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15 Best Places To Visit in Albania

It’s impossible to list all of the best places to visit in Albania. It’s a country with the most stunning scenery, the friendliest people, and an intriguing history that’s guaranteed to stop you in your tracks.

There are the most beautiful places to visit in Albania including its stunning coastline, mountain ranges, and natural attractions. In my view, these can rival the scenery in neighbouring countries of Greece and even Italy.

Albania is a real treat for those travelling on a budget, with prices just a fraction of the costs in many other European countries. Pick up a coffee for less than $1 and lunch for under $5 even in high season.

I spent around 10 weeks exploring Albania as a digital nomad. I was in constant awe of this country that I knew nothing about before. Its beauty, welcoming people and unique places never failed to surprise me.

If you’re contemplating a visit, but wondering where to go in Albania, this blog will help you get a great itinerary together.

Here are the 15 best places to visit in Albania.

1. Berat

The first UNESCO World Heritage site which features on this list is Berat. It’s one of the best places to visit in Albania for its attractive architecture and the most beautiful cityscape.

Berat’s hillside features stone houses which appear to be stacked on top of one another. It’s known as the city of 1000 windows due to the symmetrical openings in each building.

You must visit the Castle whilst you’re in the city, it was the highlight of my visit. It’s super impressive, and you get the most spectacular view of the city. Inside the city walls, you’ll also see that people still reside in the historic buildings here. 

Take a stroll down the Bulevardi Republika; a wide promenade lined with cafes that feature beautiful views of the Tomorr mountain at one end, and the citadel at the other. 

A day trip to Berat will give you a good amount of time to explore the city. You can get there easily by taking a bus from Tirana which takes around 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you may wish to visit for a couple of days and explore the surrounding areas, which are also featured on this list.

It’s definitely one of the most unique places in Albania and shouldn’t be missed.

Best Places To Visit in Albania
Best Places To Visit in Albania

2. Tirana (One of The Best Places to Visit in Albania)

The capital city is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Albania. It simply can’t be missed. 

A city nestled within mountains and hills, this modern and cosmopolitan city has so much to offer. 

I’d recommend learning all about the city’s most famous attractions, like the Et’hem Bey Mosque and Clock Tower, by taking a walking tour of the city.

If you want to learn more about the fascinating history of Albania, head to Bunk’Art1, my favourite museum in Tirana. Based in an old nuclear bunker, you’ll learn all about the history of Albania. It’s really close to the Dajti Express which also features on this list!

Bunk’Art1’s sister museum, Bunk’Art2 is in the centre and focuses on the role of the secret police in communist Albania. It’s a little more niche but definitely worth a visit.

Foodies also won’t be disappointed here with some amazing restaurants to try in the prestigious neighbourhood of Blloku. 

If you’re planning where to visit in Albania, Tirana should be at the top of the list – it’s one of the best cities to visit in Albania.

3. Gjirokaster

Gjirokaster is one of the most beautiful places in Albania. An old Ottoman town which is so well preserved it’s designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The city is dominated by the Gjirokaster Fortress which provides a fantastic view of the city, the Gjere mountains, and the Drino River. The Fortress holds many historical artefacts in the grounds and the on-site museum. This includes a US Air Force Jet which crash landed during WWII.

The Old Town is one of the highlights, and one of the best places to visit in Albania. It’s one of the main attractions that brings people to Gjirokaster. I loved the sweet little artisan shops, charming cafes, and unique restaurants. 

The Cold War Tunnel is also a great place to visit and experience one of the many bunkers and tunnels dotted all over the country. 

If your visit falls over the colder months, you should take a quick trip to Permet, which is just outside of Gjirokaster. It’s one of the best places to visit in Albania in the winter for its toasty hot springs.

Best Places To Visit in Albania

4. Towns of The Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is probably the place that brings most people to the country. It’s no wonder either! It’s definitely one of the most beautiful places in Albania.

The coastline along the Riviera was not what I expected. It was phenomenal. The water was unbelievably clear, blue and warm. In some places, it was like the water you see in the Caribbean or in Asia. You’re not only in for a treat but a surprise too!

The Albanian Riviera is one of the best places to visit in Albania in the summer, not just for the beautiful coastline, but because it’s becoming a haven for music festivals.

The town of Dhermi hosts popular music festivals, including Kala Festival, Turtle Fest, and ION Festival, which attract many backpackers. Further south, the seaside town of Himare is one of the best places to visit in Albania for some of the best beaches in the country.

5. Osumi Canyons

A trip to the Osumi Canyons, or the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Albania, is not to be missed for adventurers. The Osumi Canyon is the perfect place for white water rafting if you’re visiting Albania at the right time. If you’re staying in Berat for a few days, make sure you visit.

The best time to explore Osumi is in Spring. During these months, the water level is high enough to explore the entire canyon by water. You’ll paddle right by the canyon walls and float next to eight impressive waterfalls. For those after a thrill, there’s even the chance to go white water rafting.

By the end of the summer, you won’t be able to see the canyon from the river as the water won’t be deep enough. If the water levels are low at the time of your visit, the canyon is just as beautiful from the top and you’ll still be able to swim in pools, hike, and enjoy its natural beauty.

