Going beyond the awe-inspiring panoramas of the European countries, Albania is another lesser known destination which is gaining popularity with time. While planning a vacation to this Balkan country, the first question arises in every traveler’s mind is, “which places to visit in Albania?” Unlike other locations, this nation has a plethora of opportunities for exploration, starting from the ancient towns, medieval era castles, exotic beaches to the Ottoman architectures lining the streets.
10 Finest Destinations To Explore In Albania
Therefore, if an unconventional holiday is on your mind and you’re still perplexed about where to go, then make sure to note down these 10 essential places to visit in Albania and relish a serene trip away from all the commotion.
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Recognized as one of the most beautiful towns in Albania, Berat is widely acknowledged for its houses in Ottoman style. Often referred to as the “city of thousand windows” due to the windows that peek out from the impeccably aligned hilltop houses. Situated on the hillside, the mosques in Ottoman style and Byzantine churches make it distinctive and distinguishable from other cities in the Balkan region. Owing to its historical significance and picturesque charm, this small town is regarded as one of the top-notch places to visit in Albania.
Major Highlights: Berat Castle, National Ethnographic Museum, Gorica Bridge
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Situated along the Albanian Riviera, Himare is a remote beach town renowned for its glistening beach waters and hilly coastline. As you drive to the north of Saranda, this town predominantly attracts water lovers who are eager to spend a day under the radiant sun. Besides the splendid beach, this locale also offers steep trails from where travelers can relish the panoramic view of the town. Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to embark on a countryside tour and explore the antique churches and monasteries.
Main Attractions: Porto Palermo Castle, Gjipe Beach
3. Butrint National Park
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Residing near the Greek Island of Corfu, Butrint National Park is one of the astonishing places to explore in Albania. A domicile to a diverse number of ecosystems and impressive archaeological sites, this national park displays a unique combination of nature and history. This natural attraction is surrounded by lake Butrint on one side and Vivari Channel on the other. Besides, the national park provides shelter to approximately 1,200 different species of animals and plants. The main highlight within the confines of this national park is the archaeological site that encapsulates the history of 2,500 years.
Location: SH81, Butrint, Butrint, AlbaniaTimings: 8 AM-8 PMMain Attractions: Kalaja-E-Ali Pashes, Ksamil Beach, Lake Butrint
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Locally recognized as the ‘Adriatic Balcony’, Kruje is acknowledged as the birthplace of Albania’s national hero Gjergj Skanderbeg. Situated in the northern part of the city, this is one of the essential places to visit in Tirana, Albania. Situated on the mountain slope, this small town is also referred to as the city of Skanderbag, who rescued Albania from the Ottoman empire. The primary highlight of this hilltop town is the fortress where Skanderbag once sought refuge to evade the Ottomans. Standing at this fortress, one can relish a magnificent view of the entire town. Exploring Kruje will provide a perfect opportunity to enjoy the historical sites and picturesque landscapes.
Location: North Central AlbaniaMain Attractions: Kruje Castle, National Museum Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, Lake Bovilla
Gjirokaster is a mesmerizing old town situated in the southern part of the country. Perched on the side of the hill that overlooks the valley and the narrow cobblestone streets adorned with beautifully designed buildings. Often referred to as the ‘city of stone,’ this ancient town houses around 500 dwellings and structures that are preserved as ‘cultural monuments.’ In addition to its stony architecture, this place is also home to the grand Gjirokaster castle, constructed on the summit of a mountain above the Old Bazaar. If you have a passion for history, then this historic town will serve as your impeccable escape.
Main Attractions: Zekate House, Skenduli House, Gjirokaster Castle
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Positioned in close proximity to Lake Skadar, Shkodra is recognized as the artistic capital of Albania. Shkodra, which is positioned near the Montenegro-Albania border, is the largest town in northern Albania. This petite town hosts captivating events such as the carnival, lake day, children’s day festival, and the renowned Shkodra Jazz fest. Moreover, the town is also home to the well-known Rozafa castle, which has significant historical importance. The remains of the castle complement the picturesque lush-green surroundings. Additionally, the town boasts numerous other historical structures such as the Ebu Beker Mosque, Orthodox Cathedral, and a historical museum, which is a paradise for history enthusiasts.
Main Attractions: Rozafa castle, Lead Mosque, Marubi National Museum
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From the streets adorned with communist buildings to the present day, Tirana has transformed into a vibrant and celebratory destination. Embellished with brightly colored pedestrians and Ottoman-era buildings, this town showcases the best of European culture and heritage. This place is home to numerous captivating art galleries and incredible museums, which one cannot afford to miss. Moreover, one of the highlights of the town is the Bunk’ART, which is a government bunker turned into a venue for famous art installations.
Main Attractions: Skanderbeg Square, Et’hem Bay Mosque, National Museum Of History
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Nestled along the breathtaking Ionian Sea, Sarande is a year-round tourist hotspot. As one of Albania’s most beautiful destinations, this town presents a captivating combination of modernity and history. With seafront blocks filled with apartments and streets teeming with a variety of bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops, this place offers something for every type of traveler. While one side offers numerous options for relaxation and leisure, the other side of town showcases historical monuments and natural beauty, which can be experienced on a day tour.
Main Highlights: Lekuresi Fortress, Sarande Port, Monastery of 40 holy people
Having a significant historical significance, Vlore is a seaside city which is rather extensive in size contrasted to the town of Sarande. This is the spot where Albania asserted autonomy in 1912. This sixth century city is quite a hyped area in the nation and offers a lot of things to encounter. From the historical fortresses to the isolated yet stunning islands, this seaside city has a lot to offer. Regardless of being a military zone, this spot opens up for general society during the summer season.
Main Highlights: Albanian Coastline, Muradie Mosque, Kanine Fortress
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Quite a famous beach getaway, Durres is a port city which is a must-visit place in Albania to witness the coastal beauty. Located at a distance of 35 Kms from the capital city of Tirana, this place has a history dated back to 3,000 years. From the incredible hiking spots to the ancient Amphitheatre, there is a long list of things around the city which reflects its rich heritage. Apart from this there are pristine beaches which makes it more of a travelers favorite location to visit in the country.
Main Highlights: Amphitheatre of Durres, Durres Archeological Museum, Durres Port
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These are the finest places to visit in Albania which simply cannot be overlooked if you’re a first-time traveler. Around the country its every town, village, and city has a narrative engraved in its architectures and streets which are yet to be explored. So, if you’re planning a vacation in Europe anytime soon, then make sure to make a checklist of these places and spend a relaxing time around this Balkan country.
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Commonly Asked Questions About Destinations To Explore In Albania
What is Albania well-known for?
Aside from being renowned as the birthplace of Mother Teresa, Albania is also celebrated for its medieval-era fortresses, exotic shores, and Ottoman architectures adorning the streets.
Is it safe to visit Albania?
Albania is an exceedingly secure destination to visit, where even minor offenses like theft are quite rare.
Does Albania possess beaches?
Certainly. Albania boasts numerous breathtaking shorelines that allure countless tourists every year. The beach at Dhërmi is particularly renowned in Albania.
Where should I lodge in the Albanian Riviera?
Some of the finest places to stay along the coast of Albania are: 1. Ksamil 2. Himara 3. Dhermi 4. Saranda