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Trending Destination: What to See in Albania

Over the past few years, Albania's tourism industry has experienced significant growth and blossoming. As some of the once-favored holiday spots along the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea face challenges such as heat waves, overcrowded cities, and flight delays, travelers have sought safer and more enjoyable alternatives. In response to these circumstances, an increasing number of people have opted to explore Albania as a compelling alternative.

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By Eglė

Published: Jul 31, 2023 min read

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania

When thinking of tourist destinations, Albania may not be the first place that comes to mind. However, underestimating this hidden Balkan gem, blessed with miles of breathtaking coastline, would be a mistake. More or less half a year ago, I saw the Sun article about the European Maldives - Albania & I was intrigued by its attractions & how beautiful it is. Who knows, after reading this blogpost, you can be charmed by Albania so much that it may be your next holiday destination!

Albania boasts more than 280 miles of picturesque coastline, adorned with tranquil bays, sandy beaches, and charming fishing villages. It looks very similar to the Italian and Greek coastline. And if that alone isn't enough to entice you, the country also offers a captivating display of epic Ottoman architecture to admire. Moreover, beyond the coast, Albania's unspoiled countryside is a treasure trove of natural wonders, dotted with national parks, ancient castles, and fascinating archaeological sites. Among these enchanting landscapes, you'll find the awe-inspiring Albanian Alps, an ideal destination for invigorating summer hikes and thrilling winter skiing adventures.

TIRANA

From a landscape once dominated by dreary communist buildings, Tirana has undergone a remarkable transformation since the early 90s. Now, as Albania's vibrant capital, it exudes a warm and welcoming atmosphere, making it an exciting and enjoyable destination to explore. The city's pedestrian streets have been revitalized with a burst of colorful facades, showcasing delightful Ottoman-era buildings and elegant Italian architecture that reflect the country's fascinating history. Tirana boasts a wealth of great museums and art galleries, with one standout attraction being BUNK'ART, an art installation within a massive former government bunker.

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Tirana  RatePunk

While the bustling city center may be a bit chaotic, an escape to the serene Mount Dajti is just a short cable car ride away. From its summit, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the city below and surrounded by the beauty of nature, making it a perfect place to spend a delightful afternoon.

If you wonder that it may be a struggle to reach this city - just don’t. Low-cost airlines are competing for this destination. Wizz Air announced adding ten more new routes to Albania next to three existing ones. Also, Ryanair recently revealed plans to introduce 17 new routes from Tirana, with service set to commence on 31st October. 

P.S. Can’t decide which airline you should choose - Ryanair or Wizz Air? Don’t worry - check our recent article on Choosing the best low-cost airline: Wizz Air vs Ryanair

Top Things To Do In Tirana:

  • See Skanderbeg Square
  • Visit the BunkArt Museum
  • Take a trip up Mount Dajti
  • Visit the Petrela Castle 

KRUJE

Located just north of Tirana, Kruje – also known as Kruja – holds historical significance as the hometown of Albania's national hero, Gjergj Skanderbeg. In the 15th century, Skanderbeg valiantly resisted the Ottomans from his stronghold in Kruje for an impressive 25 years.

The locals affectionately call the craggy mountain overseeing the city the 'Adriatic Balcony,' where the majestic Kruje Castle stands tall, once serving as Skanderbeg's fortress. Today, the castle houses an intriguing museum dedicated to the hero and a magnificent 15th-century church, both surrounded by awe-inspiring panoramic views.

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Kruje - RatePunk

A stroll through Kruje's Old Bazaar is a delightful experience, with its charming streets adorned by cozy cafes, restaurants, and an array of shops offering souvenirs, artisan goods, antiques, and leather products.

Top Things To Do In Kruje:

  • Visit the Krujë Castle / Kruja Castle
  • Visit the National History Museum "Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu" 

BERAT

Berat lies at the heart of Albania and is celebrated for its charming white houses dating back to the Ottoman era. Perched on the hillside above the meandering Osum River, the whitewashed stone houses of Berat evoke visions of the picturesque villages along Italy's Amalfi coast.

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Berat - RatePunk

With its captivating array of stunning houses, narrow cobbled streets, a magnificent old castle, and the breathtaking embrace of mountain scenery, it comes as no surprise that Berat has earned the prestigious title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Undoubtedly, Berat ranks among the top destinations to explore in Albania, and no serious traveler should miss the opportunity to experience its allure. If your time is limited, consider a full-day tour from Tirana to uncover the city's treasures. However, to truly savor the essence of this Balkan gem, it is advisable to allocate at least two to three days for an immersive and unforgettable exploration.

Top Things To Do In Berat:

  • Explore the old town
  • Visit Berat Castle
  • Go to The Church of Saint Trinity

VLORE

The turquoise waters gently caress golden sandy beaches framed by lush, green mountains, creating a picturesque landscape that beckons travelers… Oh, blissful Vlore. 