Best Places To Visit in Albania

6. Ksamil 

Unquestionably one of the most beautiful places in Albania, Ksamil attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. 

Ksamil features both pebbly and sandy beaches, and the clearest, turquoise water. The water is very similar to the beaches in South East Asia. It’s absolutely stunning.

The main Ksamil beach, (Plazhi Ksamilit), and Plazhi Bora Bora, are usually the busiest as they have the most beautiful, shallow water. These were my favourite beaches as you can swim over to the nearby Ksamil Islands which are just a stone’s throw away.

Further down the coast, you’ll find the slightly quieter beaches of Lori Beach and The Last Bay which are just as beautiful and a great option in the height of summer when the main beaches get a little busy.

And wow, it does get busy. The best time to visit is between April – mid-June, and in September, when you’ll get the best weather with fewer crowds. Towards the end of our visit in June, the beaches we’re getting very busy here. 

7. Mount Djati National Park

One of the best places to visit in Albania is the Dajti National Park. It’s conveniently located just outside of Tirana. It’s where many locals come to escape the city and heat. 

You can easily catch a bus from the city centre; just hop on the blue bus heading to Porcelani which departs from the Clock Tower, and by the New Bazaar. The drivers will give you a heads up when it’s time to get off. 

The Dajti Express, a super speedy modern cable car, will take you up the mountain to the park. It’s around 1000 lek, ($9), for a return ticket.

In the park, you can play mini-golf, take a horse ride, play fairground games, and grab lunch at a great restaurant with panoramic views of the city below. This is easily the best view you’ll see of the city.

There are also a number of walks and hikes you can take to the mountain summit. The views from the top are stunning and it’s not only one of the best things to do in Tirana, but in Albania as a whole. 

Best Places To Visit in Albania

8. Butrint National Park

Butrint is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Albania. It’s one of the most popular attractions and is the most visited UNESCO world heritage site in the country.

Butrint has been inhabited since prehistoric times; its long and rich history includes being occupied by the Greeks, Romans and Venetians.

It effortlessly blends history with nature, as the site is located amidst marshes, Lake Butrint, and stunning open plains which make up the national park. Climb the Venetian tower to view the splendour of Butrint’s amazing location.

Attractions to see inside Butrint include a Roman theatre, Temple, and Forum to name a few. There’s also a great museum on site where you can read about the ancient history of this beautifully preserved city.

Entrance costs 1000 LEK, ($9), per person, and it’s best to arrive here first thing as it can get incredibly warm, and the crowds intensify as the day goes on. We arrived at 8 am when the park opened and it was definitely a great time to arrive judging by the size of the queue when we left.

It’s one of the most unique places to visit in Albania. If you’re staying in Sarande or Ksamil, you simply can’t miss Butrint, as it’s just a short trip down the coast. 

9. Durres

With over 3,000 years of history, Durres is both the second largest, and most ancient city in Albania. It’s unsurprising that it’s bursting with archaeological sites, historic buildings and remnants. One of the best things to see is the impressive Roman Amphitheater. 

As well as being a popular choice for history lovers, it’s also an attractive choice for those seeking a mixture of city life and relaxing beaches. 

Whilst the beaches in and around Durres aren’t as striking as those in Ksamil, they’re sandy and provide beautiful views over the Adriatic Sea. My favourite beach in this area is Spille Beach, just a short taxi or bus journey out of the city.

Sunny day and panoramic view to Durres beach. Blue sky and water of Adriatic Sea.

10. The Blue Eye

The Blue Eye is one of the best places in Albania. It’s an absolutely beautiful place to visit in Albania, particularly in the summer.

The Blue Eye is located between Sarande and Gjirokaster. It’s a crystal clear, natural spring water and natural phenomenon which descends at least 50m. Nobody is sure exactly how deep it is because the water pressure is so intense that no diver has been able to reach any further.

You can stare into the mystical Blue Eye from the platform directly above it. In the centre, is an underground cave which releases thousands of gallons of water. Its depth makes it look black, like the pupil of an eye, and the bright blue around its centre is akin to an iris. 

You can jump directly into the Blue Eye from the platform. However, be warned, the temperature of the water is 10 degrees all year round. It’s freezing and not for the faint-hearted!

There is a covered cafe by the Blue Eye where you can grab refreshments. The cafe is built right on the river and the water here is the most vivid shades of aquamarine and turquoise. It’s one of the most unique places in Albania and definitely worth a visit.

11. Bovilla Lake

Travellers who have a passion for nature and getting the blood pumping will adore Lake Bovilla. It’s perfect for exploring if you’re based in Tirana as it’s around 20km north of the capital.

The region surrounding the lake is stunning. The water of the lake is a bright turquoise blue, and the views over the peaks are gorgeous.  It’s these perfect views and rocky ravines that attract travellers from all over for the best hiking, climbing, and mountaineering opportunities.

If you’re hiking in the summer and work up a sweat, take a load off and have a refreshing swim to finish your day. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Albania if you love the great outdoors. 

