Top sites in Albania you must visit

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Modest in its size and population, Albania,  packs a punch when it comes to the natural beauty and historical monuments. Albania really has everything that traveler is looking for in a rustic getaway destination.

Also, due to its small size advantage, it is best that you rent a car in Albania to get around.  Not only this will make your life easier but also you will love driving through this scenic country. I will recommend you to pick up a rental car as soon as you land in the Tirana airport.

I have cherry picked a list of must visit places in Albania, and except for Tirana the towns are much small and have a quaint rustic feeling to them.

 

Tirana

Tirana, Albania

Tirana, Albania

Tirana is the capital city and the historical center of Albania. One of the top places to visit in Tirana is the Skanderbeg square. Located in the centre of Tirana, Skanderbeg is shadowed by the majestic Dajti Mountain. While you are at this historical square, explore the traditional local market nearby.

Walk toward Tirana International Hotel, near which are localed the National Historic Museum. It is the largest museum of Albania, boasting a large and varied collection. On the eastern side of the hotel you will find the Palace of Culture which houses a theater, art galleries, and outdoor cafés. Another nearby attraction in the area is the National Library located on the southern side.

Other popular attractions in Tirana include an old minaret and the grand dome of the Et’hem Bey Mosque. The mosque was constructed between 1789 to 1823. Also, don’t miss out on the Archeological Museum which host excellent exhibitions on collections from prehistoric, middle ages and modern period.

 

Shkoder

Old Castle Ruins Of Shkoder, Albania

Old Castle Ruins Of Shkoder, Albania

The town of Shkoder, also known as Skuttari, is considered to be one of the oldest town in Europe. The town had had a long history stretching back to 500 BC as an Illyrian fortress right where the two rivers of the Buna and Drin Rivers meet.

When in town you must pay a visit to the spectacular Sheik Zamil Abdullah Al Zamil Mosque. There is also a public Museum nearby and both of them can be visited together. The collection of the Museum include rare photographic insights into the various part of the country. Specially, interesting to see are the ones from the socialist period of Albania. It is really insightful to see how Albania has transformed through the recent times. If you are interested in the history of the city itself, check out the archaeological collection on the ground floor of the museum.

Shkoder was once considered the Catholic centre of the country, and is home to the church of Franciscans, which is considered to be the prime religious place in Albania. On the south western side of Shkoder, stands in its glory the legendary Castle of Rozafa.

 

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastër, Albania

Gjirokastër, Albania

Gjirokastra at a distance of around 120 kilometers from the capital Tirana is a picturesque town, located on the slopes of the beautiful mountain and near the banks of the Drin River. Gjirokastra is also a historical city of Albania, dating back to 13th century when it was a popular trading port. The fall of Gjirokastra began in somewhere in 1417 after it fell to the Turkish invasion. This beautiful Albanian small town has been known for centuries for its colorful bazaar. One of the bset products to buy here are the detailed embroideries, silk clothes and famous white cheese of Albania.

Right in the center of the main bazaar you will find the monument dedicated to Memedh. It was built in the 20th century to honor the revival of education in the country. The monument looks over the Mosque whereas a citadel looms large over in the background. If you have time, visit the Museum of Arms in the citadel.

 

Durres

Drone View, Albania Coast Line

Drone View, Albania Coast Line

Durres or Duracco as it is called in Italian is a small Albania town around 38 kilometers from Tirana. The central attraction of Durres is its old town dating to the Greek period way back to 627 B.C. Today, a visit to old town will include a trip to the Roman ruins.

Durres was once a flourishing port in the Adriatic Sea, and one of the biggest trade center of the region. I will recommend you to check out Byzantium ruins and the remains of Venice fortresses. See the majestic ruins of the old wall connecting Venetian Tower and the Amphitheater. Not to be missed out in the Amphitheater is the wall mosaic belonging to the early Christian period. To really understand the historical context of the city pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum which houses the collection from the nearby digs.

 

Apollonia

Ruins Of Apollonia, Albania

Ruins Of Apollonia, Albania

To get to Apollonia, you can come by Fier from where it is around 12 km. The prehistoric town of Apollonia was founded by Greeks somewhere in 855 B.C. as a Mediterranean polis. The places to visit in Apollonia include ruins of an Amphitheatre, Roman colonnade, the Mosaic House, and 2nd century Odeon. Also, worth visiting in the area are Monastery Ardenice, the Byzantium church and Museum of Archaeology. I will recommend to visit the museum first to really understand the civilization which thrived here, and also this way you will be able to appreciate the sites more.

 

Butrint

Ruins Of Butrint

Ruins Of Butrint

Butrint one of the most popular destination in Albania is also popularly called the pearl of Adriatic. The city finds mention in the works of the famous poet Virgil, according to whom the town was founded by Trojans! Though the claim lacks any historical evidence but it hasn’t stopped the locals in the their belief of a glorious past.

Just like many other coastal towns of Albania, Butrint was also an important trading town. Because of its importance as a trade town you will see the remains of a fortification. There were also recreation houses for local grand people.

Among the top sites to visit in Butrint are ruins of the ancient theater from 3rd century B.C. Interestingly the ruins are located in a thick jungle and you need to trek there. The ruins are spread all over a large area, worth mentioning are Alter of Dionysus, Esculapian Temple, Cyclopean Wall, and the Lion Gate.

Also, worth visiting among the ‘recent’ ruins are the walls of 19th century fortress constructed by the military commander Ali Pasha Tepelena.

 

Vlore

Albania boasts of a beautiful shoreline and a riveria which is envied by many European coastal cities. Vlore is where everyone heads to when they want to enjoy the sun n sand. The coastal town of Vlore is very popular destination among the locals. Among the best beach in Balkans, the beaches of Vlore stretches for miles. Apart from the sunny beaches, one can also visit the historical sites of the city. The ones that every traveler must visit are Kanina Castle, the Monastery of Saint Mary and the Ancient Theatre of Orikum. Seafood in Vlore is considered to be one of the best in whole of Albania.

 

Berat

Roman Bridge, Berat, Albania

Roman Bridge, Berat, Albania

The historical town of Berat boasts of majestic sights such as old fortress, beautiful medival churches, bridge with seven arch spans. But the highlight of the town are, and what makes it really picturesque and unique are the hundreds of old houses located near the town centre.

Berat is also popularly known as “the town of a thousand of widows” due to the numerous open windows of the old houses along the mountain slope. Also worth visiting is the beautiful coast, popularly called ‘Riviera of Flowers’. The whole coast is packed with rustic villas – now serving as hotels and resorts. Truly a picture perfect place to spend quality holiday time!

Thousand Windows, Berat, Albania

Thousand Windows, Berat, Albania


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