Albania stands out as a hidden gem offering a diverse range of attractions and experiences. Nestled in the Balkan Peninsula, this enchanting country boasts a rich history, stunning landscapes and warm hospitality. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history enthusiast, or simply looking to unwind on pristine beaches, Albania has something for everyone. In this article, I’ll take you on a virtual journey through the 20 best things to do in Albania, showing its unique cultural heritage, natural wonders, and vibrant cities.
1. Explore the Historic Streets of Tirana
Start your Albanian adventure in the capital city of Tirana. Wander through the historic streets lined with colorful buildings and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this bustling metropolis. Visit Skanderbeg Square, the heart of the city, where you can admire the impressive Skanderbeg Monument and the magnificent Et’hem Bey Mosque.
2. Marvel at the Ancient Ruins of Butrint
Step back in time as you explore the ancient ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wander through the well-preserved Roman amphitheater, stroll along the ancient city walls, and marvel at the intricate mosaics that offer a glimpse into the past.
3. Discover the Magnificent Albanian Riviera
Head south along the stunning Albanian Riviera, where pristine beaches and turquoise waters await. From the lively town of Vlorë to the picturesque village of Himara, you’ll find a variety of charming coastal towns to explore. Don’t miss the breathtaking views from Llogara Pass and the secluded beaches of Dhermi.
4. Hike Through the Accursed Mountains
For nature lovers and adventure seekers, a hike through the Accursed Mountains is a must. Explore the dramatic landscapes, picturesque valleys, and crystal-clear lakes as you navigate the well-marked trails. The Theth to Valbona (or the other way around) hike is particularly popular, offering stunning views and a chance to immerse yourself in Albania’s natural beauty.
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This demanding track of about 7-8 hours promises breathtaking views and a test of endurance. Don’t forget to equip yourself with high-quality hiking boots and essential accessories (sunscreen, sunglasses, enough water and a lightweight backpack) to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
5. Visit the Tranquil Ohrid Lake
Shared with North Macedonia, Ohrid Lake is a true hidden gem. With its serene atmosphere and crystal-clear waters, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind. Take a boat ride on the lake, visit the charming town of Pogradec, or simply soak up the tranquility of this idyllic destination.
6. Experience the Enchanting Berat Castle
Travel to the historic city of Berat and be captivated by its charm. Explore the enchanting Berat Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which offers panoramic views of the city and houses numerous Byzantine churches. Wander through the cobblestone streets of the old town and admire the well-preserved Ottoman architecture.
7. Embark on a Boat Tour of Koman Lake
One of Albania’s best-kept secrets is the stunning Koman Lake. Embark on a boat tour and sail through the breathtaking fjords, surrounded by towering mountains and pristine wilderness. This off-the-beaten-path destination is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.
8. Delve into the Mysteries of Apollonia
History buffs will be delighted by a visit to Apollonia, an ancient Greek city founded in the 6th century BCE. Explore the well-preserved ruins, including the amphitheater, the Odeon, and the ancient marketplace. Immerse yourself in the fascinating history of this archaeological site.
Located in the south of Albania, Ksamil is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. With its crystal-clear waters and white sandy shores, it’s the perfect place to unwind and soak up the sun. Swim, snorkel, or simply bask in the natural beauty of this coastal paradise.
10. Uncover the Secrets of Gjirokastër
Step into the medieval past as you explore the UNESCO-listed town of Gjirokastër. Known for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture, Gjirokastër offers a glimpse into Albania’s rich history. Visit the imposing Gjirokastër Castle, explore the narrow streets of the old town, and learn about the town’s famous literary figures.
11. Indulge in Delicious Albanian Cuisine
No visit to Albania is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Sample traditional dishes such as byrek (savory pastry), tave kosi (baked lamb with yogurt), and fërgesë (a hearty meat and vegetable dish). Be sure to try rakia, a popular Albanian brandy, and finish off your meal with a cup of strong Turkish coffee.
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12. Get Adventurous in Theth National Park
Theth National Park is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts. Hike to the stunning Theth Waterfall, trek through the rugged mountains, and visit the traditional stone houses that dot the landscape. The park offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Albania’s wilderness and experience its raw beauty.
