Welcome to a journey through the vibrant landscapes and hidden gems of Albania. While Tirana may be a familiar name, this handpicked list of destinations goes beyond the ordinary, offering a fresh perspective on where to go in this captivating country.
Prepare to be intrigued and inspired as we explore 25 off-the-beaten-path treasures that are sure to ignite your wanderlust. From breathtaking natural wonders to cultural gems, Albania has it all. Join us as we uncover the secrets of this beautiful Balkan nation.
Albania is a country that has yet to hit the map of most European tourists. Though there is starting to build a buzz about this beautiful country around the Balkans, most of Europe and the world is still pretty unaware of this place. I
In this post, we’ll introduce you to the best of Albania, from the best cities in Albania to fun things to do in Albania.
With soaring mountains, fascinating valley towns with thousands of years of history, national heroes followed by passionate, prideful people, and a riviera which is up and coming as one of the best in Europe, there is no time to wait – you must visit Albania before the majority catch wind of the buzz.
For those looking for a bit more information and wanting to be inspired by the place, we are glad you have landed here. Without further ado, here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Albania, including the most impressive cities and small towns throughout the country.
In no particular order of likeness, here are the 21 top cities in Albania, covering regions spread evenly throughout the country:
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Gjirokastra is known for its beautiful Ottoman architecture and excellent location among the snow-capped peaks of the South Albanian Drino Valley. Charming cobbled streets lead to the castle, the most essential part of the city, often called the “City of Stone.”
While visiting Gjirokastra, you will also want to see the Zekate House, an early 19th-century tower considered the best example of Ottoman architecture in the city. This beautiful and fascinating ancient city is easily one of the most beautiful places in Albania.
2. Albanian Riviera
The Albanian Riviera is, without question, one of the most popular tourist spots in Albania. The Riviera has a growing reputation as an important music center with numerous international music festivals, including Turtle Fest and Soundwave Albania.
Nightclubs such as Havana Beach Club near Dermis and Jale Beach’s Follie Marine attract young people from all over Europe to the Albanian Riviera.
The seaside town of Himara is one of the coolest up-and-coming places on the Riviera. The beaches of Llamani, Porto Palermo, and Filikuri are some of the most beautiful in the region. The beach of Drymades is one of the busiest and most fun in the Balkans. The Riviera definitely tops the list if you’re trying to figure out where to go in Albania for a beach vacation.
Located on the shore of Lake Ohrid in eastern Albania, Pogradec is one of the most promising places in the country.
Lake Ohrid is the deepest lake in the Balkans, and although the Macedonian part of the lake is more popular, the Albanian coast is undoubtedly growing.
Pogradec is known for its rich folklore, and the Puppet Theater Festival is one of the most interesting events to take place in the country.
Shenk-Jablanica National Park is located about a 30-45-minute drive from Pogradec, near the fountains of Drilon.
As you can see by now, there are plenty of reasons to vacation in Albania. Its nature and beautiful culture are well worth every bit of time you spend there.
And it is best to do it now. Simultaneously, many of Albania’s most popular tourist attractions are still relatively untouched by mass tourism, prices are low, and locals remain willing to share their culture and traditions with outsiders.
Berat is known as a city with thousands of windows, thanks to the typical Ottoman-style houses that Berat is famous for. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 2,000 years of packed history.
The ancient city of Berat is an absolute must-see in Albania. If you climb to the top of the castle, you will be treated to a fantastic view of the city of Berat. Inside the fortress walls, you will see houses where people still live their everyday lives.
Wine tasting is one of the best things to do, especially for vino lovers. Albania is home to a surprisingly good vineyard scene. You can visit the four best vineyards (Cabo, Nurellari, Malinati, and Luani) in a day and taste the best of local Albanian wine.
Also, you may visit Roshnik – a well-known village in the area of Berat, and it is often called the cleanest and one of the most civilized villages.
If you are a budget traveler and love to connect with other travelers while backpacking, you should stay at Berat Backpackers, an excellent hostel in one of the most beautiful places in Albania; you can find rates and availabilities here.
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Okay – confession – Upper Queparo is magical and maybe my favorite place in Albania. It is an ideal place to see a traditional Albanian village but with a quirk: the village was left half abandoned.
After the fall of communism, many people went abroad, and the village was completely deserted. About half of the village is renovated, but many old stone houses are still in ruins. The streets are touched with age, with beautiful views and a rich history surrounding them.
You might lack things to do, but that is the beauty of this quiet, authentic village.
With turquoise waters and beautiful secluded beaches, the beautiful landscape of Dhermi in summer attracts young Albanians from all over the country. Not only the beaches, but Dhermi is also the epicenter of lively nightlife, another reason the young people flock here when school’s out.
The city is situated on a hill overlooking the sea and offers spectacular sunsets. Take a drink in one of the many bars and restaurants at sunset; it is always an excellent way to spend the neon evening in Dhermi.
