The Best Places to visit in Albania
Albania is one of the most beautiful Balkan countries because of diversity and hospitality. You can hike in the Albanian alps, relax in crystal clear waters or visit one of the many UNESCO sites and cities.
As I have been living in Albania for 2 years now, I have plenty of great recommendations on places to visit in Albania. Depending on what kind of holiday you would like, you can choose your ideal destinations and go from there!
When to visit Albania?
The most popular time in Albania is summer. The Albanian Riviera is bustling with travellers and locals on holiday although you can find near-empty beaches in summer as Albania is still unexplored by many.
My favourite time in Albania is spring which is March-June. the end of spring is the perfect time to visit in my opinion as there is still hardly any tourists, the flowers are in bloom and the country starts to have a summery feel to it.
The lively capital city of Tirana has had a huge makeover in the last few years and has come alive. The city is filled with cool cafes, bright colours and a lot of history too. One of the coolest areas in Tirana is Blloku. This neighbourhood is where the best cafes and restaurants are as well as where some of the elite hang out. The former communist dictator Enver Hoxha used to live in this area and his old house still stands today. There are talks that they might turn it into a museum for the future.
There are plenty of great things to do if you do want to learn more about the communist past. You should visit Bunk art 1 and 2. Bunk art 1 is just slightly out of the centre and was the underground nuclear bunker for Enver Hoxha and the communist party. Bunk art 2 was built for the ministry of internal affairs and is in Skanderbeg square.
Whilst in Tirana make sure you visit Kometit Museum bar to try one of these many flavours of raki or enjoy a cocktail at radio bar.
The UNESCO city of Berat is located not far from Tirana and is one of the prettiest places to visit in Albania. It’s well known for its white Ottoman houses. From a distance, the houses look like they are stacked on top of each other (by the way, they aren’t!) and there are many windows. The city is also known as the city of one thousand windows which you will soon see why.
Whether you’re in Berat for just a night or the weekend it’s a great place to explore. The city is small so you can see everything it has to offer within a day making it a great day trip from the capital.
You must wander around the old cobbled streets as well as visit the castle which sits on the hill above the city. It’s one of the only castles today that residents are still living within the castle walls.
Gjirokastër is another UNESCO city which is often referred to as being the same as Berat (which is not the case). It is also known for its ottoman style houses and has the name stone city due to the architecture of the city. The old part of Gjirokastër is located on a hill with the castle slightly above.
The castle is one of the best in Albania to visit. You can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around and enjoying the views from the top. There is also an arm and prison museum which you can pay extra to see.
I highly recommend it as there is also a room there which a lot of information about Albanian history and the castle which I haven’t seen before. The prison is very grim, but the gun part will be a winner with any gun enthusiast, there are so many of them and you can even hold and touch them! This is by far one of my favourite places to visit in Albania.
Saranda is located to the south of Albania and is where I have been living for the past 2 years. There are beautiful beaches, amazing seafood and a lot of history within the city and nearby. If you want an easy way to get to the Albanian riviera then taking the ferry from the Greek island of Corfu is the best! It’s only a 25-minute ferry and will bring you right into the centre of Saranda.
One of the best things to do in Saranda is to visit Lekuresi castle for sunset. This is the ultimate spot to enjoy an epic Saranda sunset over the city. Another great lesser-known sunset spot is at the monastery of the 40 saints or Kristiano wine bar.
You must also take a trip to Ksamil and the ancient city of Butrint (mentioned below). Saranda is known for being the gateway to the Albanian riviera so make sure you enjoy the local beaches. The best is to the south and north of the city (not the centre beaches). There’s also mirror beach and monastery beach which are my favourite and located just outside Saranda on the way to Ksamil.
Ksamil is also known as the gem of the Riviera or the Maldives of Albania. There’s a good reason behind that. Ksamil is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Albania. In the summer it’s packed with people so I always suggest visiting in spring or autumn when there are fewer people and you can enjoy it a little more.
If you are a beach bum, you could easily spend a couple of days relaxing and checking out all the beaches. You can expect Ksamil to be a little pricier than other places within Albania as this is the place to be.
I highly recommend eating at Guvat or Korali when visiting. They have good quality food and very delicious seafood!
Himara is a must-see place to visit in Albania. This beach city is small and not as busy as the likes of Ksamil in the middle of summer. Himara has it all, beautiful beaches, history and some good restaurants along the boulevard too.
Make sure you check out all Himara beaches. My favourites to check out are just outside the centre, Livadhi and Prinos. Another great one which is just before the town called Llaman. There is also a secret beach which can only be accessed by a steep rock climbing (with a rope) or by kayak or boat called Gjiri i Filikurit. A great thing to do in Himara is rent a kayak so you can explore the beautiful beaches nearby and hidden coves.
Make sure you take a trip to the old castle which is on the hill behind Himara. There are still a lot of houses which are still inhabited by locals. Although the castle is mainly in ruins it’s still a beautiful place to explore and the view is stunning!
