Albania may be a small country, but in this thrilling up-and-coming area there’s a lot to see and do. Albania’s long rugged coastline is one of the most beautiful in the world.

Although Albania is slowly becoming more popular with tourists, it remains largely undiscovered despite boasting of some of the world’s best examples of Ottoman architecture, supremely clear Mediterranean air, and beautiful beaches.

Albanian Riviera

Generals Beach Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Kukushiedi

Perhaps the most popular tourist spot in the country is the Albanian Riviera. The riviera has a growing reputation as an important location for music, with numerous international music festivals taking place here, including Turtle Fest and Soundwave Albania.

Nightclubs like Jale beach Folie Marine and Havana Beach Club near Dhermi attract young people from all over Europe to the Albanian Riviera.

Himara’s seaside town is one of the best places to visit on the riviera, while Porto Palermo Beach, Llamani Beach and Filikuri Beach are some of the finest sandy beaches in the region, while Drymades Beach is one of the most vibrant places to visit.

Read more about the Generals Beach

Tirana

Statue in Skanderbeg Square
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Pudelek

Tirana, Albania’s capital city, will be the starting point for most people to start to explore Albania.

There are quite a few must-see tourist sites in the city, and the Et’hem Bey mosque of the 18th century is one of them.

Tirana’s people are exceptionally friendly, like the vast majority of Albanian locals, and the city is supremely affordable, both with surprisingly great food and very cheap drinks.

Skanderbeg Square is one of the most important places in Tirana, and this is where you can also find the National Historical Museum.

A statue of the legendary Albanian national hero Skanderbeg is located in the centre of Skanderbeg Square–and thus the heart of Tirana.

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Llogara Pass

Maja e Çikës, in the Llogara National Park, Albania
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Martin Brož

The Llogara Pass is a high mountain pass in the Ceraunian Mountains in the Albanian Riviera and offers one of the world’s most spectacular drives.

The road travels to over 1,000 metres above sea level in the middle of the Llogara National Park, whose scenery will take your breath away.

There is a good range of restaurants at the top of the pass, which is an ideal place to stop and enjoy some of Albania’s most beautiful views.

Llogara National Park is home to amazing wildlife, like the golden eagle, European wildcat, and fallow deer.

The drive from Tirana to Saranda should take a few hours through the Llogara Pass, but it is worth allowing plenty of extra time to be able to stop and take a lot of photographs.

Read more about the Llogara National Park and Llogara Pass

Berat

Berat, Mangalem Quarter, Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Avi1111

Berat is located in the middle of Albania and is considered to be one of the oldest towns in the country. Because of its distinctive Ottoman and Albanian architecture, Berat has the name ‘City of a Thousand Windows’. If you are unsure why cross the river to Gorica and look back over the the town climbing the hill and the rows of symmetrical windows looking back on you.

The main tourist destination of Berat is its 13th century castle and its castle quarter called Kalaja, which is still home to many of the cities inhabitants. In 2008, Berat was added to the list of Unesco World Heritage sites as one of the Ottoman Empire’s most important Albanian towns.

The Mangalem Quarter is the area below the castle and holds a number of interesting mosques to see and the Ethnographic Museum.

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Kruja

Kruja Albania
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Chris Walts

Located a short distance from the capital, Tirana, Kruja is on the itinerary of most first-time travellers to Albania.

Kruja is home to the national ethnographic museum and the Skanderbeg museum. The Skanderbeg museum is located in the Castle of Kruja, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Albania.

It was from this fortress that the hero of Albania, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, defended the country over a period spanning three decades from the invasion by the Ottomans.

The fortress also provides stunning views of the Adriatic Sea. Located close Kruja are the Qafe Shtama National Park and the Sari Saltik Tomb.

Read more about the Krujë

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / ShkelzenRexha

A Unesco city, Gjirokastra is undeniably one of Albania’s best places to visit. Ottoman architecture can be seen throughout Gjirokastra, with houses shaped like tiny castles. Dominating the skyline of the city is its impressive castle. the castle contains both a military museum and art gallery.

There is also a folklore festival usually every five years in the castle of Gjirokastra–the last one was in 2015 however there a currently no details regarding the next one. The old Ottoman bazaar in Gjirokastra should also firmly be placed on a visitors agenda.

Gjirokastra is famous for being the birthplace of the world-renowned author Ismail Kadare and the former dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Their homes have been turned into museums.

