While the country of Albania may be small, there is still quite a bit for travelers to see and do throughout this little up-and-coming destination. Bordering Montenegro, Kosovo, Greece, and Macedonia, the long coastline of Albania is one of the world’s most ruggedly beautiful. The country also boasts some of the world’s best examples of Ottoman architecture, as well as plenty of unspoiled areas that have remained mostly undiscovered by tourists. Albania offers historic sights, stunning Mediterranean beaches, and much more just waiting to be explored end enjoyed. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
Possibly the most popular destination in Albania among tourists, the Albanian Riviera has a reputation that’s been steadily growing as a significant location for music, having hosted a number of international music festivals, such as Soundwave Albania and Turtle Fest. The town of Himara along the sea is considered to be one of the best towns to visit in the Albanian Riviera, while Filikuri Beach, Llamani Beach, and Palermo Beach are some of the finest stretches of sand in the area. For a lively area to spend time at in the riviera, visitors could head to Drymades Beach.
2.BunkArt in Tirana
BunkArt in Albania’s capital city of Tirana is one of the city’s highlights and a great sight to see in Albania. Once a massive Cold World bunker in the outskirts of Tirana, the bunker has been transformed into a unique contemporary art and history museum. Boasting nearly 3,000 square meters of underground space, the BunkArt museum is spread out over multiple floors, hosting exhibits combining contemporary art pieces with Albania’s modern history. The bunker was originally built during the 1970’s for the country’s political elite and had remained a secret for the majority of its existence.
Rruga Fadil Deliu, Tiranë 1001, Albania
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The town of Gjirokastër is an UNESCO-designated town and one of the best places for travelers to visit in the country of Albania, featuring winding streets and a well-maintained old town. Located along the country’s southern coast, the small Ottoman-era town is home to clear seas, unspoiled beaches, and friendly locals. Gjirokastër offers a chance for visitors to see unique architecture dating back to the Ottoman era, including homes designed with stone roof tiles and resembling small castles. There is also an art gallery and a military museum in the Gjirokastër castle, which dominates the town’s skyline.
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Berat, or also known as the “City of a Thousand Windows,” is thought to be one of the oldest towns in Albania. Located in the heart of the country, this town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 2008 and is well known for its mix of Albanian and Ottoman architecture. The town was also at one time one of the Ottoman Empire’s most important cities in Albania. The main site to see in the city of Berat is the Kalaja, a 14th-century castle. The Mangalem Quarter and the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae are also worth a visit.
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The old city of Kruja, Albania is just a short trip from the capital city of Tirana and is considered to be a must-visit destination for any first-time travelers to the country. The town is home to Albania's national ethnographic museum, however, is perhaps best known for being the site of the Skanderbeg museum. This museum, housed inside of the Kruja castle, is one of the most popular and important tourist attractions in the country. George Kastrioti Skanderbeg defended Albania from this fortress from the Ottomans over three decades, and the castle also provides stunning views of the sea.
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6.Porto Palermo Castle
The Porto Palermo Castle is situated in the Bay of Palermo on a small island around 45 kilometers away from Saranda, between Himara and Qeparo. A small stretch of land connects the island to the mainland, enabling visitors to walk to the Port Palermo Castle. The castle is claimed to have been built by Ali Pasha of Tepelena during the nineteenth century. Throughout World War II, and for some time after, the Porto Palermo Castles was used as a military shelter and prison. It was declared a “Cultural Monument” in 1948 and is now a museum for visitors to explore.
SH8, Porto Palermo 9425, Albania
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One of the most popular tourism destinations in the country, the town of Saranda has undergone a large amount of development over the past couple decades. It is also home to a number of Albania’s most memorable beaches, and visitors can take a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint as well, since it’s located just a short distance outside of town. Along with the great beaches, one of the main attractions to see in Saranda is the Lekursi Castle, and many people come to the area to take in the views of the sea and gorgeous sunsets.
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Theth is a place of rugged beauty in the northern region of Albania, nestled away from the country’s biggest cities. Situated high up in the mountains, it’s a designated area of amazing natural beauty just waiting to be discovered by travelers. The Theth National Park could even be considered one of the most beautiful places in Albania with its Lock-In Tower and Grunas Waterfall and it’s certainly a place to add to the itinerary for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. The Vermoshi , Razma, Boga, and Thethi mountain peaks also offer unforgettable views of the country in its natural state.
The peninsula of Karaburun has become one of the Albanian Riviera’s top destinations due to its unspoiled natural beauty. Easily reached across the Vlora Bay by a quick boat ride, the peninsula is also the country’s only maritime park and is considered one of Albania’s must-visit spots during the summer months. The natural reserve of the Karaburun Peninsula is internationally known for its thriving nature and pristine, intimate bay scattered throughout. The area of Vlore, known for olive production and home to thousands of olive trees, may also be worth a visit during a trip to the peninsula.
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, Michigan beaches
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One of the most famous places in Albania, the Llogara Pass is a road that offers one of the world’s most spectacular drives. Situated in the heart of the Llogara National Park, this road journeys to more than one thousand meters above sea level, featuring breathtaking scenery along the way. Several restaurants can be found at the top of the Llogara Pass and are ideal spots for taking in some of the country’s most beautiful sights. Wildlife viewing is another popular activity in the Llogara National Park itself, which is home to fallow deer, European wildcat, and the golden eagle.