Shkoder is unlike any city in Albania which is why it makes it so special! The colourful buildings and chilled vibe make it one of the best places to visit in Albania. Many use this city as a stopover to explore the Albanian alps. Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy the city for at least a couple of days.
One of the best places to visit is Rozafa Castle and learn about the legend of the woman in the wall (I won’t ruin the surprise for you!). Another great thing to do is wander around the streets and backroads of the city and take in the architecture. I always say that Shkoder is like walking into an old-fashioned film set.
You may notice that everyone bikes in Shkoder! So, a great thing to do is rent a bike and ride to the nearby lake Skadar. Have a nice lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants on the lake and enjoy the tranquillity!
Not far from Shkoder lies one of Albania’s most beautiful secrets, Theth! This little village can only be accessed by a 4×4 or an 8-hour hike from Valbona. The Theth to Valbona hike is the most beautiful and most popular hike within Albania. There are also some other great hikes you can do in the hour such as the hike to Blue Eye.
If you want to reach Theth the easiest way is starting from Shkoder. You can arrange with your accommodation to get a 4×4 taxi which will take you to the village of Theth. If you would like to do the hike you can then stay in Theth for the night and get up early the next day and walk through the alps to Valbona. The hike can take anywhere from 6-8 hours depending how slow you take it. From Valbona you can then catch the Komani lake ferry and then a taxi back to Shkoder.
Korce is under the radar but it shouldn’t be because it’s beautiful! You may recognize the name after the Albania beer. That’s because Korce is produced in Korce, shock! You can visit the brewery and have a beer in the beer garden as well as a bite to eat. You can also opt to do a tour of the brewery itself.
Otherwise, enjoy your time walking around the streets of Korce. The architecture and charm of this city are amazing so Korce is worth a stop if you have time!
A visit to the Mirahori Mosque is a must too. This is one of the most must-see things to do in the city of Korce.
Kruja is still relatively off the radar to tourists but it shouldn’t be because this city holds important history for Albania. It’s known as the city of Skanderbeg, an Albanian hero who helped the fight against the Ottoman empire. You can learn more about the epic battle in the Skanderbeg museum which is within the castle walls.
Kruja also has the oldest bazaar in Albania and the best in my opinion! The bazaar dates to the 14h century and has some amazing and unique souvenirs. There are lots of second-hand shops too which I highly recommend checking out.
If you decide to stay in Kruja I highly recommend Emiliano Rooms. I have stayed in one of their Bungalows which overlook the mountains and it was incredible. Breakfast is also amazing and the dinner option you should take. For 500 lek each person you can get an array of local dishes, the experience was fantastic! The location is also awesome as it’s located within the castle walls and the homestay is set in a house that has been there for over 400 years!
Kruja is one of my personal favourite places to visit in Albania.
The beach paradise of Dhermi is perfect for a holiday in the sun. Dhermi has become increasingly popular as the beaches here and nearby are beautiful. The village of Dhermi itself is charming, you could easily spend a few days soaking up the sun and partaking in some adventure activities.
If you’re in Dhermi be sure to check out Drymades beach and have a drink at Drymades Bungalow. They have a super cool bar with bean bags and fairy lights right on the beach. It’s one of the best hangout spots in the area and one of the best places to visit in Albania.
Whilst in Dhermi make be sure to check out the beautiful beach of Gjipe. It’s one of the best in Albania! You can reach Gjipe by car to the nearest car park and then a 40-minute walk down to the beach. Otherwise, rent a kayak or take a boat tour to explore it. As it’s not accessible by normal car it means it’s not visited by the masses so even in the height of summer you can chill down there and easily find a sunbed.
Borsh has the biggest stretch of beach in Albania! This is another must-chill spot along the Albanian riviera. With its beautiful waters and chilled vibe if you want a quiet beach vacation then check out Borsh. Its located not far from Saranda or Himara so if you wanted to do a day trip here it’s possible.
I also recommend checking out Borsh castle which is located around a 10-minute drive uphill from the beach. I am so surprised that many people don’t even know Borsh castle exists because it’s beyond beautiful!
Borsh is also a mass producer of olive oil. You will see lots of olive oil plantations within Borsh so if you can pick up a bottle of oil while you’re there, do it!
Llogara national park
Llogara national park is along the Albanian Riviera and the Llogara Pass is one of the most beautiful drives ever! From the top, you gain an amazing view. You can even go parasailing if you’re an adventure lover! There’s a lot of fauna and flora within the park. If you’re looking for a breath of fresh mountain air, then be sure to stop here and take in the beautiful views!
Within the national park, there are lots of hiking trails you can do. Many start their journey to the Karaburun peninsula from here although you shouldn’t do this unprepared as the trek can take days and you need to take all supplies with you.
Comment below which place is first on your Albanian bucket list!
Other articles you will love:
- 26 Incredible Things to do in Tirana, Albania
- 18 Things to do in Saranda, Albania
- 16 Balkan Tips You Need to Know!
Love this post? Pin it for later!