Although this place offers a cheerful and festive atmosphere, with lively beach bars scattered throughout, there are more than enough beaches for a quiet place to sit and enjoy the Albanian Riviera landscape.
If you like to spend time outdoors, Theth is undoubtedly one of the best places in Albania and makes for a great Albania weekend getaway.
Nature lovers will enjoy the serene landscapes and charming villages that are still filled with authentic traditions, cuisine, and unique cultures.
Far away from the largest Albanian cities, tucked in the north of the country at the top of the Albanian Alps, Theth remains quiet and quaint most of the year. The National Park in Theth is probably the most beautiful place in Albania, with Grunas Falls and the Lock-in Tower well-liked by tourists. If you’re planning a getaway in nature, Theth is one of the best places to visit in Albania for you, for sure.
Mount Theti, Razma, Boga, and Vermoshi offer an unforgettable experience of Albania in its most natural state, experiences you certainly cannot miss. If you love the outdoors, Albania is one of the best places you can travel to in Europe.
8. Osumi Canyons
Tucked away in the south of Albania, the Osumi Canyons offer an adventure like no other.
This natural wonder boasts soaring cliffs, emerald waters, and dramatic rock formations, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. You can embark on a thrilling canyoning expedition, navigating through the canyon’s twists and turns.
Marvel at the sheer walls rising around you as you traverse the pristine waters. The Osumi Canyons are a hidden gem where you can connect with the raw beauty of Albania’s landscapes.
The picturesque village of Lin is located on a small peninsula on the western shore of Lake Ohrid. This beautiful lake separates Albania from neighboring Macedonia and is an important region of study for the southeastern part of the country.
Lin is a beautiful place on the lake’s shores, obviously its main attraction. It is a lovely village with many sandy and pebbly beaches, ideal for a picnic on a sunny afternoon or paddleboarding on the calm, beautiful waters of Ohrid.
A coastal gem on the Ionian Sea, Saranda is a popular destination for sun and sea lovers. Its beautiful beaches, including Ksamil and Mirror Beach, offer a chance to relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun. Saranda is also a gateway to exploring ancient sites like Butrint and the mesmerizing Blue Eye.
The town’s vibrant waterfront promenade comes alive in the evenings, offering a taste of Albania’s lively nightlife.
Lekursi Castle is one of the best places in Saranda where people go to enjoy the breathtaking sunsets. Saranda is a short trip across the Ionian Sea and just an arm’s length away from the famous Greek island of Corfu.
Himare is a quieter coastal town a few hours north of Saranda. The views are breathtaking and ideal for resting on the beach for a few days.
The popular promenade has several good restaurants to try, and if you are looking for a calmer and cooler atmosphere than Saranda, it is one of the best places in Albania where you can relax. But for party animals, there is still plenty of restaurants and nightlife to keep the thirst for excitement alive.
Once the capital of Albania, Durres is located near Tirana, on the country’s coast. This is a very popular destination, meaning there can be gobs of people here spilling over from Tirana in the summer months.
With one of the largest ports of the Adriatic, the city is somewhat suffocated with development. However, there is a good stretch of beach where tourists and locals can enjoy many lovely beaches. And along the promenade, many restaurants offer delicious fresh seafood near the sand.
Over thousands of years, a war between Bulgarians, Greeks, Venetians, and Turks has made this city’s history as rich as its beaches. The impressive Roman amphitheater and the fantastic archaeological museum are among the biggest pulls to the city.
13. Mount Djati National Park
For those seeking tranquility in the heart of nature, Mount Djati National Park is a haven. Located in southern Albania, this park offers a serene escape with its lush forests, pristine lakes, and hiking trails.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply yearning for a peaceful retreat, you’ll find solace in the park’s natural beauty. Hike to the summit for panoramic views, explore the serene Liqeni i Dhëmbelit (Tooth Lake), or relish the peaceful ambiance away from the bustling world.
South of Saranda, near the Greek border, is the beautiful seaside resort town of Ksamil, located in Butrint National Park. It has an impressive coastal location with many flocking to it.
Ksamil is one of the best beach towns in Europe and will make you feel as though you have just touched down at the beaches of the Caribbean. It is an escape in Europe like none other.
The village has bars and restaurants on the beach and four small coastal islands surrounded by crystal-clear waters, ideal for swimming and diving.
This is undoubtedly one of the last unknown treasures on the continent. Today, however, more and more tourists are finding Ksamil, and it is rapidly growing into one of the most popular destinations in Albania.
In 1912, the independence of Albania was declared in Vlore. Vlore holds a special place in the hearts of all Albanians. That is why the Museum of Independence is located in this small town.
If you are a huge history buff looking to engulf yourself in Albanian history, you can go to the ancient Kanina Castle. According to local projections, the castle dates back to the 3rd Century B.C.