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Vlore - RatePunk

Nestled along a palm-lined coast, Vlore boasts an idyllic setting where the sparkling Adriatic meets the serene Ionian Sea. With a history dating back to ancient times, Vlore's past is enriched by influences from the Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, and Ottomans. It holds a significant place in Albania's history, being the former capital and the city where the country's independence was declared in 1912.

Vlore offers a wealth of cultural experiences, including intriguing museums like the Ethnographic Museum, which showcases the folk costumes and traditions of the region.

With its scorching Mediterranean climate, Vlore is a haven for beach lovers seeking sun, sea, and relaxation. Among the many beautiful beaches, based on reviews, Bora Bora stands out as one of the best, boasting golden sands, crystal-clear waters, abundant entertainment and dining options, and the added safety of lifeguard patrols, making it an ideal destination for families.

Top Things To Do In Vlore:

  • Visit the Kanine Castle
  • Enjoy the time at the Bora Bora beach
  • Visit the Ethnographic Museum

SARANDE

Sarande, a charming resort town nestled on the Albanian Riviera, graces the landscape with its alluring horseshoe-shaped bay. To the west lies the glistening Ionian Sea, while to the east, the foothills adorned with olive groves and a majestic mountain panorama add to the town's picturesque charm.

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Saranda - Sarande - RatePunk

Perched above the town, the ancient Lekursi Castle stands as a testament to the past, offering breathtaking vistas of the bay and its scattered islands, rendering it one of Albania's finest destinations to explore.

Within the town, the Ethnographic Museum and the old synagogue beckon curious travelers, while a plethora of delightful cafes, bars, and restaurants create a delightful ambiance, though none quite rival the scenic allure of Lekursi's views. Honestly, this is the reason why I placed Albania on my to-visit list. 

Top Things To Do In Sarande

  • Visit Lekursi Castle
  • See the old Synagogue
  • Enjoy a day at the beach
  • Visit the Blue Eye (25 km away from Sarande) 

KSAMIL

Situated just 9 miles south of Sarande, the village of Ksamil has some of the most pristine beaches found throughout the entire Balkans. The Albanian Riviera's breathtaking stretch in this region offers azure blue seas, sandy beaches, and an abundance of entertainment and dining options, creating an idyllic coastal paradise.

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Ksamil - RatePunk

Ksamil's allure extends beyond its beaches, as it forms an integral part of the Butrint National Park. Here, you can explore the captivating countryside, encompassing islands, wetlands, freshwater lakes, and more, all contributing to the village's natural splendor.

With its stunning beauty, affordable prices, and Mediterranean weather, Ksamil easily secures its place among the best destinations to visit not only in Albania but in all of Europe.

Top Things To Do In Ksamil:

  • Enjoy every water sport activity
  • Explore Butrint National Park

GJIROKASTER

One more amazing place to visit in Albania. Gjirokaster's enchanting old town, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned for its exquisite Ottoman-era buildings and holds the distinction of being the birthplace of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.

This captivating "City of Stone" remains a hidden gem, showcasing a grand medieval castle that commands a view over the town, along with Byzantine churches, Ottoman mosques, and an ancient bazaar that has stood the test of time, engaging in commerce for centuries.

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Gjirokaster - RatePunk

A must-visit spot is the Artisan's Center, where you can peruse a delightful array of handmade goods and souvenirs crafted using traditional methods, each telling a story of the town's rich heritage. Moreover, if you are a food enthusiast, it’s the right place to have a holiday.  Gjirokaster offers a unique cuisine featuring local delights like Qifqi, a delectable baked rice and egg dish. Additionally, the city takes pride in its renowned white cheese and dairy products, sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Top Things To Do In Gjirokaster:

  • Visit Gjirokaster Castle Ruins
  • Visit Zekate House
  • Walk around the Old Bazaar
  • Shop for gifts at the Artisan’s Center

SHKODRA

Located in close proximity to the vast Lake Skadar, which straddles the border between Montenegro and Albania, Shkodra boasts a charming and picturesque setting. As the Buna River meanders through the town, the majestic Albanian Alps stand proudly in the distance.

Trending Destination: What to See in Albania - Shkodra - RatePunk

The undeniable highlight of Shkodra is the renowned Rozafa Castle, witnessing a history shaped by various rulers, including the Illyrians, Venetians, and Ottomans. Exploring the castle's magnificent ramparts and ruins is an enthralling experience, offering breathtaking views of the city below.

While the city center has recently undergone extensive renovations, the charm of Shkodra's past is preserved through numerous lovely old buildings and historic landmarks, including the Ebu Beker Mosque and the Orthodox Cathedral. For a glimpse into the region's rich history and heritage, the Historical Museum serves as a captivating repository of knowledge.

Surrounded by an abundance of beautiful countryside, Shkodra beckons visitors to explore its idyllic landscapes, catering to every traveler's preferences and interests. This captivating city offers a delightful blend of history, nature, and cultural experiences, making it an ideal destination for all to enjoy.

Top Things To Do In Shkodra

  • Visit the Rozafa Castle
  • Make some picture next to the Mesi Bridge
  • Relax at the Shkodra lake

Jul 31, 2023

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