the Korca beer brewery. And finally, you can use Korca as a starting point to explore one of the nearby mountain villages, like Voskopoje or Dardha.
20. Karaburun Peninsula
The Karaburun Peninsula is a touristic sight that is hard to reach, but well worth the trip. The mountainous peninsula separates the Adriatic and Ionian seas, therefore, it can only be reached by boat. You can take a boat from Vlore and explore the Haxhi Ali Cave, which is so massive several speedboats can enter at the same time. Another highlight is the Gramata Bay, which is a beach in the middle of steep cliffs and sheltered from the sea. On the steep cliffs you can read messages from medieval sailors in Greek and Latin. Read more about the Best Albania Beaches!
21. Dhermi Beach
One of the best places to visit in Albania, is the small village of Dhermi in the south of Albania, which has an excellent beach. The Dhermi village is also close to the Llogara Pass View Point, therefore, you can combine the two highlights in one day. The Dhermi beach is popular because it is not crowded and because it has beautiful blue water and perfect white sand. Moreover, you can dive of the rocks, go kayaking, snorkelling or diving. You can also explore the village, which is very picturesque, and it has many little churches and monasteries.
22. Gjipe Beach & Pirate’s Cave
Gjipe beach is close to Dhermi and it is a very private, because it requires a walk down from the main road to reach the sea side. The beach site is surrounded by beautiful cliffs. It is also possible to visit the nearby Pirate’s cave. The cave is famous in Albania, because of a children’s adventure book. In the book a group of children get inspired by pirate stories and enter the mysterious cave. The cave is a certainly a fascinating place to explore.
23. Petrela Village & Castle
The Petrela village is just 12km southeast of Tirana and therefore an one of the best places to visit in Albania for a day-trip from Albania’s capital. The most noteworthy sight in the Petrela Village is the Medieval Castle. The castle is impressive, because it was built on a massive rock on the top of a hill. In the ancient times, Petrela was called Petralba, which literally means ‘the stone of the Albanians’. Once you see the castle on the rock, you will certainly understand their meaning. Furthermore, from the castle you will have a wonderful view of the Petrela village and its valley with olive trees. Even though, Petrela is very close to Tirana, the ambience is rather relaxing.
I am an Albania Tour Guide, who organizes 1-day, 2-day or multiple day private tours in Albania. I arrange your transportation and I am your English speaking guide. So that, you get to experience the most beautiful places in Albania!
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