If you are interested in nature and the beautiful Albanian environment, you can visit the Bay of Vlora. You can enjoy the gentle sea breeze and simultaneously observe the bay’s fauna. There are many species of animals in the area, some of which you may not be familiar with or have ever imagined seeing in Europe.
Located just 20 miles northwest of Tirana, Kruja is a historic city at the foot of the impressive mountain by the same name. Other sights in Kruja include the medieval castle, the site of a legendary battle won by the national hero of Albania, Skanderbeg against the Ottoman Turks, and the Skanderbeg Museum.
17. The Blue Eye
Nature’s own masterpiece, the Blue Eye, is a mesmerizing natural spring in southern Albania. Its crystal-clear waters form a stunning pool that’s so clear you can see the depths below.
The vibrant blue hue of the water, surrounded by lush greenery, is truly a sight to behold. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing swim or a serene spot for a picnic, the Blue Eye offers a unique and refreshing experience.
18. Butrint National Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Butrint National Park is an archaeological wonderland that allows you to step back in time.
The ancient city of Butrint, nestled within the park, boasts Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian ruins, all shrouded in lush greenery. Wander through ancient theaters, temples, and fortifications as you uncover layers of history.
The Greeks lived in Butrint in the 6th Century B.C., and later, the Romans seized power. Butrint is one of the longest-inhabited cities in Europe. The first remains of life date back to 50,000 years ago! You can’t imagine the history this city holds.
What sets Butrint apart is its unique blend of nature and antiquity, with a backdrop of forests and wetlands that provide a haven for birdwatching and wildlife enthusiasts.
Known as the “City of Serenades,” Korca is a charming town in southeastern Albania that exudes a laid-back vibe.
It’s a great place to explore Albania’s cultural heritage, with its traditional architecture, museums, and lively local markets. Don’t miss the chance to savor the local cuisine and experience the warmth of Albanian hospitality.
Korca offers a glimpse into everyday life in Albania, away from the tourist crowds.
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20. Bovilla Lake
Nestled in the hills surrounding Tirana, Bovilla Lake is a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to unwind and enjoy nature. You can take a boat ride on the lake, have a leisurely picnic, or hike in the nearby hills for panoramic views. The tranquil atmosphere and natural beauty make Bovilla Lake a perfect day trip from Tirana.
Located in the north of Albania, this picturesque city is one of Albania’s best destinations and a good starting point for fantastic road trips through the region. You will learn that Shkoder is a city of bicycles. Most locals you find, especially around the center, all ride bicycles as transport around town.
It is also an incredibly cheap place. If you are looking for a place where you get the best value for your money in Albania, look no further than Shkoder.
Travel back in time with the charm of Shkoder. The architecture is different from any other city in Albania. You might even feel like you are in an old-school film nearly a Century back in time.
If you were learning some simple phrases in Albanian, you might have difficulties conveying them in Shkoder. Southern Albanians speak a different dialect than northern Albanians, like in Shkoder.
Vuno’s not on the tourist radar anymore, much less on the local radar. It is a tiny town along the route to the Albanian Riviera.
Vuno has the same charm as Upper Queparo, which I love so much. Traditional stone houses and cobblestoned roads pass through the village and lead to a beautiful view of the olive groves and beaches of the Albanian Riviera. However, Vuno was abandoned decades ago and is only slowly (very slowly) rebuilding.
Gjipe Beach is not far away, and it is nice to chill if you stay in Vuno for a few nights.
Apollonia is an ancient city that flourished during the Roman Empire. Today’s biggest draw to the town for visitors are all the well-preserved ancient buildings and remains inside the Apollonian Archaeological Park. It is a must-see for those who are into Roman architecture and the period.
One of the best places in Albania is Borscht. Borscht has the longest beach in Albania, making it one of the most noteworthy in the country. Situated among olive groves, it is a beautiful place to hide from the madness of Saranda in summer.
We highly suggest visiting Borscht Castle, located on the mountain overlooking the beach. The castle is in ruins but is still often completely forgotten by tourists. The view is breathtaking, and there is still a reason to visit it.
The castle also has an old mosque, which the Turks added. The mosque does not hold services because it is almost completely destroyed. However, its beautiful interior is still pretty much intact, and you can see some awe-inspiring paintings on the ceiling.
25. Et’hem Bey Mosque, Tirana
The Et’hem Bay Mosque demonstrates the beauty and friendliness of Islam. It is not a large mosque, but the Et’hem Bay mosque has a beautiful architectural structure. The dome’s interior has a complex image that will make your jaw drop. This mosque is not only a religious but also a historical symbol for Albania.
Apart from the mosque, Tirana is home to Bunk’Art, Dajti Mountains National Park, the National History Museum, the National Art Gallery, Sheshi Skenderbej, and many other attractions.
If you have any questions regarding your itinerary for your holiday in Albania, feel free to reach us about any of the Albania destinations on this list or any other inquiries you may have, and we will do our best to assist you.