11.The City of Serenades, Korca
Korça, or also known as the “City of Serenades” is located in the southeastern region of Albania and is the country’s sixth largest city. Famous for architectures, villas, and low houses along stone streets Korça is a center for cultural life. Many concerts and festivals are held in the city for this reason, attracting both foreigners and Albanians alike. Korça also hosts the country’s largest Carnival celebration. The city is also famous for its local songs known as “Serenata,” which can often be heard in the local taverns. There are also museums to explore and delicious food and drink to try.
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12.Syri I Kalter
Syri I Kalter, or the “Blue Eye,” is a stunning, deep subsurface well often referred to as a “blue hole.” Located in the Delvine District of Albania, Syri I Kalter reaches unknown depths and is fed from an underground spring. Tourists come from miles and miles around for a look at this blue hole’s natural beauty, which makes its name of the Blue Eye very fitting as visitors gaze into the mesmerizing portal. Syri I Kalter features a deep sapphire-blue hue to its “hole” underneath the surface of the more peaceful turquoise colored water, a similar color scheme as saltwater springs.
13.Valbona Valley National Park
The Valbona Valley National Park, or also known as “Parku Kombëtar i Luginës së Valbonës” in Albanian, is a park full of natural beauty in the northern part of the country. Located within the Albanian Alps, the national park has a total area of around eighty square kilometers and encompasses the Valbona River and the surrounding terrain of mountains, glacial springs, alpine landscapes, waterfalls, a variety of rock formations, deep depressions, and the dense deciduous and coniferous forest of the Valbona Valley. The park is characterized by very remote areas with large preserved ecosystems of pristine quality.
14.Butrint Archaeological Park
The country of Albania is full of ancient history and numerous archaeological sites found throughout the land with Venetian, Ottoman, Roman, Greek, and Illyrian ruins. Located behind Ksamil beach in southern Albania, the Butrint Archaeological Park is the main archaeological site of the county and one of the Balkan Peninsula’s best preserved areas. The site had been inhabited since prehistoric times and was once home to a Greek colony and later a Roman city. This archaeological park was discovered by Luigi Maria Ugolini, an Italian archaeologist, during the 1920’s while the country was under occupation by Italy.
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The lake town of Pogradec, Albania could be considered one of the country’s most up-and-coming destinations. Located along the shoreline of Lake Ohrid, the Balkan region’s deepest lake, the town is located in the eastern part of Albania. While the side of Lake Ohrid in Macedonia is most popular, the Albanian shore is certainly rising in popularity. In addition to the lakeside scenery, Pogradec is well known for having rich folklore and its Puppet Theater Festival is among the most interesting events that take place in Albania. The nature around Pogradec is also a good place to explore.
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The beautiful Lake Koman offers some of the most stunning scenery anywhere in the Balkans and is a must-see place on many travelers bucket lists for the country of Albania. A trip across the waters of Lake Koman is often described by many as one of the great boat trips of the world, traveling from Koman’s hydro-electric dam to the Fierza port. The ride aboard the Lake Koman Ferry is a breathtaking one and a chance for visitors to see how life is for the many people of Albania living in the more remote areas of the country.
Shkodra is the largest town in northern Albania and is often referred to as the country’s cultural capital. This is largely due to the events the town hosts throughout the year, such as the Shkodra Jazz Fest, the Children’s Festival, Lake Day, and Carnival. The town of Shkodra is home to a historically significant castle as well, noted for the role it played in the First Balkan War. Visitors can also relax by the beautiful lake, visit the Migjeni theatre or the market, and dine on Malazeze cuisine, considered to be some of the best in Albania.
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Durres, one of the oldest cities in Albania and the main port of the country, is perhaps known best for being the home of the Balkan region’s biggest amphitheater. The Durres Amphitheater was partially excavated starting in the year 1960 and is estimated at being able to seat as many as twenty thousand people. Located in the heart of the city, the amphitheater can be found near a number of other important historic sites like public bath that date back to the 2nd century AC, as well as an aqueduct constructed during the era of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
Apollonia, or the “City of Apollo,” was at one time one of the world’s most important cities, which is why the city is a destination on many must lists of first-time visitors and rightfully so. Established by Greek from Corfu and Corinth in the year 588 BC before growing into a city-state, the city is set among the now olive-grove filled rolling hills. With its location in the middle of the country, Apollonia is easily accessible from Fier and is home to breathtaking views and impressive ruins. The city was also once listed as one of the Pyrrhus of Epirus dominions.
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19 Best Things to Do in Albania
- Albanian Riviera, Photo: wildman/stock.adobe.com
- BunkArt in Tirana, Photo: Paulina/stock.adobe.com
- Gjirokaster, Photo: o_voltz/stock.adobe.com
- Berat, Photo: milosk50/stock.adobe.com
- Kruja, Photo: zm_photo/stock.adobe.com
- Porto Palermo Castle, Photo: lukaszimilena/stock.adobe.com
- Lively Saranda, Photo: evenfh/stock.adobe.com
- Theth, Photo: waldorf27/stock.adobe.com
- Karaburun, Vlora, Photo: Giuma/stock.adobe.com
- Llogara Pass, Photo: A Daily Odyssey/stock.adobe.com
- The City of Serenades, Korca, Photo: allasimacheva/stock.adobe.com
- Syri I Kalter, Photo: Jeroen/stock.adobe.com
- Valbona Valley National Park, Photo: jkraft5/stock.adobe.com
- Butrint Archaeological Park, Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com
- Pogradec, Photo: Radek Vicar/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Koman, Photo: andrii_lutsyk/stock.adobe.com
- Shkodra, Photo: milosk50/stock.adobe.com
- Durres Amphitheater, Photo: CCat82/stock.adobe.com
- Apollo, Apollonia, Photo: lic0001/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: aterrom/stock.adobe.com
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