I recommend that you visit with a guide to show you the best places to climb, hike, and swim. A 4×4 car is ideal to access the area, so a tour is probably your best bet.

Best Places To Visit in Albania

12. Vlore

Vlore is a seaside city, with a wide and beautiful palm tree-lined promenade. The sea is on one side, and bars, cafes and restaurants border the other – it’s super pretty.

To see some of the clearest water in the region I would recommend that you take a boat trip. You can book one with one of the local businesses advertising on the promenade. Make sure you see the Karaburun region and Sazan Island – the water is so blue and dreamy.

Other great things to see in Vlore are the colourful buildings and fun bars in Old Town, and a trip north to Zvernec to see St Mary’s Monastery. This is particularly cool as it’s accessed across a narrow wooden bridge over the surrounding lagoon.

Finally, the beaches in the city can get very crowded in the summer. Head to Orikum Beach to the south for a bright white pebbly beach, or Narta Beach to the north for sand. 

13. Sarande

Sarande is a beautiful seaside resort town just north of Ksamil on the Albanian Riviera. It has some great relaxing, pebbly beaches, and the most beautiful promenade right on the water.

There are so many great things to do in Sarande; like heading up to Lekarsi Castle for the most incredible sunsets, and enjoying a drink at the bar.

A boat trip is a must, as many of the beaches close to Sarande can only be accessed by the water. Kroreza Beach has the most amazing turquoise waters, which evoke pictures of Mexico. You can hardly believe you’re in Europe.

Sarande also has some amazing restaurants, with some great seafood on offer. Haxhi is a personal favourite, and the seafood pasta is some of the best I’ve ever eaten. For an authentic experience, Fish Filipi is a great choice.

Finally, Sarande provides an ideal base, and actually, I spent a month living in Sarande. You can get buses all over the country and across the Macedonian border from here. It’s also close to many of the best places in Albania. This includes Gjirokaster, Ksamil, and The Blue Eye. 

Best Places To Visit in Albania

14. Shkoder

Shkoder may be the most quaint of the Albanian cities, and you feel like you’ve stepped back in time here. It’s super relaxed, with a thriving cafe culture, and cheerful colourful buildings.

As many tourists use Shkoder to cross into Montenegro, or to hike the Albanian Alps, it’s a great place to avoid the crowds. It’s one of the best places in Albania for budget backpackers, and for seeing what the Balkans were like before the crowds arrived.

It’s on the border with Montenegro with which it shares Lake Shkodra, a stunning body of water and the largest in the Balkans. Explore the lake by boat or kayak and enjoy the superb scenery.

Not too far from Shkoder is the Theth National Park. The mountains here are so striking, sharp and steep against the backdrop – it’s breathtaking. You can explore the best scenery in North Albania by completing the Theth to Valbona hike if you’re up for the challenge.

15. Korce

If you’re a beer drinker, you’ll likely be familiar with this little town as it’s where the popular Albanian beer gets its name. 

Korce, (pronounced kor-cha), is an interesting town to visit with lots of beautiful Ottoman architecture, quaint cafes, and amazing restaurants. However, Korce is becoming known as a superb winter destination.

With such a fantastic coastline, it’s easy to forget that Albania is also covered by mountains. And what goes hand in hand with mountains? Skiing of course.

Korce is home to lots of up-and-coming ski resorts due to the low cost of living. This makes for a perfect place to ski on a budget. The people are friendly and the atmosphere is great. It’s the best place to visit in Albania in winter for sure.

Best Places To Visit in Albania

FAQs About Visiting Albania

Answers to some commonly asked questions about visiting the beautiful places in Albania.

Which Is The Most Beautiful Place To Visit in Albania?

Ksamil, Saranda, and the Albanian Riviera are the best places in Albania for beach lovers. For nature seekers, Bovilla Lake, and The Blue Eye, are two of the most beautiful places in Albania.

Is Albania a Good Place For a Vacation?

Albania is a great place for a vacation. There’s something for everyone and it’s a super affordable destination. Whether you love exploring a city, relaxing on a beach, or enjoy being outside in nature, Albania will deliver everything you want and more.

What Is The Best Natural Attraction in Albania?

This is a tough question as there are so many stunning natural attractions in Albania. If you can only visit one, I would recommend that you visit Osumi Canyon. It’s one of the best places to visit in Albania and unlike anything else in the country.

Best Places To Visit in Albania

Is Albania Safe?

Yes, Albania is safe to travel around. Whilst there is petty crime around the country, it’s nothing that doesn’t happen elsewhere around Europe. I found the locals to be both welcoming and friendly, and felt very safe everywhere I visited. 

Now You Know the Best Places To Visit in Albania

Albania is a country that has so much to offer. Beauty, history, culture, and adventure, all wrapped into one. Incredible beaches on the west coast and to the south, never-ending nature to discover, and charming historical towns and cities dotted all over the country to explore, and fall in love with.

If you were wondering where to go in Albania, I hope this guide helps you plan the best trip ever.

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The post 15 Best Places To Visit in Albania appeared first on Goats On The Road. For more on travel.

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