8 Albania Top Destinations

Wikicommons - Valbona National Park, Albania

Albania is one of Europe’s lesser visited Mediterranean countries and is somewhat of a rarity in Europe. Nestled between the Slavs to the north and Greeks to the south, Albania has retained its own culture and customs and is blessed with pristine beaches, interesting classical sites and rugged mountainous landscapes. It is the road less travelled but with our Albania Top Destinations, you will never be short of inspiration for what to visit.

During our stay in Albania we hitch-hiked from the Montenegrin border, heading south, straying between the coast and the inland before we turned east and hitch-hiked into Macedonia.

8 Albania Top Destinations

 

Berat2 days

Houses on the castle hill, Berat, Albania Top DestinationsThere is no more picturesque town in Albania than Berat, with its whitewashed Ottoman houses snaking up the hillside to the castle sitting imperiously above. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008 and things to visit include the 14th century Kalasa (Citadel) which is fascinatingly still a functioning part of the town and populated by around 100 people, two interesting museums: Onufri Iconography Museum & Berat Ethnographic Museum and two distinctive neighbourhoods: Mangalem, which lies north of the river and is the traditional Muslim area and Gorica, south of the river and Christian.

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Kruja 1 day

Albania Top Destinations: Wikicommons - Kruja, AlbaniaSmall enough to be explored in a few hours on foot, medieval Kruja is extremely important in Albanian culture as the birthplace of nation hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg and site of the country’s heroic defence against the invading Ottoman forces in the 15th century. The sights to visit include Kruja Castle and the giant Skanderbeg Museum located within as well as the wooden Old Bazaar which is stocked with traditional handicrafts.

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Tirana 2 days

8 Albania Top Destinations: Tirana, Albania (53) - Pyramid of Tirana and gardensAlbania’s capital and biggest city is noisy, disorganised, underfunded and certainly not for the faint-hearted, but considering that it spent the majority of the last half a century under a totalitarian isolationist dictator, Tirana is a surprisingly lively place. Historical monuments are scarce but for the committed explorer there are a few gems to be found. Skanderbeg Square, is the spiritual home of the city, surrounded with many of the city’s most important structures: National Historic Museum, Et’hem Bey Mosque & the Kulla e Sahatit Clock Tower. For fans of brutal communist architecture the Pyramid makes for interesting viewing and be sure to check out the Blloku district, which once was the home from the Communist elite and now is the city’s most fashionable quarter. To guarantee your budget stay in Tirana, read our article about visiting the Albania capital on the cheap and check out the 11 things you can do for free in Tirana.

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Spille 1 day

8 Albania Top Destinations: Sunset on the beach near Spille, AlbaniaAlthough not the obvious beach destination in Albania, the tiny village of Spille is perfect for those with a small budget and a sense of adventure. The underdeveloped sandy beach is a nice change from other hotel heavy beach resorts and is perfect for a bit of wild camping. Throw in fresh seafood at reasonable prices, and all in all you will not regret the decision to walk the path less travelled.

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Theth & Valbonë2 days

Albania Top Destinations: Wikicommons - Valbona National Park, AlbaniaThe villages of Theth & Valbona are set deep in the Albanian Alps (also called the Accursed Mountains) which offer some of the best nature and hikes in the whole of the Balkans. The most popular route is the walk from Theth (745m) across the Valbona Pass (1759m) and onto Valbonë (995m), following the ancient mule track linking the tribal regions of Shala and Nikaj, and takes about 7–8 hours in total. Access to the mountains is obtained from the north-east, through the village of Bogë, but be aware that in the winter the area is almost deserted as inhabitants flee to Shkodra to avoid the chill.

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Gjirokastra 2 days

Albania Top Destinations: Wikicommons - Gjirokastra, AlbaniaThe hillside town of Gjirokastra, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is in many ways defined by its imposing Citadel which is an unavoidable sight from any point of town. Built in the 6th century but significantly enlarged in the 19th century, the castle has been put to many uses including as a prison by King Zog, the Nazi’s during WWII and Hoxha’s Communists during the later dictatorship. Be sure to check out the shell of an American Jet which was allegedly forced down in 1957 after being accused of spying. Other sights include the 19th century Ottoman housing in the Partizani district and the Old Bazaar.

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Butrint 1 full day in enough

Albania Top Destinations: Wikicommons - Butrint, AlbaniaLaying 18km south of Saranda are the ancient ruins of Butrint one of the forgotten jewels of Antiquity. The site was first developed by the Greeks in the 4th century BC who quickly established a grand theatre and sanctuary but it reached its zenith during Roman times who expanded the settlement and built an aqueduct, a Roman bath, houses, a forum complex, and a nymphaeum. Burtint was abandoned in the middle ages after a major earthquake flooded most of the city and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992.

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8 Albania Top Destinations: Map fo Albania with a question mark.
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⑧ And what would you recommend?

What should be our number 8 in your opinion? We are very curious to hear where you’ve been and what you liked, so please share your knowledge and experience in the comments!

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Albania Top Destinations Map

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blue square  Recommended by our readers. If you have any further suggestions get involved below the line…

written by: Jon

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