Last Updated: May 13, 2022

Things To Do In Albania

Planning to visit Albania? Then you’re certainly in the right place because this detailed guide to all the best things to do in Albania covers all the most interesting tourist attractions throughout the country! 

Albania is known for many things, from the affordable vacation resorts on its coastline to the many castles and fortresses situated in and around its ancient towns. This popular tourist destination in the Balkans offers plenty to its visitors, so read on to see what the best things to do in Albania are! 

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra is a city in southern Albania, and it’s best known for the Castle of Gjirokastra. The 12th-century castle overlooks the charming city, and it features a church, a clock tower, and a military museum with several interesting exhibits. 

The fascinating castle might be the most famous attraction in the city, but it’s certainly not the only one worth checking out. Gjirokastra’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated because it’s a rare example of a well-preserved town from the Ottoman era. Many of the buildings in the city were constructed during the Ottoman period, and it truly is incredible how well they are preserved. 

Some of the most popular tourist attractions in Gjirokastra are the Zekate House, the Skenduli House, Gjirokastra Bazaar, the Bazar Mosque, and the cold war tunnels. There are also several museums and monuments throughout the city that describe its rich history, and it’s definitely worth visiting them if you want to learn more about this beautiful city and its people. 

Valbona-Theth Hike

Theth national park

The Valbona-Theth Hike is a hiking trail in northern Albania that traverses through the heart of Theth national park. It’s one of the most popular hikes in the country, allowing the hikers to discover the beauty of the Albanian Alps and the charming Alpine villages that are situated in the mountains. 

The trail takes hikers from Valbona to Theth through the mountains and across the Valbona Pass, in a 9.5-kilometer trek. It takes between 7 and 10 hours to complete the hike, depending on your experience and average hiking speed. 

It’s a moderately difficult hiking trail with a total elevation gain of approximately 1000 meters. Prior hiking experience is required, as is appropriate hiking gear and footwear suitable for rough and rocky terrain. There are several cafes and freshwater springs along the hike, but it’s still recommended that hikers bring plenty of water. 

Albanian Riviera

Albanian Riviera

Albania is famous for its very long coast with countless towns and even more resorts. It’s a very popular summer vacation destination, especially among visitors from other Balkan countries. 

The Albanian coast boasts long sandy beaches, a crystal clear sea, and some of the most affordable accommodation in the Mediterranean. It’s much cheaper than Croatia and Italy, and it boasts equally beautiful coastal towns. 

Durrës in northern Albania is one of the most popular destinations on the Albanian coast, mostly because it’s the largest coastal city. In addition to miles and miles of beautiful beaches and fabulous resorts, the big city also offers everything else you might want during a vacation. There are also quite a few popular tourist attractions here, the most notable of which is a huge Roman amphitheater. 

If you’d rather not vacation in a big city, just travel a bit further south. The Albanian coast is lined with small towns and villages where you can experience stunning nature but without as many people around. 

Visit Butrint National Park

Butrint National Park

Butrint National Park is situated in southern Albania, in the Vlorë County. It covers some 95km2 of hilly terrain, with wetlands, open plains, salt marshes, islands, reed beds, and freshwater lakes. However, none of those are the highlights of this national park, and most people who visit come to see the remains of the medieval city of Butrint. 

It’s one of the most important archaeological sites in the entire country thanks to the variety of different artifacts, some of which date back to the Iron Age. Countless monuments can be seen at the national park, from the ancient city walls to an impressive Roman theater. The NP is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s not just because of the ancient buildings. 

Lake Butrint is an important part of the NP – it’s home to bird and plant species of international importance, and it’s designated as an Important Bird and Plant Area. 

Explore The National Historical Museum

The National Historical Museum is one of the most important museums in the entire country and it’s definitely worth a visit if you end up traveling to Tirana. The museum is situated in the heart of the country’s capital, and it houses an extensive collection that details Albania’s rich history. 

Situated inside a Communist-era building, this history museum spans 18,000 square meters of exhibition space. Its massive collection is divided into eight pavilions, each of which is dedicated to a certain time period, event, or person. The Pavillion of Antiquity boasts the largest collection, with 585 different objects that span from the Late Paleolithic period to the Early Middle Ages. 

The Pavillion of the Middle Ages also boasts a sizeable collection of artifacts from the 6th until the 15th century. The Albanians’ resistance against the Ottomans is described in this pavilion, as is the developing political and social life of Albania through the years. 

Other pavilions in the museum are dedicated to Albanian National Renaissance, Independence, Albanian Iconography, the Antifascist War, Communist Terror, and Mother Teresa.  

Ride A Cable Car in Tirana

Tirana Cable Car

Tirana is a fascinating city that takes days to properly explore. If you’re just stopping by for a few hours, riding the city’s cable car is one of the best ways to really get a sense of its magnitude. The Dajti Ekspres is a 4670-meter long cable car line that transports passengers from the city to the top of Dajti Mountain, for some spectacular panoramic views. 

The entire ride is incredibly scenic, but it can also be a bit scary considering just how far up the mountain you are climbing. It’s worth noting that the Austrian-built cable car is situated quite a bit outside the city center, and it’s approximately a 15-minute bus ride to the cable car station. 