13. Marvel at the Splendor of Skanderbeg Square
Return to Tirana and spend some time exploring Skanderbeg Square in the heart of the city. Admire the impressive Skanderbeg Monument, dedicated to the national hero, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this central gathering place. Surrounding the square, you’ll find numerous cafes, shops and cultural landmarks.
14. Take a Dip in the Blue Eye Spring
Escape the summer heat by visiting the Blue Eye Spring, a natural phenomenon that will leave you in awe. Dive into the crystal-clear waters of this natural spring, surrounded by lush greenery. The vibrant blue color and the depth of the spring create a mesmerizing experience.
15. Immerse Yourself in History at the National Museum of Albania
To gain a deeper understanding of Albania’s history and culture, visit the National Museum of Albania in Tirana. Explore the exhibits showcasing artifacts from ancient Illyrian times to the present day. Learn about the country’s struggles for independence and its rich cultural heritage.
16. Visit the Charming Town of Shkodër
Located in the north of Albania, Shkodër is a charming town with a rich history. Visit Rozafa Castle, perched on a hilltop overlooking the city, and explore the pedestrian-friendly streets lined with cafes and boutiques. Don’t miss the Marubi National Museum of Photography, which showcases a vast collection of Albanian photography.
17. Discover the Untouched Beauty of Valbona Valley
Valbona Valley National Park is a paradise for nature lovers. Hike through the pristine wilderness, surrounded by towering peaks and lush green valleys. Take in the breathtaking views of the Valbona River and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this untouched natural wonder.
18. Stroll Along the Colorful Streets of Saranda
Located on the Ionian Sea, Saranda is a vibrant coastal town known for its colorful buildings and lively atmosphere. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade, enjoy the panoramic views of the sea, and indulge in fresh seafood at the local restaurants. Saranda also serves as a gateway to the nearby archaeological site of Butrint.
19. Witness the Mesmerizing Bunker Art
Albania’s unique history is reflected in its extensive bunker system, built during the communist era. Today, many of these bunkers have been transformed into art installations, showing the creativity and resilience of the Albanian people. Explore the vibrant bunker art spread throughout the country and gain insight into Albania’s past.
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20. Shop for Authentic Souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar
Wrap up your Albanian adventure by exploring the Grand Bazaar in Tirana. This bustling market offers a wide array of authentic souvenirs, from traditional handicrafts to local delicacies. Support local artisans and bring home a piece of Albania’s vibrant culture as a memento of your unforgettable journey.
Albania, with its rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality, offers a truly unique travel experience. From exploring ancient ruins and hiking through pristine mountains to relaxing on pristine beaches and immersing yourself in vibrant cities, there is no shortage of remarkable things to do in this captivating country.
Whether you’re an adventurer, a history enthusiast, or simply seeking a hidden gem to discover, Albania will leave you spellbound with its beauty and authenticity. Embark on this remarkable journey and create memories that will last a lifetime.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is Albania safe for travelers?
Albania is generally a safe country for travelers. However, it’s always important to take standard precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and avoiding isolated areas at night.
What is the best time to visit Albania?
The best time to visit Albania is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the tourist crowds are smaller.
Do I need a visa to visit Albania?
Many nationalities can enter Albania without a visa for short-term visits. However, it’s essential to check the visa requirements based on your nationality before traveling.
What is the currency in Albania?
The currency in Albania is the Albanian Lek (ALL). It’s recommended to have some local currency on hand, although many places also accept Euros.
Can I drink tap water in Albania?
While tap water is generally safe in major cities, it’s advisable to drink bottled water or use a water purifier when in more remote areas.
Are there any cultural customs I should be aware of in Albania?
Albanians are known for their hospitality and respect for guests. It’s customary to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home and to dress modestly when visiting religious sites.
Get Travel Insurance
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex.
I use Skyscanner to find flights. I use it so much, I wrote an entire guide to finding cheap flights with Skyscanner! Momondo is also a great site for finding cheap flights.
Book a Place to Stay
I recommend using Expedia.com or Hotels.com for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.
If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.
Choose Activities and Tours
To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available.
When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals.
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