Read more about the Gjirokastër

Theth National Park

Theth Church Accursed Mountains Albania
CC BY-SA 1.0 / peter_h

Away from the largest cities in Albania, in the country’s north, is Theth National Park. Theth is an area of exceptional natural beauty located high in the Albanian Alps. The park, with its Grunas Waterfall and the Lock-in Tower both extremely popular with tourists, and is perhaps the most beautiful place in all of Albania.

The beauty of the Thethi, Boga, Razma and Vermoshi mountain peaks are unforgettable.

Theth will be one of the best places to visit during a trip to Albania if you are a walker or a nature lovers.

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Ksamil Islands

Ksamil Albanian Riviera
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Artur Malinowski

The Ksamil Islands are an isolated group of four small rocky  islands clustered just off the shore, accessible only by boat from the small town of Ksamil.

The Ksamil Islands are a fantastic example of Albania at its most natural and unspoiled, they are part of the larger Butrint National Park.

For anyone who wants to experience what Ksamil has to give during their exciting Albanian vacation, visiting the Blue Eye Spring is also a must. July and August are the Ksamil Islands’ busiest time of year, but even then they are still quite quiet.

Read more about the Ksamil Village

Shkodra

Shetitorja Shkoder
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Sali Jonuzi

Shkodra, the largest city in northern Albania, is also often considered the country’s cultural capital.

This is because it holds festivals such as Children’s Festival, Carnival, Lake Day and the Shkodra Jazz Fest, while it also houses a prominent mediaeval castle, Rozafa Castle, known for its important role during the First Balkan War.

Shkodra lies on the shores of a magnificent lake, and the mediaeval citadel of Drisht’s is just a few kilometres away.

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Vlore

View Vlore Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Neo Oens

Located in the south-west of Albania, Vlore’s popular coastal resort, long best known for its olive growing is estimated to house some 300,000 olive trees.

Vlore has many important historical locations, but perhaps the Albanian Independence Proclamation Building is the most famous of them, this is where Albania declared independence just over 100 years ago.

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Apollonia

Apollonise Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / ShkelzenRexha

Apollonia was once one of the world’s most important towns, and as such it on most visitors itineraries.

Located in the middle of Albania, within easy reach of the town of Fier, the ruins of Apollonia are impressive and the views from this part of the country are also spectacular.

The town was included among the dominions of Pyrrhus of Epirus -who after suffering heavy losses in his victorious battles, the term Pyrrhic victory was coined. Those days are long gone, but for anyone who wants to learn more about the rich history of Albania up close, Apollonia should still be on the itinerary.

Read more about the Apollonia Archaeological Park

Durres

Amphitheatre Of Durrës
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Pudelek

Durres, the main port in Albania, is also one of the oldest cities in the country. Durres is best known for being host to the Balkan’s biggest amphitheatre, while Lalzit Bay’s unspoiled northern coastal strip is one of the most scenic places to visit in Albania.

Throughout their stay in Albania’s second largest city, visitors will consider taking time out of their schedules to visit the Durres Archeological Museum, Aleksander Moisiu Theater and the Royal Villa of Durres.

Throughout the year, several cultural events and festivities take place in Durres, while the region is also the birthplace of Bujar Nishani, Albania’s current president.

Read more about the Durrës

Lake Koman

Lake Koman Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Colin Skidmore

Visiting Lake Koman in Albania should be on the everyone’s ‘Balkans bucket list’. It is described as one of the best boat trips in the country, the journey takes tourists to the port of Fierza from the hydroelectric dam at Koman.

While the locals who regularly use the boat take for granted the rugged beauty of the Albanian mountains, any first-time visitor will find the Lake Koman Ferry sights to be truly jaw-dropping. The ferry trip is also a good opportunity to see what life is like in remote areas for many Albanians.

Read more about the Lake Koman Ferry

Pogradec

View Pogradec, Albania
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Pasztilla aka Attila Terbócs

One of the most up-and-coming places to visit in Albania is Pogradec, which can be found on the shores of Lake Ohrid in the east of the country.

Lake Ohrid is the deepest lake in the Balkan area, and while the Macedonia side of the lake is more popular the shore of Albania is becoming more so.

Pogradec is famous for its rich folklore, while one of the most interesting events on Albania’s tourism calendar is the Puppet Theater Festival.

The beautiful Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park is also about 30-45 minutes away from Pogradec, while Drilon’s springs are also nearby.

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