The ride to the top lasts about 15 minutes, so you can complete the entire ride in only half an hour. Tickets are also fairly inexpensive, and you can choose between one-way or round-trip tickets. Get a round-trip ticket if you want to get out of the cable car and explore the Dajti Mountain, but pick up a one-way ticket if you just want to go on a quick, 30-minute ride. 

Berat

Berat

Berat is a city in central Albania, situated on the Osum River. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the city’s incredible architecture. It’s obviously influenced by several civilizations, and the buildings alone tell quite the story of Albanian history. 

The charming town is also known as “the town of a thousand windows”, and if you actually travel there you’ll immediately see why. The terraced Ottoman houses are built into the hillside, and everywhere you look there are hundreds of windows staring back at you. 

The 13th-century Berat Castle is situated at the top of the hill, and it’s one of the city’s most important historic sites. Once upon a time, it used to house a mosque and some 20 churches, but nowadays visitors can only observe the remains of the impressive fortress. 

The entire town of Berat is an important historic site in the country and a great place to visit in Albania if you want to get acquainted with its history. Other notable city attractions are the Red Mosque, the Byzantine Churches, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Onfuri National Museum.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid is situated in southeast Albania, straddling the country’s border with Macedonia. It’s one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes, and it has its own aquatic ecosystem of incredible importance. There are more than 200 endemic species in the lake, and that’s just one of the several reasons why it’s declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The majority of the lake lies in Macedonia and only a small part is situated inside Albania. Nonetheless, it’s still worth visiting Lake Ohrid if you’re traveling through the country. On the Albanian side, the area around the lake has a Managed Nature Reserve status, so it is a protected area. The closest town is Pogradec, and there are countless smaller settlements in the vicinity of Lake Ohrid. 

Also, it’s worth noting that the lakeshore features a variety of tourist attractions, from museums and campsites to resort hotels. There are plenty of things to keep you entertained, so don’t hesitate to spend some time exploring the deepest lake in the Balkans. 

Kruje

Kruje

Kruje is a small town north of Tirana, situated between the Ishëm River and Mount Krujë. The place is special because it’s one of the oldest settlements on the territory of Albania, and it’s a great testament to the country’s rich and varied history. 

The Illyrian tribe of Albani inhabited the town originally, and in the 12th century, it was the capital of the first Albanian state. It later became the capital of the Kingdom of Albania, and it managed to resist three Ottoman siege attempts. They were successful on the fourth attempt in the 15th century, and until 1906  the town remained a part of the Ottoman-controlled territory. 

A local uprising at the beginning of the 20th century began in this town, and shortly after the Albanian Declaration of Independence was signed. And that’s only a small chunk of the town’s history – telling you everything would leave no room for other amazing things to do in Albania, so be sure to visit Kruje’s many history museums if you want to know more. 

Castle of Kruja, Muzeu Kombëtar Gjergj Kastrioti, Kruja Bazaar, and Sari Salltik are some of the most popular tourist attractions in this fascinating town. 

Syri I Kalter

Syri I Kalter

Syri i Kalter is a nature preserve in southern Albania’s Delvinë District. It’s a spring with a deep, sapphire blue hole in the middle, and it’s also known as the Blue Eye. It’s a stunning natural attraction in Albania, and one of the places that manage to attract people from all corners of the planet. 

The Blue Eye is best known for its magical appearance that’s a consequence of the depth of the spring. It’s unknown exactly how deep the spring is – divers have only managed to explore the first 50 meters of the water. 

It’s worth noting that this remote nature preserve can only be accessed by car, so you’ll need to either arrange private transportation or rent a vehicle if you want to visit the Blue Eye. 

Rozafa Castle

Rozafa Castle

Rozafa Castle is a fascinating tourist attraction in northern Albania, very close to the border with Montenegro. It’s near the city of Shkodër at the bank of Shkodër Lake, and it boasts Venetian castle ruins situated atop a hill. 

Because of the strategic location, the history of settlements on this hill dates back to the Antiquity period. There’s even a legend surrounding how the castle of built – supposedly, three brothers were working tirelessly to build the castle, only the discover that the foundation had fallen overnight.

Then they met a wise old man, who told them that they must sacrifice the first wife that brings them food the next day. The youngest brother sacrificed his wise Rozafa, which is how the castle got its name. 

The imposing hilltop castle is part of an archaeological park that also features a museum dedicated to the castle’s history, as well as mosque and cathedral ruins. It’s truly an incredible place, and one of the many testaments of Albania’s rich and varied history. 

Also, the hilltop archaeological park rises to 130 meters above sea level, offering mesmerizing panoramic views. You can see the Shkodër Lake, the city, and the dramatic mountain peaks in the background. 

Porto Palermo

Porto Palermo

Porto Palermo is situated in southern Albania and it’s best known for the Porto Palermo Castle. The area surrounding the castle holds the status of Protected Landscape, and it’s without a doubt one of the least explored landmarks in Albania. 

