Albania is a small country located in Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, that has a lot to offer. From its Ionian and Adriatic coastlines to its mountainous interior, Albania is a diverse country with many castles and archaeological sites. Its Mediterranean climate and affordable prices make it a popular travel destination for tourists from all over the world.
This comprehensive guide will highlight 11 of the best places to visit in Albania. Whether you’re interested in exploring the vibrant capital city of Tirana, discovering the rich history of Berat, or soaking in the healing sulfur springs of Permët, you’ll find something for everyone in this beautiful country.
1. Tirana: The Vibrant Capital City
Tirana is the center of the country and is the first stop on your Albania adventure. The city is known for its diverse food scene, museums, and trendy clubs and bars, so you’ll never run out of things to do. Start your journey at Skanderbeg Square, which is the city’s focal point, and take a free walking tour to learn about the history of the country and city. If you’re interested in Albania’s painful communist past, make sure to visit Bunk’Art 1, located on the outskirts of the city.
2. Berat: The Town of a Thousand Windows
Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located south of Tirana. The town is famous for its historic architecture and beautiful nature scenery, and is often nicknamed “the town of a thousand windows” because of its Ottoman-era houses with large windows. One attraction you can’t miss is Berat Castle, a fortress that dates back to Roman times. The castle offers incredible panoramic views of the town and its surrounding nature.
3. Osumi River Canyon: Albania’s Grand Canyon
The Osumi River Canyon is located between Permët and Berat and is Albania’s own version of the Grand Canyon. With walls reaching over 80 meters (or 262 feet) in some sections, this is one of the most underrated spots in the country. During the summer, visitors can enjoy a range of activities in the milky, turquoise river that flows through the canyon.
4. Permët: A Hidden Gem
The small town of Permët is located on the Vjosa River in southern Albania and is one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Surrounded by impressive mountains, canyons, and beautiful countryside, Permët is a must-visit for anyone who loves nature and adventure. One unique site to visit is the nearby Benja Thermal Baths, sulfur springs that emerge from deep tectonic cracks in the Lengarica Canyon. You can also explore the scenic Vjosa Valley, the unique Sopolit waterfall, and the lush Fir of Hotova National Park.
5. Gjirokaster: Our Favorite Town
Gjirokaster is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site located on a hillside in the south of Albania. This town is our favorite in the entire country, and is a must-visit for anyone who loves history and architecture. Gjirokaster has a rich cultural heritage, with Ottoman-era buildings and cobbled streets, and is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery.
6. The Albanian Alps
The Albanian Alps, also known as the Valbona Valley National Park, are a must-visit for any nature lover. The park is located in the northeastern part of the country and is known for its breathtaking beauty, offering a unique and peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This mountainous region is covered with alpine forests, rolling hills, and glistening glaciers, making it the perfect place for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. In fact, the Valbona Valley is home to numerous endangered species, including the Balkan lynx and the golden eagle, and is a popular spot for bird watching.
7. The Blue Eye
The Blue Eye, also known as the Blue Hole, is a natural phenomenon located in southern Albania. This clear blue spring is considered one of the country’s most stunning sights, and its crystal-clear water is surrounded by lush green forests and rolling hills. Visitors can enjoy activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking in the clear waters, as well as hiking and exploring the surrounding area. It is also believed that the Blue Eye is the source of the Bistrica River, making it an important part of the area’s ecosystem.
8. The Albanian Riviera
The Albanian Riviera is a beautiful stretch of coastline that runs along the Ionian Sea in southern Albania. This area is known for its stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque coastal towns, making it the perfect destination for a beach holiday. Visitors can enjoy activities such as sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, and water sports, as well as exploring the nearby historic sites and cultural attractions. The Albanian Riviera is also home to several beachfront restaurants and bars, making it an ideal place to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean climate.
Shkoder, located in northwestern Albania, is considered one of the country’s most historically rich cities. The city has a rich cultural heritage and is home to numerous historical sites, including the Rozafa Castle, one of the oldest castles in the country, and the Lead Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in the Balkans. Visitors can also explore the city’s vibrant food scene, take a stroll through its charming streets, and visit its numerous museums and art galleries. Shkoder is also a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing, making it the perfect destination for nature lovers and history buffs alike.
10. The Llogara Pass
The Llogara Pass is a scenic mountain road that runs through the Albanian Alps, connecting the coast to the city of Saranda. This winding road offers breathtaking views of the rugged Albanian coastline and is a popular destination for road trips. Visitors can stop at several viewpoints along the way to take in the stunning scenery, and there are also several picnic areas and hiking trails in the surrounding area. The Llogara Pass is also a popular destination for bird watching and wildlife observation, making it a must-visit destination for nature lovers.
11. The Albanian Lakes
The Albanian Lakes are a collection of stunning alpine lakes located in the country’s mountainous interior. This region is known for its beautiful scenery, including crystal-clear lakes, rolling hills, and dense forests, making it the perfect place for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. The Albanian Lakes are also a popular destination for bird watching, with numerous species of birds calling the area home.
In conclusion, Albania is a small country located in Southeastern Europe that offers a diverse range of places to visit, from its stunning coastlines to its mountainous interior. It is a popular travel destination due to its Mediterranean climate and affordable prices. 15 of the best places to visit in Albania are highlighted in this guide, including its vibrant capital city of Tirana, the historic town of Berat, the Osumi River Canyon, the hidden gem of Permët, the favorite town of Gjirokaster, the Albanian Alps, the Blue Eye, the Albanian Riviera, Shkoder, and more. Albania is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit for travelers looking for a unique and memorable experience.