That’s a shame, considering just how stunning the entire place is. The ancient ruins are impressive for sure, but this is also a mesmerizing scenic spot that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea. The castle is situated above a bayside public beach that has a path leading directly to the hilltop castle. 

If you’re visiting Albania in the near future, try to visit this hidden gem. It’s getting more and more popular every year and resorts and hotels are slowly starting to pop up in the area, so it’s only a matter of time before it starts being overcrowded with tourists. 

Ksamil Village

Ksamil Village

Ksamil Village is situated in southern Albania and it’s part of the Butrint National Park. It’s one of the most popular coastal resorts in the entire country, and it’s frequented by both local and foreign tourists. 

The beautiful village is best known for azure blue water and beautiful beaches, which are a true slice of paradise right there in Albania. However, visiting the place in the summer can be a bit overwhelming. There are countless resorts and hotels here, so the Ksamil Village can easily get overcrowded during peak season. 

Visit the village in the off-season, to truly admire its natural beauty without the hordes of people. Otherwise, be prepared to fight for a spot to put down a towel on the beach. 

Lake Shkoder

Lake Shkoder

Lake Shkoder is another mesmerizing lake that Albania shares with another country. It’s situated in the north, on the border with Montenegro, and the larger part of the lake lies within Montenegro. It’s Southern Europe’s largest lake, and even though most of the lake is situated inside Montenegro, it’s named after the Albanian city of Shkoder.

The Albanian section of the lake is designated a nature reserve, thanks to the variety of wildlife that have made this lake their home. Also, it’s worth noting that the Montenegrin side of the lake is home to an island with a monastery – it’s truly an interesting attraction, and worth checking out if you don’t mind crossing the border into another country. 

Lake Shkoder is the largest of all the lakes in the Balkan Peninsula, boasting a surface area between 370km2  and 530km2, depending on the season. The water level also depends on the season, since the lake gets a large influx of water from the karstic springs. 

Lake Komani

Lake Komani

Lake Komani is a small reservoir on the Drin River and one of the most beautiful natural attractions in entire Albania. It’s located in the north of the country and it is surrounded by vertical slopes, forested hills, gorges, and a narrow valley that is entirely taken up by the Drin River. 

The reservoir is also fed by the Valbona and Shala Rivers, and it occupies an area of 34 km2. What’s interesting about this lake is the wide variety of different habitats that have managed to survive here, thanks to the combination of the specific hydrological conditions and unique topography. There are beech marten, Eurasian otters, European badgers, red foxes, and golden jackals, among countless other species. 

The lake is also a popular birdwatching site in northern Albania since it’s home to quite a few rare bird species. These include the black-headed gull, the Eurasian wryneck, the gray heron, and the great spotted woodpecker, among many others. 

Llogara Pass

Llogara Pass

Llogara Pass is a mountain pass in southern Albania that connects Himarë and the Dukat Valley. The mountain pass is part of the Iranian Mountains in the Albanian Riviera, and it is part of the Llogara National Park. 

The mountain road is steep and winding, featuring switchbacks after switchbacks. It can be a bit challenging for less experienced drivers, so it’s not recommended to explore this attraction if you’re not perfectly confident behind the wheel. But if you don’t mind driving on mountain roads, it’s definitely worth it to travel here. 

There’s an observation deck at the top of the mountain, which features incredibly stunning panoramic views. Visitors can also explore several bunkers here in the mountains, while the bravest adventurers can go paragliding from Llogara to Palase. It’s possible to go paragliding only in August, so keep that in mind if that’s something you’re interested in. 

Soak in the Benja Hot Springs

Benja Hot Springs is situated in the Përmet District in southeastern Albania. The thermal baths are said to have healing properties, and they’re best explored on cool and crisp days. They’re situated a bit off the beaten path, so you can expect a good amount of privacy while you’re there. 

The nature surrounding the heated geothermal waters is also spectacular, but by far the most impressive sight is the stone bridge that arcs over the thermal waters. It was built in the Middle Ages, and since the Ottoman Empire days, it has been allowing people to cross this brilliantly blue river. 

Walk atop the bridge to take in the breathtaking views, and notice how the river manages to carve through the stunning gorge. Witness the dramatic mountain peaks in the distant background, and set up camp in the area, if you’re okay with the smell that accompanies water bodies rich with sulfur. 

Korce

Korce

Korce is a city in southeastern Albania, situated on a plateau approximately 850 meters above sea level. It’s the largest city in eastern Albania and a very important hub for culture and industry in this region. 

The town is also popular with tourists, thanks to the many historical attractions. The city has a rather rich history that begins in the 13th century, and there are many buildings and museums in Korce that describe its origins. It was the center of trade during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, as well as the first city that would open a school that used the Albanian language. 

The city is situated on a fertile plateau and it’s surrounded by tall mountains. It’s home to the most important wheat-growing areas in the country, and that’s just one of the many things that are grown in the area. 

In terms of landmarks and tourist attractions, Korce is best known for its beautiful oriental architecture. There’s the Korce Clock Tower, the National Museum of Medieval Art, the Archaeological Museum, and Parku Rinia, among others. 

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About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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